Gallery: Cutting Corners At The NMCA Fontana Autocross
I’ve come to the conclusion that car shows are boring. I can walk only so many rows of glimmering trailer queens parked on a freshly mowed lawn before I start to lose my mind. I find myself daydreaming of taking one of those babied beauties out and stomping on them, their owners chasing after me flailing their lawn chairs in the air.
The funny thing is that I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I know I’m not…
Call ‘em what you like, the pro-touring crowd, the autocrossers, or g-machines, these guys don’t gather together in donut shop parking lots at the crack of dawn to swap tales of yesterday; these guys and gals mean business. The pro-tourers build cars worthy of all the gilded prizes and blue ribbons you’d expect of a hoity toity car show, but flog the living daylights out of their cars.
While all the noise was coming from the drag strip a way off, a crowd of over 50 cars were lined up in the far end of the parking lot at Fontana’s NMCA/NMRA event for the first-ever West Coast Shootout. Sponsored by Hotchkis and Baer Brakes, the two hosted an Autocross and SpeedStop Challenge that really put these machines through the paces.
Taking place over the July 15th weekend, the Hotchkis Autocross and Baer Brake Systems Speed-Stop Challenge welcomed groups of fifth generation Camaros, hot rods, muscle cars and a couple imports (but we won’t talk about those guys here). Drivers entered in one of several classes, including Modern Muscle, Street Machine, Muscle Machine, Truck, Street Rod and Turn & Burn, allowing everyone present a good place for their car and driving skill to be fairly ranked.
The Speed-Stop Challenge was the perfect blend of drag racing and braking skill after the 600-foot mark. But it wasn’t just skid testing, drivers had to bring their cars to a halt within a 20-foot wide and 40-foot deep “stop box.” Sounds easy, especially for you guys with ABS? Yeah, it wasn’t. Several cars blew through the marker lights, screeching to a stop a hundred feet past the “end zone.”
Others simply pitched their cars sideways, eroding years off of their tires, enveloping the crowd in a plume of blue haze.
The Hotchkis Autocross course was equally as challenging, with tight S-turns, sharp hairpins and long sweepers, the cone course keep drivers on their toes (literally) as practiced footwork paid off in spades. Hotchkis’ sponsored H-Team was in fine form as were magazine editors Mark Gearhart of StangTV.com, Rob Kinnan, former editor of Hot Rod, and Jeff Smith, technical editor for Car Craft. Oh yeah, and Camaro Performers’ “Bad Penny.”
The three days of mayhem created quite a bit of competition. In some classes, the results ridiculously close; Deanna Marengo inched past with the win in the Muscle Machine Class with a 36.25 compared to Kyle Newman’s 36.47 who earned 2nd place.
The Modern Muscle class was a hotly contended one as well, as its 20-plus-entries battled for supremacy. Bruce Cambern snagged first place with his ’05 Ford GT supercar, earning most of his lead during the SpeedStop Challenge – not to mention walking away with the best autocross lap time overall.
That gorgeous copper-and-black Hotchkis-equipped C-10 pickup you keep seeing all over the place is owned by Rob Phillips, who walked away with his first class win on Saturday and came back swinging on Sunday with a lightning fast time of 38.01.
Winners for each class took home Hotchkis sway bar sets, Nitto Tires, Centerforce clutches and discounts on TCI, NMCA and K&N goods, not a bad haul. It’s great to see people not only chewing up the quarter mile, but actually getting their muscle cars to snap through the turns and putting on the skids in record time.
I grew up hearing, “Muscle cars were meant to just go straight.” And frankly, I’ve always hated that statement, particularly as I look at an original magazine advertisement of the then-all-new 1969 Dodge Charger R/T leaning hard on its Magnum 500s through the corners, with the words in bright orange letters reading “We’ve got you cornered.”
Clearly, these cars were meant to do everything, and thankfully, with today’s technology, the pro-touring movement and the performance aftermarket has retained that spirit.
Enjoy nearly 550 pictures from the event!