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September 2, 2022
If you have social media, you already know – Solo Nats has started! While many are on the road to Lincoln, NE, today, others have already parked, unloaded, and begun to sweat – not just from the heat, but from the competition they’ll be facing during this weekend’s 2022 Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Finale that kicks off on Saturday and wraps on Sunday with Challenge competition and the crowning of ProSolo Champions.
The 2022 season marked the return of a full slate of ProSolo events for the first time in two years, and it was a doozy of a season. Timing issues were virtually a thing of the past, car counts remained high, and both the class action and Challenge competition were more hotly contested than ever.
Adding to the fun, the Howard Duncan Greenlight Fund provided opportunities for 16 autocrossers, two per event, to make their ProSolo debuts with a free entry during the regular season. Aldo Flores, a Greeenlight Fund recipient during the May 26-29 Spring Nationals ProSolo in Lincoln, liked his experience so much that he’s tossed himself into the deep end and is registered for this weekend’s ProSolo Finale. We’d declare that a success!
But the story of the weekend will be the ProSolo Championship battles – and they’re going to be a doozy.
The Super Challenge and Ladies Challenge championships, as well as the individual ProSolo class championships, aren’t winner-take-all battles, as is the case with the Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships that takes place Sept. 6-9 in Lincoln. Instead, they’re season-long awards, with the overall Challenge titles being the most difficult to obtain.
Why so tough? The format. ProSolo’s opening day of the weekend looks similar to any other traditional autocross, albeit on dueling courses with drag-race starts. There are single runs within your class, doing what autocrossers do and trying to go as quickly as possible through the cones. The energy builds throughout the weekend as points championships are decided in each class – then come Sunday afternoon, the event reaches its peak.
Those early runs weren’t just for a class title – they also served as qualifying for the Super Challenge and Ladies Challenge. In the Super Challenge, the top 32 drivers in Open classes, as sorted by SCCA’s Index designed to equal classes, make the field. The process repeats for the Ladies Challenge, with the top eight making that field.
This is when the fun kicks into overdrive.
Each driver in the Challenges line up in the drag-race style starts on the mirrored courses as they have done all weekend, but now it’s a heads-up race to the finish. That same Index gives one driver a slight advantage, if necessary, but the first driver home advances until only one remains.
The best two Challenge finishes, plus the Finale, count for the season-long points and the championships.
You can see how difficult it is to take home a season-long Challenge title, or even just a single win. That’s what makes the Johnson-Clark Johnson Cup Super Challenge and Fletcher Cup Ladies Challenge Championships, and their accompanying Keisel Guitars custom trophies, so valuable.
The chase is wide open, especially when considering the depth of the field at Lincoln – almost anyone could make the Super and Ladies Challenges. Don’t make the bracket field? No points scored. With points for qualifying, and for Challenge finishing order, a competitor could score 57 points in one swoop this weekend.
James Yom currently leads the Super Challenge points with 95, but that leaves 32 drivers still in position to steal, if they can make the final field. Yom earned his points lead with a pair of wins this season – one at Fontana and one, perhaps more importantly, at Lincoln during Spring Nationals. If he repeats that performance, it’s all over for the field.
Rob Clark is second in Super Challenge points, with a win at Toledo and a second at Bristol. Both of those events were late in the season. Does that momentum matter? We’ll find out soon, but it definitely can’t hurt.
On the Ladies side, the process repeats but for those competing in three Ladies Indexed classes for the Fletcher Cup. A grand total of 15 competitors are in the hunt in the Ladies Challenge, but all eyes are on Kim Whitener, who scored the max at Bristol and 55 points at Lincoln in the Spring. She rises to the occasion in big contests, and this is the biggest of them all.
Get a look at the full ProSolo season points heading into the weekend here.
If you haven’t made the trip to Lincoln, or are in route for next week’s Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships, check out the event schedule and then follow the Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Finale action live on SCCA.com.
Photo by Rupert Berrington (Vehicles line up during the 2021 Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Finale)
January 6, 2023
The year has only just begun, but believe it or not, the Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour Powered by Hagerty (TTNT) season is already underway. No, a 2023 […]