View Full Version : NMCA West Hotchkis Autocross Recap April 2016

04-15-2016, 06:11 PM

The First of Four Battles for the Ultimate Hotchkis Cup
Written by: Brandy Phillips
Photos by: Brandy Phillips

I have been lucky enough to shoot the past several NMCA West Hotchkis Autocross events for Pro-Touring.com. When it
came time to create my race schedule for the C10R, I was extremely disappointed to see conflicting dates that could have
possibly made a significant impact on the NMCA attendance. As many of you know, the Goodguys Del Mar show was
scheduled the same weekend as the NMCA event, leaving many participants questioning which they would attend.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend both events, though I chose to set the C10R aside in exchange for my camera
and hit the autocross course come Sunday at NMCA.


Though I was not present Saturday, there were only a handful of drivers that did not race both days. Cris Gonzalez was
one of those drivers. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any coverage of Cris, but Trish and Robert Byrd came to my
rescue providing some coverage from Saturdayís autocross. Cris can typically be found at the JCG Restoration
Headquarters in Camarillo, CA. His busy shop has left little time for him to go play in the 1970 Corvette so when we do
see him out on course it is always a treat.


Greg and Krista Biddlingmeier were in attendance both Saturday and Sunday, but racing ended for the couple early
Sunday after Greg blew up the brand new motor recently installed in the 1988 Mustang. By the time I caught up with
Greg and Krista, they were in the transition of loading the Mustang and heading back to Arizona. Luckily there is nothing
wrong with Gregís old motor, so the couple discussed swapping the motor, hopefully having it finished in time for Optima
Las Vegas.


I absolutely love the crowd out at the NMCA event. Many drivers who own late model vehicles do not participate in other
pro-touring events. Going to an NMCA event is a nice change as I get to see old friends, catch up with current events and
enjoy the comfort of a smoothly run extremely fun autocross. People have fun when the Byrdís put on an autocross.
Typically the autocross layout is large enough for vehicles like my C10 or that of a fifth gen Camaro, but still has several
technical element. The course drawn out for the first 2016 NMCA Autocross was larger than most, extending into the far
back area of the parking lot and allowing faster speeds to be reached on the straightaways.


Dannie Pinard was out in his 2013 Camaro that he recently announced was for sale via social media. The car looked naked
without the decals, almost unrecognizable if it wasnít for those bright red wheels. I had a chance to sit with Dannie and
see what direction he was going once he sells the Camaro. Since I did not ask Dannie if I could announce to the world his
next project, that will remain a mystery, but letís just say itís going to be very fast and I canít wait to see him behind the
wheel when it is finished.


Mike Cuthbertson brought out his 1968 Camaro and did exceptionally well both Saturday and Sunday considering the fact
that he kept lifting the driverís side front tire each run out. Mike maintained a third place standing on Saturday, following
closely behind Cris Gonzalez in his Corvette and Chad Ryker in his 1968 Camaro. When Sunday came, some new additions
to the Classic Muscle Class left Mike sitting in fourth place by the end of Sunday. Mike plans on making some adjustments
to the Camaro and once he does he is going to be one to watch.


Don Gonzalez; where should I start? For some he might look intimidating while others think he is a giant teddy bear. I, on
the other hand, love to give Don a hard time while sticking a camera in his face, usually resulting in Don striking a pose
and capturing him in the moment. Don had Speedy out on course tearing up the autocross as usual. Though Speedy
Gonzalez was not hanging out of Donís sunroof, it was still fun to watch Don take to the course and beat the heck out of
his 2010 Camaro.


Marc Lewis from Hedman brought out his Ford Focus both Saturday and Sunday. I recognized Marc and I recognized the
car, but I never put the two of them together. Now that I was paying closer attention to each driver I noticed that Marc is
extremely fast. His has had several first place wins at these NMCA Autocross events and this event was no different as he
claimed another win in the Compact Class. My goal is to get a ride in Marcís car when June comes around. It would be nice
to feel the comfort and speed of a small compact car instead of the heavy boat that I drag around the autocross course.
Hopefully he will be up for a passenger in June.


Stephen and Claudia reminded me a lot like Rob and myself. Rob and I both have C10ís and though his truck has been
out of commission, we too would be in this same situation as a couple, competing against each other with very similar
trucks. The couple attended NMCA in their 2004 and 2006 Silveradoís with the hope of one of them winning the Truck


I was lucky enough to take a ride with both Stephen and Claudia. Honestly I was sort of intimidated at first. It is rare
that I ever get in the passenger seat. My comfort level is in the driver seat with an instructor, not the other way around.
So when I asked if I could ride along, I was a little afraid at first. This quickly went away as I hit the course with Claudia.
It was hard to believe that both Stephen and Claudia had only raced autocross for the past six months. Claudia was a
natural. She had no fear and the only thing holding her back was her truck. I actually learned a thing or two from her.
Stephenís ride along was a little different. His truck had quite a bit more power with some added suspensions upgrades
and his driving style was more similar to mine.


