Like lots of SCCA autocrossers, I partake in substantial web bench racing. Net bench racing typically comes about in the slide, soon right after the effects of the Tire Rack Solo Countrywide Championships are posted. I see which autos fared well in the benefits, then start off investigating new car or truck charges, solutions, and aftermarket assist. How a lot are a set of wheels for this car? Is the right tire measurement out there in a competitive 200-treadwear tire? Will my spouse get rid of me if I buy one more race automobile?
After all of these thoughts are answered, I then establish my world wide web desire auto for the adhering to autocross year. Most decades, these endeavors guide to very little much more than a absurd browser record log with very little ordered. In late 2019, even so, this bench racing led me to the Ford dealership to obtain a model-new Ford Fiesta ST. And, well, then 2020 transpired.
A Ford Fiesta ST gained the H Street course at the 2019 Solo Nationals many thanks to some handy driving by Philip Mitchell. I experienced the honor of conversing to Phil about his automobile and he was form adequate to supply me with strategies and tips for a competitive make. Next his lead, I obtained lightweight Enkei RPF1 wheels, slapped on a cat-back exhaust from FSWerks, dropped in a K&N air filter, installed Quick Fit 4-stage harnesses from Schroth, set in a Mishimoto 160-degree thermostat, swapped in Carbotech brake pads, and — in what I deemed the keystone piece — extra Motion Manage Suspension (MCS) 2W double adjustable remote reservoir dampers. With Yokohama Advan A052 200-treadwear rubber at all 4 corners, I was completely ready to choose on H Street.
At the Regional level, I was flying superior. Following dialing in the air tension on the Yokohamas, aligning the car with Clever Racing Merchandise equipment, and finding the adjustments on the MCS dampers just right, the minimal Fiesta ST was accomplishing all sorts of magnificent matters as it danced close to the cones. I was undefeated domestically and consistently inside of the top 5 PAX benefits. The unassuming little Fiesta was a real good time.
Based on that achievement, I scheduled a family vacation for September and convinced my spouse I had to go to the 2020 Tire Rack Solo National Championships in Lincoln, Neb. I then registered for the Solo Nationals, and that was that.
Sometime later on, cash inexplicably entered my lender account. That was unusual — as a racer, revenue frequently goes the other way.
The deposit was from MotorsportsReg, and it was a refund for the Solo Nationals — somehow, I’d skipped the news that the 2020 function had been cancelled owing to COVID fears. To me, the cancellation of the Solo Nationals was totally comprehensible. To carry 1,300 competitors from across the place into the town of Lincoln onto an FAA airfield was possibly not excellent through a pandemic. Irrespective, I was bummed.
Opportunity knocks — with minimal warning
Even though on SCCA.com, I found that the 2020 SCCA DirtFish RallyCross Nationwide Championship was slated for Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan., in August 2020. The party was scheduled to start out specifically 7 days from when my registration for the Solo Nats was refunded to me — it was time to adapt.
With only 7 days to strategy, prep, and vacation from California to Kansas in get to contend in an occasion I’ve by no means been to prior to — that was drastically outside of my autocross and highway racing wheelhouse — there was not time to think. I registered and figured I’d check with for time off from my boss and forgiveness from my wife later.
Hunting at the 2020 RallyCross Policies, it turned out the Solo course principles for H Street (HS) were remarkably similar to the RallyCross principles for Stock Front (SF). You could alter wheel measurement furthermore-or-minus a person inch, swap an air filter, transform the exhaust, update brake pads, and tires had to be DOT legal. The important difference — and it was a doozy — was RallyCross essential OEM or direct substitution shocks and struts. That intended my tremendous fancy adjustable MCS dampers would not be authorized for RallyCross. Sad emoji experience.
The superior information was that I’d neglected to toss away my inventory shocks. Packrats unite!
For tires, due to the fact RallyCross is off road, I deduced that my Yokohama Advan A052s were being not suitable. A brief lookup on TireRack.com unveiled Yokohama’s snow and ice tires, so I swiftly purchased a set that were being narrower than inventory with a taller sidewall in order to raise floor clearance.
