Lights Out: Nile finally finds a gear
Avanex Erwin Park may be all but a memory at this point, but they were kind enough to loan us their lot in Painted Post for the first Glen Region Solo II event of the 2006 season on Sunday, May 7. And what an event it was. 30 drivers including many novices attended, typical for a Glen Region Solo II opening event. Having novices is always a good sign as was the perfect weather we experienced. Moderate temperatures, gentle breezes, and sunny skies reminded us why we like upstate New York this time of year. It was also the maiden voyage of the new Solo II regime under the able stewardship of Ken Moyer and no one could have asked for better conditions for his first event.
The course was an all new design, but carried Casey Creamers trademark, a long initial straight, which arced sharp right into a series of four incredibly tight, 90 degree turns before emptying onto a short straight. It wasnt that our intrepid (Concorde?) course designers were being nasty with the tight turns as much as it appeared to have been done to reduce overall speed at the least safe portion of the lot. Whatever the reason, it did require a very slow entry speed to get through the section and to make the most of the following short straight. The short straight, itself, emptied into a counter clock (thats left to you with digital watches) series of gates and slaloms, before terminating in two doglegs, a right and a left. After the doglegs the course rejoined the aforementioned short straight, repeating most of the counter clock loop before concluding with an especially sharp, almost 270 degree right turn uphill through timing lights and a slew of decreasingly narrow placed cones. The course was tricky but safe, requiring the driver to make the most of the slow sections and staying off of the throttle until absolutely necessary. As with any great layout, there were relatively few off-courses and even these were not the result of the dreaded Sea of Orange confusion but of driving too fast and overshooting course boundaries right Ken?
The largest class of the day including several novice drivers was the Glen Regions ever-popular STX class with six entrants. When the carbon smoke cleared from Zach Andersons 93 Mitsubishi, Robert Bradley (98 VW GTi) had the class trophy firmly in his grasp, even out driving last seasons STX class champion, Ken Moyer (97 Honda Prelude). After Robert and Ken, a tight battle for third place was a high spot with Glen Region newcomer Taketoki (TOCK-ee) Isobe taking the honors in his 99 Pontiac Grand Am over Kyle Mangiagli and his 02 Nissan Sentra. Matt Lockharts attempt to clean his STX classed BMW 330i until the electrons sparkled, just wasnt good enough. The car did look good though, Matt.
The next largest class was D-Street Prepared, the Glen Regions ongoing IROC class. Usually, this class ends up a battle of the Family Pierce in their 87 BWM 325is, as slick a group of hot shoes as one could hope to find at an autocross. This year, however, an imposter-Pierce in the guise of Mark Lockhart (01 BMW 330ci) managed to sneak into the family affair. The big battle in the class was between Ken and Greg Pierce, but despite Kens clumsy attempt to add front fender flares with a vise-grip wrench, Greg had a lot less weight to haul around the track and proved victorious by less than a second. May the D-Street Prepared battle continue!
As good as D-Street Prepared was, Street Touring Tire had to be the most exciting class of the day. Tom Deneka (98 Honda Prelude) and Todd Acker (99 Honda Civic) have been battling each other since April of 2005. To be honest, Tom had a definite edge last year, but Todd kept creeping closer and closer to Toms lead. I guess Tom noticed as he spent the winter working on the Preludes suspension while Todd had to be satisfied replacing the broken shocks on his Civic. In the end, Tom won but Todd got to within a third of a second of taking the trophy away from him, his best effort to date. As Satchel Paige once said, Dont look back. Something might be gaining on you. I wonder if ol Satchel drove a Civic?!
