1998 Harrisburg ProSolo

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

Thursday night: Drive out to meet John and the motorhome. Wash the car. Roll the car up into the trailer. Harrisburg is a 10 hour drive away - yeeha.

Friday: We arrive at 4:00 AM - so we get the best paddock position. The course is tight and twisty - not a Talon course. Spend the day getting the car aligned and set up. Turns out the guy at the alignment shop we find is actually in charge of our event - cool, an alignment shop that speaks Autocross. We loosen up the upper control arm mounts and reef on the wheel to try and get as much negative camber as we can out of the slop in the bolt holes, and when we tighten them up and read the new settings, it's exactly the same as it was, down to the tenth of a degree. :( Would the Mitsu engineer that designed that suspension please stand up, so I can crack you over the head!

Sat AM: After the first heat, Jeff Fields in his V6 Camaro is in first, John is second, a couple of tenths off, and I'm in third! The interval between myself and John is huge, but my interval over 4th place isn't - and the guy right behind me is the current series points leader. Wow. I notice a low RPM miss, but it doesn't happen under power. Not wanting to spend all the time diagnosing the miss, when a check of the plugs doesn't reveal anything, I decide to ignore it.

Sat PM: Yikes, what a mess. John has pulled into first, but I try a few new things that don't work very well, screw with my head, and kill my afternoon. No improvement. My nearest competitor finds a couple of tenths, and I drop to 4th.

Renee (you remember her, she's the woman I offered the Talon to at Peru, and she turned it down as "uncompetitive") is driving John's Mazda MX-6, and is a second back. With nothing left to lose, she asks to use the Talon. Heh. Is that a shift in the wind?

The "check engine" light comes on during John's runs. Out comes the laptop and OBDTool - "Misfire, cylinder #3" I pull the plug, and sure enough, the center insulator is loose. Wow, that's amazing. It told me where the miss was! New plugs, and the problem is solved.

Sun AM: John has kept his lead, and wins the class. I need a 31.7 or better to regain third. I run a 31.6 - and hit the last cone in the last turn. I go out again, run another 31.6, and run over the base of an apex cone that bobbles, then falls over. Dammit! I had him, twice! I wind up 5th.

Renee's debut in the Talon is spectacular. She jumps up a number of spots, to finish second in class.

Sun PM: I didn't qualify for the Challenge rounds, but John and Renee did. John is eliminated in the first round, but Renee goes on to win the Lady's Challenge! The car is in the winner's circle! Shrewdly, I pull the Buschur Racing magnets off the sides of the car, and stick them both on the nose, and the photographer from Sportscar lines up the three Challenge winners next to the nose of the car. Yay! Product placement is everything.

Afterwords, John (who has won 2 races in my car) and Renee (who has won a Challenge, and is leading in series points thanks to my car) are very interested in having the car at every race left in the season. It seems that my car currently owns G Stock ProSolo, and could very well be used to win two National Championships. All of a sudden, I'm Roger Penske, or Frank Williams.

Let's put this into perspective guys: ProSolo is the highest level of this sport, there's nothing higher. Sure, ProSolo is small potatoes compared to say, Winston Cup or CART, but it is the "Winston Cup" of autocross. My car has won 2 classes, has 2 other trophy finishes (one thanks to me), and a Challenge win - in two events. I'm consistently running in the top third of an incredibly tough Pro class.

Imagine what it would be like if Chrysler were to build a Winston Cup car for a single team, and they won and top-fived the only two races they entered (to date) - and one of their drivers had only been in race cars for a year and a half.

To be honest, I'm blown away by all this, I really am. I wonder how long it will last?

In any case, it seems that the Talon really is the car to have in GS, and I'm starting to change my opinion of an ESP Talon's chances. In fact, I may take the car to ESP next year...