It has been another great regular season for autocross, and now it is time for the Big One. The 2018 SCCA Solo National Championship has exceeded all expectations for attendance; and a new class, Solo Spec Coupe (SSC), garnered so much interest it was awarded championship status in the first year. The event sold out in just over four days, requiring the registration cap to be raised from 1350 to 1400 (plus Junior Karts). The waitlist has since cleared but there will still be close to 1400 competitors. So brace yourself for the largest Solo Nationals in history, and use our preview to know what to look during the first week of September.
SS – Super Street – 28 Entries – 8 Trophies
2017 Champion: Scott Fraser
SSL – Super Street Ladies – 11 Entries – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Laraine Wilkinson
Porsche GT3s, Cayman GT4s, Z06 Corvettes, an NSX, a GTR, Super Street (SS) has the cars connoisseurs discuss, little kids dream of, and autocrossers envy.
Only one driver from the last year’s Super Street (SS) Top-5 returns this year. Scott Fraser (1st – 2017) who had a narrow victory in 2017 to claim his second SS victory in a row has moved back to CAM-S. That leaves Ambrose Fung (5th – 2017), Monty Pack (6th – 2017), Jason Kohler (7th – 2017) and Keith Brown (8th – 2017) as the returning trophy winners.
Normally, the clearing of space at the top of the class would be enough to pick one of these drivers to take home the jacket. Fung was fastest last year of those remaining in the class Keith Brown has a few championships under his belt from a decade ago, but a few interlopers to the class may snatch the hardware this year. 2017 B-Street Champion Ryan Clark is swapping out a 2006 Cayman S for a 2016 Cayman GT4 and stepping up to SS. Josh Lipman says we should also watch out for G.J. Dixon (SSR 5th – 2017) and Pat Salerno (Missed 2017). Both are in the 1st driver (aka “Tire Warmer”) position but both are multi-time national champions and should be in the running for trophies and possibly a victory.
They will all be watching out for Mark Daddio, in a 2007 GT3. Daddio is a proven “alien” in our sport. Having racked up 12 National Championships in various classes, he hopes his first year in SS will be lucky number 13 (which would be the 2nd most open championships ever). Is Daddio a sure thing? Will something besides a Porsche win?
In SSL, Kristi Brown (2nd – 2017), Sharianne Ziola (3rd – 2017), and Jocelin Huang (SSRL 3rd – 2017) should be the main competitors for the top spot with Laraine Wilkinson (1st – 2017) moving to FPL this year. The favorite should be Brown who won in 2016 and was a cone away from repeating last year. Huang won the class in 2015 before trying her hand at open in 2016 and SSRL in 2017. With 11 drivers SSL is one of the best subscribed ladies classes so a new champion could easily appear.
By Thomas Thompson
AS – A Street – 66 Entries – 18 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jason Frank
ASL – A Street Ladies – 4 Entries – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Kandy Johnson
A Street (dubbed ‘Murica) is on track to take over STR as the most subscribed class in this year. Trump will likely take credit of this as the class grows from last year’s 55 to this year’s 67 drivers.
Matt Jones is the only top five finishers last year to return to the class, and he is coming in hot with 5 podium finishes so far this year in the Champ/Match Tour and ProSolo combined. But if podium finishes provide any indication of performance at Lincoln, John Wolf and William Bostic will certainly bring a good fight as they have been on the podium this year 8 and 5 times respectively.
New to the class this year are Nick Barbato, Daniel Gross, Todd Kean and David White, all of whom were past Champions in different classes, so they will certainly make the competition very tough for everyone.
Christopher Laprus and Jeremy Pittenger are quick in the new to them C5 Z06 this year, but do not count them out just because it is their first trip to Lincoln.
You may have heard the 718 Cayman could disrupt A Street, so we look forward to see what Yury Kholondyrev can do in this car.
Fun Fact: A little more than 50% of last year’s A Street drivers have either gone to another class or not attending this year, including last year’s champ, Jason Frank.
With four drivers in this A-Street Ladies, it will be a tight and exciting battle no matter what happens. Last year’s winner will not be competing this year, so the spotlight will likely be on Lana Tsurikova this year.
However, following the win in ESP Ladies last year, Jessy Gauthier has switched to a 718 Cayman. Just like the Open class, we will see if anyone can use the Cayman to dethrone the Z06. Carla Russo and Sara Odioso are poised to shake things up in the class.
A Street begins their competition on the East Course on Tuesday. Stay tuned!
By Gary Tsui
BS – B Street – 45 Entries – 12 Trophies
2017 Champion: Ryan Clark
BSL – B Street Ladies – 5 Entries – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Tara Johns
B-Street for the 2018 Solo Nationals will see just over 40 cars competing for the Championship win, down almost 25% from last year. While the Corvette is still the most popular car in the class, a Porsche Cayman won the class in 2017, and the newly legal BMW M2s have shown strong performances at the Tours and Pros leading up to the National Championship.
B-Street is dominated by Rear-Wheel-Drive sports cars, as only a handful of boost-buggy drivers will be competing. The Focus RS seems to be the All-Wheel-Drive car of choice, with a single STi and Evo bringing the fight to the mostly Two-Wheel-Drive field. Competition will be strong with the likes of Dan Bullis, Doug Rowse, and Brian Heitkotter (just to name a few) hunting for the jacket. Ryan Clark won 2017’s B-Street class in a Cayman, but he will return to Lincoln this year in a GT4 Cayman, putting him in Super Street. Jeremy Foley came in 2nd place last year to Ryan by a slim margin of under two tenths, and will be looking to finish first this year.
B-Street Ladies has 3 entries this year, only half of the entrants as compared to 2017 – Cassie Duckert in an S2000, Shauna Rios in a Cayman, and Susan Fenwick in an M2. Tara Johns, who won in a Corvette last year, will not be defending her title as she has moved to CSL in a ND Miata. Can the S2000 still hang with the new BS cars?
