Thrills, drama, and heartbreak distinguish a rain-soaked Time Trials
“It’s not how I wanted to win,” John Li sighed. In the second-to last Time Attack session of the weekend, the rusty-but-rapid Mk5 GTI of Nicholas Philips lost drive and coasted into Pitt Race’s pit lane. It would not return. That meant that Li was in the catbird seat. He’d been beaten by Philips in the first Time Attack, to the tune of seven-tenths of a second, then he’d wrested the advantage back in the TrackSprint. Now, with Philips pushing his GTI onto the trailer, all he needed to do was turn in a nine-tenths lap of Pitt Race in rapidly drying, but still wet, conditions.
It almost ended very badly. Through the back straight Esses, Li’s MX-5 slewed one way then another, overheating the rear tires. On the next right-hander, Li tankslapped wildly until he was stopped by the exit curb, then he was back on the throttle. Half a minute later, he was the Tuner 4 class winner.
On the other side of the paddock, Jan Guzman was celebrating his Max 2 class win and mourning the loss of his BMW 135i’s engine at the same time. “Pulled the codes… heavy knock in three cylinders.” With more than 130,000 miles on the clock, however, Guzman had to admit that he’d gotten his money’s worth from the heavily-tuned inline-six—and best of all, it happened after he set a two-minute-flat time on Sunday.
Last weekend’s SCCA Time Trial at Pitt Race attracted dozens of competitors—but it also attracted the weather. Heavy rains on Friday washed the track green for Saturday’s Time Attack sessions, then returned to make the Sunday morning TrackSprint a very dicey thing indeed. A few 600-horsepower Mustangs picked delicately through the standing water, while some madman with an open-piped RX-8 took the whole thing flat out and earned two off-track excursions for his trouble.
The changing weather meant that some competitors got to run in the dry, while others suffered in the rain. Others, like Civic driver and Tune 5 podium finisher Aashish Vemulapalli, got a little of both. Despite the downpour, spirits were high throughout the paddock. Spare parts were exchanged, tall tales were told, and friendships were made. The machinery included everything from the usual flock of Camaros and Corvettes to a “FunCup” single-seat racer from Europe.
The next SCCA Time Trial is happening May 25-26 at Carolina Motorsports Park. It’s a great chance to experience timed competition in a relaxed, participant-friendly environment. And if you’re worried about denting your Corvette—or your FunCup!—you can buy insurance from Hagerty at the event. If you’ve always wanted to see how you’d stack up in SCCA track competition, now’s the time!