First Pro Solo since 98
It was fun to go to a pro solo after such a long absence. Not quite like riding a bike, but it did come back to me. Eventually.
If you are unfamiliar with the format, they are super fun. Pro Solos are two mirror image courses with a dragstrip start. A Christmas tree and everything. The courses are short, but you get six tries at the left course and six tries at the right course. You do left, right, left, right on Saturday morning. Then repeat on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning. Your best left and right side times are added together to determine the fastest in each class.
The weather forecast looked like rain all weekend but I went anyway. As it turned out it drizzled off and on all weekend but only really rained before our Saturday afternoon runs.
I started out a little rusty on Saturday morning. Not feeling quite comfortable yet. The pace is very fast and I’m used to having a co-driver at Pro Solos, which really helps with maintaining tire pressures and keeping track of times, etc. This time I would just have to go without those luxuries. After the Saturday morning runs I was second place out of the five in my class.
It rained Saturday afternoon. The course was drying, but not enough to do me any good, so I practiced getting good lights. Out of my 12 starts for the weekend 8 were within 1/10th of a second of the green light. As far as I could tell, only Matt Braun and Mike Johnson did better (both supreme drivers).
So it was down to Sunday. I needed 2/10ths on each side IF nobody else improved. On my first try I was .009 seconds ahead of the green light. This is a red light and that run would not count. So I tried a variant on my line I was hoping would be faster. And it was. So my next side was faster, but I nudged one cone a little too far.
Now it’s down to the last run on each side. Are my tires getting hot? Getting too much pressure built up? Who knows?! I have no one to check them. Just have to assume everything is wonderful and go for it, I put in two good runs. Dropping 7/10ths on one side and 6/10ths on the other. Enough for the win. Enough to put 9/10ths on second place, and enough margin to make me the third place qualifier for the challenge competition on Sunday afternoon.
The Challenge is where it “gets real”. They take the top 32 drivers (there were over 200) and pit them in single elimination rounds to determine one winner for the event.
Since I was still driving on tires left over from Nationals there wasn’t a lot of tread. Especially on one tire. So I really didn’t have any hope of making it all the way through the final round (that’s 5 runs per side). So I just went out and had some fun.
In the first round I was paired up against Andrew Pollatta in a CS Mazda RX8. Unbeknownst to me, “but knownst to everyone else” is that Pollatta was last year”s National Solo Driver of the Year. Glad I didn’t know that. I might have been intimidated and freaked myself out. As it was I ran the courses like clockwork and advanced to the second round.
The second round I was paired against Sam Strano. Yes. The Sam Strano. Him I knew. Many time national champion. He made fun of my itty bitty tires and how I could pretty much fit two of my rims and tires INSIDE one of his Corvette rims. I had good runs on both sides and beat Sam. In the process I “broke out” by a couple tenths.
So now I would have to go a couple tenths faster to keep up.
That was going to be a problem since that one tire was down to the cast rubber and not very grippy. It resulted in me wagging the back end a little too much and getting cones.
All in all it was a great weekend of racing. The little Hoosier Performance CRX just keeps getting it done!
Article by: Steve Mieritz
June 8th, 2015
Learn more about SCCA and their racing series: http://www.scca.com/