This article first appeared in the July/August, 2021 edition of SportsCar Magazine. Everyone can read the current and past editions of SportCar digitally here. To become an SCCA member and get SportsCar mailed to your home address monthly in addition to the digital editions, click here. While much of this information was targeted specifically at Road America at the time, much of it can still be applied to the Runoffs this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and for years to come.
It’s back, baby! And with the return of the Tire Rack Solo National Championships on Sept. 6-10, 2021, our predictions for the winner-take-all autocross mega event are as wild as ever
Let it never be said that predicting the winners of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships is a simple undertaking – and that’s when things are normal. 2021, as you would guess, has upped that difficulty to a whole new level, leaving us scratching our heads for many of this year’s classes.
At the time our predictions were due for publication, travel throughout the entire U.S. was barely returning to normal, and the pair of Tire Rack Championship Tours that constituted this year’s “Spring Nationals” in Lincoln, Neb., had just wrapped. That late May event didn’t include a ProSolo this year due to a timing system snafu that resulted in a chunk of the 2021 ProSolo National Series being cancelled. And, in the case of our Who Will Win the Solo National Championships? predictions, we tend to lean heavily on that combo weekend. Turnout was good for the Spring Nationals regardless, but the absence of the ProSolo didn’t help us. At least, that’s our first excuse as to why you might disagree with the predictions on the forthcoming pages.
Another excuse is that while this year brings multiple tire choices, there are serious supply issues leaving people with limited – or zero – testing time, and no clue whether certain tires will be available come Sept. 6-10.
We've got more than the usual uncertainty of who will be running in which class, as well. Add to that the usual issues of Lincoln weather, course dependencies, car development, and the basic random facets of Solo competition, and our excuses are more believable than ever.
We have many drivers we'd like to pick if we had a clue where they might run: Matthew Braun, Tom O'Gorman, Brian and Tara Johns, Brian Peters, and Bryan Heitkotter are all quick enough to win any class. It's also unclear as to whether the Canadians will be able to cross the border. There's a general trend of some of the speedier Ladies class drivers switching to Open classes, so we've only got a few “L” classes we feel comfortable predicting. If we skipped an Open class, it’s because we simply had no clue.
Despite all of that, here's who we think will win the 2021 Tire Rack Solo National Championships...
Super Street has diversity and depth. We've got the C7 Corvettes led by Doug Rowse. We expect to see Jeremy Foley in a C8, and he'll be fast. The new Porsche GT4 may be a contender in Ron Bauer's hands. Erik Strelnieks may run here in his NSX, though that's not his only option. Then there are the Porsche GT3s driven by Pat Salerno, Kit Gauthier, Monty Pack, Brian Conners, and James Yom.
We have not seen much SSL activity this year, but Tara Shapowal's dominant 2019 win gets her the nod here.
A Street will likely be won in a Corvette. Could be Zack Barnes or Dan Simms have the speed, but our money is on William Bostic. Sebastian Rios and Rachel Baker will be trying to spoil the C6 party in Porsche Caymans.
We're expecting Shauna Rios to take ASL, but Lana Tsurikova crushed a deep class in 2019.
We'll see diversity in B Street. James Paulson, Mike Leeder, and John Hale have been fast in Camaros. Donour Sizemore has a Lotus, and that’s a good combo. There are various iterations on the M2 theme, including Jason Bucki, Jay Balducci, Andrew Kessel, and Tony Chow. But David Marcus seems to have a penchant for picking very successful cars and driving them well, and he's going to be hard to beat in his Supra, which may be enough to overcome an alien in Chow. Plus, we put Marcus on the cover of last year’s SportsCar prediction issue, so we’re hoping we’ll finally be right.
C Street should be won in an ND Miata. Lance Keeley, William Keese, Landon Thompson, and Vivek Goel seem likely to be chasing Mark Scroggs who was already fast but seems to be finding ways to be even faster.
It seems likely that D Street will be won in a late-model Type R. Javier Reynoso, Brandon Dan, and Alex Piehl look like the top suspects there. Matthew Villescas, meanwhile, is set to capitalize on bad weather in his Audi TT.
Stephanie Reynoso should add to her collection of wins in DSL.
