Well, we lied in our advertising as Mother Nature was awfully kind to us this year with highs in the 50’s for both days. No complaints were heard from anyone, especially given the miserable weather from 2022. Racers from six states and at least five regions took on the very long courses that the Darlington venue is known for. The average racer got 20 minutes of seat time on Saturday and 16 on Sunday, leading to lots of fun and big smiles all around. We’d like to thank Mayhew Tools for sponsoring the event and providing tool giveaways for our racers.
This write up gets a bit long, so the TL,DR version is: you absolutely want to plan on making this event next year as you’ll get a huge amount of seat time while hitting speeds you typically don’t see at a rallycross event. There’s also a great social element, as nearly everyone stays at the same hotel and we invade restaurants as a group.
51 drivers tore up the 3+ minute course that flowed over the rolling hills of the 35 acre farm field. The course was a good balance between horsepower and technical, leading to some interesting battles. Tire choice played a large role as usual, with a wide mixture of course conditions.
Stock FWD looked like it was going to be a class dominated by the father & son duo of Charles and Devin P. Devin’s first run in his Acura RSX was over 3 seconds faster than the next closest driver. He proceeded to speed up with his following runs and open this gap up further all day long, taking first by over 51 seconds. By the end of the morning heat, his father Charles held second in his Honda Civic by over six seconds. However, an error on his first run of the afternoon heat had him giving up second to Aaron D. Aaron used the high revving 2ZZ engine is his Matrix XRS to widen the gap and take second place by a solid 14 seconds over Charles.
Stock RWD had the largest range of vehicle age, ranging from a 1989 Volvo brick to a 2023 Subaru BRZ. Joe T gave us all a lesson on how to be fast in a RWD car, taking no prisoners right from the start in his 2003 BMW 325i. Joe took first by almost 43 seconds while making it look easy to be so fast in a RWD car. Joe even cracked into the top 20 overall, taking 16th ahead of many AWD cars. Second went to Nate K in his family’s beautiful blue ’23 BRZ. Nate had second place completely locked up by the end of the first heat, so he switched to his dad’s ’89 Volvo for the afternoon to save abuse on the BRZ
Stock AWD was one of our larger classes, completely filled with Subarus or Subaru derivatives (Saabaru). Michael G from Land O’ Lakes looked to have the advantage in his STI. Unfortunately, disaster struck on his first run, with an intercooler hose bursting, leading to a DNF penalty of roughly 40 seconds. Sean H capitalized on this, laying down quicker and quicker times every run, using every last bit of HP that his Legacy had to offer. Jay K was initially right on his heels, but fell back as the gearing in his Outback Sport really created power delivery problems on the long course. In the meanwhile, Michael convinced an MA car to donate an intercooler hose and got back in the running. His individual lap times were much faster than everyone else, but he was only able to cut the penalty deficit down to 10 seconds behind. When the flying dirt settled, Sean had first (11th overall), Michael second, and Jay third.
In Prepared FWD, it was the age old (well, technically only four years) rivalry between David C and Travis H from WI. David had an all-day problem with cones, picking up 12 seconds of penalty. However, horsepower seemed to provide an advantage, as he piloted his SRT4 to a win over Travis.
Prepared RWD looked like it was going to be a battle of older straight axle cars, with Sam S’s ’98 Mustang and Jay B’s ’66 Plymouth Belvedere. Unfortunately, after only one run, the ignition module failed in the Belvedere, forcing Jay to retire. Sam didn’t coast to the win though, dropping significant amounts of time each run all day long.
Prepared AWD had nearly as many Audis competing as Subarus, which is quite unusual. There was even an AWD BMW E30, which are fairly rare cars these days. From his first run, Jamison W of Milwaukee Region jumped off to a commanding lead and never hesitated for the rest of the day. He ended up wheeling his Audi A4 to first by over 70 seconds as well as fourth overall. Second place was where the action was, with Scott M (Audi TT) and Eric E (Subaru Impreza) trading the the lead back and forth throughout the day. Scott’s first run was very fast, but then he followed it up with rather slow second run, allowing Eric into second. Eric built on this lead, getting it up to 12 seconds at the heat changeover. However, he struggled with the afternoon course whereas Scott turned up the heat. They both pushed hard on their final runs, but Scott came away with second, by ONLY 0.050 seconds! This was the closest margin of the day. There was some additional excitement early on in the heat, when the engine in Jessica T’s ’18 WRX decided to seize and blow a large window in the block, letting the oil catch on fire on the red-hot turbo. Thankfully, this occurred near a worker station, and a quick application of a fire extinguisher prevented a serious situation. This tragic end to the day earned Jessica the Hard Luck award, a small consolation given what had happened.
Hondas dominated the Modified FWD class, with a tight battle between Nick L in his stage rally prepped Civic and Shane B (normally piloting an MA Stealth) in a CRX. Shane’s CRX had been purchased just a scant two weeks before and had some issues that weren’t fully ironed out. Despite a very close start, Shane started putting down times that were just a bit faster than Nick. The additional weight of the cage and other safety equipment contributed to the gap in times. The first-place trophy went home with Shane who also took fifth overall. Nick took second by a large margin over the remainder of the class.
