2023 50th Solo Nationals: Friday Midday Notebook

It’s the fourth and final day of competition at the 50th running of the Tire Rack SCCA® Solo® National Championships. This Homecoming event, taking place Sept. 5-8 at Lincoln Airpark in Nebraska’s capital city, will crown its second set of 2023 National Champions by sunset today.

A little rain, hail, and wind overnight did nothing to dampen spirits. Now, things are moving fast. Keep track of all the developments at sololive.scca.com where you’ll find live timing/scoring, as well as audio coverage throughout the day. Also follow @SoloMatters and @sccaofficial on social media for updates and photos.

A Family Reunion

With more than 1,300 people on site, stories abound at this year’s Solo National Championships. One such tale the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper covered this week contains all the emotions and involves a long-awaited family reunion that took place at Lincoln Airpark.

San Francisco Region member Katie Kelly’s 1960 Lotus 7 America isn’t just another car running at this year’s Solo Nats – it’s a vehicle that ties together two half-sisters and a mother one of them never met. Katie’s Lotus was owned by her mother Pat, and it’s the same car that Pat was standing next to in a photo that showed Lisa Bradley what her biological mother looked like – a photo she didn’t see until she was 57.

Before 2017, neither Katie nor Lisa knew either person existed, but thanks to DNA testing through an online genealogy company, Lisa tracked down her biological mother’s sister, who notified Katie. Excited at the prospect of having an older sister, Katie wasted no time contacting Lisa. From there, the half-sisters began piecing together the two parts of their mother’s life.

For the Lotus, Pat had sold the autocross car in 2011 prior to her passing, but the emotions that came rushing back while connecting with Lisa caused Katie to track down the owner, purchasing the Lotus in 2019. Katie and her husband set to getting the car to run and planned a trip to Lincoln for this year’s Solo Nats, where Katie and Lisa, a Nebraskan, met in person and even posed for a photo together with the Lotus.

The entire story can be read here.

Road Trip from Hawaii

“It's not the destination, it's the journey.” That quote, attributed to American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, applies to many attending Solo Nats this week. But it’s a saying particularly poignant for a group of drivers with ties to SCCA’s Hawaii Region.

Their story begins about a month ago when Cory Tomoyasu, formerly a Hawaii Region member now living near Seattle, was driving his 1995 Mazda Miata at an autocross event in the Northwest and blew a cylinder.

Unfortunately, Tomoyasu’s Mazda was slated to be used for Xtreme A (XA) and Xtreme B (XB) class competition at this year’s Solo Nats, with friends Elliot Loo, Joseph Battista, and Jon Guzman flying in from Hawaii to share the car – and expenses, of course.

So, what did the crew do? They agreed to pick up a 1998 BMW M3 autocross car, sight unseen, from Wisconsin and use that as their Solo Nats steed.

Loo happened to see the BMW for sale online right before he learned Tomoyasu’s Mazda was a “no-go,” so the group hatched a plan to pick up the car on their way to the 50th running of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships. Loo and Battista hopped on a plane from Hawaii to Seattle to meet up with Tomoyasu, and Guzman made plans to fly to Nebraska from Hawaii.

Once Loo and Battista met up with Tomoyasu, the trio grabbed an empty trailer and started their three-day drive to Eau Claire, WI, to retrieve the Bimmer.

“It was fun, but crazy,” Tomoyasu said of the trip with his two buddies. “We found the best burgers at this restaurant along the way. I think it was somewhere in Billings, Montana.”

Luckily, all three men were pleased with the BMW when they actually laid eyes on it. Loo made the purchase, and on the trailer it went. Next stop: Solo Nats.

At Lincoln Airpark, Battista and Tomoyasu ran the car Tuesday/Wednesday in XB; and the same car is being used for Thursday/Friday competition in XA by Loo and Guzman. This is a great example of what makes SCCA Solo so fantastic. It’s designed to provide more “bang for your buck” when it comes to participation. Four drivers to one competition vehicle allows participants to spread out costs, and spread the joy.

“If you can do two classes with four people in one car, or even six people in a car with a Ladies Class … that’s great,” Tomoyasu noted. “We just slap a new letter on the car for the class change, and that’s it. We’re even using the same car numbers.”

When the week is over, plans are to haul the new-to-them BMW back to Washington, where it will reside with Tomoyasu. That way, the Hawaiian contingent has a perfectly good excuse to come visit a friend on the mainland to have #funwithcars whenever they want.

Partnerships Make Solo Nats Happen

Lots of people come together every year to make Solo Nats a reality. From all the volunteers to the drivers, co-drivers, and supporters, it’s truly a communal effort. Much thanks go to everyone for a fantastic 50th running of the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships.

Some very important partners also help keep Solo Nationals going, too, and deserve a mention. So, huge thanks go out to Solo Performance Specialties, KONI Shock Absorbers and Mazda Motorsports, who helped support the SCCA Women on Track session earlier in the week.

Additional thanks go to Blaupunkt eBikes, which provided one of its Henri e-bikes as a Chairman’s Award item. Also, Hagerty – the Official Insurance Partner of SCCA since 2019 – provided a Yeti cooler as the Hagerty “Keep it Cool” Award item.

Then there’s Tire Rack, the longtime Official Tire Retailer of SCCA. Tire Rack has supported SCCA since 1995, which (when you think about it) makes them a member of the Solo Nationals Silver Circle. And we can’t forget about Hawk Performance, Official Brake Products of SCCA since 2003; and Sunoco, the Official Fuel of SCCA since 2001.

Follow the Remaining Runs

It’s not over yet as a full afternoon of on-course action will take place at Solo Nats before a second set of winners for 2023 are recognized during an end-of-event awards celebration in the Tire Rack Event Center.

Keep track of all the developments at sololive.scca.com where you’ll find live timing/scoring, as well as audio coverage throughout the day. Also follow @SoloMatters and @sccaofficial on social media for updates and photos.

And don’t forget about the Solo Nationals Morning Show – a daily video presentation where hosts interview special guests and keep everyone up to speed on happenings prior to cars leaving the start line. That broadcast can be found on Facebook’s @SoloMatters.

Photo: Elliot Loo hoofs a new-to-him BMW that has become the steed for a group at Solo Nats with ties to SCCA’s Hawaii Region.

Photo by Rupert Berrington