Solo event #8 & #9 – 10/12 & 10/13 – All roads lead to Wounded Warrior Project!


Thanks again to Alex Artayet for the pictures!

It’s been quite a year for the Steel Cities Solo program!  Live timing & scoring, 100+ driver events, new grid parking, online registration, paying with credit cards at events, and fun runs after every event.  But the cherry on top is the double event held at the end of the year when region turns its racing efforts towards a higher cause.  Returning for its second year SCR would go on to support the Wounded Warrior Project as its premier event.  The Wounded Warrior Project is and organization dedicated to supporting the lives of men & women who have been injured while serving their country.  They are given a second chance to lead a fulfilling life while receiving the necessary aid that they require.  On what turned out to be a beautiful autumn weekend over 100 different drivers turned out to pick up a signature WWP t-shirt, hunt for a trophy in their class, and for some drivers cap off some very competitive 2013 driver of the year point’s chase.


-Saturday Event #8, Twist & turn-

85 drivers took to the course on laid down by none other than Frank Gaus.  While the course was fairly simple in looks it left little room for error.  Many drivers found themselves left with handfuls of cone laden runs as they had no choice but to go for it or be left behind by their fellow competitors.  In a good showing for his new car Frank Gaus’s Porsche Cayman, which was being co-driven by Mark Andy, would take the 1 & 2 top PAX positions in the morning.   John Ryan was on fire in his Subaru BRZ and was hanging onto 3rd.  However very close behind John was Trevor Hill’s R32 in 4th place, while Chris Carlisle’s STC Civic would round out the top 5 in the morning.  Alex Artayet was again off to a strong start in his M3 in 6th.  Fellow tire index competitor Mike Ferchak was 7th in his FRS.  Tim Vincent made a strong early run in 8th.  Stephen Uszak slung his fast STR Miata into 9th.  And the Vincent Kart would again make an appearance as Cory Robb would round out the top 10 for the morning.

However as the dust settled on day one several drivers would find the speed they had been missing from their morning runs.  In the end it would be none other than Dan Ireland bringing home the big white Grand Sport in 1st overall!  In what is becoming a familiar scene in the PAX index Alex Artayet would again lock out the 2nd spot in his street tire’d BMW M3.  John Ryan fought hard in his BRZ and managed to hang onto 3rd overall.  Frank Gaus & Mark Andy would keep the Cayman in the hunt and hold down 4th and 5th respectively to complete the top five.  This would push Trevor Hill down to the 6th place spot in the R32 while the STC Civic of Chris Carlisle would fall to 7th overall.  In an uncharacteristic showing by Sam Strano he would end up in 8th for the day in his own Grand Sport Corvette.  Ted Weidner showed he still has plenty of speed left in his old Miata as he winged it into the 9th place spot.  And Mike Ferchak dropped just enough time to complete the top ten lineup with his Scion FRS.


In class battles it would be a 1-2-3 finish for Grand Sport Corvettes in Super Stock with Dan Ireland, Sam Strano, and Michael Figliolia.  In BSP John Schmitmeyer’s S2000 would take the win in the four car class over Dave Mohar’s C4 Corvette.  CSP would see the familiar face of Dennis Witt using his MR2 to take the win over Todd Zukowski’s Mazda Miata.  Paul Lynd would take ESP again in his WRX over Gibby Bozicevich’s Chevy Camaro.  Mazda 3’s had the STF class covered as Alex Nieto would take 1st followed by Eric Schineider in the same car.  STR was again strong with 6 cars showing up to play.  Stephen Uszak would lead the field in his Miata followed by Steve Vyn’s S2000 while Zachary Stover in his Miata would round out the top three.  STX was a battle of Mustangs and Trent McMillion would hold off the McMullen brothers of Stubenville fame.  And no surprise that Tim Vincent would hold FTD for the day with a 33.574.  As usual the largest class was tire index with 31 drivers ready to do battle.  Alex Artayet’s M3 has been proving to be just too much for the rest of the class to handle as he would again take the win.  However John Ryan made an impressive last run dash for the top as he would sit in 2nd.  Trevor Hill’s VW R32 would finish strong in 3rd.  Ted Weidner had an impressive day in 4th.  Mike Ferchak would use his afternoon runs to keep his FRS in the top 5.  And a surprise appearance by Kristi Gaus in Trevor Hill’s R32 would close out the last trophy spot in 6th.


Returning to support the Wounded Warrior for a second year was the Snailspeed Car Club as part of their “Dip & Dig” competition involving both autocross and drag racing.  This year’s winner for the autocross portion would go to David Wray in his Eagle Talon.  Tim Dames would hold down the 2nd place spot in his Focus ST.  And Evan Lewis would round out the top 3 in his Mazdaspeed 6.

In the novice standings it’s clear that Paul Cunningham is putting the rear swaybar on his Maxima to good use as he would lead the group for the day.  However following closely was Ben Heald in his Evo X in 2nd.  Layton Miller would roll his Focus into 3rd place followed by Ron Hilling in 4th with his Miata.  And Lauren Jenkins would again round out the top five in her BMW 128i.


-Sunday Event #9, Race you to the finish!-

Sunday’s course was a reverse version of Saturday’s course with a few cones shifted in key turns to provide 81 drivers with a slightly different feel compared to Saturday.  In an echo of the 2012 season where Super Stock was the class to watch the SS field once again swelled in size to a full 10 entries for Sunday.  There were several notable changes as Kristi Gaus was back in her Porsche Cayman, Chris Carlisle hopped in Jay Gyger’s GT3, and Bruce Wesley was borrowing a set of race tires for his own Grand Sport Corvette off Sam Strano.

The morning runs started off with a now familiar yellow M3 sitting at the top of the pack as Alex Artayet would hold onto 1st by just over a tenth to Mark Andy who was still in the Gaus’s Cayman for day two.  Trevor Hill was in close pursuit in 3rd with his VW R32.  Feeling his stride again Sam Strano put in a strong 4th place in his Corvette.  John Ryan was driving the wheels off his Scion in 5th.  Chasing down Strano in his Z06 was Randy Pearson in 6th.  Kristi Gaus put on a great morning performance in the Cayman to hold onto 7th.  As would Steve Vyn’s STR S2000 in 8th place.  Ron Williams was getting it done in his street tire shod STi in 9th.  And with Frank Gaus rounding out the top 10 that meant all three drivers in the Cayman would end up in the top 10 for the morning.


But with how competitive the drivers set is at Steel Cities, things can change in a heartbeat.  Going into the afternoon the often slick VDA will have a “clean line” and reward the drivers who can utilize that clean area to the fullest.  Capping off the last event of the 2013 season would who else but Sam Strano to take home the overall win!  What was really amazing was an all-out last run effort by Mark Andy who put the Cayman on a knife edge and would place just scant seven thousandths behind Strano.  Dan Ireland shook off a series of bad morning runs and brought his Grand Sport home in 3rd.  Alex Artayet would stand on his morning runs and still manage to hang onto 4th overall in the M3.  And John Ryan put in a great afternoon effort to keep his Subaru BRZ in the top 5.  In one of his best finishes to date Michael Figliolia would bring Ireland’s Grand Sport into 6th.  Trevor Hill’s R32 would find little time in the afternoon and cling to 7th.  Mike Ferchak made of the most of his afternoon runs to climb up into 8th.  Chris Carlisle would show up in the Gyger GT3 in 9th.  And Kristi Gaus would finally skirt her husband in the Cayman with a top 10 PAX finish to close out the year.