10 racers started the day in Modified AWD: nine Subarus of various flavors and one GMC Typhoon. While this later seems like an oddball choice, it was actually the vehicle favored to win the class. Its driver, Chris E, had brought home the national championship just a month prior by a large margin. Sadly, a repeat of his blazing fast performance was not to be, as his cooling system failed on his first run. This allowed Ben H, our friendly local crack, err I mean tire, dealer to walk away with first by a considerable margin. Eric L took second, hitting a lot of cones (9, Eric?!?) as usual, which prevented him from closing the gap to Ben. Adam D was hot on Eric’s heels for most of the morning, but was unable to pass him before the end of the day. Ben and Eric tool second and third overall as well!
We also had one entry in the Side by Side class, Piotr B. His SxS is fully prepared for rallycross and it definitely showed with the blazing fast times he was putting down. It seriously looked like a go-kart ripping around the course. Piotr took first in class and first overall by almost 37 seconds!
Sunday dawned on some beautiful weather. Many of our racers returned for more fun and we even had a few new faces.
Stock FWD was again dominated by Devin and Charles P. Devin stayed *just* ahead of his dad all day long, taking the win by six seconds thanks to a late run cone penalty on Charles. It was amusing watching these two racing, as they rode with each other for every run. While obviously both were very competitive, they were also encouraging each other to get faster.
Stock RWD was quite the battle for Sunday, between Joe T in his BMW and Luke W in his ’90 Miata. Luke was hot on Joe’s heels until run #4 when he lost traction and slid outside of a gate, picking up a 10 second penalty. In the meantime, Joe’s BMW was wounded, with a rear control arm bending. Not giving up, Joe was able to hammer the arm back into roughly the correct shape and continue on, albeit slower than he would have liked. Luke turned on the fire, putting down his two fastest runs of the day. This late effort was not quite enough, with Joe taking first by only three seconds.
Stock AWD was filled with all the same suspects from Saturday, with Michael G having macguyvered a fix for his intercooler coupling. He jumped off to a large lead, ten seconds after only two runs, but sadly, his fix blew out on the third run, forcing a DNF penalty. Sean H capitalized, putting numerous seconds on the rest of the field for the remainder of the day. Hugh H came in second, putting that H6 motor to work in his bright red SVX. Author’s note: I just love seeing this SVX out on course. Most of these cars have been long sent to the junkyard, so it’s great to see one being driven aggressively. Jay K brought up third, with a constant stream of frustrated words pouring out thanks to his gearing issue.
Prepared FWD picked up a new contender, Jake W in his RSX, and the class looked like it would be a knife fight all day. Unfortunately, Jake’s alternator failed during his second run, forcing him to retire for the day. David and Travis ran neck and neck for most of the morning, with as little as 0.2 separating lap times. Travis ended up with a few issues on course in the afternoon, allowing David to open up the gap and take first during the afternoon. Both drivers ended up in the top 10 overall.
Prepared RWD saw the return of Jay B, having fixed the ignition problem in his Belvedere. Jessica T also switched to this class, racing her husband’s stock BMW. For the first few runs, Jessica held the top spot, but then the previously mentioned control arm damage occurred, and she decided to retire for the day. Sam S continued his streak of dropping time every run, minus one that we won’t discuss, and ended up taking first. While not the fastest car, Jay’s Belvedere was definitely the crowd favorite as it powered through the course. His high compression engine and exhaust sang a beautiful song all through the rolling hills of the venue.
There was the same eclectic mix of cars in Prepared AWD, though we did lose a few Audis. Jamison was back in his A4 though, and put a hurting on the class from his very first run. He ended up in first in class by nearly two minutes, despite picking up a handful of cones. In the meantime, Maciej M put down solid times in his Mitsubishi Eclipse, taking second by a little over 24 seconds.
Modified FWD was the same Honda crowd from the day before, with Nick determined to take first. He kept things close all day, despite Shane picking up the pace, having become more comfortable with the new car. On Nick’s last run, he went for broke, trying to make up the last bit of deficit. Sadly, he got out of shape entering the cone tunnel on the back half and picked up ten seconds in cone penalties. This allowed Shane to go home with first place again. It’s interesting to note that four of the overall top 10 cars were front wheel drive. This goes to prove that you do NOT need AWD to be fast on the dirt.
The same hooligans returned for Sunday in Modified AWD, minus the Typhoon. Eric got off to a great start, being aided by Ben getting out of shape and picking up a missed gate penalty. However, Eric’s taste for cones dragged him down while at the same time Ben was picking up the pace. By the end of the day Ben was comfortably in first by 21 seconds over Eric. Adam D put on a good showing again, but couldn’t close the gap to Eric, taking third comfortable ahead of the rest of the class.
Piotr returned in his SxS to give us all another lesson on how darn quick they can be on a rallycross course. With zero cones for the day, he took first overall by just over a minute. Thank you for making us all feel slow Piotr!
This whole event is also a competition between all the regions of CenDiv SCCA. Each day, each racer earns points for their region, basis their standing in class. For the third year in a row, Iowa Region brought home the bragging rights, this time by the larget margin yet. The results for this competition can be seen below.
A big thank you goes out to everyone that assisted with the event as well as to those who came out to race. We hope you all had fun! Please plan on being there again next year on the first weekend in November!
P.S.: I’d like to apologize for how late this write up is. Shortly after the event I came down with a nasty case of covid that put me out of commission for over two weeks. Other things then got in the way after that, making this get ignored until now. Cliff and Dawn would also like to apologize for the late photos from the event, as they have both been overworked with paying work since the event.