SCCA San Diego Region RallyCross (April 2009)
On April 4th, 2009, SCCA San Diego Region held a RallyCross in a large field used for overflow parking at Knott’s Soak City Water Park in Chula Vista, CA. This was the second RallyCross at this location, and the first this year.
The goal for this event was to offer a safe and fun venue for participants at all levels of skill to experience rally. A grader carved out the course, volunteers removed the rocks and boulders from it and a water truck kept the dust down. The on-track action was intense for entrants and spectators alike.
To find out about RallyCross, Grid Lines interviewed Bret Norgaard, the San Diego Region RallyCross coordinator.
Vehicles were divided into a number of classes, based upon whether they were front, rear or all wheel drive, as well as their level of preparedness. Convertibles were allowed, but they were required to have factory (OEM) hardtops. Open cockpits (even with rollbars) were not allowed. For future events, thought is being given to exhibition classes that might include buggies, pre-runner trucks and other popular enthusiast vehicles like that.
Each competitor was given the opportunity to take four runs in their heat. Two of those runs were taken in one direction, followed by two runs in the opposite direction. The times were totaled for all four runs. If drivers had a major mechanical problem or failed to complete a run for some other reason, ten seconds were added to their slowest time to provide a time for the missing run.
The results, which you can see online if you click on the Results/Standings link at www.sdr-scca.com/RallyCross, followed by the Results link for the “April 4th, Soak City” event, revealed that there were 35 entrants registered in a total of eight different classes: Stock Rear Wheel Drive (SR), Stock Front Wheel Drive (SF), Stock All Wheel Drive (SA), Prepared Rear Wheel Drive (PR), Prepared All Wheel Drive (PA), Modified Two Wheel Drive (M2), Modified All Wheel Drive (M4) and Time Only. Top Times of Day were 302.626 (Stock) in a 2009 Nissan Sentra (SF #8) driven by Carl V., 278.539 (Prepared) in a 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS (PA #1)1 driven by Trenton K. and 272.657 (M4) in a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon (M4 #54) driven by Andrew H.
It was interesting to note that the driver with the quickest individual run time (75.452 seconds) in class SR (Stock Rear Wheel Drive) came in second in class, because he had a greater four-run total time. Consistency seems to be an important factor in RallyCross.
Bret has years of experience designing Solo courses (for paved surfaces). In RallyCross, how well the course flows, how the corners are shaped and the type of dirt all factor into course design. Course design for RallyCross is especially critical because of the surface degradation.
Learning how to prepare the surface has been a real learning exercise. In spring the surface of the field might be three feet deep in weeds, whereas after a summer season full of use as an overflow parking lot, it would likely be covered in dry, hard dirt. For last year’s fall RallyCross, they did not saturate it with enough water, so the course became very dusty.
As the faster, more aggressive cars came through, they tore up the surface and exposed big rocks – from grapefruit size up to bowling ball size. Many of the corners deteriorated badly, but the tractor they had rented – a skip loader, was not able to keep up with filling in the ruts and removing the rocks. By the end of the day, the entire area on and off the course, “looked like a lunar landscape.” Some of the exposed rocks were so big that it took two people to lift them. They’ve learned how to read the surface, to predict where there is likely to be rocks underneath. Where it is soft is likely to tear up quickly. They’ve also learned to bring along more capable earthmovers.
Natural terrain helps to make RallyCross courses interesting, but safety is of paramount importance. That is why there were no bumps on course to cause vehicles to get airborne.
While Soak City provides a great site for RallyCross, it is only available in the park’s off-season. That is why this event will be the last one held here until the SCCA National Challenge Championship West RallyCross, which is tentatively scheduled for the last weekend of September (Sept. 26 and 27).
The event organizers are working on securing additional sites. For more information on SCCA RallyCross in San Diego, visit the SCCA San Diego Region website, at www.sdr-scca.com/RallyCross.
Until next time, if you have any comments or suggestions, please send an email to me.
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