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|Fantastic affair! Look for my
article about the SCNAX Cup to appear in North American Pylon! You can
pick up the North American Pylon at Auto Books, in Burbank, or get
subscription info online at http:/www.napylon.com/about.htm. It will be
posted here sometime after publication.
-- Elizabeth Bacon
|Team Attacks! 3rd Annual SCNAX Cup
by Elizabeth Bacon
Solo2 autocross competition is a highly individual sport, but the Cal
Club region's SCNAX Cup is a novel event featuring teams of four drivers
who take turns driving each other's cars. Eight teams entered the 3rd
Annual SCNAX Cup, held October 9-10, 2004 at California Speedway in
Fontana, each team representing a mix of car types, with none allowed to
be entirely RWD, AWD, or FWD.
Hosted by Los Angeles' own SCNAX
(Sport Compact National Autocross) Club, the Cup was eagerly anticipated
by previous participants and those relatively new to the sport alike.
Each driver was given six runs per car to prove their mettle. The tricky
scoring system established drivers' indexes according to their results
from the previous two competitions, and cars' indexes according to
standard class formulae. Trophies were offered for the top three teams
overall, plus Fastest Driver (measured in raw time with only the car's
index applied), Most Valuable Car (contributing the most to its team
versus its index), and Most Valuable Driver (contributing the most to
their team versus their index). A well-designed spreadsheet let current
standings be announced after each run group, for maximum competitive
Few team strategies - other than picking amusing names
like The Conin' Barbarians and Team Half Fast - were worked out in
advance, as demonstrating your seat-of-the-pants racing skill is a
hallmark of the SCNAX Cup. Excitement grew as people walked the
well-balanced course designed by hard-working event chair Art Rinner.
Noteworthy challenges of the 70-second course included the "Kalman" (a
tricky faux-slalom setup that threw numerous competitors for a DNF loop)
before a long right-hand sweeper, followed shortly by the ever-popular
With the general lack of advance team preparation,
the SCNAX Cup was a great example of the trust that autocross
competitors have in each other, and their ability to work together under
pressure. Technical difficulties forced one team to withdraw Saturday
afternoon, but team member Bill Hogan reported: "My standout SCNAX Cup
memory was racing to Home Depot trying to fix Tom's NSX cooling system
with PVC Glue and duct tape. I felt like a real pit mechanic at an
enduro - anything to keep the car going!"
For many people unused
to co-driving, having pre-grid turn into Pit Row was a thrilling
experience. As drivers came in from their runs, team members swarmed the
car with water sprayers and pressure checks for often overheated tires,
and helpful words for occasionally perplexed drivers. Learning the
subtle (and not-so-subtle) ins and outs of how to handle a slalom in a
well-set-up MR2 versus a stock S2000 between a morning run and an
afternoon run was an intellectual and physical challenge. Six runs was
just enough time to get almost comfortable in a particular car before
having to switch gears - yes, literally - in the next.
Cup tested competitors' mental and emotional stamina, as well. Jayson
Woodruff, driver of an orange Dakota Sport Truck, said his greatest
dread was finishing up in a teammate's car and having to ask, "Is that
cone mark new?" Meanwhile, his fellow Team Reckless member Bob
Beamesderfer, long-time CSP Miata driver, expressed his greatest fear
as: "Spinning the Dakota!" Fellow competitors waited in vain for the
Dakota to be spun, though, as Team Reckless ended up dominating the
event by Saturday afternoon, eventually taking the first place SCNAX Cup
team trophy by an impressive 14.7sec margin.
Barbarians started out as the top-ranked team based on their drivers'
indexes, but they were galled to find themselves living up to their name
with too many dirty runs. As team member Will Kalman said: "Fast or
clean, pick one!" The Conin' Barbarians eventually finished in seventh
place. Nevertheless, Will won himself the coveted Fastest Driver trophy
with an insanely fast - and clean - time in an STX Evo VII.
people felt that the Most Valuable Car trophy should be awarded
hands-down to Art Rinner's STS Nissan SE-R. Driven by his Team Spin as
well as the all-women Vixen Racing team, it racked up 48 runs over the
event. Two Vixen Racing team members found themselves too short to reach
its pedals, but clever manipulation of padded racing seat parts did the
trick. One of those Vixens, Samira Mahjoub, ended up winning Most
Valuable Driver, in part thanks to her smoking time in the SE-R.
Ultimately, it was Eric Clements' STX BMW 325 that won the trophy for
Most Valuable Car.
Perhaps the central drama of the SCNAX Cup
weekend was the battle for second and third place among Vixen Racing,
Team Spin, and Team Featherfoot. (Team 4 Bangers and Team Half Fast
ended up placing fifth and sixth, respectively 23sec and 24.3sec off the
winning time.) The vocal Vixen Racing team were eager to show they had
the driving skills to back up their cute matching pink tank tops. After
trading positions all day Sunday, the determining factor came down to
the last two drivers of the last two runs. Jonathan Lee of Team
Featherfoot put down a good time, but so did veteran racer Renee Angel
of Vixen Racing, who nailed her final run even as Mari Clements provided
nail-biting play-by-play that had all competitors' eyes glued on that
Art kept the competitors guessing as to the final
team results until the remarkably fancy trophies were awarded. Team Spin
was out of the trophies by 1.06sec. When Team Featherfoot was announced
in third place, at least one Conin' Barbarian was slightly injured in
the ensuing glee as the Vixen Racing team realized they'd placed second -
just 0.51sec ahead of third. Finally, Team Reckless was roundly
applauded for their solid performance, to cries of: "Gotta get me an
orange truck! I want to be FIRST next year!" Everyone agreed that the
SCNAX Cup was a rousing success, and the hype is already building for
next year's Vixen Racing win.
-- Elizabeth Bacon