By Mat Peck
CS – C Street – 53 Entries – 14 TrOPHIES
2017 Champion: Daniel McCelvey
CSL – C Street Ladies – 13 Entries – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Anne Robinson
C-Street runs 53 drivers deep in 2018, up from 46 in 2017. The class is still dominated by the ND Mazda MX-5 but will also feature NC MX-5s, Subaru BRZs, Scion FRS, Porsche Boxsters, and Mazda RX-8s. Last year, ND MX-5s locked out the Top 10 positions in CS and I see no reason that will change in 2018. While the winning manufacturer is not really in question, the setup, tire, and damper choices vary significantly among the main contenders and the driving talent pool is deep.
With 2016 and 2017 C-Street Champion Daniel McCelvey moving on to STR in his Mazda, CS will see a different winner in 2018.
The Championship Tour and ProSolo seasons have had distinct battles on each coast and in the middle of the US. Out East, DJ Alessandrini has had a fantastic regular season winning four National events (Finger Lakes Tour, Bristol Tour, Pittsburgh Match Tour, and the New Jersey ProSolo). DJ and his co-driver Dennis Barrett, who pipped DJ for the Oscoda ProSolo win, both look to be very competitive in Lincoln. DJ has been regularly battling with CS veteran Chris Harp and his co-driver, 4-time jacket winner Andrew Pallotta. Andrew has proven year in and year out that he can win in Lincoln in a variety of cars.
Solo veteran Darrin DiSimo has also been very quick in his ND this year taking ProSolo wins in Ft Myers and Blytheville in addition to the Ft Myers Match Tour. Charles Krampert has been getting more and more competitive all year long with a highlight win on his final runs at the Mineral Wells ProSolo.
Out West, Scott Phillips, Andrew Kessel, and Idaho’s 2014 ASR Champion Brian Coulson have each taken National Event wins. Scott and Andrew are co-driving together in Andrew’s ND MX-5 for Solo Nats and both have a shot of taking down the former jacket winners in the class. Scott has a road racing background and took wins at the San Diego Match Tour and the Crows Landing ProSolo. He also won the Fontana ProSolo Super Challenge – all in all a pretty tidy season.
John Hunter, Tyler Kvetko, and Dave Ogburn battled at Spring Nats and finished in the top 3 for the ProSolo and the Tour. Tyler has since moved to SSC, but his win at the Spring Nats Pro proved he could have continued his run of strong CS finishes in Lincoln. John Hunter had the pace in both Spring Nats events but had some cone trouble and finished with a 2nd in the Pro and 3rd at the Spring Nats Tour. The Omaha driver and 2013 CSP Champion has the homecourt advantage and is definitely one of the favorites to take home the jacket this year. 2015 CS Champion Dave Ogburn is co-driving with Deana Kelley in her MX-5 again this year and has taken three National Event wins in 2018. Ricky Crow showed strong pace with a P2 behind Dave Ogburn at the Texas Champ Tour and will be a dark horse candidate at Nationals.
The two reigning CSL champions, Deana Kelley and Anne Robinson, join the CS open crowd this year and will be looking to bring home hardware. Anne is a 5-time champion now including CSL 2017 and 4 DPL titles. Deana dominated CSL in 2016 and finished 2nd in 2017 behind Anne. She has a full season of battling in CS open under her belt and will surely be fighting for trophies in her MX-5 hotrod.
The wild card in this year’s C-Street battle surely is the Dynasty Racing duo of Darren Seltzer and Chi Ho. Chi has won many National road race events and has been very competitive at the last few Runoffs. Darren is the more experienced Solo pilot with two Solo Nats titles in FM to his name in addition to the 2017 T4 Runoffs Championship. Look for these guys to be right towards the top and perhaps take the title back to Florida with them in their convertible Smart Car pit vehicle.
CSL is up to 13 drivers from 6 last year and is an all Mazda shootout except for a lone Porsche Boxster. This year’s CSL battle looks to be a showdown between 2017 BSL Champion Tara Johns, 2016 GSL Champion Maria Mayorga, and Jennifer McBride. These three have had quite the showdown in 2018 with each taking National Event wins when they have faced off. Maria took the Bristol Champ Tour win, Jennifer won the Bristol Match Tour, and Tara won the Charlotte Match Tour by a scant 0.038s over Maria and Jennifer. Look for one these three to take home the CSL Jacket this year, but it will likely be by a very small margin. Former F125L Champion Lisa Garfield, Linda Duncan, and 5-time jacket winner Marchell Fletcher will be looking for the upset.
C-Street Open kicks off during Heat 1 on Tuesday starting with the West Course. CSL runs Heat 4 on Tuesday also on the West Course – be sure to tune in, they will both be shootouts.
By Dave Ogburn
DS – D Street – 47 Entries – 13 TrOPHIES
2017 Champion: Mark Scroggs
DSL – D Street Ladies – 8 Entries – 3 Trophies
2017 Champion: Julie Heaton
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, then they’re both T-boned by an interloper wearing a flat-brimmed hat? You’ll need to watch D Street to find out. The unstoppable force is three-time national champion, 2017 DS winner, and 2017 overall ProSolo champ Mark Scroggs in his turbo Camaro. He’s on a collision course with 2016 class champion Dennis Sparks in a Subaru WRX. Sparks and Scroggs won eleven national-level events between them this year, and both emerged undefeated. They haven’t fought over the same piece of turf since the 2017 national championships, though, so it’s hard to say how they’ll stack up. Last year Scroggs won by a wide margin, but since then Sparks has upgraded to a new WRX with wider wheels. Size matters, and that extra half inch of rim could make all the difference.
And what about the interloper? The big news in D Street this year was supposed to be the Civic Type R. Internet pundits everywhere declared it an overdog the moment it was placed in the class, but surprisingly few people made the switch. Two-time national champion Brian Kuehl registered in one, but he’s since changed his entry to Street Modified FWD. Maybe if enough of us ask him nicely he’ll rejoin this three-way battle royale. If not, look to Jack Burns to show everyone what the Type R can do.
Another threat to the favorites will be Neil Britton, who actually received more votes in the Pick the Winners contest than Sparks did. Chris Dvorak will be hoping for a podium finish after placing fourth in his WRX last year. And keep an eye on what may be D Street’s two most intriguing entries: two-time DSL champion Julie Heaton, who’s decided to beat up on open class this year, and Matthew Grainger, who misread the Type R memo and signed up in a twenty-one-year-old Integra Type R instead.
