IRVINE, Calif. - One of the best Tire Rack ProSolo National Series events ever was even better for Katie Elder and Erik Strelnieks. Strelnieks seemed to be on a mission for most of the weekend, taking the lead in Super Stock Saturday afternoon and never looking back. For Elder, a third place Ladies 1 finish put her in the Ladies challenge. From there Elder relied on her own consistent driving until the final round where Beth McClure gave Elder the win with a red-light just 7 thousands under the limit.
For the first time this season weather was not a factor in one of the Tire Rack National Series events. The course was damp on Saturday morning. As a result, any painted lines proved to have no grip compared to the concrete surface. Once the surface dried cone counts and DNFs were greatly reduced. The courses designed by Tom Berry provided ample challenge particularly on the return trips from the traditional ProSolo turn around. After two "Berry gates," each a two cone slalom of sorts, drivers were set up on the wrong side of a 4 cone offset slalom. Those exiting the Berry gates with too much speed would find themselves in the final slalom using steering inputs generally reserved for school bus drivers. The few who managed to get the gates right were treated to autocross euphoria in the ultra fast slalom and, more times than not, class wins. All totaled, 165 drivers tried their hand at the 30 second courses with minimal reruns attributed to timing errors.
Class competition featured the first stand alone class for Street Touring X. Though the class is new, the names at the top were not. Dave Palmquist took the class win in an '88 BMW M3 with Chris Grivas in second in a '98 Honda Prelude. Street Touring S saw Billy Brooks in his Impreza RS leading by over a second on Saturday, only to have Will Kalman take the win by 2 tenths on Sunday. Kalman was able to clean up his dirty Saturday runs to win the class in his Escort GT.
Getting off the line better than the rest of the class seemed to prove to be the difference in C and G-Stock. In C-Stock, Randy Chase enjoyed the mid-engine traction of his MR2 Spyder to take the class win over the Miata of Ken Motonishi. In G-stock the all wheel drive Impreza of Chris Hartman out classed the otherwise front wheel drive field. Hartman enjoyed the biggest winning margin of the weekend and thus earn the top qualifier spot for the Peavey Super Challenge.
A-Street Prepared boasted 12 drivers, only topped by Super Stock with 19 and C-Stock with 13. Doug Hebenthal took the class win in his Porsche RS America over Mark Huffman in the familiar Lotus Elan. Scotty White in a Corvette and Curt Ormiston in a Porsche 993 rounded out the trophy spots to put four different types of cars in the top four spots. B-Street Prepared was one of the most entertaining classes of the weekend to watch. The leaders of the class put on a driving clinic for anyone who would watch. In the end Bill Buetow came out on top with times that bested the entire A-Street Prepared field.
The Ladies Challenge took 5 drivers from Ladies 2 and 3 drivers from Ladies 1. The challenge went without a red light until the final two rounds. In the top eliminator round, Katie Elder and Beth McClure, both third place finishers in class competition, faced each other. After McClure's red light, Elder took the win. The third spot went to Jodi Fordahl, the Ladies 2 winner, after the winner of Ladies 1, Lori Robertson red-lighted. It took a couple of readings of the rules to determine the final four in the Peavey Super Challenge. Dave Palmquist defeated Dave Schotz, the winner of F-Stock, in the round of 8. However Palmquist used his third and final breakout to beat Schotz and thus was disqualified. By virtue of Palmquist disqualification, Schotz moved into the final four to join Erik Strelnieks, John Ames and Paul Brown. Strelnieks and Ames moved on to the top eliminator but Ames broke out in the process. It was Ames's first break out so it did not effect his eligibility for the finals. It did give Strelnieks an undetectable .05 advantage at the start lights. In the end, an uncharacteristic red light from Ames gave Strelnieks the win. In the runoff round Brown defeat Schotz to take the third spot.
Kevin Youngers had the kind of luck in the bonus challenge that most only dream of. Youngers won without having to run both sides of any round due to the red-light starts of his competitors. Joining Youngers on the list of special award winners was Metro Solis and Ralph Elder. Solis won the Rookie of the Event award by taking the top spot in A-Modified in his bumped D-Modified Toyota Starlet. Solis showed some of the quickest 60-foot times on his way to the win. Ralph Elder won $100 from Race America for the first perfect reaction time of the weekend.
On Saturday SCCA President and CEO Steve Johnson was on hand to showcase ProSolo and the SCCA to a group from Jaguar. While it remains to be seen what will come from this, there is interest on both sides to get Jaguar involved with SCCA. A special thanks goes to Tom Berry and Cal Club for all the work in making this a truly wonderful event. Cal Club sponsored a welcome party on Friday night as well as provided reasonably priced event t-shirts. Next stop for the Tire Rack ProSolo National Series is a return to Forbes Field, the home of the Solo 2 National Championship in Topeka, Kansas.
For More Information Contact:
Heyward K. Wagner, SCCA National Solo Communications Director
For additional information about SCCA Solo competition: