The Concrete Beach or How I Attended SCCA Solo Nationals as a Total Rookie
So, Nationals is amazing. I only regret not going for longer than 3 days!
It is ginormous - over 1200 people attended. We got around the site via golf cart because the site was too big to make it back and forth from grid to paddock in a reasonable amount of time. We shared our paddock area with a lovely group of people from NY/NJ & PA regions and all pitched in for a tent. And we attended a few ceremonies/dinner events provided by SCCA and Mazda.
Joe left for the two-day, 1300+ mile drive in the race car with his buddy on a Wednesday and I flew out to meet them the following Wednesday. He competed in the ProSolo Finale the first weekend and did a whole bunch of fun things that I missed in the days before I arrived. But when I did finally make it, it was a whirlwind of sun, rain, driving, nerves, friends, and ice cream. Plus, Lincoln has some of the most amazing skies I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.
As far as competition was concerned, I was mainly hoping I wouldn't come in last. And I didn't! I was happily 10th of 12 in my class - Street Touring Roadster Ladies (STRL) class. Because one of the drivers was testing out the new, unclassed 2016 Mazda MX-5 (Tara Johns), her times will be disqualified and my final place will be 9 of 11 - not that it matters, really.
For those who don't know, the format of the race is 3 runs on the corn side course on day 1 and 3 runs on the plane side course on day 2. Your best time from each day is combined to determine standings. On day 1, I was unduly nervous - way more nervous than I usually get for autocross. I had a pretty good first run, but kept hitting cones (each cone = +2 seconds to your time). On day 2, I was excited and not at all nervous. I started with a good but dirty run and then had a very dramatic rage blackout where I apparently quit autocross for a minute during my second run. All-in-all, it was kind of frustrating because I believe I can drive a lot better than I did.
Joe was frustrated with his driving, too. There was a ton of amazing competitors in his class - 62 drivers total. He was 27 of 62. He and his co-driver also had some drama, where they had to quickly take the front wheels off, drop the bar and put it all back together in between runs. They were torquing the last lug nut when the grid worker sent him out for his next run.
There are so many amazing drivers who attend Nationals. It's a little strange being included amongst them. But, that seems to be the beauty of autocross - all these different personalities, skill levels, car prep, driving styles on the same playing field: three runs day 1, three runs day 2. I'm most excited about all the new friends I've made - not least of all the women I've driven with, either as co-drivers or in competition. The ladies of autocross are an amazing, diverse, and talented group!
If you're interested in learning more about Nationals or Autocross in general: