Solo event #6 write up – Last stop before the big show

After a string of previous events where drivers were pummeled by heat and later pelted by rain, everyone finally got a break in the weather as Steel Cities SCCA event #6 got underway.  A cool spring day at Pittsburgh International Raceway set the scene for 63 drivers to take to the VDA.  The course design by Frank Gaus was eerily reminiscent of event #5 course with its center finish.  However it was run in the opposite direction around the VDA.  While being quite open in spots, the second half of the course really required drivers to “thread the needle” through some tight turns if they wanted to pull in fast times.  This event also marked the first time many drivers would log 6 events for the year.  Getting that 6th event in would allow them to be eligible for the points chase in their respective classes.   As well as contention for the driver of the year (DOY) battle that is brewing.

We’ll start off with the tire index class who on this day saw a whopping 16 drivers take part.  One constant in the index this year has been the SMF pairing of Alex Artayet and Nick Phillips.  The fast VW’s immediate took hold at the front of the class during the morning heat.  Nick would lead over Alex by just over three tenths coming out of the morning.  The pair were just around a second ahead of the next two fastest drivers, Brian Buchanan in his WRX, followed closely by newcomer Matt Shuble in his bright green Porsche Cayman.  Not far off the pace was Mark Sanner in 5th, followed closely by John Fink’s Corvette.  However as the afternoon runs occurred, everyone made jumps in time that put the morning standings to rest.  Alex beat out Nick by a mere three tenths to take home another win in the index class.  Matt’s green Porsche has been showing some real speed since its first appearance and passed Brian’s WRX to take over the #3 position.  Not to be outdone John Fink led his C6 on charge past Mark Sanner and Brian to pick up 4th overall.  Brian would manage to hold off a fast run by Sanner and keep his WRX in the top 5.

The Super Stock class was back to full strength with the return of Dan Ireland’s and Brian Huber’s corvettes from the Peru tour, with Travis Hill returning to the driver’s seat of Huber’s Z06 after recovering from injury.  During the morning session, a bid for fast time in the class meant running in the 37 second range.  Mark Andy would lead the way with a 37.510 followed ever so closely by Dan Ireland who was a mere five hundredths back.  Travis Hill showed he lost very little to his time off with a 37.809 placing him eight hundredths ahead of Randy Pearson’s Z06.  While Mark’s morning performance was impressive enough for 2nd in the PAX standings, the first place spot would go to Frank Gaus with his 36.612 in his ASP Evolution.  What was really shocking was Tim Vincent’s kart blowing away the rest of the field in the morning with a 33.832 putting him into the 3rd place spot overall.  Dan Ireland would occupy the 4th PAX position with Kristi Gaus bringing the Evo home in 5th.   Sam Strano showed up wielding his modified Scion FRS, and running under STX rules moved into the 6th place spot on the index.  While the morning results looked to be nothing to out of the ordinary, the afternoon would again mess with the standings.

Dan Ireland was pushing hard in his attempts to get his Corvette to catch Mark Andy.  On top of this Randy Pearson was closing in on the low 37’s and ended up with a 37.154 on his final run.  Dan pushed the vette to the breaking point with a 37.012 which was good enough to stay ahead of Randy and put Dan into 5th overall and Randy in 6th.  However, Sam Strano had other plans and pulled a 38.608 to put him in 4th overall just head of Dan in PAX.  Mark Andy had put down two 36.6’s in a row and became the first SS car to enter the 36 range.  This would have been good enough to lead PAX, if it wasn’t for the fact that Frank Gaus landed a early blow in the Evo with a 36.387 on his first run of the afternoon.  However, in the very end it would be a Hail Mary pass from Cory Robb that would win SS and top the PAX index with blazing 36.570 just clipping the Gaus Evo by two hundredths of a second.  This is the first time all year a single driver would win PAX more than once.  Though as the year carries on other drivers are sure to claim the top spot.

