Muscle Car Shootout, West Coast AutoCross Stars Hammer Down in P-Town
The Muscle Car Shootout that went down at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds last weekend defied gravity and tradition. Four thousand pound Muscle Cars were NOT meant to be agile. They were meant for straight line acceleration on dragstrips yet here they were slicing through the cones and cornering with awe-inspiring agility.
Presented by us, Fuel Curve, the Goodguys West Coast Muscle Car Shootout AutoCross married man and machine in a cut-throat old west duel to determine the baddest Muscle Car on the grounds. It also proved the Corvette is king in this sport which pits racers against the clock. All that matters is lap time. Seconds and even hundredths of seconds are precious. Breaking traction is forbidden. “Sticking it” in the corners leads to better times and the old AutoCross cornering adage “In slow, out fast” is the desired route if you want to finish on the podium.
Not only did the Shootout entertain, it built upon the legacy of Pleasanton AutoCross. Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, this particular fairgrounds served as a haven for SCCA Solo AutoCross. Local resident John Kelly urged the sanctioning body to stage events in the large, paved carnival lot. His pitch was more than successful. The result? Two and a half decades of AutoCross competition. Action so consistently good, Kelly founded “Pylon” magazine – a labor of love of which he published for many, many years. Kelly passed away last year but the sport and patch of blacktop in which he loved so much remains as he would want it. For the Muscle Car Shootout, the standard Goodguys AutoCross course was lengthened resulting in more rev-limiter bounces.
The swollen Shootout field (95 cars!) was given at least 15 qualifying runs over a day and a half before the field was cut to the fastest 16 cars for Sunday afternoon’s final. The field was deep and varied split between C1 and C2 Corvettes to late model Mustangs, Camaros and some oddities like an RX7, an EcoTec powered ’33 Ford pickup to an LS-swapped killer Datsun Z.
The ladder was similar to a NCAA Basketball tournament – a bracket in which the winner of each round moves on while the loser hits the trailer and packs up. As the field narrowed, it became quite evident Goodguys regulars and former SCCA Solo Champions Mike Maier and Brian Hobaugh were destined for the final round in their Corvette racers. Both of these killer Corvettes have legacies too. Hobaugh’s red ’65 (recently featured in Fast 8 on the silver screen) was driven by his father Steve in the old days. Maier’s mount, owned by Elk Grove, California’s Mike Ansell has been at it for a while now too.
The final round was close. Think PGA stars Ricky Fowler and Jordan Spieth walking up the 18th fairway locked with even score cards. In the money round both fired birdies with Maier’s 53.548 edging Hobaugh’s 54.173 by seven one hundredth’s of a second. See? Seconds do matter!
With the win, Maier made off with the loot ($1,000) as well as gift certs from BF Goodrich, Optima Batteries, Summit Racing, Autometer, Speedway Motors and CPP. In fact, all four top finishers were awarded cash and prizes from these contingency certificate helping heal their well-worn machines as every one of the 16 Shootout competitors left everything they had on the track.
In the end, Goodguys Shootouts like this, not only provide great racing, they’re equally effective in bonding the AutoCross community. Racers barbecue in the pits together, they wrench on each other’s cars, share their tools, and spare parts. But most of all, they share their passion. It was a perfect weekend in P-Town!
About Goodguys AutoCross:
Founded in 2008, Goodguys AutoCross has developed into one of the nation’s premier AutoCross competition venues for American performance cars. The format is simple, the classes varied to include vintage hot rods, street machines, and trucks as well as late model cars on Sundays. The nation’s best PRO class drivers regularly participate as do enthusiastic amateurs. Of the 20 national Goodguys Rod & Custom Association events sixteen feature AutoCross racing. And there is no fee for registered event participants! The only requirement is each car must pass a tech inspection prior to hitting the track. It’s the best bang for your performance buck.