Conners Tops Tire Rack ProSolo Super Challenge in Toledo

TOLEDO, Ohio (June 30, 2015) – Brian Conners, of Voorhees, New Jersey, took home the win in the Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Super Challenge, June 27-28, at the Toledo Express Airport. The event was the eighth of 11 ProSolo events scheduled in 2015. Jocelin Huang, of Edina, Minnesota, was the Ladies Challenge Champion.

ProSolo is one part autocross and one part drag racing, resulting in a truly unique and exciting Solo experience. The event is run utilizing a pair of mirror-image courses arranged so that drivers start side-by-side. A ‘Christmas Tree’ borrowed from the drag racing world directs drivers when to leave the line, with staggered starts to equalize different classes of cars.

Competition on Saturday and Sunday morning utilizes the tree, but the driver with the fastest lap on each course is deemed the winner much like a normal autocross. On Sunday afternoon, drivers are seeded into a 64-car bracket based on margin of victory during the class-based competition. Once seeded, the drivers go head-to-head with one run on each course to determine the winner of each matchup. The last driver standing in each bracket is the winner.

Rain, and lots of it, was the main concern shared by all drivers throughout the weekend. On Saturday, about three inches of water fell on, and around, the competition site resulting in flash flood watches and the cancellation of afternoon runs. On Sunday, the Bonus Challenge was scratched from the schedule in exchange for completing six runs of class-based competition.

Conners (Bump Class 1, Porsche GT3) finished fourth in his class during the first stage of competition. That was enough to allow him to qualify for the Super Challenge, however in the lower half of the field. Conners pitted against Joe Tharpe (Bump Class 2, R&S Racing/Loctite Chevrolet Corvette) in the opening round of bracket competition.

Conners scored the opening-round win over Tharpe, and did not lose momentum from that point. Conners’ next match came against Mark McKnight (Street Touring Sport, Honda CRX). Conners bested McKnight, which advanced him to the quarter-final round.

In the quarters, Conners met, and defeated, Sam Strano (Super Street R, Chevrolet Corvette). That pushed Conners one step closer to the final.

In the penultimate round, Conners took down Don Slevin (Street Touring Xtreme, Scion FR-S). Slevin made it easier for Conners as he racked up a couple cone penalties on course. The round win moved Conners into the final matchup against Mike Johnson (Bump Class 1, Evolution/BFGoodrich Tires/MCS Chevrolet Corvette).

Johnson got to the final via a first-round win over Martin Kriz (Bump Class 1, IAG Performance/OSGiken/MCS/ISTU Subaru WRX). Johnson’s next win came against Billy Davis (C Street Prepared, Mazda Miata) when Davis’ car broke. Johnson then moved on to take wins over Eric Simmons (Street Touring Xtreme, Moto-East/Hamfist/Thanks Mike Subaru BRZ) and Adam Deffenbaugh (Street Touring FWD, Neal Tire Automotive Mazda3).

In the final, Conners drove to victory with a pair of clean runs as Johnson held the time advantage by 0.6-second, but took out a cone on course. The result was a two-second penalty for Johnson, handing the win to Conners. In the third-place runoff, Slevin took the win and completed the podium positions.

“My first Challenge win was very exciting,” Conners said. “The first few rounds move slower than the final ones. I wasn’t prepared how quickly it started to move. You cross the finish line on the last, and final, run and you start looking for the other car, looking at the reaction of crowd, turning the radio up (not off). Which way were they looking? Wait…it’s me!!!

“This is my first year on street tires, and every event has been a different setup. We didn’t get dry Saturday runs, so Sunday morning was the only chance I had. Any changes I was about to make had to be right. Once I got to the Challenge I knew a win was about managing my mistakes and a whole lot of luck. It was a lucky day!”

In the Ladies Challenge, Huang (Ladies Class 2, Porsche GT3) began her run to the title from the No. 4 seed. That meant her first meeting came against Simi Ritch (Ladies Class 1, Ritch Residential Design Porsche GT3).

Huang was the benefactor of a red light by Ritch. That moved her forward to a meeting with Learic Cramer (Ladies Class 1, Porsche GT3), which resulted in another red light win for Huang.

Huang moved to the semi-finals, where she met Heidi K. Ellison (Ladies Class 3, Tatis Racing/Karcepts Tuned Honda S2000). Huang beat Ellison in a straight-up battle, moving Huang to the final where she was paired against Laura Campbell.

Campbell (Ladies Class 2, Subaru WRX) was the class winner, and the No. 3 seed in the bracket. Campbell beat Kandy Johnson (Ladies Class 2, Evolution/BFGoodrich Tires/MCS Chevrolet Corvette) in the opening round, then went on to notch wins over Holly Schwedler (Ladies Class 3, Don! Scion FR-S) and Laura Campbell (Ladies Class 2, Subaru WRX) before finding herself in the final.

In the final of the Ladies bracket, Huang finished her undefeated run. Monfort completed the podium positions after she defeated Ellison in the third-place runoff.

Additional information on the Tire Rack SCCA Lincoln ProSolo, including full results, can be found here.

Image: Brian Conners, left, and Jocelin Huang celebrate following their respective Challenge victories.
Credit: Andrew Pallotta