by Nigel Fenwick

To my mind, September is the best month for Autocross in New England. The early morning air is fresh and crisp, yet by mid-morning, there’s enough warmth in the air to enjoy the sunshine without roasting.

There’s always a great group of volunteers who turn up early to help setup for an autocross day. The gates officially open at 7.00am, but that means an even earlier start for the setup crew. The first drivers not on early setup arrive around 7.00am, looking to get a prime spot to unload their car near the start grid.

By 7.30 there’s a steady stream of arrivals and cars are lining up in the early sunshine, ready for tech inspection. (Every car needs to be empty of anything loose that could fly around – it’s really important! I once had the glove box pop open on a run and suddenly I’m distracted by a bunch of paper flying around – that run was toast! I also once had a GPS Antenna come loose and wedge itself under my feet! Another blown run. So yes, there’s a good reason why we make sure everything is removed at tech inspection).

Sixty one drivers arrived to enjoy a day of camaraderie – with some fast driving around cones thrown in for good measure. After the mandatory driver’s meeting, everyone set out to walk the course. There’s a variety of ways of doing a course walk - which one are you?

  • The Analyst: You can spot them because they typically have a paper map of the site on which they can draw out the various obstacles put in place by the devious course designers, Scruffy Lefebvre and Chris Darminio.
  • The Nerd: They’re the ones walking around looking at their phones, logging the start and stop lines (and sometimes sector breaks) into one of the various apps available for Autocross such as Harry’s Laptimer, Solo Storm, or my particular favorite at the moment, Race Chrono.
  • The Boarder: Easy to spot, boarders are whizzing by on their longboards aiming to get I as many course rides as possible before the start. [Note however that such wheeled devices are not allowed on NCR course walks.]
  • The Student: Obsessed with finding the right line through the course, the student will go back and forth over a section of the course trying to study the driving lines (this persona is often combined with the Nerd and/or Analyst). Other than the Boarders, the Students are most likely to try and get in two course walks.
  • The Procrastinator: After everyone else has finished their course walk, the procrastinators head out (excludes officials setting up timing, etc).
  • The Socialite: Not so much walking the course, as going for a walk with friends. It’s a great way to start the day (Note: frequently combined with one of the other personas).

With course walks in the bag, the course thoroughly memorized, workers assigned and in position, we’re ready to get the first car off the line by 9.30am. We all managed five runs in the morning and five runs in the afternoon. For ranking, we add each driver’s fastest morning time to their fastest afternoon time, and then we apply a handicap multiplier to adjust for the difference in performance among cars in the same group. We use a handicapping system developed by the SCCA known as PAX, with some slight modifiers for stock vs modified cars. What this means is that it’s possible to be competitive in an 08 Boxster S against a GT4 for example, on paper at least. You don’t need to have the fastest Porsche to win a Porsche Autocross event – as you can see from the highlights below:

  • The Porsche Novice class includes any driver who’s driving with the club in their first year of autocross. Winning the class, with a combined raw time of 164.169 seconds (PAX time 131.17) was Greg Maiser in his 2003 Boxster S, beating Andy Cooper by less than half a second.
  • Leading Porsche Strict Stock 1, driving an 08 Boxster S in 149.347” (Pax 119.327), yours truly (Nigel Fenwick), with Gareth Peters coming in just behind for second.
  • In Porsche Strict Stock 2, Ollie Lucier drove Elizabeth Jolly’s 2014 Boxster home for the win in 150.351” (Pax 121.031), beating second place Jeff Johnson by a few seconds.
  • Daniel Quaroni won Porsche Strict Stock 3 in his 2011 Boxster Spyder with a time of 150.533” (Pax 122,232), just ahead of Chris Ryan.
  • In a battle of the GTs, Ed Wong drove his 2016 GT4 to first in Porsche Strict Stock 4 in 147.238” (Pax 119.557), beating Ed Moschella by less than five hundredths of a second.
  • Nick Durham took first in Porsche Production 1, driving his 91 C4 Cabriolet in 151.506” (Pax 122.719), ahead of Georges Rouhart in his 93 968.
  • Porsche Production 2 saw Jeremy Mazzariello finishing ahead of Suzie Kelly with a time of 148.154” (Pax 122.375) in his 2012 Cayman R.
  • In Porsche Race Tire, Stephen “Scruffy” Lefebvre won in his 2016 GT4 “Tweetie” in a time of 141.894” (Pax 122.312), closely followed by Akira Mochimaru in second.
  • Ben Horgen took the win in Non-Porsche Novice in his 2016 MX-5 in 156.23” (Pax 126.546), just ahead of Chris Costello.
  • Steve Twaddle held off David Tabatabai to take the win in Non-Porsche Street with his 2013 Scion FRS in 150.346” (Pax 121.78).
  • In Non-Porsche Touring, Justin Chen beat Bill Brundige to first place in his 06 S2000 with a time of 142.566” (Pax 118.329)
  • And in Non-Porsche Race Tire, Rob McAlpine took first in his 99 Miata with a time of 147.681” (Pax 127.005).
  • Fastest time of the day went to “Scruffy” – 71.666” + 70.228” = 141.894” 2016 GT4 on race tires.
  • Fastest Pax adjusted time of the day went to Justin Chen – 118.329” 06 S2000
  • Fastest Porsche Pax adjusted time of the day went to …. er, me (slightly embarrassing) - 119.328” 08 Boxster S

And no matter where we all finished up, everyone improved on their own times, had some great driving fun, and got to hang out on a glorious September day with a whole bunch of old and new friends. On behalf of all the drivers, thank you to everyone attending for all your hard work and support throughout the event (everyone works at autocross; we work half a day for eleven minutes of adrenaline filled driving at or beyond our limit – yet it’s so much fun, it’s hard to believe it’s legal). We wrapped up the event at 4.30pm, just in time to enjoy the early evening at the Billiards Café in Ayer for some serious bench racing … and a bit more socializing. Special thanks to Jeremy and Ollie for running a great event!

Interested in giving autocross a try? We have an excellent Novice program. Come along and drive or ride with one of our instructors to help you get acquainted with, what is in my opinion, the best day you can spend with your Porsche.