SCCA Autocross, Lawrenceville, IL 


The Mid-America Air Center (Lawrenceville-Vincennes International Airport) is about four miles northeast of Lawrenceville, IL, and six miles northwest of Vincennes, IN. From late May through early October, the Southern Indiana Region of the Sports Car Club of America hosts autocross events here to the delight of scores of enthusiastic drivers, often including our own Terry Davis, Paul Dornburg, and Jeff Jackson.

The first autocross of 2016 was held on Sunday, May 22nd. SCCA organizers published the map of the course shown below. The grey line shows the competitors' path. It's fairly easy to follow here, but in person you have to imagine that line as it weaves between orange cones carefully arranged over acres of concrete. Sounds easy, but remember that you're trying to get from the start to the finish as quickly as possible without running over cones or getting lost. Gobs of horsepower can be helpful, but it's all about skillful driving. It's an exciting challenge and your runs last little more than 60 seconds at a time.


Jeff Jackson has been encouraging members to give it a try. Even if you are unlikely to drive in an autocross, you should watch one or two. Look at the range of cars and drivers who participate. You might just feel and urge to give it a try. After all, you own one of the greatest, most agile sports cars of all time. Why is it sitting in your garage if you don't intend to use it? If nothing else, you might go for a ride with an experienced driver to see how much fun you could be having.

Your faithful SIR-PCA photographers drove up to catch the action on the 22nd. Here's what we saw. On this particular day, Paul Dornburg and Jeff Jackson came to compete. Paul has a  bright green Targa that has been modified to excel in autocross competitions. Jeff has a pristine and powerful GT3 that is equally at home on roads and tracks.



The event began with a drivers' meeting. Drivers were divided into two groups. Each person would be allowed three timed runs. People who had shown up in winter months for work details were given a fourth run. Jeff drove in the first group and worked out on the course during the second group's time. Paul did the opposite.


Participants were encouraged to walk the course to understand its layout and think about best lines through the maze of cones.

You could also drive the course slowly to see things from the driver's seat. Suddenly, some of those gaps between cones looked a lot narrower.

The first group of drivers formed four lines to wait for their turns.

The assortment of vehicles was fascinating. Entries ranged from a 50-year-old Datsun (Nissan) and a modern BMW M3 to several Miatas and a 5-Liter Mustang. 

Jeff adjusted his tire pressure between runs, looking for the optimum setting.

Ready for his run, he inches toward the Start line.

When the Starter drops his arm, Jeff takes off.

The GT3 launches toward the first gate,...

... and accelerates to the first sharp left turn

The GT3 dances through curves with little body roll. From a distance, it looks simple. From the driver's seat, it's all thrill-a-second action to thread through the cones accurately and quickly.

Jeff concentrates on his line through a sea of orange cones.

Course workers will signal for missed gates or knocked-over cones.

Just a few more tight turns,...

... and a quick dash to the Finish line and hopes for a good time. For the record, Jeff's best time for the day was 51.227 seconds. placing second in the stock category behind "an extremely well-driven Mazda RX-8" that ran an impressive 50.124.

Paul Dornburg was among the second group of drivers for the afternoon.

His 911 Targa has obviously been modified for this kind of competition.

This lighter Porsche clearly leaps off the line at the start.

Some cars are just more fun to watch than others.


Maybe it's just that Porsches look natural in competitive environments and the odd Golf or Ford Focus looks out of place (though their drivers had as much fun as anyone else).

Regardless, Paul was having fun and managed the second best time of the day at 48.620 seconds! The Fast Time of Day was set by an FMod 440 at 47.768.

SIR-SCCA Regional Executive Dave Lehrschall generously offered a ride around the course in his Five Liter Mustang. Jerry Jindrich readily accepted. His last autocross experiences had been in a turbocharged Corvair Monza Spyder in the late 60's.

The Mustang was considerably heavier than the Corvair had been, but that was more than made up for by gobs of horsepower, independent rear suspension, and enormous tires and brakes. This version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was over in less than 60 seconds and left the passenger with a big grin on his face. Thank you, Dave Lehrschall!

The Wabash Valley Soaring Association is another organization that utilizes the airport facilities. 

While we waited for the autocross to begin, we had a chance to watch several sailplanes be towed aloft. This soaring club has been active for more than 45 years. It is host to an annual Midwest Vintage/Classic Sailplane Regatta over Fathers Day weekend.

Hmm. This looks like fun, too.

Now you have two reasons to drive up to Vincennes this summer. Come support fellow SIR-PCA members. Consider testing your driving skills in this safe, supportive setting. The people who are participating are clearly have lots of fun.





©2016 Southern Indiana Region of the Porsche Club of America