From Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
The inaugural 2016 Gpfour South championship was decided early by Paul Schneider from Charlotte,North Carolina. This was the first year of this new series which runs in the southeast area of The United states and all drivers must run the Formula Enterprise Van Diemen Chassis and Mazda powered engine. The one big change to the class was American Racer Tire being named the spec tire for the entire SCCA class. Primus Racing is the distributor for the tires and we also run the race series. Paul Schneider will go down in the record books as the first champion of this new series. Paul and Primus Racing actually have a previous history in motorsports so it is a odd coincidence that the two entities cross paths again in 2016.
Paul Schneider is a perfect example of how SCCA racing should function and he utilized many of the tools that are offered in the system. Paul was 10 years old when his father Peter(current crew chief) purchased a spec racer Ford and Peter Schneider began racing in the car in one of the most popular classes in SCCA history. Paul tagged along to every race that his father competed in and was infected with the racing bug at an early age. When Paul turned 21 he decided he had enough spectating and began racing the Spec racer car himself. He attended a SCCA driving school and went to his first race and finished dead last. He realized quickly that is was going to take a lot of commitment and hard work to do well in this sport. Paul turned things around quickly and the following year was named the Southeast division most improved driver after winning multiple National events.
In 2007 He purchased the formula enterprise chassis except it was in the version of a sports car which has a full body. He began to compete in the newly formed series by Primus racing called Imsa Lights.Paul did very well in the class but Imsa Lights was taken over by Elan Motorsports the following year and they changed the rules which prevented the car from competing so he converted it back to formula car specs. Paul went on to win 4 major division championships in the class along with 2 podium results at the Runoffs. In 2016 when he heard about Primus Racing starting the new GPfour championship he became very enthusiastic because he knew about our history in running junior formula race series. Included in the Primus resume is the Hooters F2000 Racing Series in the nineties, The Cooper F2000 series from 2001-2006 and the Imsa Light series from 2006-2007. This was Pauls big chance to show his talents in an organized SCCA sanctioned race series that was well within his means of affordability since he now had a family to take care of while he still pursued his dreams of racing at a top level.
The series operated within SCCA Southeast events with 6 double race weekends. this is the 2016 schedule.
1) Daytona may 7-8
2) Road Atlanta july 23-25
3) Daytona August 5-7
4) Barber August 27-28
5) Roebling Road Oct 7-9
6) Road Atlanta Nov 4-6
Paul started the season very strong winning the first two races of the year at Daytona International Speedway. He seemed to adapt to the new American Racer tires right away. He realized that you must change your driving style as well as set up to maximize the new tires. Thomas Green, one of the few to win a race during the season other then Schneider ran very quick but just couldn't match the pace that Paul was setting. Green was doing everything he could to hang with Schneider but it was evident Paul had a slight advantage at each event..Road Atlanta was the 2nd weekend on the schedule and even though there was 15 different drivers competing in the series through 2 events nobody could match Schneiders pace.
Thomas Green finally put a short end to Schneiders dominance at the 6th race on the schedule at Daytona. Green managed to pass Schneider and drove the race of his life to capture his one and only win of the year. Veteran racer Lee Rackley joined the series at Daytona and placed a respectable 2nd and 3rd place.. Thomas Greens fate changed dramatically in the 2nd Race of the weekend as he led initially but had a high speed crash which caused extensive damage to his car and sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Paul Schneider continued his dominance and points lead in the 2nd race of the Daytona event by collecting yet another win.
The series made its next stop at Barber Motorsports park which is one of the top racing facilities in the country. You would think you just rolled into the Magic Kingdom At Disney World when you arrive at Barber. Paul started the weekend as he had done at all the previous events by capturing yet another pole position and another win. He was on his way to a hat trick of 3 wins in a row but the input shaft broke and caused his first DNF of the year. Lee Rackley, a talented and experienced champion was close behind Schneider and he took over the lead. The impressive Rookie Carl Martin took 2nd from Chris Locurto after a race long battle.
The next event was scheduled to be held at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah,Georgia, but the race was canceled because of Hurricane Matthew. The race was not going to be replaced by SCCA.The turn of events gave Paul Schneider an early win of the championship since Thomas Green was sidelined for the remaining races and he was the only one that could have a chance to beat Schneider mathematically in the points.
Paul Schneider has another championship trophy to hang on his mantle. Winning this title also includes many monetary benefits that were awarded throughout the year and also as a result of winning the championship. He has earned approximately $6000 in awards throughout the season including a top of the line Alpine Stars driving suit valued at $1800 supplied by Gridsport.net . Paul and his father Peter have had a fantastic season and they are a fine representative of the GPfour south championship in 2016. They intend to pursue winning a 2nd title in 2017 as we expect many more drivers to challenged him for the title. Andrew Cross Jr had a very impressive season and two solid 5th place finishes at the final two races at Road Atlanta to grab 3rd place in the points, while Thomas Green with his solid driving earlier in the year remained in 2nd place by a mere two points.
2017 is already shaping up to be a very competitive season as many new drivers will be joining the already impressive line up we had this year. I can see the championship really gaining momentum as we are prepared to announce the schedule next week. We are really thrilled at the participation in 2016 and we only see improvements in the months ahead. You can see the final Driver points standings on gpfourinfo.com