html> PYLON PRESS (Nov 03)

November 2003

In this issue, Mike Driscoll profiles Mindi Cross. In addition to reviewing our November event at AMP and
summarizing the current Fall Series standings, Mark Johnson anticipates the National Tour event to be held
here in January. Scott Meyers reports on the completion of the Arizona State Championship series.

Our next activities are the Drivers' School on Saturday, December 6, and the final
event of the Fall Series on Sunday, December 7, both at Arizona Motorsports Park.

Copyright 2003.
Duplication allowed in whole or in part, provided full acknowledgment is given.
Mike Driscoll & Scott Meyers , Co-Editors

the pylon points to: Mindi Cross

by Mike Driscoll


ARIZONA REGION – Mindi Cross began to develop an interest in cars – unusual cars – during childhood, when her parents owned an AMC Pacer. Mindi emphasizes that the Pacer was cherished for its spaciousness and versatility rather than its performance, and claims that its "cab everywhere" body presaged Chrysler's cab-forward designs by a couple of decades.

When she reached driving age and her parents agreed to assist with the purchase of her first car, Mindi's interest in the unusual had her looking for something different, practical, and fast. She scored 2 out of 3 when she bought a 1983 Renault LeCar. She says it was gorgeous, with a patriotic French and/or American paint scheme (white with red and blue accents) and sophisticated LeCar side decals (whose weight degraded performance only slightly).

Time passed – the LeCar was sold – the LeCar was crushed into a cube (on purpose) – Mindi drove something usual and forgettable for a while. But she was back on track by 1998, the year of her great trek from Pennsylvania to Phoenix, when she bought a 1993 Geo Metro.

After a little more time had passed, Mindi and her Metro attended our December 2000 drivers' school. It was an autocrossing début for each of them. Run by run, Mindi's reactions progressed from "stark terror through enjoyment to being hooked." She autocrossed the Metro for almost half of 2001. But, alas, the need for air-conditioning soon forced her to replace the Metro with a yellow 2001 Ford Focus, which she co-drove with David Webb. It was while autocrossing this car that Mindi became acquainted with Ted Lewis, who let her drive his street-prepared 1965 Lotus Elan at the 2002 drivers' school.

Things haven't been the same since. The Focus is still her daily driver, but the Elan is her ride for autocross. She's a regular competitor in our region, at Tucson, and often in Sierra Vista. She has also competed in some events at the national level. Last spring she won ASPL in the San Diego National Tour and, just this September, she took 4th place in ASPL at the 2003 Solo 2 Nationals in Topeka.

Mindi manages our club's Goodie Store and serves on our Steering Committee. Professionally, she is a hazardous waste compliance officer for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Whether this is related to the LeCar remains unclear.

Autocross a Big Hit at AMP
The Third Event of the Fall Series

by Mark Johnson

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra
“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you going, you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

9 November 2003, ARIZONA MOTORSPORTS PARK – Under clear skies and in moderate temperatures, finally, 184 drivers came out to Arizona Motorsports Park as the Arizona Region SCCA Solo 2 Group held the third event in the Fall Series. Detailed event results are posted. This was double-header in a way, because it included the rubber match of the Arizona State Championship series. That series had started in April in Tucson and moved to Sierra Vista in August, before concluding with this event at AMP. Congratulations to the new state champions and all 35 drivers who completed the three-event statewide series.

photo All the competitors were faced with another challenging course from the creative mind of Chuck Voboril. It looked like no other yet seen at AMP, with wide-open sweepers and big gaps between gates. If Yogi Berra were an autocrosser, he might have said something like “There were straights everywhere you turned.” Alas, it was an optical illusion; this was not a power course but rather a g-fest!

Once away from the drag race start, there was time to settle the car and set up for the first turn. The moderately tight right-hander opened up to what looked like a short slalom, except the pointer cones made it into an off-speed curve. The curve culminated with a tight left that pulled you wide at the exit. The following extended right came around the horn to face another slalom-looking offset, creating a fun set of esses. The esses opened into a long, wide left sweeper – almost a straight, which again tightened up at the exit. A proper exit was critical because a fast straight followed. The straight melted into the hot corner, a decreasing radius that demanded your full attention. It was beautiful when done right, but it took a lot of finesse to stay in the sweet spot and set up for the final offset and home base.

The keys to fast times seemed to be having lots of lateral grip and precisely placing the car in the strike zone despite having a whole outfield at your disposal. Many drivers pushed harder on their later runs and found themselves running outside the baselines. Sloppy drivers and/or those without sufficient grip were left scratching their heads about where they could save time. In some classes, the usual benchmarks seemed not to apply.

