Final SCCA Solo Champs Crowned
LINCOLN, Neb. – The 40th running of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships concluded Friday at the Lincoln (Neb.) Airpark with the crowning of an additional 35 National Champions and eight more winners in Supplemental Classes.
The four-day competition hosted 1,135 drivers at the largest motorsports competition in the world.
The temperatures on Friday were considerably cooler than at any point during the week, and rain threatened during the midday groups. The collective hopes of those competing seemed to drive the storms just north of the site, and while the cloudy skies stayed, it remained dry.
The B Stock class had plenty of drama. Overnight leader Jeff Janzen saw Jadrice Toussiant, of Charlotte, N.C., jump to the top of the class in his Crown Honda Charlotte/Team CMM Honda S2000 CR. As the final runs came in, Janzen’s co-driver Ricky Crow moved into second and then James Yom, who started the day in second place, laid down a time that would have moved him from fifth to first, but a late cone call solidified the second-consecutive B Stock title for Toussaint by .310-second over Crow.
Like the open class, the B Stock Ladies went down to the wire. After leading by .104-second following Thursday’s runs, Roberta Wetzel found herself out of the trophies as she began her third, and final, run on the east course. That third run vaulted her Honda S2000 into the lead by nearly three tenths over Emily Bashford, who had yet to complete her third run. The Canadian took to the course for the final run of the heat in her Styckyd.com – The Marketplace for Gearheads Honda S2000 CR and ripped off the fastest time of the day by nearly two tenths, giving her a .031-second win for her first Championship. It is Wetzel’s third-straight runner-up finish.
The third heat on the west course saw a pair of come-from-behind National Champions. D Prepared defending National Champion Drew VanderPloeg, of Pflugerville, Texas, was .385-second behind Ron Bauer, of Issaqua, Wash., and Bauer’s Bauerspeed Racing/Tight and Tidy Mazda MX-5. VanderPloeg showed why he’s the National Champion by turning the fastest time of the day in class on Friday in his JC Automotive Specialist Mazda Miata to win by .612 second. Bauer finished second for the runner-up trophy.
Henry Bjoin’s comeback in F Prepared, run during the same heat as D Prepared, was even more dramatic. Starting the day in fourth-place in the OS Giken/bjoinfilms.com/ARE BMW 328is, Bjoin capitalized by ripping the fastest time on his first run of the day, jumping to the head of the field and then watching as no other driver could match his pace. Not only is the win the first for the Burbank, Calif. resident, but bests his previous top finish by a full seven positions.
Andrew McKee, of San Jose, Calif., won the Super Street Modified title a year ago and moved his Mazda RX-7 to the X Prepared class to take on Fred Zust’s four consecutive class National Championships. McKee held the overnight lead and ripped off a fast time on the opening run on Friday, only to find a broken oil fitting after the opener. Needing a car to finish the day, McKee and his co-driver, wife Teresa Neidel-McKee, put in a frantic call to first time Super Street Modified National Champion Carter Thompson to borrow his High Pressure Performance Mazda RX-7. Thompson pulled the car back out of the trailer while the McKee’s frantically worked on it to hold Andy’s lead. Zust’s Blackwatch Racing Lotus Elise fell just short of McKee’s time in the opening round, leaving McKee the title. Teresa used Thompson’s car to finish third.
The 40th Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships were the Nationals debut of the Road Tire Category. New at the National Level for 2012, the Road Tire classes get the full treatment as every class, but serve as a Supplemental class in their infancy. Mark Allen (Road Tire FWD), Lance Keeley (Road Tire RWD), Andy Smedegard (Road Tire AWD), Liz Foreman (Road Tire FWD Ladies) and Brooke Bierman (Road Tire RWD Ladies) all enter the record books as inaugural winners in the category.
Friday afternoon saw the second of two Gumout Use Your Motorhead All-Star Challenges of the week. Top PAX Index drivers from each heat from the final two days of competition went head-to-head in the Gumout/Black Magic/BFGoodrich Tires/Hawk Volkswagen Golf. G.J. Dixon, the Super Stock National Champion, posted the fastest time and claimed the $500 grand prize. Alex Shchipkov (D Street Prepared) and Michael Maier (C Prepared) joined Dixon in the top three.
Three drivers completed the prestigious Solo Triad Award, the top honor that any Soloist can earn. To earn the award, a driver must win a Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Tour event, a States Championship, and a National Championship in the same class. Andy Hollis, a four-time Champion from Austin, Texas, snagged the award in the Street Touring FWD GRM/AST/PowerCurveDyno/FTW MAZDA2, Joe Tharpe, of State Center, Iowa, did the same in the Super Street Prepared R and S Racing/Loctite Chevrolet Corvette, while Thompson’s Super Street Modified High Pressure Performance/Ludwig Mazda RX-7 gave the award to the Murfreesboro, Tenn. driver.
The attendees at the 40th Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships was the fifth-largest participation total in the history of the event, just 22 shy of the record 1,157 competitors at Heartland Park Topeka in 2007.