Exhausted: Catalytic Cacophony

Talk about depressing. When I arose on Sunday, September 28 it was to a cool, slightly drizzly, overcast Sunday morning. Trusting the weatherman, who had convinced me that only sunny, dry weather would happen on Sunday, I had put on the R-compound tires the day before. After all, if Sunday afternoon was to be perfect and since anything larger than a size 10 envelope has to relegated to another vehicle or shipped ahead, the competition tires either had to be put on or left at home. As it turned out I needn't have worried. The weatherman was dead on with his forecast as the clouds vanished around 10:45 and the water on the track evaporated to return another day. Hopefully, a day without autocrossing. I was ready for action.

For our late September event, the Solo II board had selected an old Glen Region Solo II site we last last visited in October of 2000: the Corning Catalytic Plant in beautiful, downtown Erwin, New York. I can't speak for the rest of you, but I have a lot of great memories from Erwin. For one, it was where I attended my only Glen Region Solo II driver school. This occurred many years ago, so many, in fact, that it was probably about the time Aaron Boltman was telling the neighborhood kids he could run faster than they could if only he had Nikes instead of Sears brand running shoes. I also happen to like the Erwinia, site of many an award ceremony as well as home to a vocal group of loyal car racing fans. The Erwinia denizens may have one television tuned to the current NFL game, but the television they clearly favor is the one set to car racing. In short, although the Erwin lot is located off the beaten path, it has always offered great opportunities for the solo enthusiast and Sunday, September 28, proved no exception.

As for the Erwin lot, itself, it is narrow and long. That alone could cause a course designer nightmares, but when combined with a large, rock lined ditch on one side and an access road on the other, it challenges the best of designers. The final design selected for the event consisted of a series of tight arcs from one side of the course to the other, separated in the middle of the course by two, closely spaced 90 degree turns. Many a cone was killed at that location, alone. In fact, there was so much orange showing on the course I had no choice but to put on my glasses just to see the openings, something I rarely do. If you made it that far, the far end of the course consisted of a box whose purpose was to send the car back through to the beginning, where the second lap was initiated by an "8-second penalty" pin turn near the start. All of this culminated in exiting the course via a 270+ degree run around the pin turn into a truncated stop box. Definitely not an easy course by any stretch of the imagination.

28 drivers, a relatively light turn out for a fall event, registered for the privilege of humiliating themselves. The greatest turnout was, as it has been all season, in G-Stock where seven drivers battled the clock, including several novice autocrossers. When the tire smoke cleared, Mike Tyburski ('94 Ford Probe) claimed the number one spot with a decisive win over Barry Butterfield (2003 Mini Cooper S) and Jeff Tyburski ('94 Ford Probe). Mike's time was good enough to earn him the PAX award for the event, as well. In an attempt to keep Mike from winning the PAX I tried to run him over while he was working station 3, but Mike proved as adept on his feet as he is behind the wheel. I wasn't the only one trying hard to beat Mike, though, as the Bacalles attempted to prove that a "hot-air" induction system is better in G-Stock than a cold-air one. Back to the drawing board, guys.

The next largest class was C-Modified, which became a virtual IROC event as the Sawyer clan, Tyson, Kent, Stacey, and Heather, drove the very same 1985 Reynard to some very rapid times. In the end it was Tyson Sawyer who took the trophy both for the C-Modified class and for the Fastest Time of the Day (FTD) with a blistering 75.114.

In another IROC-type class, Street Touring X, there were the usual three competitors, all Pierces, piloting the same '87 BMW 325is. However, it wasn't to be a typical STX event as Greg came from behind with a beautiful drive to claim the class trophy. STX fans take note. This is the first event this season where Ken Pierce has not won class honors. STX is a tough class in which to compete, whether or not your family name is Pierce, and Greg pulled off a well deserved trophy for his efforts.

Street Touring-S class was also very busy with three entrants and three cars. Now normally it wouldn't be a surprise to discover that a class has three drivers and three cars. What is surprising is that it appeared to the casual onlooker that two drivers were sharing the same car, a 1996 puce Plymouth. However, when the event's winner, Todd Totman, was in the car it turned into a magenta 1996 Plymouth Neon, while in the hands of second place winner, Jeanne Peterson, it became a 1996 purple Dodge Neon. Makes me wonder whether that's a cigarette I see being smoked in the pit area?!?

The only remaining multi-driver classes at Erwin were B-Stock and E-Stock. I ('01 Honda S2000) slipped by Eric Navestad ('00 Honda S2000) for the B-Stock honors, while in a blast from the past, Paul Schelling beat out Chris Wightman driving the same 1991 Mazda Miata. Chris claimed he was following Solo II etiquette by allowing the car's owner to win the trophy, but if memory serves me, the car's rightful owner is Kate Hughes, who was made to sit on the sidelines while the menfolk raced. Where's the chivalry in that, guys?!?

The rest of the drivers and their times can be found at the Glen Region website: http://www.glen-scca.org/solo/2003/results20030928.asp . About the only thing you won't find at the Glen Region website are photos of some interesting machinery which came to play in late September in Erwin, including a Caterham, two Mini Cooper Ses, a 2000 Honda Civic with a nicely detailed engine bay, and some action footage of some great and not-so-great ways to handle a very challenging course. Regardless, the Erwin event is now a part of the archives. The Glen Region thanks Corning, Inc. for the use of their parking lot. It's a great one. Also, a big thanks goes out to Mike Taves, who didn't run but drove all the way from Trumansburg just to serve as our safety steward. The folks at the Erwinia were also their usual upbeat selves and for that those of us making up the Post-Solo Event Kibitzers thank them, as well.

As this report is being written there is still the likelihood that we may not have an October Solo II event in the Glen Region. Finding locations on which to compete is becoming harder and harder. Stay tuned to the Glen Region website for the latest information about Glen Region events. In the meantime, see you either in October or at the Awards Banquet later this fall. Be there or be forced to compete next season in a Trabant.