I know it’s been a while since my last article but this one should close the gap of what’s happened in the Blue Ridge Region SCCA season after the first event in March. Two events, one at the Salem Civic Center in Salem Virginia on April 3rd and the post-rookie school event at Verona on May 1st have shaken up the fields of many classes.
Starting with STS a majority of the class missed out on the Salem event leaving only Andrew Kennon in an RX7, Joe Banks and Brock Clayton driving Joe’s Miata. Brock won handily with a 2.3 second margin of victory and has since picked up his own Miata to join the STS fray more frequently. At Verona almost the entire STS field was assembled save for Tom Warden’s ’65 Morgan which will most likely make the next event at Virginia Tech. After the first event Scott Krzastek came out swinging shod with a set of shaved Toyo R1R’s and decimated the field. Joe Banks was a close second only 3 tenths behind with Justin Lingenfelter in 3rd 5 tenths from Joe. I was way off the pace in 4th. I could lay out the excuse list (there’s plenty!) but I knew I’d have to lose at some point. Ryan Krzastek, Chris Kirby and Andrew Kennon rounded out 5th-7th respectively with a Miata, Del Sol and Rx7.
Keeping with a Miata-centric theme, the battle in CSP looks a lot like 6 piranhas after a piece of prime rib. At Salem Tim Windle took the Red Bull (not to be confused with the energy drink corporation) Miata of Mick Seal’s to first place over Lynn Combs’s Blue Bullet 8 tenths behind. Ray Schumin ended his day in 3rd two tenths behind Lynn with Mick and Jason Combs rounding out the rest of the field in 4th and 5th respectively. Verona saw Pete Johnson driving the ghost of the BRR’s CSP class in Justin Rest’s old blue Miata. The car has since trophied at the Dixie Tour driven by it’s former owner and has been campaigned steadily by Pete. The trusty and rusty Miata not only beat the Bullet and the Bull but also set the Fastest Time of the Day (FTD). Tim Windle came closest to Johnson in 2nd a mere 4 tenths behind in the Bull and in 3rd with his first trophy of the year was Jason Combs. In an effort to get more seat time and driving advice Jason did the smart thing and took the previous day’s rookie school. Granted Jason wasn’t green to autocross by any means even those with experience can benefit from more seat time and outside advice. An even smarter move was apparently showing up on street tires as opposed to R-comps at the rookie school which gave Jason a more limited grip budget and forced him to focus on getting lines and rhythm correctly through the course. R-comps might cover your mistakes but street tires just don’t. Mick Seal finished just 2 hundredths behind Jason with Ray Schumin and Lynn Combs (Jason’s father) rounding out the rest of the field in 5th and 6th.
Steffan Clark's 84 Plymouth Colt that has blasted from the past to lead DSP. Photo by Ray Schumin.
DSP has turned into a three-way knife-fight between Ford Northen, Mark Snodgrass and Steffen Clark. It’s an interesting assortment of cars and you wouldn’t believe what’s currently winning in that class….wait for it…a 1984 Plymouth Colt Turbo. Worth that wait right? At Salem, Clark and Northen had the class to themselves and battled intensely. How intensely? The margin of victory was 7 hundredths of a second….the human eye takes 4 tenths to blink just for point of reference. At Verona Steffen again came out on top staying on 3 wheels around the entire skid pad turn (a long complete 360). Mark Snodgrass was close behind in 2nd only 2 tenths away and Ford was only 2 tenths behind Mark in 3rd. The difference between 1st and 3rd place was only 0.456 seconds…a smidgen over the time it takes to blink.
STU has also been a competitive class this year with David Wampler beating Gary Kirchbaum by 5 tenths of a second at Salem. How fast does one’s car have to be to win in STU? David and Gary both finished in the top 10 overall…not just Pax but top 10 overall period! Verona saw Wampler absent due to a date conflict with an Atlanta National Tour autocross…where he won the Street Modified Class. That isn’t to say that Gary had the day off because several other STI’s took Wampler’s place and dueled with Gary’s E36 M3. The old battle hardened M3 held out and Gary won with Peter Tyson…who normally drives a Street Modified E36, at the wheel of David Lonnquest’s STI in 2nd 6 tenths behind Gary and Kyle Cookmeyer’s STI a mere 2 tenths behind Peter with Lonnquest in 4th less than a second behind Kyle.
At Salem Martin Kriz in his BSP ‘06 STI showed the entire field how it was done with his blistering Fastest Time of the Day and Fastest Time of the Day Pax. Pax being a system that takes the level of modification of the car out of the equation and serving to compare drivers…needless to say Martin that he and his car were at the top of their game with second place by time being a F125 Shifter Kart driven by James Newman a half second behind and the next fastest Pax car being that of an excellent driver in Anthony Hodges a full 2.5 seconds back.
DJ Fitzpatrick's FTD capable Time Trial M3 had a rough time in the rain on nearly bald Star Specs. The second and third rungroups had a rough go of it to say the least. Photo by Ray Schumin.
At Verona many of the other classes that typically would run the fastest times during the day had to contend with a midday shower that rained from the 2nd run group through the 3rd leaving only the 1st and 4th run groups running in the dry. Of which the 4th run group’s first few runs saw a mix of wet and dry with a few puddles remaining. Guys who would normally be in the top 5 or FTD contenders were rained out like DJ Fitzpatrick and Justin Mathews. Patrick Houchens in his street modified Chevelle had come off a successful test of his Hotchkiss suspension the day before at the rookie school had a rough day in the wet conditions with his old tires and open differential not making things any easier. Brandon Cash in his ’91 Trans Am GTA tried to make the best of the soggy day with classic 80’s rock on the CD player as he gave me a ride through the course that brought back memories of my 92 Z28 and what it was like to have torque. As mentioned earlier Pete Johnson took FTD at Verona with 3rd place overall finisher Gary Kirchbaum taking Fastest Time Pax in his 4-door STU BMW M3. In the Novice class Nikki Jamison in her first-ever autocross following the previous day’s rookie school won the class by 2 seconds and also scored an impressive 30th of 78 drivers by actual time and 26th by Pax time.
The next race is scheduled for this weekend at the Virginia Tech Duck Pond Lot. It’s a two day, both days being for points, event that’s being used as a fundraiser for Tech’s Formula SAE team. The lot is in excellent shape for autocrossing with a slight downhill incline yet the lot is visible for the driver at every point making looking ahead easy. Even if I can’t get out of work to make this event I encourage anyone who can to attend this event as the lot is great.