Soloing at The Speed of Light

 

It’s been said that the Finger Lakes has four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, and July 4th. This year we didn’t even manage to get July 4th and, if you’re like me, you were seriously considering abandoning the metric system for cubits while thinking that the next engine you were going to stuff into your car would be an Evinrude.  Anyway, on Sunday, August 8th a season of rain and cool temperatures came to an end at the Avanex Plant near the sprawling metroplex of Painted Post and Gang Mills. We soloers were treated to sunlight, light winds, and beautiful vistas on one of the best, if not THE best site we’ve managed to secure in years (Aaron Boltman, take note). The course design committee, probably drunk with disbelief at their good fortune, managed to make use of all of it, too, as they put together an interesting combination of slaloms, a two-lap oval, and a couple of boxes, a tight one at the start and a more forgiving one near the end. And let’s not forget a pin turn or two, something for which the Glen Region is legendary. All in all, it made for some great autoXing.

 

39 drivers showed up to drive, which is a lot for an August event. In fact, it has to be one of the best-attended August events this writer has seen in his nine years of autoXing. It would appear that while many of the regulars were on vacation or in need of a car which would work, many new faces turned out to see what we had to offer. I trust they weren’t disappointed.

 

The biggest class of the day was Glen Region perennial favorite, G-Stock. Even without a single Tyburski it still managed seven entrants. What’s more, the Bacalles and Butterfield families stepped forward to be the G-Stock family du jour (French for “With not a Tyburski in sight, we just might have a chance”). In the end it was Barry Butterfield (‘03 BMW Mini Cooper) who won the gold with a time of 56.482 followed by perennial favorite Nile Heermans (’90 Nissan 240sx) and Lee Bacalles (’98 Neon).

 

The next largest class, also not surprising at a Glen Region event, was Street Touring S with five drivers. Once again, it was a family affair with the Totmans, Todd and Jeanne, taking class honors. Todd, driving the ever popular ‘Barney’ (’95 Plymouth Neon) managed a highly respectable 55.207, while Jeanne took second place. Jeanne continued her tradition of appearing to be driving the same car as Todd while claiming to drive something else, this time a’95 Plymouth Noen. They finally agree on the brand name and color, folks, so now they have to disagree on the model name. Go figure. The biggest battle of the class, however, was between third place Thomas Deneka (’98 Honda Prelude) and fourth place Matt Latyszoneh (’98 Dodge Neon), where less than 1/3 of second separated the two drivers. Fifth place Erich Van Duyner (’91 Honda Accord) may have finished at the back of the pack, but managed to earn the coveted ‘Robbie Craig Award’ for competing in a Honda with a quarter million miles on it and thinking he stood a chance. Erich, if Robbie’s any indication, never, never, never trade in that Accord. You’ll be sorry if you do.

 

B-Stock continued its tradition of attracting a decent number of competitors (four) while managing to generate a lot of competitive driving as the lead switched back and forth between Skip Testut and Nick Brewster in 2001 Spa Yellow Honda S2000s. It’s the color, folks, it really is. Anyway, when the last run had been completed Skip got by Nick with a best time of 51.253, garnering class honors, fastest time of the day (FTD), and best PAX time. As I said, lots of competition in B-Stock. Right behind Skip and Nick were Phil Cornell (’95 BMW-M3) and Eric Navestad (’00 Honda S2000). Eric desperately tried to turn the class into “Bee Stock” as he made an effort to avoid an insect that had managed to crawl up into his helmet while he was on the course. A great story, Eric. Maybe you should be writing this column…

 

The class with the most intense competition had to be Street Touring X, a.k.a, The Pierce Domain. If you’ve followed Solo events in the Glen Region, you’ve heard it all before, but what else can be said when the time difference between the fastest and the slowest of three drivers is 7/10 of a second. That’s competition, folks. John Pierce (’87 BMW 325is) started out the first heat with a solid lead and held onto it right up until the last heat of the day when brother Ken (’87 BMW 325is) managed to edge by with a respectable run of 54.322. Unlike the previous Glen Region event where he skated by with a lead of 15+ seconds over the other Pierces, at this event Greg Pierce (’87 BMW 325is) had to settle for third place at just a fraction of a second away. Actually, come to think of it, I think it was John who was doing the skating at the last event, but that’s a whole ‘nother story, as they say.

