Autocross Round 3 sees Lotus Elise flying across runway-turned-raceway

Ryan Johnson driving a 2006 Lotus Elise, the fastest car of the day with a lap time of 45.297 seconds, Autocross 2014, Round 3, at the Ridgetop Complex, old airport property, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Ryan Johnson, driving a 2006 Lotus Elise, was the fastest car in autocross racing at the old St. George Airport Saturday with a lap time of 45.297 seconds. The Las Vegas Region of the Sports Car Club of America brings Autocross 2014 to St. George three times this year, with this weekend’s races being Round 3 and Round 4 of the series.  The racing continues Sunday starting at 7 a.m. Admission for spectators is free.

Vernon Jolley St. George News
Vernon Jolley, racing at Autocross 2014, Round 3, at the Ridgetop Complex, old airport property, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

The Las Vegas Region SCCA is a nonprofit organization that holds monthly closed-course racing events, allowing amateur as well as professional drivers to compete against the clock in a controlled and safe environment, emphasizing the driver’s ability and the car’s handling characteristics.

Race courses are set up in parking lots and older airport facilities, thus making St. George’s Ridgetop Complex – its former municipal airport property – well suited for the event.

The track layout has infinite possibilities since the course is set up using orange safety cones. Some cones are laid on their side to help drivers stay on course. If cones lay pointing right, the driver needs to stay on the right side. If a driver fails to follow the course, that run will be disqualified. If a driver knocks over a cone, he will be penalized by adding time to that run. The object is to run one lap more quickly than anybody in your class without acquiring any time penalties.

Devon Jolley
Devon Jolley races at Autocross 2014, Round 3, at the Ridgetop Complex, old airport property, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

Over 70 drivers have registered to run in a variety of classes ranging from go-karts to purpose-built road race cars. The event is open to anybody that wants to compete as long as their vehicle is not on the exclusion list or prone to rollover (mostly SUVs); other than that, there is a class for nearly every kind of car or go-kart.

Approved helmets and tech inspection are required for safety reasons. Loaner helmets may be available. The fee to race is $65.

On Friday, the Utah Region SCCA held a test-and-tune that allowed drivers to tune their cars for optimum performance and practice on the course.

“This is a nice little getaway from Vegas. We have been having problems finding places to run,” SCCA Las Vegas Regional Executive Sue Stoddard said. “St. George is a really good viable alternative because we can rent for three days what it would have cost to rent for one day. It is beautiful here and St. George has been very good to us.”

 

L-R: Damon Jolley and Paul Durr, Autocross 2014, Round 3, at the Ridgetop Complex, old airport property, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News
L-R: Damon Jolley and Paul Durr, Autocross 2014, Round 3, at the Ridgetop Complex, old airport property, St. George, Utah, March 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

Two racers brought go-karts to the event. Devon Jolley, 13, came down from Salt Lake City to try out racing for the first time. Paul Durr brought his six-speed go-kart and ran laps faster than almost all of the cars on Saturday.

“Being on an airport, the course has to be altered a bit from a big open area,” competitor Paul Durr said. “There are a lot of long straightaways with slaloms in them. I was able to reach 84 miles an hour in one spot.”

The next event is scheduled for June, with the third event scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

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Email: jteas@stgnews.com

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