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16-year-old rookie Scaroni wins first big-time off-road race

April 30, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

SAN FELIPE — In the staggered start of Saturday's San Felipe 200, 16-year-old David Scaroni of Heber had to wait anxiously as nine buggies took off before him from the starting line.

C'mon, c'mon.

Check belts.

Rev motor.

Look at gauges.

Crack knuckles.

Inch forward.

Check out crowd.

Flex racin' foot.

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Grip wheel.

Then David punched it.

The SMD Motorsports-sponsored class 1/2 1600 buggy jammed north out of San Felipe.

During the first 11 miles it was constant whoops, he said. David's buggy practically shook to pieces right there.

At around mile marker 20, a dust storm ahead.

"Boom! There were three cars at once. It was real dusty," David said.

The cars ahead were slamming each other as they raced north in tight confines.

"I decided to hang back right behind them and try not to get involved in it," David said.

The strategy paid off.

"Eventually they took each other out," he said.

With a little bit of breathing room, David realized he was having trouble breathing.

"The fresh air system was broke. It started getting kinda hot inside of my visor," he said.

Sweat clouded his eyes but he couldn't crack his visor because the course was too dusty, the racing too intense.

Normally, fresh air is forced into his helmet via a hose. David had no hose.

"The hose had fallen off," he said.

Despite the hose issues, David was the second class 1600 car through when he went passed the 70-mile marker. He then sped south on a "real fast road" heading into a blind corner.

"I set up for the inside and a three-wheeler guy is driving toward me," he said.

David swerved to avoid the driver and continued on.

"That's how it is down there," he said and shrugged.

When David got to San Felipe to finish the first lap in the two-lap, 228-mile race, his main competitor pitted.

David sped past and pitted at the 134-mile marker.

There his 40-year-old uncle Tom Watson ("You gotta capitalize his age," David said) hopped in the car to finish the race. That he did was pretty lucky.

David said the buggy was so banged up by the end of the race that it might have zonked out after 15 more miles.

"That's the rough nature of the course," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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