When the snow begins to fall and the temperature begins to drop, most
sensible enthusiasts put their weekend drivers and auto-x cars away. Not I!
During the winter season, there are driving events planned for almost every other weekend where enthusiasts can take their street cars (or race cars) and safely push them to their limits. As well as build up their car control driving skills and push their own driving limits further.
When fall of last year came around, I decided I would get in on this winter action, the right way. My friend(?) Brian Silvestro and I began to map out all of the upcoming winter events, and I bought myself a new car. A 2002 Subaru WRX. More on that later.
In this post, I'm just going to focus on the North East, because that's what I'm familiar with. But please feel free to pull up motorsportreg.com for yourself and share what you find in the comments.
We in the North East are lucky enough to have well organized, enjoyable Rally-X events hosted by the NER SCCA. Unfortunately these events can be scarce during the winter time, as it is hard to find event venues and weather conditions that can properly accommodate the needs for an enjoyable Rally-X. So when a Rally-X does pop up, be sure to head over to Motorsport Reg and sign up. Wintertime is a great opportunity to Rally-X because it means softer venues can be used instead of those with harsh terrain where your car could be at greater risk for damage.
AMEC Ice Racing*
This year, the Adirondack Motor Enthusiasts Club has made it incredibly easy for enthusiasts to compete in actual wheel to wheel racing, in their street cars, on ice! You don't even need a fire extinguisher, though it is recommended. Also, if you're not yet comfortable taking your car onto a frozen lake and trusting those around you to not run into you at speed (it rarely happens), the AMEC is also offering practice sessions for beginners to get out on the ice and feel it out for themselves, without having to endure a session of competitive wheel to wheel racing.
For more information, check out this short video series my buddy Jon Harper, put together during last year's ice racing season.
Lime Rock Park's Winter AutoX
Though the priciest of all, Lime Rock Park's Winter AutoX sessions provide the same ear to ear smile that you'll experience with the other two event options shown above, without any real risk of damaging your car. With RallyX, you risk debeading a tire, loosing a bumper, or bottoming out and damaging a diff or trans, or worse. And with Ice Racing, there is always that slim chance of contact, as there always is with wheel to wheel racing. With the winter autoX that Lime Rock offers, there is no real risk of damaging your car. The autoX course is created by covering their normal asphalt autoX course with tons of snow, and for most of the track, there is tons of room for error, which is great for us beginners.
*Approved snow tires required
Photo credit: Michael Roselli/Classic Car Club Manhattan, DaggerSlade Media, Jonathan Harper/Classic Car Club Manhattan, Lime Rock Park