Dateline: March, 1998

This just in from Denver!  The SCCA has gone mad…

…but at scR motorsports, we’re not complaining!  A bit of history for those of you who are not intimately familiar with the official sanctioning body for Showroom Stock Club Racing:

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is the official ‘rule making and enforcing’ body which will sanction all of our events this year.  “So why is this important?” you ask.  Well, last winter, in an effort to allow other manufacturers to provide a ‘Club Racing’ performance package (i.e., Neon ACR), the SCCA proposed changing the rules in Showroom Stock to allow for the use of different springs, shocks, wheels, exhaust, differentials, and anti-sway bars.  The proposed class was labeled ‘Touring’ and was brought to the table.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, the SCCA was trying to encourage competition between the manufacturers.  We saw this as being a chance to earn a shot at competing at the National Runoffs at Mid-Ohio (see cool map).

Unfortunately (from our perspective with all due respect, Neon fans), the proposal was defeated; however, in racing things can change awfully quickly.

Apparently (from what we hear directly from the SCCA), the Neon competitors petitioned to be allowed aftermarket exhaust systems, steering wheels, and Koni adjustable struts.  For some reason, unknown to the rest of the free world, the SCCA said “OK – everyone gets exhaust and steering wheels, but only the Neons get the struts.”  This caused quite a concern here at team scR, since the Neon was already the car to beat in SSC.  The Koni struts would have been hard to swallow, since we were still required to run our stock Delphi units.  Now comes the interesting part…

So, last month’s FasTrack (the official notification of rule changes for SCCA Club Racing) is published, and I’m casually leafing through the updates and come across the following approved changes:

  1. Chrysler Neon: Koni adjustable struts permitted
  2. Honda Civic Coupe: Honda Motorsports Package permitted
  3. Mazda Protégé ES: Mazda Motorsports package permitted
  4. Nissan 200 SX SER / Sentra SR: Nissan Motorsports package permitted
  5. Toyota Corolla: TRD Performance Package permitted
  6. Saturn SC Coupe: classify 1998 model year

Before the FasTrack had hit the floor, I was on the phone with the SCCA trying to figure out just what they were giving away.  Turns out that all of the aforementioned packages consisted of lowering springs, stiffer struts, bigger anti-sway bars, and so forth.  Sort of like Touring class without all the really expensive parts, but only for certain manufacturers.  Doesn’t exactly level the playing field, now does it?

So, at the risk of whining, I politely requested “HEY – WHAT ABOUT US?!?”  Their response was, “Get Saturn to propose a Motorsports Package for this year, and we’ll approve it.  We need it by the end of the week if you want it approved for April.  Should be easy – they sponsor you, don’t they?”

Little did they know that a) Saturn really has no interest in racing and b) even if they did it would take several months to get something official out of the organization and c) no, they don’t sponsor us.  Hmmm…

After spending a good bit of time on the phone, we managed to convince the SCCA that scR motorsports, in joint cooperation with Thundersport Racing (Mike Kramer’s team out of Spring Hill), would be the ‘official unofficial’ voice and sounding board for Saturn Club Racing activities.  Now we had to get to work and define an ‘official unofficial’ Saturn SSC Performance Package.

To make a long story a little bit longer, Mr. Kramer and I spent the next 48 hours on the phone, contacting every supplier and developer of Saturn performance hardware we could think of.  Frequent phone calls back to the SCCA kept our focus defined as we headed into Thursday with our proposal in hand (at the fax machine, actually, but ‘in hand’ sounds better).  At 10:00am Thursday morning, the proposal hit Jim Leithauser’s desk in Denver for consideration.

Two hours later, the phone call came that our package was approved in full!  By now you’re wondering, “Just what does this package consist of, anyway?”  Well, I have saved the best for last.  The following modifications will adorn the scR motorsports g-machine for our first race of 1998:

  • Front and rear H+R lowering springs (they’re a sponsor now, too!)
  • Front and rear Carerra struts with replaceable inserts (increased damping!)
  • Rear anti-sway bar with increased diameter (increased roll resistance!)
  • Complete retrofit of Saturn rear disc brakes without needing to add ABS (woo-hoo!)
  • Allowable camber of 2½° at all four corners (up from 1.2° allowed now!)

The whole package is available from SPS in Dayton, Ohio as part number PKG-SSC-9798.  Order yours today!

Will it all work?  Well, we have done some quasi-modeling with the performance data supplied by the component manufacturers, and on paper it sure looks like a balanced system.  Of course, track time will allow us to sort the thing out, but we believe that out-of-the-box we will be at least a second or two faster due to the hardware.  In Club Racing, that’s very significant.

So, has the SCCA really gone mad?  Who knows, but ‘Showroom Stock’ certainly doesn’t mean what it used to.  Perhaps in a year or so Touring will be voted into existence and the whole thing will be a dead issue, but for now we’ll take whatever we can get.   Time to go build a real race car!