GREAT FALLS — At the Montana Expo Park, the phrase “Lazy Sunday” does not apply to the members of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), as the Great Falls Chapter hosted the final race of the autocross season.
The Expo Park Autocross event lets people take any automobile, from everyday drivers to heavily modified racers, and race them around the parking lot on an unseen track.
“We come out and we race,” Alex Vance, one of the drivers at the event said, “This is called Autocross, and then in the winter, we switch to dirt track, and that's called rally. Basically the same concept of a course that changes every time we come out. The big difference is the cars that show up and one being on dirt and one being on asphalt.”
In order to fairly assess the driving skills of each racer, the SCCA calculates each racer’s PAX time.
“We've got what's called a PAX time, be equivalent to say a handicap in golf,” Vance said, “And so you have your raw times and then based off of what class you fall into, which is going to be determined by your car's weight, your car's engine, the horsepower, the modifications that are done to it, it will basically balance it out so that everyone can compete.”
Each car was allowed to have only one passenger during the lap, which took about a minute to complete. The course was outlined with traffic cones and five different worker stations, where racers who were not in the queue made sure the track stayed in the correct orientation throughout the day.
For the racers, events like this bring together a community bond. The SCCA itself was founded in 1944 with Montana’s official region joining in 1980. Ever since, the community has continued to thrive together.
“We all have the same interest out here,” Vance said, “Great Falls is very big into this. Obviously, you can see we have a pretty big turnout today. This is one of the biggest in the state.”
It was impossible to ignore the range of participants in attendance. From a families bringing their toddler to spectate, to an older couple from Calgary participating in the race, everyone was welcomed with open arms.
“We get to come out here, it's a safe environment, you know, we don't have to worry about being out on the roads doing this,” Vance said, “And so there's a adrenaline rush that you get every time you leave the start box over here.”
For more information on the Montana Region of the SCCA, click here to visit the website.