Upset Special – Designer Night at the Races™ #30

Designer Night at the Races™ is an evening of competition, camaraderie and charity developed to celebrate the automotive design industry and benefit the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.  On a crisp and clear Monday evening more than 45 racers and 20 spectators came together at Kart2Kart to find out who is the Fastest Design Studio in Detroit.  And the results after the first of 2 nights might surprise you.


In what could be the biggest upset since Saleen beat Ferrari and Maserati at their home track at Monza in front of Fiat Chairman Luca de Montemzemolo, General Motors actually did not win the Team Enduro.  (Note – there are those who say there are no upsets in racing). But more on that later.

IMG_5383Designer Night at the Races™ #30 covers many firsts.  In addition to the awesome new status boards put together by our team at AACS, this was the first event that included students from local Design Schools and a Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment.

IMG_7800The evening started with 4 qualifying sessions, to determine how to split the racers into 4 competitive groups with the ultimate goal of finding the Fastest Designer in Detroit.


After the individual races were completed, the racers broke up into teams of 4 for a Team Enduro before ending the evening by thanking the sponsors and handing out trophies.


D-Main winner Kengo Iwanaga from Toyota Calty Design Studio

In the D-Main, Kengo Iwanaga stormed through from 4th place on the grid to take the win for Toyota Calty.   He was followed across the line by Ross Rivard of Lacks Wheel Trim Systems who was only 1.1 seconds behind as the flag fell, the closest race of the evening.  Ross also managed to turn the fastest lap of the race with a 27.886, almost 3/4’s of a second faster than his qualifying time.  Jeremy Glover of Chrysler was third, improving 2 positions from his 5th place qualifying spot.  The biggest improvement of the entire evening was Natalie Keys of Lacks Trim Systems who managed to better her qualifying time by almost 5 seconds.


C-Main winner Thomas Ulmann of RTT

The C-Main turned into a sponsor-fest as the 3 podium spots went to the people responsible for the evening.  Thomas Ulmann of RTT was a late, last minute addition to the evening and managed to run away and hide from the pole winning by over 11 seconds.  Jeff Chiu of Plastic Plate, Lacks Enterprises’ interior trim business unit held off John Sorci of RTT for 2nd place.  Sandor Toreki of Toyota Calty had one of the largest jumps of the evening as he went from last to 5th and Matt Morgan of GM was most improved as he knocked more than 1.1 seconds off his qualifying time.


B-Main winner of Mitsuhiro Kondo of Toyota Calty

Mitsuhiro Kondo of Toyota set the fastest time of the evening with a 26.390 lap time on the way to his B-Main win.  He also improved his qualifying time by 0.933 seconds and came all th way from 6th place to stand atop the podium.  Ryan Blodi of Ford finished second and Brap Palmer of F1RCLab rounded out the podium finishes. F1RCLap is the new name for F1Paintlab and the company grows to include additional products and services. Middlecott Design’s Luis von Czettritz finished the evening in 4th and set the record for race improvement as he started last, an incredible +7 positions.


A-Main Podium; 2nd place Steve Schwartz of AACS, winner Brandon Lynum of GM and 3rd place John Murphy also of GM

But the race everyone was waiting to see was the A-Main which included the evening’s fastest 10 drivers; 4 from GM, 2 from AACS, 2 from CCS and 1 from Chrysler and Toyota. As usual, the GM drivers dominated with Brandon Lynum in the top spot.  Steve Schwartz of AACS ruind the podium sweep for GM by moving from 5th to claim the second place trophy.  John Murphy of GM improved even more by starting 9th and finishing 3rd and setting the fastest race lap.


Cleveland Institute of Art and Lawrence Technological University School of Design compete in the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiement

Before the Heat Races finished, racer/designers were invited to compete in a Sketchbattle to determine which karts they would use for the Team Enduro Race (you can read more about it here).  Ten teams took to the track to earn points for their team and help determine the Fastest Design Studio in the East and the results were more than a little surprising.  Considering that General Motors had 4 of the 5 fastest driver, you would think they would run away and hide – but it was not to be.

Team Enduro

Team Enduro podium; 2nd place GM, winners Chrysler and 3rd place Ford

The winning team of Adam Hubers and Jeremy Glover from Chrysler also included a sponsor, Steve Schwartz from AACS (who set the fastest lap of the night with a 26.265) and a student, Luke Mack from CCS.  In the end they won by 2.255 seconds over the GM#1 team – unbelievably close for a 94 lap race.  Considering that the GM team’s last lap was 1.855 seconds slower, the two teams were only 0.4 seconds apart on lap 93 – the next to last lap.  John Murphy, Nick Griewe, Brandon Lynum and Kyrylo Ponomarenko made up GM #1 and finished second.  Ford also had to draft some additional drivers to fill out the team that finished third.  Joining Ryan Blodi were Frank Schwartz of AACS, Brad Palmer of F1RCLab and Luis von Czettritz of Middlecott design.

IMG_7737In the battle of the design schools there wasn’t much competition on the track.  The Center for Creative Studies ended up with 3 racers as one person from another university did not show.  But it wasn’t quantity that won, as CCS placed 2 drivers in the A-Main and one driver on the winning Chrysler Team.  So Ivan Myles, Luke Mack and Eugenio Sellaro can not just brag about where they are going to school, they can also say that CCS is Fastest Design School in the East.they are learning   Lawrence Technological University’s School of Design may have only had one racer, but they finished second based on Kyle Robie’s 4th place in the C-Main and 7th place racing for the RTT Team in the Enduro. Adam Riccobelli and Matthew Braun of the Cleveland Institute of Art students may not be attending the Fastest Design School in the east, but at least they can brag about their Sketchbattle finish.

IMG_5348As with all 29 events before this one, thanks to the gang from Lacks Enterprises (including Platic Plate) for sponsoring the event.

RTT Bunkspeed

RTT Bunkspeed

In addition, RTT celebrated their sponsorship and purchase of Bunkspeed by giving away $3500 software packages to anyone who asked.



F1 Paintlab is now F1 RCLab and had an expanded range of products on display.  And Middlecott Design continues to support the event with superior graphics everywhere.

IMG_5731So, after one night of racing, General Motors held a slight lead over the Sponsors, 21 to 18.  Chrysler was in third with 16 points followed by Toyota with 10 and Ford with 6 points.  Come back later to read about the Sketchbattle Results and Night #two of the fall Designer Night at the Races™


About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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