The last SCCA® Solo® National Tour event hosted by a Carolina region was the Evolution Super Shootout in 2012. Since, Central Carolinas Region has regularly hosted Tour-sized events on the local level. Eager to get the Tour back to zMAX, the Region was elated when it was announced that the 2018 Tire Rack SCCA Match Tour would be stopping at zMAX. Unlike the standard schedule, the 2018 Tire Rack Charlotte Match Tour took place on Friday and Saturday, giving participants a chance to compete and spend Easter Sunday with their families.
In its inaugural season, Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) has not disappointed in bringing the action. And it was no different at zMax with 15 SSC competitors in eight cars. Steven Duckworth and Mike Lawson battled all day for the top spots, but it was Lawson who found the speed to take the win. Long time ESL competitors and co-drivers, Jennifer Bedell and Chris Peterson, also made the jump to SSC at this event to do battle. Ultimately, it was Peterson, who came out ahead.
In CSP, Adrian Willis and Brent Crowl did battle in their similarly-prepped Miatas. Crowl’s car developed a misfire midway through the first session, but it cleared up just in time for the second session and for him to come around and take the win in CSP in his first National Tour appearance.
In BSP, the Miata of Buckie Maxey looked to be the class favorite going in to the weekend, but with five drivers in the car spread over three classes (BSP, SSM and XP), it was not to be. A differential housing crack took the car out of the running in both classes. Sportsmanship reigned supreme in BSP, however, as Sacha Tauber offered his Honda S2000 to Heath Maxey to finish his afternoon runs. Heath adjusted to the car quickly and took the win in BSP, with Tauber coming in second.
The action on Saturday afternoon kicked off with the 32 competitors in the Top Dog Challenge. Immediately, Chris Harp took out top-qualifier Bill Bostic. Harp’s co-driver, Andrew Pallotta, knocked out Sparks and continued to move up the ladder. The final four consisted of Jacob Ronald (STR), Jonathan Bennet (SMF) and C Street co-drivers Pallotta and Harp. Pallotta and Harp knocked out Bennet and Ronald respectively to find themselves squaring off for the top spot. Chris Harp threw down a flyer, matching his dial-in time. After a quick three-minute cooldown for the car, Andrew Pallotta beat his dial-in by 0.5 second to take the Top Dog Challenge win.
The Under Dog Challenge saw a lot of first-time National Tour competitors moving up quickly through the bracket. Sean Minehart (ES) quickly knocked out Sam Dougherty (HS), who could not improve on his dial-in. Graham Snyder showed consistency in his G Street Ford Focus as Steven Rife DNFed on his second run. Matt Hugenschmidt (STR) barely squeaked into the top four over Bryan Balch (STX) by 0.038 second. Finally, first-timer Dakota Tabler took his SMF Honda Civic Si into the final four by out running young Kieran Boito (KM). The final showdown between Minehart, Snyder, Hugenschmidt and Tabler proved to be a nail biter, as Minehart eliminated Snyder, breaking out by 0.3 second. Hugenschmidt took things even further by eliminating Minehart, finding another 0.2 second over his dial-in. In the end, Dakota Tabler took the win, improving on his dial-in EVERY SINGLE RUN, breaking out by over half a second total.
The Lucky Dog Challenge Belonged to Steve Blackburn. Having just put his car together on Thursday night, Steve managed to get the car to zMAX on Friday morning to compete in the Match Tour in SMF. Competing on street tires, Steve wasn’t a threat for the win on Friday, but the luck of the draw and constant improvement in the Lucky Dog Challenge gave Steve the victory in his SMF Civic Del Sol.
Complete results from the 2018 Tire Rack SCCA Charlotte Match Tour can be found here.
Photo by Tradd's Photos