View Full Version : Hotchkis AutoX Season Finale Ends With The Ultimate Cup- Complete Recap

10-26-2015, 10:45 PM

Hotchkis NMCA West AutoX
October 17-18, 2015
Story By: Brandy Phillips
Photos By: Laura McKernan & Brandy Phillips


Why do drivers strive to win? In our racing series there is no money awarded at the end of the day. There are
no sponsors breathing down your neck threatening to pull their name if you donít win. Most of our events are
not even televised. So why does it feel so good to place first?


Well, for starters thereís bragging rights. If you win first place then there
should definitely be some bragging exercised after the event. Furthermore
knowing you won meant you did your best and you best was good enough.
You have probably grown as a driver, perfected your skills and practiced
throughout the year. Or maybe you were just lucky. Whatever it is,
winning is an awesome feeling. Add a huge trophy to that equation and
now youíre talking. This is exactly what Hotchkis did at their last Hotchkis
AutoX event at the NMCA West Series in October.


Hotchkis started the Hotchkis Cup last year and it has grown in popularity
ever since. Thereís actually quite a bit of humor behind the award.


Don Gonzalez who was the recent winner of last 2015 Hotchkis
Cup took winning the cup to a whole new level. As he left for
vacation to Kansas he brought the cup along with him sharing
its journey with along the way. As you can see this cup has a
whole story of itís own when it comes back to the west coast.

So whatís better than the Hotchkis Cup? We didnít think much could top this award. Yet Hotchkis managed to
find a way to encourage people to attend their events, have fun and set goals on another award:


The Ultimate Hotchkis Cup!

The Ultimate Hotchkis Cup was awarded to the one person with the most points throughout the year. In order
to earn those points, the participant had to compete in 3 Hotchkis AutoX events racing both Saturday and
Sunday. The October event marked the end of the 2015 Hotchkis AutoX series, but also meant that someone
would finally receive the well anticipated Ultimate Cup.


First letís reflect back on the event itself. Many drivers had just come from the Optima event the following
weekend at Auto Club Speedway. For some drivers the time between the two events allowed them a quick
rest before preparing for the Hotchkis Autocross. Some of the usual competitors were unable to make the
Hotchkiss AutoX due to racing the weekend before or prepping for SEMA, but there was still a great turnout
along with a couple new faces.


Now for those who read my last recap on the Hotchkis AutoX in September, then I apologize for repeating
myself, but I canít begin to explain what a well-organized, safe and fun event the Racing Byrds put on. It
always amazes me how everything works, how smooth each group transitions between runs and how many
runs are recorded by the end of each day. For that alone the event is worth attending.


Familiar faces like Dick Eytchinson, Robert Pierik, Valerie Gilliam Pichette, Alexandra J. Zust and Richard
Trujillo were all present at the last Hotchkis AutoX. Some of them were still high on energy from the last
event. This was noticeable as certain people drove their way to the top of their class, winning awards
throughout the weekend that even they did not expect to win.

Letís highlight on a couple of those people before moving on:


Alexandra Zust- People better watch out because this girl knows how to drive. Weíve seen Alexandra at
several of these events kicking butt on the autocross. Her and her husband Fred Zust do extremely well and
have participated in a handful of race events throughout the year including the Hotchkis AutoX and Optima
Series. Alexandra even won her way into the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational right after the SEMA
show. Alexandra and Fred have been working on the Lotus since winning an invite to OUSCI adding more
power, wider body and lots of testing.


Last time we saw the car it was only half painted. This time the car was with fresh paint ready for SEMA. Not
only did Alexandra do well at this past Hotchkis AutoX, she took home the award for fastest driver of the


While we are on the topic of female drivers, I wanted to also recognize Valerie Gilliam Pichette. Valerie was
one of those drivers who came straight from Optima to compete at the Hotchkis AutoX the following weekend.
Now I am not sure if she got a good rest between events or if she had an abundant amount of adrenaline still
flowing from the race the weekend before, but whatever it was she was on her game. Now Valerie is a great
driver. She has improved a lot over the year while also attending several events across the country. So we
canít discredit the fact that seat time has paid off. Yet where she pulled out the run that put her first in her
class Sunday morning even shocked her. Valerie led the class until getting beat literally at the very end
session of the day, taking home second place. Not only did Valerie place on the podium, she took home the
fastest female driver of the weekend.


Richard Trujillo is another driver that has traveled quite a bit throughout the year. Not only has he competed
in the Hotchkis AutoX Series, he raced at SCCA Nationals, traveled to Goodguys Colorado and even attended
his first Optima Series event. For those that know Richard, then you know heís quite the driver. Heís
definitely improved on his skills throughout the year and the car is dialed in. Yet Richard was also surprised
when his name was called as the winner of the Classic Muscle Class on Sunday.