Elsewhere in the top 10 several of the regions top drivers crawled back and held their ground.  Trevor Hill’s R32 shook off some bad morning runs to pull in a 38.857 and fall into the 7th place spot.  Trevor was followed by Greg Maloy who CRX broke the 38 second barrier with a 38.913 on his last run of the day.  Tim Vincent would end up standing on his very impressive morning runs to grab 9th overall.  And Travis Hill would move in with Brian’s Z06 round out the top 10.

The STX class was a little large going into this event with six drivers vying for position.  While Strano ran away with the class win in his new FRS.  Matt Parson’s Mustang would split Sam and his co-driver Raymond Hall who took home 3rd in the Scion.  Up in STR, Brian Depietro was co-driving with Steve Vyn in his S2000.  Steve would keep his co-driver at bay with a 39.694 to Brian’s 39.735 in the shiny black roadster.  In STU Tim Ward would take the morning lead in his new Subaru STI.  But while Tim broke into the 39’s during his afternoon runs, Jonathan Sierra came after him with a final run of 39.547 vs Tim’s 39.634 to take home win in STU.

Other happenings around the paddock was Megan Biddle co-driving Jay Gyger’s Porsche GT3 with much delight.  Ricky Shank rolling out his project CRX for a quick shake down before the Duryea hillclimb.  And news that Pete Kowalik’s Pontiac Vibe was going to stick around in SMF a little longer.  This is the last Steel Cities autocross before many of our members leave for the Solo National Championships in Lincoln Nebraska.  To those going we wish a safe journey and fast times!  We will see everyone back at PIRC on September 16th.

A onboard view of Sam Strano running Mark Andy’s Corvette on a fun run.

Photos for the day by Chris Carlisle.

Solo event #5 – Just spinning in the rain

Yes, this is the only picture we got from this weekend thanks to photo bug Ethan Connor and his phone!

The most adverse weather that local autocrossers have had to deal with this year was a few scorching hot days at Pittsburgh International Raceway.  But on August 5th, the sky’s opened and at times dumped almost biblical rains on the VDA.  The unfortunate weather, combined with the Peru national tour which several SCR members were attending, would result in a low turnout for event #5 with a mere 33 entries.  However this in no way impacted what was a exciting multiple driver chase for FTD as the day progressed.

The course, designed by Frank Gaus, was fairly simple and open with the finish of the course being skewed more towards the center of the VDA than off to the side.  The fast & flowing design was nothing unusual and even offered a bit of openness to drivers wanting to drive different lines.  This was key since the first heat drivers dealt with bucket loads of standing water.  Tire index went out first in a feeble attempt to establish a driving line.  In true miata owner fashion, Bill Schaefer lowered his top before taking his first runs on the course.  However shortly after leaving the line, the little red Miata pitched sideward in the famous “sandbox” turn where much of the water had gathered to drain off the VDA.  Bill’s slide sent a plume of water several feet into the air, but thankfully avoided coming back down in his interior!  The sandbox was the bane of many drivers up until the end of the day.  However there was hope.  Tim Ward was fresh off the SCR autocross school and had traded his WRX up for a STI.  Tim’s new Subaru made short work of the course running several times down into the 42 second range.  Other drivers in front wheel drive platforms made good on their times as well.  Greg Maloy’s CRX with its light weight and Toyo tires pounded hard though the rain to reel in a 43.844 and put himself near the top of the PAX chart.  In SMF Pete Kowalik is possibly nearing the end of his run with his trusty Pontiac Vibe since he’s rumored to move over to a new Golf R.  While the world’s fastest Vibe will be missed, this didn’t stop Pete from bringing down a smoking 42.894 to also send him to the top of the morning standings.  At the end of the morning runs, the junior karts were sent out to complete their full set of runs.  You have to give it to the kids as their karts offer no protection from the elements.   It was quite a sight to see the tiny karts throwing off four rooster tails from the tires much like F1 cars in the rain.  One noteworthy sight was number 24 Garrett Hill who was managing to do complete 360’s on the course and continue as if nothing had happened.  It was about to get weirder.  A flash of lighting forced a event shut down as the karts finished their final runs.  A decision was made to start the lunch break while waiting out the storm

