TOPEKA, Kan. (March 31, 2017) -- Some people spend their weekends cleaning out the garage, driving kids to baseball practice or having dinner with the in-laws. But 211 drivers who showed up last weekend in Texas for the Tire Rack College Station Championship Tour triumphed over monotony to experience an epic weekend.
Drivers came to the Riverside Annex at Texas A&M for one reason, expansive concrete with exceptional grip. Vivek Goel, who was recently named a 2017 Tire Rack Solo® Nationals course designer, created two long and fast courses more than worthy of the College Station site. The fastest cars ran the 0.95-mile courses in the mid to high 60-second range.
Rain 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 continued Saturday’s trend with ample sun but a steady breeze to help keep things cool.
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 Jordan-esque “Flu Game” at College Station. Driving a 2011 BMW M1, he took a 3.619-second lead into day two 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 ahead of Greg Paine in second, with Evan Slate coming in third.
F Prepared stalwart Erik Strelnieks this weekend piloted a Nissan GTR, his debut with the new car in national level competition. He drew inspiration and knowledge from Eric Hyman who has developed his own GTR for autocross over the last few years. In the SSM class, Strelnieks and Hyman ended up placing first and second, with Strelnieks finishing with a commanding 4.179 second lead. Troy Dudley, Hyman’s co-driver, rounded out the trophies in third. It looks like Hyman will have his hands full this year, but no doubt will look to bring the challenge to Strelnieks all season.
The top three 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 two. Meanwhile, Leach improved his lead over Ken Brewer in third place to 2.949. Zach Driver broke the trend, and stayed right on Brewer’s tail just 0.160 seconds behind in fourth.
C Street was an interesting class during the 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 one. 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.
After two National Championships in Street Touring FWD, David Whitener is returning to Street Touring Sport in a 1992 Miata. Facing the usual front of Civics and CRXs, 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 third position.
Next up on for the 2017 Tire Rack Championship Tour is an April 28-May 1 visit to Crows Landing.
Story and Photo by: Thomas Thompson