Top time of the day went to Chuck Voboril in the F Modified Zink, at 41.079. Amazingly, top PAX score was shared between Jim Harnish in an F Street Prepared Honda Civic and Steve Eymann in a Super Stock Chevrolet Corvette Z06. In fact, Harnish was just a couple of hundredths faster, but both scores rounded to 1000. Neither the Zink nor the Civic has built its reputation as a Ruthian torque monster but, like the Z06, each can zip around corners quickly.

photo Some of the biggest surprises came in the local indexed classes, like PRO, Sportsman, Street Tire and Novice, all hotly contested. It is not surprising that Mark Huffman pulled out a 42.586 run in his yellow Lotus Elan, good for fourth fastest overall. That run translates to a winning 974 PAX score in PRO class. After all, Huffman is a multi-time National Champion and knows a thing or two about Solo 2. What is surprising is that he shaved off 1.2 seconds between his first and second runs. He was not alone in chopping off huge amounts of time, as Ted Lewis whittled off nearly two seconds on his third run to capture second place with a 969 PAX score in his green Lotus. These are guys who can usually go out on the first run and be within tenths of their best time. Clearly, there was some magic to be found on course and it took some effort to find it. The PRO class was rounded out with Chuck Voboril at 955, David Rock at 950 and Charlie Cave at 757.

One of the great features about the Sportsman class is run group choice, aside from being able to drive a different vehicle at every event and still earn series points. Expecting the course to get faster as the day progresses, many Sportsman drivers request a later run group. Frequently, by the time they run, the top PAX scores have been established and only a few drivers will get close. Steve Eymann ran his Z06 in group D and absolutely smashed the established PAX score by over 0.8 seconds on his first run, with a passenger! Then he got serious and went faster, ultimately putting down an awesome 41.932 run, scoring 1000 PAX points. Dave Young put his Street Mod BMW M3 in second place with 965 PAX score, followed by Wiggy Greacen (borrowed Street Mod Mustang) and Mark Shaw (borrowed H Stock Mini Cooper) at 964 and 962 respectively. A mystery DNF plagued Dave Munsey on two out three runs and he did not fair well.

Lou Young ran into some competition for his B Stock S2000 in the way of Rich Fletcher’s B Stock Porsche 968. Fletcher turned a phenomenal 966 PAX score to take top position in Street Tire 1 – effectively debunking the urban legend that ST1 is slower than ST2. The rest of the class fought it out tooth and nail. With a PAX score of 903, Craig Meyer found himself in third place. The next eight positions were within 10 PAX points. They included Jeff William’s BMW at 889 and both Brandon Smith in the Street Mod Nissan and James Frink in the Street Mod Subaru at 885. Veteran driver Don Roberts finished with an 884 in a B Stock S2000 just in front of Chris Noyes’ Lincoln LS at 882. Right behind at 880 was Kim Kemper’s Corvette, chased by Clint Child in a Street Mod Integra Type R and Ray Coombes in an F Stock Mustang GT, who tied at 879.

Street Tire 2 put on a heck of a good show too. It was Jay Balducci’s day as he put down a really nice run coming home with a 923 PAX score in his D Stock WRX. The G Stock cars of Ryan Yantzer and Chad Mizner, a 240SX and a Del Sol VTEC respectively, followed up with a 913 and 908. Next was a pair of Ford Focii as Dwight Smith pedaled the H Stock version to finish in front of David Webb’s G Stock SVT. Street Tire 3 pulled in six competitors to this event, all in CSP or DSP cars. Robert Rose still came out on top in the STO Miata, as he has all series long, but only by the one PAX point this time. An outstanding effort by Brian Kozan in the Nissan Altima and John Fleming in the Toyota MR2 Spider made this one close. Once Elaine Soukup got past a first run DNF, she drove to an easy victory over Sharon Roberts in Street Tire Ladies. Perhaps Sharon was a little rusty, she has not been out in while. Generally, she can cut a good time, but she was caught looking after three strikes in a row.

The Novice classes are fun to watch. During the event, it can be difficult to get a sense of the competition because they are running in different heats and driving cars from a variety of categories. It isn’t exactly heads-up racing, but they know where they stand and who they are they are chasing. Once again, Troy Messina put his Street Mod Trans Am on top in Novice 1 with a 884 PAX score. The battle behind Troy was intense. Travis Berry pulled down a 856 PAX score in his E Street Prepared, Camaro, Ryan Sotak managed an 855 in his E Street Prepared WRX and Darrell Covert, who drove his Z06 to the fastest overall NV1 time, came in with a 854 PAX score - three drivers within a three point PAX range.

photo Stock class Volkswagens have a tendency to lift the inside rear wheel when cornering fast. It has been said that you can tell how smooth a VW driver is by how long, how high and how steadily he carries the wheel. Jason Miller should have filed flight plans with Luke AFB before his runs, as he was flying the inside rear wheel of his H Stock Golf the whole way around the course. He landed squarely in first in Novice 2 with an outstanding 921 PAX score. Aric Trust, Jesse Silva, Tom Hodgdon and the rest of the class put down some good times, but they weren’t scraping the door handles like Miller.

