Event Report: SCCA Northeast National Tour

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Steguis brings us another remarkable motorsports video and writeup, this time of the Northeast Region National Tour. -SF

The S2000, with its racing-bred performance, has attracted many serious autocross competitors over the years. Most recently, the S2000 has been dominating two particular classes in SCCA Solo (autocross), B-Stock (BS) and Street Touring Roadster (STR). In BS, the car must remain mostly stock with only a few allowed changes, namely tires (wheels can be changed but must be the same size as stock), one sway bar (either front or rear), shocks (but not springs) and a cat-back exhaust. STR, on the other hand, allows pretty much any suspension change, wheels up to 9” wide, street tires (treadwear 140 or higher) no wider than 255mm, an intake, header, high flow cat, exhaust, differential, and racing seats and a re-tune with the OEM ECU. There are more subtleties to the rules but that’s the gist of it.

On June 16-17, 2012, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) held the Northeast National Tour at Fort Devens Airfield in Ayer, Massachusetts. Situated in an unused airstrip, it offered plenty of very flat, grippy surface for us to race on. There are a lot of very fast S2000 autocross drivers in the Northeast in well prepared cars so the battle was, as always, fierce. During a national tour you only get 3 runs to set a fast time each day for 2 days and your total time between your fastest runs on each day determines the winner. On day 1 the top contender in BS, Nick Barbato, piloting his black CR, struggled with car setup, resulting in a big spin on his first run and an off course on his second run before finally getting in a fast, clean third run, still 0.068 seconds off his co-driver Justin Lau’s fast time. Jeremy Prati and Tim Kong, piloting their own CRs, followed them. A Porsche Boxster driver splits up the S2000 trend before we get to the first non-CR driver, Chris Travis. The dominance of the CR here isn’t by coincidence. The CR is the only S2000 in B-stock trim that can squeeze 275mm, super sticky Hoosier A6 tires all around without ripping out the fenders. This is a big advantage, as demonstrated by the results. On day 2, Nick Barbato pulled ahead to win the class by a crushing 1 second margin over Justin, who took 2nd. The Boxster leaped ahead into 3rd, pushing Jeremy Prati out of the podium and last trophy spot.

In STR, there were 12 drivers duking it out, myself included (co-driving Rad Tatis’ NFR AP2). STR is now one the most popular classes in the SCCA, partly because the cars in it are so much fun and now relatively affordable, but more importantly because of the great camaraderie among the competitors and the closeness of the competition. We do take competition seriously but outside of the race, we maintain good friendships and help each other improve. The sound limit at Devens of 90dB at 75 feet is lower than the SCCA national limit and was a cause for concern among us, as we knew we might be getting close to that limit with our loud exhausts and the screamer F-series engines. That turned out to be the case for DC Prosolo winner Jon Caserta in his blue 06 AP2. After first runs, the sound meter operator warned him for exceeding the sound limit, and if it wasn’t addressed, he would be disqualified. After nearly 15 minutes (he was given a 10 minute “mechanical” to fix the issue) and some stubborn bolts and slightly roasted hands, he finally got his silencer in and went out for a run. Perhaps it was the heat of the moment, anger about the situation or pure awesomeness, but he laid down a blazing fast time, leading the pack by a full second over second place Austin Golankiewicz in his 2000 AP1. An NC Miata split us up, followed by Noel Leslie in his CR, another NC Miata, and myself in Rad’s AP2. An NA Miata got in the mix there, followed by Tony Economou, Rad Tatis, Imran Dandia (Austin’s codriver) and Tory Benya (Jon’s codriver). Day 2 proved to be a faster course, and many drivers made some car changes overnight. After all was said and done, Jon pulled out yet another flyer on day 2, sealing his victory, with Austin tumbling one spot to 3rd due to some funky car behavior (which turned out to be an issue with his front sway bar endlink being connected to the wrong hole). Noel moved up a spot to take 4th place and last trophy position and although I improved significantly day 2 and ran a faster time than Austin, I couldn’t overcome the deficit from day 1 and ended up in 5th, pushing the Miata driver down a spot. Tony was next, followed by another Miata. Rad improved dramatically on day 2 to maintain his position, followed by Imran and Tory.

All in all I think we all had a great time with lots of fun, memorable moments, like the late night, hotel parking lot modding by Austin and Imran ,and the heckling they got from Rad and I through our hotel room window. When I wasn’t racing or working the course, I shot some video footage and put together this music video. Enjoy! If you like what you see and have never tried to autocross before, I highly encourage you to go out and give it a try.

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