2021 Round 1 Wrap-Up by Colleena McHugh (Part 1)by Dave

By: Cameron Drudge on 03/24/2023

A long, white winter separated us from our last autocross, and, as tradition dictates, the first course of the 2021 season, will be the same as the last "Butterfly Effect" course of 2020. Designer Ahren Renner’s idea is that racers can compare their first event’s times with their last event’s times to see how much they’ve improved over the season.

Imagine, if you will, a butterfly with two wings and a body, but, instead of alighting gently into the course, the insect is shot from a cannon!!! The green flag dropped at the exit of the paddock and racers negotiated their way into the first slalom from west to east, uphill and past the Timing lights that were at the skidpad entrance. Once in, the first slalom cone had a pointer to mark which side you needed to be on to send you to the proper wing, but of course, you couldn’t see it until you crossed the start lights at Mach speeds!!! This caught many people out. From the first wing, back into the slalom you went, headed for the other wing. By now, you have an idea of what’s what, but the incredibly long slalom gave most a false sense of security and many people missed a cone, got sideways or clobbered something!

Again, we had a lot of newcomers, Kurt Thomson, Errol Smith, David Davidow and Cassidy Hebert were here for the first time ever and Brandon Smith was new to us today. As the new season revved up, the Novice Mentorship Program was in full swing, helping many of us negotiate the tricky parts of the track and identify where we could improve.

This year, we tried to ease the burden of corner working by doing a “Hot Swap” halfway through the groups, minimizing the time spent out in the elements. The first attempt at that today went smoothly with Boris Vujasinovic at the helm. Everyone got four runs and, two laps in, racing was stopped and the swap was made quickly. It was wonderful fun to see people taking a break and watching the competition, and, as an added bonus, Blake and Raina Sobiloff got our FM transmitter working, so everyone heard the announcer on their car radios!!!

A new, voluntary, “Death Match” class was created to skim repeat winning drivers from their various classes into a PAXed class, so they can all fight over a trophy and the rest of us have a chance to get one! It was quite something to see, as the fastest guys didn’t have anything sewn up! It forced all of them to the absolute limits of their cars, and a lot of very exciting runs were made by people who are usually calm, cool and collected. You can identify this new class by the “D” leading their regular class designation.

Seven men and one woman entered the new Master class today, all of them former Reno Solo Class Trophy Winners. First laps started and Kevin Weiss came out hot, leading the pack with a 29.08. Steve Mclaughlin responded with a 29.09. Still fighting over first, Kevin turned a 28.8 for another top time of day. His next lap 28.5 earned him 1st overall and 5th in PAX. With one lap left, Weiss threw everything he had at the slalom, but the rear slid out at the exit, leaving the front of the Blue Beast pointed at a cone. He squiggled out of it, finishing a corrected 4th place. Calmly gliding through the slalom, Mclaughlin’s 350z looked so smooth and stuck to the ground that nothing could possibly go wrong. However, on the second lap he was too hot at last slalom cone and it slowed him down a bit. Steeling his nerves, he turned two 28.6’s to make sure he won the inaugural DeathMatch Class as well as 1st in PAX and 2nd overall. Once Ahren Renner’s tidy second lap, 29.3 sealed 2nd place he let go on the next two laps! The rear of the Trollrolla never seemed to follow the front and two cones couldn’t get out of the way! No matter, his second lap also delivered 2nd in PAX and 4th overall. Boris Vujasinovic worked his times down his first couple of laps, then in a rare DNF moment, the GTO spun before the slalom! With one lap to go, Boris forced the rear of the GTO around both butterfly wings and hit the rev limiter at the finish, crossing the light in 29.4 seconds for 3rd in class, 4th in PAX and 5th O/A. Roger Petch was one of the few people who had the course figured out on his first lap. His Mustang was smooth-like-buttah on that lap, turning a 29.5 for 5th in class, 6th in PAX and 7th overall. The next three laps were full of fun, and a wide fishtail after the slalom on lap three, made everyone smile. Maggie Elorza did the same thing, flying up the hill, her BMW bursting onto the course hot, negotiating the Butterfly effortlessly and clinching 6th in Death Match with a 30.5.

Bryce Redinger’s aggressive throttle uphill made it look like the Corvette was slung from a catapult onto the course. Once in, he was deceivingly smooth and so fast it looked boring! On his third lap, the rear end came out and he corrected, but never got it back, definitely not boring!!! Then, he cut in too early heading into the final slalom, but instead of a DNF he miraculously caught it! Four clean laps ended in a 6th overall, 29.4 and 7th in class. Nick Johnson bobbled his Corolla on lap one but a fourth lap 31.8 rounded out the Monster class.