There were few multicar classes going into Sunday, however biggest as always was the tire index.  In what most likely the final year for the tire index due to the upcoming “Street Stock” classes, Alex Artayet would go for the last win of the year in his F-Stock M3.  A little over tenth separated Alex from John Ryan’s BRZ in 2nd.  Even less time separated John from Trevor Hill’s R32 who was just seven hundredths back in 3rd.  Mike Ferchak stayed in the hunt bringing his FRS into 4th.  Ron Williams put in a great drive getting his STi into the top five.  And the 6th trophy spot for the day would go to Drew Bickle in his G-stock Civic Si.  With the strength of Alex’s M3 over the two days there was little surprise that he would take tire index for the weekend.  2nd for both days would fall to John Ryan and 3rd would go to Trevor Hill.  Aside from winning PAX Sam Strano also took Super stock with a 35.224 to Dan Ireland’s 35.592 in their respective Grand Sport Corvettes.  The Gran Sport parade would continue with Michael Figliolia and a 36.128 for 3rd place.  Dan Ireland’s performance over both days would give him the Super Stock win for the weekend.  One of the larger classes aside from Tire Index and Super Stock was STR.  Sunday would see a role reversal as Steve Vyn’s S2000 would take back Saturday’s win that Stephen Uszak’s Miata claimed on Saturday.  It was a hard fought battle but Steve’s 37.653 to Stephen’s 38.116 would give the S2000 the win for the whole weekend.  There was an equally hard fought battle for 3rd in STR between Zachary Stover’s Miata & Cory Pompelia’s S2000.  Cory’s 39.241 to Zachary’s 40.926 would again be a reversal of Saturday and would seal in Cory for 3rd for the weekend taking a mere two thousands ahead of Zachary’s Miata.


The Steel Cities Solo board would like to thank those who help made our charity event worthwhile.  Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex for being able to host us despite a last minute schedule change.  SCCA National for donating the free SCCA membership.  McB Autosport in Bridgeville for donating the socket set.  While we are still counting at this time we know that we raised well over $3000 dollars for the wounded warrior project so we would really like to thank all of the volunteers & drivers who made the event such a success!


The 2013 season would wrap up with Frank Gaus again being crowned driver of the year for his 3rd consecutive time!  Kristi Gaus would also repeat as 2013’s lady driver of the year as well!  The final point’s breakdown for the top 10 Solo hotshoes of the 2013 season looks like this.

Frank Gaus – 5988

Dan Ireland – 5970

Mark Andy – 5912

Travis Hill – 5882

Chris Carlisle – 5876

John Ryan – 5875

Trevor Hill – 5859

Alex Artayet – 5848

Randy Pearson – 5838

Mike Ferchak – 5829

Stay tuned to for more updates about the upcoming 2014 season.  And don’t forget to join us for the Steel Cities banquet during winter months!

C Carlisle-

-Saturday course videos-

John Ryan – Subaru BRZ – 117 CS-T

Alex Artayet – BMW M3 – FS-T

-Sunday course videos-

Dan Ennis – Mazda Miata – 666 SSM

Mike Ferchak – Porsche GT3 – Funrun

Solo event #7 – 9/29/13 – And on the seventh event, they created grid, and it was good!


Thanks to Alex Artayet for the pictures this week!

With a crisp autumn day Solo event #7 got off to a start as 113 drivers from all over packed Pittsburgh International Race Complex.  All-star course designer Frank Gaus laid down a fairly simple course.  Yet there were plenty of corners offering drivers a chance to dive in early and cut distance or stay wide and carry speed.  This proved to be the difference in several classes where the difference between winning and losing was decided only by a tenth.  One new addition to the paddock was…well…more paddock!  The solo board setup a new grid to help improve efficiency by getting competitors off the entry road and eliminating the need to back into a parking spot.


The VDA had been carrying sand all morning in several corners including the infamous “Sandpit” on the right rear corner.  Many drivers knew that the afternoon was the time to make a run for the win.  Still this didn’t stop some of the bigger cars at making a stand during the morning.  Dan Ireland’s SS Corvette would take the lead coming out of the morning.  Following VERY closely behind Dan was his national champion Sam Strano who has become somewhat of a regular at SCR events.  Another tire index car made a powerful bid after morning runs with Mark Andy finishing 3rd in his RX8.  Fourth place was a street tire’d car of a different feather as Greg Maloy was back in Chris Carlisle’s STC Honda Civic.  Continuing the Honda parade was the infinitely more powerful Civic hatchback of Bill Staley in 5th.  Trevor Hill has been loving the fact he is back in his R32 and ran for a strong 6th place.  Staying grouped in one big FRS/BRZ clump was Andrew Pallotta, and John Ryan taking up 7th & 8th respectively.  Chris Carlisle would hobble his Civic into the 9th place spot.  And Randy Pearson’s Z06 Corvette would complete the top 10 coming out of the morning heats.


Pounding along into the afternoon the dust settled (literally).  And it was none other than Sam Strano whose 35.456 would take the PAX win in his Corvette.  By far one of the most interesting stories to follow over the weekend was the appearance of Alex Artayet’s new Phoenix Yellow BMW M3 running in the tire index under F-stock.  This was a fairly unassuming move for most people since everyone figured Alex would be getting use to the new car for the day.   Alex’s 37.845 would become the highest PAX finish of any tire index car to date and would take the shiny yellow BMW into 2nd.   Dan Ireland lowered a tenth off his time to a 35.827 and held onto 3rd overall.  Trevor Hill would drop close to half second off his morning time to leap to 4th overall ahead of Mark Andy who would round out the top 5.  Randy Pearson cracked off a 36.138 to land his Z06 in 6th place.  This pushed Greg Maloy down to 7th as he only shaved a few hundredths off his morning runs.  Bill Staley would remain right behind Greg as he rested on his morning runs also.  National champion Andrew Pallotta would shave a few tenths off his FRS to end up with a 37.641 and hang onto 9th overall.  And rounding out the top 10 was Mike Ferchak who used his afternoon runs to break into the top 10 with a 38.363.


There were multiple class battles as the day wore on.  In its debut at SCR Frank Gaus’s Porsche Cayman would take the win in A Stock with a 37.152 to the 37.897 by Tom Buskey’s Chevrolet Camaro.  The usual battle in ESP of Paul Lynd vs. Gibby Bozicevich had a slight twist as Gibby brought out their old tried & true automatic Camaro to face Paul.  Paul’s WRX would take away the win with a 37.823 to the 39.804 set by Gibby’s Camaro.  Matt Parson & Bruce Wesley were sharing Don Fazeka’s Spongebob Miata for part of the day.  Matt would run a 36.412 to the 36.738 set by Bruce.  Eric & Keith Schneider’s Mazda 3 couldn’t lose in STF since they would take 1st & 2nd with Eric’s 41.013 to Keith’s 41.549.  Greg Maloy whooped car owner Chris Carlisle in STC by just over a tenth!  STR was a huge field with seven drivers throwing their hat into the ring.  In the end Stephen Uszak with a 38.317 in his Miata would take the win.  Stephen was followed ever so closely by Ohio favorite Steve Vyn’s S2000 whose 38.330 would net him second place.  Third in STR would be another Miata piloted by Zachary Stover with a 39.923.  STX was another seven car class, and who else to lead but Andrew Pallotta with a 37.641 from his bright red Scion FRS.  Following up Andrew was fellow Scion driver Nick Kelly who pulled in 38.869 to grab 2nd.   Third place was a 40.849 by the Mazdaspeed 3 of Josh McAllister.  Street Mod was interesting as Andy Bower made the trek across Pennsylvania to enter his heavily built Honda Civic into Street Modified.  Andy made the trek worth his while as he ended with a 36.645 to take home the win.  Joe Mayer would run a 39.610 to have his WRX bring home 2nd in class.  In SMF it was Staley & Staley again with Bill Jr running a 36.535 to the 38.382 set by Bill Sr.  Tim Vincent would run FTD for the day with a 32.801 in his KM kart.


