New Champions Challenge Highlights Final Tire Rack Solo Tour Event of 2010 in Blytheville
J TOPEKA, Kan. (October 27, 2010) -- A little more than a month after the 2010 Tire Rack Solo National Championships, the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Tour competitors returned to the tarmac at the Arkansas Aeroplex for the Tri-State Challenge National Tour at Blytheville and one last National-level event before the cars go to the garage for the winter.
The field turned times on a very fast Doug Gill-designed course (fine-tuned on-site by event chairman Jay Jackson) under near-perfect conditions on Friday and Saturday, with sunny skies raising the temperature to the high 80s. Temperatures fell into the 60s on Sunday, with occasional light sprinkles getting stronger as the day went on.
How stiff was the competition at the season finale? To win the Super Stock, B Stock or Super Touring Sport Ladies class, it would have meant defeating the reigning National Champion. No one did, as Matthew Braun (2007 PowerPlug Lotus Elise), from Northville, Mich., Marc Pfannenschmidt (2008 Gods Blessings Honda S2000), from Louisville, Ky., and Laura Harbour (1991 The Dark Side Mazda Miata), of Stamping Ground, Ky., earned their respective class wins in Blytheville.
It wasn't just the Champions' classes that were full of talent. Andy Hohl, of St. Ann, Mo., drove his 2006 Mr. Mom Racing/Evolution Honda S2000 to a 0.222-second Street Touring R class win over Jon Pomrenke (2006 COBB Honda S2000), from Austin, Texas. In A Street Prepared, Tim Dorman's 2006 WMMFT Racing Chevrolet Corvette Z06 towed from Avinger, Texas, and topped Plantation, Fla.'s David Lehmen by 0.197-second. Lehmen's 2010 Bone Stock Alignment Porsche GT3 was the only Porsche in a Corvette-heavy class.
The post-National Championship event is also an opportunity to test potential format changes for the future without disrupting preparations for the title-clinching event.
This year's Tri-State National Tour featured an experimental Champions' Challenge bracket similar to a ProSolo event, open to participants who had earned at least one leg of the Solo Triad award (a National Championship, a States Championship or a Divisional Championship) or was a class winner during the weekend's competition. Discussions are underway to make the 32-car Challenge a part of every States Championship weekend as soon as 2011.
Braun and Kurt Janish, of Plano, Texas, advanced to what was shaping up to be a spectacular final run of the 32-car bracket. While the tires on Braun's Lotus were fading and his times getting slower throughout the challenge, Janish was picking up speed in his 1995 JANCO Custom Fab/Montiac Motors Pontiac Trans-Am. The hopes for a close final were dashed when a problem with the starter on the Trans-Am forced Janish out of the final round and gave the win the Braun.
The Ladies' Champions' Challenge was a match-up of Texas co-drivers Kim Whitener, of Fort Worth, and 16-year-old Katelyn Johnson, of Plano. Though they drove separate cars in class competition, the two shared a 1990 Honda CRX during the Champions' Challenge. Whitener took the win, but Johnson impressed throughout the weekend with her skill, focus and youthful energy.
The Tri-State National Tour operated so efficiently that, for the first time ever at a Tour event, "fun runs" were made available on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from those runs, totalling $400, were donated to the SCCA Foundation to support the Tire Rack Street Survival teen driving program.
For more information on the Tri-State Challenge National Tour event or the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Tour, visit www.scca.com/Solo.