Lincoln, Nebraska. A city of approximately 270,000 people in the middle of the country. Some know the area for the open fields; some know it for the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ football team; for autocrossers, we know it as the location of the SCCA Solo National Championships every September.
A few years ago, the local Region started doing an early season set of events known as Spring Nationals. This combination of a ProSolo and Championship Tour over Memorial Day weekend has become not only a points gathering weekend for the ProSolo series, but an opportunity for people across the country to come and get some early season testing in on the surface that they’ll be competing on later in the year.
Ron Bauer brought his 2016 MX-5 Miata to Spring Nationals to do just this. So far, the season has been progressing nicely for Bauer as he helps Mazda Motorsports develop this new platform for Solo competition. After winning the first two events of the season in CS trim, Bauer has been continuing to work on the car and its setup for STR.
After arriving in town on Thursday to beautiful sunny weather and low 80s temperatures, the weather quickly changed as a massive storm came through and drenched the site. As is typically the case, there was a practice course set up. Bauer originally had planned to take a few runs on the course to scrub in his new BFG tires in the dry, but this wasn’t to happen. Instead, he took a few runs on the soggy course to determine settings for the continued possibility of rain for the weekend, which also got them scrubbed in.
On Friday morning, the weather was definitely anyone’s guess. As first drivers pulled up to the line, it looked as though the second drivers were going to bear the brunt of the impending rain; however, just after a few drivers made it through, the rain started coming down. While it didn’t last long, it did wet the entire course, leaving those that took advantage of the dry in the top spots. As the STR grid had been split, the first drivers in the second half really took the brunt of the weather. By the time Bauer pulled up to the line as a second driver in the second half, the rain had stopped, and the course was starting to dry. Bauer’s first run was a bit off the pace as he was on the wetter left side, but with each run, the courses got drier and Bauer ultimately was able to have the fast right side time to finish in second for the morning.
Friday afternoon showed improvements for most drivers with the courses being completely dry. Bauer improved on the left, but fell a position to 3rd, just 0.020 out of 2nd and 0.120 out of first behind the S2000s of James Yom and Jed Peterson.
Saturday morning had moisture issues, as well, as the rains came through overnight. By the time STR ran, people were again improving, but a stream through the middle of the Mike Brausen’s designed left course made it challenging to improve on that side. While a number of people did improve, Bauer was unable. Ultimately, the standings remained the same as Friday, with Yom and Peterson in the top two spots; Bauer 3rd; and the remaining trophies held by Mike Yanase and Landon Thompson in (S2000s) and Lance Keeley (2016 MX-5 Miata).
Fast forward to the Championship Tour. John Hunter, a CSP Miata normal, designed a challenging course with some big acceleration areas combined with some open slaloms and fun sweepers. STR had 27 competitors signed up for the Tour, so eight trophies were on the line.
Bauer’s first run was a 56.2, but after an early shift to 3rd gear, he hit a cone. The raw time was fastest in class by nearly half a second. After looking at the data, and with input from co-driver Charly Spyksma, Bauer determined that the shift to 3rd was not necessary. He matched the time on his second run, but did it clean this time. Meanwhile Mike Yanase in his S2000 put down a 55.9 to take the lead after second runs. 3rd runs saw no improvement for Yanase and a very small improvement for Bauer, but James Yom in Kevin Shultz’ S2000 was able to come within 0.002 of Yanase to move between he and Bauer.
Monday brought beautiful weather again. The course would be Hunter’s Sunday course backwards with a few small changes. Bauer went for it on his first run and put down a time of 54.7, which would ultimately be the fast time in class for the day. It pulled him up into the lead; however, Yom was able to put down a 54.8 on his 2nd run to take the lead and ultimately the win over Bauer as Yanase fell to 3rd. The remaining trophy spots were held by S2000s with the exception of Keeley who finished 7th.
“I made a couple of small adjustments to the car over the weekend to make it work better on the Lincoln concrete, and I was very pleased with how the car did. I have a few more things to do to the car to shed some weight including lighter seats. I’ll also be getting the car re-tuned to take advantage of a new exhaust system on the car. I’m confident that when the National Championships roll around, the car and myself will be in a position to take the win in our first year in this fantastic new car,” says Bauer.