What a battle in Novice 3 and still no clear winner. Both Richard Vela and Henry Inglesias managed 894 PAX scores. Maybe it was because they were both driving 240SX Nissans? Jon Wing was left to represent the Honda crowd, driving his Integra to a respectable third place with an 888 PAX score. The women in the Novice Ladies are proving to be a versatile bunch; this time it was Sarah Peters’ turn to switch cars. Apparently the move from the G Stock Golf to the C Stock Miata worked well for her, as she swept the class with an 841 PAX score. Of course, the sticky tires probably helped too! Lorena Porter is staying with her B Stock M Roadster (and who wouldn’t?) because it is working well for her – she managed a 791 PAX. Lindsey Maxfield, back in her familiar D Stock Neon, gave dad a thrill ride on the way to a 786 PAX score. Rookie Ashleigh Mason was at her first autocross ever and managed to beat her dad. Kids these days – no respect for their elders.

When the Novice Ladies move to the big leagues, they might choose the growing Ladies PAX class. Like the Sportsman class, the Ladies PAX class offers run group choice and hall-of-fame level competition. Dawn Maxwell was the benchmark, pushing her H Stock Mini Cooper to a PAX score of 955. Deb Eymann coned on the first run, then on her second try, drove her Z06 to a raw time over two seconds faster than Maxwell. In spite of the quick raw time, it was not enough to overcome the PAX factor handicap. Glenda Meyers, Jodie Warren and Mindi Cross all put it together on their third runs. Sheryl Zavion showed some heads-up driving when she stopped for a spinning Lotus without the benefit of a red flag.

Joel Schotz led the way in the Super Stock with the great white Z06. He got faster with each run, ending up with a 43.396, despite setting up the “old rear tires” excuse from the playbook early on. Jim Young chased Schotz all day, finally getting to a 44.821 on his third run. Dan Sniezek showed good improvement with each run, but just didn’t put it all together fast enough, ending with a 45.575 and a 924 PAX score. Tom Dukerich set the bar at 46.6 on his first run in C Stock. Both Mark Johnson and Tom Hodgdon opened with sliders when they over-estimated the AMP grip. Only Tom Tkacik came in a slightly faster after first runs with a 46.173. On the second try, all the Miata drivers moved to the 45’s except Hodgdon. Johnson trailed Tkacik by 0.1, who lead with a 45.390. No one improved on the final runs except Hodgdon who end with 46.658. Like Super Stock, all drivers scored 920+ PAX in this competitive class.

Ron Mercer continued to dominate D Stock with another outstanding effort. He went from the 47’s on his first run, the 46’s on his second run to a 45.957 on his third run – good for a 960 PAX score. Three up, three down just like that. Jim Barks nearly caught Mike Esker, both ending up in the mid 50’s, with the Protégé prevailing over the Lexus. The epic E Stock war continues between Kevin Venisnik and Lee Imler, both in Miatas. Venisnik won this battle but it was a struggle. Imler had the lead after first runs with a 48.471 and Venisnik DNF'd. Venisnik ran a clean 48.684 on his second run, close but still not as fast Imler’s first run. Imler never improved from his initial run, scaring course workers and hitting cones on both his second and third runs. Would he be able to stand on his first run? Venisnik responded with clean 48.143 to snatch the victory away from Imler. Both turned in excellent 900+ PAX performances.

photo It was a classic Ford versus Chevy battle in F Stock featuring Scott Kalna in a Mustang GT and Don Hyland in a Camaro Z/28. Kalna drove the Mustang to a 48.663, but it wasn’t enough to stop the hard-charging Hyland who turned in a 46.492. Get out the scorecard – it’s G Stock time again. Six drivers and you never know who will come out on top. First runs saw Scott Meyers and Chris Bunch in the 48’s and Kevin Gleaton and Larry Dues in the 49’s. Larry Bunch, in a Cooper S, was in the low 51’s and Dane Campbell, also in a Cooper S, DNF'd. Neither Meyers nor Chris Bunch could improve on the second runs, but everyone else did. After second runs, it was Dues in first with a 48.491 followed by Meyers 48.593. A 48.616 put Gleaton’s Dodge Neon ACR ahead of Chris Bunch in the Mini. Dues DNF'd his third try. Chris Bunch slowed down while both Meyers and Gleaton jumped into the 47’s on their third runs. Meyers turned a 47.361 to take first, with Gleaton at a 47.507 close behind. Dues stood on his second run for third place while the Campbell and Bunch Mini’s trailed.