Following lunch some of the excess water had left the course, allowing for faster times than the morning heat.  Much of SCR’s bigger horsepower cars took to the course, often with comical results.  The SS class was reduced to nothing more than tip toeing around the course or spin off into the abyss.  One would think that Mark Andy’s choice of all season tires would have been a good one in such conditions.  But the overall speed of the vette was down compared to the other cars who stayed on race tires.  Randy Pearson managed a 41.711 in his big Z06.  Only bested in the morning by Chris Carlisle who luckily got a 41.598 out of the Jay Gyger GT3.  Ethan Connor managed to upstage the SS class in raw time with a 41.387 out of his D street prepared BMW.  Mike Ferchak took a stab at PAX with a 43.953 while drifting along in his 2.5 RS Subaru.  And the F125 kart of Greg & Tim Vincent made a splash (literally) with 36.277 from Greg and a 36.938 from Tim.  However the big news was the return of the rejuvenated Gaus Evo.  While still running a bit out of tune, the AWD monster stretched its legs in the rain and ran away to the top of the PAX index.  But the real story was the first driver to do it was not Frank with his 38.906, but rather Kristi who would walk away from the first heat with a 38.357 which was PAX lead.

With the early lunch break things rolled right back around to the first morning group taking shots at a now drying course.  The tire index class had a massive shaking up as drivers looked for emerging dry spots.  Usual tire index stalwart Alex Artayet was regulated back to 4th place in class with a series of cones on his last runs.  Taking advantage of the situation was newcomer Matthew Shuble in his bright green Porsche Cayman R into 3rd.  Another student of SCR’s first drivers school, John Fink put his skills to good use and brought his C6 Corvette up to take the 2nd place position.  However, it would be Bill Schaefer who would emerge victorious with his first overall win for 2012 in the index class.  Pete Kowalik would go ahead to take the win in SMF over Dennis Witt.  Will this be the last hurrah for the Vibe or will it appear once more at SCR #6?  Another very odd battle was brewing over in the XP class.  Trevor Hill found himself strapped into the V8 Spongebob Miata of all around good guy Don Fezekas.  Despite not being a good day to learn a short wheelbase, high horsepower V8 car.  Trevor took the fight to the Charnesky Z06 with a 37.286 to Chester Jr’s 37.718 thus letting Trevor take home the win.  Despite the last heat having the driest course, this wouldn’t stop Mike Ferchek from pushing his Subaru to a 5th place PAX finish with a 38.120 for the day.

The grand finale loomed as SS, ASP, and DSP all returned to do battle.  The course was mostly dry at this point, aside from spots were water had maybe dried and left a bit of excess dirt on the line.  Giving drivers something to think about as the grip varied along the course.  What happened next was a dizzying account of rapidly falling times.  The opening volley from many of the SS cars was met with spins and cones due to the unpredictable grip in spots.  Frank Gaus came out of the gate with a 36.881 and took the early lead.  What happened after that became a race down to the wire.  With the line clearing off Ethan Connor pushed his BMW down to a 36.596 much to the awe of a small gallery of spectators who had gathered to watch.  But the drops in time was far from over as the SS cars now gained their footing.  Randy Pearson’s 35.263 was followed by Mark Andy’s 35.531 as the Corvette’s were no longer traction hungry.  Kristi Gaus cracked off a 35.972 but just one cone tarnished the effort.  As the SS group prepared for their final runs, Randy pushed the corvette down to 35.236 which was a minimal improvement over his fastest run, but good enough for the win in SS.  Mark Andy coned early in his last run, but still had the time for 2nd in SS with a 35.531.  Followed by Jay Gyger bringing the Porsche GT3 in with a 36.757 to hold down 3rd in SS.  Ethan’s final run in the BMW would be no faster, but still good enough for a 5th place overall PAX finish.  Just ahead of Ethan would be Kristi with a 35.894 which placed her 4th in PAX.  Randy & Mark would round out the 2nd & 3rd place positions respectively.  So who won all this madness?  On his final run Frank Gaus pulled out 34.835 to take the PAX win for event #5.

