Ok, it’s now time for the April installment of Hot to Autocross. This month, we are going to talk tires. First off, FORGET everything you think you know about what sticky tires are. Is it gone?? Ok good.
When you are getting into autocross, tires should be the first big investment you make for improving your car. One of the biggest mistakes new drivers can make is to listen to hype on a car enthusiast forum. This is one of those “the proof is in the pudding” things. When you look at national results, they will show you what tires everyone is racing on. Take a look at the class you plan on running in and see what most of the racers are running on. I promise you, you will see a pattern.
The tire manufactures are always working on improving their tires. It the Stock and Street Touring classes, you have a tread wear rating to 200 you have to stay at or above. As of this article, there are 4 players in that category. The Dunlop Star Spec Z2, and the Hankook RS3-V2 are number 3 and 4 on the list. Both are good tires, and will be a good tire to start on. Right now, the 2 top tires on the market are the BFG Rival S, version 1.5 and the Bridgestone RE71R. The recently released Rival S 1.5 is a good tire, but not the best when it’s cold, or chilly out. And the tire you will see on cars the most is the Bridgestone RE71 R. The Bridgestone is a great tire, but don’t expect long life out of it, especially if you intend to daily drive the car and tire.
A great option, if your budget allows it, is to invest in a second set of “race only” wheels for your autocross tires. Keep in mind, you want them as light as you can find. The major thing you need to watch when looking at wheels, is to make sure the size and offset specs will not bump you out of the class you intend to run in. In stock classes, you may go up or down in wheel diameter 1” only. And you may not go any wider than your stock wheels. This is one rule some racers might overlook. So make sure you are staying in that rule limit when looking.
With so many tires on the market, don’t let yourself get talked into getting something that a tire shop says will be fast. 99% of them have no idea what works best in our type of racing. Know what you are buying before you buy it! And know what size tire you are looking for. Ask around at a local event. See what sizes other in your class, or in a car like yours. Never be afraid to ask your fellow racers questions. We are always willing to help!
Hey there and welcome to Spring!! It’s been a long cold winter, and the sun is finally trying to come out. We are already set to run Events #2 and 3 on April 1st and 2nd. So hopefully you are reading this in time to make it out there!
March Event Recap
Our first event for 2017 came and went, and I think I may still be tired from it. On Saturday, the Starting Line School saw 22 new autocrossers take to the course. With Eric Clements in town to head the school, the wet and soggy day went off without a hitch! Tom Kotzian, Tasha Mikko, and James Paulson were all there to help instruct the students in what would be a tricky morning session with a lot or rain to deal with. By the afternoon, the rain was starting to let up, and with the great help from all the volunteers on site, we were able to get done an hour early! FUN RUNS for all!!
Sunday saw some cold temps move in, but no precipitation falling from the sky. By the time the counting was done, we saw 100 racers take to the fun and quick course. Rio Rios took his first stab at course design for the North Paddock, and it made for some close times!! Registration took a little longer with the huge turnout, but the hard work paid off as once the cars took to the course, the event ran smooth and many smiles were had by all. Grid was a social function with everyone chatting it up between runs, and comparing notes on their cars and the quick course.
In CAM, we saw 4 beautiful examples of great American muscle, with Kris Tucker taking the win in his 2001 Dodge Viper. When a Mustang Cobra, a Dodge Viper, a Pontiac GTO, and a 1968 Ford F100 with a Coyote engine pull the starting line, all eyes were fixed and ready to hear the beautiful sounds! Look for some great competition in this class this year as more cars join the fray.
NS1 saw a familiar face on top with Barry Cogurt taking home the win in the battle of Cayman’s and WRX’s. What was interesting to see, was after the counted runs, both WRX’s were able to put down the fastest times in the class. So look for this battle to heat up as the year goes on.
