A New Leader Emerges – Designer Night at the Races™ #48

The countdown to the 50th Designer Night at the Races™ started at JD Karting in Novi, Michigan as studio and support staff from Nissan, Toyota Calty, the FCA Group and Ford joined first time participant Rivian Automotive to spend an evening of  Competition, Camaraderie and Charity.  For 2016 the racers are raising money for the Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center, with the unique philosophy to “bring together the expertise of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, a certified genetic counselor, a dietitian, Nurse Navigators, Oncology Social Workers and holistic practitioners in one location for a comprehensive examination, diagnosis and treatment planning. This approach helps reduce the amount of time patients spend waiting for answers.”IMG_8773

For the special occasion of the 50th event, world-renowned automotive artist, Joe Pepitone contributed the artwork and Middlecott Design contributed the graphic designwork to put together our stunning event poster.  Not to be confused with the baseball player of the same name, Joe Pep is known for his “bold, bright colors” and “whimsical details” that he developed while Art Director for Archie Comics.  Joe will have his “Art of the Automobile by JoepeP” exhibit March 11th to May 29th, 2016 at the (AACA) Antique Automobile Club of America Museum at Hershey, Pennsylvania.  As an indication of how small the world is, Joe currently lives just a few short miles away from where Designer Night at the Races™ creator Frank Schwartz went to high school.

JoePep_ArtoftheAutomobile72dpi.jpgMiddlecott Design is a small boutique design firm in downtown Detroit that combines the best of product design from owner Brook Banham , with the graphic design work of his wife Judith.  Brook can also be seen on the popular TV Show Mob Steel.  Middlecott recently completed the art direction, and logo design and website design for the new online lifestyle magazine Parkview.  Middlecott and AACS are also partners on the Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment, a fight club of design that will have its next event on Tuesday, January 12th in Detroit.

Colonel Mustard Illustration V4 no sky - less memory


IMG_5723Almost 40 designers and support staff joined event sponsors Lacks Trim Systems, Lacks Wheel Trim Systems and Autodesk in a Grand Prix Format, with practice and qualifying setting up 4 individual Heat Races.


IMG_5693And while the racing was intense at times, the determined look on the faces of the racers below, was a nice contrast to the smiles between on-track excursions seen above.

IMG_8690In the D-Main Pole Sitter Brian Thrift of Toyota Calty, led a wire to wire race setting fastest lap in the process.  In 2nd place was Kyle Korth of Lacks Enterprises who moved up from 4th on the grid. Rounding out the podium was Zach Ely of Nissan.48D


Brian Thrift of Toyota Calty was the D-Main winner

In the C-Main Pole Sitter Michael Schorle of Toyoda Gosei was shuffled to the back as he lost 4 positions and ended up 5th.  Winner Andre Yanez of Nissan moved up 2 places from his 3rd place starting position. Eric Burhop of Calty Toyota was second and followed by Daniel Gross of Toyoda Gosei in 3rd.  Ron Copeland of AACS finished 4th but set the fastest race lap.48C


Andre Yanez of Nissan was the C-Main winner and is obviously enjoying posing with Fatima, Erin and Michelle of AACS on the podium

The B-Main race was a bump fest where no driver finished in the same position as he started.  The top two qualifiers did not even end up on the podium as 3rd place qualifier Tyler Greene of Nissan ended up winning. 2nd place Max Kiert of Nissan started 5th and finished 2nd – the biggest improvement of any driver all evening.  Zach Tullock of Nissan completed a Nissan sweep along with setting the fastest race lap on the way to his third place finish.48B


B-Main Winner Tyler Greene of Nissan


Max Kiert of Nissan improved 3 spots in the B-Main to finish 2nd

The A-Main features the fastest drivers of the evening.  Ryan Blodi of Ford led from the pole to be the Fastest Designer at the event.  Mike Ogren of Nissan started 4th and set the fastest lap of the night at 22.801 on his way to a second place finish.  Frank Schwartz of AACS started 3rd, got shuffled all the way back to 7th after a horrendous start before moving back to the podium with a 3rd place finish.48A



If you see winner Ryan Blodi of Ford, ask him about his Breakfast comment when he was interviewed on the winner’s podium

Over the week long event, points are awarded to the top finishers of the Lacks Enterprises Individual races, along with the Plastic Plate Team Enduros to help determine the Fastest Design Studio in the East.  Bonus points are awarded based on the week’s participation by each of the studios.  After the first night, Ford was leading the points for on-track performance but Nissan’s bonus points moved them into the tentative lead.  Toyota Calty is currently in 3rd place with newcomer Rivian in 4th, FCA in 5th and defending champion GM bringing up the rear.


IMG_5589Events like these cannot happen without the support of great partners like Lacks Wheel Trim Systems.  An event sponsor since the first event in March of 2006, Lacks Wheel “provide(s) innovative, high-tech solutions for wheel assemblies and components that go beyond bright chrome to allow the customer to choose from a wide spectrum of metal colors, glosses and textures.”

IMG_5746There are many other event pictures beside the few we have posted here.  Head over to this link to see the rest and come back tomorrow for the report on Event #49 at Kart2Kart in Sterling Heights.


About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me 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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