An immense weekend of fun and driving took place July 1-2, 2022, in Connecticut during the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Powered by Hagerty. It was hot and humid both days, but the rain stayed away, resulting in a spectacular kickoff to the Independence Day weekend.
It has been two years since the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour (TTNT) last visited Thompson. This year, 60 people signed up to celebrate the long July 4th weekend by hanging out with friends and tackling the challenging 1.7-mile, 11-turn circuit. Plus, numerous motorsport enthusiasts came out on Friday, July 1, for Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack sessions, then hung around to enjoy the TTNT action.
Jeff Zissulis, driving a 1993 BMW M3, jumped to the head of the Unlimited 1 (U1) class on Saturday after turning a 1:16.301 TrackAttack lap. But only 0.65sec behind in a 2018 Porsche 911 was Ranjan Lal.
On Sunday, Lal was fastest during the TrackSprint portion of the event. Zissulis, however, then poured it on and posted a lap of 1:16.116 in the second TrackAttack session to end up with a 0.215sec victory over Lal. David Burnham finished third in a 1984 Maserati Biturbo.
The lap Zissulis laid down reset the overall TTNT track record at Thompson.
The six-entrant Unlimited 2 (U2) field produced close competition, too. Brian Kuehl, driving a 1999 Mazda Miata, held the top spot on Saturday by 0.173sec over a 1990 Mazda Miata driven by Matt LeBlanc. Kuehl then extended his lead on Sunday and earned the U2 victory by only 1.241sec over Matt LeBlanc. Taking third was Salvatore Demarco in a 2022 Subaru BRZ.
With nine entrants, Tuner 4 (T4) had the largest field at Thompson. Evan LeBlanc, driving a 2015 Scion FR-S, was fastest in the class on Saturday after establishing a 0.884sec gap over Carlos Caberol Prat, who also piloted a 2015 Scion FR-S.
Sunday morning, Evan LeBlanc increased his gap by posting the fastest T4 TrackSprint time. Prat fought back in the second TrackAttack session, but it wasn’t enough as Evan LeBlanc ended the weekend with a 1.928sec victory. Simon Yim finished third in a 2016 Subaru BRZ.
Below are the top five finishers from Thompson with name, class, car, and overall time.
1. Jeff Zissulis, Unlimited 1, 1993 BMW M3, 3:28.218
2. Ranjan Lal, Unlimited 1, 2018 Porsche 911, 3:28.433
3. Mark Sarcevicz, Tuner 2, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, 3:31.844
4. Keegan Stabley, Max 4, 2005 Honda S2000, 3:35.521
5. Michael Park, Street 1, 2017 Chevrolet Corvette, 3:36.890
Self-Improvement at Thompson
Drivers improving on their personal best lap times is a fun and important aspect of the Time Trials National Tour, and several entrants achieved just that at Thompson. Tuner 2 driver Mark Sarcevicz, for example, lowered his best time to 1:17.529 on Sunday. Keegan Stabley, driving a 2005 Honda S2000 in Max 4, achieved the same on Sunday with his 1:18.697 lap.
With a time of 1:16.245 on Sunday, Unlimited 1 driver Lal set a new mark for himself at Thompson. In Unlimited 2, Matt LeBlanc set a personal best of 1:21.712 in a Mazda Miata. Don Kuehl, driving a 2018 Honda Civic in Max 3, also cut a couple seconds off his best trip around the track with a 1:20.839 lap.
Max 4 driver Adam Wright dropped 0.3sec off his best time with a 1:22.373, achieved in a 2014 Scion FR-S, and Justin Kennedy chopped three seconds off his best lap by turning a 1:25.071 in a Tuner 4 2015 Mini Cooper. Also in Tuner 4, Evan LeBlanc reset his personal best, posting a 1:21.960 in a Scion FR-S.
Exemplary Awards at Thompson
KONI Podium Celebrations on Sunday afternoon lauded top performers in each class. Additionally, superlative awards were handed out, such as the Time Trials Champion honor awarded to a person supporting the TTNT program. That award at Thompson went to Michael Park, who started participating in TTNT events four years ago as a novice.
Today, Park is easily part of the advanced run group, and does a lot to bring new drivers to the program. In fact, Park was heavily responsible for talking Jeff Baertschi into participating at his very first TTNT event this past weekend. That turned out pretty well as Baertschi earned the Top Novice award for finishing first in Max 1 driving a 2019 Chevrolet Camaro.
Tina Royal earned the Most Improved award. In the early 1990s, Royal grabbed a Tire Rack Solo National Championships win, but then didn’t compete in motorsports for 30 years. At her first-ever TTNT this past weekend, she shook off the cobwebs with impressive laps.
The Crossover award, bestowed upon competitors coming from other SCCA disciplines, went to Matthew Huchro. He is an avid autocrosser, usually competing in the Street Touring™ Sport (STS) class. Huchro opted to skip various Solo opportunities in Bristol, TN, this weekend to instead run in his very first Time Trials National Tour (his second SCCA Time Trials ever). During this event, he won the Sport 4 class in a 2019 Ford Fiesta.
The Spirit of Time Trials award goes to a participant who embraces the idea and themes of the Time Trials program. Dan Gorss received that award for driving a 2011 Mazda 2 in the Tuner 5 class. It’s very much a ‘run what you brought’ situation for Gorss, and while his isn’t one of the top cars to have in the class, Gorss enjoys the challenge of resetting his personal best while seeing just how far he can take the mighty Mazda 2. Gorss is out there having fun and enjoying his TTNT adventure, which is what Time Trials is all about.
Last but not least, a special ‘thank you’ goes to Mark Miller, who manned the meat smoker to ensure everyone had a delicious meal on Friday evening during the Hagerty Social Dinner Party. Along with chef duties, Miller found time to compete in the Tuner 5 class, which he won driving a 1999 Mazda Miata.
TTNT Makes Its Way to Michigan
GingerMan Raceway, located near the lakeside resort town of South Haven, MI, is up next for the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour. The July 16-17, 2022, event will see drivers traverse the 2.14-mile, 11-turn course that simulates a country road.
Registration is open online for the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour at GingerMan Raceway Powered by Hagerty. Click the link below and reserve your entry today for what will be another amazing TTNT experience.
Photo by Geoffrey Bolte