View Full Version : Chevy Performance Nationals - Atlanta Dragway

06-01-2015, 02:57 PM

Formerly known as the Chevy High Performance Nationals, this event continues to thrive, bringing the best Chevys out all over the country for every type of racing you could want – and even a car show for those of you who don’t drive.

This last weekend, I attended the event in Commerce, Georgia at the Atlanta Dragway – WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND! I cannot say this enough. With more than a few choices of places to run in the ‘Eastern Block’ [A Californian’s way of saying East without including the Coast] including the extremely popular Midwest Muscle Car Challenge; I was set on running the Chevy Performance Nats. One: Georgia was a four and a half hour drive Southeast vs. a six hour drive to Northern Indiana. Two: Racing Byrds were setting up the course and I had heard how much effort and passion Rob Byrd was putting into his tracks and I really wanted to see for myself.

To say that Rob Byrd is passionate about autocross, is like saying the Pope goes to church.

Trish Byrd HAS A REAL JOB, she does this for the sole enjoyment of seeing people have fun with their cars.

John Hotchkis Jr. at the mic all weekend, calling the action and supporting attendees with encouragement and passion.

This event had drag racing and a 40 mile cruise available in addition to autocross. We were fortunate to be running the autocross next to the line-up for the drag strip so we got to see all sorts of cool drag cars as they approached the strip. The drags had a class/category for everything from juniors to jets and the excitement was pervasive throughout the entire facility.

I don't know about you, but I prefer to drive my car to the start line...

In addition to the racing action, there was a vendor’s midway that mostly catered to the drag racers but enabled you to get up close and personal with a few worthwhile vendors including the autocross sponsor and host Hotchkis Performance Suspension.

Dick and Karyn Eytchison came from Colorado! Needless to say, they got the long haul award.

From the moment I got the car to the pits of the autocross, I was not disappointed. After a rough start when the cone shaggers (teenagers) overslept and forced a bit of a delay – we got rolling with a run group schedule that I have deemed my favorite: run groups of three or four cars that take three consecutive runs (leaving the track and getting back into the line of three/four cars between runs) and then get out of line and the next group of three or four runs. We had eight to nine run groups throughout the weekend with a total of just under 30 cars running. While this isn’t a huge turnout, it does allow for a lot of great seat time and you do get to meet your fellow racers and make a lot of new friends.




Saturday’s course was wonderfully misleading to those not understanding that a “wide open” course leaves you just enough room to hang yourself. I heard one driver proclaim “You’d have to be blind to hit a cone.” Pretty sure he took out more than his fair share. With the perfect mix of a three-gate slalom, a switchback, sweeper and decreasing radius turn, the course averaged :30 second times. Hotchkis and Racing Byrds have created an interesting format wherein downed cones count for two seconds and if you have an off-course excursion or you hit the start/finish line checkered cones (DNF) you are penalized with a 99 second run. Normally, a driver wouldn’t care about this but Hotchkis gives away the Hotchkis Cup which is the best AVERAGED times for the entire weekend. Even one DNF can make the most consistently fast driver lose in the running for the cup.

Ridealongs were encouraged and the fans lined up like it was Disneyland.

Back to the racing: The surface of the course was challenging but not terrible. The pavement was old aggregate cement with plenty of dirt, pebbles and disintegration. The lot had several leftover grease pools – no doubt from some drag racer trying to fix his junk in the parking lot. At first I was concerned about what seemed to be a lack of traction but once we got going and the cars blew the crap off of the surface, we were sticking pretty well.






Day two the course was reversed and with the movement of a few cones, it got faster in both speeds and times. I was thrilled to have the technical portion of the course moved to the first half as it tends to sneak up on me when it’s closer to the end of the course. After higher speeds and more rounded corners my head is in hammer down mode and a bunch of switchbacks and slow-downs at the end, tend to screw with my mind – this was not the case on Sunday with the addition of a cleverly disguised sweeper and if you shot the right line, a near-straight shot at the finish.



Both courses seemed to favor the classics and the bigger/heavier new Camaros, but Sunday was definitely more favorable for the independent rear suspension and traction control of the newer cars with those drivers getting even faster times.

Andrew Tyler Powell in his mean and Black ’63 Corvette Grand Touring car was unbeatable all weekend. (Running in the Ultimate class) I don’t think anyone came within a second of his times. (I will get the final numbers soon.) Rodney Prouty was the guy to beat in the Classic Muscle Class, pulling off a win on Saturday but losing to JB Granger on Sunday by hundredths of a second. Not so bad to lose to a ‘Fast Redneck’ if you have to lose, right?




In the Modern Muscle Class, it was the battle of the 5th Gen Camaros on Saturday with four or five guys trading tenths all day. On Sunday, all bets were off when a couple of new Corvettes showed up to quietly take the lead with the trophy going to Johnny C (from OG Racing) in his C5/C6 (not sure which).



Overall, this weekend was a really class-act with a track staff, host and sponsors who were incredibly passionate about autocross, genuinely excited for the drivers and generous and willing with advice, assistance and prizes. While I don’t support the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ mindset for kids, for autocross it really makes everyone feel recognized and included when trophies are given for ‘cone killer’, ‘best donut’, classic, modern and ultimate muscle.

I will summarize with this final note: Bring your wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers and get them into this! I really don’t want to win the ladies' trophy by default next time.
If you have a GM car or GM powered car I highly encourage you to check out the NMCA event in your area! Next weekend (June 6-7) the crew will be in Fontana and future dates can be found here: http://www.nmcadigital.com/2015_event_schedule/



UMI Tech
06-01-2015, 04:04 PM
It's nice to see 2thfarmer and BigT in the next to last pic! Another great write-up Suzy!

06-01-2015, 04:06 PM
great weekend with great people

06-01-2015, 04:27 PM
Thanks for the great write up Suzy, and it was great to see you and Rodney out there!

Just as a quick note, Fontana is THIS weekend June 6&7 and we only have a couple of spots left on Sunday!

06-01-2015, 04:42 PM
Great write up! I would've liked to have stayed for the whole weekend but I had a great time on Saturday and was glad to see everyone again, put some faces with some names and have an overall good time with the day ending up on a positive of getting some of the best Low Country Boil I've ever had! Kudos to the cooks!

06-01-2015, 06:19 PM
it was a GREAT dinner. for those who want to see that awesome Low Country Boil.......................


06-01-2015, 06:20 PM
I agree.....it was a blast to hang out with everyone. People don't know what they are missing in this sport. It isn't just getting to drive your car on a track, it's also the great friendship you make at these events! As Geoff said, thanks for an awesome meal Saturday evening!

06-04-2015, 08:48 AM
cant wait for next year

06-05-2015, 05:01 AM