For the first time ever at event the tire index had to be broken up along different heats as having 49 drivers just proved too much for the new grid to handle!  As mentioned earlier Alex took his crown back at the top of the class in his new M3.  Alex was followed closely by a late charge from Trevor Hill’s R32 in second place.  Mark Andy handled his RX8 into 3rd overall.  Mike Ferchak Scion FRS took 4th over John Ryan’s similar Subaru BRZ in 5th.  The sole remaining SMF GTi in was Nick Phillips in 6th.  Michael Colando has been having good runs with his Focus ST and would take 7th.  Ron Williams Subaru STI is back a full health and would take the 8th place spot.  John Laughlin rolled his BRZ into 9th overall.  And Tim Ward’s own Subaru STI would round out the top 10 in tire index.


In keeping up with the novices for the year, Ben Held would once again put the skills he learned from the SCR solo school to good use and put his Evo X in first.  However not to be outdone Paul Cunningham wielded a new rear swaybar on his Maxima and would climb up to 2nd.  David Payne’s beautiful Porsche 997 turbo would take home 3rd.  Ron Hilling rolled is Miata into the 4th place spot.  And Lauren Jenkins would show the boys how it’s done with her BMW 128i to round out the top 5!


As the season winds down to the big finale the points look a little like this.

Frank Gaus – 5985

Dan Ireland – 5948

Travis Hill – 5882

Mark Andy – 5871

Chris Carlisle – 5859

October 12th and 13th the Steel Cities region will be hosting a 2 day charity event to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity dedicated to providing tangible, practical support for our wounded military – Helping them to heal both physically and mentally.  We implore all of our autocrossers to come out either one day or both and support this cause!  For more information click the link below.

C Carlisle-

Sam Strano – Corvette Grand Sport – SS

Bill Staley Jr – Honda Civic – 41 SMF

Michael Figliolia – Corvette Grand Sport – 35 SS

Solo event #5 & #6 – 8/3 & 8/4 – SCCA takes over Pittrace!


Photos this week are from Alex Artayet & Dan Ireland!

The first weekend in August was a big one for Steel Cities SCCA.  On one side of the track you had the 61st Cumberland Classic National Races underway where road racers from around the area battled door to door on Pittsburgh International Raceway’s North Course.  While on the other side the Solo season was peaking with a double header weekend that would begin to show how the year end points would stack up as many drivers logged the 6 necessary events under their belt for the first time.  Frank Gaus did double duty as course designer for both days offering up two uniquely desinged courses.


Event #5 – Sluggish, like a wet sponge.

With the Wilmington Tour happening not too far away and many competitors driving through the rain just to reach Pittrace it’s no surprise that the finally tally of drivers was only 53 entries.  Still many of the core drivers that show up at Steel Cities were ready for battle as usual.  Some notable changes were Trevor Hill jumping back into his R32, but this time shod with street tires and running in the ultra-competitive tire index class.  Cory Robb found himself kart-less but not car-less as he managed a co-drive in Travis Hill’s Porsche 968.  The course had a very fast pace with a widely spaced opening slalom, several sweepers, and other big transitional elements that lent the course a great sense of flow & speed.


Despite a slight misfire that would plague their car into Sunday’s event.  The Gaus Evo cranked out virtually flawless runs with Frank Gaus sitting atop the PAX index for the entire day with a 32.324 being the top time & FTD.  While Kristi Gaus would join Frank in the afternoon and give the Evo its first “One-Two” victory for the year.  One of the few cars challenging the Evo’s dominance was Travis Hill’s Porsche 968.  And while Travis would hold a 2nd place PAX position coming out of the morning runs he would fall back to 6th in the afternoon.  However Travis’s Porsche refused to give up as Cory Robb landed in the 3rd overall spot in the index.  The SS class was fighting for time the whole day down to the last runs.  After a morning chucked full of cones, Dan Ireland would shake them off of his Corvette and pull in a final run of 33.609 to claim the win in Super Stock and a 4th overall PAX finish.  What was shocking was Jay Gyger giving a close chase to Dan finishing just a scant .038 behind in his Midnight Blue Porsche GT3 on his final run.  Jay would close out the top 5 PAX spots for the day.  Behind Travis Hill in 6th was Trevor Hill who battered the street tire class with his VW R32 and would take 7th overall in PAX and the win for the day in street tire.  8th place in PAX was the STC Honda Civic of Chris Carlisle.  Trailed closely my Mark Andy’s RX8 in 9th overall and a 2nd place finish in tire index.  And Bruce Wesley would have a stellar day in his S2000 racking up a 3rd in tire index and breaking his way into the top 10 overall in PAX for the day.


As previously mentioned action in the street tire index class was brutal with 22 drivers taking part.  With Trevor’s R32 taking the win in its first index class appearance.  Mark Andy & Bruce Wesley would hold 2nd & 3rd respectively.  Mike Ferchak who has been having a strong year shook off some bad morning runs to take 4th overall.  Novice Ben Heald put in a great set of runs in his Mitsubishi EVO 10 to round out the top 5 in the index.  Alex Artayet wrestled with his GTI to come into the 6th place spot just missing entering the top 5 by three thousandths of a second.  In other classes Eric Schneider would take the win in STF brining his Mazda 3 across the line with a 39.549.  Keith Schneider’s own Mazda 3 with a 39.567 would follow behind Eric to secure 2nd.  In X-Prepared good guy Don Fazekas decided to make a class using extra drivers in his own car!  Matt Parson would take the lead with a 34.559 in the Spongebob Miata.  While Joe Montuoro’s yielded a 34.729 on his final pass.  Within the novice group Ben Heald’s aforementioned performance would see him at the top.  Paul Cunningham had a great run in his Nissan Maxima to grab the 2nd place spot.  Lucas Grafton in his Mustang would complete the top three in novice.  While Domonic Romito’s S2000 would occupy 4th and Lauren Jenkins BMW 1-series would round out the top 5.


Event #6 – Firing on all cylinders.

As things go Sunday events usually pull more drivers.  And with better weather the number climbed from 53 on Saturday to a more common 83 drivers for Sunday.  Many of them returning for a second day of competition.  Rather than running Saturday’s course in reverse direction Frank Gaus rebuilt the entire course.  Sunday’s course offered a more technical challenge with a tricky opening slalom section, wide entry to the sweeping turns, and a series of linked U-turns that varied from one turn to the next right into the finish.