When event 6 rolls around on August 12th and PIRC, many of the competitors will hit the required six events to trophy in a class.  But at this point in the year no single person has won PAX more than once.  Driver of the year is still anybody’s game.  Hopefully the weather is more kind out next event and we hope to see you out there!

SCR Solo would also like to acknowledge several SCR members who went to Peru this same weekend to represent the region.  Cory Robb, Brian Huber, Mike Figilolia, and Joe Montuoro.  And we would like to extend a big congratulations to Dan Ireland to getting his first trophy in his Grand Sport Corvette, nice work Dan!

The course from Randy Pearson’s Z06

And a bit of sliding fun from Mike Ferchek!

Solo event #3 & #4 write up – Running in the 90’s

The Steel Cities region has long been known for its intense competition.  But how would drivers stand against intense heat?  That was the case as the season started off its first double weekend marking events 3 & 4 at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex.  Temperatures soared into the 90’s both days as drivers fought to keep their heads in the game and their tire temps under control.  Several drivers who haven’t been seen around the paddock in a while also made appearances.  Even Karen Rafferty stopped by on her Harley Saturday just to say hello!  The course designs for both days were led by Chris Carlisle with support of Frank Gaus & Mark Andy.

-Saturday, Event #3-

One of the big stories from the weekend was former PA resident Darrin Disimo paying a visit to SCR driving Mike Ancas’s FSP Honda Civic.  Darrin immediately took the fight to the locals by putting himself in the top PAX position after the morning heats.  But as the case has been most of the year, the challenge to Darrin would come from the SS class.  During the humid afternoon session Cory would go on to take the 2nd place PAX position.  While Mark Andy would take home the overall win in his Corvette.  With Darrin now in 3rd place, 4th would go to another SS competitor Dan Ireland who had a strong weekend.  Trying to break SS’s strong hold on PAX in the 5th place position was Ethan Conner in his ever so quick BMW 328.  Randy Pearson would round out the 6th place PAX position and the last trophy spot in SS for the day.  Super Stock cars clouded the rest of the top ten PAX positions with the lone exception Greg Maloy in 9th who was pushing his red CRX to its limits.  And despite being out of his usual ride Frank Gaus still broke top 10 driving Randy Pearson’s Corvette.

Elsewhere another interesting battle was brewing in the tire index class as two long time veterans who have been off the pavement for a while met for the first time.  John Ryan in his BRZ squared off against Chris Kirkham in his Miata.  Both of these talents were running using a C-stock index in their respective cars.  The morning runs left Kirkham’s Miata a mere eight hundreds off the Ryan BRZ.  When it was all done in the afternoon, John’s BRZ would come out ahead by a just over three tenths to Chris.  However, the winner of the tire index for the day was none other than Alex Artayet.  Alex’s VW GTI has been relentless on the tire index this year.  Alex’s performance would be backed up by Nick Phillips who brought his SMF classed GTI home in the 4th place position.

Turnout for the day was affected by the heat with 54 drivers on record.  Aside from SS and tire index the only other classes to have at least 3 competing cars would be ESP and STU.  In ESP it was a hill climber battle again as Paul Lynd’s WRX brought home the win against the Chevy Camaro of Gibby Bozicevich & Kris Reid.  While in STU Jonathan Sierra would fight off several cones in his EVO to take the win over Tim Ward in his WRX.

Several co-drives were occurring Saturday.  None though were more interesting than Dennis Witt getting behind the wheel of Don Fazekas’s Sponge bob V8 miata.  Don was happy to hold down the fort in his own car by a mere two hundredths of a second over Dennis.  Frank Gaus took a test drive in Randy Pearson’s ZO6 which he reportedly liked very much.  While Kristi Gaus started off in Trevor Hill’s R32 before a mechanical problem forced her to finish the day in the Andy’s Z06.  It’s worth mentioning that SCR’s kart rental program paid off for 4 individuals who decided to try autocross for the first time.  Scott Connors, Iggie Padilla, Justin Burdick, and James Holden shared a pair of Pitt Race rental karts for the day.  It was a good way for people new to the sport to try autocross with minimal risk to their own cars to see if it’s for them.

