Editor's Correction, Sept. 6, 2021: The information about the tech inspection process in the "Check-In and Tech" section below was outdated in the original version of this article. We have updated it to reflect correct information, and apologize for the oversight. We'd like to thank 2021 Solo National's Chief of Tech, Jinx Jordan, for bringing the error to our attention and providing correct information.
After a forced year off due to COVID, the Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals will be back in action September 6-10 at Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska. And since it has kind of been two years since Solo Nats event was last held, we thought it might be good to offer a refresher on event practices for those who may be a bit rusty, or those making their first-ever trip to SCCA’s largest championship event.
Before diving into the details below, one wonderful fact should be noted. If at ANY point you are confused, worried or have questions while at Lincoln Airpark, just ask for help from anyone you see. That includes volunteers, staff and fellow competitors. The Solo community is a very kind family and very open to helping others.
There’s only one way in and out of Solo Nationals. Google even knows where it is. You can ask Google to take you to “SCCA Solo Nationals Entrance” or punch 40.8486272, -96.7715285 into your chosen maps app. Before you enter the site, you’ll need to sign an event waiver and get the rubber wristband that will allow you to come and go freely throughout the week. You can sign the waiver upon arrival, but we HIGHLY recommend that you use your cell phone to sign beforehand using the speedwaiver. Just show the confirmation screen to the gate worker and you’re good to go.
Once through the gate, it’s time to find your paddock spot and get settled in. The paddock is divided into rows running east/west. To help you orient yourself, when entering the gate, you’re pointing east. Each row then has two sides, with “A” spots to the south and “B” sides to the north and spot numbers that begin on the west side of the rows. So if your paddock space is “13_20B” you will head to the north side of row 13 (there’s a sign at the end of each row) and look for spot #20. To accommodate the Test and Tune Course, rows 11 through 40 have spot numbers starting at 20. Every row ends with spot 32 at the east side of paddock.
Need a little help finding your paddock spot, or need to be assigned a spot on site? A volunteer will be stationed to the left of the main gate next to a “Paddock” flag and able to help.
If you haven’t yet registered for a paddock spot, that process is open through Monday, August 23rd at 3pm CDT here.
Check-In and Tech
To get checked in for Solo Nationals, visit the Check-in tent, located at the end of row 9, during the published hours, and bring proof of SCCA membership. Kind volunteers will verify your event entry, give you your work assignment, supply the required Tech form to be filled out by you, and verify that you have the required helmet barcode sticker. Don’t have a barcode on your helmet yet? Don’t worry, registration volunteers will get you one. NOTE: National Solo participants through 2020 and 2021 have been able to print a tech sheet and have it ready to present at Tech upon arrival. At Nationals, you must use the tech sheet provided at Registration.
Next up is a trip to the tech area to make sure your car and equipment are ready for competition. Bring your completed tech form and competition vehicle as it will be run out on the course during the event. Numbers and class designations need to be on the vehicle. Bring your helmet, too. When you reach a tech worker they will verify that your helmet is current and your tech sheet is completed fully before placing a signed tech sticker on your car. If things are amiss, you will head back to your paddock spot to make the necessary adjustments before returning to the tech area.
The Tech and Check-in tents are open at scheduled times, and you can find that online schedule here. If for some reason you can’t make it to those tents during their scheduled hours, you can request a special appointment by emailing Nikki Edwards at NEdwards@scca.com.
Lastly, make the Test and Tune (TNT) course part of your “pre-run” tasks. The TNT course is set up in the northwest part of the paddock, and it’s a fantastic way to make sure you and your car are ready for competition runs. Registering online for TNT slots is best. But you can just show up to the Nebraska Region trailer near the course and see what slots are still available. Keep in mind that TNT slots are offered in one-hour blocks, and takers are split into two grids. You’ll need to show up a little bit before your time slot to avoid delays. Stop by the Nebraska Region trailer to get your run sticker and ask which grid to pull your car into.
Time to Get the Work Done!
