National Championships historyare littered with local hotshotswho thought it was a given thatthey’d march into Lincoln andwalk away with the biggest trophy,piles of contingency prizes, andall of the fame and fortune thatgoes with it – and then went homewith their tails between their legs.
But don’t despair, because thathappened to a lot of people, andit hasn’t always ended poorly.
“I know at my first Solo
Nationals I had pretty high
expectations based on local
experience, and it got abused by
reality,” McKee reveals. “As the
years have passed, I’ve really
tried to focus on maximizing my
performance and not worrying too
much about others. There have
been years I won where I wasn’t
that satisfied with how I did, and
then other years I didn’t do as
well but was content knowing
I’d given it all I had. You can only
control your own results.”
The rest is up to you. And now,
thanks to Borowski and McKee, you
have the necessary information to
do your best at the Tire Rack Solo
National Championships. While
this duo can’t prep your car, turn
the wheel, or push the pedals for
you, they certainly have offered
enough information for a relatively
new driver to the Solo Nationals
to make the trip to Lincoln with
confidence in order to see for
themselves how they stack up.
Can you win? Well, that’sup to you, but the autocrossvillage has given you the toolsto take on the challenge.
that come from sitting on thegrid and thinking through thosecourse walks. The problem is thatanxiousness can make you forgetthe essentials. Remember themagnetic number fiasco fromthe beginning of this story? Thisis where extra preparation andorganization comes in handy.
First things first – heats at theSolo Nationals take a long time torun. That typically gives anyoneplenty of time to prep in thepaddock before heading to grid.
“I try to avoid things like
are exactly what you expect.
“I grab my helmet, make sureI have my numbers, check thefuel, and have my tire gauge,”Borowski says. “Those would bethe things that, if nothing else, youcan get through all of your runs.
Everything beyond that is icing.”The most important thing youcan bring is an attention to detail.
Take that “fuel” comment that
Borowski just made. Though some
like to cut it close for weight, a
few extra pounds from too much
fuel will hurt less than not having
enough fuel. “I found that out
at the ProSolo Finale,” Borowski
admits. “I wasn’t planning to
go through as many rounds as
I did, and then ran out of fuel.
You may get a rerun, so make
sure you have enough fuel.”
Beyond that is an individual
preference. Does it look like
it might rain? Bring the rain
tires and everything to change
them – impact gun, torque wrench,
jack, and jack stands. Do you know
you need to keep your tires cool
(or warm)? Bring your blankets or
spray bottle. Be sure your co-driver
has his or her helmet handy, too.
In short, make a checklistand stick to it. It may take a fewextra minutes of planning, but itwill save you from headaches.
Finally – and most
importantly – check your
expectations at the door. It’s likely
that your class is going to have
a multi-time National Champion
in it, and no matter how good
you are, it’s going to be hard to
beat them. The pages of the Solo
cleaning the window on the grid,”
Borowski says, pointing out that
your things to do last minute
should shrink at Nationals. “The
more of those things you can
do before you come to grid at
Nationals, the more time you’ll
have to relax on the grid and not
stress out or mess something
up. It doesn’t really take that
much planning ahead of time.”
What you should bring to grid
depends on your individual car,
for the most part. “I always try to
have a toolbox with just the tools
I need to make all the normal
adjustments on the car,” McKee
reveals. “Lots of tools are nice, but
I want the most frequently used
ones to be easy to find in a hurry.”
There are some basics that
apply to everyone, and those
TRICKS TO THE TRADE
(FAR LEFT) Certain cars require different maintenance between runs,so be sure you know what to do and when to do it. (TOP LEF T) Workingcourse might not be glamorous, but if you notice everyone struggling witha certain section, you could get a leg up on the competition. (BOT TOMLEF T) Bring everything you may need to grid. There’s nothing more stressfulthan having to sprint back to your paddock spot between runs.
“I always try to have atoolbox with just the toolsI need to make all thenormal adjustments”