Starting in 1986 I have had the opportunity to drive a range of cars in competition; the oldest was a vintage Mini Cooper to a couple of formula cars, the most recent was an Acura RSX-Type S. There were other cars that I have not listed here and I am sure there will be more in the future.
The first two cars were ones that I ran in the series for points and with the hopes of winning a season championship. In the Toyota, I won 3 and in multiple CRX's I won 2. The rest of the cars, I was driving for the fun of it or to do some testing.
Owner: Michael Berchak
Sponsor: Whatever I could spend on it.
This was my personal car that did double duty, I drove it on the street to work, college and on the weekends at the Solo events. This car ran in two different classes because SCCA changed the classes around while I owned it. It was factory stock with the exception of changing to a set of high performance tires. This car was probably the most stable and predictable car that I ever drove on a Solo course and it gave me the opportunity to reach the level where I was driving the car at its limit. I was also able to get my left foot braking skills honed and I would get to the point that the power assist brakes would bleed off and I was using straight hydraulic pressure and that gave me great response and feel. It was not a high powered car but it was a total blast to drive and I would not mind getting one again.
Owner: Ken & Mary Berchak
Sponsor: KB Engineering
This was another family car that I got started doing Solos in. In fact I took my driver’s license test in one that had a manual transmission. All of the CRX’s in my family were my mom’s daily drivers in addition to being a Solo car on the weekends. All of them were run in the stock classes and had minor modifications done (changing over to high performance tires and adding racing seat belts). I won two regional class championships with them while competing against fields of strong drivers. These cars were fun to drive and predictable as long as I did not try anything too crazy.
Owner: Mary Jane Berchak
Sponsor: Mary Berchak & KB Engineering
From time to time I was able to attend an Solo event with my mom and run her car at different events. This car was totally stock including stock tires. I did not run the series so I was running for the fun of it and to see what the car could do.
Owner: Ken Berchak/ KB Engineering
Sponsor: KB Engineering
My Dad started driving Solo’s back in the early 70’s, back then he was driving his beloved Triumph TR-3A. My mom also had acquired a second TR-3A and that car was driven in competition too. While I don’t remember the TR-3A’s being on the road I do remember them after Dad had converted one of them to a D Prepared Solo car. After some time Dad decided that he wanted to move up to Road Racing and he developed an interest in the Mazda RX-7 from an Engineer’s point of view.
He liked the idea that the engine only had three moving parts yet could produce that much power. His first RX-7 was a 1979 GS that he converted into a road racing car. After an accident on track at Indianapolis Raceway Park that totaled the’ 79 car, he purchased a 1984 GLS-SE to drive on the street but it got converted to a road racing car faster than originally scheduled. This car started out as a ITS car and I got to drive it at a few Solos in that trim from time to time. When SCCA re-evaluated cars and what class they could be in the RX-7 was put into E Production for road racing and Dad started the conversion to that class almost immediately. I got to drive the car in this trim at a few autocross events as well, mostly to test something out.
Owner: Jerry Purvis
This car is owned by a long time friend of mine and my family who began running at the Solos back in the 70’s. This car was originally built as a road racing formula car powered by a 4 cylinder Volkswagen engine. The current owner has taken the VW engine out and replaced it with a V6 out of a Dodge Minivan. The car is very light and with a big motor I could start out in second gear, still be able to spin the rear tires and drive the entire run without changing gears. This car was fun to drive but also it was hard to drive because it had so much power it could slide out with little notice.
Owner: The Ohio State University
Sponsors: The Ohio State University & others
The Ohio State University College of Engineering has a program that has a strong connection to the automotive industry. The Society of Automotive Engineers has several college based programs that challenge student teams to build and compete with cars that they design, build and test. The competition for the Formula SAE cars is usually held in Pontiac Michigan at the Silver Dome.
The competition covers safety, acceleration performance, braking performance, handling and fuel economy. I got to help out by building the wings that were a first for the team in addition to getting to drive the car in the Solo/Autocross competition. This was a fast car that responded extremely quickly to steering, braking and acceleration inputs and was a challenge for me to drive mostly because of the lack of time behind the wheel.
The competition at the Silver Dome was a multi day event and it went well for all of us. The team was scheduled to take two cars but due to time restrictions we were only able to get one completed that I can remember. This type of car project has become so popular that SCCA has opened a class for them in the Solo program.