D Street Ladies is tough to predict. Lincoln will be the first national-level event of the year for most of the competitors, and none of the drivers have previously won jackets. Evanthe Salisbury was the only driver SportsCar even bothered mentioning in its article, but Stephanie Reynoso will be looking to prove the magazine’s panel wrong after her dominant win at the Mineral Wells Tour.
By Stephen Hui
ES – E Street – 61 Entries – 16 TrOPHIES
2017 Champion: Michael Ron
ESL – E Street Ladies – 8 Entries – 3 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jennifer Bedell
E-Street this year is not only one of the most popular classes in the country, but also super difficult to determine who will win. It seems that on any given weekend there are several guys that have a shot at the win. Looking at the Championship Tour results we see that in 8 contests over the course of the season, we also have 8 different winners. When you look at Match Tour results, we have an additional 5 contests and 5 more unique winners. We don’t actually see people winning multiple events until we look at Pro Solo results.
So, what can we distill from the results? We fully expect some really good drivers to finish outside the trophies this year. While Peterson, Ron, Canak, and Borowski are solid choices, the consistent improvement over the last two years and the surprise 2nd place last year from Matt Waldbaum make him our pick this year to win. That being said, there are certainly drivers that if they can avoid cones can come in and upset the apple cart.
E-Street Ladies saw the departure of several top drivers. Also, we haven’t seen the top drivers run against each other at the same event. So, our pick for this year will come down to whether we pick the Wendi Allen Scholarship Fund 2018 Recipient, Youmna Zalzal, or the always fast Meredith Brown. As much as we like underdog stories, we expect Brown to take the jacket home. We’ll be watching closely in Lincoln to see if other drivers emerge that can challenge for the win.
By Chuck Mathews
FS – F Street – 36 ENTRIES – 10 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jeff Cashmore
FSL – F Street Ladies – 3 Entries – 1 Trophy
2017 Champion: N/A
F Street is shaping up to be an epic battle between two multi-time national champions: 11-time winner (and defending FS champion) Jeff Cashmore, and 4-time jacket winner Jeff Wong. Wong just got his sixth generation Camaro SS this year, but he figured it out quickly – he was the fastest F Street driver at all four of the Pros he contested this year. Cashmore only brought his BMW M3 out to one national-level event this year, but he made it count, beating Wong by a healthy 0.7 seconds at the Spring Nationals Championship Tour. SportsCar and the Pick the Winners voters both pick Cashmore to win the jacket – can Wong prove them wrong?
Several other fast drivers are looking to lay claim to the top step of the podium. Picking favorites is tough since most of them haven’t crossed paths in 2018, but Austin Don stands out – he’s won two national level events in his M3, beating known alien Mark Daddio at one of them. (Daddio’s registered in SS at Nationals.) Ido Waksman won most of the events he contested in his fifth-generation Camaro 1LE this year, and Sean Greer also has recorded some strong finishes. Lastly, don’t count out past national champions Brian Burdette (who won F Stock in 2013) and James Paulson, both of whom will be looking to prove that the latest generation Ford Mustang can get the job done.
F Street Ladies is also expected to come down to two drivers, due mostly to the fact that there are only two people registered. 2016 Solo Driver of the Year and 2016 FSL national champion Cindy Duncan is the prohibitive favorite given her track record. Lincoln’s Kellie Knop will be hoping that she can leverage her home field advantage into a surprise upset, particularly if rain or tight courses favor her S197 Shelby GT over Duncan’s much larger and heavier 2016 Mustang GT.
By Stephen Hui
GS – G Street – 47 ENTRIES – 10 Trophies
2017 Champion: Doug Rowse
GSL – G Street Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 2 Trophy
2017 Champion: Barbara Seeger
GS in 2018 Solo Nationals sees the largest G Street or Stock in recent memories. After most of the “Street” years hovering around 20 something competitors, for the 46th running of the SoloNats sees the class ballooning to 47. In that we can see a healthy mix of recent contenders and class returnees. The class also sees more interesting than usual variety of the GS machineries. While Focus ST and VW GTI are still the primary cars of choice, new additions like the 10th gen Civic SI mixed with old guards like the Celica and the unique Genesis Coupe will make for interesting comparisons.
2018 will yet again see the previous champ Doug Rowse moving to another class, which means yet again we will see a new champ in the GS jacket. We have podium finishers and perennial contenders in GS class from the last 2 years in the field. Bill Keese and Josh McDonough both have had their close calls with the win and both have been tour winners in recent years. With them Kenneth Tsang and Jen Wong will again try to put the GTI into the mix with the recent tour and pro wins as well. Competing with the Nationals GS regulars will be a highly competitive group of new and old GS competitors.
Des Toups who has been a strong Nationals competitor in the variety of cars of the last few years finds himself a Tour winner in the new SI from the left coast, Rich Verret also in the new SI is a Tour winner from the right coast. Class returnee Brad McCann in his one of the kind Genesis Coupe coming in with 2 Tour wins from Texas. We also have Patrice Bousquet who has shown his speed throughout the year in the Match and Champ Tour events in the south along with his year-long competitor Deech Madhavan. Rounding out a strong field we have Joe Blaha who has been trying to get back up to speed with a limited schedule with a recent strong showing at Oscoda, Mike Bullis who has been making waves with that old MK5 GTI all year in the midwest, crowd favorite announcing chief Sam Karp with his friend Lance Keeley jumping in the new SI are sure to be in with the pointy end as well.
GSL sees the defending champ Barbara Seeger leaving her long time FoST to find herself in a new SI. She will have her past competitor Melanie Dorsey, along with 2015 DSL Nationals Champ Kristen Acharya and her codriver Kellyn Bricker to contend with for the class jacket. SI vs Focus ST is shaping up to be an interesting fight.
For the Groceries!