The Street Prepared classes offered some of the best action of the day. Ben Clement in a D Street Prepared Integra turned in a 45.421, good for a 944 PAX score. E Street Prepared saw the return of Dave Schotz, only this time in an orange and black Mustang Mach I – shod with Kumho 710's. He managed a 43.733 for an outstanding 971 PAX score. Just think, he could have chosen F Stock and turned in a 995 PAX! Brian Weikert drove his Mustang to a 45.942, good for second place, only 0.067 ahead of Richard Rippy in a Camaro. Ross Meyer was left holding the bag as Jim Harnish and Andy Hollis came to town. In spite of a solid 46.609 run, good for a 924 PAX score; Harnish and Hollis, co-driving a dialed-in F Street Prepared Honda Civic, blew Meyer away. It didn’t help that Harnish turned in a 1000 PAX score with an astounding 43.054 his second run. Hollis turned a 43.674 on his second run, good for a 986 PAX score. The Honda’s tires may have overheated by the third runs, as both slowed slightly. The duo’s performance in the Honda really drove home the point that this course was not exclusively a V8 playground. E Prepared keeps drawing more drivers. The only problem is that no more cars are showing up. The E Prepared club car, a Datsun 510, did yeoman’s duty with Brent Rederick pedaling to a 47.003. Adolfo Malagon was right there with a 47.264 while Dick Lowell managed a 49.201.

photo All the Formula Ford drivers were on hand because of the hotly contested C Modified Arizona State Championship. And what a squeaker it was! Gene Sanders put down a 44.375 first run, Alan Wagstaffe spun and Ken Edney had cone trouble. On second runs, Sanders continued to push the pace with a 44.086, Wagstaffe came back with a 44.734 and Edney cleaned up with safe 45.110. A 43.775 by Sanders on his third run looked like it might be good enough for the win. Wagstaffe slowed to the 45’s, but Edney ripped off a 43.630 to pull out the lead on the last run.

Joe Curry now runs the Spitfire alone in D Modified as the team of David Lahey and Don Sattler continues to wrench on the little black Miata. The Miata has seen quite a transformation over the past several seasons. It it used to run in CSP. But now, with the addition of wide wheels and a supercharger and the subtraction of just about everything else, it runs in E Modified with Tom Hill’s Fiero. In order for a Mod car to run top PAX, it has to max out every opportunity in the rulebook, be tuned just right and have a driver capable of making it all work. There are not many people that can pull this off. When it comes together, it is breathtaking. These guys have set their sites on top time of day and they are mighty close to pulling it off. Sattler turned the third fastest time overall with a 42.575 and Lahey was fifth at a 42.749. Clearly they can drive, so keep watching as this car gets faster and faster.

photo Street Mod has some of the coolest cars – big V8s, turbo four cylinders, front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and even all wheel drive. It was the AWD Subaru of Geren Smith coming out on top. He managed a 45.325 on his second run to put down a 928 score. Steve Steele saw Wiggy Greacen drive the wheels off his Mustang in PRO class and Steve did the same thing in SM Open, good for a second place. Mike Shapiro and Larry Petrucci turned in notable performances as well. Paul Hamersly drove the Corvette to the win Street Mod 2 over Harry Berzes.

Jesse Caudill and Jeff Baysinger put over 900 miles on their Street Touring S Honda Civic in order to check out the competition in Phoenix. They made it worth their while too. After first runs, most drivers were in the 49’s or 50’s. These guys were in the 47’s! Second runs had everyone taking time off, except Jonathon Eddy with cone troubles and Baysinger stayed put. Now, most were in the 48’s. Caudill ran a 46.698, nearly a second ahead of Baysinger’s first run. No one could touch Caudill, but Ron Huber pushed his Impreza to a 47.061 on third runs to snag second place from Baysinger. There is Street Touring X and then there is Josh Sorter. All the competitors are closely matched and have a serious competition going, but only for second place because Sorter is so far out in front. The Street Touring X ace ran a 45.4 to everyone else’s 49’s and 50’s. A 968 PAX on street tires is might respectable.

The organizers hit a home run with this event. They had all the bases covered and no extra innings were required to nail down the event. The competitors used the jacking boards provided by AMP without complaint. Several folks pitched in to teardown the course and pack the equipment truck. Assistance with the clean up is always greatly appreciated.
“It ain’t over til it’s over!” – Yogi Berra
“It gets late early out there.” – Yogi Berra

Arizona Championship Series – Completed

by Scott Meyers

27 April 2003, TUCSON; 3 August 2003, SIERRA VISTA; 9 November 2003, PHOENIX – For some years, people have been thinking about a way to declare overall State Champions in the assorted Solo 2 Classes. So late last year, Mark Shaw put together a championship plan that involved one event at each of the three regular Solo 2 sites in Arizona. The three events this year constituted the first try at such a Championship Series. Plans are afoot to develop the Series into an annual proceeding: the format is under review, and comments and suggestions are welcome.

Scoring in the SCCA Open Classes was by total raw time from the three events. But PAXL (PAX Ladies) was PAX'd, obviously, as were two purpose-defined classes: STA (Street Tire Arizona) and STAL (Street Tire Arizona Ladies). Since this was a Championship Event, there were no Novice classes. Thirty-five hardy souls managed to attend the three different event venues this year – Tucson in April, Sierra Vista in August, and in Phoenix in November – as they had to do to be series eligible, as no event would be dropped.

