View from a Hill: Drowning our sorrows takes on a new meaning


Autocrosses at Ithaca College have always been my nemesis. I don’t ever remember doing well there and over many more years than I care to remember. I can’t even find a consistency in the reasons why as attempts at explaining run the gamut of autoX existence: bad track conditions, pulling mental blanks in the midst of a run, and poor weather conditions or the wrong set of tires for the existing weather conditions all served to defeat me at one event or another. Sometimes it was a combination of factors. Even more strange is that none of the reasons are unique to me, specifically, as each and every one of them befalls all of us who autocross, sooner or later. And yet IC for some inexplicable reason trumps them all. IC is a rule unto itself. I’m not completely alone in my opinions as many of you also harbor concerns about the IC experience. You’ve told me as much.


Despite my misgivings and those of others 46 folks registered on Sunday, July 20 for the chance to dance with the cones and dance we did. The start of the day was no harbinger of good things to come. The curse appeared to be alive. Rain and overcast skies were the rule as we prepared to run our cars in the Terrace Parking Lot. The lot, itself seemed a little small after two events at the Seneca Army Depot, but then what lots wouldn’t. What was and has been for years the most challenging components of the Terrace Parking Lot were still there: differing surfaces with different adhesion, some decently paved, others crumbling, pot holes and curious pedestrians, all guaranteed that course designers and drivers had to be alert.  The vastly different surfaces and existing defects required the course design team to work very hard to use every square inch of surface available. Given the lot conditions I think the course design group did extremely well. The course opened with almost a short straight before turning sharply left and then right into a small slalom. Adhesion was quite good in the slalom, before ending, both adhesion and slalom, into a hard right turn. This was followed by an immediate and hard left arc before reaching a “decision point.” The first run into the decision point required an early and hard 90 degree turn, which reentered the slalom. Even though the speeds increased on the second pass through the slalom, the adhesion held and speeds seemed noticeably quicker. On the second entrance into the “decision point,” the driver took a hard right immediately after the location of the first, which dumped the car into a hard leftward arc back into a box with more cones than a Dairy Queen in August. Running the box required hard right-hand turns, but in a section of the track with far less adhesion than existed elsewhere. The driver exited the box in a tight rightward arc into the “stop lights” to end it all, assuming the driver hadn’t pulled an “off course” somewhere well before the box, something that occurred frequently. Cone killage was high as the designers had employed many cones to keep the cars from hitting rough spots and hard objects, resulting in a lot that looked like the place cones go to die, a virtual sea of orange.


As for the event, itself, G- and H-Stock classes had the largest turnout with six drivers, apiece, while A-Stock managed five entrants. Street Touring S and Street Modified 2 had four drivers. There were many other multi-car classes. G-Stock is typically among our most popular and this event was obviously no exception. It also saw some of the best competition including two new drivers, who acquitted themselves well given the conditions. At the conclusion of the first run group, Adam Adlik (’01 Subaru Impreza) led Cody Chambers (Subaru Impreza 2.5RS), but Cody charged back in the afternoon to ease out Adam for first place in G-Stock and by less than 3/10 of a second. Behind Adam and in third place was Brian Balliet (’03 Nissan Altima), who continues to improve as the season goes on. He might even do better if I didn’t continuously bug him at start.


Over in H-Stock James Coulombe (Honda Civic) liked being in first place so much that he grabbed it early and refused to give it up to second place finisher Rich Ayers (Honda Civic Si). Third place finisher, Bruce Coulombe, was very “enterprising” in his use of a ’08 Toyota Prius. Of course, what would an Ithaca event be without a Toyota Prius and Birkenstock racing shoes, right?! H-Stock also had an interesting collection of vehicles made more interesting by the other father-son team of Peter and Nicholas Dittler, who showed up in Triumph Spitfires, Peter in a ’68 and Nicholas in a ’64. Rain didn’t dampen their spirits nor evoke the Lucas effect. Here’s hoping that they return for future events.


Back in May, this writer chastised Ben Heater for being the only non-Honda S2000 driver in A-Stock at the opening event. I even suggested he come over to the dark side, but Ben had plenty of Subaru WRX company at IC, tipping the balance in Subaru’s favor, at least in terms of the numbers of vehicles. In the end I (’01 Honda S2000) was able to pass along my “IC Curse” to Ben (Subaru WRX Sti) and win the A-Stock trophy. Victor Miller (’06 Subaru WRX STi) rounded out the top three places.


In Street Touring S, Allan Kintz (Scion TC) handily defeated Bill Szozda (’92 Eagle Talon) for class honors, with Jesse Darrow (’03 Mazda Protégé 5) taking third place. Street Modified 2 saw some incredibly good driving by recent EVO graduate David Savage (Nissan 350Z). David managed to grab an early and commanding lead despite the best efforts of Team Raymond, Colin and Dave, in their supercharged Mazda Miata. Colin currently leads the seasonal trophy dash, but only by 2 points over Dave. There’s plenty of good racing remaining down in that class, however, and by no means has the final scoring been determined.


Speaking of family teams, over in F-Stock the three Hendricksons were busy with their ’87 Camaro Z28.  David, however, came out the winner at the end followed by Ryan and Kevin. In Street Touring X, it was the Pierce family, John and Greg, in their ’87 BMW 325iS against outsider (at least not a Pierce) Ken Moyer in his Honda Prelude. Ken gave it his best, but Greg edged him out for first place. Greg, it’s great to see you back in Upstate NY, but I’m not sure Ken feels the same.


As I mention every time, there were several other single and two car classes at the event that are well worth a look. Check out all of the official results online at Be certain to check out the seasonal point and PAX standings at the same location, while you’re there. You’ll be glad you did.


On behalf of the Glen Region thanks to all of you who made the Ithaca College event possible. Pat Scopelliti, Bruce and James Coulombe, and Kyle Kubick did course set-up (I understand they welcome your comments, readers).  Kyle also served as event chair. Eric Navestad drove the van to and from the event and also was drenched, as he remained behind to pack everything after the event. Eric, we truly couldn’t do it without your dedication. Cody Chambers and Richard Ayers worked registration, while Ken Moyer and Ben Heater assumed the roles of safety stewards.  Ken, Ben & Kyle also were responsible for tech inspection.  Everybody did a GREAT job in helping pick up after the event. Finally, a big thank you to John Pierce, who set-up Timing &Scoring. By the way, readers, if any of you would like to volunteer for any of these jobs, I’m sure that Kyle would love you to step forward. This is an all-volunteer organization and we can’t function without your help. If you think you might be interested contact Kyle at


The next event is scheduled for Saturday, August 30 at Corning Community College. More information is available on our website at


In the meantime, we'll keep the timing lights on for you.