Get Sporty at Time Trials with the Car You Got
Get Sporty at Time Trials with the Car You Got
“Run what you brung” is a longtime colloquial phrase in motorsport and doesn’t take any level of diploma to understand. Back when SCCA got its start 75+ years ago, “run what you brung” was pretty much the norm. While that is not really the case anymore today in SCCA Road Racing, it still remains a very plausible strategy for many other SCCA program areas.
One perfect example is Solo where a vast majority of SCCA members arrive at autocrosses driving the car in which they intend to compete. Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack is another great example of a way people utilize their everyday “grocery getter” for a little fun on track. And the newest addition to the “run what you brung” family is the Sport Category of SCCA’s Time Trials program.
Can’t Spell Motorsport without Sport
Cars participating at Time Trials events are divided into four different categories. There is the Unlimited Category where you’ll find tube-frame racecars, giant wings, ground effects, stripped interiors and the fastest of the fast. The Max Category is for “dream street cars built or bought” and can include engine swaps and builds, suspension geometry changes, and a host of aftermarket goodies. There is also the Tuner Category for cars that are street-driven, but may also have bolt-on modifications that allow for tuning and adjustments.
Then there is the Sport Category. Here you’ll find minimally-modified cars such as Mazda Miatas, VW Rabbits, Toyota Corollas, Subaru Imprezas, Honda Civics, Chevrolet Volts, Nissan Sentras, the Ford Focus and a whole host of other vehicles driven daily to and from work or school.
Why have a class for relatively mundane vehicles that can be purchased any day of the week at a local dealership? Jon Krolewicz, SCCA’s Senior Manager of Time Trials, has the answer.
“The Sport Category is for cars that are being daily-driven,” Krolewicz says. “To keep costs down and lower barriers associated with getting involved in motorsports, SCCA created the Sport Category within Time Trials. It’s a segment designed to welcome those who don’t have the resources or choose to have a dedicated track/autocross car. There are very few, minor modifications that can be made to vehicles in the Sport Category, and most of the time all you really need is a helmet to get out and enjoy Time Trials.”
The Sport Category usually has one of the largest fields at any Time Trials Nationals or Time Trials National Tour event. There are six different sub-classes contained within the Category, and for four years Victor Boniface, 49, of Maryland, has been involved as a driver in the Sport 4 class. An electronics technician by trade, he drives his Tornado Red 2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI to every event, chucking a spare set of wheels and tires into the backseat, then stuffing tools and luggage in the trunk and passenger-side footwell. Sponsor decals and the Tire Rack front windscreen banner remain on the car all the time because it’s less work to just leave them there one event to the next — plus it’s kind of neat to drive a “racecar” on the open road to events or work.
“My daughter thinks it looks cool,” Boniface noted. “It does get a lot of attention and I think it looks pretty awesome.”
Less work is also what brought Boniface to the Sport Category. A busy man with a career, a life, a daughter in college, financial responsibilities, and limited garage space -- there’s just not a lot of free time for extensive “prep work” on his Volkswagen.
“It’s my daily driver, the Jetta,” Boniface said. “I do the minimal improvements that you can for the Sport 4 class, but I keep it pretty much near stock.
“Honestly, I change my oil every 5,000 miles… I don’t change it after every event,” Boniface continued. “My brake pads usually last me two or three events. So, a few times a year I’ve got to change the brake pads. My spark plugs I’ll change once a year. If I have two events within the same month, I probably spend a total of six to eight hours total time working on the car just to get things where they need to be. So, there isn’t a lot of prep.”
As far as his personal SCCA experience, the Sport Category is where Boniface has decided he wants to be.
“I’ll move on one day to a different car, maybe something a little bit more performance oriented. But I don’t think I’ll ever move into the Tuner Category, Max Category or anything like that,” he said. “The Sport Category has been really good. It’s not so hyper-committed as maybe the Unlimited Category or Max Category as far as the amount of work people put into their vehicles and their art. The Sport Category… we’re all going to drive home in our cars because they’re not ‘trailer queens’ or anything like that. The competition is very spirited in the Sport Category, but very congenial.”
Entering Sport: A Study
Like so many others, Boniface grew up watching motorsports. Sundays consisted of time in front of the TV watching INDYCAR, Formula 1, IMSA or NASCAR. Actually getting on a racetrack himself, however, seemed a sheer impossibility. But after finishing a five-year stint in the Navy and securing a career, he joined SCCA in 2016 after purchasing his brand-new Jetta.
“I knew of the SCCA and heard about autocross, but I kind of didn’t know much about either one,” Boniface admits. “Then I found the SCCA program Starting Line, which is an autocross introductory school. I signed up for that immediately. That came with an SCCA membership, and it came with a free voucher for a Track Night in America. With that, I got to drive on a track — and that changed everything.”
Because of a weekend work schedule, Boniface found it much easier to attend weekday Track Night in America events at places like New Jersey Motorsports Park and Dominion Raceway. When his weekends finally freed up, his participation in regional autocrosses grew.
One fateful day in 2018, Boniface got an email from SCCA announcing the new Tire Rack Time Trails Nationals going on at NCM Motorsports Park. The message touted how Time Trials were just perfect for those who love Track Night in America or autocross and have a bit of a competitive streak within. That struck a chord with Boniface, and he registered for the very first Time Trials Nationals event — and hasn’t missed one since.
“I think I did one autocross event in 2019, then I pivoted towards Time Trials,” Boniface said.
Photo by ABI Photo