(Note: Article was updated 10/11/23 with the names of additional award winners.)
The first set of winners for 2023 have been crowned in Nebraska at the 50th running of the Tire Rack SCCA® Solo® National Championships. But that’s only half the fun, and a whole new set of drivers face the two different, challenging autocross courses Thursday and Friday during this year’s Homecoming event taking place Sept. 5-8 at Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska’s capital city.
Competitors from 48 different car classes are cleared to compete over the next two days, then the second and final set of National Champions can be named. Follow the action online at sololive.scca.com for live timing/scoring, as well as audio coverage during each day. Also monitor @SoloMatters and @sccaofficial on social media for updates and photos.
Don’t forget that Brian Bielanski has been chatting with participants around the paddock to uncover Solo Nats slice-of-life stories, too, for special “Inside the SCCA Presented by Mazda Motorsports” segments. You can find those over at The Racing Network YouTube page.
Annual Solo Recognition Awards
Along with cheering the first set of winners Wednesday night during the annual Tire Rack Solo Awards Celebration, SCCA’s National Solo Program also revealed the names of those who received some incredibly special awards. These are the highest honors possible within the Solo community, and have been earned previously by several members now in SCCA’s Hall of Fame. What follows is a rundown of those award winners for 2023.
Solo Cup – The 2023 Solo Cup recipient is Dave “Bugeye” Williams of SCCA’s Kansas Region. The Solo Cup, which has been awarded annually since 1978, is presented to SCCA members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Solo events program. Winners are selected by the Solo Events Board from nominations submitted by the membership at large. Previous Solo Cup recipients include Tracy and Robert Lewis, Brian Conners, and Tina Reeves.
Driver of Eminence – The Driver of Eminence for 2023 is Ron Bauer of SCCA’s Northwest Region. This honor goes to Solo competitors who consistently demonstrated excellence behind the wheel, and an exemplary degree of sportsmanship, dedication, and unselfishness. The winner is selected by the Solo Events Board from nominations submitted by the membership at large. Recent Drivers of Eminence include Larry "Lefty" MacLeod, Jeff Kiesel, and Bartek Borowski.
Johnson Spirit of the Sport Award – The 2023 Johnson Spirit of the Sport Award went to Jay Bullington of the Central Carolinas Region. This award recognizes Solo community members who bring the spirit of fun to their fellow participants, as symbolized by the message engraved on the perpetual award: "Johnson Spirit of the Sport Award, presented annually by the Royal Order of the Sheep to a member of the flock that upholds the spirited virtues of Fun, Camaraderie and Tomfoolery.” This award is named in honor of the inaugural recipient: Exalted Grand Shepherd, Roger E. Johnson. The award is selected annually by the previous three recipients.
Dick Berger Perseverance Award – Roger H. Johnson, of SCCA’s Houston Region, is the 2023 Dick Berger Perseverance Award winner. This award recognizes someone each year who is undaunted by limited success over many National Championship events, but keeps coming back to enjoy the camaraderie, community, and hopes for a trophy in competition. Past Dick Berger Perseverance Award recipients include Francis "Frank" Miller, Phil Alspach, and Raleigh Boreen.
Rothney-Kozlak Cup – Street Touring Ultra competitor Jessica Lewis, of SCCA’s Alabama Region, won the 2023 Rothney-Kozlak Cup. This award is presented annually to the top finishing female driver participating in an open class at the SCCA® Solo® National Championships. The recipient will either have the widest margin of victory in an open class (if one or more female drivers win) or the closest margin to the winner of an open class (if no female driver wins an open class championship) regardless of where she placed in the class.
The cup is named in honor of Lynne Rothney-Kozlak for her leap of faith into open class competition at the SCCA Solo National Championships in 1994, decades of sustained competition in open classes, and mentoring other women to advance their driving skills by competing against the top drivers in SCCA Solo.
Sportsmanship Award – Jayme McDaniel and Jeff Jacobs received Sportsmanship Award honors. This award recognizes those at Solo Nationals who show outstanding sportsmanship over the course of the week. Nominations were submitted by Solo Nationals attendees, and selected by Event Chairs.
McDaniel received a Blaupunkt eBike as part of the award, and Jacobs gets a trip to SCCA’s Prize Closet containing goodies from partners such as Hawk Performance, Sunoco, Blayze, and Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack.
The 2023 Driver of the Year and 2023 Rookie of the Year will be recognized at a later date.
It’s the People – and Places
The 50th running of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships has paid tribute to the event’s history, celebrating the people that make SCCA Solo great. But the overarching theme this year has been “Homecoming.” So, let’s also recognize sites Solo Nats has called “home” over the years.
Since 2009, Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska’s capital city has been home to the Solo Nationals. It’s been a tremendous venue, and the city is great, too. Longtime Solo Nats attendees have their list of “must visit” restaurants, and the partnership between SCCA and local government is simply outstanding. The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce even reported SCCA members infuse the local economy with several million dollars each year.
Prior to Nebraska, Kansas was home to the Solo Nats. That history started in 1986 at Salina Municipal Airport, and continued beginning in 1995 at Forbes Field in Topeka. Heartland Motorsports Park, also in Topeka, then hosted Solo Nats from 2006 to ’08 until the annual Solo shindig shifted north to Lincoln.
While Kansas and Nebraska play big roles in Solo Nats history, the whole story begins west of St. Louis in Wentzville, MO, at Mid-America Raceway. That was the first official Solo Nats meeting in 1973, followed by a visit to Lake Geneva Speedway in Wisconsin the following year.
Airport Park in Salina, KS, is where the Solo community met on and off from 1975 to ’86 for the National Championships, with a few other sites sprinkled in. Back in ’76, you had Columbus’ Ohio State Fairgrounds. Ft. Worth, TX, welcomed SCCA Soloists in ’77 and ’79 at Greater Southwest Raceway; and ’78 saw Sunflower Aerodrome a bit south of Hutchinson, KS, welcomed Solo Nats competitors. Then in ’82, a Mariott’s Great America amusement park in Gurnee, IL, received Soloists at a site found a little north of Chicago.
Solo Nats competition is thrilling, sure – but adventurous travel has always been part of the Solo community equation, too. What will the next 50 years of Solo Nats bring? Get some rubber from Tire Rack, fill your tank at Sunoco, and bring a friend for the adventure to find out.
SCCA Solo Nats In the News, Again!
The City of Lincoln is no stranger to huge sporting events, and SCCA’s Solo Nats can certainly be included in that count. So, it’s no surprise that when Solo Nats is in town, it makes the news.
For several years running, our friends at local news stations KLKN-TV and KOLN-TV have visited Lincoln Airpark to see all the fun SCCA Soloists are having, and viewers are reminded the event is free for spectators to come out and watch.
The links below lead to stories at the websites of these news outlets, and be sure to click on the videos there to see if you can spot yourself or a friend in the newsclips!
Photo: Wednesday award winners Ron Bauer (top left), Roger H. Johnson (top right), Dave “Bugeye” Williams (bottom left), and Jay Bullington (bottom right).
Photo by Jon Krolewicz/SCCA Staff