By Andrew Wong
HS – H Street – 25 ENTRIES – 7 Trophies
2017 Champion: Mike King
HSL – H Street Ladies – 7 ENTRIES – 3 Trophies
2017 Champion: Laney Blume
SSR – Super Street R – 30 ENTRIES – 9 Trophies
2017 Champion: Sam Strano
SSRL – Super Street R Ladies – 3 ENTRIES – 1 Trophies
2017 Champion: Stephanie Reeve
For a class brimming with top drivers, there is no need to look further than Super Street R (SSR). The class is always stacked, but seven open class National Champions are competing in the class this year.
As far as vehicles go, Super Street R (SSR) has been relatively unchanged for years, the newest car last year was a 2012 C6 Grand Sport. For 2018 some new metal is available, and the top drivers are taking advantage. Both 8-time National Champions, Sam Strano (1st – 2017) and Brian Peters (CP 1st – 2017), have selected the 2017 C7 Grand Sport as their weapon of choice. Strano won the class last year after a bit of drought while Peters was winning C-Prepared. At Spring Nats, both Strano (in a C6 Z06) and Peters lost to Matthew Braun (a 5-Time National Champion). Braun and James Yom (a 3-Time National Champion) are the best shots to keep Strano or Peters out of the top spot.
With three women registered in SSR Open, the ladies version of the class has been limited to only 3 competitors. Shelly Monfort will most likely add to her 9 championship pedigree, but Nicole Wong could cause an upset.
By Thomas Thompson
<h5″>SSC – Solo Spec Coupe – 62 ENTRIES – 17 Trophies
2017 Champion: N/A
SSCL – Solo Spec Coupe Ladies – 12 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: N/A
Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) is the newest Kid on the Block. Its inaugural debut of 62 open drivers and 12 ladies makes it one of the largest classes at the 2018 Solo Nationals.
It’ll take a steady hand and an easy foot to keep that SSC car from overheating the tires. Tire management may be a big factor in this year’s SSC battle. The spec Falkens are a great combination of cost, availability, and grip in dry and wet conditions but are challenged as the temperatures rise. Some have poo-pooed the tire selection but this author believes the choice was a good one and that the lower limits of traction create an environment where excellent driving will receive the most rewards. In what is arguably the class most heavily weighted towards driver skill at Solo Nationals, everyone has an equal shot at the competition and the jacket. If SCCA Forums “Pick the Winners” or SportsCar’s “Who Will Win?” are any indicators, Solo Spec Coupe has lots of people who could get it done within the intense spec format racing.
Some top names to watch are Dietz , Kinch, Max and Rodriguez. Lousteau, McCabe and Roberts are the wild cards. But Hammond, Lawson and Savini have been in their cars all year long. Whoever wins will have to earn it. There will be no free handouts at this party.
In SSCL Teddie Alexandrova has got the seat time and lots of practice at long high speed courses. You would be foolish to bet against her this year, as she has put in the time required to win. In a spec class though, a coned run may change everything.
By Kevin Dietz
STH – Street Touring Hatchback – 10 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: N/A
Street Touring Hatchback (STH) is both new and forgotten at same time. The death of Street Touring Front Wheel Drive (STF) gave birth to STH, a mixed bag of boosted, ignored, and forgotten cars from STF and STX. When nationals first capped at 1400 participants, STH represented a paltry 10 (9 Open, 1 Ladies). Unfortunately those numbers have not improved in the days after, which is a real shame. The introduction of the class has been overshadowed by another new class, Solo Sports Coupe (SSC), which has drawn keen interest in the autocross community due to its narrow ruleset and relatively low cost of entry. While STH is a “new” class, it is not supplemental and will award a National Championship. No driver in this class has previously won an open championship, so a first-time winner is a sure bet.
The cars are a blast — Mazdaspeed 3s, Subaru WRXs, VW Golfs (GTI and R), an Audi TT, and even an AWD Eagle Talon. The use of street touring rules allows a smaller FWD and AWD drive cars that were not blessed with enough power from the factory to dial up the fun factor with some basic ECU tuning (additionally letters have been submitted requesting intercooler rule deviations that could benefit the entire class). Street touring suspension allowances increase the handling to that required to excel on the autocross course.
Deciding who will come out on top will prove difficult since very few of the drivers have competed head to head and the class did not exist last year. Asking around Brian Flanagan’s name seems to come up the most. He has one of the longer Nationals histories in the class, having trophied 5 times in 18 appearances. However, Flanagan fell to Alex Piehl and his 2014 WRX at both the Bistol Champ Tour and Match Tour. Lincoln won’t provide as much of an advantage to the AWD cars as other sites but Piehl will be certainly be in contention. It hasn’t been all roses for Piehl this season, early on at the Finger Lakes Champ Tour he lost to Samuel Krauss. Krauss is no doubt pleased to have a new home class for his AWD 1995 Eagle Talon TSi in STH.
Also hoping AWD will be the answer, Thomas Thompson (yes, I referred to myself in the 3rd person) made the late switch from SSP to STH using a recently acquired a 2016 Audi TT as his weapon of choice. Thompson’s best Nationals finish was 4th in XP in 2016. Chris Thorpe plans on using a similar vehicle to take his shot at a trophy, a 2012 VW Golf R, which shares the 2.0L motor with the TT and is also AWD. He’s been relatively isolated on the West Coast this season but PAX results at Packwood prove Thorpe can do well in his car. Someone looking for a different but not necessarily better kind trophy is Christy Carlson, driving a 2015 WRX. The multi-time ladies champion, including last year in SML, has an excellent shot to be one of the few women in history to top an open class.
Hopefully, with a new champion and some exciting racing the future will look bright for STH. Lincoln will tell us for sure.
By Thomas Thompson
STS – Street Touring Sport – 48 ENTRIES – 13 Trophies
2017 Champion: Ron Williams
STSL – Street Touring Sport Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Kim Whitener
STX – Street Touring Xtreme – 47 ENTRIES – 13 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jonathan Lugod
STXL – Street Touring Xtreme Ladies – 3 ENTRIES – 1 Trophies
2017 Champion: Nicole Wong
Chances are if you are running in this class, you will be seen in a Subaru 86, a Toyota FRS or a Scion BRZ, unless you are Craig Wilcox. He and Kyle Herbst should continue to battle it out this year while Annie Gill, Justin Tsang and Mack Tsang will look for the opportunity to sneak pass them.
