As the second of a three-part event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Hotchkis Sport Suspension brought out the cones once again to the parking lot adjacent to the dragstrip. We brought you coverage of the first event, which was successfully run by the awesome team at Racing Byrds, led by Rob and Trish Byrd. The first even saw a pretty large group of people and they ran hundreds of sessions over the two day event. This June event, held on June 21-22, was even bigger and brought out plenty of cars that we didn’t see at the first event.
Hotchkis is a manufacturer of suspension components for classic and modern musclecars, and has been living up to their promise to make a great car even better. They provide modern suspension technology for older cars that helps them get around the track, as well suspension upgrades that make modern musclecars handle even better. Many of their parts are bolt on components that anyone with some mechanical ability can install on a weekend, and sometimes even get out and drive the car the same day
For those who are looking for a complete makeover for their car, instead of replacing a couple of components at a time, their Total Vehicle Systems (TVS) will provide the car owner with all of the necessary components needed to make a car ride and handle better than most everything on the road today, without sacrificing ride quality. Their own test tracks allow them to test out the products they manufacture, and to continue with research and development for new parts for their expanding coverage.
The event itself is reasonable, it’s just $50 to race for one day on either Saturday or Sunday, or $75 to race for both days. The Racing Byrds will put drivers in groups, and each driver gets to run three laps with their run group. After all run groups have taken a spin around the track, the run groups head out again and get to race around the cones to try for a better time than before.
The first event, to put things in perspective, had a two-day total of 1059 laps from a little over 50 cars each day. Typically, each driver was able to go through the course about three or four sessions, giving them plenty of seat time. This past June, however, 79 competitors ran 651 timed laps on Saturday alone – which is a huge undertaking by many people who helped with the event. Sunday brought out 49 competitors, increasing the lap total to 1155 laps over the two-day event.
The day began with a driver’s meeting to get some rules out of the way and to introduce some pros who came out for the event and are part of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Association (USCA). While there are some highly experience drivers that set blistering times on the track, it’s always fun to get your car out and drive fast, turn, and drive fast again.
The first runs began about 9:30 AM and kept going throughout the day on Saturday with a very short break for lunch. Participants are invited to walk the course prior to the start of the event to get a feel for the track, but the next day the track is run in the opposite direction, just to mix things up a little bit.
Volunteers got out on the track to attend to displaced cones throughout the day, and for someone who was out there bringing photos for you, we can attest to it being a very warm day out there. The little breeze we got from time to time was a welcome relief.
We saw some incredible cars out on the track, made some new friends and reacquainted with some old friends, but overall there’s just no way to really describe the adrenaline rush you get when you’re out there with so many other enthusiasts.
The event is open to all cars, whether you drive a classic musclecar, or an import, or even a truck. All cars must pass a very simple safety inspection in order to race, which includes making sure the car has acceptable seat belts, tires in good condition, and that the car isn’t leaking fluids.
We don’t see too many trucks out on the track, but Rob McGregor brought out his incredible custom C10 truck from No Limit Engineering and ran through the course, a little slipping and sliding and of course turned in the fastest lap of the day on Saturday, with a time of 32.366. On Sunday, a fastest lap of the day went to Asgar Shroff in his 2013 Scion FR-S with an even faster and impressive time of 31.966.
Throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday, we saw an amazing array of vehicles on the course. Some were cars that we haven’t seen in a while, and others were cars that are typically seen at a car show collecting trophies. Gregory Owen brought out his beautiful 1972 Oldsmobile 442 and ran through the course a few times, but a small coolant leak put an early end to his day of fun on Sunday.
Other interesting cars that pushed the their way through the cones included Mike Fitzsimmons’ electric orange 1967 Firebird convertible, or Dan Livezey’s flared out blue 1963 Corvette. A couple of real classics hit the course as well, such as Dannie Pinard’s 1956 dark green Chevrolet Bel Air that he called The Green Monster, and another favorite of ours, Don Chemollo in his 1932 Ford Coupe, and of course the F71 Hotchkis Camaro piloted by Robert Pierik. This car is said to have the very first LS1 crate engine swap done back in the late 1990s.
With all of these amazing cars ripping it up in the turns and getting thrown sideways – and occasionally taking an orange cone hostage for a half a lap, the one thing that makes events like this incredible and lots of fun is the fact that these guys are getting out there and driving the hell out of their cars. It’s one thing to take a classic car to a car show and risk a couple of dings and some road rash, but these cars are being pushed hard lap after lap and we didn’t see anyone stressing about their car afterwards. It was all great fun, and everyone was eager to get back out there and do it again.
And doing it again is what the third installment of the Hotchkis NMCA Autocross is all about, because it will be happening one more time this fall on October 24-25, 2014 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. If you’ve been a little bit intrigued about getting your car out and throwing it around in the cones, be sure to head on out to Cherry Ave this October, and try not to hit any cones.
Enjoy a short video from Hotchkis below of the first event, and check out the huge gallery of cars from the event. You just might get hooked on autocross. Some people like to drive in a straight line and go fast, and that takes its own set of skills. But hitting the autocross and putting both your skills and your car to the test is something that never gets old – as long as you like to drive fast in a parking lot without getting a ticket.