 

Another highly competitive class was Street Modified with three entrants. Here the time between the fastest and the slowest driver was a second. Chris Kiefer (’03 Subaru WRX won the class honors with a solid 54.372 time. Dan Keen (’97 Camaro Z28) managed a close second place while Traian Stanev (‘01 VW Jetta) was right on Dan’s bumper for third. Since the event, I’ve thought long and hard about how close all three cars in Street Modified were and what Dan and Traian could have done to come home the victor. I finally came to the conclusion that it was the extra weight in their cars that made the difference. Dan should have washed his car and Traian should have avoided adding the extra layers of paint he put on his car (dark green over “Armco Blue”). You might want to try it, guys, and, no, you don’t have to thank me for the advice.

 

Other multi-car classes included D-Stock, where some pretty decent automotive technology was dwelling. With the cones were cleared, event chair, Mark Lockhart (’01 BMW 330ci) beat out Eryk Nice (’04 VW R-32) and Chip Massey (’04 Dodge Neon SRT-4) to claim the class trophy. Someone has to win even with all of that thoroughbred mechanical gear.  In E-Stock, too, were some interesting rides but Rich Chernosky (’88 Toyota MR-2) easily sailed to victory over Jeffrey Hering (’90 Mazda Miata) and David Miller (’84 Porsche 944). I’ll bet that the next time, Rich, it won’t be so easy.

Speaking of not being easy, it was a very close race in H-Stock, but Michall Sherback (’00 Mazda Protégé) squeaked by Olive Puruinu (’00 Mazda Protégé) by just a fraction of a second. Olive’s best run was his final run and about now he’s probably thinking, “What if they had given me just one more run… .” 

 

As is always the case, George Dohanich (’95 Plymouth Neon) put on a great show in D-Street Prepared. In fact, at the conclusion of the first heat, George not only led in his class, but had the fastest time of the day (FTD), as well. In the end, he won class honors with a 52.517 time, beating out Ken Moyer (’97 Honda Prelude). Ken, though, may have had other things on his mind as he’s engaged to be married sometime in August. His fiancé was at the event to lend her support (at least, I sure as heck hope that was his fiancé). Ken, a word of advice. You’ll notice that despite the fact that most of us are married and happily so, you’ll never see our spouses at these events. Oh, they’ll be there for an event or two preceding the marriage, but if you don’t convince them to become a driver or, better yet, Solo Chair, they’ll quit attending faster than Mark Lockhart can punt a pylon. So instead of getting you those great lunches you’ll soon be learning to say the morning of an event, “I’d like a #2 with coffee. To go.” For the rest of you, if you happen to be at Sam’s Club in Fisherville (Big Flats), stop by the automotive department and wish Ken the best. I know I do.

 

E-Street Prepared saw the battle of the ‘stangs and a great fight it was. Matt Wilson (’00 Mustang) and Jeff Eames (’99 Mustang Cobra) swapped leads a couple of times before Matt finally found the track and claimed the award with a best time of 57.111. Great driving, guys.

 

Finally, E-Modified saw some very interesting machinery and two cars which were just plain interesting to watch. Mike Ticonchuk managed to stay in front of Mike Eames (’01 Mustang) and win E-Modified with a time of 53.423. But it was more than just winning for those of us watching on the sidelines. These were two interesting cars with some exciting sounds and sights. Class leader Mike Ticonchuk has been autoXing practically since it was invented, despite the fact he looks a lot younger than that might suggest. He’s never had a dull ride or at least that’s what the old timers tell me (I may be old, but I’ve not been in autoXing THAT long). Anyway, Mike showed up in a ’75 Porschevy (Chevrorche?), a Porsche 914 with a Chevvy 305 nestled amidships. This was only its second outing and Mike had some teething problems, but several of us made sure we were watching when Mike was on the course.  He’s a great driver and always exciting to watch. Mike Eames and his Mustang just added to the enjoyment.

 

So, in the end, it was beautiful weather, some outstanding driving and some equally interesting vehicles that made the Glen Region’s August event. For a closer look, not to mention more cars and drivers, check out the results at http://www.glen-scca.org/solo/2004/results20040808.asp. You’ll be glad you did.

 

On behalf of the Glen Region I want to extend a special thanks to the good people at Avanex for the loan of their lot. You folks are the greatest. Also, kudos to the course design committee, to Mark Lockhart for an outstanding job of chairing the event, to Rob Craig for showing up just to conduct the novice talk, and to the drivers, themselves, for policing the lot and repacking the van in record time. It might not seem like much to you, but to those of your fellow drivers who make these events possible, we appreciate your efforts. The next event is scheduled for Saturday, September 4th at Corning Community College. John Florence will be chairing the event, so it promises to be a good one. We’ll keep the timing lights on for you.