SCCA – Fun In The Sun at Heartland Park Topeka
The third round of the Kansas City Region SCCA Solo Championship took place this past Saturday at Heartland Park Topeka on the infield tarmac on the south end of the course. With all that wide-open tarmac, the course was much faster and open, with broader corners than most autocross courses tend to be. There was a nice mix of lengthy straights, high-speed sweepers, double-apex corners, tight hairpins, and of course a couple of slalom sections. Being held jointly by the Kansas Region and the Kansas City Region, the turnout was tremendous with a wide variety of cars showing up to compete from stock street cars, to purpose-built open-wheel racers, and as usual, a couple of karts. The Kaw Valley Racers Group was also holding a club racing event on the road course at the same time, so I was torn between photographing the solo event and ducking out to check out the road course action. Too bad I couldn’t have done both!
The conditions were quite a bit different from Event #2 where rain had soaked the track that morning and temperatures remained cool all day as the sun hid behind a mostly cloudy sky. This weekend was quite the opposite with clear blue skies and near record high temperatures! The tarmac was blisteringly hot. It was also very gritty. The parking lot surface isn’t well sealed so the cars tend to rip up bits of gravel under hard cornering. In the later runs and heats, there was a definite racing groove, and variance outside that groove was punished with diminished grip and the occasional spin.
After having attended a couple of events, now, I realize that I has one seriously wrong misconception about solo racing, aka autocross. I had always imagined it as an event predominantly contested by guys in their late teens and early twenties, with the occasional “old guy” in his thirties. How much more wrong could I have been? People of ALL ages, guys and gals, participate in this fantastic sport, from youngsters racing karts, to retired folk who still like to drive fast and show the kids how it’s done. I keep threatening to enter an event, but I know my little Focus with its automatic transmission is ill-suited to the task. Perhaps Shaun will let me drive his Mazda3. …nah, he wouldn’t want the competition.
Photos from KCRSCCA Solo Event #3
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