Leon Drake won Modified – Front Wheel Drive and the inaugural True Grit Award.
(Rupert Berrington photo)
The Sports Car Club of America's National Championship season came to a close on Sunday with the crowning of nine National Champions and the conclusion of the RallyCross National Championship event at Tulsa Raceway Park.
At the RallyCross National Championship event, each of the 103 participants used the aggregate time of 10 weekend runs to determine their time for the weekend, with each cone hit worth a two second penalty. This is in contrast to a Tire Rack SCCA Solo event, where only the best runs on each day count toward the final time.
The pre-event buzz at Friday night's class inspection was only tempered slightly by the overnight storms that dumped nearly an inch of rain on the area. The precipitation delayed the opening runs by an hour on Saturday morning, and sent the Stock Category machines out on a muddy and slippery track that separated the drivers at the top of their games on the first of three different courses.
By the conclusion of Saturday afternoon's runs, sunglasses were on and the jackets had come off for all involved. Though cool on Sunday, sunshine filled the sky for a picture-perfect day.
Even after aggregating all 10 runs, two classes over the weekend were settled by less than a second. Ron Foley, of Birmingham, Ala., took the lead on the opening run of the Stock – Front Wheel Drive class in his RCG Inc Consulting and Planning Honda Civic. Tim Hardy, of Colorado Springs, Colo., took the lead back in the second run, then kept his Ford Escort GT in front through Saturday afternoon.
Foley came flying back on Sunday, consistently running times quicker than Hardy through the day. It wasn't enough, however, and Hardy earned the National Championship by 0.964-second. Michah Nickelson and Jacob Perkins also earned trophies in the class.
Warren Elliott, of East Haddam, Conn., and Brian Ballinger, of Fort Wayne, Ind., swapped the Modified – All Wheel Drive class lead multiple times on Sunday, and entered the final runs with Elliott's Hale Motorsports Mitsubishi Evo in front by 0.228-second. Ballinger's Fat Kitty Tuning/Ft. Wayne Subaru Subaru Impreza WRX couldn't close the gap in the final run, falling 0.833-second short of Elliott's National Championship. Orion Fairman, Kubo Kordisch, Peter Zlamany, and Kevin Corn made up the class trophy runs.
Charles Wright, of Decatur, Ala., laid down some times on Sunday that were absolutely flying to come from behind for a Stock – All Wheel Drive National Championship. Wright's teamTAC.org Mitsubishi Evolution grabbed the lead from overnight leader Ed Turdeau's Subaru Impreza, then laid down the fastest time in the class on his final run to walk away from the field by 4.546 seconds. Gonzalo San Miguel, Jon Trudeau, Jan Gerber and Karl Sealander earned trophies for their efforts.
Like the Stock – All class, the Modified – Rear Wheel Drive featured a change in the overnight lead. Michael Cadwell, of Lafayette, Calif., steadily chipped away at Columbus, Ohio's Evan Arthur throughout Sunday's runs, going just quicker through each of the rounds. When the times were tallied, Cadwell's BMW 325i sat 1.896-second ahead of Arthur's MAZDASPEED/ORI Mazda Miata for the National Championship. Chris Hastings joined the two front runners in a trophy position.
Jayson Woodruff of Huntington Beach, Calif., punched out to an early lead on Saturday and never looked back to claim the Stock – Rear Wheel Drive class title. Woodruff's JayCom Services Mazda Miata topped Patrick Matecki, of Colorado Springs, Colo., and his Bristol Brewing/AMR Engineering Mazda Miata. Brianne Corn earned a trophy in the class as well.
Chang Ho Kim, of Maynard, Mass., took the Prepared – Front Wheel Drive class lead by 2.3 seconds on Saturday's opening runs, and then hung on in a near even duel with Jim Rowland, of Rogers, Ark., for a 2.585-second win. Kim's FunHondas Honda Civic Si and Rowland's Miss You Ann Vogel! Nissan Sentra SE-R ran nearly identical times for the rest of the weekend, with Kim remaining just in front. Don Hardy and Robert Seelig also finished in trophy positions.
Sam Henry, of Republic, Mo., outdrove his co-driver and brother, Martin Henry, of Claremore, Okla., for a 10.488 second National Championship in the Springfield Dyno/SafeRacer Mazda Miata in the Prepared – Rear Wheel Drive class.
Prepared – All Wheel Drive went to Edwin Cunill, of Birmingham, Ala., in the Element Garage Mitsubishi Evo by 7.681 seconds. Cunill's Element Garage Mitsubishi Evolution fell behind Cody Hatfield, of Thornton, Colo., during Saturday's early runs, but Cunill stormed back to pass the www.circuitmotorsports.net Subaru 2.5i and stretch his advantage despite three cone penalties. Dan Quiet and Keith Lightfoot earned trophies in the class, as well.
Leon Drake, of Gurley, Ala., used the strength of one Saturday afternoon run to catapult to a 8.268-second National Championship in the Modified – Front Wheel Drive Class. Drake's Dynatorch Volkswagen Golf's fifth run of the weekend was 8.7 seconds faster than Aaron Miller, of Elizabeth, Colo., and relegated Miller's Honda Civic to runner-up. Jon Olschewski, Colin Ravenscroft, and Ian Hunter garnered trophies in the class.
The Sunday night awards banquet featured the presentation of the True Grit Award for the first time. Presented and selected by the RallyCross Board, and eventually to be selected by the previous three winners, goes to the driver who had an unusual effort or experience for the event. The board selected the Modified – Front Wheel Drive champion Drake, who put a car together in the month preceding the event just to participate and wound up taking home the big trophy.
It was announced at the conclusion of the event that the 2014 RallyCross National Championship will take place at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., Oct. 4-5.