The 17th running of the SCCA® RallyCross® National Championship kicked off in the tastiest of ways on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, with a barbecue cookout at SCCA headquarters in Topeka, KS – and as expected, the heat brought during the welcome-party gathering spilled onto the RallyCross course come Saturday morning.
Before the cookout, Friday brought course walks at the Heartland Motorsports Park site in shockingly brisk, early fall conditions for the event’s nearly 80 competitors. The opening course of the two-day, multi-course competition was designed by four-time RallyCross National Champ ZB Lorenc and featured a technical and challenging route with a couple of good speed changes – key elements for a good time.
As competitors took to the field, a few stories emerged.
In Prepared Front Wheel Drive, David Capesius lost an axle in his Dodge Neon SRT4 before taking his second run. Fellow competitor Christian Retterer allowed him to jump into his Acura Integra GSR, but that car immediately developed an overheating clutch issue. Capesius got his axle changed during the break, then wrapped the day in second place just 0.398sec behind class leader Jim Rowland. Retterer sat not far back in third.
Then there’s Modified All Wheel Drive, where Kent Hamilton and Jon Olschewski struggled with transmission issues in the potent Isuzu Impulse RS that dominated its class at the 2022 RallyCross Nationals prior to a dramatic last-run failure that decided the championship. This year, things went from bad to worse with the bright orange powerhouse, and by the end of the day, the Isuzu was on the trailer with what appeared to be a suspension failure. Hamilton swapped to Mark Macoubrie’s Subaru WRX STI, and Olschewski took the opportunity to travel home early to be with his pregnant wife.
Heading into day two’s competition, several classes, like Stock Front, Prepared Front, Prepared All, and Mod Front, were too close to call, with the four class leaders sitting one cone penalty away from dropping a position. Meanwhile, in Stock Rear, Stock All, and Mod All, the stages were set for runaway performances.
But this is RallyCross, so nothing’s certain until the last car crosses the line.
There’s more action to come on Sunday to wrap up the 2023 RallyCross National Championship – keep up with the action live as it happens via SCCA’s online timing.
What follows are day one leaders, listed by class: driver, car, and gap to second place, with an asterisk denoting the defending National Champions.
- Stock Front Wheel Drive: Brad Turnbull, 2015 Ford Fiesta, 1.828sec
- Stock Rear Wheel Drive: Keith Lightfoot, 1994 Chevrolet Chevette, 10.207sec
- Stock All Wheel Drive: Timothy Thompson *, 2016 Ford Focus RS, 8.611sec
- Prepared Front Wheel Drive: Jim Rowland *, 1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R, 0.398sec
- Prepared Rear Wheel Drive: Gonzalo San Miguel, 1997 Mazda Miata, 3.089sec
- Prepared All Wheel Drive: Edwin Cunill: 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX, 1.911sec
- Modified Front Wheel Drive: ZB Lorenc: 1998 Volkswagen GTI, 1.884sec
- Modified Rear Wheel Drive: Jason Fuller, 1976 Porsche 914, 5.976sec
- Modified All Wheel Drive: Chris Endres, 1993 GMC Typhoon, 9.084sec
Photo caption: MA competitor Chris Endres leads the 21-entrant class in a GMC Typhoon.
Photo by Rupert Berrington