Posted results show that class participation was not heavy, but hopes are high for more interest and participation in 2004. This year, eight classes ended up with solo competitors who were therefore winners, those being: Steve Eymann in SS, Jim Barks in DS, Don Hyland in FS, Mark Shaw in HS, Greg Duncan in AP, Joe Curry in DM Tom Hill in EM, and Glenda Meyers in STAL. Nine other classes had multiple entrants.

photo G Stock was a Mini playground with Dane Campbell's Cooper S model being the best of the bunch. Pun intended, as Dane bested Chris and Larry Bunch's similar model by a total of four seconds. STS had close competition with Dave Rock's Celica GTS besting Mark and Jon Eddy's Subaru by less than a second. Remember, this was total time from three events! STX belonged to Joshua Sorter and his WRX, by a handsome margin over Todd Houser's modded Mini S. In SM Dave Young's sleek BMW was more than a match for the classic Detroit-iron Mustang of Steve Steele. Competition in SM2 showed that might is right, as Paul Hammersley hammered the Berzes' Miata by a hefty margin. Harry had some solace in the very close final runs during the third event at AMP. He is slowly getting his new turbo dialed in.

David Schotz left no doubts as to his raw talent as he buried the competition in ESP, leaving Richard Rippy and Larry Petrucci to bid him a fond farewell. Dave is leaving ESP to take on new challenges in F Stock next year. Yep, he's bought a Mustang. The C Modified guys went at it tooth and nail, and when the fumes and dust cleared it was Ken Edney at the top by 1.1 seconds. Alan Wagstaffe actually took the second event from Ken, but just couldn't duplicate that feat. Gene Sanders was always just a few scant ticks behind, well within striking distance but falling a bit short.

Ladies PAX found Dawn Maxwell well in front of Mindi Cross and Sheryl Zavion, with the outcome never in doubt. Lou Young and his S2000, on the other hand, found the going tougher in STA (Arizona Street Tire), with Chad Mizner's Del Sol nipping closely at his heels every step of the way. Mike Whitehouse (perhaps falling victim to the Meyers' curse of changing cars in midstream) was also solidly in the running, until his new MazdaSpeed Protégé proved, in the third event, to be too much to learn in too little time. Dave Webb, Scott Meyers, and Roy Coombes filled out the field, and not much else … this time.

All in all, not a bad first effort at Arizona Championship Series. Hope to see you in the ASC for 2004!

Trophy Construction Ahead
Current Standings in the Fall Series

by Mark Johnson

9 November 2003, ARIZONA MOTORSPORTS PARK – The Fall Series is in full swing, with 3 of the 4 events completed. Only one more opportunity to redeem yourself with a flawless class-destroying PAX score. A quick look at the series standings shows there are still many championships on the line. Some drivers in this series will win a trophy by only a few PAX points. Who will they be?

But, first, some background. The highest total, after summing each competitors’s top three PAX scores from the four events of the series, establishes class standings. The number of trophies awarded within a class depends on the number of eligible competitors, that is, on how many drivers in the class have competed in at least 3 of the 4 events that constitute the series. At most 6 trophies are awarded in any class. A 1st place trophy is awarded in any class with 1 or more eligible competitors (in other words, in every class), a 2nd place trophy is given if the class has 3 or more competitors, a 3rd place if 6 or more, 4th if 8 or more, 5th if 10 or more, and 6th if 12 or more.

photo There are two trophies on the line for Super Stock. Joel Schotz seems to have first place in control. Jim Young needs a solid performance in December to hold off Dan Sniezek for second place. C Stock is always tight. With only two trophies available, everyone will have to their game face on in December. Mark Johnson currently leads, being chased closely by Tom Tkacik and Tom Dukerich, who are only three PAX points apart. If Tkacik shows up with new tires and drives up to his potential, Dukerich and Johnson will be left to battle it out for second. Ron Mercer appears to have a lock on first place in D Stock. With two trophy spots on the block and only four PAX points separating Mike Esker and Jim Barks, this race too comes down to the final event.

The clash of the titans doesn’t have anything on E Stock. With only one trophy up for grabs, Kevin Venisnik and Lee Imler have been going at all series long. Even after three events, only three PAX points separate the pair. The club may have to explore contingencies in the event of tie. Don Hyland has a solid lead over Scott Kalna for the F Stock title, but each has only shown up for two events so far. This has the potential to be good race if both show up in December. With three different winners in three events, G Stock does not lack for driving skill. Unfortunately, it looks like there will only be two trophies awarded. Kevin Gleaton and Scott Meyers have both moved to sticky tires and are consistent enough to make it a real battle. Chris Bunch or Dane Campbell will have to come from behind in their street tire Mini’s to make a good showing. Will the threat (real or perceived) of Mark Shaw in a G Stock car next season have any bearing on the outcome?