Both drivers improved significantly throughout Sunday, which resulted in one of them accomplishing their overall goal.
Stephen took first in the Truck Class, though Claudia was not too far behind. I hope too see both Claudia and Stephen on
the podium once again in the upcoming months. I had a blast with both drivers and look forward to spending more time
with them both behind the wheel of my truck and riding passenger in theirs.


I have had the opportunity to get to know Alexandra and Fred Zust over the past year. Sometimes itís hard for the
pro-touring community or the modern muscle group to relate to the Alexandra and Fredís choices of cars. They are half
the size and weight of most other competitors out at an NMCA event. We cannot discredit the amount of work and testing
that has gone into their 2005 yellow Lotus. Itís be awesome to watch as some pretty extreme modifications were made
over the past year. Alexandra and Fred had both Lotus out at NMCA.


Though the yellow Lotus was unable to compete for the Hotchkis Cup due to its extreme modifications, Alexandra still
found herself back on the podium not only taking home the award for the fastest female driver, but also being crowed the
winner of the fastest lap of the day and ultimate street car for the weekend.


Fred on the other hand who was driving their other Lotus was eligible for the Hotchkis Cup. As Sunday progressed the car
got faster and faster, putting him in the top of the field and making him eligible for the Hotchkis Cup come Sunday
evening. It was no surprise as Fredís name was announced as the first 2016 Hotchkis Cup Event Winner during the award
ceremony. This was the first of four Hotchkis Cup event trophies all leading to the grand finale and the ultimate Hotchkis
Cup Award that will be handed out in October.


Many of the NMCA Autocross competitors were locals, but there is always one competitor that makes the haul a couple
times a year to compete at an NMCA event. He typically hauls two cars out to the autocross in a trailer that sports JPD
Motorsports across the side. Why Jordan drives from Utah to Fontana is beyond me, but who cares. Heís a great guy that
has extremely good driving techniques and can offers some pretty good advice when needed.


This time Jordan brought out his 2011 Camaro, Frankey and his new 2016 Camaro named Evilynn. I didnít get a chance
to watch his runs Saturday, but it looked like Frankey was giving Jordan some attitude on Sunday. Maybe there is some
jealousy between the two cars. On the flip side, Evilynn ran exceptionally well. On one of Jordanís last laps Sunday
afternoon he bumped himself back into first with a flawless run. This helped him secure his win in the Modern Muscle


Now I want to take a minute and talk about this 2011 red Corvette driven by a father son team. I do not know much
about them, but I am guessing they have some SCCA experience judging by the way they prepped the Corvette before
each run. Why I want to focus on Randy and Matthew Gonzalez for a moment is to reflect on their story from my point of


Like I said I donít know anything about the two, but I do know about the bond between a father and a child at a racetrack.
I was once in Matthewís position as my father got me into racing, taught me about the sport and would give me advice.
We would jump between the drivers seat and the passengers seat as he would play instructor and I would watch his lead.
Soon I started to become faster than my father and finally there was a time he was not able to catch up. This too was the
case with Matthew.


I watched as the father and son teamed jumped between the driver and passenger seat. They would have discussions
after their runs that probably included thoughts about the track, driving styles and improvements. Though Randy was
faster early Sunday, Matthew quickly caught up and ran a faster lap time by the end of Sunday. Often it is common to see
a younger driver at SCCA events, but not at an NMCA autocross. I was extremely impressed by this young driver and
couldnít help but share what I saw as a spectator with all of you.


Now lets move on to the epic battle between Rob McIntosh and Chad Ryker. Like all tragic stories, this had a happy ending
for one driver and a very painful ending for another. Chad Ryker and his 1968 Camaro sat in first place all day in the
Classic Muscle Class. Robb McIntosh, who had joined the race on Sunday, was trying to catch up to Chad in his 1969
Camaro. Robb had raced at the Goodguys Del Mar autocross before leaving Del Mar Sunday to join the NMCA West
Series. Both drivers had attended multiple NMCA West Autocross events in the past and have been racing for quite some
time so when Sunday came it was anyoneís game.


Each run session consisted of three laps around the autocross. Robb pulled up for his last three laps of the day. Robbís
first lap was clean, but not fast enough to put him into first. During his second lap he spun out. On Robbís third lap a
Corvette, who was finishing up his lap, spun out, qualifying Robb for an immediate rerun. This was Robís last chance to
claim first before the weekend ended.


