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Winner Is a Chip Off the Old Block

Son of late Mark Donohue, David, teams with Mark Borkowski to win Grand American 400.

June 09, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

The late Mark Donohue never drove a Porsche to victory at California Speedway. The track had yet to be built when he was killed testing a Formula One car in Austria in 1975, but he won more than his share of races at nearby Riverside International Raceway in a Porsche 917 Can-Am car that he helped develop.

David Donohue, Mark's son, made the most of his first trip to California Speedway on Sunday by teaming with Mark Borkowski to win the Grand American 400, a Rolex Sports Car Series race, in a prototype Porsche Fabcar.

As one rival after another encountered engine gremlins, Borkowski brought the Red Bull Porsche home 33 seconds ahead of Brumos Racing teammate J.C. France, who was paired with endurance veteran Hurley Haywood.

It was the second time Haywood, winner of five 24 Hours of Daytona, ran second to a Donohue in the Inland Empire. In 1973 he was second to Mark in a Can-Am race at Riverside.

"It was a victory for the whole Brumos team," said Borkowski. "It was also about time for the guys who work on our car. It was the fifth time we thought we were going to win without winning, so it's a good feeling to finally get one."

The winners led 71 of the 89 laps.

Haywood and France, son of NASCAR vice president Jim France, have won two of the five races and remain the series leaders with 166 points to 153 for Donohue-Borkowski.

The most impressive move of the 2-hour 45-minute race around a 21-turn, 2.81-mile infield road course was made by Boris Said, driving a GTS modified Ford Mustang Trans-Am car. After owner Mike Davis, who started the race, managed to squeeze his 300-pound frame out of the window after about a half hour's driving, Said took over in fourth place, about 30 seconds back of the Donohue-Borkowski Porsche.

Taking a lower line than the more powerful Daytona prototype cars on the high banking at the east end of the speedway, Said wore down the leaders and passed Borkowski with a dramatic move directly in front of the ACS Express pits where Davis was sitting.

Once in front, the road racing specialist from Carlsbad pulled steadily away and led for 11 laps until a slipping alternator belt forced him to the pits for repairs. The stop was costly, as the crew had difficulty fixing the problem and while sitting in the pit, Said lost four laps.

"I was thankful to see Boris in the pits," said Donohue. "We really didn't know what he had. He really hadn't shown a lot until the race. It surprised us."

It was Said's first Grand American race this year. After competing earlier in the Trans-Am series, Davis entered his car in Sunday's race after Said had been suspended for 45 days by Trans-Am officials.

Once Said was done, Tommy Riggins moved up in another GTS Mustang to challenge Borkowski, but his bid soured when he pitted late for what he thought was a leaking tire.

Pole-sitter Terry Borcheller, who had the fastest race lap of 1 minute 33 seconds, had his problems early when the passenger-side door of his Chevrolet Daytona prototype flew open. Borcheller pitted, but the team lost a lap during a driver change when Forest Barber took the controls.

By the end of the race, Borcheller had moved up to fourth place, just back of Riggins, the first GTS finisher.

Cort Wagner of Los Angeles and Brent Martini of Laguna Beach were winners in the Grand Touring class, driving a Ferrari 360 to sixth overall.

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