One Car, Four SCCA Pursuits
One Car, Four SCCA Pursuits
It’s safe to say most Sports Car Club of America members like to get the most out of life. That’s certainly the case when it comes to Bernie Kaeferlein, 51, of SCCA’s Land O’Lakes Region. He has shrewdly used one car as a gateway to four different SCCA activities, thus making the most of his vehicle and Club membership.
Finding a Vehicle
A former downhill ski racer, competitive mountain biker and road cyclist; Kaeferlein pretty much left those pursuits behind after learning about autocross from a co-worker. It was a Minnesota Autosports Club event where he dipped his toe into autocross, then plunged right in.
“I’ve got to go check this out,” Kaeferlein said to himself at the time. “It was the perfect competitive outlet for me, and I fell in love with autocross 11 years ago after my first novice school.”
Fast-forward to 2015 when Kaeferlein officially became an SCCA member, and then competed the following season at his first Tire Rack Solo Nationals Championship. There, he co-drove a Scion FR-S in the C Street class with his friend, Jordan Hill, who also lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. It was a car Kaeferlein absolutely fell in love with, and the two drivers shared the vehicle at several regional autocross events, too. After Hill relocated to Ohio, Kaeferlein went out in 2018 and purchased his own Scion FR-S.
“I needed my own car anyway. I just wasn’t getting enough seat time in autocross co-driving a car,” he said of the purchase. “I absolutely love the FR-S platform. It’s miles of smiles, and it fits tall guys.”
One for All
It was SCCA’s Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) autocross car class where Kaeferlein and his Scion FR-S first set out to play. However, Kaeferlein had also been exploring various track days and was interested in SCCA’s growing Time Trials program. So, he compared rulesets and discovered his car could be set up for SSC in autocross AND be legal – and competitive – for Time Trials Sport 6 class competition at the same time.
“This car has really been my dual-purpose track car and autocross car. I love both activities equally, and SSC and Sport 6 were really phenomenal classes; super competitive, tons of fun,” Kaeferlein said. “The FR-S is easy to maintain, consumables are low, and having a spec class was also highly appealing.”
SCCA Solo competition, Time Trials events, and Track Night in America Driven by Tire Rack became playpens for Kaeferlein and his car. That’s three SCCA disciplines using only one vehicle. But as is often the case with stories like Kaeferlein’s, a need for more speed developed. So after three years, he checked the rulesets again and realized his FR-S could receive some “upgrades” and be used for both Tuner 4 (T4) competition in Time Trials AND Street Touring Xtreme (STX) action at autocrosses.
Today, T4 and STX is where Kaeferlein plays. This year he finished sixth in T4 at the Tire Rack Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty amongst a field of nearly 20 drivers, and placed 33rd in a field of 46 STX competitors at the 2021 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Championship.
If you think it takes a lot of work to set up a car from one SCCA event to the next, you’d be wrong. SCCA developed it’s Time Trials ruleset so people can easily shift from one activity to another without a bunch of “wrenching” required. According to Kaeferlein, he usually shows up at a track or autocross venue, makes a couple adjustments and is ready to go.
“I love to drive my car, I don’t live to work on it,” he said.
Developing a vehicle from one competition class to another with higher performance allowances can be a bit more time consuming. There are many competitors who choose to slowly develop a car. Kaeferlein, however, is not one of those people. He decided to go “all in” and spent about $10,000 to load up his FR-S with goodies and have it ready for both STX and T4 competition.
“You can do it for cheaper, but I don’t like to experiment and constantly swap parts. I’d rather just use components that are very well designed and very well supported,” Kaeferlein said. “I’ll work on suspension, maintenance and other bolt-on parts … but when it comes to alignment or tuning work, there are a lot smarter people than me and I’m happy to pay money to have them work their magic.”
The son of a mechanical engineer, Kaeferlein admits to having some “engineering tendencies” and enjoys tinkering a bit on his car. Like so many others today, he often turns to YouTube videos for instruction before picking up a wrench. But just like any other tool, he advises YouTube be deployed appropriately.
“Half the battle is finding videos that aren’t insane and people who actually know what they’re talking about,” Kaeferlein joked. “You have to go through a few videos. When you have corroborating techniques, then you know that’s probably the right thing to do.”
The Fourth Pursuit?
As noted, Kaeferlein has used his current car for Solo, Time Trials and Track Night in America. So, what is the fourth SCCA activity in which he participates? That would be volunteering.
Due to the time Kaeferlein has spent in his FR-S, he’s become a pretty proficient performance driver. That knowledge led Kaeferlein to expand his SCCA involvement by becoming a driver coach, and also joined the team of SCCA members who put on Track Night in America events at Dakota County Technical College’s driver training facility in Rosemount, Minnesota. He also helped pull off the very first Track Night in America at Brainard International Raceway!
For those seeking a way to get involved in motorsports, it’s encouraging to think about everything Kaeferlein and his one car have accomplished. In the near future, Kaeferlein plans to stay right where he is as far as competition classes.
“I absolutely adore the Time Trials program SCCA has set up. I love the community and want to get more and more involved,” he said. “I’m going to continue time trialing and autocrossing the heck out of my car, and I have a goal of hitting one to two new road courses every season.”
If you’re interested in getting involved in Time Trials, click the link below for more information. But Kaeferlein has some advice for anyone interested in getting involved in motorsports with SCCA.
“Have fun with the car you’ve got,” he said. “Just get out there and play.”
Photo by ABI Photo