James TaDa has been very fast this year after switching to Bridgestone, and he certainly will pull out all his tricks to come out on top. Brian Karwan and Eric Simmons will be testing the prototype sway bar (unfair advantage perhaps?).
Lex Kirichek has been driving a SSC car for the most part of the season, definitely a different approach to preparing for his debut. His flamboyant driving style will be entertaining.
This class is going to be one of the most exciting class to watch as there was only a 0.9 second differential between 1st and 10th place last year. Set your reminder for Tuesday West Course.
Mindi Cross is the only returning driver in STX Ladies this year. Kate Fisher gave up on the Honda S2000 and found a new challenge. Catherine Tran has downsized in terms of power and weight.
Interestingly, all three ladies finished 1st runner up in their respective classes last year, so maybe we will see a three-way tie this year?
STX Ladies runs first heat on Tuesday West Course.
By Gary Tsui
STU – Street Touring Ultra – 38 ENTRIES – 11 Trophies
2017 Champion: Bryan Heitkotter
STUL – Street Touring Ultra Ladies – 6 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Mina Ingraham
This class was traditionally dominated by AWD “rally cars”. But some time in 2014(?), the rules changed, allowing RWD cars to put on bigger tires depending on the engine layout. This opened the class up a bit and in the last few years, we have seen the Nissan 350z rises to the top.
With Bryan Heitkotter out of this class (at the time of writing this), John Hale (2017 2nd place) and Bill Zerr (2017 3rd place) may just be able to restore the glory of the Subaru WRX STi. Evo IX is probably the more iconic car in this class but I digress =) . Meanwhile, Lane Borg has been around for the last few years trying to come out on top in a 2004 Corvette. All three drivers are certainly the favorite, and the weather may play favor for Hale and Zerr.
Wojtek (Wally) Hajduczek will carry the torch from Heitkotter in the 350z. We have seen some significant improvements from him this year, so he may springboard himself up in the rankings this year.
Jimmy Au-Yeung and Andrew Ramos made huge improvements between 2016 and 2017, and if it continues, they could very well be in the hunt for podium also.
One more entry to watch for, both a new driver/car to the class, is Talha Sadik in a Mitsubishi Evo X. An Evo IX would be the better choice (Ooops, I did it again) Talha-haha enters this class by chance due to a motor failure in his other car. If he remembers to put Bridgestone on his car, he may actually put himself in a very good position to challenge for the top podium.
In the Ladies class, Katherine Flater and Kelly Ann Gladu look to be the favorite this year as last year’s top 3 finishers have all left this class, so it will be an exciting Subaru and Mitsubishi match-up.
STU and STU Ladies start on Tuesday at the East Course.
By Gary Tsui
STR – Street Touring Roadster – 57 ENTRIES – 15 Trophies
2017 Champion: Ian Stewart
STRL – Street Touring Roadster Ladies – 17 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: Laura Campbell
STP – Street Touring Pony – 8 ENTRIES – 3 Trophies
2017 Winner: Ryan Otis
This year’s STP field is small, with only 10 drivers taking to the course in their mildly modified ponycars, but the battle for the four trophy spots should be a good one. Jay Cryderman, Robert Gosda. Jonathan Warlof, and Eric Yee, all of whom have either won trophies in the past or been just a few tenths away, will attempt to beat the odds in their underdog Mustangs, while Brinton Mooberry will be aiming for the win in a sixth generation Camaro. And who knows, if the course is right, Jeffrey Mark Pilson may just sneak in there with his lower powered but lighter fourth generation Camaro. However, everyone will be chasing last year’s winner Ryan Otis, who looks likely to repeat this year.
By Eric Yee
SSP – Super Street Prepared – 20 ENTRIES – 6 Trophies
2017 Champion: Joe Tharpe
ASP – A Street Prepared – 10 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Tom Berry
It would be safe to say AWD boost buggies (or Tom Berry) own this class. In the last 12 years, Tom has won exactly half of them in his Mitsubishi Evolution. The Evo is so dominating that only four other cars have claimed a podium spot from 2006-2017, that is 4 out of 36 podiums. Perhaps, this is the reason the number of entries in this class is waning as Evo becomes harder to obtain.
We should expect Tom and Aaron Miller to go head-to-head not just in terms of driving, but also whose car remains more reliable over the two days. Cory Hockenbury has been closing in on the pair of Evos in recent years in his BMW 1M, and he may finally end the Evo dynasty in 2018. I suspect the West Course may be a little more favorable for the BMW due to the gearing and the Evo may be happier at the East Course.
The class has a new comer this year. Enter Justin Bibik. Having turned down a co-drive in a championship winning car, he is determined to test his skills in a 1991 Toyota MR2. In only his second year of the sport, he is already very competitive in a car that hardly stays together and lacks power, but he may surprise everyone. Word is that the car is still in the midst of being put back together at this moment. I wish him luck in his first ever National.
ASP rolls off the line on the West Course on Tuesday.
BSP – B Street Prepared – 17 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: Tom O’Gorman
BSPL – B Street Prepared Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 2 Trophy
2017 Champion: Kristen Rosenthal
BSP has traditionaly had some good sounds from its machinery. Between MazdaSpeed Miata turbo noises, Honda S2000 VTEC crossover, and the occasional glorious 350z exhaust note the class can make beautiful music.
This is still the land of the MSM. The alien TomO came in last season and broke the Honda thru to the top and overall PAX, but expectations will be that Anthony Ports pilots his MSM back to the top. Buckie Maxey has stepped up his MSM and should be in the hunt; as well as, Chris Eden who has been painfully close for years and hopefully could get it done this year. However a newcomer to the class (but a multi-time National Champion) in a ND Miata, Ron Bauer, could play spoiler.
BSPL is back in 2018 after not making a class. Eyes will be on the girls from the Carolinas in the MSM. Nikki Edwards has a raggedy red jacket to her credit already. However her co-driver, who usually plays a class filler role, has shown potential. Molly There and Edwards could have a very intriguing battle over two days.
