For whatever reason the National race season for those of us in Texas started much later than normal. Last weekend was our opening event for the 2016 autocross season. I entered the car into the SCCA CAM Challenge event in Mineral Wells in the CAM-S class despite being massively underprepared.
CAM stands for Classic American Muscle and the CAM-S is for sports cars (two seaters and heavily modified 2+2 cars). The cars have a minimum weight, have to run tires rated at 200 UTQG or above, and have to be registered to drive on the street. That’s it. That’s the rulebook. Despite that, I bought my STU car to the event to have some fun in a different format and warm up for the season. At 360 RWHP, the car is probably one of, if not the least powerful car in the paddock. It DEFINITELY had the smallest tires, 275s versus everyone else on at least 315s.
Over the winter, everything on the car was changed except the seats, the wheels, the diff, and the bushings. New springs, new bars, new shocks, new tires, new alignment, new track width, and less weight all make for a completely different car than we had in the 2015 season.
Due to time constraints, I could only stay for Saturday. David Whitener, founder of Whitener Racing Shocks was my codriver for the day. Despite being worried about cold tires on our first runs, my fastest run of the day happened right out of the box. David improved on all of his runs and ended the morning 0.3s behind me. We put about 0.7s on the next closest competitor.
In the afternoon, I again sat on my first run, but this time David put 0.3s on me. We finished 1-2 with David in first by 0.057s. The heavily favored third place competitor was over a second behind me. This put us first and second by raw time AND by PAX time, even using the CAM-S PAX which is much harsher than the usual STU PAX.
The results for the weekend are as good as we could have hoped. The car performed amazingly well and all the winter testing appears to have paid off. The biggest change to the car was the dampers. These are specially built Bilstein dampers tuned by Whitener Racing Shocks. The dampers will be offered through Borg Motorsports later this year, once some additional testing is complete.
The next event is Spring Nationals in Lincoln, NE. Due to a lack of vacation days and some family obligations, I will not be able to make enough ProSolo events to qualify for the Finale, so the car will be skipping all ProSolos this year. That means we will only be running Sunday-Monday in Lincoln. Results will be live on sololive.scca.com. I will be driving as 196 STU (someone beat me to the punch and grabbed my usual 199). My codriver for the year will be fellow STU competitor Scott Steider and he will be running as 96. This will be the first event for the car on concrete, which will allow for some additional tuning to prepare for the National Championships in September. Unfortunately none of the heavy hitters from the 2015 Nationals will be there to compare with, but some new competition for 2016 should provide a reasonable benchmark for the car.
Final results can be found here: http://cdn.growassets.net/user_files/scca/downloads/000/015/064/2016_CAM_Challenge_Texas_Class_Results.pdf?1463938808
And below is a video of David Whitener’s winning run as well as my fastest run.