News and notes, stories and ramblings, all from the paddock at NCM Motorsports Park during the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials Nationals powered by Hagerty this weekend.
Repeat Business: 2020 marks the third year that the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials Nationals powered by Hagerty has been held at NCM Motorsports Park.
For this year’s event, 219 cars are on the entry list. More remarkable, 105 of those – almost half! – are repeat customers from 2019.
This is where we’re supposed to say that there are a variety of reasons that folks return year after year. But the reality is, it boils down to the same reason for each and every person – it’s just a lot of fun.
Count Anthony LeClerc among them. Last year, he took home the P3 class win in his Alfa Romeo.
“It’s one of the best run events at one of the best venues,” LeClerc said. “I’ve been here all three years now. I like the classing, it’s good competition, I can find a place for my car to compete that’s fun for me. As long as SCCA keeps running events like this, I’ll be there.”
Perry Ellwood was last year’s champ in the M2 class, and his yellow Mazda RX-8 is back on the grid this year.
“This is always my favorite event to come to, year after year,” Ellwood said. “It comes down to the culture. It’s a really welcoming environment, everybody is out here to have fun. Everybody is taking it seriously, but not to the point it becomes an issue. Like I said, it’s always the event I look forward to coming to every year, and it’s fun to hang out with everyone here.”
Part of the fun, however, is the challenge.
“The plan is to go maybe a couple of seconds faster than last year,” Ellwood said. “I think the car has it in it, if I can hang on to it. So it’s have fun, go a couple of seconds faster, and hopefully I can win the class again.”
Wiki-wild: The SCCA Time Trials program is one of the last bastions of true imagination in the motorsports world. Most “open” classes still have a fairly restrictive box that the car must fit in.
Not Time Trials. The Unlimited class, save for safety restrictions, is relatively an open box. The only restriction is that it must be production based (which is a pretty open window) and the car “may only be driven, stopped and steered through the wheels and tires.” In other words, it can’t fly or shoot flames out the back. That’s a pretty open ended rule set.
There are a number of ways to go about it, but the most fun might be as a tinkerer in your own garage. That’s the approach Dallas Reed is taking to his Mazda RX-8. In 2019, he won the Max 3 class. This year, he’s hoping for the same in Unlimited 2.
So what’s different? The car is now on Hoosier A7 race tires, as opposed to 200 treadwear tires. It’s a little lighter, even after quarantine weight. The engine is still stock, but the wing that was on the back of the car last year now sits on the front bumper. The rear is now held down by a massive replacement that practically makes the car squat when it’s sitting in the paddock. All for Time Trials, and specifically TT Nats here at NCM Motorsports Park.
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” Reed said. “It’s great. What’s not to like? I’m definitely planning on winning my class. But I’m just having fun, really.”
It’s still a work in progress, though. Remember that whole “wild west” thing? Reed expects to show up next year with an LS1 motor in the RX-8, making more than 400 horsepower. That’s the kind of fun to be had in SCCA Time Trials.
Right Foot Forward: The Time Trials Nationals support from Holley Performance didn’t end with Thursday’s Holley-Day at NCM Motorsports Park, as the performance company is handing out awards throughout the weekend.
The first of the awards came on Friday morning, when Tim Gleason took home the “Off on the Right Foot” award and a $200 gift card for Holley Performance products that will fit nicely on his Chevrolet Camaro.
The opening day award was selected by the event staff and went to a competitor who went above and beyond on the opening day of the event. Gleason worked closely in the paddock with his fellow Novice group competitors to create a plan and complete a clear “gap lap,” setting the tone for the session.
What made that even more unusual is that the Pensacola, Florida resident is a Novice in every sense of the word. Gleason’s friend, Casey Henry (a defending class champ), brought him to his very first track event (a Track Night in America Powered by Tire Rack) just before COVID-19 disrupted all of our lives. Gleason squeezed in four more events, making Time Trials Nationals just his sixth event of any kind, and his first in the competitive Time Trials format.
His effort made the experience better for every Novice in his run group, whether they know it or not – making the award well-deserved.
Follow Us From Home: The Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals powered by Hagerty continues all weekend long from NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Sitting in the shadow of GM’s world-famous Chevrolet Corvette plant and the National Corvette Museum, the track is challenging and technical. Live play-by-play from Gregg Ginsberg and Larry McLeod, with special guest pop-ins, can be heard at Timetrials.SCCA.com – where live timing also resides.
Photo credit: ABI Photography