Michiana Autocross #1 June 14 - by Matthew Huizing
Thirty drivers showed on a beautiful late spring day at Tire Rack’s test track in South Bend. We welcomed several new guests who participated with us for the first time. We also had a canine guest, as I brought my dog, Irie with me for the day. Special thanks to everyone who helped watch him, especially Harvey dad’s Neil. Autocross Chair, Jason Powell, split us into two run groups and gave everyone the opportunity for four runs in the morning and four runs in the afternoon with a Subway catered lunch provided in between.
The slowest BMW group today was B class with 7 drivers. Many former C class competitors have moved up to this faster class. I decided to fix the handling of my 1994 325i this spring with some used adjustable coilover struts and higher rate springs. The extra points move my car from near top of C class to near the bottom of the faster class. The new suspension has mostly worked well though I am still doing a lot of tweaking to the alignment. I managed a clean third run time of 51.158 seconds to win the class. Scott Limber was consistently quick and clean in his 1997 BMW M3 Coupe despite running different brands of tires front and back (Hankook RS-3 and Kumho XS.) He took second place in the class with a 51.743. The Nuttall’s ran their 1999 BMW M3 Coupe. Abby bested Harvey with a 52.009 compared to his 52.654 taking third and forth in the class.
Class A had 6 drivers and some newer M3s. However Ralph Samson took the win with his black 1999 BMW M3 Coupe with a time of 49.710 seconds. Don Sjolin finished in second place with a time of 50.155 seconds in his 2011 BMW M3. Fran Napieralski had the fastest Z3 of the day with a time of 52.637 seconds and good for third place in Class A.
AA is the fastest BMW class and had two cars and three drivers. This is the class for some of our most dedicated BMW competitors. Both cars this day were well-setup 1995 BMW M3s. Our perennial course designer Carl Zmijewski had several sub 50 second runs and also some cone penalties. He managed to clean it up on his final run, winning the class with a time of 49.979 seconds. Former autocross chair Eve Dolenski finished second with a time of 52.058 seconds.
There were 14 non-BMW drivers and 4 of these were non-street cars, so Jason created a second scoring group for the faster vehicles called EMOD for “Everything Else Modified!” Matt Napieralski won class E, the street Everything Else group, with a time of 49.761 seconds in his red, air-cooled 1980 Porsche 911. George Schmitt took second with a 50.808 second run in a 1996 Mazda Miata. Alan Ford and Jason Nichols had competitive times in their older 1972 Porsche 914 (51.111 s) and 1968 Ford Mustang (51.626 s).
Nick Nardin had his steering rack out of his E30 325is, but his dad, Scott let him drive his 1986 Solo Vee for the first time. Scott had the fastest time of the day with a 45.101 second time on his last run in the Solo Vee. Nick had a bit more cone and DNF trouble but managed a clean 46.218 second final run. Steve Tamandli was fast in his tube-framed 1985 Pontiac Fiero with a time of 46.630 seconds. Todd Green’s heavily modified 1968 Datsun 2000 was also very quick with a fast time of 48.201.
After the awards the track was open for fun runs for a good hour allowing drivers to experiment with car settings, swap cars with other drivers, and try different lines without the pressure of competition.
We have four more autocross events scheduled at the Tire Rack throughout the summer. The next event is Sunday, July 27. More information is on our website and Facebook page. See you at the track!
And now a short blurb from the Autocross Chair …
I want to thank everyone for coming out to our first event of 2014 and my 1st event as the new Autocross Chair. I heard a lot of positive feedback about this 1st event especially in regards to the new live timing results, which seemed to be a huge hit with everyone. It was fun to see folks checking their smartphones during the event to see how they were doing vs. their competitors. While registration went pretty smooth, we’re still pondering mandatory online registration at some point down the road. However, guests and 1st timers DO have to register online at http://bit.ly/autocrossreg
We had 30 drivers for our 1st event, but I’d really like to see 40 drivers at our next one! If you’re still on the fence about participating … do it! Got a friend or 2 you think would enjoy autocrossing … invite them! :-) Hope to see everyone on July 27th
- Jason Powell - Autocross Chair