The day ended with high humidity and a looming sun as fun runs carried on.  Thunder clouds rolled in the distance as things drew to a close.  After a small dinner the course was flipped around and modified for the following day.

-Sunday, Event #4-

The threat of rain was reported for later in the day.  But aside from a brief afternoon sprinkle, 64 drivers enjoyed much improved weather conditions as they took to a slightly more open & backwards version of Saturday’s course.

The SS class would once again prove competition improves the breed as the class stormed the top 10.  The morning runs would once again see Mark Andy taking the lead in his Z06.  But the surprise came from Dan Ireland in his Grand Sport Corvette.  An alignment adjustment on Dan’s Corvette gave it a new found sense of speed as it landed a time of 34.931, just nine hundredths off the Andy Corvette.  Thundering on into the afternoon, Dan continued the charge with an opening run of 34.384 to take over the lead in SS.  But on the 5th round of runs, Dan’s C6 would be bested by the fellow C6 Corvette of Randy Pearson with a 34.382!  Going into the final runs it became a dogfight between Ireland, Pearson, and Andy who had been steadily keeping pace just behind the two C6’s.  Dan’s final effort was marred by a cone hit so he would remain standing on his first afternoon run.  Randy however was far from done and delivered 34.290 placing him at the top of SS & PAX.  The only car left to take a shot at Randy was Mark’s Z06.  However on Mark’s last pass an early cone hit sealed the deal and Randy Pearson would pick up his first SS & PAX win of 2012.  There was one more surprise as Laura Andy jumped ahead of much of the SS class with a final run of 34.885 becoming one of only 4 drivers in the class to break the 34 second range on Sunday.

While SS once again tried to block off as many of the top 10 PAX positions as possible.  Long time autocrosser Trevor Hill made sure nobody forgot his R32.  While the blue VW was out early on Saturday.  It roared back on Sunday with a 3rd place overall PAX finish.  After some rear suspension tuning, Greg Maloy made huge gains in speed and landed himself a 6th place finishing spot.  Mike Ancas once showed what he can do when he is on real tires and landed a 9th place PAX finish.  And despite being dispossessed from her own car, Kristi Gaus would bring Trevor Hill’s R32 home in the 10th place spot.

A whooping 19 drivers showed up in Sunday’s tire index class.  While John Ryan & Chris Kirkham were noticeably absent, the VW pairing of Alex Artayet and Nick Phillips were still present and making headway.  However a 3rd VW came out to join the fray.  Alan Eisenreich showed up after a two year hiatus in his brand new Golf R to see how his new VW faired against the competition.  In the end it would be Alex’s GTI that would once again claim the top stop.  Fighting on stock all-season tires and an impeding traction control system Alan made an afternoon dash to put his new Golf into 2nd place just three tenths off Alex.  Nick Phillips would complete the VW show of strength with a 3rd place finish.  Long time competitor Ted Weidner pushed his E-stock Miata into the 4th place spot.  John Fink who is a relative newcomer to autocross put on an impressive drive and earned the 5th place trophy spot in tire index.  Followed by Brian Vondran taking 6th in his D-stock WRX.

One class that ballooned in size on Sunday was Street Mod front wheel drive.  It was four Honda Civics vs. the lone Pontiac Vibe of Pete Kowalik.  From almost the start of the day, Steve Mullet laid down times in his new civic hatch that would go unanswered. Mike Ancas described Steve’s civic as “Angry” and not nearly as easy to drive as his FSP Civic.  Steve’s final time of 36.1 was a full eight tenths ahead of the next closest civic of Steve Palmer.  Palmer was followed very closely by Dennis Witt who was one hundredths off 2nd place in his own hatchback.  Pete Kowalik’s Vibe and Jammie Anderson’s Civic coupe would round out the rest of the SMF standings.

