Autocross, the most accessible form of motorsports, returned to Waldorf, Maryland on Sunday with the first event hosted by Autocrossers Incorporated (AI) at Regency Furniture Stadium. While weather during the day was cool with misty rain throughout the morning, that didn’t stop seventy drivers from taking part on race day.
Autocross is a low-speed car control exercise held in empty parking lots, airport taxiways, or other large expanses of pavement or concrete. Each event features a unique course laid out with traffic cones with twists, turns, and slaloms designed to limit top speeds to 55-60 MPH. Drivers run the course one at a time, with their times tracked electronically. Knocking over a cone incurs a two-second penalty. Each driver’s best individual run time is his or her run of record and used to determine the event’s results.
AI, a chapter club of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), has been hosting autocross events in the Baltimore-Washington area for over 40 years. 2012 marks AI’s third year of making Regency Furniture Stadium its home. This year WDCR welcomes Radial Tire Company as the Official Tire of the D.C. Region.
Cars are classified by SCCA regulations, which takes into consideration the car itself as well as any modifications made. Classes range from Stock, for lightly modified vehicles, through Street Touring, Street Prepared, Prepared, and Modified. AI also has three additional classes: Novice, for drivers just getting into the sport; Pro, for the most experienced drivers; and Ladies.
Sunday’s event featured a course designed by multiple national championship-winning driver Sam Strano. Its highlight feature was a five-cone slalom that teased drivers with a high-speed entry but punished those who could not keep up with the transitions with cone penalties or “off course” calls. The challenge of the day was increased as light rain in the morning and a heavy overcast sky meant that drivers were testing their skills on a wet course, as autocross events are held rain or shine.
Close competition was the order of the day, with two classes seeing the winner taking the trophy by a tenth of a second or less. Super Street Prepared was the closest battle, with Howard Leikin driving his Lotus Exige to the class win over James Harris’ Corvette Z06 by just 0.092 seconds. C Stock was the next closest, with Les Banyas taking the win in his Mazdaspeed Miata by 0.108 seconds over Learic Cramer’s Nissan 370Z.
Other contested class winners included Rani Emad (BMW 3-Series) in Street Modified, Jerry Byrd (Subaru WRX STi) in Street Touring Ultra, Justin Neal (Honda CRX Si) in Super Street Modified, James Dunham (Mazda MX-5) in Street Touring Roadster, Yaroslav Burmaka (Toyota MR2) in Street Touring Sports, Chris Hebert (Nissan 350Z) in B Street Prepared, Danny Kao (Corvette Z06) in Super Stock, Shawn Roning (Subaru STi) in B Stock, Steve Mitchell (Mini Cooper S) in D Stock, and Nathaniel Spoltman (Subaru WRX) in Street Touring Extreme.
The Novice class featured ten drivers in machinery that ranged from a Honda S2000 to a Chrysler 300C. Using a scientifically-calculated PAX multiplier to eliminate the difference between different classes, the winner was Dmitry Maslov, driving a D Stock BMW 335i. Second place went to Phillip Chaney (Street Touring Roadster Honda S2000) and third place was William Olsen (F Prepared Toyota Celica).
The Pro class was made up of 20 drivers who also drove a wide variety of cars. Using the PAX multiplier to handicap Mazda Miatas against Corvettes and Mustangs, the winner was Sam Strano, who drove a C Stock Nissan 370Z. Kevin Henry (D Street Prepared BMW 325i) and Steve Kahre (B Stock Honda S2000) rounded out the top three.
Autocrossers Incorporated returns to Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium on Saturday, June 16th, for a doubleheader day. Drivers will see competition in the morning, then take a break for lunch inside the stadium while the course is modified. Following lunch, they’ll get another set of runs on a different course. The morning and afternoon sessions will count as separate events for both individual awards and season-long championship points.
Online registration will open a month before the next event on http://www.dlbracing.com. Drivers looking for information about car classification can consult the SCCA Solo rule book, which is available to download at http://www.scca.com.