NS3 boys were all ready to play and we saw a new car in class take the top spot. Phil Snodgrass in his new to him DP Miata snag the win. Dan Kuehn and James Keller round out your top 3 in what was a fun class to watch. Was great to see some new cars come out, and see some familiar cars making a return. Look for many different names on top of this group from event to event.
NS4 saw a smaller than normal turn out with Shawn Porter taking the win over Orlando Rodriguez. We know there were a few racers that were unable to make it out for the first event, but should be out at the next. Can Shawn hold down the lead? Stay tuned to find out!
NS5 saw Alex Pareskevas in first in what will be tough class moving forward. Alex is quickly making a name for himself around the PNW with quick runs, and high finishes in overall PAX. Rio Rios was shaking down his stead after some off season changes, and the Spec B of Benadette Kuehn and Bryon Bromley will also be a force to be reckoned with.
NS6 saw a good turnout with the Honda Civic of Rafael Perez standing on top. His SMF Civic was able to take the win by just .500 over Garrett Cogburn in his 2001 Civic. With a great variety of cars in class, and some unusual car configurations, this should be a fun class to watch.
We jump into the Street class with S1 coming up first. Lorin Mueller and his beautiful 2016 Ford Focus RS took home the honors with a .600 win over a game Jon Bagley in his 2016 Gold R. Once you got past the AWD cars, it was co-drivers in the Sins C5 Corvette taking home 3rd and 4th with Eric Clements and Skyler Card behind the wheel. Chuck Spittal rounds out your top five in his 91 Corvette.
S2 was our largest class, and will be a dog fight until the last event, we are sure! With 19 cars taking the finish, it was Carson Orud standing alone with a little of .500 in the bank. A great return with a new car for Dominic Stone as he clawed his way up to second place, and championship contender Blake Anghilante in third on the podium. A mix of BRZ’s, WRX’s, and MR2’s with the occasional Boxster or VW sprinkled in, the amount of talent in this class is endless, and will be a blast to watch all year long!
In the ladies’ classes, we saw Andrea Keller taking home the win in NS1 ladies. Jennifer Mueller was fast and putting down a 33.417 run to take the win in S1 Ladies. In S2 ladies, it was Aimee Horst showing her Porsche Boxster had what it takes to get the job done taking the win.
With the help of the starting line school, the Trophy Challenge class saw 13 racers step to the starting line with Sean Funk in his fast Nissan 350Z winning. Jay Mallison in a brand new BRZ stayed in second, and John Stiteler sitting only .007 back in third! The competition was tough as last year’s champion Jake Hartough back in 5th. It was great to see some much new speed at the event, and I can’t wait to see how all these guys and girls improve throughout the year.
Pro PAX Ladies saw the always fast Mina Ingraham on top of the podium with Lacey Otis, and Leah Nagengast close on her heals. Sue Bewley and Danielle Paulson round out the field in what is always a tough group to conquer. Mina will be tough to beat, but the rest of the girls will be up to the challenge.
Pro PAX came down to the last run as Dan Bullis jumped to the lead with his third run taking the lead away from Jerry Jenkins by .065. That lead only lasted about 15 second as the vary next car being driven by a hot shoe from the NW region, Kevin Dietz. Kevin put down a blistering run to jump Dan, and take home the PPAX win, and set the top time of the day. With 1st through 7th only be separated by .800, the competition was fierce. With 13 drivers in PPAX and a bunch of red jackets, a dog fight it will be to knock Ryan Otis off his perch as defending class champion.
With a lot going on over the off season, we would like to say thank you to all who took the time to put in work on the trailer, the website, and all the other behind the scenes issues that needed attention. With every one of us being a volunteer, it takes a lot of selfless people to put all this on these events, and we have a great group!
As many gear up to head down to Crows Landing at the end of April for the National tour, and the PRO, it will be a busy month for sure!
It’s March, and racing season is finally here. It will be a busy year for many of us, with Crows Landing just around the corner in April. March will see our Starting line school taking place on March 18th with annual tech going on at the same time. Both in the North paddock at PIR. Event #1 on our points series will take place the next day on Sunday the 19th, also in North Paddock.