With drivetime from California to Kansas currently being about 25 several hours, I had very little time to squander — then I obtained an e-mail from Tire Rack that claimed my buy was on hold. “Sir,” Tire Rack explained, “these tires are especially produced for snow and ice, and you stay in California. Are you positive these are the suitable tires for your use?”
My solution was a panicked, “Yes, sure! I want the snow tires. Set them on a truck and ship them nowadays! I really don’t have an excess day to wait!”
Tire Rack was truly magnificent. The tires arrived Monday afternoon, ideal on timetable, and that was excellent due to the fact tech for the RallyCross Nationals kicked off at noon in Kansas on Friday.
I used Tuesday at the Double Nickel Nine Motorsports shop in Central California prepping the Fiesta ST. The MCS dampers went on the shelf, the inventory components returned to the car’s four corners, and we realigned anything making use of Intelligent Camber and Clever Strings. I applied the shop’s vinyl cutter to make new stickers for the car.
I then took my autocross wheels with the not long ago mounted, manufacturer-new Yokohama A052s on them to Sanger Tire along with the new snow tires, at which level the team at Sanger Tire inquired: “Didn’t we just mount these for you?”
Sixteen hours immediately after arriving at the store — and just one snarky retort to the tire shop later — the Fiesta was ready to rock.
I returned house to my spouse, whom I like, who resolved to tell me I was crazy for wanting to drive 25 hours to Kansas for an occasion on these kinds of small observe. I ignored her description of my actions just after all, as a racer, this was all pretty rational.
On the road once more
At 6 a.m. on Wednesday, I hit the road. The Fiesta ST proved to be really helpful in this condition as all the things I desired for the function was crammed into the hatchback. From equipment to tires to Double Nickel 9 IPA from a regional craft brewery in Fresno, Tactical Ops Brewing, almost everything match nicely. The Fiesta even experienced place for some optional things — like fresh garments. My approach was to share the California craft beer with my opponents in Kansas. It was likely to be a excellent highway excursion.
The trip throughout the U.S. was attractive. I cruised via Nevada, a smidgen of Arizona, and totally lovely parts of Utah and Colorado. I put down 13 hrs on the very first day and discovered a dive motel in Colorado. For $71 a night, it was a racer’s paradise.
There have been some times of stress and anxiety alongside the drive, while. For example, I wasn’t made use of to how desolate sections of The usa can be. In California, you normally bump into gasoline stations each 50 feet. Out in the wilds of the relaxation of The united states, it turns out that 120-mile gas station intervals aren’t out of the question.
I arrived as the solar set in Topeka, Kan., on Thursday and identified a resort not far from Heartland Motorsports Park. I knew I was in the appropriate area due to the fact the parking good deal was jammed with race automobile trailers with RallyCross autos on them. It appeared like most of the cars ended up on trailers — I puzzled if I was the only fool who drove his competition auto to the RallyCross. The very same idiot who demands his automobile to get him back again to California. Potentially my wife experienced a point about my state of brain.
The Fiesta was filthy from the travel, so I still left the resort to locate a do-it-by yourself motor vehicle wash. Although I was there, I used the perfectly-lit bay as an impromptu shop to sticker up the car or truck.
The next working day I arrived at the occasion web-site, registered, and teched the auto and my helmet. I scored a paddock spot and hammered a tarp to the floor for relieve of working on the auto. I’d cut parts of wood prior to leaving property to go underneath my jack and jack stands to help make changing tires in the dirt straightforward and protected. This turned out to be a good go, and also a daily life hack applied by the relaxation of the RallyCross community in grass paddocks.
Therein, everyone was pleasant at the event, specially to me considering the fact that I brought beer. Whilst a number of persons did glance at my license plate and request, “Did you travel that car or truck all the way from California?”
“Yup,” I replied proudly.
“You’re outrageous,” was the response.
I puzzled if my spouse experienced identified as in advance.