Friday TTN Notebook: Rauck Fastest FWD at NCM Ever

Friday TTN Notebook: Rauck Fastest FWD at NCM Ever

Friday at the Oct. 12-15, 2023, Tire Rack SCCA® Time Trials Nationals Powered by Hagerty at NCM Motorsports Park means the first day of drama, the first day of times, and the first day of posting one third of the weekend long scores. And with overcast, warm, and generally picture perfect day, all nine groups got three sessions around the 3.15-mile circuit.

Here are some of the things we saw...

...and we saw a lot.

Time Trials, In Style

There are three real modes of thought when it comes to Time Trials, and none of them are wrong. The first, of course, is to take a good running car, leave it essentially stock, and see how fast you as a driver can make it go. The second is to take a car, and make it the best and fastest version of that car your skill and resources allow.

And then there’s the third version, which might be the most right of them all – take a car and turn it into something that was never meant to be.

“Full stupid,” is how Jimmy Rauck refers to that, and it’s the approach he’s taken to put a 1999 Honda Civic hatchback third overall on the opening day of full lapping.

That’s right, a Honda Civic with a measured 600 horsepower at the crank (with low boost – it’ll go up!), is now the all-time fastest front wheel drive car, of any measure, around NCM Motorsports Park.

“This is the second weekend we ran this car,” Rauck said. “We’re still dialing in the car, we’re working up to speed in it. We’ve had the transmission out four times in the last day and a half.”

That alone is scary for other time trials competitors around the country. The car, of course, is completely stripped on the inside and weighs 2100 pounds. It’s got home built aero, which includes a splitter, flat bottom, diffuser, and small wing.

Not surprisingly, it handles quite a bit differently than the Porsche he previously drove. The power comes down very differently, especially considering the Honda is putting all of its power to the front of the car instead of the rear. And that power, including going to those front wheels, along with the aero makes the steering very different.

“I think if I went back to the Porsche I could drive it one handed around here,” Rauck said. “This is a two-handed car. In second gear, if I’m not fully paying attention and engaged, it rips the steering wheel out of my hands.”

And then there’s the aero.

“It’s stable, where the Porsche starts to get a little light,” he said. “We give up low speed stuff in this car for sure. Finding the limit is entertaining, because it’s my first car with a lot of aero. Aaron at Pure Tuning developed all of the aero. It’s a lot to wrap my head around. Between me and the car, there’s more time. We’re tip toeing up to it.”

So how do you take on a project like this? In addition to the work that the crew at Pure Tuning have put into the car, a partner and business like Rock’s Trailer Sales and TRE, who helped diagnose the transmission and get it functional (even with four gears instead of five), Rauck really credits an amazingly supportive wife, Ally.

But with check list upon check list every time he comes off the track, is it really worth it? Oh yeah.

“It’s been fun. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Teamwork At the Track, and Getting Home

Justin Kennedy is like a lot of competitors at Time Trials in that he drove his Mini Cooper all the way to Kentucky from his Naugutuck, Connecticut home while towing his tire trailer.

That, however, became a problem when his transmission went out at the track. Luckily, Time Trials promotes teamwork, both on and off the track.

Adrian Willoughby is Kennedy’s friend and fellow Mini Cooper driver, and happened to be in the paddock next to Kennedy. He helped locate a transmission in Indianapolis, approximately four hours north of NCM Motorsports Park. Step one, complete.

While Kennedy and his buddy headed north, a small group led by Willoughby pulled the expired transmission. That left it waiting and ready when Kennedy and the fresh transmission were back at the track at 6:30 on Friday morning.

A team consisting of Kennedy, Willoughby, Phil Jue and his fiancée, Lynne, Miles Furlong and Jack Nguyen teamed up to get the transmission installed and tested in time to make the third session of the day and get a time in, saving the trip.

Quick On Track

The first day means some cars are beginning to separate themselves from the field, and that includes the Unlimited 1 Ford Mustang driven by Steve Luca. Luca set the fastest time of day with a best lap of 2:03.504. Justin Peachey (Max 1 Chevrolet Corvette), Jimmy Rauck (Unlimited 2 Honda Civic), Ryan Matthews (Max 1 Chevrolet Corvette) and David Marcus (Max 2 Toyota Supra) completed the top five overall.

Saturday morning picks back up with Track Sprint, which combines the track experience with autocross and breaks the track down into sessions, including starting from a standing start.

For current overall and class results, and to follow along live on Saturday, visit the live timing page here.