CSP – C Street Prepared – 20 ENTRIES – 6 Trophies
2017 Champion: Billy Davis
CSPL – C Street Prepared Ladies – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Katie Lacey
Yup, another class of Miatas. Do we have enough of those in SCCA? 21 entries and all Miatas except for a lone MR not.
If we were placing a Vegas betting line, the absolute worst payout bet would be for Billy Davis to win. Come on, who else would you think. Well perhaps Neal Tovsen who has had another year to develop his, gasp, Miata. Perhaps Jeff Schmidt who also has PF Tuning power, gasp, in aa Miata. Let’s just say, a Miata will win.
As for the ladies, a Miata will win as well.
By AJ Snyder
DSP – D Street Prepared – 14 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: John Vitamvas
D-Street Prepared (DSP) has been evolving in the past few years. Once looked at as a land of BMWs has been seeing an evasion of the Mazda RX-8 as of recent years.
Hard to believe that John Vitamvas finally got his first championship in 2017. Look to Johnny V to be in contention with even more PF Tuning power and brand new OS Giken differential after a failure a few short weeks ago. Mike Kuhn is still a favorite as he continues his trend of leading on day one. He’s trophied every year in attendance including podium the last three years. All eyes will continue to be on Tamara Hunt after her inaugural season last year finishing second. Will she pull off the Open win only a few women have achieved?
By AJ Snyder
ESP – E Street Prepared – 15 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: John Laughlin
ESPL – E Street Prepared Ladies – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jessica Gauthier
E-Street Prepared (ESP) is still a land of muscle cars like CP and FS. However there is always a pesky import that seems to slip thru and someone is crazy enough to modify to the ruleset.
All eyes should be on Jeff Cox in his Shelby GT500 as the leader of the pony cars. Reliability has plagued him in the past, but all of those issues are behind. However there are two pesky imports to watch very closely. PJ Corrales, a past Street Mod runner-up, is always someone to watch out for. He hopes to avoid a repeat of last year, when his Infiniti G35’s orginal 200,000 mile engine promptly said it didn’t want to be there.
Corrales touts the pedigree of his co-driver, Bryan Mancuso, as 2012 SMF Championship and a 2017 ESP ProSolo Championship. That’s an awfully good tire warmer.
The import that will quickly catch everyone’s attention is a MazdaSpeed6. This car has been in attendance the last two years, but Clint Griest has his machine working well in 2018. He has been cleaning up ESP in every national event this season until a differential failure at Oscoda Pro last month. We don’t see that as enough to take the wind from his sails going into the big show.
ESPL has five entries this season. Not take away anything from JoJo Corrales-Kean; but the clear front runner this year is Johanna Foege in the MS6. Johanna has consistently showed her talent level by putting down times very close to her fiancé in the car. Her climb to the lime light started with her reception of the 2018 Wendi Allen Scholarship. Does it finish with a championship?
By AJ Snyder
FSP – F Street Prepared – 13 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Dan Costello
FSPL – F Street Prepared Ladies – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Andrea Albin
SM – Street Modified – 26 ENTRIES – 8 Trophies
2017 Champion: David White
SML – Street Modified Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Christy Carlson
SSM – Super Street Modified – 17 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: Randall Wilcox
SMF – Street Modified FWD – 12 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Robert Thorne
SMFL – Street Modified FWD Ladies – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Kristell Janusz
XP – X Prepared – 18 ENTRIES – 6 Trophies
2017 Champion: Fred Zust
XPL – X Prepared Ladies – 3 Entries – 1 Trophy
2017 Champion: N/A
No offense to some of the mod classes but XP is the “Formula 1” of SCCA autocross. The cars are built to their technical limit. The aero allowances the class shares with Street Modified are only topped by BM and AM. The drivers are some of the best in the business. This year XP is stacked with National Champions with 4 previous open class champs totaling 22 championships (the last minute cancellation of Fred Zust’s registration keeps the class from having the most open championships). Fred Zust, Andy McKee, and Chris Dorsey have 8 championships a piece.
Naming anyone other than Zust the favorite would be a horrible disservice to a man who has won X-Prepared at 8 of the last 9 Nationals he has attended, but he’s not here this year. So, from the list of established XP drivers looking to take advantage of Zust’s absence ; two RX7 drivers, Andy McKee (3rd in 2017) and Zach Sober (2nd in 2017) are the ones to watch. McKee is a two-time XP Champion (8 total Championships) who is the only person to top Zust in recent memory (2012). McKee has trophied every year he’s attended Nationals (21 times), doing it again is almost a given. Zach Sober is ascending the ranks of the best drivers never to have won a championship, a list he hopes to free himself from this year. He has never finished worse than 3rd in XP since his first Nationals in 2014 and has been 2nd three times including last year’s painful 0.078 second loss to Zust. Sober has had the lead after Day 1 each of the last two years. A quality Day 2 performance could be all it takes to bring home a jacket.
Typically, the championship contenders would be limited to Mckee and Sober in the void left by Zust but another fox is in the hen house. Eight-time National Champion Chris Dorsey is leaving the relative comfort of D-Prepared where he won the last 3 years (in addition to 5 E-Prepared Championships). The move to XP required major changes to his 1987 Toyota Corolla GTS. Dorsey will no doubt have the speed to place in potentially upset the top 3 but will his in season modifications (including a switch from supercharged to turbo charged months before nationals) be enough to upset two XP veterans and take home the title.
The remaining trophy spots will be contested by a handful of excellent drivers. Since 2012 there has not been an XPL champion, partially because the women in the class choose to battle it out in open class. Alexandra Zust and Teresa Neidel-McKee have been regular trophy winners in XP. Alexandra will be missing this year but Neidel-McKee will be fighting for a trophy. Add to the mix, Brianne Corn, one of only 4 women to ever top an open class (BM in 2011), co-driving the same RX7 as Zach Sober, and it will be tough for rest of the class to even sniff at a trophy. If Teresa finds a cone or two or Brianne has trouble adapting to an unknown car, Mark Mauro and Eric Anderson may bring home some hardware. Mauro has finally gotten the proper shocks for the car and should be quicker than last year. Anderson is stepping up from SSM in spectacularly built supercharged 1996 Miata. The car won SSM last year at the hands of Randall Wilcox (who will defend this year in SSM), and with SSM and XP times surprisingly similar Anderson has a chance to finish in the trophies.