The Gaus Evo was coughing and at times not making power at all.  Despite the setback Frank Gaus would still hang on to pull out both the FTD & PAX win with a 33.380 in a sick car.  In a replay of Saturday morning Travis Hill started the day in the 2nd place PAX position, but this time would hang onto the second place spot for the rest of the day.  In 3rd place was the highest a tire index car has ever traveled in the PAX index as Trevor Hill pushed his R32 well into the top 5.  Dan Ireland wasted no time in using his Grand Sport Corvette to start off the morning strong in 3rd overall and only dropping to 4th as the day finished.  Kristi Gaus had another good day despite fighting with the Evo to complete the top 5 overall in the PAX index.  Greg Maloy’s CRX suffered a mechanical issue on the way to the event in the morning.  So he teamed up in Chris Carlisle’s STC Honda civic for the day.  With the two drivers pushing each other faster Greg would hold down the 6th place position just three thousands ahead of car owner Chris Carlisle in 7th!  The next three cars all hailed themselves as rear wheel drive cars from the tire index class.  Mark Andy, John Ryan, and Ted Weidner would close out the 8 thru 10 spots at the top of the PAX index.  Interestingly to show how close things were near the top the drivers from 3rd back to 7th were all covered under the same tenth of a second!


Down in tire index the class swelled in size from 22 the previous day to 35 on Sunday.  Trevor’s R32 had held off Mark Andy’s RX8 by two tenths.  Less than a tenth separated Mark Andy from the Subaru BRZ of John Ryan in 3rd.  Ted Weidner had a very good day showing the Miata could still get it done in 4th overall.  Mike Ferchak has been consistently fast in his Scion FRS and rounded out the top 5.  Meanwhile Bruce Wesley would have another strong finish in his Honda S2000 in 6th.  With the larger turnout many of the other classes filled out in size.  Jay Gyger would split the two driver car of Dan Ireland’s Corvette as Dan would win the class with a 34.395 followed by the 35.173 of Jay’s Porsche.  Michael “Figs” Figliolia would bring Dan’s Corvette in with a 35.267 less than a tenth behind Jay to take over 3rd.  STX was well equipped with drivers at 7 entries.  Jeremy Britenbaugh would rule the roost with a 39.085 in his Mini Cooper S.  Chibby Chobirko would take 2nd place with a 39.990 in his mustang.  And Jessie Yunker would round out the top 3 in STX with a 40.316 in his Subaru WRX.  There was a battle over in ESP as Paul Lynd would lead Tom Buskey by just over a tenth after the morning runs with a 36.670.  But at the end of the day Paul wasn’t able to move ahead of his morning runs and Tom snuck by with a 36.385.  Mike Roman would take home the win in STR in his Roush Mustang with a 39.250 to the 41.534 of Jeremy Szamrey’s Nissan 350Z.  In novice class despite having some starter troubles Paul Cunningham would finally see his Maxima to the top of the list!  Behind Paul was Dominic Romito in his S2000.  Lauren Jenkins would again show up with her BMW 128i in 3rd.  The VW GTI of Christopher ONeill would hold onto 4th.  And Kate Figliolia would slide her VW into the top 5 novices for the day!


With 6 events down we can now see the race for DOY points is shaping up.

Frank Gaus – 5985

Dan Ireland – 5929

Travis Hill – 5882

Chris Carlisle – 5848

Mark Andy – 5846

We would like to wish all of our Steel Cities members who are heading to the SCCA Solo Nationals at the end of the month good luck and safe travels!  We will see everyone back at Pittrace on September 29th for event #7.

C Carlisle-


Chris Carlisle – Honda Civic Si – 77 STC (Saturday & Sunday courses)

Solo event #4 – 6/30/13 – Luck of the draw.


Going into event #4 there was some discussion about maybe having a lower turnout.  The weather forecast was certainly calling for rain.  Furthermore event #4 was up against an autocross out in Toledo Ohio which everyone thought would pull some of our Ohio friends away.  Nothing was further from the truth as a field of almost 100 drivers showed up to Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex to do battle under uncertain skies.  Returning for course design was Frank Gaus (with Kristi Gaus kicking in some help!) which resulted in a fast & flowing design using up most of the VDA surface.

The opening volley of runs would be in the dry for all the groups involved.  Tire index would be up first today 39 entries showed up in the class.  The usual group of C-Stock cars was joined by Randy Pearson driving his own Scion FRS.  Out of Ohio John Laughlin co-drove Michael Colando’s Focus ST to see how the hot hatch faired against the rest of the field.  The early leady went to John Ryan with a 37.519 out of his BRZ.  But it would be Mark Andy’s final morning run of 37.437 that would put him at the top of the charts.  The real surprise was John Laughlin who showed the Focus ST meant business and rolled into the 3rd place spot.  Mike Ferchak’s only clean morning run in his FRS was still fast enough for 4th in the index.  Randy Pearson who decided against his Z06 today used his own Scion FRS to round out the top 5.  While Ron Williams only switched to the index class a short time ago this didn’t prevent him from parking his Subaru STI in the #6 spot.  The cars in the 7th thru 9th spot were all covered under the same tenth.  Ted Weidner’s Miata led the pack followed by Josh Reinard’s WRX in 8th and Bruce Wesley in 9th.  Tim Ward would move in his Subaru STI to complete the top 10 for the morning tire index.


As the morning rolled on other classes took a crack at the course.  Leading the charge was the familiar white Evo of Frank Gaus with a 34.483 to hold down first.  But eager to knock Frank off the top spot was Travis Hill sporting a new set of BFG race tires on his Porsche 968.  Travis’s performance of 35.875 was good enough to split the up the other driver of white Evo Kristi Gaus who put in some stellar morning runs to move onto the 3rd place PAX position with a 35.026.  Mark Andy would lead the charge for the tire index cars coming in 4th.  Meanwhile Chris Carlisle’s STC Honda Civic would round out the top 5 for the morning runs.  Many of the tire index cars would hold the next several spots in the index.  John Ryan would provide chase to Mark by coming in 6th.  John Laughlin kept lopping off chunks of time till he landed in 7th overall.  Mike Ferchak kept his Scion FRS in the mix in 8th.  Following by a mere tenth behind was Randy Person’s own Scion FRS in 9th.  And the always fast Greg Maloy would round out the morning top 10.

And then the rains came…


The sky’s opened in-between the morning and afternoon heats.  A slight delay was incurred when lighting & thunder struck off in the distance.  Thankfully things managed to keep on track thanks to the solo board and their hard work.  Unfortunately, little could be done for most all the classes involved as the rain left standing water across much of the VDA.  The tire class was the first out in the deluge and for the most part they either had a good time drifting around the turns or fought to keep their cars pointed straight.  Interestingly novice Ben Heald decided to do a PAX index showing just the rain runs for the tire index group.  Leading the rain list was not an AWD car, but again the Focus ST with John Laughlin being the fastest in the wet followed by car owner Michael Colando.  Josh Reinard who has been slowly polishing off his WRX into a fine D-Stock car was 3rd fastest in the wet using the AWD to his advantage.  And the next two fastest cars were again FWD as Alex Artayet & Nick Phillips would slosh through the wet in their GTI’s to show the rest of the tire index how to swim.

