What Is Solo?
For a GREAT graphical explanation, please follow the link to view Randy Hickman's presentation on the Rocky Mountain Region's website. Then come back and read our boring words for more information.
Solo, (formerly known as Solo II), also called autocrossing, slalom or gymkhana, is rapidly becoming one of the hottest and most popular amateur motorsports in the country. The courses, usually set up on large parking lots or unused runways, are a diabolical collection of turns and straights marked by orange rubber traffic pylons. Under Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) rules, you compete by yourself against the clock at speeds that normally do not exceed typical highway driving speeds. Since it is very safe, you should feel comfortable driving a Solo, but you've probably never had a rush like the courses produce.
With very few exceptions, almost any type of car or pickup can enter a Solo. You don't need to worry about competing against that Porsche 911 in your family station wagon because cars are divided into classes with similar abilities as yours. For example, a stock Camaro will be grouped with stock Firebirds and Mustangs. Your Civic is in the same class as a Sentra. You don't have to have a racing car. SCCA has classes that cover everything from Formula racing cars to, if you can find one running, a Yugo. The registration folks can find someone to help you determine which class you should be in.
If you plan to compete in the next Solo event, please take a moment to pre-register. Pre-registration for each event is usually open two weeks prior to the event date, and closes the Friday evening before the event.
Things you will need for a Solo:
A car. While they don't have to be street-legal, every car must pass a safety tech inspection before being allowed to compete. The inspection covers things like making sure your battery is tied down securely, your brakes and steering work, everything that can fly around inside the interior or trunk is removed, etc.
A Snell approved helmet (SA2015, SA2010, SAH2010, SA2005, M2020D, M2020R, M2015, M2010, M2005, K2015, K2010, K2005). If you don't have one, we have loaner helmets available.
A willingness to use up your tires.
All persons in attendance must sign an SCCA Waiver Tips for the novice Solo driver
OK, Now What?" You've heard everybody talk about Solo and decided to try it. Like everyone else driving for the first time, you probably feel a little lost. "What am I supposed to do now?" Below are some tips to help you get started. But be forewarned; if you do it once, you'll be hooked! If you're still totally confused, just look around at any event and try to find someone who looks like they might know what they're doing. They will be more than happy to help, even if they're lost too!
One of the first things to be addressed is safety. SCCA and the Wichita Region are very proud of their safety record. That's probably because people are thinking about it all the time. The course has been designed following stringent safety rules directed by SCCA to protect both people and property. Please follow all these rules. One thing of special note is to always keep vehicle speeds below 5 MPH when you are not actually on the course.
"I'm here at the right place and the right time. Now what?"
Hopefully, you got to the event site before the end of registration around 9:00. This gives you a chance to go out and walk the course to figure out where it goes, pick your driving lines, etc. And yes, after your first time around the course, you'll know what I'm talking about. You'll be saying, "If I take that curve about four feet to the left of that cone I can take a half-a-second off my time."If this is one of your first events, ask in the trailer about a "Rookie Course Walk." We usually have a more senior (although not always a senior citizen) willing to take a group around and give out secrets on how to go fast!
The first thing is to drive through tech inspection. Tech will run from about 8:00 until 9:00 (while registration is open). You will be given a sheet to fill out basic information on including your car's class, number, color, make, and model. You also have the opportunity to give us your email address to stay in contact. We won't spam you too much. Please write legibly.
Head to the trailer for registration and to sign the waivers. The Sports Car Club of America has a form to be signed for liability insurance purposes.Everyone must sign the waivers, including guests that have come to watch you have all this fun. You'll each get a wristband to let the event officials know you have signed the waivers. If you are not an annual member of the SCCA, you will need to fill out a weekend member form as well as the waiver. New for 2014 and beyond, anyone who will be riding in a vehicle on-site who is not an annual SCCA member must also fill out a weekend member form. The weekend membership is free for passengers though, so no worries! Just a little paperwork.
Pay your entry fee and hand your tech sheet to the registrar. 2020 fees are $25.00 for SCCA members / $45.00 non-members. Special events may be slightly higher.
"What do you mean work?"
