This year the SCCA Autocross Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska came at us fast and was over just as quick. But this does not mean it lacked in the action department. This time last year, Brianne sent Mike to Nationals on his own with Frank Stagnaro and Barbara Ogg (owners of the Horse).
Mike and Brianne were starting their new family business and were supposed to get keys to the new shop any day. Not knowing what laid around the corner weighed heavy on their minds. Fast-forward a year and it’s a whole different story. Being in business almost a year with production in full swing, we now had the challenge of fitting everything into what seemed like a small period of time.
As usual, the bulk of the work was up to Frank to prep the Mustang. This year the guys left Avon tires and went to Hoosiers, which was a major change for the entire car. This required multiple shock and alignment adjustments, along with a number of other changes. The car was also fitted with a prototype MOD 2 rocker arm assembly in the rear suspension. To top it off, this was the first full season the car spent at Crows Landing for American Autocross, which meant potential set-up differences between Crows Landing and Lincoln due to surface variations. Throughout the season, speed and performance progressed locally, but we were unsure what this would mean at Nationals.
The time had come to put all this testing to work. Nationals was broken up into two test days and two race days. Getting the car sorted for this specific surface was the goal for practice runs. One of the major challenges was to get the car feeling good on that surface. Despite all the testing we did, the car still wasn’t in a comfortable place but there was nothing else that could be done. It was time to race what you had. The first day came up and the men’s class was in the second run group. The course was wide and flowing. Robert Lewis and his co-driver from Florida laid down times that put Mike and Frank on their heels. Still fighting with the car not feeling gripped up, the best they could muster for the first day was third, just 0.3 seconds behind Robert Lewis. Brianne was up next in the lady’s class and she was also against the Lewis Mustang. Tracey Lewis and her daughter Alisa were here to win too. At the end of the day, all the girls drove hard and Brianne squeaked out a 0.5 second lead.
Day two had arrived – the course was technical and cone-intensive. Point, squirt and don’t hit cones. The men’s class was up first again. With a little help from friends who raced earlier in the week, the guys made a few more changes to the car. Frank’s lap was first and by the look on his face, they knew that they struck on something good. Mike’s first lap was next and the adjustments were on point. Frank went out again and improved even more. Mike’s second lap was going even better until a large crash came from the transmission area. It was a drive shaft that had given up. Frank, being the pro that he is, had a spare in the trailer. The drive shaft pieces were swapped out quickly and they were back at it. It was all down to the last lap for Mike – he had to beat Robert by more than 0.4 seconds to make up for the deficit from day one. Mike made his last lap with a 60.555 and Robert was right behind him with a 61.170. That was it. The men’s championship was still in the hands of Mike and Frank. Frank ultimately finished ninth, keeping his position in the record books for winning the most trophies in Solo history. The ladies class was up next. Brianne was in the hot seat. The Lewis girls had their target fixed. Tracey showed her might on the last lap, laying down a time that would have won the whole thing if a row of cones had not been in her way. Brianne drove clean and hard for the win – this course was an exercise in passive aggression and that fits her quite well. But Alisa Lewis is on the radar and she will become a force to be reckoned with in coming years.
At the end of the week, Mike Maier Inc. brought home the Mustang’s 15th and 16th championships. Mike acquired his eighth championship, breaking a record held by Gene Hanchett since 1982 for seven championships in C-Prepared. Frank continues to hold the most trophies won by an individual in solo history and Brianne took home her fourth championship. We are all so proud to be part of this team. Frank Stagnaro, Barbara Ogg and the Mike Maier Inc. team has provided tools for success that put us all in the position we are in today. We could not have done this without Frank and Barbara. Thank you so much for being part of an amazing 2015.