As the heats wore on, the sun occasionally peaked out of the clouds offering a chance for the VDA to clean up.  By the time the 2nd heat of the afternoon made their way onto the VDA it was clear that things were drying quickly.  But not quite quick enough for several of the ST cars looking to make any advancement up the PAX list as Chris Carlisle & Greg Maloy would fall just a hair short of their morning runs in their Hondas.  By the time the final group made it onto the grid it was clear that the track had dried up.  However the line was still marred with dirt in spots making it not quite as fast as the morning.  Still the window for faster times had opened ever so slightly as many drivers in the last heat would only have one shot where the track was finally clean enough to allow them to catch their morning times.  The first would be Frank Gaus dropping a mere tenth off his morning run down to a 34.369 to solidify his first place in the index.  But the real shocker is what came out of the SS class where two competitors jumped up from far below the index into the 3rd & 4th positions pushing everyone else down two spots.  The first was Dan Ireland whose second pass in the afternoon would yield a 35.099 to take over 3rd overall in the index for the day.   Another shocker came as Jay Gyger’s new GT3 showed that it was NOT his GT3 from last year as a 35.297 pulled ahead to a 2nd place finish in SS and 4th overall in the PAX index.  Through all of this Travis Hill would still hang onto 2nd while Kristi Gaus would manage to stay in the top 5 for the day.


Novice results for the day would see the familiar face of Ben Heald take first place with 39.752.  Ben would be followed by another novice who has been putting in more and more time with SCR as Dustin Diesing ran his Subaru WRX in 2nd.  Justin Los would bring the first Fiat we’ve seen at SCR for the year in 3rd place.  Brian Thomas would take advantage of some new tires on his Neon to settle into 4th.  And Ashley Cunningham’s Suzuki Kizashi would complete the top 5 for the novices.

The next Steel Cities event is not until August 3rd, but this doesn’t mean you have no excuse to come drive with us.  If you looking to improve your skill the Steel Cities Solo board is putting on a drivers school July 13th & 14th with all proceeds going to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.  Check out to sign up and come out to support a good cause!

C. Carlisle-

With exception of the interior shot, all photos were provided by Nick Simon!



Dustin Diesing – Subaru WRX – 314 STU

Andrew Moore – Homebuilt Locost – 60 DM

Three events in Two Weeks! Who’s ready for some action?

There’s been a little break in the action since Event #2 on May 19th, but that’s all about to change… This Sunday (6/23) we’ve got Event #3, with Event #4 the following Sunday (6/30). For this Sunday’s event we’re also welcoming the Allegheny Region of the PCA to our event. These guys have had a growing autox program and its great to have them come out!

Register for Event #3 here.
Register for Event #4 here.

Remember, online registration saves you time in the morning! You just need to come down, sign the waiver, and check off your name on the sheet. No waiting in the registration line!

In between Events #3 and #4, PittRace has asked us to put on a new type of event for them… A “TrackCross”! For this non-SCCA event, we’ll be running on the North Track. You’ll have a standing start at the start/finish line, then run the track all the way to turn eight where you’ll cross the finish line and your time will stop.  Its one car at a time and this portion of the track is relatively low speed and has great runoff room, so the risks are lower than a typical track day.  Safety requirements are very similar to autocross, with the only exception being that convertibles must have some type of rollover protection.  A factory hardtop, factory rollover hoops like on an S2000, or an actual rollbar are sufficient.

If that sounds as fun to you as it does to us, plan on coming out!  The event is on Thursday June 27th, from 4pm to 8pm.  Cost is only $60, so this is the cheapest and easiest way around to get yourself out on the North Track!  See this page for more details, including a link to the MSR registration page.  On site registration is welcome as well.

As you can see, there’s going to be a lot of fun available over the next week or so.  I hope to see you all at the events!

Solo event #2 – 5/19/13 – Racing by the numbers.

Sorry we didn’t get any photos for this event.  Brace yourself for videos!

Andrew Moore – Homebuilt Locost – 60 DM

Here are a couple of stats from Sunday.  98 – Number of drivers on file.  40 – Size of the largest class, the tire index.  3 – National champions present.  1 – Hour at the end of the day used for fun runs.  5 – The time in the afternoon the last autocrossers left the site!

With the sun shining brightly and engines roaring Steel Cities event #2 kicked off with another record sized field of drivers battling out in Wampum PA at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.  Thanks to the hard work of the Solo board and countless other volunteers who stepped up the entire event went off in a shockingly quick fashion.  Things went so well that this event marked the return of fun runs for all competitors at the end of the day.  Adding to the depth of talent that showed up that day was several members of Ohio’s NORA racing program.  National Champions Sam Strano and Andrew Pallotta also showed up to throw their hats into the ring.  Course designers for this event were Dan Ireland & Michael “Figs” Figliolia who laid down and interesting double crossover course with some heavy technical sections tied in.

SCR event #1 would see local SS driver Dan Ireland take his first PAX win at SCR.  Any question whether or not Dan planned a repeat performance were immediately put to rest after pulling in a 38.889 in his morning run.   However the Gaus Evo was back with a vengeance after leaving event #1 with a frozen brake caliper and blown turbo.  Right out of the hole Frank Gaus would run with a 38.890 to take up the 2nd place position in PAX behind Dan.  While the first two positions belonged to SCR regulars, that’s where the party ended.  Sam Strano & Andrew Pallotta brought out their respective Scion’s to sharpen the FRS’s ability to run in STX.  Local STX competitor Brian DePietro co-drove Andrew’s car.  Meanwhile Danny Kao came all the way from his home DC region to co-drive with Sam for the day.  The initial morning runs between Andrew & Sam were down to the same tenth of each other.  Andrew would emerge from the morning just a mere tick of the clock ahead with a 40.983 to the 41.134 of Sam’s fastest run.  This would pin the two FRS drivers in 3rd & 4th respectively.  Coming in the number 5th spot was Travis Hill with a 40.922 in his Porsche 968.  Of the race tire’d cars that were left in the morning index was the fast Z06 of Randy Pearson running with a 40.152 in 8th position.  An Ethan Connor would hold down the 10th spot with a 40.586 in his DSP machine.

Mike Ferchak – Scion FRS – 11 CST

If you were paying attention in the last paragraph you caught the reference to the “race tire’d” cars and the gaps between them in the top 10.  The reason for this was due to the sheer speed that some of the Street Tire Index cars and now exhibiting.  It’s no longer uncommon for some of the faster tire index cars to work their way into the top 10.  A heated 3 way battle for lead the gigantic class ensued between three lead C-Stock cars driven by Mark Andy in his RX8, Mike Ferchak in his FRS, and John Ryan in his BRZ.  Mark & John immediately started out running in the 42 range with John eventually pulling a 42.386 over the 42.436 of Mark’s RX8.  However it was Mike last run of the morning where his last run dropped him out of the 43’s and down to a 42.160 to hold the rest of the field at bay.  This put Mike in 6th place over all respectively with John directly behind him in the #7 spot.  Mark was still well within the top 10 in 9th place overall.  The next closest tire index car way Ohio native Kyle Herbst driving his BMW M Coupe down to a 42.278 with was good enough for 14th in the overall PAX index.  From the 17th position back the list of tire index drivers looking to move up was long.  Bruce Wesley, Alex Artayet, Nick Phillips, Jonathan Paine, and Bill Schaefer would all have to wait their turn till the afternoon to take a stab at moving up.

