PAINT ROCK, Ala. (June 9, 2014) - The 2014 Dixie National Challenge RallyCross was held at the Hollytree Off-Road Park in Paint Rock, Alabama, June 6-7. The SCCA host club was the Tennessee Valley Region with a local manufacturer, Dynatorch Inc., as the sponsor. Charles Wright was the event master pulling the whole event together. The event was a resounding success. Pre-registration had 51 entries and 49 showing up for a 96% turnout, in spite of thunderstorms every night.
Competitors began arriving Thursday and camping out. By Friday morning a sizable group was already on site. A practice course was setup and evolved quickly into a slip and slide. The paddock started to resemble Woodstock. Even so, no one seemed to care. Cars, trailers and tow vehicles helped each other out with a festive attitude. The paved road beside the field was well utilized to change tires and fix vehicles.
On Saturday morning the 35-acre site was soggy, but a large sweeping course was designed to maximize fun and minimize frustration. No hard or tight spots to crawl around or dig deeply into the field. Each of the 3 courses for the weekend started out on virgin grass to make the most of the surface. The sun came out and the skies started to clear in time for the first runs.
The traction challenged cars went out as the first group. No one got stuck and technique became the way to win. The right tires were helpful but not necessarily a guarantee of best times. The Mod class cars and the all-wheel drive classes ran in group 2. By this time the sun was really starting to dry up the soft soil and times were dropping. A local favorite, Tim Boyett, lost his turbo in his Subaru and dropped out after one run opening the door in MA for the rest.
At lunch time after the first set, the results were looking interesting.
Stock Front (SF) had Ron Foley, last year’s second-place finisher at Nationals out front by 14.7 seconds after 4 runs. The battle for second however was intense. Chris Ealer was ahead of Alec Meda by a scant .1 second with Gabriel Ward in fourth.
In stock rear (SR) Matt Davis had a good lead over M. Lee Culpepper with Santiago Iglasias in his Scion FRS 2 seconds back. Richard Pannell was leading Stock All (SA) by a second over Robert Squailia with Charles Wright the reigning SA national champion trailing in third, a few more seconds back. Charles Stuckey had a good run going till he missed a gate on the last run.
The Prepared class was made up of nine cars all in the all-wheel drive group. Ed Cunill, the reigning PA National Champion, came out swinging in his MAZDASPEED 6 with a strong lead of seven seconds over Doug Williams and Zack Lewis, another seven seconds back. Woody Gallagher in his Saab-aru was running fourth with Christian Retterer dropping to fifth after a missed gate and a cone.
The modified classes had plenty of speed and action. Modified front-wheel drive (MF) saw Leon Drake, the reigning MF National Champion, take it to the bank. Running faster than anyone he planted the flag with four seconds over the turbo Neon of William Ehrman. Pat McCartin placed third in his newly-built Honda CRX.
In Mod Rear (MR) there were a variety of vehicles, including Mazda Miatas, BMWs, VW Bugs and a Toyota pickup. Greg McMahon was first to master the mud and pulled out a 12 second lead over 15-year-old Nick Reynolds, running second in a Miata. He was followed up by Miles Phillips in his Toyota Pickup dubbed the “field mouse”. Matt Williams in his Baja Beetle got off to a rough start on his first lap and was left holding fourth.
In Modified All (MA,) it was an all Subaru class. Tim Boyett laid down a great first run but a toasted turbo put him out early. The lead went to Christopher Alman with Richard Lawrence 10 seconds back. Shaun Lunn grabbed third, three seconds behind Alman.
In the afternoon the course was reversed and moved over to fresh grass. Some rutting in the narrow sections late in the day required minor course corrections but once again the speeds were giving everyone huge smiles. This is what they came for. Rallycross is all about speed and precision and here it took a gutsy driver to blast his/her way around the flowing course without going wide and getting swamped in the soft wet mush or swapping ends at the finish.
In SF, Ron Foley kept it clean and stretched his lead to 28 seconds. Chris Ealer was still in second, now eight seconds over Alec Meda. In SR Davis continued to hold on to first, but Cullpepper missed a gate on the last run and dropped to third, opening second for Iglesias. In SA, Pannell was still out front but Wright clawed his way up a notch to second over Squailia.
PA saw everyone maintain positions from the morning. With Slightly wider gaps forming. Cunill finished in first, followed by Doug Williams and Zack Lewis, in that order.
In MF, Drake gave up some ground with shifter issues that let Ehrman close in to 1.3 seconds behind. McCartin lost some ground, and was needed 10 seconds to close the gap.
In MR, McMahon lost some of his lead to Reynolds. A bad first run in the afternoon saw Miles Phillips miss a gate and let Williams take third away.
MA was running tightly for the lead also. Lawrence lead Alman by only 1.5 seconds and Shaun Lunn was solidly in third.
At the end of Saturday’s action, the local SCCA Region bought BBQ dinner served on site and people settled in for some repairs and buckled down for another stormy night. The class results at this point were still showing some spots up for grabs.
On Sunday morning the clouds were heavy but the rains were gone. Everything was soft as oatmeal. The areas run on Saturday were almost impassable and the new course was carefully laid out to avoid the ponds and low areas. A new course with the start and finish near the road allowed a decent start in order to build up speed downhill.
Since it would be clearing up and the course would improve rather than degrade, the Mod cars went first digging in and clearing away the surface as the sun slowly started to appear. The course was shorter but no less fast and fun. The push was on for every spot. Even the battles for non-trophy positions were hot. When it came time for the stock class cars it was looking like they were going to have a time with the first right hand turn so the course was moved out to turn that into a long left hand sweep allowing them to maintain momentum. The final shake out looked like this.
In SF, Foley ran away with a 44 second lead to take the class win. Ealer finished second with Meda finishing third.
SR ended with Davis on top. Iglesias eeked out second, beating Culpepper by 0.2-second.
In SA, Wright kept charging into the course and took the win away from Pannell by three seconds. Pannell held second place leaving third to Squailia.
Cunill pulled out a nice PA win by 21 seconds. In the battle for second, Lewis took advantage of a slow run from williams, taking the position for himelf.
In MF, Drake re-opened his lead to eight seconds to win it over Ehrman. Ehram held on to a one-second over McCartin, in spite of a hard charge at the end.
Nick Reynolds put on a push in MR, closing the gap. But it was not quite enough to beat McMahon who finished first. In third was the Baja Beetle of Williams followed by Phillips’ pickup truck, in fourth.
MA ended with Lawrence running away by 52 seconds, leaving Almon to take second with and Lunn finishing third.
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