Then you have Greg Nelson. Gregís weekend started out pretty rough, but he worked on the Camaro and
started pushing the car harder come Sunday. Greg is devoted to the Hotchkis AutoX. I believe he has
attended every event this year. So when the topic came up on people possibly eligible for the season ending
Ultimate Cup, Gregís name was in the pot. Unfortunately Greg just missed the title as overall point leader,
resulting in a second place finish in the season standings. We wanted to reassure Greg that the Ultimate Cup
wasnít worth it anyways because it probably would not have fit in his car (alright it would have, but we tried
to make it seem less painful).


Before getting to the Ultimate Cup winner, we are going to bring back Don Gonzalez. He too competed at the
Optima Event the previous weekend. Apparently something happened between that event and the Hotchkis
AutoX with these drivers because they were unstoppable throughout the weekend. Don was awarded the last
2015 Hotchkis Cup for his fastest lap times of the weekend.


As for his cup, I believe it is the most traveled Hotchkis Cup ever. It
started with a selfie of Don and Trish Byrd and ended with a journey to
Kansas. This recap would have been up much sooner if it wasnít for Don
and his cup, but we had to follow him to Kansas so we could share his
journey with all of you.


Jumping back to the Ultimate Cup (two separate awards- I know it can get confusing). Steve Abbot has also
been a dedicated Hotchkis AutoX competitor throughout the 2015 season. It showed as he was also in the
running for the Ultimate Cup Award. At the end of Sunday it came down to the final two competitors Greg
Nelson and Steve Abbot. Honestly no one knew who would come out on top, not even the Racing Byrds. After
tallying the points for the last event, Robert Byrd started his humorous Award speech before finally
announcing the season point leader.


With that said (and you have obviously figured it out by now), Steve
Abbot took the lead in points and was announced the recipient of the first
ever Hotchkis Ultimate Cup. Itís beyond me how Steve was able to fit that
trophy in his car or if he ever got it home (he was still trying to figure that
part out by the time I left), but knowing he closed the season with a big
win had to be victory within itself.


Finally we want to focus on one special award that was presented for the first time at the Hotchkis AutoX.
Headman Headers presented a special recognition award Sunday evening. With the focus on encouraging
younger generations to get involved in the automotive industry, there was one special recipient that truly
deserved this award. Luckily I got there just in time to see him make his last lap on the autocross before
pulling into the pits and calling it a day.


As Cayden's name was called, not only was he shocked, but his parents were also surprised. It's not often
someone under 5 years old gets an award at an autocross event. Cayden managed to sneak a couple runs
during breaks and at the end of the day, earning him the award of Special Recognition. We hope to see
Cayden and his Corvette back out at the Hotchkis AutoX next year. If he's lucky maybe dad will add some
extra power.


So now we reflect back on why it is so important for some people to win. With the Hotchkis AutoX it isnít
about bringing out your race car thatís street legal nor is it about bringing a pit crew to assist you in making
sure you win. Yes itís a little about the bragging and the of course the trophy helps, but really what it is about
is having fun. Regardless who won Sunday night, the award ceremony was filled with laughter, reflecting on
great memories through the year and discussing when the first event will be next year. To be a part of the
group that competes in the Hotchkis AutoX is fulfilling enough. With plenty of seat time, great people and a
good laugh, itís hard to pass up an event like this.


We canít wait to share next yearís dates with everyone. As soon as we hear from Hotchkis when and where
they will be for 2016 we will make an announcement on the forum. The Racing Byrds also announced that
some new classes will be added including a truck class. As some might have guessed I am overly excited
about this class. Check back for more information on class structure, dates and locations come 2016.

We thank Hotchkis and the Racing Byrds for having us once again and letting us be a part of their event.
Though the season is over the memories can still remain. Laura McKernan has helped keep those memories
alive with her awesome photography. Laura was able to capture the action and share it with all of us. Thank
you Laura and we look forward to seeing more photos of yours in the future.




We also wanted to share one last memory for the year. For those who have attended the Hotchkis AutoX then
you know Robert Byrd can be quite expressive. Now when I said thereís quite a bit of humor during the
awards, I couldnít resists sharing what I meant. How can you not have fun when the award announcer is as
animated as Rob? Hopefully he will not get too mad we shared these photos.

To see more photos from this events check out our gallery below:

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10-27-2015, 10:02 AM
Wow, Great write up !!!

Thank you for covering the event !

10-27-2015, 03:09 PM
Thanks Brandy!
Great times with great friends at a great event.
Wining anything was just frosting on the cake!
Can't wait till next season!