Robís lap was looking great. It was clean, fast and he didnít hit a single cone. As he crossed the finish line the time was in.
He had run 7/10thís faster than Chad, but it did not result in the happy ending Robb may was looking for Sunday evening.
Unfortunately Robb had spun out at the finish line, resulting in an automatic DNF. The run would not count and Robb
would take home second at the NMCA West Autocross. On the other hand, I am sure that Chad was extremely relieved to
hear about the DNF as he took to the podium taking home first in the Classic Muscle Class.


At the end of the day, regardless who went home first, second, third or maybe did not place at all, everyone still had a
smile on their face. There are many other rewards at an NMCA West Autocross besides your typical first place win. First,
thereís the amount of runs you get throughout the weekend, which is typically more than most other pro-touring events.
Furthermore thereís awards other than first place wins such as most improved, spirit of the event and a handful of others.
Finally, thereís great people all around from the pits of the autocross to those who work the event. When the weekend
was finished everyone (except probably Greg Biddlingmeier) went home exhausted and happy. In my mind, thatís the
perfect ending to a great event.


Here's a quick glimpse at all the Hotchkis NMCA West Autocross winners from Sunday.

For more coverage from the NMCA West event please click HERE (http://s385.photobucket.com/user/protouringdotcom/library/ProTouring%20Events%202016/NMCA%20West%20Hotchkis%20Autocross%202016/NMCA%20West%20Autocross%20April%20Event)


If you are interested in signing up for a NMCA West Autocross Event check out our RACE / SHOW CALENDAR (https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/104995-2016-Event-Calendar-Autocross-Track-Days-and-more)for more information

04-15-2016, 10:07 PM
Great write up Brandy! I have to make a correction and expand on Sunday's battle with Rob M.

I did not sit in first place all day. That was Rob sitting in first all day. I was 3rd until my final run of the day. I tasted first on my 2nd session but a late cone call meant it was not to be. So heading into the 3rd and final session of 3 runs I'm sitting in 3rd place with a 55.6. Sal is 2nd with a 55.2 and he already ran his 3rd session. Rob is sitting in first with a 55.0 and decides to not even bother running his 3rd session unless I beat his time.

After two of my final 3 runs I haven't even come close to Sal or Rob. My cone run from earlier was a raw time of 54.7 so I know I can beat a 55.0. On my last run of the day I run a 54.8 jumping me up to first. I'm stoked but there is a red streak as Rob makes a beeline for his 69 to take his final 3 runs and try to reclaim the spot he held all day.

I watch Rob take his first two runs and from my perspective he is driving with too much throttle pedal aggression. At this point Rob is now in the same spot I was. It's his last run of the day. I watch him leave the line and he has a pretty rough start with lots of wheel spin and again he is being supper aggressive but as he is going through his first turns I see Ryan off course and backing up towards Rob and I think in my head, this might be rerun worthy. Rob completes his 3rd run and fails to best me so I'm excited and thinking I can finally relax and give my hammering heart a break.

But no, as Rob is driving to the pits Rob Byrd gets on the mic and calls him back for a rerun. Rob lines up for his rerun and my heart is once again racing. I have to say that it's much nicer to run last rather than waiting to see if your run holds as other fast drivers attack it! Anyhow as soon as Rob leaves the line I can tell this run is going to be different. He is super smooth and just destroying the course. Halfway through his run I knew I was in trouble. I watch him gun it for the finish and whip my head to the timer and see a 54.1 utterly destroying my best time. This time would of put him near the top in the super competitive modern muscle too. Hkwever, as I'm processing the timer readout I hear screeching tires and whip my head back around to see Rob spinning right after the finish and taking out two cones.

At first I'm excited because in the SCCA they count cones if you hit them after the finish but then I have no clue how the Byrds handle it. In my head I'm debating if I even ask Rob Byrd about it but it takes me a split second to decide I have to ask, I can't handle anymore suspense haha! Rob Byrd confirms the cones will count and part of me is excited for the win and part of me hates that it's due to a post finish spin. Especially since that 54.1 second run was beautiful!

I typed this all on my phone so I'm not sure if I did a good job of capturing the roller coaster ride I went through. Awesome battle Rob. I can't wait for the next one!

04-16-2016, 01:50 AM
This writeup was awesome!!..

Nine Ball
04-16-2016, 04:03 AM
Very nice write-up, thanks for sharing.


09-04-2016, 02:59 PM
thats a crappy way to win ,but of course you took it lol nice write up tho