It’s springtime and even though Southern California really doesn’t have a winter (compared to the rest of the country, anyway), we still look forward to this time of year because it’s the start of the summer competition driving season. Sure, there are car shows, but we would rather optimize tire pressures than rub our cars with microfiber towels. The main problem for us West Coasters is that many of the super-cool driving events are too far east, making them geographically undesirable to attend. Luckily, a group of Tennessee gearheads took pity on us and organized the inaugural Run to the Coast event in 2010. It combined a full-blown road course, autocross, and speed-stop competition into two days and guaranteed to satiate the needs of those wanting to haul ass in their hot rods.
Since then, driving events have only gained in popularity to the point where Bill Howell, Yancy Johns, and Brian Finch formed a new association called American Street Car Series (ASCS). ASCS’s sole mission is to organize driving events around the country geared towards American muscle cars. So, how popular has this event become? Well, this year the whole grid of 70-plus spots sold out the day after registration opened online. Pent up demand? Maybe. All we know is that it warms our collective hearts to see so much classic muscle getting used the way God intended. Of course, nearly half of the cars in attendance were Camaros, and that was fine by us.
We’re not going to pretend that this isn’t a competition, but the organizers really stress that the main goal is for people to have fun driving their cars. As such, many of the rules incorporate the spirit of the event rather than specific nit-picky rules that racers can try to contort their way around. Sure, there are some serious cars with some really serious drivers in attendance, but that doesn’t mean the organizers and veteran racers aren’t friendly towards those with less—or no—track experience. After all, even a wheelman like DSE’s Kyle Tucker was a newbie at some point.
Like previous years, the main event featured a 1.8-mile road course set up by Orange County Race Craft on the now-defunct El Toro Marine Corps runways. The autocross was designed to test driver reaction times and the car’s ability to stick in very fast turns and transitions. The ASCS also inserted a new event called speed-stop-squared (SS2) in place of the old speed-stop competition. In this competition, two cars stage at a real Christmas tree, just like at the dragstrip. On the green light, both cars launch down a 1,000-ish-foot straightaway. At the end, the left car turns left while the right car goes right and into a 180-degree turn and back through a slalom course. The run then culminates in a stop box.
It’s a blast to watch, and even harder than it looks, since red-lighting at the tree, hitting a slalom cone, or failing to stop in the rather diminutive stop box results in a DNF. The overall event rules were simple: cars had to pass a technical safety inspection, be street legal, and have tires with a treadwear rating of 200 or higher. Cars running on softer compound tires could run, but their times wouldn’t be posted in the final results. There was also a contingency program sponsored by BFGoodrich with lots of prize money up for grabs.
Aside from all the driving events, there was a Saturday night taco party sponsored by Doug Renner and JCG Customs. Sunday featured a cruise to the NHRA museum in Pomona. The driving events get sort of hectic, so it’s nice to have these more relaxed activities to hang out with fellow gearheads and enjoy what this sport is all about: making friends and talking cars.