2017 Tire Rack College Station Championship Tour: Event Recap

How was your weekend? Clean out your garage? Dinner with the in-laws? Drive the kids to baseball practice? The 211 drivers who came to College Station this weekend can easily say they triumphed over monotony and had an epic weekend.  Simply put, you should have been there.

Rain on Friday left a few puddles on the course Saturday morning, but event chair, Todd Farris, was out on a sweeper moving the water as soon as it was light enough to see. Heat 1 had to deal with some water but the subsequent heats had near perfect conditions.  Sunday was similar to Saturday with ample sun but a steady breeze to help keep things cool.

Drivers come to the Riverside Annex at Texas A&M for one reason, expansive concrete with exceptional grip.  Vivek Goel designed two long and fast courses more than worthy of the site. The fastest cars ran the 0.95mile courses in the mid to high sixty-second range.  H-Street winner, Russell Blume, spent had combined Saturday/Sunday times of 150.206 seconds.  Ride along with Zach Sober in an XP RX7 that was the fastest car (Tom Harrington’s kart was faster in KM) of the weekend (https://youtu.be/6KdSQC6CBfM).

This year there is a new Ladies Index for all the participants in the ladies’ classes.  At College Station, some classes only had one or two competitors, so the new initiative really helped to add a bit of competition to the weekend.  Crissy Weaver (DSL) took the top spot on the Ladies Index ahead of Jennifer Maxcy (STXL). Kim Whitener (STS) would have been top PAX among the ladies had she not competed in an open class.

The top 3 in A-Street remembered their highway safety from driver’s education and made sure to maintain at least a 2-second gap.  Kent Kroll, the leader after Sunday, stretched the lead over Matthew Leach to 2.579 seconds on Day 2.  Meanwhile, Leach improved his lead over Ken Brewer in third place to 2.949.  Zach Driver broker the trend, and stayed right on Brewer’s tail just 0.160 seconds behind in fourth.

There were many dominant performances over the weekend and B-Street featured one of them. Jeremy Foley was sick all weekend and not speaking to anyone due to a sore throat, but had a Jordanesque “Flu Game” at College Station.  Driving a 2011 BMW M1, he took a 3.619 second lead into Day 2 and could have stretched it to over 5 seconds if not for cones on all his Sunday runs.  He was still able to stay 3.637 seconds of Greg Paine in second, with Evan Slate coming in third.

C-Street is always an interesting class, and despite Andy Hollis and Tom O’Gorman being unable to attend the tour at the last minute, it was this weekend.   Every driver was using the CS weapon of choice, the 2016 Mazda MX-5. Two-time C-Street National Champion, Daniel McCelvey, had a smaller than anticipated lead following Day 1.  He led Kenneth Baker by just 0.436.  On Sunday, he increased his lead to a more substantial 1.759.  McCelvey’s co-driver, Andy Neilson, leaped over Tyler Kvetko in the standings but couldn’t make it ahead of Baker in second.  Baker wasn’t at Nationals last year, but a good performance vs some of the top CS drivers should make him think about attending.  Plus, with a Nationals theme of “Cone Wars”, you can help but picture a guy named Kenneth Baker in a R2D2 wrapped MX-5.

D-Street is the new home of the BRZ/FRS.  Chris Levitz was happy to remove the TRD add-ons, add some crooked vinyl strips, and get away from the MX-5s in CS.  After a consistent weekend, he took a 1.993 second win over Zach Lemoine and his BRZ.

STR is one of the go to classes for close racing, as long as you like S2000s.  This weekend it was a two-man race.  Perennial favorite, Ricky Crow, trailed course designer Vivek Goel by a couple of tenths following Saturday’s runs.  Unfortunately for Crow, Sunday was no different as Goel increased the lead by another couple of tenths to 0.428.  Landon “Lamprey” Thompson ran a 68.811 take the third trophy spot, edging out Nathan Gordon by 0.064.

After two National Championships in STF, David Whitener is returning to STS in a 1992 Miata.  Facing the usual front of Civics and CRXs (many of which he has had a hand in developing), he managed a 1.169 second win over Gerry Terranova.  Terranova had a closer battle with Ron Williams who closed the gap on Sunday to 0.113 seconds but was not able to take over the 3rd position.  Kim Whitener who typically places closer to husband David, finished a surprising 7th.

Speaking of Whitener’s former class, STF, he has passed the reins to David Hedderick.  Hedderick is the new owner of Whitener’s championship Acura RSX from 2016.  Considering proposed changes to the ST Classing, namely the removal of STF as a class, Hedderick will need to accomplish his goal of a National Championship this year.  So far, he is starting out just fine.  This weekend he won STF by 7.632 seconds over Joe Austin, and took top PAX for the weekend.

SSM has long been home to Erik Strelnieks.  After a few seasons campaigning his FP Boxster at the National Level, he chose a Nissan GTR as his new ride and SM as his new class.  College Station was the debut of this beast in national level competition.  He drew inspiration and knowledge from Eric Hyman who has developed his own GTR for autocross of the last few years.  Strelnieks and Hyman stepped up to SSM for this event and ended up finishing first and second in the class, with Strelnieks finishing with a commanding 4.179 second lead.  Troy Dudley, Hyman’s co-driver, rounded out the trophies in 3rd.  It looks like Hyman will have his hands full is SM this year, but no doubt will look to bring the challenge to Strelnieks this season.

With car owner Erik Strelnieks playing around in SM, Troy “Raw Time” Acosta goes from tire warmer to tire winner in the FP Boxster owned by Strelnieks.  This weekend Acosta beat Todd Farris bye 1.154 seconds to take the top spot in FP.  Kudos to Farris for keeping it close while driving Tom Holt’s 1974 Datsun.  Farris hopes to get his CP Camaro back running after major engine trauma, but FP suited him well in an emergency. JA doesn’t usually make it into the recap, but then again it is rare to see one of the kids PAX in the top 20.

Mason Herrick tore it up this weekend.  He was 19th in PAX, beat his father (Mike Herrick – STS) by 13 seconds, and would have beaten Joe Ricard in KM to finish second.Everyone who attended was blessed with great hospitality, enormous courses, and beautiful weather. 

Everyone who attended was blessed with great hospitality, enormous courses, and beautiful weather.  Be watching for next year’s schedule and add College Station to your list of events, you won’t regret it.