View to a Hill: Where’s James Bond’s Aston Martin when you most need it?

Late July and early August is typically a dead time for autocrossers in the Glen Region. Hard to figure out why, but I suspect that vacations are in the works or as hard as it may seem to believe, folks just want a break from autocrossing. On Sunday, July 31st, however, 24 drivers put off vacation or other plans long enough to try out the second Avanex Erwin Park Solo event of the 2005 season in spite of high temperatures, equally high humidity, and even a spot shower or two. As the event name, “View to a Hill,” attests, Avanex Erwin Park sits atop the hills southwest of Painted Post. It provides one of the better views of the Chemung Valley area, not to mention a combination of three parking lots large enough by Glen Region standards for some interesting course configuration possibilities. The lots are so nice that I can’t remember the course design committee ever repeating a previous layout at Avanex, not because past layouts haven’t been good, but because of the flexibility in course design permitted. For example, in a complete reversal from past events the committee located the pit area at the top of the three lots, instead of at the bottom lot. They also located the course entry and exit near the top of the middle lot, a decision that worked as well, if not better than preceding designs. The committee wasn’t 100% into creativity, however, as they did retain the April event’s slalom start, but this time placing it down the entire south side of the lot rather than diagonally across the lot. A tight, 90-degree arc followed the initial slalom transitioning into a long straight requiring many of us to shift upwards beyond our normal gears to make the most of it. The straight emptied into a “double-90” box best taken as a sweeping, but tight arc, resulting in a reversal of in direction taking car and driver back across the course. The use of a “double-90” box was then repeated two more times before the driver re-entered the course near the start to do it all over again. This driver’s opinion was that the layout made the most of the lot area and simultaneously required much autocrossing finesse, something it took some of us an entire event to realize, if we ever did. In autocrossing the expression “Some times you have to drive slow (sic) to drive fast (sic)” is often said and this course was living proof of the validity of that maxim.

Once again, the largest class of the day was Street Touring (Tire) with six entrants. I think it also set the record for the most entrants with mechanical problems (the cars, not the drivers, although… ). Jacob Massey (’91 Nissan Sentra SE-R), apparently limiting his solo events to the Avanex site, took first place over Tom Deneke (’98 Honda Prelude), Collin Chappelle (’02 Ford Focus) and the rest. Jacob won despite Erick Van Duyne’s (’94 Honda Accord) valiant attempt to shed more weight in less time than a bulimic with a Country Buffet coupon. Tom and Collin seemed to have more than their fair share of mechanical problems, especially Tom who complained about an overly aggressive rev-limiter. Naturally, Eric and I refused to share the rev-limiters from our cars and this may have cost Tom his chance. Regardless, Tom is still the season’s current STS champion and will probably remain so unless and until Jacob decides to attend the remaining Glen events.

The ultra-popular G-Stock class may not have been the most populous at Avanex, but it did itself proud with four, long running Glen Region favorites on hand. Last season’s Glen Region G-Stock champ, Barry Butterfield (’05 BMW Mini Cooper S) was especially superlative driving to run to an easy 3+ second win over second place Nile Heermans (’90 Nissan 240SX), followed by Lee and Tony Bacalles (both Bacalleses in a 2003 Honda Civic Si). Barry also managed to win the PAX title for his efforts, seemingly having the perfect car for G-Stock. Of course it helps that Nile continues to lack a tall-enough 1st or short-enough 2nd gear. Nile, have you thought about joining the course design committee? If you can’t change the car, change the course! As for the Bacalleses, both Tony and Lee kept muttering something about “the lease is almost up,” whatever that means. Lee? Tony?

D-Stock may have been less populated than STS and G-Stock, but it had an interesting family battle between the Lockhart brothers, Matt and Mark, both driving Mark’s ’01 BMW 330i. The lead switched from Mark to Matt and back again until Matt finally nailed the first place trophy by one-third of a second over Mark. Meanwhile, Chip Massey (’04 Dodge Neon) appeared to have problems and wasn’t able to do as well as he usually does. Chip, we all have days like that. Better luck at the next event.

Speaking of family battles, in the “Save a Honda, run a BMW” D-Street Prepared class, Ken Pierce did some fantastic driving, good enough to outrun his son, Greg, and his brother, John in the same ’87 BMW 325is. Ken also was in contention for the fastest time of the day (FTD) right up until the end.

In A-Stock it was “Red S2000 Day,” as Eric Navestad and yours truly, , got to beat up on Eric’s car (’00 Honda S2000) for a change. The times between the two of us were amazingly close until the last run when I managed to eke a little more out of the course and take FTD at the same time.

Finally, in H-Stock, Jeff Weaver continued his string of championships by beating his son, Andy in the same 1990 Toyota Celica GT. I haven’t mentioned it before in my reports, but Andy is running on a learner’s permit. Think about that. I mean if he’s doing this well on a permit, how good is he going to be after he gets his license later this month (hopefully).

As always, there were several single driver classes, as well, and some great performances in them. If you’d like to see what they did and take a good gander at the official results check them out online at

Once again and on behalf of the Glen Region I extend a special thanks to the good people at Avanex Erwin Park facility for the use of their lot and to the course design committee, Eric Navestad, Pat Scopelliti, Mark Lockhart, Ken Moyer and Chris Wightman, an oldie but a goodie. Thanks also to Mark Lockhart for an outstanding job chairing the event and to Lin Hurd for showing up just to be a safety steward. As always, heartfelt thanks go out to my A-Stock teammate, Eric Navestad, for getting the van to and from the site in addition to his work on the course design committee. In a related vein, thanks to the Weavers, Jeff and Andy, for helping Eric with the van. I know that Eric is especially appreciative of your assistance. Finally, thanks to Pat Scopelliti, a.k.a. the “Brooklyn Bellows” for his great job working the PA system and keeping us all posted on the event’s progress. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the banter. Other deserving persons at the event include our intrepid leader, Becky Tinker, and our next intrepid leader-in-waiting, Ken Moyer. The next event is scheduled for Sunday, August 14th at Arnot Mall. We may not be Nextel at the Glen, but the parking’s better! We’ll keep the timing lights on just for you.