Race car enthusiasts gear up for monthly fun in Selma – mySA

Hitting top speeds of 55 to 60 miles per hour may not sound like extreme to many motorists but doing so over an orange-coned course of tight turns and narrow straightaways demands precision and driver devotion.

Members of the San Antonio Sports Car Association take to the pavement at the River City Community Church every month to exhibit their driving skills — and their modified vehicles — among the SASCA membership.

Temperatures were peaking near 95 degrees on the morning of July 9 when SASCA members Eric Yee and Brandon Garcia hit the track, two of the 97 drivers registered to run the specially designed course.

Traveling between 30 and 60 miles per hour, cars sprint out onto the monitored course and are timed according to their progress through the course.

Yee has been driving Autocross for 13 years. He said drivers normally get five or six runs to achieve a daily high time. His 2013 Mustang GT has been modified to perform at a higher level than the off-the-showroom Mustang you’ll find parked in a neighbor’s driveway. “But it’s still street-legal, I can drive it here and back.”

The club, Yee said, has been around since the 1960s and has been running at the River City location since 2016 or 2017. About 60 percent of the roughly 100 drivers at the July 9 event are SASCA members; the rest come out, pay the entry fee, and hook it up.

Yee’s best time, 43.7 seconds, came in his fifth and final run, the fourth-best in his classification.

Heat played a part in the event, he said. A previous event hosted 1,876 drivers.

Garcia is the SASCA president.

“This sport is mainly about tires, driver improvement and looking ahead,” Garcia said. “A lot of the skills you would learn by coming out to these events, you can apply them by going out on the highway and being more aware, looking further ahead in traffic, just being more aware of your surroundings.”

Garcia said participation allows an expression of a passion for cars, but also brings people together in a like-minded community of car and Autocross enthusiasts.

“I love this sport. It’s basically my therapy, my religion, my second family,” he said. “Overall, this sport is mostly about a community. If you’re interested in looking for a community (that shares) a love of cars, come out here and we’ll talk cars all day.”

Laura Harbour, of Ranger, Texas, has been driving competitively since 2007. “My husband bought a Corvette, he had a very early mid-life crisis,” she said. “One of his co-workers did Autocross in a Porsche. Greg came out to spectate, he started racing at the next event.”

Her leap into behind the racing wheel took a bit longer. “I spectated for about three years. I didn’t think I’d be any good at this, I couldn’t even drive manual at the time,” she said.

Once she finally tried it, “I became more hooked than he is” — so much so that she was crowned Nationals winner in Street Touring Sport Ladies in 2010, driving a 1991 Mazda Miata.

She made her first trip to Nationals in 2008 and came back the winner in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

This day, running her Toyota Celica GTS, she recorded a top time of 46.06 seconds. “Here, one blazing-fast run matters more than consistency,” she said.

Harbour sidled up beside another driver and assessed her day’s performance.

“My last run, I had an awesome run going and I forgot to look ahead on the last corner,” she said, “and I tried to go outside that gate, and then I had to quick-yank the car back.”

The SASCA will escape the heat of August and next return to the River City Community Church course on Sept. 24.

jflinn@express-news.net

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