E Street Prepared has taken an interesting twist. The current leader, Dave Schotz, is certainly capable of wining if he shows up. He has only run two events thus far and needs to run the December to be eligible for the series. But he has recently moved out of state and switched cars. It will take a real effort on his part to get here. Assuming Schotz remains eligible, there are two trophy spots up for grabs. If Schotz fails to show up in December, then there will only be one trophy position. Either way, Brian Weikert and Richard Rippy will be scrambling for position.

A few classes have already been determined. For instance, Robert Freeman can claim H Stock, Joe Moritz has won A Street Prepared and Ben Clement is the AZ Region D Street Prepared champion. If Derrick Disharoom shows up in December, he will win B Street Prepared.

Craig Meyer may be happy about not facing series competition in F Street Prepared after November’s event. He was up against a couple of the top drivers in the country, but he will get the last laugh by winning the series crown. At least Craig has had some heads up competition in his class. Over in A Prepared Greg Duncan has run solo the entire season. In spite of no direct competition, Duncan has turned in some superb performances. Dick Lowell could foresee a similar problem in E Prepared, so he has been recruiting additional drivers every event. Brent Rederick currently has the series lead, but must show up in December and drive well to claim victory.

Alan Wagstaffe has been to every Fall Series event. Too bad for him that his lowest PAX score came in September when Ken Edney didn’t show up. It has been a battle in October and November, each taking a win. It is all up to Edney to show up in December, drive the wheels off the C Modified Zink Z10 and claim the trophy from Wagstaffe. The point’s summary for D Modified is deceiving. It shows three competitors, meaning two trophy spots, with Don Sattler leading the group. However, the Miata of Don Sattler and David Lahey has undergone a mid-season metamorphosis, bumping into E Modified. If Joe Curry brings out the Spitfire in December, he can collect the series championship.

photo Street Modified will probably go three trophies deep. A good performance by any of the drivers could land them in the winners' circle. Larry Petrucci will likely be in the mix somewhere, but who will be there with him? Steve Steele has been having a good season, but so have Mike Shapiro and Geren Smith. Be sure to watch this class in December. With only one trophy spot and the Street Modified 2 championship on the line, neither Brant Bauman nor Harry Berzes can afford to miss the December event. Both have missed one event already, so each must show up to be trophy eligible.

Street Touring S has seen Ron Huber claim every individual event to build a solid series lead. Huber can’t relax though, not with Mark Eddy, Bud Caldwell and Jonathon Eddy in pursuit. Any of these guys can pull off a high PAX score at any time. Assuming both Eddy’s show up, this class should go two trophies deep. Caldwell and Jonathon Eddy are currently tied in PAX points and dogging each other to get past Mark Eddy to the trophies. There is no mystery who will win in Street Touring X. Josh Sorter has put together a great season, ringing up many top PAX scores. With only two trophies at stake, the other three drivers in Street Touring X will be pedaling hard in December. Todd Houser and Jeremy Galo have been trading finishing spots and Joel Priddy has been closely shadowing them.

As with Street Touring X, it looks like Dawn Maxwell has a lock on the Ladies PAX championship. And, like Street Touring X, there are three contenders for second place. Glenda Meyers, Mindi Cross and Jodie Warren are all on the verge of consistently high PAX scores. Who ever puts together the best run in December will claim second. Jessica Jackson has shown strong improvement every event and is expected to come out swinging next season.

The PRO class does not run for trophies, opting for cash instead. This is the big four-event series, offering a higher total payout than the three-event series, so these guys are motivated! In terms of points, December will determine the winner. Mark Huffman currently has a slim lead over Ted Lewis and Chuck Voboril. David Rock has put in solid 950+ PAX scores all season, but not had the one big 990+ PAX score needed to hang with the leaders.

The Sportsman class has 12 eligible drivers so far. If everyone shows up in December, they will be vying for six trophies. Steve Eymann has the class pretty well in hand, followed by Dave Young. There just isn’t much room to make up lots of PAX points when you are already running near the 970s. The battle for third is wide open. Top contenders are Tage Evanson, Brian Peters and Mark Shaw. It all depends on who drives what car. If the class does manage to go six trophies deep, it will be Dave McCombs trying to hold off Steve Ryan and Jim Rohn for a shot at the trophies.

Over in the ultra-competitive world of street tires, Street Tire 1 has 20 drivers eligible for series points, and only six trophies to go around. Lou Young and Craig Meyer look to have the top two spots under control. The remaining four trophy positions will be hotly contested. There are a dozen of the top Street Tire 1 drivers who could claim them, depending upon who puts together the best run in December. It is probably going to take an 880+ PAX performance to collect the hardware, so look for Kim Kemper, Jeff Williams, Clint Child, and Chris Noyes. Or maybe Ron Adock, Roy Coombes, Patrick Soukup or Bob Yantzer can rip one off. Watch for these guys near the score board, they’ll be the ones with the calculators.

