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 SCRsolo.com to sign up and come out to support a good cause!
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