I’ve always been a bit of a gearhead and love turning wrenches on motorcycles and cars, and enjoying driving & riding them.
I got caught up in the sport truck frenzy and procured a two-tone gray Chevy S10 Blazer 2WD. I promptly shaved the badges and running boards to clean up the look then put a suspension kit on it to lower the ride 2 – 3”. I put lower profile tires on it also, which further improved the handling.
One day I discovered the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and their Solo II racing, better known as autocross. This is where a course is marked out with orange pylons and the cars run one a at a time (hence solo) against the clock. The courses are usually devious with tight alternating curves, slaloms and other treats to really test your driving skills. The cones are soft rubber and you’re in open space, so if you hit one or spin out, there is no damage.
The cars are grouped by classification and then level of modification to keep it all fair. Thus, it comes down more to driver skill than the equipment.
I ran my S10 in H-Stock class and won the champion award in that season. Primarily because I ran more events than anyone else in the class and got more points.
I was hooked. I witnessed all kinds of amazing cars from classic British two seaters to Porsche 911’s to handmade exotics and formula cars. It was so exhilarating to watch and more so to participate. There is a definite skill to negotiating a course quickly and smoothly, and positioning the car was crucial.
I wanted something more competitive and the hot car on the circuit at the time was the 1995 Neon with the ACR package. (American Club Racing). I found a local dealer, worked a deal and took mine home.
ACR meant it had tighter suspension, quicker steering ratio, no overdrive gear and more tuning options in the engine. The suspension also had more adjustment options than stock to allow a more competition oriented alignment. I had mine dialed in by a national racer, who also pushed the engine advance to the max, requiring I could only use premium gas.
I installed a 4-point racing harness in it and I was good to go. I also acquired some lightweight racing rims with BF Goodrich R1 tires.
This car was so much fun to drive whether on the course or on the highway. I always said it was the most fun you could have with your clothes on.
I loved being on the course, going flat out between curves, choosing the apex, trail braking a tad to scrub of just enough speed to carve the corner and align for the next treat.
Slaloms were the most fun. The cones were in a straight line and you had to weave in and out. Go to the right of one then to the left of the next and so on. It looks so easy when a skilled driver does it. The first time you do it, you turn too late, barely make it through the opening and are then way too late to make the next one. The trick is to start turning before you’re at the cone and the inertia will guarantee you’ll actually turn at just the right point.
I sold my Neon around 2000 as I was needing to downsize a few things. I must admit, I was sad when I watched that car drive away in someone else’s hands. A new chapter was about to begin.