The first ever weekend of the newly formed Formula 600 Challenge was set to take place at Heartland Park set in Topeka Kansas with 2 races on tap for the weekend. We have 2 cars entered going into this maiden season with Matt Strand and Clint McMahan behind the wheel of 2 KBS chassis. The cars are not identical with Strand running a newer chassis design. The engines between the 2 cars are also quite different with McMahan running a Honda CBR600RR motor and Strand a Suzuki GSX-R600. Both sound absolutely fantastic revving up to 14 thousand RPMs.
Going into the series McMahan was picked as the clear series favorite for the championship. He had far and away more experience in the 600 cars having been the first to make the conversion way back in 2009. Prior to even that though when the cars were still Formula 500s, McMahan had always been regarded as the fastest guy through any corner anywhere. It was an easy pick for Strand when the opportunity to team with McMahan arose going into the season.
Traditionally from passed experiences at Topeka it was always frigid and cold. The Satellite crew had been here a few times when working for our predecessor team Dolphin Motorsports back in the runoffs from 2006-2008. We knew the track and a lot of its nuances but being the first time having 600s here would prove to require a bit of setup work to get both working properly.
In qualifying, McMahan and Strand sat 1-2 in Formula 600 ahead of Jason Fitzpatrick, Chris Ross, and Fred Edwards rounding out the top 5. The only other challenger came in the form of CJ Mcabee in a Formula 500 who was running at his home track. The opening race on Saturday saw McMahan and Strand quickly streak away from the rest of the 600 field. McMahan and Mcabee in the f5 began to gap Strand and a Formula Ford that he swapped positions with all race long. After a grueling battle Mcabees car gave up about half way through the event shortly followed by McMahans as well. Luckily (and unluckily) for Clint his car gave up on the final lap. What this meant was since Matt was the only other 600 on the same lap that Clint would fall to just 2nd position while Strand would grab the innagural win for the series.
Coming into Sunday McMahan was looking for a bit of redemption. Strand wasn’t going to make it easy for him and actually jumped out to an early race lead ahead of both McMahan and Mcabee in the F5. After a slide in turn 3 however CJ and Clint both went back by Strand who would cruise home to a 3rd place finish overall and 2nd in F600. McMahan and Mcabee would be locked in a battle all race long swapping positions a couple times a lap around the tight Kansas circuit but Clints tires and handling began to go away towards the end and he had to resign to 2nd place overall but 1st in class for Sundays race.
Next up for the Formula 600 Challenge is the super high speed Watkins Glen International which should prove to be a fantastic race with constant draft passing all race long. That race will be in just 1 months time on July 21st.