E Street will continue the MR2 vs. Miata battle. Dennis Hubbard and Ivan Austin have been demonstrating the charms of the 2004 Spyder while Eric Peterson will continue with the 2003 version. Then there’s Chuck Mathews, class patriarch Bartek Borowski, and Riley Heaton, but Andrew Canak is back in a Miata and looks awfully tough to beat.
Casey Coughlin dominated ESL in 2019. We see that happening again.
Most of the top drivers of F Street from 2019 are unlikely to return to the class this year, which leaves the door open for Tom Layton in his BMW M3. Paul Brown may figure out his own M3 in time to make this one interesting. If Jeff Cashmore makes the trip, he will make us wrong with this one.
FSL is Cindy Duncan's for the taking, though if Meredith Brown makes it to Lincoln, it could be a battle.
Ron Williams appears to be unbeatable in G Street. Mike Yanase, Brad McCann and Terry MacIntyre won’t make it easy, though.
H Street will be an interesting mix of various Hondas, Fiesta STs, and a few Minis. Marko Gidej will lead the Ford group, then there will be Greg Reno in a Mini (who may appreciate us not picking him since he has won in the past in that situation), plus Peter Ling and Matt Morhardt in Hondas. Still, Cameron Goode is our pick. He got some data on the test-n-tune course at Spring Nationals which indicated that the Accord he's been so fast in isn't the fast Honda. He's our pick whether he's in the Accord or if he finds a Civic drive.
Laney Blume crushed HSL last year. We see no likelihood of that changing.
Super Street R has a shorter list than usual, with us picking Sam Strano over Grant Reeve in a reversal of the 2019 outcome.
We have not seen much activity in SSRL. If Shelly Monfort runs here, she seems likely to take this over Megan DePietro.
Solo Spec Coupe continues to add to its depth. Taylour Wargo, Tony Savini, Aaron Politsky, Jimmy Vajdak, Mike Lawson, and Kevin Dietz seem likely to be chasing Matt Waldbaum. Adam Benaway is unbeaten in the class for its entire history, but we hear he isn’t likely to show this year. If he does show – well, our prediction is probably wrong.
Jennifer Bedell has her own unbeaten streak in SSCL, and results this year give us every reason to expect it to continue.
Adam Norton has his “Fiata” 124 Spider working well, but STU seems likely to belong to Michael Carpenter in his Subaru. Bob Tunnell is developing an M3, and we'd be foolish to count him out anywhere he chooses to run, and there's always the possibility that Chris Mayfield will return to defend his 2019 championship.
We hear Tasha Mikko may make the trip in her ever-faster Evo, so we will hedge our bets and pick her here despite the Patty Tunnell factor.
We expect someone in an ND Miata to win Street Touring Roadster. That could be Ken Houseal or his co-driver Jon Caserta, or Tim Aro, Brian Karwan, Scott Mullens, Joe Goeke, John Hunter, or even Mark Daddio in a borrowed car. But our money is on Daniel McCelvey, who has been awfully fast this year. Late rumors that the Davis boys are looking serious about their STR effort has us wondering if maybe we need to shift this pick to Billy Davis.
Street Touring Xtreme has a couple of popular cars that are likely to win. RX-8 drivers will include Jeff Hurst and Anthony Porta. Those in twins will include Manfred Reysser, Raymond Dsouza, Alex Paraskevas, and our pick from the team of Barry Ott and David Fauth.
STXL is Kate Fisher's. That is, unless Fisher opts to enter the Open class.
Street Touring Sport is another class with two car choices. Adam Barber leads the CRX contingent. Eric Stoltz and Emanuel Martin are likely to be chasing David Whitener in his return to the class.
Street Touring Hatch has not yet matured into a class with one favorite car. Aaron Buckley's Audi TT appears to be one of the best, so we’ll pick him here. Jason Tipple has more history of building cars than driving them, but he and co-driver Devin Taylor should challenge for this win along with Todd Kunze in his GTi, and the WRXs of Tim Miller and Tim and Julie Heaton.
Speaking of classes that we don't see much of, Super Street Prepared is another example. Will Eric Stemler be back to defend? Alex Tziortszis is always a threat.
