A record setting 1306 competitors took to the Lincoln Air Park September 6th – 9th for the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB, and 23 of them traveled all the way to Nebraska from the North Carolina Region!
2016 saw NCR drivers bringing home 8 trophies, including National Championships for Maria Mayorga in G Street Ladies, and Andrew Pallotta in G Street! (That’s Maria at the wheel in the photo above. Photo: Jeff Eng)
Congratulations to all that experienced Nationals, to those who won trophies and to Maria and Andrew on their championships!
2016 North Carolina Region Drivers
|B Street||Justin Barbry
|BS Ladies||Abby Smith
|C Street||Matt McGrain||19th|
|CS Ladies||Jennifer Vance||3rd (Trophy)|
|E Street||Eric Peterson
|ES Ladies||Jennifer Bedell
|F Street||Michael Feeney
|G Street||Andrew Pallotta||National Champion|
|GS Ladies||Maria Mayorga||National Champion|
|H Street||David Spratte||14th|
|HS Ladies||Gwen Habenicht||2nd (Trophy)|
|SMF Ladies||Shelby Turbeville||4th|
Below: New National Champions Andrew Pallotta & Maria Mayorga
Additionally, some NCR drivers went out to Lincoln extra early for the 2016 Tire Rack ProSolo Finale, September 2-4. Congratulations to all that participated and those who took home trophies!
|B Street||Justin Barbry||2nd (Trophy)|
|E Street||Eric Peterson||2nd (Trophy)|
|F Street||Michael Feeney
|H Street||David Spratte||3rd|
|Ladies 2||Jennifer Bedell
The following is an account from Team .:RAWRRR, about their experience competing in BS/BSL driving a 2016 VW Golf R at the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB.
40 Hours of Driving for 6 Minutes of Racing
Attending the Solo Nationals for the first time was an amazing experience, one which is difficult to even put into words. The largest event most of us have ever been a part of up to this point was one-tenth as large as Nationals. There were a record 1306 competitors at the 2016 Solo Nationals, or in other words, Team .:RAWRRR and 1302 other racers.
Tara Arnette, Abby Smith, Justin Arnette and Mike Jones worked throughout the year toward their goal of attending the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB. These four friends and competitors became Team .:RAWRRR, based on their car, a 2016 Volkswagen Golf R. Team .:RAWRRR knew they would be an underdog in the BS/BSL class but felt that if there was rain their chances would improve, though the primary goal was to simply experience Solo Nationals and all that it had to offer.
Team .:RAWRRR arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska from eastern North Carolina on Sunday, September 4th after spending the previous 2 days on the road towing for approximately 20 hours. Along the way Team .:RAWRRR played “Snap Crap,” a game conceived to help make the, often, long haul to Lincoln a little more entertaining. Competitors from around the country are given a list of items to find and take photos of on their way both to and from Lincoln. The list is open to interpretation which makes it quite fun and a good way to help pass time during the long tow to Lincoln, Nebraska from North Carolina.
Once on site, Team .:RAWRRR established base camp along with several other competitors from the NCR and neighboring regions such as SCR, CCR, etc. The paddock area is where most shenanigans take place and is a great place to spend time. Not only do you see plenty of car prep, but also “site improvements” such as tents, couches purchased from Craigslist, large inflatable rubber duckies, etc., and plenty of competitors who are friends that only get to see one another one or twice a year getting reacquainted. NCR’s site at Cherry Point is one of the larger sites on the east coast, yet the paddock area alone at the Lincoln Air Park is larger than all of the Cherry Point site. As such, it is hard describe what it looks like as 1300 autocrossers showed up and slowly filled the space in their own unique way.
Once settled, Team .:RAWRRR got registered and passed tech and then spent some time watching the Pro Solo Finale. Monday was spent recovering from the two day tow, making car prep changes and completing several course walks on both the East and West course. Team .:RAWRRR was scheduled to run the East Course Thursday and West Course Friday. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent watching other competitors run and getting in additional course walks as often as possible between run groups. Plus, Team .:RAWRRR had two time slots scheduled on the test course, which was used for final tuning and scrubbing in a new set of tires.
Thursday. Race day. After an early arrival for one last course walk on the East Course, Justin and Mike worked the first run group followed by Abby and Tara working the second. The guys ran in Group 3 and the ladies in Group 5. All four members of Team .:RAWRRR laid down their best runs of the day on their very first run. All team members thought they had underperformed for the day and looked forward to day two, as rain was in the forecast and the all-wheel drive of the Golf R looked promising against a horde of Corvettes and S2000s.
Friday. Race day, take 2. Groups 1 and 2 saw cool and windy conditions, and just as Group 2 was finishing the sun came out and temperatures quickly increased. There would be no rain to help Justin and Mike in Group 3. The guys laid down solid runs that they deemed, “pretty good, but not great,” and concluded that in the dry the Golf R is simply outclassed in BS by the Corvette and S2000. After lunch the ladies ran in Group 5, as the clouds quickly rolled in. A push was made to get in dry runs before the rain came, but only the first drivers got in dry runs. After a 2 hour delay due to lightning, racing resumed in the rain. Finally, the Golf R and Team .:RAWRRR lived up to its potential as Abby and Tara drove very well, with Abby even laying down BSL’s fastest time of the day in the wet and Tara the fourth fastest. After Group 5 finished and Team .:RAWRRR’s Nationals were complete, a protest arose in the run group regarding whether the dry runs were to count, or not. Team .:RAWRRR concluded that either way the protest went they would unfortunately not be leaving Lincoln with a trophy so they decided to pack up and begin the long haul back to North Carolina.
Team .:RAWRRR worked together to make it to this event and would not have made it to Lincoln individually and certainly would not have had such an amazing experience. Team .:RAWRRR recommends that EVERY autocrosser make it to Nationals at least once; to find some true friends and go as a team. Tara concluded, “I didn’t walk away with a jacket, I wasn’t even close, but the experience and energy of being around 1,300 other racers was worth the 40 hour drive.” On the way home Team .:RAWRRR even began discussing next year….