Andrew Silva brought out his Lightning Bolt Ford Focus to challenge James Waltz in a Fiat Abarth! James put up a good fight, you could hear tire squeals and see a rear wheel up at every turn, but Andrew was in good form. In every corner, the Ford’s inside rear wheel was never on ground, and it stayed away from all of the cones! Andrew improved almost a second over the course of four laps, crossing the finish lights in 32.4 seconds for 1st in HS. James slid in with a 33.4 for 2nd.

In another surprise attack, Bob Williamson’s AS Corvette also found a cone on the first lap, got squirrelly after the slalom on lap two, ran a parade lap to get a good time with a powerful exit on number three and got almost sideways at the finish on lap four!! A 32.7 and 2nd place was his on lap three. Roger Jacobson’s Corvette was very chatty but it looked like he was having a good time. There always seemed to be a rear wheel skipping along, then a wide wiggle at the finish lights looked like a handful, and all the while, we heard chirp, chirp, chirp, and then Varooooom!!! A last lap 30.7 stood for 1st in AS.

Ed Reichley’s bright yellow Corvette was another talker, shouting out tummy grumbling, Rap-Em sounds every chance it had! The racer complained a bit when hemissed a shift at the end of the slalom, but a fast, last lap 30.1 took 1st in TSSM. Nate Berlant and wife Trish, in a gorgeous Z06, shared first lap fate when the zippy little car gave them both grief and DNF’s! The rear skipped out at the top of the Butterfly and Nate cut inside the bottom of the right wing, tragic! Patricia Berlant looked calm, confident, smooth and so close to cones in what I call a great “Snuggle up”! Her beautiful, blue Corvette turned a last lap 33.6 for 3rd place, and Nate’s 31.8 grabbed 2nd.

Travis Hisken ‘s super fun Tesla Model 3 kissed one cone and then turned a silent 30.9 for 1st in SS.

Patrick Drudge’s Vintage Camaro acted just like you’d want it to, it took huge braking effort to manage the huge speed, and inevitably, to everyone’s delight, a lock up at the entrance to finish slalom, produced plumes of tire smoke! Two 30.5’s in a row made sure the "small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs” scored 1st in CAMT. Logan Toles brought a CAMT truck out today, thrilling us all with his Shark Bite Chevrolet 110. As if to show us all how it should be done, the truck was incredibly stable and, even with the inside rear wheel up, the long bed didn't lean much at all! I was wondering how he kept from spinning, then on the last lap he did, winning style points for keeping his foot in it after he spun. That special truck came in with a 34.3 for 2nd!

In a class all by himself, Sean Sullivan decided that he didn’t need any clean laps to win, so that’s just what he did!!! His Jetta was outta control as it went on holiday the first two laps, clobbering the first cone after the straight, and finding a cone on the next lap, then, on an aggressive third lap, found a 36.1 and another cone. 1st in TFSP was his, after all that fun.

Cameron Drudge’s STI entertained everyone on lap one with a huge fishtail in the slalom, even though he had new tires!!! The powerful AWD leaped like a grasshopper with every acceleration, so much so that he flew over the lip of a Butterfly wing cone without penalty! Then, he leaned on the last slalom cone and got away with that! His last lap 29.5, 9th overall finish also sealed 1st in TSM. Jason Copper’s Audi+ burst onto the course shockingly fast and totally controlled, and, since one rear wheel was always up, it seemed like it had more rubber than everyone else! Of course, he doesn’t, but the brakes were smoking every chance they got, so there was an awful lot of speed going on! A last lap 29.8 slipped Jason into 2nd. Troy Stansbury, driving his self proclaimed, “MomWagon,” showed lots of aggression on the second half of the course, which, on lap one, cost him a cone. Something plastic under the front of the car was also dragging so, if it is Mom’s Wagon, he’s got some explaining to do! Troy turned a 37.3 on his third lap for 3rd in TSM.

Chris and Christian Kannan brought out their shared Miata again for another father/son shootout! Last year Chris swept the points championship, so Christian has his work cut out for him. Knowing this, Chris was especially forceful with the little car, and you could tell by the incredible lean and first lap DNF. Once he got that out of his system, he forced it to rotate into slalom beautifully and a last lap 30.2 (1st in ES) gave Christian something to shoot for. Christian Kannan was heck bent on controlling that Miata, and peeking inside we could see his arms all crossed up when the car pushed! His second lap was smooth, and crossed the lights with a tidy 32.5. Then, back to juggling the wheel, staying off all of the cones, but at one point the turn signal was blinking and we were trying to figure out what he was trying to tell us! Lap four got a bit out of shape but Christian gathered it back up and finished with all clean laps! His second lap kept him in 2nd in ES.

Donald Pingrey, in a super sporty blue Mustang with white stripes, was too eager to finish his first lap and skipped a cone, ending that lap with a DNF. He bounced back with a second 31.1 insurance lap, then he was free to have fun. Every lap, he was too hot at the last slalom cone and almost didn’t make it, but each time, he tucked it in at the last second without hitting it once!! That second lap provided 1st place points in CAMC. Alex Vujasinovic took out Dad's GTO, got it wide in the slalom, and just when it looked like it was gonna end in tears, he tucked it in at the last moment for a clean lap! Two more clean laps and his fourth time out, the car just fluttered through the Butterfly wings, neat and tidy, finishing in 31.4 seconds for a CAMC 2nd place. Dad had to be proud!