We usually pick Tom Berry in A Street Prepared, and we are usually right. When we miss, it's because of fellow Evo driver Aaron Miller. There are some third-generation RX-7s in development and, barring weather issues, those cars will become a threat soon enough. Therein, Adrian Cardenas and Tony Rivera represent that threat.
Jonathan Lugod puts the “prepared” in B Street Prepared.
We wanted to pick Billy Davis to take yet another win in C Street Prepared, but with his apparent shift to STR along with the move of the Tovsen car out of the class, we find ourselves in the strange position of having no CSP pick. That spells opportunity for someone.
D Street Prepared is looking like an epic rematch between RX-8s that will only face off in Lincoln. Tamra Krystinik and Steve O'Blenes are both superfast. It's a shame we only get to pick one.
Jeff Wong has replaced his E Street Prepared Camaro with a newer model, but we'll be surprised if he doesn't repeat his 2019 win. Clint Griest and P.J. Corrales may give us a repeat of the podium positions in an unusually diverse class.
Nicole Wong not winning ESPL would be a shock, though weather and the usual Nationals variables make anything possible.
The usual F Street Prepared crowd always seems to show up in Lincoln, so watch for Steven Duckworth and Jason West to be battling for the top spot, but with the addition of some cars from this century. Chances are Justin Barbry or Adam Deffenbaugh will take this on in the Mazda 3.
Emily Danti won a big FSPL class pretty easily in 2019. Expect more of that.
Super Street Modified has belonged to either Robert Thorne or Randall Wilcox for the past four years. Since we see Wilcox a lot more than Thorne, we'll pick him here.
Street Modified could end up being a great battle between Todd Kean in Panda versus John Vitamvas in his quickly maturing RX-8. We'll give the RX-8 the reliability nod over the older Nissan. Erik Strelnieks would make this even more interesting if he runs his GTR here.
Two years of development has given Craig Wilcox plenty of time to get his Civic working reliably, so Street Modified FWD seems almost a foregone conclusion.
X Prepared looks to be a closer fight than we are used to, with RX-7 drivers Andrew McKee and Mark Mauro Jr. giving Fred Zust and his Lotus a good chase.
We've picked Mark Madarash a lot in C Prepared over the past few years, and that would not be a bad choice this year. We're going out on a limb here and picking Robert Lewis in the still-developing, four-cylinder, turbo tube-frame Mustang over his co-driver Tommy Pulliam.
CPL usually has a class, so look for Tracy Lewis to extend her string of wins, now in the new car.
Todd Roberts coned away the 2019 D Prepared win. It seems unlikely that will happen twice in a row.
If DPL has a class, Deanne Caraballo is likely to win it in the Komush Starlet.
Patrick Washburn should repeat his convincing win in E Prepared.
We don't see a lot of F Prepared entries through the year, but this is usually a large class when September rolls around. Wes Hughson was quick in an S2000 at the Beeville, Texas, Champ Tour, but we're looking for Alex Jones in his Solstice to once again outrun him.
A Modified had only four entries in 2019, though there is at least one serious new car in development. No matter how good your engineering is (we’re looking at you Jonathan Clements), an A Mod car is going to take at least some tuning, so we feel David O’Maley will back up his 2019 title.
Matthew Ellam should repeat in B Modified no matter who else shows up, though Zach Moore, (and Jason Frank if he fits in the Moore car) will keep him honest.
Until his A Mod car is finished (and assuming he can get time off work), we'll pick Jonathan Clements to win C Modified over father, Eric, with Ben Martinez keeping them honest.
With many of his rivals off to other classes, Mark Huffman could have an unusually easy win in D Modified.
It has been over a decade since we picked anyone other than Jeff Kiesel to win E Modified. Some day that may change, but not today. The Stalkers are working to catch up, but they are not there yet. Kiesel is a moving target anyway.
On that theme, Shawn Kiesel should take EML.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Zak Kiesel seems to have F Modified figured out.
Andie Albin should take FML, whether in the Doofwagon or a borrowed ride.
That leaves us with Kart Modified. Larry MacLeod has tinkered with another class, but it sounds like he's likely to build a new motor for the kart and return to try to stay ahead of Dan Wendel.
She's been busy this year, but we hope to see Dana Gill back in KML.
SCCA.com Editor's Note: It's not too late to prove SportsCar wrong!
Photo by Perry Bennett