Coppola, Bennett Clinch US F5000 Drivers Association Titles in Watkins Glen Finale

Kirt Bennett; 1974 Lola 332. Photo: Steve Rossini

The Formula 5000 Drivers Association concluded a successful 2021 season at Watkins Glen, racing in conjunction with the SVRA SpeedTour Grand Prix September 10-12.

Clinching the 2021 F5000 Class A (pre-1972 cars) title with a flag-to-flag win in the Watkins Glen series finale was Seb Coppola whose red, white and blue 1970 Lola T192 topped the Class A charts every session. Second in Class A was Paul Dudiak (1969 McKee Mk12) who doged Coppola throughout the weekend and made a few passing attempts in Sunday’s finale before the latter was able to pull away.

This is Coppola’s fourth title since the start of the F5000 U.S. Revival Race Series in 2008.

Mike Knittel finished third in class in his rare 1970 Chinook. Knittel was returning to racing after battling a serious illness during the past year, and thoroughly enjoyed both his time on track and the camaraderie in the paddock.

First overall and first in Class B (post-1971 cars) was Kirt Bennett wheeling an ex-Al Unser 1974 Lola T332. Bennett, too, led every lap, quickly pulling away from race runner-up Rasim Tugberk (1971 Leda LT25). Slowed with a variety of mechanical problems early in the weekend, Tugberk ran well on Sunday to head home third-placed Tom Simpson (1972 McKee Mk18).

With his win, Bennett claimed the Class B championship, his first in the F5000 series. With wins at Road America and Watkins Glen and good car reliability, his 2021 title was well-deserved.

The U.S. Formula 5000 Drivers Association is a membership organization established to promote the restoration, presentation, registration and racing of historic Formula 5000 race cars. For more information, log onto F5000Registry.com.