All for One and One for All -- Newcomers to autocross often comment on the comradery in the sport. Yesterday saw Ron Ver Muln win E Modified at the Tire Rack Solo® Nationals in the borrowed car of Jeff Kiesel. Today, F Modified (FM) got off to a rocky start for Jeff Blumenthal and Michelle Quinn as the front drive sprocket sheared on Jeff’s first run. The comradery in FM is especially strong though, as competitors jumped into action to help Jeff replace the sprocket, which required partially removing the jack shaft and secondary clutch. By the time the 10-minute mechanical delay time had run out, Michelle was heading to course to take her first run. Had other competitors not jumped in to lend tools, parts and a hand, Michelle would have missed her first run. On the strength of her second run, Michelle is sitting in the seventh trophy position.
Be sure to follow all the Solo Nats action online with live timing and audio at http://sololive.scca.com/. And check for frequent updates at https://www.facebook.com/sccaofficial/ and https://www.facebook.com/solomatters/.
A Sport for Young and Older -- While much attention is focused on Solo Spec Coupe this year – the first National “Spec” class – the C Modified (CM) entrants are busy proving the 50-year-old Formula F specifications continue to produce some of the closest battles in motorsports. Despite a 37-year age spread in chassis, two engines, suspension designs ranging A-arms, rocker arms and pushrods; the gap going into Friday and covering the nine trophy spots in CM is less than the gap covering the top two in Solo Spec Coupe.
“0.88 seconds off the lead, that’s great,” said 1982 C Modified Reynard driver Andrew Howe, “but fourteenth place, wow this is a tough crowd.”
There are other cars on the grid, including two solo Vee entries, but it is the Formula Fs showing the way, mirroring the competitive landscape the class has shown worldwide since 1969.
Sticky Notes -- Tires can sometimes be the difference between walking away from Solo Nationals with a championship or just fond memories. That’s why several tire manufacturers are on sight at Lincoln AirPark each year to support drivers running on their brands.
Falken Tires is making its first appearance at Solo Nationals to support the Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) class cars, which are all required to run on Falken Azenis RT615K+ tires. Jonathon Bradford, an autocrosser who is also Falken’s Manager of Motorsports & Events, said this first trip to Solo Nationals was enlightening. From the impressive number of SSC cars on the grid to all the different types of competition cars, there’s something for everyone.
“It’s also interesting to see the complete change in the weather from the beginning of the week to today,” Bradford said. “It certainly keeps drivers on their toes.”
While Falken is new to the scene, BFGoodrich Motorsports Marketing Manager Peter Calhoun said his company has been making the pilgrimage to Solo Nats for five years. Along with tires, BFGoodrich comes equipped with technical and engineering advice and assistance, which they shared freely earlier in the week during an open forum in the Big Fun Tent.
“Throughout the course of the SCCA National Solo season, BFGoodrich’s market share of the 200 treadwear classes is in the high 40 percent range,” Calhoun said. “Because of that, we come out to Solo Nationals to show support for the Solo community.”
Hoosier Racing Tire has been servicing Solo Nats competitors for several decades, and this year was no different. Jeff Speer, Hoosier’s Project Manager for Road Racing & Autocross Product Lines, said the tire company has had a pretty solid 2018 performance at Lincoln AirPark.
“Over the ProSolo Finale weekend, Hoosier captured wins in five of the seven race tire classes,” Speer noted. “And in Solo Nationals, out of the 23 race tire classes competing Tuesday and Wednesday, Hoosier claimed 18 class Solo championships.”
Bridgestone was on site, too, with the goal of helping autocrossers today and into the future. Troy Fakes, Bridgestone’s Project Manager, said his company was at Solo Nats to talk with competitors, understand why they were using Bridgestone rubber, and learn how the company could provide even better service.
“We use Solo Nationals to gather intel on what our drivers are doing and what are the tire sizes people want,” Fakes said. “Then as we create the next generation of Potenza RE71R, we’ll have the sizes that everybody wants.”
“We appreciate the SCCA partnership,” Fakes continued. “Bridgestone knows that being able to show our tire performs at Solo Nationals helps us understand how it will perform on the street, and we like having that tie.”
Photo: Tire Rack Solo Nationals competitor Jesse Prather loads up on rubbers.