Veteran British road racer David Hobbs survived a near collision and a flat tire in the same lap to win the $50,000 Trans-Am 100-mile road race today at Summit Point Raceway.
An estimated 8,000 fans waited through a series of thunderstorms that delayed the race, made track conditions dangerous and caused an accident in the 35th lap.
Willy T. Ribbs, Hobbs' teammate, entered the 35th in second place in his DeAtley/Budweiser Camaro, trailing only Hobbs and a full lap ahead of the field.
But as the two leaders began moving through the slower traffic, several cars began sliding through the mud and water built up earlier in the race from drivers moving on and off the shoulder. On the sharp fifth turn, Ribbs began to lap third-place runner Greg Pickett and the two collided.
Hobbs had squeezed by moments before, only to discover his left-rear tire had blown. "There had been a bit of a 'schmazzel' down on Turn 1; Paul Miller spun," Hobbs said. "I got around them (Miller and Pickett), but Willie got trapped behind. I got by real quick, so by the time we got down to the hairpin (Turn 5), I had quite a lead. The next thing I realize, I had a flat tire."
Both Ribbs' and Pickett's cars suffered body damage, though Pickett managed to reenter the race and get seventh place.
The yellow flag went up, so Hobbs managed to pit and maintained his lead for the remaining 15 laps. "I just happened to pit anyway," said Hobbs. "As far as I was concerned, It was pure luck."
Tom Gloy, in a Mercury Capri, finished second, 4.7 seconds behind Hobbs, who averaged 87.5 mph. Actor Paul Newman was third in his Datsun 280 ZX.