In late June my wife, son, and I took a week-long vacation to Stevensville, Michigan, with some family friends. I checked the schedules of nearby SCCA regions to see if there were going to be any interesting events in the area. As it turned out, South Bend Region, SCCA, was hosting a Solo event Lake Michigan College in nearby Benton Harbor. I invited Josh, the 21 year old son of our friends, to come along and give it a try. The turn out for the event was rather light (just under 40 drivers), but there was one experienced competitor in my class in a BMW 3-series. Luckily the environment was easy-going because I was going to have to split my focus on coaching Josh and on my own driving. By the lunch break after 4 runs I had Josh running respectable times and was leading my class by about a half a second.
In the afternoon session I failed to improve on my 5th, 6th, and 7th runs and found myself about 1/10th of a second out of first with just one run to go. I identified the last turn as the place I was most likely leaving some time on the table and took a different approach with my last attempt. The result was a 2/10ths improvement and a slim 5/100ths lead over second. I watched nervously as my competitor took his last run but the suspense was cut short when he clipped a cone about half way through the course and handed me the win. As for Josh, he continued dropping time all day. On his first run he was 26 seconds slower than me, but by the end he had cut the deficit to just 5 seconds and earned a third place in class.
As for the car, it seemed more neutral and the cold braking issue never emerged. The black-top surface didn’t have much grip, however, and the course didn’t have a maximum-braking-effort element so I wasn’t confident that the issues were resolved. I left feeling pretty good about pulling out a last-run victory and simultaneously doing a decent job of mentoring Josh. I even managed to finish reasonably close to the reigning G-Stock National Champion who was running on race tires. I had a great time and appreciated the hospitality from the South Bend folks. It reminded me a lot of what autocross was like in Champaign when I first started, well before we started drawing 80-100 entrants. In short, it was really fun which is why I started doing this in the first place.