Posted Online: May 05, 2008, 10:49 am

Autocross brings racing to i wireless parking lot

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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

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Photo: Paul Colletti
Chad Bremer races through the temporary course in his 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier on Sunday afternoon at the i wireless Center in Moline. The autocross event saw drivers with various skill levels and performance cars complete the obstacle course as fast as possible. Mr. Bremer prepared his car for racing by installing a carbon fiber hood, tuning the intake, exhaust, suspension and clutch.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Robert Bishop waits with his helmet on in the parking lot of the i wireless Center in Moline on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Bishop tested his driving skills in a solo autocross event in his modified Toyota Solara that includes a tuned suspension and a performance intake and exhaust system.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Tom Drabek, of Coal Valley, replaces his racing tires with street tires after competing in the autocross event at the i wireless Center on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Drabek took his stock Pontiac Solstice around the course in 48 seconds -- faster than some drivers in Corvettes. Every driver wears a helmet while racing, but Mr. Drabek stays safe with an additional roll bar and six-point racing harness.

MOLINE -- For the drivers, it's an experience they want to repeat.

They were driving at the i wireless Center's parking lot at 1201 River Drive on Sunday, moving their cars and a rare truck through a course made with pylons.

It is called solo autocross. Sunday's event was held by the Great River Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Mike Whitney, who was overseeing Sunday's event, also was participating.

He was driving his wife Cindy Ann's 2004 Mazda Miata through the course.

"He is, by far, our quickest competitor out here," said fellow driver Adam Moore, of Davenport.

Mr. Whitney said the solo events display a driver's ability.

"You have some fun and competition in a safe environment," Mr. Whitney said before zipping through the course in the red Miata.

The Great River Region SCCA is one of 110 regions that make up the nation's largest motorsport membership organization. According to its Web site, Great River Region was chartered in 1966 and has promoted a variety of motorsport activities and social events.

In addition to Sunday's solo event, SCCA members also promote and participate in races, road rallies and social functions.

Mr. Moore, a fellow SCCA driver, was driving his 2000 Chevrolet S10 pickup around the course. He said there were more than 40 entrants for Sunday's event.

Guys like Chad Bremer, of Illinois City, came by because they enjoy the challenge of SCCA events. He was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier.

"It's a blast," Mr. Bremer said. "It's better than anything else I've done.

"Actually, I started out being young and dumb in the street racing and stumbled across this accidentally. This is my fifth year."

Mr. Bremer said anyone can participate because of the various classes of vehicles involved. He said the most expensive part of the equipment for those that want to throw some money into it is the tires.

"I have really lightweight wheels," he said. "Real stiff, real sticky tires."

He said the tires help with the handling and maneuverability.

Don Holzer, of Epworth, Iowa, was driving a 1989 Pontiac Trans Am. His son got him interested in the solo events. Mr. Holzer used to drive a small stock car back in the 1970s.

"I kind of miss that door handle to door handle stuff," he said. "But this is almost as much fun.

"Basically, what this is is a drag race on a road course."

Last year, Mr. Holzer said it was a little bit of a challenge driving past pylons in his previous car.

"I was driving a 4-door Saturn grocery getter," he said with a laugh. "This one (Trans Am) I can steer with the back wheels.

"Heck, you don't hit over 40 or 50 mph. It's legal."