If you have never been to a national tour event, you are truly missing out. We are blessed to have one of the most scenic sites in the entire country in Packwood. But if you want speed, Crows Landing is the place to go. Last year at tour, we saw speeds of around 80mph for the fastest cars. Along with all that speed comes GRIP! The concrete surface gives you gobs of grip, something we don’t have a lot of here in the PNW, and it also gives you a little tune-up for what it’s like back at Nationals in Lincoln. The surface and people in rows are fantastic, and well worth the drive south!
With new classing and format in place for 2017, our local events promise to bring some new competition to our events. Here is what to look for in 2017
NS1- SSR, SSP, ASP, BSP, ESP
Clay Horst took home the class win last year in ASP, but with the classing bring some more competition in 2017, look or Aaron Stafstrom to bring a strong challenge to the class.
NS2-CSP, DSP, FSP
Bill Randleman in his NC Miata will be tough to beat as he continues to fine-tune the blue beast. Long time racer Derek Loree will be there to make sure it’s not a cakewalk for Bill.
NS3-All Prepared and Modified classes
Race tire PAX will be in this group. A dog fight it will be with the likes of Ben Cort, Andy Howe, Perry Keller, and the rest in this class. Scott McCusker is the defending RPAX class champion, and he will be doing all he can to back it up with another championship in 2017.
NS4-SM, SSM, SMF
We see the Street mod cars here in NS4. With a good mix of makes, and drive trans, look for Gilbert Calkins to have a strong year in his SMF Dodge Neon. Garrett Cogburn might have a new car to play with in SMF, and could give Gilbert a run for his money. When you start to mix in the likes of Brian Brummell in his bad to the bone Evo, Stuart Goldstein in his beautiful BMW, and Jared Still in his maxed out RX-7, you see how this class is stacked from top to bottom.
ST1-STS, STC, STF, STR
It will be interesting to see how many come to play in what should be an entertaining class. Look for Sam Boyce in his STR Miata, and Matt Westerskow to continue their fight from last year.
ST2-STX, STU, STP
We expect to see some familiar faces making an appearance here in ST2. Rio Rios in his FR-S, Jeff and Morgan Peterson in their RX8, and John O’Donnell will all be bringing fast cars to the class, and look for this championship to go down to the wire.
S1-SS, AS, BS, FS
The Street classes kickoff with the “V8” classes in S1. Mike Marum is up and coming in his Z06 Corvette, with long time racer Chuck Jarvie in his BS Porsche Boxster coming off a 2016 class championship. Darren Crop in his FS Camaro, John Bagley in his BS VW Golf R, and Skyler Card in a 1999 C5 BS Corvette, this class will be a tough one to come out on top of! Look for a lot of different drivers with event wins this year in a great mix of cars.
S2-CS, DS, ES, GS, HS
The best competition could come from S2 in 2017. With most of the Open PAX class from 2016 moving into S2, we find a bunch of drivers with a lot of class wins, and even some top PAX times here. It’s a great mix of both newer and experienced drivers and a wide mixture of cars. MX5’s, and BRZ/FRS will most likely be dominating this class in numbers, but it could be a surprise Mini or MR2 that could grab the class win. With names like Orud, Kuehn, Hicks, Boland, Turner, and Anghilante, this class is stacked from top to bottom with talent!
Lots of changes come in the PRO PAX class in 2017. With new faces to the class, and a bunch of changes in both cars, and car setups, the 2017 PAX championship is completely up for grabs. Ryan Otis has proven to be one of the top drivers in the entire country, grabbing both National titles last year back in Lincoln, as well as the local championship in PPAX, but he sees many changes to his top performing Camaro as he jumps into STP. James Paulson in his Mustang will be avoiding taking out both cones and corner workers as he looks at the STP build on his runner up from last year, and take over the top spot. Dan Bullis comes from a dog fight and class championship in OPAX in 2016, and will be a strong contender as well in his BS C5 Corvette. You start adding names like Jenkins, Clemons, Cutler, Czopek, and you find the competition is endless in this class.
