On Sept. 3-6, 2019, some 1,300 competitors will gather in Lincoln, Neb., for the ultimate autocross showdown: the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championship. Each year SportsCar magazine’s crack team of prognosticators take shots in the dark in a futile attempt to predict who will win this storied event.
Predicting the winners of the Solo National Championship – SCCA’s winner-take-all annual autocross shootout – is always a challenge. Even with a collection of ProSolos and Solo Championship Tour events throughout the year giving us clues about who is either continuing to be fast, who has learned something new since last year, or who has picked the right new ride and done the right things to make it fast; there are a lot of variables that affect the outcome of these four days of competition.
Today we will take an up-close look at the Street category, which includes everything from powerful sports cars to mild daily drivers, with only minor modifications.
Super Street R continues to maintain its status as its own category. While the freedom to change classes just by swapping from Hoosiers to a 200-treadwear tire means we may see some fluidity in entries, we expect to see Porsche driver Alex Muresan and Corvette drivers Grant Reeve and D.J. Alessandrini chasing the always-fast Sam Strano in a somewhat shorter list than we’ve seen in the past. Watch for Shelly Monfort at the top of SSRL to add to her extensive collection of jackets.
Super Street has no shortage of talent or vehicle diversity. Corvette driver Doug Rowse will face off against Porsche drivers James Yom, Pat Salerno, Ken Motonishi, Rachel Baker, and G.J. Dixon. There are certainly course dependencies there, whether it is dry or not. Erik Strelnieks seems to have figured out his NSX. He’ll be fast if it’s dry, and the hybrid factor tilts things farther in his direction if it’s not. SSL has been quiet during the season, but we’ll go out on a limb and pick Iven Dudley in the Strelnieks NSX.
A Street may be the toughest class to call. The list of contenders is long. We’ve got the Cayman crew led by Ryan Clark and Kit Gauthier. Our money is on the Corvette contingent, and not just due to their profusion. William Bostic, Cam Withell, John Wolf, Greg Janulis, Josh Luster, Matt Jones, Todd Kean, Charles Krampert, and Kevin Wenzel will likely be chasing Vivek Goel for the win. We say it a lot, but a wet course would probably change our pick. It’s just a bit too early to make that prediction. We have not seen much of defending champ Jesse Gautier in ASL this year. That should help Lana Tsurikova, but we’re going to give the nod to perennial class-jumper Donna Marx in a Corvette.
B Street will be a large class with a plethora of new faces and vehicles. The wild card here is the Tesla, where acceleration might best be described as a trip through hyperspace. If it’s wet, the Tesla is probably unbeatable. Even with the near-guarantee of rain at some point during the week of the Solo National Championships, most classes will probably wind up with at least one dry run on each course, so we have to make our picks based on that. Chris Cox has been leading the Tesla charge, so to speak, but will likely end up watching at least one of the old-school cars take this one. We’ll see Jeremy Foley attempting a repeat in the Emmert BMW 1M, Jay Balducci, Jason Bucki, and David Marcus in M2s, and Eric Campbell in an M4. Then there are the guys we expect to battle this out. For instance, Brian Peters is all but unbeatable, and is likely to bring a 1LE Camaro to Lincoln. But Mark Daddio has a Shelby GT350 as does Jadrice Toussant, and we think Daddio will get it done. It’s hard to bet against any of these guys. BSL should be among the largest of the L classes. Defending champ Shauna Rios, Youmna Zalzal, and Meredith Brown will battle this one out.
C Street is almost sure to be won in an ND Miata. After that, the pick gets more difficult. Ken Houseal, Darrin DiSimo, Rick Cone, Ricky Crow, Maurice Velandia, Jonathan Lugod, and Paul Frey will be chasing the always-quick Mark Scroggs. CSL’s defending champ Tara Johns is off to the CAM world, so we’ve got to pick someone else. Marchell Fletcher should contend, but we’ll give the nod to Shari McCoy who was awfully close to Johns last year.
D Street has had a shakeup for the year with the addition of the Focus RS and the return of the Audi TT. Dennis Sparks will return in his traditional Subaru. Last year’s win by a Civic Type R could be repeated, as Javier Reynoso has been seen occasionally, and he’ll be joined by Mike Leeder and Brian Kuehl, but we’re really expecting the Focus drivers to be hard to beat. Watch for Ryan Otis to take a close one over Mike King. DSL looks like a great matchup between Stephanie Reynoso and Lacey Otis with some serious course dependencies, with us hedging our bets on the all-wheel-drive pilot.
E Street will continue the age-old battle between the MR2s and the Miatas. Eric Peterson, Brandon Dean, and newcomer Joey Green carry the Toyota banner. Matt Waldbaum and Charles Matthews will be the Mazdas chasing Bartek Borowski, who has been slowly developing a new car but, as always, will be ready in September.
The familiar names in ESL have all gone elsewhere. Karen Babb is jumping into that void to add to her extensive collection of jackets.
F Street has been Jeff Cashmore’s domain of late, and we see no reason to expect a change this year. Fellow M3 pilots Tommy Layton and James Cathers look to be the strongest contenders. FSL looks like Denise Cashmore’s next championship.
G Street has grown considerably in the last couple of years to the point where it is one of the larger classes. This year should continue that trend. Kenneth Tsang will be quick in his GTI, while Brian Anthony has shown that the Focus ST is still a contender, but the Civic Si seems like the car to beat. Lance Keeley will be trying to stay close to Ron Williams. That won’t be easy. With Barbara Seeger off to the Open class, we have no clue who to pick in GSL.
H Street has developed some interesting diversity. Cameron Goode brings a Honda Accord. Russell Bloom, Nik Finn, Allen Kugler, and Jinx Jordan have Civics. Philip Mitchell, Alex Piehl, and Steve Brolliar have Fiestas. Greg Reno still has his Mini, and though there are a lot of contenders, we have to lean toward him. Laney Blume has quietly become unbeatable in HSL, so we’ll pick her despite seeing Ginette Jordan and Denise Kugler registered here.
And don’t miss the Solo National Championship action as it happens via SCCA’s live timing and scoring plus video streams, both of which can be found here.
This content appeared in the September 2019 issue of SportsCar magazine.