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