With Lacey Otis stepping down as director, this will free up some more time to focus just on her racing. Like her husband Ryan, the car changing over to STP trim could be the wildcard in the picture for 2017. Lacey is a past National champion, and defending LPAX champion in 2016. She will have her hands full with Leah Nagengast, Becky Zacarda, and Mina Ingrham chasing her down. Look for Danielle Paulson, and a few other ladies that could be players depending on how many events they compete in for 2017.
Last Month, we started a kind of “How To” for autocross. We will make this a monthly section to try and help out with any questions racers might have. The section will be called “Starting to autocross”. Last month, it was about the cars, this month, let’s talk about the best way to get started once you have your car picked out.
The 2 best improvements you can make to a car are:
A) improving your driving skills. As a driver, you should never stop improving, and pushing yourself to find ways to go faster. With a great group of racers here in our region, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for one of them to go for a ride along, and get some pointers. We hope to be offering some instruction at the tail end of our PIR events, so keep a close eye out for that info to come.
B) TIRES! Most people want to go right for throwing parts on your car, Sway bars, intakes, and exhaust are all great options, but these could throw you into a new class. Tires are the BEST modification you can add to your car right off the bat. With a handful of great options out there, you will notice a HUGE performance increase when swapping out your stock tires for a set of good race rubber. If you can afford it, picking up a second set of wheel s for your race tires is a great investment as well.
Please if you have questions please feel free to send them to us, and we will try and cover them here in the next issue. Remember, you may not be the only one with that question, so please ask!
With that, we head out into the 2017 season later this month! Look for an event recap, and the next installment of “Starting to Autocross” in April. Until then, have a great month, and Lets Race!
TOPEKA, Kan. (Feb. 2, 2017) -- Registration is open for the first bunch of 2017 Tire Rack SCCA® Starting Line Autocross schools. Since its inception in 2014, Starting Line has introduced more than 1,200 automotive enthusiasts to the finer points of autocross and will undoubtedly add to that total this year.
While there will be many additions to the 2017 calendar, the first several Tire Rack Starting Line Autocross events for this season are as follows:
February 18: Starting Line South Carolina
Darlington Raceway; Darlington, South Carolina
March 18: Starting Line Portland
Portland International Raceway; Portland, Oregon
March 18: Starting Line NorCal
NASA Crows Landing Airport; Crows Landing, California
April 8: Starting Line Boston
Moore Army Airfield; Devens, Massachusetts
For only $325 per entrant, Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line Autocross schools give automotive enthusiasts a professional, all-inclusive entry into the sport of autocross and the chance to have some fun with cars. The full-day school introduces key concepts applicable to performance driving and offers participants the opportunity to develop motorsport skills while working with professional performance driving instructors who teach vehicle dynamics, traction management, proper vision and car control techniques. Starting Line participants leave ready for autocross competition. But perhaps more important, all students gain an understanding of the capabilities of their vehicles while having fun with cars.
In addition to a full day of instruction, the Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line package includes a complete motorsports starter kit. Participants receive entry to a Tire Rack SCCA Solo® Championship Tour or Match Tour event valued at $100, entry to an SCCA Regional autocross valued at up to $40, entry to an SCCA Track Night in America® Driven by Tire Rack event valued at $150, SCCA membership valued at $90 and a Starting Line baseball cap, as well as a subscription to SportsCar and Grassroots Motorsports magazines.
For detailed information, school calendar/locations, autocross FAQs and more, visit the Tire Rack SCCA Starting Line Autocross website.
Photo Credit: Perry Bennett
Well with the 2017 right around the corner, and the snow finally gone, hopefully you have been thinking about joining us at a local autocross event. If you have never thought about autocross, or never thought that it is worth trying, think again. You are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to learn about yourself, and your car!
