This article’s been a long time coming, and I finally have a few minutes to pull it together. Following the success of last year’s Rainbow Road Trackcross, we booked Summit Point Motorsports Park not once, but twice for events this year. Our first trackcross weekend of 2022 took place over Mothers’ Day weekend in May and was, by all accounts, hilarious and fun and a total success. We brought 65 drivers, most of which identify as LGBTQ, to the track for two days of competition in the widest variety of cars you’ll see in a paddock.
While daily-driven cars or track cars are more than welcome at these events, we always add a Top Gear-esque cheap car challenge as an optional extra that spices things up for those choosing to buy a car and participate. We set a budget of $1,500 for this year’s theme of Favorite Family Haulers – the unsung heroes that grind it out month after month, probably aren’t very sporty, and are more “traffic” that you forgot about than enthusiast-oriented throwbacks.
Spoiler alert: it was all wildly fun.
What Is Trackcross?
Trackcross combines the low risk and easy concept of autocross – fastest time from Point A to Point B – with the fun of being on an actual racetrack instead of a parking lot. You get curbing, elevation change, and a little more speed than you might otherwise.
We ran the Jefferson Circuit at this event, splitting the track in half and using one half on Saturday and one half on Sunday. Adding to the fun, we flipped the course and ran it in reverse after lunch each day. Stay on your toes!
Family Haulers Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Of the 65 drivers who showed up to compete, roughly half of them arrived in “family hauler” challenge cars. And the variety was pretty hysterical. We had everything from a Mercedes S-Class with a JB-Welded oil pump to a $200 Chrysler Town & Country minivan covered in multiple shades of house paint and missing most of its exhaust.
For the sake of (relative) fairness, we split the cars by drive wheels and engine displacement to help keep competition closer and help with distribution of awards. Yes, half of our competitors were in terrible cars but we still gave away some very not-terrible prizes. Best times for each “heat” were averaged to provide overall times for the weekend.
Our fastest Challenge car was that JB-Welded Mercedes-Benz. Purchased on the cheap, its proud(?) new owner repaired the oil pump by JB-Welding part of a Chinese food takeout container to said oil pump, put six thousand street miles on the car in testing, and towed it up to Summit Point to be shared with another driver of ours. The notoriously-finicky Active Body Control worked, even, and the S430 took 11th place overall.
Other top-placing Challenge cars from other classes – only slightly behind Matthew’s S-Class – included Kurt’s dog-hauler Pontiac Vibe GT, with its high-strung Yamaha 2ZZ four-cylinder, Jeff’s Saab 9000, and Jack’s Mercedes-Benz E320 4Matic station wagon.
Finishing order aside, every Challenge car was so fun to see hustled around the Jefferson Circuit. The Town & Country was perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend, but when have you otherwise seen a PT Cruiser or Impala SS at speed with numbers on the doors? An Infiniti J30 and running Jaguar XJ6? We even had a decommissioned undercover “faux-taxi” used by the NYPD.
…and the “Good Cars” Were Just as Fun
Beyond the silliness of cheap and semi-terrible cars, we had the other half of our drivers in some legit performance-oriented vehicles. Fastest overall was Michael in his Tesla Model Y, followed by Winston in his tuned BMW X5 Diesel. The future of track events may eventually be the crossover, but if nothing else, they can be hustled.
BMWs were overwhelmingly popular in our paddock, as is the case at many track events. We had everything from an E82 128i to an F82 M3 to a brand-new M2 Competition. Past the BMWs, it was a true mix, with everything from a Camaro to a Gridlife GLTC-prepped Honda Fit to a Lotus Evora. Enthusiasm comes in all flavors and performance cars were well-represented as part of our weekend.
Five People Drove for Free, and We Gave Away Real Prizes
One goal with this year’s events was to get people to the track who otherwise might find it all a bit expensive. It is expensive, after all. Entry fees are what they are, and you add the cost of a hotel room, fuel and food on top of that to make a “cheap, fun weekend” more costly than you’d initially think.
Thanks to some incredible support from a few automakers and one tire company, we were able to bring five drivers to this event for free. Toyota, Mazda, and Michelin contributed to our “scholarship fund” and provided enough support to not only cover five drivers’ entry fees and hotel rooms in May, but another five drivers at our second trackcross, coming up in October. OG Racing supplied loaner helmets to alleviate yet another potential cost.
Our scholarship recipients ran the gamut of total-newbies to people with some experience but tighter budgets than in years past. Being able to tell them “just get here” was a tremendously powerful thing, and we are proud to have pulled this off for both events this year. As support grows, our goal is to continue offering this kind of program at all future trackcrosses.
Give-aways weren’t limited to those five drivers, either. We gave away a set of Bridgestone tires to one of the top Challenge car drivers – randomly selected – alongside over $1,000 in Hawk Bucks, several NASA memberships, a handful of Grease Monkey Gloves, and $100 toward Motul fluids for every registered driver. Chevrolet made sure we had event shirts, a first for us but something we’ll continue providing.
We’re Doing It All Again in October
I mentioned we wanted to do this all twice in 2022, and we are. We’re back at Summit Point on October 8th and 9th, running one day on Jefferson and one day on Shenandoah.
The cars and driving are all incredibly fun, but what I’ve heard the most – that I agree with, wholeheartedly – is how special these events are because of the people. LGBTQ people are, of course, welcome at track days hosted by anyone. Any sanctioning body will tell you that. But their advertising continues to feature busty women in tight shirts (primarily showing off sponsors, not driving) and older white guys in racing suits. Maybe some younger white guys if you’re lucky. You don’t get an accurate representation of who’s in the paddock, which is frustrating.
Hosting an event, then, where the organizers are like you and the event is targeted directly at you, cultivates a special atmosphere where the intersectionality of remarkably deep and nerdy automotive enthusiasm meets the utter freedom from heteronormativity. Everyone in attendance showed up as their whole self, with nothing suppressed or hidden to try and “just fit in.” That so many sponsors understand the importance of these events and supported with both cash and prizes has also been incredibly impactful.
Registration is open for October 8 & 9, and we’re hoping to sell out entirely. Are you in?