When you check in at the Registration tent you’ll receive a useful handout with a bunch of info, including scheduled competition “run” days and heat rotation for classes. This information can also be found online here. You’ll see no times noted on the run order, and that’s because the daily schedule is fluid It’s your responsibility to follow the progress of the course you’re competing and working on that day, but there are a couple ways to make that easier:
- Text Updates: To make sure you have the most relevant information available, there are several different groups of texts you can sign up for. Text any of the following to 21000 to sign up for that category of messages.
- solonats-natsinfo (General Nationals Information)
- solonats-nats911 (Safety & Emergency)
- solonats-tueswest (Tuesday West/Wednesday East)
- solonats-tueseast (Tuesday East/Wednesday West)
- solonats-thurwest (Thursday West/Friday East)
- solonats-thureast (Thursday East/Friday West)
- Radio Check: There are unique, onsite radio broadcasts for the Solo Nats West Course and East Course. Radio frequenies for each broadcast are posted on the back of the timing trailer posted near the start line for each course. This not only allows you to follow the schedule, but also keep updated on the action happening in real time thanks to the knowledgeable and seasoned announce team
- Information tent: Found at the western edge of Row 2, the Info tent has a helpful display board for showing what run and heat each course is currently on.
- Old School: Head over to the course you’ll be running and working on to see what classes are currently running. Reference your event guide and you’ll have a rough idea of how the daily schedule is progressing.
Tracking the run Heat progression is essential as it lets you know when to be on “grid” for competition runs, as well as when to check in for your work assignments. The rule is you simply CAN’T skip work assignments. It’s the communal run/work pledge that makes Tire Rack Solo Nationals happen at a price point that is easier on the wallet for all participants. The Worker Check-In volunteer is usually stationed between the two grids on each course, near the Posting Tent by the time third runs begin on the preceding heat. A flag will be raised at the tent to let you know when worker check-in is open, but typically the line is a good give-away.
If it’s your turn to compete, be at your grid spot before the prior Heat ends. Grid spots are listed in the Posting tent, positioned between the 100 and 200 grid rows on both the East and West courses. Once your car is in grid, go ahead and bring over any tools or spare parts you think you’ll need. Make sure to bring a jack and jack stand. It is required to have a jack stand under the vehicle if you are working on the car while it’s off the ground.
After you’ve completed your three runs, head back to your grid spot to take part in the collective impound process. If you are running in a class that has a minimum car weight, you will be directed to the scales prior to returning to your grid spot for impound proceedings. Once you’re back at your grid spot, open your hood and trunk so other competitors can inspect your vehicle if they wish. And as you examine the vehicles of others, respect their cars and ask permission before doing anything more than looking from the outside. Also note that you may be directed by impound officials to participate in a more specific compliance check, which can include pulling off a wheel, taking measurements of specific parts, or other things deemed necessary.
Once class run results are audited in the Timing Trailer, an impound official will deliver the outcomes to class participants for approval. After everyone has had a chance to review the numbers and there are no concerns, the impound official will announce your class is released from impound. On the second day of competition, you’ll head over to the podium to celebrate the successes of those in your class, maybe your own success! Once that celebration wraps up, pack up your stuff, return to your paddock spot, and you’re done for the day unless you have a pending work assignment.
While this covers the tangible must-do parts of Solo Nationals, there is so much more to do and enjoy. The event formally kicks off Monday evening with a Welcome Party at the Tire Rack Event Center (Paddock rows 1 and 2). A banquet celebrating annual award winners also be held at the “TREC” on Wednesday evening. Admission to these celebrations is included in your registration. The rest of your trip will be filled with cheering for friends, making new friends and taking in paddock parties hosted by regions from across the country each evening.
Keep an eye on your inbox as Nikki Edwards will be continuing to send out helpful event information leading up to our arrival at “The Concrete Beach.” After skipping 2020, the staff is excited to be back at it! #SoloNatsHasStarted
Photo by Doug Prange