If you have not tried autocross, I know some of the thoughts you may be having. Is it worth my time? I love lapping, how can this be any fun after running at 100+ mph? It may not have the long drawn out effect of a lapping day, but for your time on course, you are being pushed to the limits every second. While you have time to relax running down the front stretch at PIR, or take a slower lap to catch your breath, in SOLO you are on the edge of every cone, pushing your car through every slalom, looking for every thousandth of a second to improve. It’s a competition like no other. Only your first 3, out of 5-7 runs, count towards competition points, so you don’t have a chance to practice or take your time. You can walk the layout before the event, and you can do so as many times as you want. But once you hit the start line, your adrenaline skyrockets knowing you only have 3 runs to get it done! We average between 5-7 runs at every event, so you have the chance to continue to improve on both your car, and your driving style. If you do not want to run for points you can still enjoy 5 to 7 runs so you can learn or polish those driving skills. We even have senior drivers that are willing to help you polish those skills.
Most of our events take place at either Portland International Raceway (PIR) or up north in the town of Packwood, Washington. If you have never had a chance to visit Packwood, you are in for a treat. Once we are done racing, there is always something going on. Whether it is a group lighting up the BBQ grill, heading out for an evening hike up on Mt Rainer, or going to the local pub for dinner, drinks, and karaoke, you will never be lacking for fun times to do! With racing on both Saturday and Sunday, it makes for a great weekend out of town. You can choose to either camp onsite or stay at one of the local lodges. Elk viewing in Packwood is easy since you can see them walking through the middle of town every day. Its just great family time.
Im sure by now, you have already outlined your game plan for changes and improvements on your current “steed”. And hopefully you have already begun to work on the list. But for those of you who will be going into your first season, let’s talk over a few things. There are a few things to think about before starting your racing path.
If you already have a car to prep.
What class does your car fit into? What mods have you done to the car, and how will that
affect your classing?
What do I want to add to my car, and how will that affect your classing moving forward?
Do I want to be competitive in my class, and what will that look like?
What is my race car budget for the year?
If you are looking at picking up a car
What is my car budget?
What class do I want to compete in that fits the kind of car I want to purchase?
How competitive do I want to me and what will I need to do to a car to facilitate that?
What will I need to do to the car I choose to allow me to get to where I want to be?
Getting these questions answered will help you get started in your autocross racing career. And we are available to help you get those answers. You can reach out to us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/orsccasolo) or drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now all you have to do is ask!!!
The SCCA Solo Driver of the Year, chosen by the Solo Events Board from nominations submitted by the membership at large, is awarded to the competitor who has demonstrated exceptional skill or has overcome major obstacles to produce an outstanding performance at the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championship. This year's winner is Cindy Duncan, of the Central Kentucky Region.
After garnering a string of second- and third-place finishes at the Tire Rack Solo Nationals over the last several years, Duncan arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, last September determined to finally take the win. However, a prior back injury reared its head just prior to competition, sending Duncan off to a local Urgent Treatment Center.
But even with a suspect back, Duncan held the lead in F Street Ladies going into the final day of competition. Fate, however, was not done with its attempt to foil her bid for a championship title. Just before the fifth heat on Friday of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships, historic rains drenched the venue and caused an unprecedented two-hour delay in the action. The 66 drivers in her heat had to wait for the downpour to stop before taking to the West Course. Splashing and sliding through the standing water in her Ford Mustang, Duncan put down her fastest time on her first run.
Unable to improve on her subsequent runs, she watched as other drivers whittled away at her 0.471-second, first-day advantage as water slowly started to drain from the course. But with a rainbow emblazoning the sky after the heat, Duncan's time held up, resulting in a 0.379-second victory and her first national championship -- a fairy tale ending for the 2016 Wendi Allen Scholarship recipient.