While you are handing over your hard-earned dollars, the registrar will want to know which heat you want to run and which heat you want to work. Yep, that's part of the bargain. Since we are an all-volunteer organization, we need lots of help. Work usually consists of going out on the course and picking up cones that everybody else knocks down. Just come to the trailer right before your assigned heat and someone that looks official will let you know where you're supposed to be. Not working results in disqualification, but working more than one heat is greatly appreciated and gets you out where the action is going on!
If you're not into chasing cones, or just want to do more to help out, ask about helping with Registration, Timing & Scoring, Announcing, Tech Inspection or Safety. We can always use more help in these areas, and you'll get to know a lot of great people. But, be aware that working any of these special jobs instead of working the course means that you'll be working at least two heats, usually more… but it's some of the most fun "work" you'll ever do. Some of these jobs also require a bit of training, skill and/or talent. We have people who are willing and able to teach.
"What am I supposed to do with this tech sheet?"
While in the tech lanes before registration, someone will ask you to pull forward and will check your car and helmet (if you have your own helmet). Here is what we look for:Battery: make sure your battery is tied down securely.
Brakes: brakes work well and don't lose pressure when held down.
Exhaust (noise): must not be excessively loud.
Helmet: helmets must be certified Snell M2000 or SA2000 or newer and must fit properly. If you don't have one, don't worry - we have lots of loaner helmets.
Seat Belts: must work properly.
Steering: must work (obviously!) and not have excessive play.
Tires: must not have any cord showing.
Trunk: must have anything not firmly attached removed.
Spare tires and/or jacks can remain if they are secure.
Wheels: must have 4 (duh). Actually he'll be checking that all lug nuts are on and secure, wheels are not cracked, missing studs etc. Other things: General condition of the car (no major oil leaks, stuff like that).
The interior of the car must be completely empty - including floor mats. This is to make sure that there is no chance of anything getting stuck below the brake or accelerator pedals.
When the technical inspection of your car is complete, take the card to the registrar and pay your entry fee. You're ready to go!!
How the day goes:
Some event chairs choose to set up the course the morning of the event. If this is the case, expect setup to start between 6:00 and 7:00 (Yes, you're invited to help if you want, and you can learn a lot by doing so!). Otherwise, the regulars and people with access to the trailer will generally arrive just before 8:00 AM. Registration closes at 9:00, the driver's meeting is usually around 9:45 and first car out is around 10:00. Depending on the number of entries and how smoothly things go, we'll run until anywhere between 2:00 and 6:00.
The actual driving part:
Each heat consists of a maximum of about 20 cars. Shortly before your driving heat, the announcer may (or may not!) call to have the next drivers line up in the pre-stage area. Go ahead and line up in numerical order (be sure your car number is clearly marked on your car) just before the last car has run in the previous heat. You'll start out with one very low speed "parade lap" for course familiarization and come back to the staging area. Now the real fun begins! Make sure you follow the starters directions on when to enter the course and drive like you never have before (at least not legally). But stay away from those cones! Each cone you knock down is a 2-second penalty. Since we have had classes won by as little time as 1/1000 of a second, two seconds is forever! Also keep an eye out for course workers waving red flags. If you see a red flag, don't think, just STOP! (assuming you aren't being red-flagged due to a problem with your car, you will get to start the run over again) You will normally have a minimum of 3 timed runs (the number of runs will be announced at the driver's meeting). When you complete your last run, slowly exit the course and return to the paddock area.
If you're wondering how you're doing against the competition (or who you have to beat), there are sheets posted (usually near the trailer) that have everyone's times posted on them. After the last car has run, course teardown begins. Most people like to help with the teardown because it helps us get to the trophies quicker! Yes, trophies (and door prizes). Trophies are given to the top finishers in each class. And don't assume that because your time may have been slower that a lot of cars, you won't get one. You don't have to beat everyone, just the others in your class! And make sure you check with the registrar to get the "yellow" copy of your tech sheet. This will have your times on it, so you'll want to have it framed!
Entering a Wichita Region Solo event will also get you on the mailing list to receive the next copy of our monthly newsletter, "The Wail". This will have the complete event results in it, plus a lot more. But remember, if you're not a Wichita Region member, and we can't read the name and address on your tech sheet… we can't send you the newsletter.
