Points Event #2 Recap - by Jack Baruth

Solo 05.11.2016

Talk about dodging a bullet! Most veteran autocrossers are familiar with the process of window-shopping weather predictions from different sources until you find one that guarantees a clean and dry course --- but for this past Sunday’s event, every available forecast called for heavy rain and temperatures in the mid-fifties. Come the first runs of the morning however, it was clear and sunny.

The course layout, by Greg Schnittger, featured a tight, slow double loop of Kil-Kare’s infield section before opening up with a pair of long runs around the speedway separated by a Chicago box. A few of the faster cars and drivers reported shifting into third on the back straight, which added plenty of excitement to the proceedings. This was one of those courses where it helps to have a strong motor and plenty of tire width.

In Street, Chris Grayson took the lead early with his Focus ST and never truly let go. Greg Larson finished just 0.143 seconds behind in an eight-car class. Street Prepared featured a trio of “Improved Touring C” Civic road racers that hopped on three wheels through the fast transition from the outer to the inner loop. They seemed absolutely unbeatable from the outset, but Mike Powers managed to slot his Chrysler Crossfire in for second behind James Hardesty’s Civic.

Street Touring handed out three trophies, and two of them were to Dziengels: Myke took the win along with top times in both PAX and RAW for an autocross hat trick. Jo finished in second place. Both of them managed to set their fastest times in the last of their seven runs despite the fact that a little bit of rain started to fall in the final thirty minutes of the event. For anybody who could watch the authoritative way the Subaru jumped off the line, it was clear that traction wasn’t a problem for that car, even in light rain.

Another unusual matchup, in the Modified class, saw Matt Evans take his Fiesta ST to the win ahead of Michael Wolf’s Ford-engined Lotus 7 replica.  Prepared was a two-driver class, both drivers in the same vintage Datsun Z. Eric Grassman took the win and third place in the raw-time standings. Steven Dalstrom won the CAM class in commanding fashion, putting almost four seconds on the second-place finisher. In Ladies, Charley Baruth’s final run in her Fiesta ST was just enough to beat Janet Schnittger’s first run of the day.

The nine-driver Novice class featured a pretty sharp battle between CJ Miller’s brand-new Camaro SS and Jared Thrush’s Fiesta ST. Third place went to Travis Shoemaker in a ’91 Miata, but all eyes were on the stunning Pro-Street 1969 El Camino driven by Travis Clark to eighth place. When it came time to release the PAX top ten, Mr. Miller was in second overall. Was this a reflection of his 470-horsepower Camaro’s affinity for that final back-straight run, or is he a natural autocrosser par excellence? Only time will tell.

The heavy rain held off until the course was packed, the trophies were handed out, and most of the participants were on the road. It was definitely a Mother’s Day to remember --- and given the weather and outstanding conditions of the day, maybe Mother Earth herself is an autocross fan!
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