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!http://www.autoxphotos.com/Gallery/Category/516