Hooked on autocross: A brotherly SCCA journey

Images by Jon Krolewicz

Hooked on autocross: A brotherly SCCA journey

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Hooked on autocross: A brotherly SCCA journey

By

“I’ve liked cars for as long as I can remember – I always dreamed of driving cars fast. But I don’t think I ever thought about being a race car driver.”

Those were among the first words spoken to me by Eric Peachey, younger brother to Justin as well as now unabashed autocross addict. In all fairness, though, the story isn’t that straight forward, and a lot of the blame for the Peachey brothers’ newfound passion rightly falls on Justin. But it’s with Eric that this story begins.

The clock on this tale first ticked some six years ago in 2015 as Eric ventured out from his southeastern Pennsylvania home in his modified Scion FR-S.

“I met someone at a car meet who invited me out to an autocross,” he recalls. “Autocross was something I’d heard about but didn’t know much about.”

Eric went, and even rode along. Then a week or two later, he explains, he was back with his own car.

“I had always liked driving,” he admits, “but it’s not like it was a family thing. [Justin and I] didn’t work on cars growing up.”

That fact mattered little as it didn’t take much for Justin to get hooked as well. “[Eric] did a couple of events and he told me to come on out. I didn’t even have a car at the time — I was driving my pickup truck around,” Justin says. Truth be told, Justin drove a Corvette prior to the pickup, and his future would soon include another Corvette – and another.

“I rode along with Eric at an event, and I thought it was a lot of fun,” Justin explains, adding that the purchase of his second Corvette occurred in time for him to begin autocrossing in early 2016. “The very first event of the year we both went to an autocross, and Eric co-drove with me. I was decent, I think,”

Justin says. Then Eric laughs: “You beat me!”

While Eric was the instigator, it was Justin who dove in hardest. “I was talking to people about how to get faster and, of course, everyone said to buy tires, so I bought a set of [Bridgestone] RE71s and a set of wheels for the next event,” Justin explains. “Right away I was like, ‘This is so much fun — I need to get faster.”

A couple of events later, a harsh reality struck. “I ran against [nine-time Solo National Champion] Sam Strano, and that’s when I realized I had a ways to go,” Justin admits. “I was fairly competitive right away — I mean locally, against people who weren’t Sam Strano. I knew I had potential, but I was just doing it for fun. I didn’t go to National events, I just stuck to my local Region.”

That changed in 2017 when Justin began adventuring beyond his local Susquehanna Region. First came other Regionals, then an event that is part of the Tire Rack National Solo Series.

“I went out to Pitt Race for a Match Tour,” he explains, adding that money was an issue, so he slept in his car. Despite that, the weekend concluded on a positive note. “I was something like a tenth of a second out of the trophies,” he remembers. “I felt like I almost had it, but not quite.”

Motorsports, it turns out, is nothing new for Justin (pictured above). Prior to autocross, motocross kept him busy. But now his attention was focused on autocross, and Eric soon discovered that while he was the first one on the autocross course, Justin was taking the helm.

“Justin went all in,” admits Eric. “I was just having fun — I liked sliding the car around. Justin went all in on trying to be competitive, and he started dragging me out to the other Regions. I didn’t even do that first Match Tour.”

For Justin, the drive to autocross was connected to the desire to be competitive. “At the very first event I thought I’d be pretty good, and then I realized I’m not that good — but I’m close,” he explains. “I thought the next time I go, I’ll beat this guy, and it went from there. Each time I thought I could go a little faster if I just did this or that better, so each time I tried to do something better and try to beat the next fastest car.”

Thanks to a little brotherly pushing, Eric’s cards soon fell. “I guess I was pressured to keep up because I ended up putting a turbo on the FR-S,” he chuckles.

Justin wound up buying another Corvette, this one wearing modifications that put it in CAM-S, with Eric and Justin co-driving the Corvette in order to make National events cost effective.

“We did the Match Tour and a ProSolo, and I wanted to try a Champ Tour,” Justin says of the 2018 season. “There weren’t any CAM-S cars at the Champ Tour, so I co-drove with a friend in A Street. I don’t remember how I did, but there were a lot of National Champions, and that’s when my eyes were really opened to there being a lot of really talented people who are a lot better than I thought I was — it really opened my eyes and made me want to get better.

“Then we were like, ‘Let’s go to the Solo National Championships,’” Justin says.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

More SCCA / SportsCar Magazine