In the afternoon the course line cleared off significantly, but many drivers still struggled to find huge gains in time.  And in a very odd turn of events neither Dan Ireland’s Corvette, nor Frank Gaus’s Evo, would be able to make the course give up any more time.  Giving Dan his second SCR PAX win for the season while Frank would hang onto second.   While Andrew Pallotta did improve on his morning run with a 40.915 in a bid to hang onto 3rd overall, it would be Sam Strano would finally find the 40 second run he needed to creep ahead of Andrew and take over the 3rd place overall position and take the win home in STX.  Sam’s 40.869 was almost quick enough to take 2nd away from the Gaus Evo.  In fact the PAX time between Frank, Sam, and Andrew was within a tenth!  Travis’s best time was able to weather the afternoon runs and help him remain in 5th overall.  Randy Pearson jumped down into the 39’s in the afternoon with a 39.744 that would take the big Z06 up to 6th place overall.  Below 6th place the dogfight in tire index ensued.  On his first afternoon run, John Ryan ran an identical time to Mike Ferchak’s 42.160 but tipped over a cone.  Mark Andy took advantage of the situation and passed John with a 40.170 to take over 2nd overall in the index.  But in the end Mike Ferchak would hang onto his morning run to take him his first ever win in the tire index!  The final result in the overall standings put Mike in 7th overall.  Followed by Mark in 8th and John close behind in 9th.  Ethan Connor dropped a few tenths off with a 40.336 that would shore up his 10th place position against Mike Ancus who climbed the whole way up to 11th in his FSP Civic.  Bruce Wesley made an afternoon dash to pull his B-stock S2000 up into the 13th overall spot and 4th overall in tire index.  Another Ohio driver, Joel Higginbotham, pushed his evil looking F-prepared Subaru Impreza to a 39.474 that would be good enough for 14th overall.  Joel would be followed by SCR’s own Michael Figliolia who is starting to get along with Dan’s Corvette and cracked off a 40.316 to end up in 15th.  The final five positions in the top 20 would be filled by Tim Vincent in his kart, Danny Kao running Sam’s FRS, Jonathan Paine (who would also end up 5th in tire index), Jay Storm in his FP Impreza, and Kyle Herbst rounding out the top 20 in his M-coupe.

Andrew Pallotta – Scion FRS – 4 STX

Of the nine novices on file for the day, Ben Heald led the pack in his B-stock Mitsubishi Evo with a raw time of 43.911 which gave him a 21st place finish in the competitive tire index class.  Not far behind was DSP Neon of Michael Smith’s who clocked in a raw time of 43.813 and would end up 23rd in the tire index.  Paul Cunningham pulled a repeat performance being the 3rd fastest of the novices with a 47.186 in his Nissan Maxima.  Tim Demetrio used his Pontiac Solstice to pull in 45.397 which would be 4th for the novices.  And Michael Falvo would round out the top 5 with his Jetta GLI.

In other class battles ESP continues to be one of the better subscribed classes with four drivers squaring off.  Gibby Bozicevich would face the familiar face of Paul Lynd’s WRX again.  However a mechanical issue with Gibby’s Camaro would leave the door open in the afternoon for Paul who would take his first win in ESP for the year with a 42.445 to Gibby’s 43.218.  STR was well represented with four drivers.  Steve Vyn would use his S2000 to keep just a few steps ahead of the competition with a 43.306 that was from his morning’s runs.  Steve would be followed by the Miata of Zachary Stover whose 43.765 would firmly secure 2nd place for the day.  The familiar pairing of Tim Ward and Brian Buchanan would preside over the four driver STU class.  Tim’s 42.049 would take the win for the day in his STI.  Meanwhile Brian’s GTO with its 44.368 would just hang onto 2nd place.   Jordan Kulik’s almost eclipsed 2nd place with his final run of 44.413 in his BMW M3.  Manfred Woodall was having a blast driving around the V8 powered Spongebob Miata of Don Fazekas.  Also new to the grid was Pete Kowalik’s BMW 335ix prepped race tires and ready to roll in D-stock.

Come join us for event #3 at PittRace on Sunday June 23rd!

Brian Huber – Corvette Z06 – 58 SS

Solo event #1 – 5/5/13 – A whole new ballgame.


A beautiful cool spring day marked the beginning of Steel Cities 2013 autocross season at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum Pennsylvania.  A record breaking 96 drivers consisting of long time SCR members, novices, and even a large chunk of drivers who came from Ohio to shake some rust off on the VDA.  Course designer Frank Gaus laid an interesting technical course down that was met by rave reviews from many drivers.  The course was a mix of rewarding those who looked ahead in some spots while also exhibiting patience in others.  A crossover and a long straightaway along the backside of VDA capped off the design.  The larger driver turnout pushed the return of the three heat “Run, Work, Rest” order to get through the day.  Also new for this event was live timing that drivers could check class positions from their smartphones!

One of the big stories throughout last year was the massive Super Stock class whose battles were headliners at most of the events.  This year though marks a clear paradigm shift as several well-known drivers have decided to make their stand in the fiercely completive tire index class.  One of the reasons is SCR allows for a PAX multiplier to make the times from cars in the tire index competitive in the overall PAX index.  Several long time stalwarts have returned to the class including Bruce Wesley & Mark Sanner in their respective S2000’s, the GTi duo of Nick Phillips & Alex Artayet, the Vincent Family’s Miata, and 2012 Novice of the year John Fink in his Corvette C6.  Two longtime local drivers switched classes this year in a bid to rule the index class.  After winning Super Stock last year Mark Andy has set his sights on the index class with his Mazda RX8.  Long time ST competitor Mike Ferchak surprised everyone over the winter when he bought a new Scion FRS to replace his Subaru 2.5RS.  To add to the mix on Sunday Ted Weidner came out of hiding with his Miata.  Alex Artayet’s GTi is temporarily down so he bummed a ride in Nick Phillip’s GTi.  In the morning this allowed Alex to climb to 5th in the standings with a 46.059.  Bruce Wesley brought his S2000 in with a 46.339 which would be good enough for 4th during the morning heats.  But the interesting thing coming out of the morning was the top 3 cars all stacked together taking up the 8th, 9th, and 10th spots in the overall PAX index.  Third was Ted Weidner’s Miata who was standing on the heels of Mark Andy’s RX8 in 2nd.  But holding down first was Mike Ferchak with a 45.962 which held little over a two tenths advantage to the 46.2 set by Mark Andy.  Going into the afternoon last year’s tire index champion Alex Artayet began to learn Nick’s car a little better and fought his way up past Ted to a 3rd place finish.  Newcomer Shawn Bauman fought hard behind Nick Phillips and the two came in to the 7th & 6th spots respectively in the index.  Bruce Wesley fell one position to 5th.  As well as Ted Weidner who now resided in 4th behind Alex.  Mark Andy picked up his pace by cracking off a 45.956 to barely eek ahead of Mike.  Mark would finish off the day with a 45.330 from his RX8 on his last run to take the first win of the season in the tire index class.  With the new tire index PAX multiplier Mike Ferchak’s time would net him a top 10 finish in the PAX index coming in at number 10.  While Mark’s fastest time would push him all the way up to 6th in the overall PAX standings.