XP Ladies will make a class this year primarily constituted by non-XP cars. Kim Bollinger has the pedigree with 11 Championships overall, but Amanda Hahn has a couple herself and is driving the faster car, Robert Thorne’s Big Bad Wolf.
By Thomas Thompson
CP – C Prepared – 41 ENTRIES – 11 Trophies
2017 Champion: Brian Peters
CPL – C Prepared Ladies – 3 ENTRIES – 1 Trophy
2017 Champion: None
DP – D Prepared – 25 ENTRIES – 7 Trophies
2017 Champion: Chris Dorsey
A class that nearly doubled this year. Up to 25 from last year’s 16 entries. Thirteen of those drivers have returned, with the notable exception of last year’s champion Christopher Dorsey who’s off sampling X-Prepared. This could be the year for Todd Roberts, last year’s 2nd place trophy winner. That is unless Steve Hoelscher, last year’s 3rd place finisher, has found some speed since their last Nationals encounter. Of course, with this much expansion, it’s entirely possible a dark horse may emerge. I hear Tulsa’s own Mr. Danny Thomas has been digging deep into the parts bin and may fly the British flag over the rising sun of—yawn—Miata’s.
By Pax Rolfe
EP – E Prepared – 13 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Brian Kuehl
FP – F Prepared – 25 ENTRIES – 7 Trophies
2017 Champion: David Montgomery
FPL – F Prepared Ladies – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Amy Dilks
Well it’s better late than never. Welcome to the solo nationals preview for F prepared in 2018. This class is going to be a Who’s Who of heavy hitters in cars on real race tires. There are literally more than a handful of drivers here who could potentially win.
So let me paint the picture for you. Imagine if Brad Pitt was coming to solo nationals autocross pretty cool right? Now imagine if he was best friends with Channing Tatum. Even cooler right? Now imagine if these drivers have driving skill somewhat resemblant of Senna and Prost when it comes to driving. Sounds kind a like a beatdown is coming doesn’t it? Well that’s what Tom O’Gorman and Dave Montgomery have planned.
But wait it gets better…the original Wisconsin hipster himself Jason Frank has decided to step down from his days of Corvette glory and enter the world of Porsche luxury in a famous black Boxster. He is also brought along Mike Brausen to warm his tires and to park next to his old car so the Oregon boys (Zach and Josh) can show him how fast it SHOULD have been.
Then we have one of the dark horses who is always fast in the wrong car. Dr. Alex Indiana Jones has decided once again to bring a Pontiac solstice to the fight. He’s always fast and he’s always a contender. Does he have enough to make it happen this year? If he doesn’t a newcomer to FP named Bryan Heitkotter might come give it a shot. Or he might turn in his man card to go drive something else. We will have to find out next week.
And some old guys named Tom Holt and John Thomas will be in old Z cars to remind us that BMW isn’t the only fast car with a straight 6.
There’s also a dog ugly S2000 from the southeast that goes quick too.
Basically if you’re new to FP and not quite up to speed, leave your ego at home and enjoy the show.
Amy Dilks has once again decided to show up in a concourse level prepared S2000. We will be watching to see if she can find speed on that car again this season to pull off the repeat.
Then we have that little black Boxster again. Iven Dudley is coming out of retirement to jump into what is arguably the best prepared Boxster in the country. Her co-driver, Hilary Frank, is coming back to give it another shot in 2018. Hopefully with fresh valve stems on the car this year.
The prediction looks like it is Hilary’s year to win or lose depending on whether the car or the cones hold up.
AM – A Modified – 12 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Marshall Grice
BM – B Modified – 16 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: Tom Ellam
CM – C Modified – 30 ENTRIES – 9 Trophies
2017 Champion: David Fauth
CML – C Modified Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Sue Eckles
For 2018, CM will be a class to watch closely with 34 entrants spread across the open and ladies classes. The cars are more diverse than ever with Honda and Volkswagen power plants joining the classic Ford Kent engine found in most Formula Fords over the past 50 years. While there are a handful of “Solo Vees” registered, the most popular formula for the class remains the “Formula F” with cars ranging in age from Greg Maloy’s 1974 Dulon MP15 to Phil Leavens’ 1998 Van Diemen RF98.
The class is chock full of talent and promises to be closely contended. Both 2017 champions David Fauth and Sue Eckles will be returning to defend their titles but will be met by the “his & hers” pair of returning 2016 champions, Brandon and Krystal Lavender. Other returning top 3 trophy winners to watch include previous year trophy winners Greg Maloy (2017 2nd place), Jonathan Clements (2016 2nd place), and Ben Martinez (2016 & 2017 3rd place).
2018 has had few Champ Tours with multiple CM or CML drivers to contend for a victory, but the notable exceptions were Crows Landing (13 drivers) and Packwood (9 drivers). Victory for both went to Eric Clements with second place at both events going to newcomer Mark Uhlmann. Final trophy spots for the two events went to Ben Martinez and codrivers John Krotez and Michael Marich from Canada.
CM runs first heat and CML fourth heat on Thursday/Friday and both promise to be a show worth watching!
DM – D Modified – 13 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Mark Huffman
EM – E Modified – 12 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jeff Kiesel
EML – E Modified Ladies – 4 ENTRIES – 1 Trophy
2017 Champion: Shawn Kiesel
FM – F Modified – 30 ENTRIES – 9 Trophies
2017 Champion: Jason Hobbs
FML – F Modified Ladies – 6 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Michelle Quinn
“For the Glory of F-Mod! For the Glory! For the Glory!” Ah, yes, if you’ve ever been around the F-Mod class you’ve surely heard their battle cry. Well, you heard it if there wasn’t also the sound of a million giant weed-eaters drowning them out.
This ragtag group of miscreants are taking “For the Glory” to new heights this year, as they will be assembling an entire car for Heyward Wagner on site from spare parts brought by the various competitors. You can hate the cringe-inducing sounds these little cars make, but you can’t deny that these folks are having tons of fun — probably more fun than you are.
