Mazda Motorsports autocrosser Ron Bauer attended the first event of its kind for SCCA, the Time Trial National Tour, at Thunderhill’s West track this past weekend.
I’ve been a hardcore autocrosser since 1994 when I brought out my 1992 GTI to a local event. A buddy had met someone at a track day event who encouraged him to come out to the next autocross. My buddy then told me about it. We took my car to the event, bike rack and all. By the end of the day, I was competing, and have been ever since.
I drove my first Miata in 1996, and got hooked on those. Most recently, I built a 2016 Miata for the BSP class and ran it quite successfully last year. (Editor’s note: Ron won the Solo National Championships, again.) I’ve driven almost everything under the sun, but it’s hard to beat the fun per dollar that a Miata offers.
In the early 2000s, for about three years, I competed in Spec Miata locally, including an endurance race at Thunderhill.
Aside from a couple track days since, I haven’t spent time on a full-on race track. I have spent my time autocrossing due to the lower expense and the great people I had met from all over the country.
Bauer’s entry into SCCA Time Trials
Within motorsport, Time Trials competition isn’t new. But SCCA is doing it differently. It’s a blend of SCCA’s Track Night in America, where people are invited to bring out their daily driver for a low cost to play at local tracks, with an added element of competition. SCCA felt the Time Trial program was a great next step to add some competition to the play time, which I agree with, and so participated.
The first event that SCCA would be putting on is the one this past weekend at Thunderhill. Having run Spec Miata there, and remembering how cool all the rolling hills were, I thought this would be a great place to start. It was going to make a busy five weeks though, as I would also be attending the Crows Landing and Fontana Pro Solos, and the Crows Landing National Tour in the same time frame.
With it being my first event, everything was new for me – new rules, new format…. New new new. But that was interesting.
First up was classing my Miata. It fits very well in BSP for autocross, but the Time Trials have completely different classing, with most of it being somewhat biased towards daily drivers up to Street Touring cars. All but the “Ultimate” classes require 200 treadwear or higher tires. Since I normally run Hoosiers, this was a problem, as I didn’t want to be paired against cars with monster power, just because of my tires. I also run E85 fuel and have flares, so those would dictate where I could run also. Fortunately, I still had a really good set of BFG Rival S 1.5 tires from my STR days (245/40/17s on 17×9 wheels.) By running these, I would be in the Max 3 class. I have heard from several people that they don’t like where their car falls in the classing structure. All I can say is don’t worry about it. Run the car where it falls. You’ll still have a great experience.