The two-event 2019 Tire Rack SCCA Match Tour season concluded this past weekend in Bristol, Tennessee as the first of the Match Tour/Champ Tour double event weekend to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. Unlike the more common Champ Tours, Match Tours feature class and challenge competition. Competitors run two heats on the first day to determine class results. Then a qualifying session on the morning of day two determines the qualifiers for the Top Dog, Under Dog and Lucky Dog Challenges.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 has replaced its predecessor as the standard for C Street competition. In the class of 11, five drivers piloted the newest model and claimed the four trophy positions. Rick Cone set the fastest clean time of the first runs, but Jed Peterson was able to back up his dirty first run to take the morning lead with a 0.724-second margin over Cone. Behind them, Will Teller was just 0.077 second back in third with Mike Cavanaugh holding down the fourth trophy another 0.042 second behind. In the afternoon, after a very minor course change between sessions, Cone set the fastest times of any driver in the session. While Cone was definitively faster, Peterson backed up his morning time to hold onto the lead for a 0.045-second margin of victory. The positions stayed the same while only margins changed with Cone, Teller and Cavanaugh claiming the second through fourth place trophies respectively.
On the other side of grid, the 13-driver Solo Spec Coupe class was having an equally tight battle. Less than a quarter second separated the four trophy positions after the morning session with Jimmy Vajdak leading over David Marcus. Mike Lawson and Andrew Pallotta held the third and fourth place trophy positions respectively. Unlike C Street, the margins between the top four only got tighter in the afternoon. Lawson set the fastest time with Pallotta narrowly edging out Vajdak and Marcus just a smidge behind in fourth. But those times are combined with the morning times to determine the final results. Vajdak held onto the class lead by 0.028 second to take the win over Marcus. Lawson was just 0.085 second back in third with Pallotta claiming the fourth and final trophy another 0.112 second behind. The margin from first to fourth was just 0.225 second at the end of competition.
Ten drivers made the trip to compete in Street Touring Xtreme in everything from Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ Twins to a Honda Civic Si. Kyle Herbst set the early pace with a first run that he would only beat by 0.184 second to take the class lead into the afternoon runs. In the afternoon, it took Herbst all of his three runs to get another clean time. In the meantime, his co-driver, Mark Shrivastava, laid down a run 0.314-second faster than Herbst’s morning best. The best time of the afternoon was quickly reset as Herbst set the new fastest time for the class, besting his co-driver’s effort by 0.201 second and claiming the class win. Raymond Dsouza kept Herbst honest in the morning and afternoon to claim second with Shrivastava in third and Joseph Banks claiming the fourth and final trophy position.
The six-driver Super Street Modified class played host to a battle between Randall Wilcox and Ryan Field in rival 1996 Mazda Miatas. Wilcox won the morning round by 0.451 second, with both leaders standing on their first views of the course. In the afternoon, both drivers were able to improve on their final runs, but this time it was Field taking the fastest time of the session by 0.450 second. The final margin was Wilcox over Field by a mere 0.001 second for the two trophies in the class.
The final four in the Top Dog Challenge were Dan Cochran from G Street, Donour Sizemore from B Street, Ryan Miles from Super Street and Scott Boito from Kart Modified. Cochran hit a cone, putting him 2.458 seconds over his dial-in time. Miles tagged two cones, putting him 4.870 seconds out of contention. Boito also picked up a cone placing him 2.267 seconds off his dial-in. The only clean run came from Donour Sizemore who ran just 0.096 second off his dial-in time. In Sizemore’s first time in a Tire Rack SCCA National Solo Challenge of any kind, he claimed the Top Dog Challenge win.
In a polar opposite final round, the Under Dog Challenge came down to George Schmitt from E Street, Jason Ruggles from A Street, Scott Moller from Street Touring Xtreme and Paul Kolatorawitz from Street Touring Ultra. In this matchup, Ruggles was the only driver to tag a cone, but did break out in the process, beating his dial-in on raw time by 0.265 second. Moller ran just 0.557 second off his bogey while Kolatorawitz came within 0.259 of his dial-in. But to take the win, they would have had to beat their dial-ins cleanly like Schmitt, who improved by 0.465 second to take the Under Dog Challenge win.
Eight names were pulled at random to fill the Lucky Dog Challenge bracket. In the final round Samuel Banks from Street Touring Xtreme faced off against Bob Bailey from C Street. As was the case in the Under Dog Challenge, it would take beating your dial-in to claim the win. Banks did just that, laying down his best time of the day by 0.101 second. Bailey came close to setting a new best, but came up 0.116 second short, giving Banks the Under Dog Challenge Win.
Photo by Dan Sabol