Mazda drivers overcome torrential weather for success, sweeping C Street and BSP at the SCCA Solo National Championships
What was the biggest challenge competitors faced during the first half of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships? Without a doubt, the weather. It was anything but roadster weather, as torrential downpours on Tuesday left portions of the course flooded and drivers knocking down cones with their wake. On Wednesday, the second day of competition, things started out wet but largely dried to a more manageable level. But these tricky conditions didn’t stop several Mazda drivers from claiming national autocross championships, including both Open and Ladies classes in C Street and B Street Prepared.
In the 52-car C Street field, all but eight of the cars in the class were fourth-generation Miatas (and a couple of those remaining eight were RX-8s) – and the talent level was deep. Andrew Pallota didn’t have the fast time either day, but his consistency over the two days gave him the win over Darren Seltzer by 0.752sec. Seltzer posted the fast time on the East course on Wednesday, and Brian Coulson posted the fast time on the West course. But Pallota was within 0.2sec of both drivers’ best times and claimed the win. Tom Reynolds finished third. Incidentally, the top 13 of 14 trophy winners were Mazda drivers.
Tara Johns won C Street Ladies despite struggling with Tuesday’s weather; she entered day two’s competition on the East course fourth overall, a couple of seconds behind Shari McCoy. Johns set time well below McCoy’s best on the East course, with only Linda Duncan close to Johns’ quick time on the second day. McCoy ended up second and Duncan third.
Ron Bauer has been steadily developing his fourth-generation (ND) Miata, and it paid off with his first B Street Prepared national championship, his third championship overall. The Mazda standout in this class had been the 2004-’05 Mazdaspeed Miata, and Chris Edens was driving one to pressure Bauer, taking the second-fast time on the East course on Tuesday behind the eventual fourth-place finisher. But Bauer turned in a blistering time a second-and-a-half clear of everyone else on the West course to claim the victory by 0.8sec. Joe Goeke was third in an ND, another quarter second behind Edens.
B Street Prepared Ladies was all Mazdaspeed Miatas, and Molly Thore claimed her first national championship with the help of a significant lead going into the second day on the West course. Lacie Edens set the fast time on Wednesday by about 0.2sec, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Thore’s lead, and Thore took the win by 0.742sec.
Andy McKee’s astounding RX-7 has long been a factor in X Prepared, and the driver with nine national championships knows how to get it done. McKee carried the lead into the second day, but Zachary Sober set the fast time on the West course in his RX-7, more than a second-and-a-half clear of McKee. But Sober’s struggles on the East course left him with too much of a gap to overcome and he finished fifth, the last trophy position in the 17-driver class. Michael Moran (Miata), Eric Anderson (Miata) and Mark Mauro Jr. (RX-7) filled the positions in between.
The next competitors are now trying to set fast times on the courses as the second half of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships is underway in Lincoln. Look for a report here on MazdaMotorsports.com when results are available.
SCCA Tire Rack Solo National Championships
Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 5-8, 2018
Tuesday-Wednesday Mazda Winners
C Street: Andrew Pallotta; Holly Springs, NC; Mazda MX-5; 0.752 (fifth national championship, first in class)
C Street Ladies: Tara Johns; Milton, TN; Mazda MX-5; 0.326 (sixth national championship, first in class)
B Street Prepared: Ron Bauer; Seatac, WA; Mazda Miata; 0.800 (third national championship, first in class)
B Street Prepared Ladies: Molly Thore; Greensboro, NC; Mazdaspeed Miata; 0.742 (first national championship)
X Prepared: Andy McKee; Livermore, CA; Mazda RX-7; 0.565 (ninth national championship, third in class)