The 2017 Tire Rack SCCA National Solo Series kick off is just around the corner
One hundred and fifty competitors are set to descend on Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on March 3, 2017, for the Tire Rack SCCA Match Tour – the event that kicks the 2017 Tire Rack SCCA National Solo Series into action.
Match Tours are still the newcomer on the block when it comes to SCCA’s National Solo program, and have undergone a number of tweaks over the years to better refine the product. Match Tour events are three events in one package, with the event broken into four sessions. Session 1 and 2 are on Saturday, each consisting of a traditional three-run autocross, with the best run from each session added to the other to determine class rankings. Session 3 is another three runs to determine the qualifiers for the Top Dog and Under Dog challenges. The top eight on index per heat qualify for the Top Dog Challenge and nine to 16 on index per heat qualifies for the Under Dog Challenge. Everyone else is eligible for the drawing to be in the Lucky Dog Challenge. Session 4 consists of the challenges.
Match Tours are designed to offer a great value of seat time, and be run as a low-pressure alternative to traditional SCCA Championship Tours, making them great for newcomers to SCCA’s National Solo scene. “A Championship Tour is, by design, a reflection of the Solo National [Championships], including two days with two courses,” says Howard Duncan, Senior Director Rally/Solo at SCCA. “A Match Tour is one course used all weekend, and we try to include a bit more of the host region’s personality in the event, meaning that the goal is operational excellence, but without getting too serious.”
With an emphasis on fun, and drawing new drivers to National Solo events, Match Tours see competitors from all walks of life. At the 2016 San Diego Match Tour, we saw a rather unconventional debut as Rolex 24 winner and former Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Kenton Koch participated in his first National Solo event. Koch drove his Justice Brothers/Mazda Motorsports Mazda RX-8 to a runner-up finish in C Street behind multi-time Solo national champion Ron Bauer in his Mazda Motorsports/Bauerspeed Racing Mazda MX-5.
The 2017 Match Tour season opener looks to have great competition once again, albeit with a few less professional racing ringers in the mix, with Mazda drivers making up a massive part of the entry list. Two of the larger classes, E Street and C Street, are almost exclusively Mazda powered, featuring both veterans and less experienced drivers. “I look at them as a fun way to pass the weekend,” says former Solo national champion and C Street competitor Richard Hayter, who will be driving his R Compound USA/Vintage Charm Mazda MX-5. “I’m doing it to have fun and win some cash to pay for the tires I just bought.”
Street Touring Xtreme is the largest of the Street Touring classes with 12 entries, and this class will see the lone Mazda entrant of Steve O’Blenes try and pilot his FRSport/Damperworks/Miataroadster.com/OS Giken Mazda RX-8 to the win.
Following the season opener in San Diego, SCCA’s Match Tour moves on to the Pittsburg International Race Complex, in Wampum, Pa., on April 28-30. As summer begins, the Match Tour will pay a visit to Grissom Aeroplex in Bunker Hill, Ind., on June 2-4. The final stop takes advantage of the Independence Day weekend, with the legendary Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, Tenn., as the backdrop, from July 2-4.
For more information about any of the Match Tour events, including results, visit www.scca.com.