Test’n for Speed: Avanex Redux

There may have been cool temperatures and overcast skies in most of the Glen Region on Sunday, June 11, but Corning, Inc’s Avanex Erwin Park facility at Painted Post was blue skies, temperate breezes, and temperatures in the low 70s. 34 drivers including many new to autocrossing and/or the Glen Region were there to enjoy the weather and to compete in the third Glen Region Solo II event of the 2006 season.

The course was an ever so slight adaptation of this season’s first event, also held at Avanex. It consisted of a long sweeping initial straight (sic), which arced sharply, but not as sharply as the first event, into a series of four very tight, 90 degree turns before emptying onto a short, relatively straight run. This short, arcing straight emptied hard right into a counter clock series of gates and slaloms, ending in two doglegs, a right and a left before rejoining the short straight. At this point it retraced most of the counter clock loop, but just before the left dogleg on the second lap the designers placed a sharp, right turn uphill through timing lights to end the experience. Unlike the first event, the final angle was not quite so severe, something that might have encouraged some to enter that area at speeds threatening to cones and driver egos, alike.

The largest class of the day was G-Stock, with six entrants. Ryan Dunn (’99 Subaru Impreza) wasn’t able to repeat his success at the second Glen Region event, but it was still his car and his father, Tom Dunn, who came all the way from out of state to take the trophy. What a great Father’s Day gift Ryan. Behind Tom but not by far was second place Keith McDonnell (’04 Ford Focus SVT) who did his best to stage a come from behind in his last run, but had to settle for following the leader by 3/10 of a second. After Keith, Ryan Dunn completed the top three G-Stockers.

As close as was the battle for G-Stock, the competition in D-Street Prepared was even more intense and perplexing. First of all, instead of the usual three drivers, there were five. Second, in a gentlemanly display of noblesse oblige Mark Lockhart drove a car not even up to D-Street Prepared standards (Sorry about that Matt, but you know what I mean). Finally, going into the last runs only 2/10 of a second separated the top three drivers, Greg Pierce (’87 BWM 325is), Ken Pierce (same ’87 BWM 325is), and Alan Smith of the Finger Lakes Region (’95 Dodge Neon). Showing that he’s no Ryan Dunn, Greg edged his father by 1/10 of a second to take the crown with Alan having to settle for third in this hotly contested group. Rumor has it that there’s currently a Pierce up for adoption and it’s not John, but you’ll have to confirm that, yourself.

Street Touring Tire managed to pick up some extra entries at Avanex, but the results didn’t change. Tom Deneka (’98 Honda Prelude) maintained his winning ways by grabbing the lead at the start and not letting go. Kyle Kubeck (’94 Volkswagen Corrado) had to settle for second in Street Touring Tire with Mike Knaut (VW of unknown year and model) and Todd Acker (’99 Honda Civic) close behind. Meanwhile, our typically largest class, Street Touring X, had to settle for only three entrants, a rarity. That didn’t stop the excitement, though, as our fearless leader, Ken Moyer (’97 Honda Prelude) earned his victory over a battling Kyle Mangiagli ((’02 Nissan Sentra) and Matt Lockhart (’01 BMW 330i). Ken was our 2005 STX champion, but this was his first victory this season. I suspect it won’t be his last.

Street Modified continued to attract drivers and interesting cars with three entrants. Craig Litwiler (’04 Infinity G35) claimed to be a novice and maybe it was Pat Scopelitti’s excellent coaching, but whatever it was Craig was good enough to edge by James Sherrick’s “Soccer Mom Special” (’99 Audi Avant A4) and Julius Carozza lovely red ’85 BMW 318 for the SM trophy. While I can personally vouch for Pat’s skills as an instructor, I can’t remember a novice doing so well and so quickly without serious rules violations. Craig seemed to be a natural.

In other multidriver classes, I was without Eric Navestad for company this week and had to bring my own car. Despite having to deal with such hardships, I snuck by Glen Region newcomer, Brett Patang (’88 Chevrolet Corvette) in my ’01 Honda S2000. In C-Street Prepared it was a battle of red Miatas between Brian Bell (’95 Mazda Miata) and newbie Erik Sherman (’95 Mazda Miata). Erik showed a lot of improvement during the day, but it wasn’t good enough to get by Brian. Maybe next time, Erik.

Sharing a ride in C-Prepared (late ‘80s? Mustang) and despite difficulty staying on the course, Andrew Bowen drove at a blistering rate, earning first place in the process over Dean Pudekbapa. In the “grown men really drive these,” AKA the Shifter Cart 125 class, Casey Creamer continued his 2006 season winning ways in his '05 MW Chassis Cart snatching class honors away from Pat Scopelliti (‘91 Techno Cart). Casey’s victory was in spite of Pat never suffering a single mechanical failure, a personal best which puts Pat one up on Rob Craig who has yet to achieve this feat on any track at any event at any time in any vehicle or even when commuting to work (This is what happens when you do not show up, Rob).

Finally the Barry Butterfield PAX Shootout featuring an end of event run-off among the top five stock class PAX drivers minus Aaron Boltman saw some valiant or dart attempts to grab the brass ring by improving times and in some instances, PAX standings. In the end the Shootout Champion remained Jeff Weaver (H-Stock: ’02 Ford Focus) followed by Skip Testut (A-Stock: ’01 Honda S-2000), Nile Heermans (E-Stock: ’91 Toyota MR-2), Tom Dunn (G-Stock: ’99 Subaru Impreza), and Keith McDonnell (G-Stock: ’04 Ford Focus SVT). It would appear that PAX competition is especially tough in G- and H-Stock and no one is about to catch Jeff.

There were several single driver classes, as well. If you'd like to see what they did plus get a gander at the official results check them out online at http://www.glen-scca.org/solo/2006/results20060611.asp.

I offer our thanks to the good people at Corning, Inc. for the loan of the Avanex Erwin Park lot site. It remains one of my personal favorites. A special vote of thanks to Ken Moyer for not only serving as the solo program chair, but also for agreeing to take on the responsibility for chairing this event and for all of the unsung stuff you do our behalf. Believe me, it’s noticed and not just by me. The next event is scheduled for Sunday, June 25 at the Arnot Mall. This will be a good time to shop for specials at Sears while exercising your driving skills. Regardless, we'll keep the timing lights on for you.