1999 ProSolo Finale and SCCA National Championships

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

Ho all, back from the SCCA ProSolo Finale and National Championships. We started with the ProSolo Finale, where we were competing in Pro2. By now, we realized that a DSM is flatly no match for a 1500lb 160HP CRX, so we had no hope of winning. Instead, we were reduced to racing Kent Rafferty's Supra Twin Turbo (also no match for the CRXen) for last place.

Surprisingly, not being able to win, and being the only DSM in class was tremendously liberating. With no pressure on us at all, we were able to go out and have fun with it. I started trying things I wouldn't normally have tried, with great results. By the end of the event we were running competitive - not winning, but competitive - P3 times, just a tick behind Rafferty. In fact, we were almost tied with Roger Johnson's Corvette.

Sure, we were dead last in P2, but so what? I was driving better than I had all season, and was having fun for the first time in a long time.

At the ProSolo banquet, it was announced that the SCCA didn't have the time or resources to maintain the "P" classes any more, and that next year there is no distinction between the top level "Pro" class and the more entry level "NationalSeries" (ex "Club") class. So next year, we're back to flat classing like we were in '98. No more being pounded by the CRXen; we're back to ESP (or STU) where we belong.

This is good news for pretty well everyone, given that the SCCA didn't promote the "P" classes like they said they would. I'm a little disappointed, because we held up our end of the bargain in the car presentation and crew uniform department as was expected of a "P" class team and it all came to naught, but hey, we tried. And we fully intend to keep on acting like professionals as best we can - it is "Pro" Solo after all.

Except next year we're going to start winning.

So spirits were high and morale good going into the National Championship. We probably wouldn't win if it stayed dry, but we fully expected to trophy. And if it did rain... heh, maybe a Championship wasn't totally out of the question.

My first run was a typical first run. I missed the 1-2 shift. I screwed up a couple of corners. I caught a cone going into the slalom. The time was OK, on the fast side of midpack, and a couple of tenths off Fedja. Nothing to write home about, but a decent enough start. Clean it up, fix the obvious mistakes, and there should be a second to a second and a half improvement there.

But that didn't happen. Instead I made more mistakes, not less - and caught another cone.

Now I was in trouble. Everybody else had gone faster and picked up the time normally left after a first run, and here I am, sitting both slow and dirty. So I had a choice - go out, run conservative and stay off the cones, or go balls-out and try and set a fast time.

Balls-out it was. Except that I got greedy, went into a narrow sweeper WAY too fast, and nailed the exit cone while scrubbing off speed trying to avoid it.

On a 51 driver class, I was sitting 41st.

Pardon me, I seem to *cough* have something *ack* stuck in my *choke* throat.

Brian and Fedja did much better, they were sitting in trophy spots, and Eric Stemler (in his fully-built 1G) was just outside of the trophies.

The next day, I resolved to try and have some fun instead of carrying the weight of the world, and did much better. I toned it down a tick to keep off the cones, and still wound up 13th on the day - 2 places into the trophies. However, once the 2 day's results were added, I finished 32cd overall. Had my first run on day 1 been clean, I would have finished 20th. Had I not driven like a moron day 1, and actually gotten faster...

Oh well. What's done is done. There's always next year. Yadda yadda yadda.

Brian and Fedja had a good day too, and they wound up 6th and 7th, with Fedja just a few hundredths faster. Eric stole the last trophy spot, winding up in 14th.

That's worth taking a closer look at. There were 7 DSM drivers in 6 cars entered. 3 DSMs trophied, and a 4th was in trophy position if you ignore his horrible first day. That's 4 DSMs in the top 15 cars in the country - in a class 51 drivers deep. I think that's fantastic, and it shows how far we've all come.

Big congrats to Fedja, Brian, and Eric for taking home the first National Championship ESP trophies for DSMs.

I had a great time, and I learned a LOT. In fact, since we made the switch to Kumhos, I've been getting faster all the time. In a way, it feels like the first 70% of the season (on the G-Forces) was wasted, and only since we put on Kumhos have we made any progress. But at least now progress is being made, and we're looking at having a great 2000 season.

A big thanks to RM Racing for their support this year (they mentioned you at the banquet Micheal) and an even bigger thanks to David and the staff at Buschur Racing, without who's help we never would have been able to get where we are. We went from zero to almost trophying at Nationals in the space of a year, and I'm pretty happy about that.