First time out, Anthony Ta, had the fastest time in DS and kept everyone else at bay in his Mustang. Feeling good about that lap, he got sideways after the slalom on his second lap, but a last lap 31.3 kept him in 1st in DS. In the fight for 2nd, Mark Skeem turned his fastest time on lap one, so the rest of his WRX’s laps were stress free. Dallas Colodny (Ford Focus) waited until his last lap as well to get awfully close to Skeem’s time. After working down to a 34.8, he gave it one more try and squeezed out a last lap 34.3, just a tick off of Marks 34.2 and 2nd place was settled.

In one of the closest finishes of the day, Jason Lewis’ Shark Civic R turned two 29.5’s to make sure he won 1st in XSA and 8th overall. Just after Jason’s fast time, Sutee Dismanopnarong’s Honda S2k looked like a rocket ship flying into the course, the only thing keeping it on the ground was the rear wing! He turned a 29.6, sandwiched in between a couple of cones, for 2nd place in class and 10th overall.

Ian Mcintosh was another racer kept busy juggling the steering wheel of his BMW 135i. There was a bit of tire rub smoke from a bit of lean, then a mysterious mechanical issue, leading to a DNF, but a second lap 33.0 was perfect for 3rd in XSA.

Michael & Roxanne Fertitta brought their Mini out to play today, both fighting for the DSP win. After a first lap cone, Mike sealed the class with a 30.2 and stayed in the 30’s the rest of the day. Wife, Roxanne, improved over a second on lap four, to bring the Mini in with a 32.6 and a close 2nd.

Anthony Arreygue brought out a pretty Corvette with nice, shiny wheels, and he didn’t abuse it!! Anthony employed gentle, smooth throttle and the chrome was sparkling in the sun when he ended his third lap in BSP with a 31.0 for 1st.

Jerome Gomolka (Impreza) was on a tear right from the start! You could hear the throaty, aftermarket exhaust explaining to the tires what was going on, but the leany, grocery getter wasn’t listening. Two DNFs were followed by a very zippy 32.8, for 2nd place in GS. Kelly Martensen, in a BMW 325i, was too hot into the finish slalom on his first lap and lost bunches of time, but, the king of, “Take a set, ride it out” worked it down to a 32.4 for 1st.

Mike Waltz followed Kelly’s example, and after two DNFs his Camaro started fighting for position. Meanwhile, Andrew Kauble was battling with Hunter Colodny over 1st, his Corvette hitting the rev limiter at every finish! Andrew‘s car had no lean, the perfect flat attack, and was in 1st on the first and second laps, but Hunter gained over a second on lap three for the top spot. Andrew retaliated with a 29.9 but Hunter’s smooth, shiny Camaro still had a 29.8 in it for 1st in BS and 8th in PAX. Andrew’s 29.9 collected 2nd in BS and 9th in PAX. Mike earned 3rd in class and a 10th in PAX with his 30.1.

With everyone always talking about tire contact patches and wider wheels for better traction, I just can’t wrap my mind around guys (or girls) who always drive with a wheel up. Denis Savelyev is one of those guys!!! His Lancer Evo always had a wheel up inside all of the corners, and it was still slowly rolling along, waiting it’s turn to be used again!! He took a couple of practice runs, then ran two 29.2’s in a row to win STU, 3rd overall and 7th in PAX. Dusty Brooke hit a cone, steeled his nerves and turned a 3rd place 33.8. He then threw two passengers into his Audi, and, even though he had good speed up the hill and into the course, sliding and pushing resulted in a DNF and slower times. One of our star corner workers today, Tori Speicher (Veloster) also turned two times to get it done!!! Two 32.4’s sealed 2nd in STU for the cone catcher of the day!!

Having no equal, Jennifer Kauble sure knows how to take a finish!! After turning a couple of 35.6’s, her strong and powerful BMW M240 improved almost three seconds, to cross the lights with a 34.1 for 1st in FS.

We were all very excited to have two karts join us today! It’s thrilling to see these little mosquitoes zip and buzz around the course. The two karting men seemed to be challenging each other to perform the craziest stunts and we were all thrilled to see it!!! Not only are these little racers fast, but they were very tippy and spent half the lap on two wheels! One half of the vehicle was always in the air! James Waechter, in a speedy Tsunami, flew up the hill, looped it after the slalom, then got sideways between two slalom cones! After three DNF’s, he took 1st in KM with a clean 31.7. John Burns took one impressive lap in his KGB Kart. He spun twice, missed the first slalom cone and then the chain came off! A 82.5, DNFed first lap, claimed 2nd.

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