Goodguys CPP AutoCross Racing Series 11th FiTech Spring Nationals Recap
The Goodguys CPP AutoCross Racing Series returned to Scottsdale, AZ last weekend for the 11th running of the FiTech Spring Nationals event, and the local AutoCross racers were eagerly awaiting the return. Nearly 100 drivers packed the pits during the course of the weekend with goals of vying for overall class wins with the fastest time, AutoMeter “Spring Shootout” victories, and at the end of the weekend bragging rights.
Those goals were shared in Scottsdale as there were a handful of different winners from each class. It’s often common that we see class winners double up at an event with shootout victories, but that wasn’t the case with this event.
The class racing action kicked off Friday morning and times were counted through Saturday afternoon as drivers bettered their times as the weekend progressed. When the last lap was ran, Robby Unser in the Speedway Motors ’70 Camaro stood atop the PRO-X field with a best time of 40.883, Ryan Matthews took home the PRO class win with a 40.165 in the PRO class behind the wheel of Bob Gawlik’s ’87 Corvette, Scot Spiewak also wheeled an ’87 Corvette to the Forgeline Street Machine class win with a 41.885, Pat Sheely conquered the LMC Truck field in a ’59 Apache with a best time of 43.894, and Tom Hull’s ’36 Pontiac claimed the FiTech Challenger class win with a 45.468.
When it came time to run the AutoMeter “Spring Shootouts” on Saturday afternoon we saw a new group of names joining the winner’s circle. These four elimination-style shootouts are composed of 4-car fields – taking the top 4 drivers from the PRO-X, PRO, and Street Machine class and placing them on their own ladder, and the final shootout being composed of the two quickest Truck and Challenger drivers.
Robby Unser was only one of two “double up” winners we saw in Scottsdale claiming the PRO-X class shootout victory after advancing past Mike Ahlstrom’s ’65 VW dune buggy and Casey Cronin’s ’72 Corvette. But from there the second-place class finishers stepped up in the shootout action just proving it is not always the fastest driver that wins when the pressure is on.
On the PRO ladder the key was consistency and Eric Sheely had that in his back pocket. Sheely trailed Ryan Matthews during the class racing by about half-a-second but Matthews slowed in the shootout action setting up a close final round when these two drivers went head-to-head. Matthews made his way to the final round over Brandon Thurman’s ’67 Camaro in the opening round with a 41.412 and Sheely advanced over Richard Jung’s ’68 Corvette with a 40.702. Sheely was first to run in the final round and laid down a 41.047 and Matthews was game with an improving 41.181, but it wasn’t enough to stop Sheely’s momentum.
It was much of the same in the Forgeline Street Machine class. Scot Spiewak claimed the overall class win with a best time of 41.885, but Tim Molzen’s ’63 Dart was right on his heels with a 42.077. Spiewak beat Lance Hamilton’s ’85 Monte Carlo in the opening round and Molzen advanced over Keith Corrigan’s ’55 TBird. If you thought the .19-hundreths of a second margin of victory was close in the class action, the .08 MOV between these two drivers in the Shootout action just shows how tight the Forgeline Street Machine racing really is. Molzen’s 42.877 in the final round was just enough to clip Spiewak’s 42.965 and get Molzen into the winner’s circle.
Rounding things out for the Saturday AutoCross action was the combined LMC Truck and FiTech Challenger class shootout. Pat Sheely’s ’59 Apache and Mark Allen’s ’87 GMC Syclone represented the truck side of the ladder with Tom Hull’s ’36 Pontiac and Gavin Hall’s ’59 Austin Healy on the Challenger side of things. After trailing Sheely all weekend in the Truck class, Allen got redemption and advanced to the final round over Sheely with a 45.441 to a 45.838. On the other side of the ladder Hull’s Pontiac advanced over Hall who did not finish his first-round pass. Hull shaved off nearly an entire second off his time in the final round but his 47.076 wasn’t enough for Allen’s 46.119.
The biggest surprise of the weekend came during Meguiar’s All American Sunday where any year of American-made or American-powered vehicle is able to enter the event and run the AutoCross track. During Friday and Saturday, it was low 40-second lap times that were the fastest of the weekend. On Sunday Brian Peters showed up with a 2019 Tesla Model 3 and laid the hammer down with the only sub-40-second pass of the entire event with a 39.996! Needless to say, Peters claimed the Wilwood All American Sunday class victory…but would it last through the 8-car shootout?
In a class stacked with brand new C8 Corvette’s, track-built Ford Focus’, late model Camaro’s, Challenger’s, Mustang’s, and more Peters did just that and worked his way to a final round matchup against Eric Sheely’s bad fast 2017 Ford Focus RS. Peters kept it safe during the first two rounds of eliminations with a 41.358 to advance over Michael Lindsay’s 2011 Camaro, and a 40.605 to defeat Benjamin Zukowski’s 2012 Grand Sport Corvette. Sheely on the other hand qualified second with a 42.545 and advanced over Rob Machado’s 2004 Corvette with a 43.815 and Andy Voelkel driving a 2020 C8 Corvette with a 42.846. Sheely stepped up yet again and matched his best time in the final round with another 42.545, but the electric torque of Peters’ Tesla propelled him to a double up victory with a 40.442.
Photos by Steven Bunker, Terry Lysak, and Todd Ryden