Do you think Street Tire 1 is tough, try Street Tire 2! With 12 drivers eligible so far, it could go up to six trophies deep. The first three are already spoken for, but it is not clear who gets what. With only one PAX point separating Chad Mizner, Ryan Yantzer and Jay Balducci, the December will determine the series outcome. These three have traded wins all series long. Don’t expect the situation to change. Like E Stock, the club may have to explore a tiebreaker methodology to loosen this knot. Dwight Smith, Christopher Vasilakos, David Webb and Scott Jones are all positioned well to scoop up the remaining trophies. You can be sure these guys already know how many seconds they need to win buy in order take home a championship.

Street Tire 3 is showing signs of growth. There are three drivers eligible for series points so, if all show up in December, there will be two trophies. Defending champion Robert Rose is likely to repeat. If either Brain Kozan or Justin Kernan stays home, second place goes to the other. Likewise, Elaine Soukup can claim the Street Tire Ladies championship in December, with a single good run.

Next to Street Tire 1, Novice 1 has the most eligible drivers for series points. Troy Messina and Travis Berry have managed the top spots in Novice 1 all season long. They came out of the box strong and no one has managed to catch them yet. You will likely see them at the January awards banquet. Perhaps the more compelling story is how much the rest of the group has improved. Darrell Covert, Derrick Slife and Ryan Sotak are separated by only PAX point apiece. Each has already made three events in a good position to take home some hardware. The final trophy position looks to be a battle between Gabe Ortega and Phil Ponce. Ortega's PAX scores have slid a bit as the season has progressed, while Ponce has steadily improved at each event. Will Ortega reverse the trend? Will Ponce improve quickly enough to snag a trophy? Will Chris Schildgen, George Marstovanic or Klayton Albers put together a killer run in December?

photo Jason Miller, Jesse Silva and Aric Trust are all in good shape to take one of the possible six trophies in Novice 2. They have each shown great potential, scoring at least one 900+ PAX score each. Miller has only run two events and must show up in December to remain eligible for the series. It’s probably going to take an 850+ PAX performance to claim the next three trophy spots. And there are several drivers capable of making that happen. Top contenders look like Tom Hodgdon, Raymond Vieweg, Sean Powers, Lee Nicely, Brad Owen and Guy Austin.

Jayme Martens and Henry Inglesias have only run one event together and they were only separated by one PAX point then. They will likely claim one of the six Novice 3 trophies if they show up for the December event. Other top contenders include Jon Wing, Richard Vela and Matt Van Dusen. If David Marciniak, Champa Phetosomphou or Cameron Damavandi show up, they stand a good chance of landing trophies as well.

Novice Ladies has been quite exciting this season, so it’s a shame there are only two trophies. Lorena Porter has quietly put in a consistent performance all season and currently leads the series. If Lindsey Maxfield gets to the site in enough time to walk the course, she has a real shot grabbing the championship. Likewise, Kendra Albers has demonstrated strong improvement with every run and if she manages to put together a fast run, it could be enough to land her in the trophies.

Good luck to all in the final event of the Fall Series, on December 7 at AMP. Trophies will be presented at the annual awards banquet, being held on Saturday, January 31, 2004 at the Four Points Sheraton hotel near MetroCenter. In addition to dinner, bench driving, trophy presentations, and lots of door prizes, it's a great opportunity to match faces to names and see what folks look like when dressed in civvies and not suffering from helmet hair.

Get Primed to Go National

by Mark Johnson

ARIZONA REGION – The Arizona Region is preparing to host the first event in the 2004 SCCA National Tour, on January 24 and 25, 2004 at Arizona Motor Sports Park. This will be the first time that our region has hosted such a prestigious event, and it will be one of only a handful of such events offered in 2004.

What makes the National Tours so special? After all, autocrosses are held nearly every weekend, all across the land. What’s so important about this one? Well, the tours are the epitome of our sport. While autocrossing is a grassroots activity, the SCCA Solo 2 National Tours put a fine point on it. Participating in a tour makes you feel like you are part of something big, something extraordinary, so it compels you to do your best.

The SCCA National Solo 2 staff will be running the tour, with some help from local volunteers. (Hint, hint.) They'll bring the SCCA National equipment truck, affectionately known as The Toaster. And all their other gear, including a timing system that prints out standings between each run. But mostly, national staff will bring a high level of organization, skill and know-how. AMP will look, sound and feel more refined for this Tour than it does for our local events. It is not uncommon to see cars and drivers you read about in Grassroots Motorsports and SportsCar, who chase Tours and ProSolos around the country. There they are, in the grid spot right next to you!