Across the grid in another modified class.  We saw the supercharged Miata of Dan Ennis split the co-drivers of the Charnesky Corvette in Super Street Modified.  In good old Street Modified the Mustang of Robert Turberville would come back from a very close morning battle with Andrew Hankawitz’s EVO to take the win by a mere tenth. Paul Lynd had much less breathing room in ESP where Gibby Bozicevich would sneak within two tenths of Paul’s 36.495 on their second day of racing each other.  Speaking of WRX’s Tim Ward would move on to take the win in STU on Sunday, followed by the GTO of Brian Buchanan.

Our next event is August 5th at Pittsburgh International Raceway.  Pictures shown are from Saturday’s event courtesy of Chris Kirkham.

Sundays course from inside Randy Pearson’s Z06 Corvette. 

Double event this weekend!

Who’s ready for a full weekend of Solo?

This weekend at PittRace (7/7 & 7/8) is the first of two double weekends on the Solo schedule this year (the other is the Wounded Warrior Project benefit autox on 10/13-10/14 at Consol).  Each day is a regular event, so don’t worry if you can only make one of the days.

We’ll also have an informal & unofficial cookout Saturday evening after fun runs up by the Andy motorhome.  Everyone is invited to come hang out, just bring along something to throw on the grill.  Post up on  RacePA if you’re planning on coming!

Solo event #2 write up – Father’s day 2012


Steel Cities event #2 got underway on June 18th, Father’s day weekend.  The rain held off for what ended up being a beautiful day for 78 drivers to test themselves on the VDA at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex.  It’s worth mentioning that despite last minute changes with the entries for the day and a timer failure, things were kept on track to still allow 6 runs plus fun runs.  This was in part due to the efforts of Frank & Kristi Gaus, who later in the day had their hands full warding off the onslaught of Corvettes emanating from the Super Stock class.  It’s rare to see the white Evo swapping PAX positions so often over the course of the day.  The leader after the morning heat was Mark Andy with a 40.831 spearheading the SS class and taking the top PAX spot.  The SS battle picked up speed going into the afternoon with Randy Pearson dropping to a 40.753 and later a 40.680 on his final run.  However the real shocker of the day came from Cory Robb, who on his 5th run of the day slid the Andy Corvette across the finish with a blistering 40.406 grabbing both SS and PAX for the day.  Randy would hold onto 2nd in SS with Mark coming in 3rd.  A close battle between Dan Ireland and Travis Hill occurred for the 4th and 5th spots respectively with just 3 hundredths of a second separating the two.

Frank Gaus responded to SS trying to blockade the top 5 PAX spots by bringing his Evo into the second PAX position with a 40.321.  Likewise Kristi Gaus followed up with a late charging 40.779 that got her into the top 5 in PAX for the day.  One curious feature of the course was the large center pivot turn that ended up being a bane for some of the lower horsepower cars (not a single car in the top 9 PAX positions was under 400 horsepower).  However nobody told this to Ethan Conner or Mike Ancas.  Ethan was overheard saying “I think the car might have got up on two wheels that time” referring to the massive grip his BMW 328 was generating to grab the last spot in the top 10.  Meanwhile Mike Ancas somehow got hold of a decent set of A6 tires for his FSP Honda Civic.  Mike was going so fast he almost raw timed the SMF Honda Civic of Bill Staley, who ran a 43.090 to Mike’s 43.135.  Bill’s answer to Mike’s increased grip will more than likely be some “extra motivation“ he has sitting at home on a shelf for his car.  Bill did however take the SMF win, holding off Pete Kowalik who entered his Pontiac Vibe into SMF for the first time and finished just over a second behind Staley.  The ever entertaining Dennis Witt used Mike Ancas’s FSP civic to grab 3rd in SMF.

