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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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2004 San Diego Autocrosses &

Mazda’s Rev It Up

 

Did you watch the Super Bowl TV commercials? I’ve especially enjoyed the ones for the new Ford GT (see, there is a car tie-in)! I saw two commercials for the car: a teaser and then another showing a seductive red Ford GT put through its paces around a race track. If only they were not priced at well over $150,000.

I keep running into people who tell me that they read my column. For Example, on Friday I got an eye exam. I explained to the doctor doing the exam that I needed to get a pair of glasses that would also give me good peripheral vision so that I could improve my chances of successfully autocrossing my car. One thing led to another and I mentioned that I write this column. To my surprise he told me that he lives in Carmel Valley and reads it. Then, later in the same day at Kinko’s, I ran into another reader who is a fellow autocrosser that I have not seen in years. He also lives in the area. The next day one of my neighbors told me that he really liked the change of pace shown by my Mars Rover column. It’s great hearing from you. Thank you.

Several of you have expressed an interest to me about the schedule for San Diego’s Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) autocrosses. This year we are having a very late start for some reason. Since others of you may not know what autocrosses are, before I pass along the San Diego autocross schedule which was just announced for the first half of this year, I’ll briefly explain what an autocross is.


SCCA autocrossing

An “autocross,” “Solo II” (“the SCCA brand name for autocross competition”) or, as it used to be known, a “slalom” is a motorsports event that basically involves people driving their cars as quickly as they can while negotiating marked courses.

Driving a wide variety of vehicles – often ordinary street cars, competitors negotiate these courses one car at a time. Their runs are timed and compared to the other competitors. Cars are divided into classes so that you’re not running your Ford Focus station wagon directly against someone else’s new Corvette.

The emphasis is on driver skill. A significant time penalty is issued for every cone hit. In the interests of safety, courses are designed with strategically placed turns so that cars will not go too fast. If one does manage to blow a turn by going too quickly, chances are good that all they will hit are a few flexible traffic cones. The time penalty for hitting even one cone will probably ruin your run.


Jan autocrossing his Miata in Las Vegas

Some say autocrossing is a stepping-stone to wheel-to-wheel racing. While it can be, many of us are content to just continue autocrossing. This will be my 25th year of autocrossing and I still find autocrosses exciting and challenging. Autocrossing is a major adrenaline rush. Drivers safely learn the limits of their automobiles as autocrossing teaches and hones critical driving skills. This can be very useful in potential accident situations that are occasionally encountered while driving on the streets.

We are fortunate in San Diego to have our autocrosses in the huge parking lots of Qualcomm Stadium -- especially the west lot. Here is the schedule (*except where noted) that was just posted on the SCCA Solo II Website (www.sdr-scca.com/solo2/schedule/) for the first half of the year. I suspect the April 4th date is actually a Practice, not a Championship as is stated on the Website, since Championship events are supposed to be held at least two weeks apart.

Licensed drivers are welcome to participate. Approved safety helmets are required. Make sure you go to the correct lot because in addition to the SCCA, other clubs also hold autocrosses there (for example the BMW club and the Porsche club).

For much more information on SCCA autocrossing and on other SCCA regions across the country, go to www.scca.org. Once there you can find which SCCA region is nearest to you.

Here are the scheduled SCCA Autocrosses at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium for the first part of 2004 (subject to change). This is a more or less typical number of autocrosses for a year:

Feb. 14 – Practice – West Lot
|Feb. 15 – Championship – West Lot
Feb. 22 – Practice – SE Lot
Mar. 6 & 7 – SCCA National Tour
Mar. 28 – Championship – West Lot
Apr. 3 – West Lot – Practice
Apr. 4 – West Lot – (*Practice?)
Apr. 10 – West Lot – Championship
May 2 – West Lot – Championship
May 8 – NE Lot – Practice
May 9 – NE Lot – Practice or School
May 22 – West Lot – Practice
May 23 – West Lot – Championship
June 6 – West Lot – Championship
June 26 – West Lot – Practice
June 27 – West Lot – Championship
July 10 – West Lot – Practice
July 11 – West Lot – Championship


Mazda6 autocrossing at 2003 Mazda Rev It Up

Finally, while we’re on the subject of scheduled events, you might also want to check out this year’s version of Mazda’s successful Rev It Up competition. It is coming to 15 cities across the United States.


Mazda6 autocrossing at 2003 Mazda Rev It Up

Last year at their inaugural event Mazda gave away some free trips to the finals at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and a new Mazda6. This year for your $40 entry fee you’ll get to performance-test-drive a variety of Mazdas in three skills clinics. Then you’ll get a couple chances to use what you learn in a competition against other drivers in identically-prepared Mazda3s on an autocross course. Classes will be “Just for Fun,” “Novice,” “Club” and “Pro.” The grand prize, after the conclusion of the finals at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will be a brand new Mazda3.


Go-Kart track at 2003 Mazda Rev It Up

Whether you win or not, it is still a lot of fun. In another event that will be repeated from last year, you can also pay for laps in wheel-to-wheel Go-Kart races. You don’t want to miss Rev It Up, especially since this year we’ll have a round right here in San Diego on March 20 and 21. To register or to find out more information go to www.mazdarevitup.com. I’ll see you there!

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com. Enjoy the archives and more at www.AutoMatters.net. Drive safely and do join me again next time.

 

Copyright © 2004, 2006 Jan R. Wagner – #85r2 AutoMatters

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