Car setup tips: Other than the above safety items, there isn't really a whole lot to it. Tire pressure is probably the most important thing you can do. DO NOT run your tires at a lower than normal pressure! This is extremely dangerous. With the way these courses are set up, you get better traction running somewhat higher pressures. Here are the pressures that some of our "old timers" run in their tires, but make sure you don't exceed the maximum rated pressure listed on the side of your tires: 3300 lb. RWD - 42 front / 40 rear 3600 lb. FWD - 42 front / 36 rear 2170 lb. RWD - 42 front / 35 rear 2100 lb. FWD - 42 front / 35 rear. One of the best setup tips is to find someone that has a car similar to yours. They will probably give you more tips than you ever wanted to know! We're a great bunch of people and everybody there will help you in any way they can.
We're glad that you're going to join in the fun. With over 100 Regions and 50,000 SCCA members nationwide, you will be driving in some of the best motorsports available. And don't forget that the Wichita Region SCCA is not just Solo: we also have active road racing and rally programs. Just ask anybody about it. We'll be glad to help.
Wichita Region offers the full range of "standard" Solo classes as defined in the SCCA Solo Rule Book. These classes include:
Street Prepared Classes for somewhat more prepared cars.
Prepared Classes for actual race-prepared cars.
Modified Classes for people that have WAY too much time and money.
Street Touring Classes - based on the Street Touring Category in the rule book, but tailored to Wichita Region's needs. Look to the Supplemental Rules for specifics.
Karts - Racing Kart and Junior Karts
All of the above classes also have a complete set of parallel ladies' classes. In addition to those, we hope to allow a few people to have a little more fun by offering the following additional classes (details can be found in the Supplemental Rules):
PAX Class - This class allows people who would otherwise normally be in different classes to compete together. This is generally expected to be the "fast guys," but ANYONE may sign up for the PAX class, if for no other reason than to give themselves a challenge and a reason to go faster!!
Solo Chairman's Letter:
I suppose it’s time for a new chairman’s letter, seeing as I didn’t write one last year (and Eric didn’t write one the year before). From a competition standpoint not much is changing this year. Last year SCCA added a new class, Street Touring Pony (STP), that captures popular pony cars (Camaro, Challenger, Mustang, etc) but we didn’t have any competitors in this class. It’d be great to see some entries in this class this year as it should be a really fun one to watch! As always visit the SCCA website and consult the rulebook to see what class your car fits in. If you need any help determining a class for your car feel free to contact me via email or message the Wichita Region SCCA Facebook page. One thing that has changed, unfortunately, is our cost. SCCA has increased the weekend member fee by $5 this year. To keep up with this change we will increase our non-member entry fees by $5 to $40 starting at the July 23rd event. The first six events will maintain our usual $35 rate out of respect for our visitors and to give non-members plenty of time to join as a full member. Member price remains unchanged at $20 per event, so if you’re not a member make sure and join as soon as possible! Speaking of events, you’ll notice on the calendar I have added a second Test & Tune event on August 20th. Test & Tunes are non-competitive events that allow drivers to experiment with their cars and dial them in for competition. I added this second event to give drivers a chance to fine tune their setup in time for Solo Nationals taking place September 4th to September 8th this year. Finally, one area we’ve always struggled with is getting volunteers. We have a core group of fantastic people that often go above and beyond what’s expected of them to have these events run as smoothly as possible, but with 60-80 competitors at every event there should be plenty more of you to fill some of these roles! I’m always looking for new volunteers to work registration, tech, design courses, and chair events. If you’re interested in any of these responsibilities please send me an email or message us on the Wichita Region SCCA Facebook page. In addition to these positions, I will always appreciate it if you arrive at events early to help set up the trailer and stay a little late to pack things up. That’s all from me. As I say at every event be sure to like us on Facebook at Wichita Region SCCA so you never miss an update for Solo or other club activities, and I look forward to seeing you out in Yoder soon!
Jacob Lynn 2017 Wichita Region SCCA Solo Chair Jacob.77L@gmail.com