Steel Cities has long been home to fast women drivers.  National champions Karen Chabal, Susan Delzell, Karen Rafferty, and most recently Kristi Gaus all hailed from western Pennsylvania..  With any luck someday Megan Biddle might join those ranks.  Quietly on Sunday she worked her way past the other drivers in STX (including her significant other & car owner Brian Dipetro) to take the win with a mere 5 hundredths over her co-driver.  There were reports of gloating on the ride home.

Another interesting class battle occurred over in E Street Prepared, where long time ESP combatant Paul Lynd came in 2nd to Tom Buskey and his Chevy Camaro.  What’s more interesting is Gibby Bozicevich coming within two thousandths of Paul, covering the top three cars in ESP by less than two tenths!  The XP class grew by one car as Cory Black entered his highly modified V8 Corvair into the fray, challenging another V8 powered creation, the ‘Sponge Bob’ V8 Miata of Don Fazekas & Paul Dilts.  Paul would take this opening match between the two cars with a 41.947 to Cory’s 43.391.  It did look like Cory was sporting a new set of bigger rear wheels for this event.  I’m sure with a few more tweaks the Corvair will pick up the pace for future events.

The street tire index was in full effect with 18 drivers in various cars & classes trying to make their mark.  One new addition to the class was the return of John Ryan and his new Subaru BRZ.  John and his wife Vicki were regulars and well known for their speed a few years back running the family Neon.   Now the Neon is gone and they have been steadily entering their 2 week old BRZ in events across the area.  In its inaugural SCR outing John managed to take the BRZ into 2nd place in the tire index. However the lone GTI of Nick Phillips stood between the BRZ and the top spot by six thousands of a second.  Forrest Huebner followed up his event #1 performance with another strong finish in 3rd place.  Long time autocrosser Mark Sanner made his presence known by moving his S2000 up to 4th.  Thomas Hall’s Pontiac Solstice GXP and John Fink’s Chevrolet Corvette rounded out the 5th and 6th trophy spots.  Just outside the trophy positions was Vicki Ryan in the BRZ along with Steve Blough in his Miata looking to move up.  The tire index was missing two of its regular hotshoes, Zhao Lang and Alex Artayet.  It will be interesting to see what the finishing order looks like if the two of them make it out to the upcoming double header weekend at PittRace on July 7th & 8th.

Being father’s day, many fathers who attended brought their family into the action.  One who hasn’t been seen dodging cones for a long while was Ron Dodson.  Ron has spent the past few years road racing with NASA, and more recently picked up karts for the whole family.  This weekend saw both Ron and his daughter Summer running together.  And if Summer has any say this might not be the last time they autocross together either!  Travis Hill was also out running with his daughters Marissa & Hollie.  Yet another father daughter pairing was Rich & Tami Shank sharing the family Miata.  Of course there were several sons out with their Dad’s as well.  The Staley’s made their first appearance at SCR in a long while, along with the Charnesky’s in their big bad Corvette.

The next event will be a double header weekend at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex on July 7th & 8th.  Hope to see everyone there!

Thanks to Ethan Connor for providing the photos.  More can be found here!








Solo event #1 review!

Photo credit:  Martin Valent

May 13th marked the opening volley for the Steel Cities 2012 season. Despite being mother’s day, with a threat of rain, and being up against a North Hills event; it wasn’t enough to keep 63 drivers from taking to the tarmac at the newly rechristened Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex (formerly Beaverun) Vehicle Dynamics Area.

Big news of the day was Sam Strano making a guest appearance in the Gaus Mitsubishi Evo. This unholy union of car and driver yielded the top PAX time for the day and 3rd overall in raw time, behind the KM shifter kart shared by Greg and Tim Vincent. SCR’s 2011 driver of the year and car owner Frank Gaus was right with Sam with a faster raw time of 35.288, but the run was unfortunately marred by a cone. Despite Kristi Gaus running 3rd in ASP she was easily able to place a top 10 pax finish amongst the large pool of local & out of town talent.

