A strange turn of events led to the pair attending the 2018 Solo National Championships co-driving different cars, Eric in A Street and Justin in C Prepared. Eric’s trip to Lincoln resulted in a 44th-place finish, while Justin landed in the trophies.
It needn’t be said that 2018 was the year of the flood, with Eric taking the brunt of the storm. “I was something like the fifth car off in the first run group at my first Solo Nationals in the pouring rain on old Rivals in a car I’d only driven once before,” he recalls.
Justin’s heat six experience was largely in the dry. “I was kind of an over-driver, so that [CP] car really matched my style since it was the fastest car I’d driven to that point,” he says. “I was getting better, but I was used to driving on street tires and that car was on slicks, and that was my first time on concrete, so there was way more grip than I was used to. I was trying to wrap my head around how fast this thing was.”
Come day two, Justin hit his stride. “On my third run, I went all out and managed to get a really fast run in, which actually beat that year’s CP National Champion [Tommy Pulliam] on that course. I was the second-fastest driver in CP on that course on that day [Michael Maier being the fastest], but I had too much of a gap from the first day, so I ended up in fifth.”
The results from Nationals surprised both, and it fired their passion. Eric’s mindset? “Let’s do as many events as we can,” Eric (pictured above) remembers thinking. So, Justin set to preparing his Corvette. “For 2019, I put Penskes on it, got wider wheels, put a spoiler on the back, took weight out. Over that winter I did a whole bunch of things to make the car more competitive.”
Not being a builder himself, Eric opted to co-drive with his brother while weighing the sale of his FR-S.
The events kept coming and the modifications piled up. For one Solo Championship Tour some seven hours away, the pair worked late building a spoiler, then drove through the night to make their first-heat run group. Come Sunday afternoon, Justin stood atop the CAM-S results.
Entering the 2019 Tire Rack ProSolo Finale in Lincoln, Justin led the CAM-S points, and despite the Corvette not handling correctly, he pulled out the win.
The 2019 Solo National Championships was what became known as the “dust bowl,” and the Corvette was handling strangely. The pair installed a bigger front swaybar, but when that didn’t work, they left the car as is. Turns out, the problem was a binding rear swaybar end link. Nevertheless, the results were positive, with Eric in eighth — one spot out of the CAM-S trophies — and Justin third.
Despite Eric’s massive Solo Nationals improvement year over year, he wasn’t content. “I left a little disappointed with myself,” he admits. “I didn’t feel like I drove my best. I felt like I left a little too much on the table.”
Justin also had regrets. “I was happy with the ProSolo win, but I was really disappointed with Solo Nationals because we tried the bigger front bar and it didn’t work and I was scared to change it back,” he says. “I don’t know what was going through my head at the time.”
And, just their luck, after running a competitive 2020 season filled with top-three results at National Solo events — including Eric’s third-place FP finish at the Toledo Champ Tour, winding up a few seconds back from David Montgomery and Tom O’Gorman — came the cancellation of the 2020 Solo National Championships due to the pandemic.
What have Justin and Eric learned during their total immersion autocross experience over the last six years? “Talk to people,” Eric advises. “Be a sponge. Learn everything you can. Do it as much as you can. That was our big thing — we did every event we could.”
“In the last two years, more often than not on weekends, we’re autocrossing,” Justin agrees. “In 2020, it was almost every weekend. It came down to seat time.”
“That, and not being afraid of the level of competition,” says Eric, with Justin adding, “The faster the people you compete against, the faster you’re going to get because you have to get faster to keep up.”
Eric has also been dialing in his driving by coaching others. In addition, he’s starting to work on his newest car, a Dodge Viper — his FR-S sold after all — although that car won’t be done by this year’s Solo Nationals.
For sure, Eric is now just as hooked on the sport as Justin.
From first autocross to National Championship contenders in a handful of years, the story of the Peachey brothers is astounding. It’s impossible to know where their adventure will lead, but wherever it is, it’ll undoubtedly involve the top of the results sheet.
This feature originally appeared in the March/April issue of SportsCar Magazine, which is included (in both print and digital form) with membership in the Sports Car Club of America.