Solo Test & Tune Sees Showers and Sunshine

A heavy deluge of rain visited the site at the beginning of the Test & Tune making for a slick start to the day. –Photo by Zander Hesskamp

The Kansas City Region SCCA opened it’s 2017 Solo Championship Season with an early Test & Tune event at the Metropolitan Community College Precision Driving Center in Independence, MO last Sunday, March 19th. The 65 participants saw an early morning deluge saturate the test course, but the early cool temperatures, clouds and rainstorms gave way to record temperatures and sunshine during the afternoon. The highly variable weather gave the motoring enthusiasts a wide range of testing conditions. What more could you ask for in a Test & Tune event?

Some were there to simply shake the rust off of their driving skills after a long off-season, but many were there to try out new tires, new builds, and in some cases even entirely new platforms. Justin Klinger, after competing for the past few seasons in H-Street with his Scion tC, purchased an STR-prepared Miata and was trying to get used to being pushed instead of pulled around the course.

Justin Klinger works on adapting to his new RWD Miata which behaves very different than his old FWD Scion. — Photo by Zander Hesskamp

“Honestly the biggest change for me is the range of adjustments I can now make to the car. I’ve got a wide range of ride height, sway bar, and alignment settings to play with, and then beyond that a whole array of modifications I can still make to the car. For me the biggest value of the Test and Tune was not just getting a lot of runs in with the car, but the opportunity to have other people hop in and take it for a lap and give me their feedback about how it drove and how it compared to what they’re driving. Especially as someone who had never driven a stock Miata (or any other Miata than my own), I was eager to find out what handling characteristics I might want to tune in, or if there were any issues I should try to tune out. I got lots of tips from lots of people. I’m glad I did the early Test and Tune since I actually have time to make a few changes before the first event if I want to.” — Justin Klinger, #87 STR

After several years of relative stability in the street tire market, the last couple of seasons have seen dramatic changes, and it looks like 2017 will be another season of tire wars in the 200TW market. Last year, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R was widely considered to be the King of Grip, although the newly redesigned BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S was a strong contender. This season, BFGoodrich is releasing another iteration of the successful Rival line, the g-Force Rival S 1.5. Hankook is also seeking to rejoin the 200TW fight with their new Ventus R-S4 tire. Bob Buxbaum and Todd Hesskamp to the opportunity at the Test & Tune to not only evaluate some suspension modifications made over the off-season, but also to try out the new Hankook tires and compare them to the Bridgestones.

“So, what’s the deal with the Hankook RS4? As with the RS3, relentless forward bite, especially from a dead stop. And the rear was just glued down, as with the 3s. The downside of that is what it does to the front. I had brought heavier rear springs and tools in case we wanted to go to my previous RS3 setup, but didn’t. Why? Hopeless turn in response. Changing entry, steering inputs, pressures and shock tweaks did very little. However, once the fronts DID grip, they stuck well.” — Bob Buxbaum, #165 STX

“I call the day a success overall, we learned a few things, got to see old friend, shook the rust off the driving skills and also realized that a winter of not standing all day on concrete and running after cones takes a toll when you have not done it for 4-5 months. I am looking forward to the new season, I saw a bunch of new faces and I noticed we have some assistance and guidance to provide to new people about vehicle classing and what sort of modifications are allowed in Street classes.” — Todd Hesskamp, #65 STX

Bear in mind, that this was their experience in a Street Touring BMW E36. As they say, “Your mileage may vary.”

When it comes to wholesale changes over an off-season, no one beats the CAM and Modified classes. There are several major CAM projects happening in the Kansas City Region including both new builds as well as reworking and refining old builds. Even the most aggressive CAM build, though, often comes short to major modified builds. Brad Smith and Dan Wheeler decided to completely tear down their F-Modified Red Devil racer all the way to the last bolt and redesign nearly every aspect of the car. The first Test & Tune event gave them the opportunity to see if their calculations (and yes, they did all the serious engineering and physics involved in redesigning their suspension geometry. I’ve seen the spreadsheets!) work in practice as well as theory predicted.

Dan Wheeler preparing for his test run in the newly redesigned Red Devil F500 machine, aka “Doofwagon.” — Photo by Doug Patterson

“The 2017 Test & Tune #1 was a pretty big success for Team Doof. Most systems checked out, more or less. We were quite pleased to learn that we had hit all of our design targets. The revised front and rear spring rates, in addition to the revised rear spring geometry, kept the car cornering flat and barely kissing the new-for-2017 HDPE rub strips along the sidepods. The refined 4-link geometry did a fantastic job of taming the wild throttle-on oversteer we had experienced at times in 2016. The day didn’t go perfectly, but we already have a test plan in place for Test & Tune #2 and incremental improvements through the year.” — Dan Wheeler, #88 FM

The second Test & Tune event and Solo Event #1 of the 2017 Kansas City Region Solo Championship will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 1st and 2nd, respectively. No foolin’! Sign up now for the weekend at You can see the full calendar of Solo events and driving schools on our Solo Racing – Schedule and Results page.

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2 Responses to Solo Test & Tune Sees Showers and Sunshine

  1. Kyle says:

    Love these recaps – nice job guys.

    • We’re hoping to have more of this type of content in addition to some feature stories about our members throughout the year. Contributed stories are always welcomed, too!

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