The 39th Tire Rack Solo National
Championships | Lincoln, Neb. |
Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2011
This year’s Tire Rack Solo National Championships was the year of the David and Goliath story of the little
Formula SAE car with the four-high stacked
wing out of the University of Maryland,
driven by Michael Stanley, posting the fastest
overall time of the event. It was faster than
the A and B Mods, the F125 karts –
everybody. And it happened in Modified.
This was the year the glass pylon was
shattered for only the third time with Brianne
Corn winning an Open class in dominant
fashion. And it happened in Modified.
This was the year a driver, whose first
championship came 29 years ago, proved he
still had the right stuff – Gary Milligan set
the absolute record for the longest span
between his first and his most recent
National championship title (not to mention
claiming seven others in between). And it
happened in Modified.
This was the year an irrepressible young
kid who hasn’t even graduated out of
Formula Junior yet, Julian Garfield, extended
his undefeated streak to four, matching the
longest run by any undefeated driver. In fact,
only two male drivers went farther before
their first loss, and young Garfield hasn’t lost
yet. By the way, his momma won, too, this
year – in Modified.
This was the year the Northeast Division
outdid itself by taking home a division-record 15 championships – the most by any
division this year. And five of those titles
were in Modified.
This was the year Jodi Fordahl came to
Nationals by herself, leaving husband Greg
home, and left her mark all over the record
book – an 11th championship (tie for sixth
among women), a 16th championship for the
Fordahl family (Jodi and Greg, tie for fifth), a
tie for eighth among women for the most
years ( 22) between a first and last
championship, her 20th trophy finish (tying
for fourth among women) and she became
only the sixth driver to win in four different
categories. OK, she won in ASPL this year,
but her string began where? In Modified (a
CML victory in 1989).
Next year’s Nationals also will be back on
its preferred dates of Labor Day week – Sept.
3-7, 2012. Often in the past someone has
suggested the Solo Nationals should be in
August, before school starts. Well this year
they finally got an August Nationals (at least
for the first two days of competition). And in
Lincoln, geographically more northerly and
statistically cooler than prior locales in
Topeka and Salina, Kan., the August weather
brought a string of 90-degree days.
Weathermen will tell you that’s fairly normal
in this part of the country. Weathermen will
also remind you that is the temperature in
the shade, and the slab of airport doesn’t
provide much shade.
The only drivers not complaining much
about the heat were the early drivers Tuesday
morning, when the event was delayed by the
tail end of a rainstorm, which washed across
Lincoln overnight leaving 2.62in. of water
behind – a record rainfall for the date. Heat 1
drivers and some in Heat 2 were doing the
rain-tire dance, but after that it was dry and
hot the rest of the week.
The barometer of the quality of the event,
however, is often the action in the protest
shed. If drivers are happy and enjoying
themselves, the protest committee usually
has little to do. For a second year in a row,
the protest committee only had to deal with
two protests and one of them was merely a
competitor disputing a pylon penalty (he won
his case). The other was a car issue in GP
late the fourth day that remained unresolved
as of the Friday banquet.
More use was made of the massive Lincoln
Airpark event site, with the surrounding snow
fence pushed farther north. Many Nebraska
Region members wore red T-shirts
proclaiming how some think they put up a
mile of snow fence just so they can drive
their cars around some cones.
Arriving at the site, competitors found