54 JULY 2018 scca.com
INSIDE SCCA AUTOCROSS
o paraphrase Dickens, it was the best of
categories, it was the worst of
categories…. Well, the pair of autocross
categories we’re going to talk about this
month do indeed seem to be the best of
categories. In short, the CAM category is
continuing to build momentum with every
passing year. Looking at entry levels at the
early Tire Rack National Solo events, CAM will
have among the largest classes on both coasts
this year, either for CAM-C at Tours or the
combined CAM class at ProSolos. Similarly,
Solo Spec Coupe, despite barely being out of
the oven, is showing very promising signs.
And, while SSC and CAM couldn’t have more
different class philosophies, they are both
succeeding – let’s see if we can figure out why.
Contrary to popular belief, CAM and
SSC illustrate that autocross categories
don’t have to crown National Champions in
Lincoln for competitors to come out of the
woodwork. Usually, being a supplemental
category – as both CAM and SSC are – slows
entries, but both have bucked the trend,
illustrating that compelling classes and
categories will draw an audience.
Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) is a spec class
utilizing a vehicle that is affordable, available
in large numbers, and uses aftermarket
parts that are reasonably easy to police – an
upside is using something that is also fun
to drive, durable, predictable, and not ugly
(Spec Yugo probably wouldn’t catch on).
But while the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins,
that are the basis for SSC, aren’t quite as
ubiquitous as a Miata, they’ve been around
for a few years and have seen minimal
mechanical changes from the manufacturer.
The big attraction of a spec class is that all
of the cars are the same, housing the same
modifications, leaving the drivers to duke it
out. In SSC, there’s even a spec street tire
(the Falken Azenis RT615K+), so other than
making sure there’s tread on them, the choice
of rain tires versus dry is already made.
SSC is a class specifically intended for
drivers, not builders. In a perfect world,
there’s no tuning once the car is built,
but realistically there is a certain level of
tuning – suspension settings, minimal swaybar
tweaks, and air pressure. Regardless, the
point is that there’s no discernible advantage
to throwing money at the car outside of
the spec kit. You can make it prettier, but
money shouldn’t be able to make it faster.
Classic American Muscle (CAM), meanwhile,
comes from the other end of the spectrum.
Pick a car that is eligible (pick from American
muscle cars – go figure), keep above the
minimum weight, and run 200-tread wear
tires – the rest is fairly open. That’s a bit of
an oversimplification, but not all that much.
Drivetrain, wheel size, leaf springs or three-
link – you name it, it’s not restricted. The old
adage “run what you brung” fits this category
perfectly. CAM is for builders. Got money?
Spend it freely! That said, the tires limit grip,
essentially limiting the usefulness of spending
too much money – that’s kind of the beauty of
this concept. It’s Vipers vs. ‘Vettes, Mustangs
vs. Camaros, with some of these battles as old
as the pony car itself. In this case, we’ve got
old Mustangs vs. old Camaros (CAM-T), 1990
and newer Mustangs vs. Camaros (CAM-C),
and Corvettes vs. Vipers (CAM-S). There are
obviously other cars in there, from Baracudas
to Trans-Ams to Hellcats, but you get the idea.
So, here we have two ends of the
spectrum – restrictive vs. the Wild West – and
they both work. About SSC and CAM, Dickens
might have concluded that offering these
categories alongside our existing Solo categories
is a far, far better thing that we do. Based on
participation numbers, it seems many agree.
TALE OF TWO CLASSES
Autocross classes Solo Spec Coupe and Classic American Muscle have
more in common than you may think | WORDS Paul Brown | IMAGES Jason Isley
BREAKING THE MOLD
haven’t always been
quick to populate, but
untraditional rules may
be the key to success in
Solo Spec Coupe (LEFT)
and Classic American