The previously all-Mopar race was open to all makes this year, and quite a few classic and modern pony cars took on the Pentastar challenge on both the dragstrip and the autocross. Mother Nature must be an autocross fan, because she sure made it hard on the drag race and show cars by sending intermittent showers and wind over the track. Despite the wet weather, or perhaps because of it, the 2012 Hotchkis Autocross was non-stop corner-carving action.
Hotchkis demo drivers, Mary Pozzi, David Pozzi, Dan Weishaar, Mike Heintz, Elana Scherr and Shannon Hudson turned times on the wet course only fractions of seconds slower than they ran on dry pavement. Mary and Dan were raving about their new Falken tires and they certainly made plenty of runs to break them in.
The autocross was open to all show entrants, and we were delighted to see that many of the show field cars came by after the judged portion of the event to try out their beauties on the track. The cones were also a big hit with some of the Pony War (new Camaro, Mustang and Challenger) drag entrants, some of whom came over to try the autocross while the dragstrip was too wet and found that it was more fun to hot lap through the course than it was to sit in staging lanes over at the Christmas Tree. We’re always pleased to hear that Hotchkis-equipped cars run well on both twisty and straight-line racetracks.
Folks who weren’t ready to run their own cars could hop in the passenger seat of any of the Hotchkis-equipped demo cars, and that was a popular attraction indeed! The line was so long for rides that many of the H-Team members and Hotchkis friends like Rob and Trish Byrd in their 5th gen Camaros and Mopar Action editor Kevin Wesley in a rental Crown Vic, opened their doors to help shorten the wait time.
Giving rides alongside the competing drivers in stock vehicles allowed the Hotchkis cars to really show what a well designed suspension can do for a car’s handling and performance. The demo cars ranged from a stock big block Challenger on 15″ wheels to brand new supercharged 5.0 Mustangs and Camaros all showcasing the Hotchkis TVS kits for Mopar, Ford and GM. The Hotchkis Mopar favorites were there as well, Shannon Hudson’s Valiant, Dan Weishaar’s Road Runner and of course, Mary Pozzi behind the wheel of the much beloved E-Max Challenger.
Although she wasn’t competing for a prize, Mary turned the fastest time of any car on the track all weekend long and all the demo drivers reported that their passengers were impressed with the flat cornering and controlled turning of the Hotchkis-equipped cars.
The timer recorded more than 1500 laps and there were some rare beasts rounding the cones. Some of our favorites including a 1970 Superbird, a factory option “Spirit of ’76” Bicentennial Dart Lite, and a LeMons racer fishbowl Barracuda.
It wasn’t just cars on the track though. Several drag racers, sidelined by the rain, unhooked their tow rigs and raced dually trucks through the cones, making the truck class one of the most competitive of the weekend!
For an added challenge, the finals were run in a “shootout” format on Saturday afternoon with an average of three runs compared against each competitor’s best time of the weekend. This really rewarded consistency and a few of the leading cars lost a spot due to hitting one of those pesky cones on their way around the track.
Hotchkis would like to thank everyone who participated, went for a ride or shouted encouragement from the stands. Autocross is really picking up in popularity and Hotchkis is proud to be supporting the community and our customers by encouraging this kind of event at shows around the country.
The winners of the Shootout are below:
- Matt Alcala – 2012 Ford Mustang Cobra
- Dean Long – 2010 Camaro
- Rob Byrd – Camaro
- Alex Goebel – 2000 Ford Focus
- Donovan Tretsven – 1999 Dodge Neon
- Brian Hobaugh – 1968 Chevy Camaro
- Robert Hall – 1968 Chevy Camaro
- Todd Akes – 1968 Chevy Camaro
- Mike Newman – 2012 Durango ACR
- Steve Feller – 2003 Dodge Dakota
- Casey McKenzie – 2003 Dodge Dakota