Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beating in Progress - SCCA Rally Cross

Beating in Progress brings you images and stories of cars taking abuse. Autocrosses and track days attract shiny Porsches and BMWs with fender lips carefully taped to avoid stone chips. At a rally cross you'd better be willing to get dirty.

The Detroit Region of the SCCA held this event at the Adrian fairgrounds horse racing track. The course was naturally circular with a slalom down one straight, various chicanes in the turns, and start/finish down the other straight. Luke Keller and I brought our 24 hours of LeMons prepped Chia-Neon sporting a set of well used Blizzaks. The Chia's extensive weight reductions put us in Modified Two Wheel Drive class (M2) without the limited slip diff and rally tires on most of the competition. Even so, Luke was able to bring home second in class while I finished fourth a scant 0.02 seconds behind Sean Grogan in the Spec Neon he should be road racing.

This was my introduction to rally-cross. Autocross has never really gotten me excited, but rally-cross loses a bit of the constantly changing direction mayhem of autocross and adds a big helping of yaw, at speeds that don't soil your driver's seat. Each driver got 12 timed runs (6 one direction and then 6 backwards) helping to get your money's worth in seat time. Scoring was done by adding up your lap times from each run, like stages in a rally. So if you mow down the entire finish box on run one, it stays with you. One other thing different from paved events is the dust. While most drivers went sideways with all the windows up, we didn't have that option. After the parade lap the inside of the Chia looked like we finished the Baja 1000. Double checking your air filter is a good idea.

Other notable beaters competing included a nice looking Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, A shockingly good looking vintage race RX-2, first and second gen RX-7s, a mid-90's Tacoma, and a flock of Suburus of various types.

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