The concept behind the National Tours is to bring the flavor and excitement of the annual Solo 2 Nationals (held every September in Topeka, Kansas) out to – or out of – the hinterlands. One gets a taste of the intensity of national competition, right here in our local venue.

photo To qualify for Nationals, you must run either a Tour or a Divisional. The idea is give drivers who are thinking of going to Nationals a basic idea of how those events are run and what is expected of them. So the Tour held here will incorporate some procedures we don’t typically follow at the local level. The Tour operates just like Topeka Nationals do. You pre-register; there is no on-site registration. It is a two-day event, running different courses each day, three runs each. The winners are determined by summing the best times from each course. It is possible to win the Tour without being the quickest driver on either course.

There are no indexed classes available, no Pro, Sportsman, Street Tire or Novice classes like in the Arizona Region. (In fact, there is no mention of PAX factors in the official SCCA rulebook.) Only Open classes and parallel Ladies classes are offered, so it's all heads-up competition. These classes are typically deeper than at our local events. There are very few single car classes, and popular classes draw 20 or more drivers. Of course, the level of competition rises too. The local hot shoes from surrounding regions are likely to be on hand, each expecting to win like they do at home.

SCCA membership is required to participate in the Tour. Everyone is expected to present his or her SCCA membership card and a current Solo 2 rulebook at Registration. You have to dress your car with required SCCA decals, large identifying numbers, and car class identifiers. This transformation magically adds purpose, meaning, and about 10 visual horsepower to your vehicle. Entry fees are typically higher than a local event, but include a Test & Tune on Friday, three runs on Saturday, three runs on Sunday, a Friday welcoming party and a Saturday night social. You’ll want to try to get one of the trophies too, because they are way cool.

In many ways, the Tour works just like a local event.. For instance, course working still requires chasing cones. Only at the Tour, there will be a whole team of course workers at each station and they will each have a specific job. How can there be that much to do, you ask? Well, each pylon is identified with a unique number. When a car knocks over a cone, one person resets the cone and notes the number. Another records the cone number, the car number and the car class on an audit sheet. A third makes the radio call into Timing. There are no observers per se, as at our local events.

The radio talk follows fixed protocols, to avoid confusion. Talk like “This is station 4, C Stock , number 83, two cones”. The audit sheets are important. Every course worker must sign all the audit sheets in order to get credit for working or risk being disqualified. However, the main reason behind the audit sheets is troubleshooting when there's s a controversial cone call. The audit sheets are collected from each station about halfway through and at the end of each cycle of runs, and immediately posted near grid for drivers to review. Posting of audit sheets is so important that a driver can refuse to make the next run if the sheet from the prior run hasn't been posted yet.

Grid works much in the same as at our local events, with each car having a numbered grid spot, but there are typically two grids, one active and one filling for the next running group. (Cars have to be in grid 30 minutes before the heat starts.) And there are special rules regarding double drivers and reruns, rules designed to minimize the advantage of running on hot tires. Grid workers need to manage the grid according to these rules. For instance, a car must sit in grid at least five minutes between runs, either for a driver change or a rerun. The grid workers actually use stop watches to track these things. Additionally, a driver may request a “mechanical” if the driver or the car is for some reason not ready to go when called. The driver then has up to 10 minutes to fix the problem, or the run is forfeited. All “mechanical” requests are coordinated through Grid and Timing. The Grid workers keep a stopwatch on the car, arranging for its release to the start line if the problem is resolved within the 10-minute window.

When the runs for a given heat are finished, all cars from that heat must go directly to Impound, which is sometimes held in the grid itself. While in Impound, hoods and trunks must be raised so every competitor can check out the competition. Stay with your car and have everything with you, including tire tools in case you're asked to remove a tire. After a pre-determined time, typically 20 to 30 minutes, and provided no protests have been filed, cars are released from Impound. with their competitors, the Impound workers will release the cars by class. Leaving early incurs DSQ, disqualification. Protests are a last resort, and pretty rare. If you see something illegal on a competitor’s car, first discuss it with the driver, directly. If you decide to file a protest or are protested yourself, seek guidance from a veteran Arizona Region driver.

Many companies offer incentives to drivers who put their products on the podium. For instance, Honda, Mazda, MINI and Subaru all pay cash to winners, as do Kumho and Yokohama. Hoosier offers tires if you win. Other autocross product and service companies may offer contingencies too, like GEEZ or the Evolution driving school. But note that you usually have to sign up for these programs before you run.

National Tours are a lot of fun. And they aren’t only for elite drivers; they are for anyone who enjoys autocrossing. (Some drivers fly in and run rental cars, just to be a part of the scene.) Don’t worry about not having your car prepared to the max and don't be intimidated by the extra protocol: if your car is legal and you can stay on course, you are ready. Lots of information is avaiable on the national web site, and there are lots of local people ready to help you out.

Compete! This is a chance to experience autocrossing at a national level. Volunteer! This is a wonderful opportunity to show the rest of the country what makes the Arizona Region special.

Thanks to Kurt Womack for contributing a photo to this issue!
Photos in the article on series results were taken at the October event.

(Posted 22 November 2003.)