As with the case last year, the battle near the top of the PAX index is never an easy one.  While the SS class was down in size, it was still making itself known amongst the ranks of driver in the top 10.  This year Dan Ireland is back in the big white Grand Sport Corvette.  He is joined by a new co-driver Michael “Mitch, Figs, Hamfist” Figliolia.  Returning as well is the always fast Randy Pearson in his Z06 and longtime SS veteran Brian Huber.  Fending off the Super Stock cars near the top of the heap is last year’s driver of the year Frank Gaus and his wife Kristi Gaus who have pushed their Evo up to Street Mod this year.  Several old autocross rides have returned for 2013 with Travis Hill in his Porsche 968.  Jay Gyger in his vintage tangerine colored 911.  And Chris Carlisle back out in STC with his Civic Si.  Rounding off the list is the always fast Ethan Connor in his D Street Prepared BMW.  Greg Maloy in his very fast STS Honda CRX.  Cory Robb has teamed up with Tim Vincent to copilot his KM kart this year.  And last but not least there was Trevor Hill who rolled out to meet the field in a new Mini Cooper of all things.  The second group to run in the morning would see Chris Carlisle in his rejuvenated STC Civic jump to the top of the PAX standings with a 45.130 followed by Ethan Conner’s BMW with a 43.657.  However the third run group would take over the battle for the lead as Dan Ireland pounded through the course with a 41.896 that bested Frank Gaus’s Evo by seven tenths in PAX.  Travis Hill crossed the line with a strong 44.189 to take over the 3rd spot in PAX.  Trailing Travis would be Randy Pearson’s Z06 with a 42.906.  Chris Carlisle rounded out the top 5 followed by a very fast Tim Vincent who was busy driving the wheels off his kart with 39.015.  Going into the afternoon Frank turned on the afterburners ducking into the 41’s in the SM Evo.  While this did close the gap on Dan’s big Corvette who would end up standing on his morning run it wasn’t quite enough.  Dan Ireland took his first PAX win at SCR followed by Frank less than a tenth back with his best time of 41.735.  Clawing his way back to the top of the field was Chris Carlisle’s Civic who’s 44.615 would land him in the 3rd place position.  Randy Person picked up an extra tenth over his morning run to just BARELY sneak ahead of Travis Hill in PAX index by .047 to take over the 4th place position.  Travis would round out the top 5 for the day.  Despite being in the tire index Mark Andy would drop his RX8 into 6th place.  Ethan Conner laid down a half second improvement over his morning runs with a 43.127 to hang onto his 7th place position.   Tim Vincent put down a wild final run with the kart barely under control to pull in a FTD of 38.628 and that would plant him in 8th for the day.  Trevor Hill gradually coxed more speed from the Mini as he moved from 12th during the morning runs to 9th overall with 46.404 to finish the Mini’s first outing.  Rounding out the top 10 was another tire index competitor Mike Ferchak in his Scion FRS.

New for SCR this year is better tracking for our new novice drivers so they can better see how they are doing.  Working off the same basis as the tire index, PAX times are used to put focus on driver skill as a measuring stick rather than raw speed.  We had an interesting mix of cars come out and get their feet wet for their first time.  At the top of the novice sheet was a brand new 2013 Porsche 911 driven by Charles Hu with a 49.506.  Charles was followed closely by a car that couldn’t be more different, but showed almost as much speed as Paul Cunningham pulled in a 53.921 in his Nissan Maxima.  Troy Simpson would lead his RX8 in with 53.406 to be the 3rd fastest novice on file.   And just BARELY beating out Kate Figliolia’s GTi for the 4th place spot was Jim Andrzejczak whose PAX time was separated by a mere four hundredths of a second.


There was action in the other classes as well.  For the first time in nobody knows how long Dave Mohar and his son Adam brought the family Corvette out to play in BSP.  Dave would take the win over National Road Rally veteran Al Hogan who also came out to join the SCR crowd for the day.  Gibby Bozicevich would take on all comers in a six car ESP class.  Gibby’s 45.026 would barely hold off Tom Buskey who’s final run of 45.110 would leave him just eight hundredths of a second out of first.  Paul Lynd’s WRX pulled in a 45.543 to round out the top three in E Street Prepared.  Another six car class was STX in which the familiar Lobster Taco Racing RX8 of Brian DiPietro & Megan Biddle would finish 1st and 2nd respectively.  With Trent McMillion’s Ford Mustang completing the top three in STX.  Despite not having the best luck with cones Tim Ward pushed his Subaru STi to a 44.936 to take the win in STU.  Tim was followed by Brian Buchanan in his Pontiac GTO in 2nd and Jordan Kulik’s BMW M3 in 3rd.

Steel Cities event #2 will be underway May 19th at PittRace so come on out and join us!

Some on-board video from Dan Ireland’s PAX winning run in his Grand Sport Corvette.

And for a view from a completely different car here is Chris Carlisle’s STC Honda Civic on it’s fastest run.

All pictures provided by Dan Ireland.

DSC_7247DSC_7290 DSC_7224 DSC_7291 DSC_7313

Solo event #8 – We don’t need no stinking rain!

It’s been said when Pittsburgh International Raceway (then Beaverun) was built several years ago that the facility had little to no regard for weather reports.  Many autocrossers kept their smartphones at their side, watching the radar and calling up weather reports for the next hour.  Others packed a few days worth of clothes into their cars in case they got deluged with water again.  But for whatever reason, the facility shook off some water from the night before that had drenched the course and opened up patches of blue sky for the last SCCA event on the VDA before the big finale down at Consol Energy Park in Washington Pa.  In contrast to event #7’s high speed course, Frank Gaus laid down a unique twisting course featuring two crossovers.  This kept drivers arms working hard and their eyes looking far ahead as they weaved through the course.

The morning started off with the SCR’s largest class, the tire index, stomping though the few puddles that were left.  Alex Artayet led through the morning runs and held on into the afternoon to finish 16th in PAX and secure 1st place in tire index for the year!  However behind Alex things were changing throughout the day.  Coming out of the morning Ann Vincent would show the boys how it was done coming into 2nd place, with Fred Beighley’s rejuvenated Dodge Stealth hanging onto 3rd.  Jason Amistadi would use his Fiero secure 4th for the morning.  However going into the afternoon everything got turned on its head.  John Fink has been running very strong all year in his Corvette showing that a large car on street tires can get it done.  On his final run of the day John crawled back to a 2nd place finish for the day.  Not to be outdone, Mark Sanner followed John’s performance to secure 3rd place.  Jason Amistadi however was not so willing to let go of 4th place and dropped almost 2 seconds from his morning runs to stand his ground in the Fiero.  Newcomer Ben Heald would round out the top 5 in his Evo X.

