Shopping for Speed: John and Skip demand Senior Discounts

After many days of non-stop rains, the clouds parted long enough on Sunday, June 25 for 31 drivers to dodge cones and check out the specials at the Arnot Mall in Horseheads. The Arnot Mall location has long been a Glen Region favorite. Granted it’s no Seneca Army Depot and it’s far from what you’d call a large lot, but the location is convenient for whatever personal needs one might have and enthusiastic spectators always seem to be in attendance. Speaking of which, among those on the sidelines adding to the day’s spectacle was a lowrider pickup that dropped to the road surface while Ken Moyer was on the track and an unknown car so caught up in watching the very same Ken Moyer run the course that it left the service road, slapping the guard rail in the process. Either there’s something about watching a dark green Honda Prelude against a sea of orange or Ken draws a very strange class of stalkers.

If there’s one thing to be said about Arnot Mall and autocrossing, it is that the lot southeast of Sears is a serious challenge to course designers. Its small size, elevation changes in multiple directions, plenty of off camber driving opportunities no matter which configuration is selected, a long stretch of open access restricted solely by brightly colored flags on a string, and the guaranteed presence of curious onlookers require a Rembrandt of solo course design. It’s also as you might imagine, a safety steward’s nightmare. To make matters worse, our course design chief, Casey Creamer, was off tripping the light fantastic (I guess “light fantastic” is what he calls Roz) leaving Pat Scopelliti to his own creative juices, which isn’t always pretty, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Pat however, was more than up to the challenge delving into the ancient course bag to come up with the dreaded, but challenging “Jersey Barrier” layout. This particular layout is unusual in that it requires a lot of late apexing, a relatively rare driving tactic at a Glen Region event. Multiple rows of orange pylons actually mimic the old child’s game, streets and alleys, the one difference being that the cones don’t hold hands and change directions on you when you least expect it, at least for most of us. Tom Deneka may feel differently. What it comes down to is that “the shortest distance is a straight line” approach most autocrossers want to take doesn’t work with a Jersey Barrier configuration unless you’re in a kart or driving something with the adhesion of a giant squid in a Jules Verne novel. Some drivers took awhile to realize this and some never completely caught on, but it was all good fun. A note to those of you who may someday serve as autocross instructors: create a Jersey Barrier layout as we had on June 25, teach the novices how to drive it, and your students will come away notably faster and very aware that driving strategies really do have to be adapted to the individual course. For those of you who are curious, the course was 4/10 of a mile long. Pat had asked me for a mileage check of the course and after five runs and Dale Terry finally reminding me to SET AND TO READ the trip odometer, I accomplished my charge.

Two classes tied for the most entrants, D-Street Prepared and Street Touring Tire, with four entrants apiece. Greg Pierce (’87 BWM 325is) didn’t bother waiting around for the other D-Street Prepared participants to get their chance. He seized the lead in the first round and improved on it in the second and final round. This isn’t to say that the competition wasn’t there, it was, but Greg was just that much better this time. Rumor has it that Ken Pierce (’87 BWM 325is), John Pierce (’87 BWM 325is), and Mark Lockhart (’01 BWM 330Ci) have increased their efforts to find Greg an adoptive family… The results were similar over in Street Touring Tire, only no one wants to adopt Tom Deneka. Tom (’98 Honda Prelude) continued his undefeated 2006 streak with a win over Phillip Maynard (’96 Ford Contour), Todd Acker (’99 Honda Civic), and Brett Carlsen (’02 Nissan Sentra), but less than a second separated the top three and that’s not bad. What’s more impressive is that if you ignore the cone penalties Tom acquired, which in Tom’s case is like ignoring a 500# sparrow, only one second separated his shortest from his longest times. Now that’s consistency, folks.

Meanwhile over in A-Stock it was three entrants of three different SCCA regions: Nick Brewster (’01 Honda S2000), the RE of the Southern New York Region, yours truly (’01 Honda S2000) of the Glen Region, and Ron Dotts (’96 Corvette) of the Central Pennsylvania Region. In the end that was the exact order of the finishers, too. Nick not only won but somehow managed to get a dry run in the second run group, which Ron and I weren’t able to do. Some people have all the luck and the fun.

Speaking of fun, B-Stock saw some interesting machinery dodging the cones. Jeff Tyburski (’05 Mazda RX-8) managed to take the first place trophy while newcomer Michael Quattrini (’88 Porsche 911 Carrera) had to settle for second place. B-Stock wasn’t the only class with interesting rides, though, as A-Street Prepared had a ’91 Toyota MR2 (Jim Pyle) up against a lovely ’03 BMW Z4 (Bryant Henson). Bryant continues to show improvement, but it was not enough to get by Jim for the A-Street Prepared trophy.

C-Street Prepared continued to be a battle of the Mazdas, as it has been all season, but this time they weren’t all red and they weren’t all Miatas. Yes, Virginia, Mazda makes and has made many fine autocross cars besides Miatas and the older RX-7s are definitely among them. Rotaries are interesting, but it was pistons all the way at Arnot Mall with Ryan Jones (’99 Miata) pulling away from Brian Bell (’91 Mazda Miata) and Modestino Polzella (’85 Mazda RX-7). In STX, Ken Moyer (’97 Honda Prelude) stretched his winning streak to two with a victory over Kyle Mangiagli (’02 Nissan Sentra) and Matt Lockhart (’01 BMW 330i), while Street Modified saw the revenge of soccer moms everywhere as James Sherrick drove his ’99 Audi Avant A4 to a first place victory over Bradley Pyle (’93 Toyota Supra) and Craig Litwiler (’04 Infinity G35).

Finally and according to Pat Scopelliti (I wasn’t there), the Barry Butterfield PAX Shootout, an end of event run-off among the top five A- through H-Stock PAX drivers resulted in the following order: Nick Brewster (A-Stock: ’01 Honda S-2000), Nile Heermans (E-Stock: ’91 Toyota MR-2), Jeff Tyburski (B-Stock: ’05 Mazda RX-8), Ryan Dunn (G-Stock: ’99 Subaru Impreza), and Doug Born (F-Stock: ’98 Pontiac Grand Prix). Congratulations to you all.

As always, there were several single driver classes, several of whom did some pretty fancy running. If you'd like to see what they did plus get a gander at the official results check them out online at

Once again a hearty Glen Region voice of appreciation to the folks at Arnot Mall, in general, and Sears, in particular, for sharing their lot with us. A special vote of thanks to Ken Moyer for continuing to serve ably as the solo program chair and for getting the van to the Mall by 6:30 AM for course set up. Speaking of which, thanks Laurie for getting up early on a Sunday morning to help your husband get the van to the event. Additionally, thanks go to Pat for bringing back an oldie but a goodie design and for taking Ken back to his house so he could get his car. Becky Tinker and Jeff Tyburski also deserve our appreciation for conducting registration, as do Ken Pierce for serving as Safety Steward and helping with timing and scoring, Matt Lockhart for doing tech inspection, and Mark Lockhart for chairing yet another successful event.

The next Glen Region solo event is an extra special return to the Seneca Army Depot. This treat is scheduled for Sunday, July 16 and is sure to offer optimal autocross opportunities and ultimate bragging rights. Remember, we'll keep the timing lights on for you.