[caption id="attachment_237" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jason McCall pilots the CSP MX-5 at the Houston National Tour - Photo: Scott Singleton"][/caption] by Drew VanderPloeg The 2011 Houston National Tour brought competitors to Royal Purple Raceway(otherwise known as RPR, and formerly known as Houston Raceway Park) in Baytown, TX.  This was a new location than had traditionally been used for this event in the past.  Previously Houston Tours had been hosted at Gulf Greyhound Park, a dog racing track outside Galveston. RPR is most well known for it’s drag racing facilities, annually hosting NHRA events, the next of which comes to town in April.  But it also offers a parking lot surface sufficient for Solo events.  Roger “The Real” Johnson utilized the available surface to provide competitors with two very technical courses that challenged those competing to “get it right” during their competition runs. Upon arrival, competitors were greeted with a variety of amenities not often found at National Tours.   On Friday evening, Bernies’s Burger Bus(www.berniesburgerbus.com) was on site providing some of the best gourmet burgers in the Houston area.  Using all hand made ingredients (including sauces and hand cut fries), the event participants were treated to plenty of sustenance to tide them over til the following day.  On Saturday evening, participants were again greeted with spectacular food as provided by 3 Cajun Pigs(www.3cajunpigs.com).  On the offer were slow smoked brisket, pulled pork and chicken legs along with dirty rice, gumbo, and cole slaw. It was among the best catered food this writer has been privy to at any Tour so far. [caption id="attachment_236" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The view from inside the Houston Region's "Private Club" - Photo: Jerry Centanni"][/caption] The Royal Purple Tower Club was also at the racers’ dispense as the local watering hole, offering a variety of beverages for sale as well as kegs of beer provided by the Houston SCCA organizers for the scant membership fee of $1.  Baytown resides in a dry county, so membership to the Tower Club was required if one chose to have an after hours adult beverage on site, so kudos go to the event organizers to provide competitors such an option at such a small fee.  Although, as sometimes happens amongst racers, multiple 12-ounce curls can often again wake up what was a once quenched appetite.  Thankfully, the proprietors of the Waffle House across the street from Hotel Central were happy to oblige at a late hour :) Ok, enough about the food and beer, you say?  What about the competition?  As noted earlier, Roger Johnson laid out two very technical and challenging courses for the competitors, with a variation of transitional elements, sweepers and offset gates.  Many competitors struggled to gain time as the competition progressed.  A good balance of conservative aggression was required to get the best time possible.  A few competitors figured it out better than most, and some great battles were engaged along the way.  In B-Stock, Jadrice Toussaint showed that his performance in Dixie was no fluke, moving up one step on the podium to take the win.  What the results may not show, though, is former STS National Champion Matt Glagola’s relative speed in the supposedly “inferior” non-CR AP1 S2000.  Matt had the raw times to be right with Jadrice both days, but unfortunately had cone trouble on Day 1, relegating him outside the trophies.  He’s certainly one to keep an eye on as the season progresses and he figures out the setup on his car.  Another hot battle was waged in STR, with Dan Pedroza eeking out the win over Rob Irish in the S2000.  Rob’s co-driver, Jon Pomrenke, put down the fast time of the day on Sunday though, showing that the MX-5 isn’t the only car that can win in this new class. [caption id="attachment_235" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Road Trip Racing crew pitching in to get Vivek's NSX up and running - Photo: Jerry Centanni"][/caption] Unfortunately, Jadrice’s win wasn’t the only news in BS competition this weekend.  Vivek Goel was unable to get his NSX into the fray as his car developed a misfire sitting in grid warming up before Saturday’s runs.  Many members of the Texas Spokes Road Trip Racing team(including myself) scrambled to help Vivek fix the fault in paddock afterward to get the car running for Sunday, but were eventually foiled by not one, but two fouled coils.  Vivek has already advised that his car is now completely operational, so you can expect to see him bringing it to the front next weekend at the Mineral Wells Pro Solo.  Big kudos go to the aforementioned Matt Glagola for offering Vivek a co-drive in his car all weekend, along with Adam Zaharias for allowing Vivek’s co-driver, John Hale to score a drive in STU prepped Subaru STI, in which he brought home the win. All in all, it was a great opportunity to get the National Competition “fix” satisfied early in the year.  The weather was spectacular for doing so, along with the amazing hospitality provided by the Houston SCCA organizers.  I’d strongly suggest making the trek down to Texas next year if possible if you haven’t before.  Texas hospitality(and food!) are difficult to match, and who knows what kind of fun competition(and paddock stories) you might miss out on.