When the 2nd heat took to the VDA for the first time, they we’re already enjoying a fairly dry course.  The SS class got down to business with the first car into the 39’s being the Jay Gyger Porsche GT3 being driven by Chris Carlisle with a 39.819 on the 2nd pass.  Times continued down into the 39’s with a 39.628 by Mark Andy in his Chevrolet “FOR SALE!” Corvette ZO6.  However the real shocker was a raw time of 38.729 set by Dan Ireland who had just a single cone.  Comically enough, the next two cars to run 38’s would be Mark and Randy Pearson running IDENTICAL 38.957’s with the PAX sheet’s showing Mark leading Randy due to the names being alphabetically arranged.  Dan would take it right back with a 38.721 that would lead SS going into the afternoon.  Even more impressive was Dan’s run landing a mere three tenths off Frank Gaus’s ASP Evo whose 38.087 was knocking on the door to running a 37 in the afternoon.  Shockingly as the afternoon got underway, Frank would never see 37’s out of the Evo and end up standing on his morning runs.  This opened the door for one of the SS cars to possibly take the PAX lead away from the Evo.  All the vette drivers scrapped and clawed trying to find grip and more time.  On his 5th run Mark would knock a tenth off his time to a 38.804, but a mess up on his final run would end his day in 3th place in SS with a 4th place overall PAX position.  Mark’s codriver Cory Robb was far from done and on his final run pulled through the lights with a 38.759 that would push Cory the whole way up into 2nd place in SS and 3rd overall in PAX for the day.  When the dust settled, Dan Ireland would remain standing on his morning run to hold off Cory by a mere three hundreds of a second to take the win in SS and 2nd overall in PAX just behind the Gaus Evo.

Further down the PAX listing Randy Pearson coming in 5th in his Z06.  A final run charge brought Kristi Gaus the whole way from 13th up to 6th overall in the Evo.  7th place came to the Chris Carlisle at the helm of the GT3.  Fellow SS competitor Joe Montuoro would end up in 8th in the index, followed closely by Greg Maloy in his STS CRX.  Trevor Hill’s Volkswagen R32 would round out the top 10.  Some honorable mentions include Mike Ancus who while being nice enough to bring his car out for Dennis Witt to drive, ended up 7th in PAX in the morning while falling back to only 11th in the afternoon.  Also Tim Ward put on spectacular morning drive to lead PAX before heat 2 began.  Tim eventually found himself trying to hold off returning driver James Turnsheck whose BMW M3 placed just a tenth behind Tim.  Tim almost has STU wrapped up for the year, but an appearance by Jonathan Sierra at Consol could put those chances in jeopardy. In other classes, while Brian Dipietro and Megan Biddle fought back & forth in their Team Lobster Taco Racing RX8, they ended with a 1-2 finish in the five driver class.  Tim Vincent has shown some serious speed in the past 4 events co-driving Greg’s shifter kart.  Greg has been historically fast at Consol so it will be very interesting to see who comes out on top for the year in KM.

Several drivers have their classes sewn up for the year and are now just hoping to improve their DOY standings.  Among these drivers is Frank Gaus (ASP), Trevor Hill (DS), Ethan Connor (DSP), Regis Kaminski (FS), Michael Figliolia (STX), Don Fazekas (XP), Greg Maloy (STS), Paul Lynd (ESP), and Chester Charnesky Jr (SSM).

The Steel Cities SCCA season finale will be our Wounded Warrior Project charity event held at Consol Energy Park in Washington PA, October 12th & 13th.  For more information click on the link, we hope you’ll join us in supporting this great cause!

Thanks to Dan Ireland & Michael Figliolia for the pictures!

Solo event #7 – “I had more grip in Nebraska…”

With the SCCA solo nationals over and cool fall mornings becoming more common.  The racing season is now heading towards the finish line.  Steel Cities event #7 would begin to show how the many classes and driver of the year points would be stacking up.  Once the cool morning gave way to beautiful late summer day, 63 drivers tried their hand on the VDA at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.  The course itself was designed by Chris Carlisle (that’s me!).  It’s main feature were two huge high speed sweepers that forced drivers to the ragged edge of their car’s capabilities.  However the VDA is a harsh mistress when it comes to grip for drivers.  Making matters worse was large amounts of chalk lines cris-crossing the course from a ride & drive program the previous day.  First run karts & cars left huge wakes of white dust as they ventured through the course.
While the SS class has garnered much attention over the course of the year, one question in the back of everyone’s mind was “I wonder how Sam Strano’s Corvette would do?”  After some poking & prodding, Sam rolled his Z06 out to meet the SS class head on.  While the first SS car to dip into the 39’s would be Dan Ireland’s 39.898 in his Grand Sport, Sam answered back a run later with a 38.394 and the chase was on.  Out of the morning heat the only other SS ride to run a time close to Sam would be Travis Hill with a 38.979 driving Brian Huber’s corvette.  Sam’s morning performance was almost good enough to hold PAX going into lunch.  However the low grip levels with play into the favor of the Gaus Evo which had a time of 38.078 with Frank Gaus at the wheel.  This was a mere three hundredths ahead of Sam’s time.  The next closest car was Travis at a half a second back.

The afternoon would be a different ball game as the racing line was well cleared off, allowing the rear drive cars to find some much needed traction.  Mark Andy took to the course with a set of fresh tires and plunged deep into the 38’s with a 38.552 putting Mark a mere three tenths off the 38.215 Sam had laid down.  Randy Pearson entered the 38.757 and finally a 38.718 to finish the day.  However a real surprise came with Dan Ireland landed a 38.483 on his second to last run to bump him into the 2nd place.  Sam has saved the best for last with a 38.086 that would put him at the head of SS & PAX.  The Gaus Evo didn’t land another time as fast Frank’s morning run and would lose PAX to Sam by a mere tenth of a second.  Mark was the last person to take a stab at winning everything on his last run.  Mark’s final run of a 38.113 would me marred by cones, leaving Dan Ireland to hold 2nd place for the day with Mark Andy in 3rd and Randy Pearson in 4th.

The breakout star of the tire index class this year by far has been Alex Artayet.  His consistent speed and high PAX finishes have become common this year.  But at event 7 he would put a feather in his cap by ending the day in 9th overall in the PAX index, his first top 10 PAX finish for the year at SCR.  In 2nd place we would see Thomas Hall’s Pontiac Solstice hold off John Ryan’s Subaru BRZ by a mere six hundredths.  A little further back one would see Rich Shank’s Miata holding down 4th place, followed closely by John Fink’s C6 Corvette and Bill Schaefer rounding out the top 6 trophy spots of a strong 19 car class.

Another class which has steadily grown in size over the course of the year has been STX.  A unusual mix of Mustangs, VW’s, and other assorted compact cars made up an 8 car class.  Despite having a rough time at nationals, Mike Figliolia (Figs!) would hold off PJ Harris in his mustang to take the win for the day.  PJ Harris would be trailed closely by fellow mustang Matt Parson in 3rd.  Over in STU Tim Ward’s STI would face a horde of V8 powered machinery to take the win for the day.  In some of the two person rivalry classes, Tim Vincent would again beat out Greg on the family shifter kart, just placing Tim out of the top 10 on the PAX index.  Steady improvements to Cory Black’s Corvair would see him win out over the SpongeBob Miata of Don Fazekas in XP.  And in ESP Paul Lynd would hold down the fort against the Chevy Camaro of Tom Buskey.

Our next event will be our last for the season at PittRace before the final two events down at Consol Energy Park.  Please come out and join us on September 30th!

Thanks again to Ethan Connor (with some assistance from Tim Ward) on all of the pictures!

Here is some video from some of our competitors!

Sam Strano

Dan Ireland

Mark Andy