Time Trials took Solo champ Kuehl down some unexpected roads

Images by Geoffrey Bolt

Time Trials took Solo champ Kuehl down some unexpected roads

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Time Trials took Solo champ Kuehl down some unexpected roads

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It was around this time that SCCA launched Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack program, and that caught Brian’s eye. “I finally had a daily driver, a street car that was sort of track-worthy, and when SCCA announced Track Night in America, I thought that sounded pretty cool,” Brian says of SCCA’s program that allows virtually anyone to drive his or her street car on the racetrack in a non-competition, low-pressure atmosphere.

The experience was reminiscent of his first autocross weekend. “It was the same thing,” he laughs. “I showed up knowing no one, knowing nothing. But I had a blast, and I decided I wanted to keep coming back.”

Brian was also in the midst of another automotive project – project cars, it turns out, are something Brian, now an auto technician, and his father do not lack. “A friend of mine was selling a 1990 Honda Civic sedan that his dad had rotting in his backyard,” he says. “He sold it to me for $300. I drove that for many years [through college], and that eventually turned into my E Prepared autocross car.”

Kuehl’s $300 four-door daily driver was eventually transformed into an E Prepared Solo National Championship winner.

That car earned him a third-place EP finish at the 2016 Solo Nationals, then landed him the EP National Championship title in 2017. In 2018, he returned to the Solo National Championships in SMF in his old CRX with the very specific goal of winning. Which he did.

“Then last year, SCCA announced the Time Trials National Tour [Powered by Hagerty] and the return of the Time Trials Nationals,” he says. “I was craving a fresh challenge, something different, and I said, ‘That’s it -– that’s the next step that I want to take.’

“I love driving on tracks and participating in Track Night in America events, but I also love the competition aspect of autocross,” he explains. “So, when they announced Time Trials, that was exactly what I was looking for. A fresh challenge -– a competitive event on the track, but still accessible to real street cars. You don’t need a full roll cage and you can drive your car there.”

Two cars later -– I told you, Brian does not lack for project cars -– and he competed at the 2019 Time Trials Nationals in a 2007 Cadillac CTS-V that he’d modified for the event. He also finished third in the Tuner 3 class, an impressive feat considering the competition.

At the 2019 Time Trials Nationals, a Cadillac CTS-V brought him some impressive results.

Time Trials National Tours and Time Trials Nationals utilize two distinct competition types in the same weekend: Time Attack and TrackSprint. Time Attack involves traditional lapping for the fastest time. TrackSprint, meanwhile, resembles autocross in that it’s a point-to-point competition, but this time on the track. Ironically, Brian struggled the most at the 2019 Time Trials Nationals during the TrackSprint at NCM Motorsports Park. Despite that, TrackSprint is what he loves the most.

“It feels like home,” he says. “You have this heightened sense of, ‘It needs to happen right now.’ You can’t blow an apex and then back off and get it on the next lap. Nope, this run is all that matters -– you need to get it done right now.”

Despite the similarities between autocross and track driving, Brian points out that for him, no cone is safe on the track. “The Time Trials staff likes to make fun of me,” he chuckles. “They always joke with me that I should learn to drive on the track, autocrosser, because I manage to hit every apex cone, or take out all of the cones on the track.”

Kuehl has modified, developed and fine-tuned a number of successful competition vehicles over the years, and shows no signs of stopping. As such, we’re excited to see what his latest project becomes …

Next, I posed the obvious question: Between autocross and Time Trials, which is his preference?

“Honestly,” he laughs, “whatever it is that’s making me enjoy myself, test my limits, and challenge myself, that’s what I’m going to do. I have no intention of never going back to the Solo Nationals -– I want to go back very badly. And I also want to go back to the Time Trial Nationals. I have a lot of fun doing both.

“I’m just trying to have fun with cars,” he concludes. At that very moment, I snap back to the harsh reality of the day, and I realize just how profound his statement is.

This story originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of SportsCar magazine, the official publication of the Sports Car Club of America and just one of the many benefits of membership in the SCCA.

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