In other classes, I edged out Eric Navestad in Erics 00 Honda S2000 (the red S2000) in A-Stock, as we continue our share a ride approach to soloing. In E-Stock Nile Heermans finally got himself a car with a Goldilocks gear, a 91 Toyota MR-2. Showing no respect for earlier model MR-2s, Nile dispatched Rich Chernosky and his 88 MR-2, wing and all. Rich, next time bring Lorraine
In G-Stock, the real Kyle McCoy (02 Saab 9-3S) got ahead of Richard Ayers (02 Honda Civic) early and stayed there until the end. I did notice that Richards times improved significantly throughout the day, so I suspect future G-Stock times are going to be much tighter as the season progresses. As for Street Touring 2 (Tire), a 99 Honda Civic CRXsi was the car du jour (For the uninitiated, thats French for run what ya brung) and Daniel Pierce was the victor over Scott Beebe. The times for this class were so highly varied its too close to tell just who might win a rematch. Stay tuned (in every sense of that word).
The battle of the 2-strokers, the Shifter Cart 125 class, saw Casey Creamer (thats KREE-mer, folks) in his '05 MW Chassis Cart taking class honors away from Pat Scopelliti in Caseys old 91 Techno Cart (despite a relatively NEW clutch, I might add).
Finally and in honor of one of our better drivers, Barry Butterfield, we held The Barry Butterfield PAX Shootout featuring an end of event run-off among the top five stock class PAX drivers minus Aaron Boltman (Note to Aaron: See what happens when you dont buy wings at the end of the event). It was some great driving and a lot of fun as spectators witnessed improved times, but not improved standings. In the end the Shootout Champion was Jeff Weaver (H-Stock: 02 Ford Focus) followed by Nile Heermans (G-Stock: 91 Toyota MR-2), Skip Testut (A-Stock: 00 Honda S-2000), Jeff Tyburski (B-Stock: 05 Mazda RX-8), and Eric Navestad (A-Stock: 00 Honda S-2000).
Let it be said that there was a lot of good driving going on at Avanex on May 7. For many of us, it was the first race of the season, while for many others it was their first autocross. Regardless, the results were the same, inconsistent times and a lot of driver rust to be scraped away after a winters hibernation. Some of the more outstanding efforts unrelated to being best in class (although thats always nice) should be mentioned. Dallas Zebrowski driving an 85 Coyote Kart clearly demonstrated the most improvement of any of us. I know what youre thinking but Im not sucking up to Dallass father, Glen Region Regional Executive, Ed Zebrowski. Lets just say that if Ed showed as much improvement as Dallas did at Avanex, hed be out there dicing it up with Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and the boys and in a slightly better car than he currently has. Hell, Id sponsor him if he showed that much improvement and Im tighter than Aaron. In addition to Dallass outstanding effort, Aaron Boltman (04 Corvette Z06) managed to take the triple crown of Solo running: the fastest in class, the fastest overall, and the PAX trophy. Whats more, Aaron even bought beer following the event, which in and of itself is a memorable occasion. Unfortunately, none of you were there to witness it and I certainly wouldnt believe anything I write, so Aaron, it was all for naught. Do it again and that will leave only Patrick Skinner to cough it up (the money, not the beer). There were several single driver classes, as well. If you'd like to see what they did and get a gander at the official results check them out online at http://www.glen-scca.org/solo/2006/results20060507.asp.
On behalf of the Glen Region thanks to the good people at Corning, Inc. for the loan of the Avanex Erwin Park lot. As always, kudos to the course design committee and to Mark Lockhart, especially, for another outstanding job of both securing the site and chairing the event. Ditto to Eric Navestad and Jeff Weaver for getting the van to the site and back, and to Ken Moyer for a superb job of keeping it altogether. There were a lot of other helpers out there, too, so many that we set a new record for worker deferrals. Thats a GOOD SIGN, folks and you volunteers deserve a lot of credit for all of your help. The next event is both a Solo II school and a driving event. The school is scheduled for Saturday, May 20 and the event is scheduled for Sunday, May 21, both at the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus (Turn after you see the white deer). Rumor has it that well have a special class for Amish Meadowbrook Carts. With the exception of those showing up in a Meadowbrook, we'll keep the timing lights on just for you.