For those unaware, Southern California is the mecca for road racing and autocross. As your author has recently moved from the Midwest to SoCal, the best way I can describe it, is an automotive version of Heaven.
There are quite a few events you can attend throughout the season, but the one we visited on March 2, 2013 was the SoCal Challenge. Marcel Venable, the Director of Motorsports for the Challenge, did an excellent job putting on such a great event that it was probably the most easy going experience that a beginner can endure.
An entire day of racing around the Adams Motorsports Park circuit was filled with fun, food, good people and of course, some really sick purpose-built pro-touring cars – most of which were driven to and from the track! Even a few sponsors, Ridetech and TCI Engineering, turned up to put their own test cars through the paces.
Tech started bright and early at 8:00 am, with all of the cars pulling up to the inspection area to prepare for the big day. Since most of the attendees were regulars at the track, and to the autocross/road race game, everyone who participated pretty much knew what to expect. As a result, we really didn’t see anybody being told to park it.
After the tech session, it was all about the Practice round until lunch time at 12 o’clock. If you love taking corners, turning left and right, and generally putting your musclecar to the test, then the SoCal Speed Challenge is for you.
But it’s not just about power and having the ability to take a corner. You need to know how much throttle to use, how much brake pressure to apply, and like drag racing, tire pressure comes an important factor as well.
As fun as it is, and as laid back as the event coordinators made the event, this is just as serious and challenging as any other form of motorsport out there. Hence the name.
There were cars of all types taking part in the Challenge, like the homegrown, budget-built Fox Body Mustangs like Brent Habegger’s “Craigslist” ’87 GT. Seriously, everything on the Ford including the car itself, came secondhand from the classifieds website.
But then you had gentlemen like Rob MacGregor, and his “former farm truck.” This Chevy C10 – a balls out, no BS, pro-touring monster, makes it’s rounds at more SoCal road course events, than Charlie Sheen does at strip clubs. You can say it’s a regular around here.
From one extreme to another, there was plenty of those who were somewhere in between. Bolt-on pro-touring, 1st-Gen Camaros, were in abundance, and we even caught one very impressive Tiger Sunbeam holding it’s own on the road course. Or perhaps even more unusual, a Mustang Cobra II.
With the practice session in the books, it was time to grub on some good food, courtesy of the good staff of Adams Motorsports Park. Despite the competitive nature of the sport, everybody was being cool and friendly, discussing with each other the type of problems that they were experiencing over their barbecue sandwiches and potato salad. The common theme seemed to be the lack of grip and traction.
After lunch, everyone climbed back behind the wheel of their machines to compete in the final ladder eliminations. This entailed a head to head competition of three laps, between two cars being sent out 15 seconds apart from each other. Whoever had the most consistent average time would be the winner.
Naturally, some of the racers let the suspense get to them, and we saw more than a few of them get tail happy, lock their brakes, or brush the shoulder of the track. One by one, they would get eliminated. After it was all said and done, and after the tire smoke had cleared, it came down to Bret Voelkel as the last man standing. He put on one hell of a show with his ’33 Ford, and we look forward to seeing him, and his rad rod at the next SoCal Challenge. Will you be there?