1998 ProSolo Finale & National Championships

Well, we're back. And what a week it's been.

Started off with the ProSolo Finale, the final event in a year-long series. This race is the best of all the best, the only race where all the East coast drivers and West coast drivers are sure to attend. The class was 20 deep, and there wasn't a neophyte in the bunch - except me. :(

The first day, the whole team sucked. For whatever reason, we couldn't seem to get the car and the track sussed out. At the end of Saturday, Renee was sitting fifth, John was third, and I was a whopping 14th.

Not good.

I spent most of Saturday night mentally driving and re-driving the track, trying to figure out what it was I was doing wrong.

Sunday morning came, and our fortunes reversed. Renee, running first, ripped off some blistering runs to take the class win. Then John stepped it up, running faster and faster, until he was in a dead heat for the lead. The leader redlighted his last run, and John had one shot to take the win... and he fell just short, a few hundredths back, for second.

And now it was my turn.

The first pair of runs, I pulled 6 tenths out of my right side time, and 2 tenths out of my left.

Two runs left to go.

Right side dropped another 3 tenths, and then the left side dropped a whopping 8 tenths - for a final position of 6th in class (and just .010 out of fifth!) Trophied!

Even better, I qualified for the Challenge. Better still, right before the Challenge, it started raining, giving the Kansas concrete a good soaking. Yeehah!

While all the Supras, and Corvettes, and MR2s, and Miatas, and so on, were soft-pedaling their launches to keep away from wheelspin, I was doing my normal 6500 clutch dump - and spinning all 4 tires for about a car length. AWD, baby! I drove a real conservative line (to keep out of the cones) and was still mowing them down by over a second and a half per side. :)

The final run put me up against an MX6, another GS car that works well in the rain - and I got nipped by a couple of tenths on the right side. Figuring I had nothing left to lose (and forgetting that the left side was faster - doh!) I pulled out all the stops to make up the time... and the car slid loose in the first turn! I put my foot in it, and sawed at the wheel to dodge first the one cone, then the other, and then the car stuck pointed right at the middle of the exit gate! Allright! Saved!

I crossed the line a tenth back, in second. Maybe not a win, but Mr Toad's Wild Ride in the final was worth the price of admission. :)

John hit a cone in his first challenge run, and was eliminated. :(

Renee had a tight battle with Wendy Allen in her Eclipse GSX, but wound up second.

Interestingly enough, of the 9 podium places in the 3 Challenge classes, 5 of them were DSMs. We rule in the wet guys. :)

That night at the awards banquet, they announced the overall results. Renee won the Ladies class overall, and the Ladies Challenge overall as well, basically cleaning house. In her speech, she made it very clear to everyone that the reason why she was standing there was the Talon.

John placed second overall in class.

And me, I got the shock of my life, when they announced that I had won the Grassroots Motorsports Rookie of the Year award! Wow! I was absolutely floored.

What a year it's been. Me and my car completely upset two classes (Ladies and GS) and I took Rookie of the Year to boot. What a way to enter the sport.:)

Next up was the Amateur National Championship. Don't let the "Amateur" throw you off, there's a lot of really great drivers that don't do the Pro series for whatever reason, and GS was a largest-ever 48 drivers deep. Furthermore, the courses are longer, there's no drag-race start to exploit, and you get a mere 3 runs per course.

The North Course was long, very technical, busy, and wet. The car was very, very loose for some reason, and I never did get the entrance to the most important part of the course right. At the end of the day, John was 9th, and I was 33rd, almost 3 seconds back. :(

The South course was shorter, and looked easier - until you had to drive it. Once again, we wound up fighting the car. John made up a bit of time to finish 7th, and I stayed put in 33rd.


That's a much better showing than last year (37th on a field of 39) but I could have and should have done better. I _really_ need to do more 3-run events, my "King of the Last-Second Comebacks" Pro style just doesn't cut the mustard here.

BTW, the hated and feared Integra Type R that was supposed to dominate GS and GSL - didn't. They did very well (they had awesome drivers in them!) but they fell to the DSMs in the end. Take that, Honda Boyz!

I'd like to thank David Buschur for all his help and support this Pro season. I know I told you we'd do well this year David, but I bet you didn't think _this_ well! (I know I didn't)