It took a mix of strong horsepower with a super suspension, better brakes, gummy tires, an
We rolled into the large parking area at 6 a.m. for the inaugural Run to the Coast (RTTC) Pro Touring shootout, and it was like wading into a sea of Camaros. Of the 50-plus cars competing, the guest list looked like this: multiple Novas, a couple of Pontiacs, Paul Newman's '57 Chevy four-door wagon, a trio of Mopars, and two Chevelles. The rest were Camaros.
The reason for our Saturday dawn launch was to scrub tires with some of the baddest Pro Touring cars on the West Coast. Bill Howell is the man behind the very successful Run Through the Hills (RTTH) Pro Touring competition in Tennessee that is going on its sixth year and has proved to be extremely popular, challenging muscle cars to compete in multiple events such as drag racing and autocross.
Bill brought his idea to the vacated El Toro Marine Corps Air Station just south of Los Angeles, which is now owned by the city of Irvine. This sprawling concrete and asphalt facility was the perfect site for the four-tiered event that started with three big Saturday competitive events-the Baer Brake Challenge, the RideTech autocross, and the big-daddy 2.5-mile Detroit Speed road course set amid the huge concrete runways. The final event invited participants on a Sunday cruise that rolled into an open house at Spectre Performance.
As with most Pro Touring events, there was just one class, and anyone with a muscle car could play. Of course, this meant pitting little motors against big ones and good suspensions against excuses. Amid all this chaos, there were only a couple of simple rules. To exclude the advantage of exotic rubber, tires had to be DOT legal and feature a minimum of a 200 treadwear (more on this later). Cars had to pass a cursory tech inspection, and helmets were mandatory. We couldn't resist the chance to flog our '65 Chevelle that had recently undergone a serious overhaul at the hands of Doug Norrdin, his son, Eric, and the crew at Global West Suspension. We wanted to see how our ancient Chevelle stacked up against some of the strongest cars on the Left Coast.
The RTTC was even more attractive since the overall winner-crowned King of the Coast-would also win an invitation to the premier Pro Touring event, the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational in November. So there were grand opportunities at this inaugural Run to the Coast event. If you don't already know, Brian Finch and his '71 Camaro took the title, besting several excellent cars and drivers. The event was so successful, there is already talk of another RTTC in the fall, and we'll be there.
At first it may appear that the autocross would be just a slower version of the road course. But after driving both, you realize the two are significantly dissimilar, requiring very different driving styles. The autocross places far more emphasis on suspension and technique and less on horsepower. While Mary Pozzi's '73 Camaro may be down on power, her wheel skill is more than suitable compensation. It was predictable that she would dominate the 40-second course, followed closely by husband David in the Shipka Camaro. Brian Finch reinforced his reputation as a driver by replicating his Third Place road course finish. The surprise of the event was Paul Newman's '57 Chevy wagon. It had previously pulled down a strong run on the road course despite the fact that Paul says the LT1 is woefully underpowered. Even with this handicap, son Kyle adroitly drove the wagon to an excellent Fifth Place autocross finish. Within the vendor competition, the DSE clan again nailed the win with Ryan Mathews' 40.368 that was second quickest of the day, closely followed by TCI's 40.458 Camaro time, wheeled by Nick Licata.
Mary Pozzi had Second Place covered by a solid half second on her way to dominating the au
Jon Upton pushed his '68 GTO through the cones to a best run of 48.239.
If there was one car that earned its spot, it had to be Paul Newman's four-door '57 wagon.
|RIDETECH AUTOCROSS LAP TIMES