Another non-local who graced SCR this past weekend was Dave Mongomery. In town for Mother’s day he decided to make his presence well known by taking his STS CRX to a 4th place PAX finish. Dave has trophied nationally so to people who knew him this was no surprise. In a good show of sportsmanship 2011 STS champion Greg Maloy was actually very happy about competing against Dave saying “I’d rather lose to a good competitor and learn from it than have no one to run against”.

One driver who is from outside the region, but shows up enough to be considered one of the locals, is Martin Valent. Thanks to an offer by Trevor Hill, Martin was able to compete using Trevor’s R32 in D Stock and ended up with a very respectable 7th place PAX finish despite not being in his own car. Not to be outdone Trevor placed all the way up to 3rd in the PAX standings. Obviously Trevor’s decision not to upgrade to a new Golf R paid off in this first event!

One of the hottest topics over the offseason was the explosive growth of the Super Stock class in the region. It went from barely a handful of cars a few years ago to the largest group of drivers behind the tire index class. Sunday saw 11 drivers running various years & models of Corvettes with the addition of one lone Porsche GT3. Drivers ranged from those with just a few years under their belts, to grizzled veterans, to fresh Evolution School students. For many of the drivers in this class there are no “throw away” events if they want to win. Positions changed constantly during the day as drivers fought for traction across the VDA. But there was one driver out of the gate who pulled times that would make a ASP Evo blush and that was Mark Andy. By Mark’s 3rd morning run he was the only SS car to even enter the 35 second range. The battle for 2nd place came down between two models of C6 corvette. Dan Ireland’s Grand Sport was able to eclipse Randy Pearson’s ZO6 just over 3 tenths. Showing the strength of Dan’s new Grand Sport, co-driver Joe Montoro was very happy to bring the big white vette into the last trophy position.

Every year the street tire index proves new combinations of cars and drivers that usually yield entertaining results. This year looks to be no different as we see last year’s champion Zhao Lang and his D-stock BMW go up against Alex Artayet who moved his GTI up to the SMF class. Alex led Zhao by little over one tenth coming out of the morning heat. Both drivers battled it out, chopping off time well into the afternoon heats. Alex just managed to hold off Zhao by 5 hundredths of a second. Forrest Huebner brought his M3 into 3rd place, followed by local Nick Phillips also wielding a GTI. And in his triumphant return to the steel cities region Nick Jackson parked his ZO6 into the 5th place trophy spot.

In other battles around the paddock. Greg Vincent & Tim Vincent are at it again for a second year in the family shifter kart. Greg would take the opening round beating out Tim by less than a tenth. But Tim showed plenty of speed last year so the action in Kart Modified is far from over. Due to his usual RX8 being temporarily out of service, Brian DePietro went against his religious beliefs and hopped in Steve Vyn’s Honda S2000 to take the win in STR by a scant 2 thousandths of a second over the car owner. In matchup of Japanese rally car vs. American pony car, Paul Lynd would take the win over Gibby Bozicevich in ESP. However will those results remain the same once the two begin hill climbing again later this year?

One nice thing about the Steel Cities Region is there are always drivers willing to give up a seat to help others compete. Megan Biddle was going to run in her Fiesta due to her regular ride in DePietro’s RX8 being unavailable.. This was until bodyman and all around good guy Don Fazekas tossed her the keys to the Spongebob V8 miata. Reportedly Megan was VERY happy with the decision to try out the Miata for the day. Another driver in need was Brant Gajda who is waiting for his Evo to return to action. Thanks to Mike Figliolia offering up his GTI Brant was able to come out and enjoy the day. Though Mike may have had some regrets since Brant went ahead and won STX over the car owner!

Several novices to autocross showed up in cars new to the paddock. One looker was the brand new white Hyundai Genesis coupe of Dustin McGrew. And a very pristine looking Camaro IROC-Z driven by Thomas Andrzejczak and Benjamin Gery. Two new drivers from last year, Chester Charnesky & Chester Charnesky Jr, got so hooked that they showed up this year in SSM with a C6 ZO6 shod with new hoosiers!

It’s not too late to jump in on the fun. Our next event will take place at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex on June 17th.

Thanks to Martin Valent for the great photos!