Usually when I’m looking into my crystal ball (or Magic 8 Ball) to see into the future and make my picks, I also casually glance at national results… you know, just in case I can give the spirits a helping hand. However, it seems the top guys haven’t run against each other much.
So, can we expect to see an underdog like Chris Perry or Will Lahee pull it out this year? Or, will one of the other top drivers like Matt Murphy or defending champ Jason Hobbs take home the top honors? Magic 8 Ball says: “Concentrate and ask again.” So, realizing the error of my ways, I concentrated harder. Magic 8 Ball says: “My sources say no.”
So, based upon the strength of his 3rd on PAX at the Packwood Pro, I decided to ask the Magic 8 Ball if Zak Kiesel would take home “The Glory.” It replied, “It is decidedly so.” That being said, no matter who wins, there will be a huge celebration as the winner crosses the stage, after which we will banish them to the parking lot, because they’re all just having too much fun for an official SCCA event.
But wait! There’s more “Glory” to be had? Indeed— the ladies of F-Mod bring just as much obnoxious revelry as the men. For the Battle Royale that shall ensue, we’re looking to see who reigns victorious between Andie Albin and Kencey Smith (coming from A-Mod). When asked if Kencey would win, Magic 8 Ball said, “Better not tell you now.” So, we’re going with Andie taking the win since she’s got more experience in the car.
FSAE – Formula SAE – 2 ENTRIES – 0 Trophies
2017 Champion: John Price (UT Arlington)
KM – Kart Modified – 15 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Champion: Daniel Wendel
KML – Kart Modified Ladies – 6 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Champion: Kate Regganie
The physical abuse of a 125 shifter kart is known as Kart Modified (KM) in Autocross. The screaming of the two strokes clearing their pipes cut your ears. The smokey clouds of oil mixture are cast across the grid. The engines revolve 14 thousand times a minute. They utilize two people or tow straps to start the engines. Then there is the speed of piloting the machine, the G-loads, slide ways corners, the bumpy concrete, and the wrist ache if you hit a cone.
Two time defending champ Daniel Wendel will be in attendance with a “Porsche Taycan”, can you sense his career path allegiance. Fan favorite Larry “Leftie” MacLeod will be in the hunt. In class full of characters, we want to see Ryan Lower do well. The real shocker is that Superman Paul Russell will NOT be in attendance this season and no date of his return.
In ladies, Emma MacLeod is joining the ranks; and hopefully, Dana Gill can break thru this year. There is still Kate Regganie and Suzanne Segal, so it should be a good battle again this year.
By AJ Snyder
FJA – Formula JunioR A – 12 ENTRIES – 4 Trophies
2017 Winner: Mason Herrick
FJB – JunioR KART B – 5 ENTRIES – 2 Trophies
2017 Winner: Carter Heaton
For the Junior Kart classes, many of the drivers from 2017 will be returning along with some new faces that will provide plenty of exciting action. And just like last year, there should be some good battles taking place. There may even be a gender battle, as this year 8 of the 17 drivers are girls.
Total drivers in Junior B is lower than expected at 5, but there should still be a fight across the board. Last year’s winner, Carter Heaton, will be there, and he will face his toughest competition from other drivers also returning who have all been showing improved speed in 2018: Olivia Hammac, Alana McKee, and Abigail Dorsey. Will one of the girls dethrone Heaton?
Junior A has 12 drivers, most of whom are returning from last year. Mason Herrick won in 2017 in his first season in the class, and he will face more seasoned veterans in Kimsoo Gopnik, Robert Ekstrand, and Conner Herrick, who have all shown plenty of speed this year. Erika McKee also seems to be quicker now, and Johan Yost is back after taking last year off. And Ethan Fudge has moved up to the class after taking 2nd place in JB in 2017. Smart money wouldn’t bet against any of these drivers, and it will be a tough fight for the 4 trophies. Will this be the year a girl wins the title in JA? Tune in Tuesday/Wednesday to find out.
By Mike Herrick
CAMC – Classic American Muscle Contemporary – 51 ENTRIES – 14 Trophies
2017 Winner: Shaun Bailey
Classic American Muscle Contemporary, featuring rear wheel drive American muscle cars designed after 1988, has a deep field, with 51 drivers expected to take to the Lincoln concrete. Last year’s winner Shaun Bailey will be back to defend in his Camaro, while last year’s runner up, Dennis Healy, will attempt to improve his Mustang’s position by one. David Feighner and Chris Cox, both in Mustangs, look to add yet another trophy to their collections, while heavy hitters Kevin Youngers and Jadrice Toussant have decided to join the CAM craziness this year. Representing the Bowtie brigade, Matt Lucas should also be near the top of the field. But when the dust settles, don’t be surprised if John Laughlin’s Mustang ekes out the win.
By Eric Yee
CAMS – Classic American Muscle Sport – 31 ENTRIES – 9 Trophies
2017 Winner: Stephen Lee
Classic American Muscle Sport is the class for fire-breathing, two-seat American sports cars. The first time I saw a certain snake accelerate through the finish, my jaw dropped, and I don’t expect anything less from this field of 29 drivers. The defending champion isn’t registered to compete, but Eric Brown and Danny Kao in the defending Corvette should be challenging for a trophy. But make sure to watch this one if you can, because it’s going to be an all out war between Scott Fraser in his original 1966 427 powered Shelby Cobra and Mike “Junior” Johnson in a C7 Corvette Z06.
By Eric Yee
CAMT – Classic American Muscle Traditional – 15 ENTRIES – 5 Trophies
2017 Winner: Chris Carmenini
Classic American Muscle Traditional, a class for older American cars designed before 1988, is home to some of the most radical and varied cars ever to take to an autocross course. A Dodge Aspen and a first generation Chevelle are scheduled to make an appearance, but most competitors have elected to go with the more popular ponycars. One such beast is the 1968 Camaro of Chad Ryker, an Optima champion with classic sheetmetal but thoroughly modern underpinnings, which should be atop the standings. Alan Schoonmaker in another classic Camaro will keep him honest, while the Blue Oval brigade will have several representatives, including Mike Trenkle in a Fox-body Mustang.
By Eric Yee