The only times I’ve gone to Miller Park in Milwaukee have been to watch Brewers games or eat in the stadium restaurant. But for this weekend, it was autocross racing that brought me to the stadium.
I met local racer Bart Hockerman, and we walked the course. I learned what the cones and their directions stand for. I knew that I would be driving over all of them had I been in my car! (And yes, the editor did try to nudge me into doing that!)
I walked around the cars to see who had brought their daily commuter to race. Many of these cars are bought for their abilities to race and then used to get from point A to point B. I was surprised at how many attendees raced their cars – even shiny new ones! Many of the racers were regulars in local autocross racing, and their cars and speed are their passions.
I saw a child race a go-kart and then watch the mom get in a car to run her lap. Another mom sat next to her young son driving her car. For many here, it’s a family event. Most attendees were there to race in some format; the few others were there to support. They gathered on the slightest hill to watch each car have a chance.
The event was divided into groups of two-wheel and all-wheel drive cars, with drivers having three heats to set their fastest times.
ere you have no pit crew or strategy and not much time before your next run to make adjustments. Then, one by one, it’s each racer against the course, going full force against the clock and the cones. Running over cones gives you a penalty, adding to your time. The adrenaline and need for speed are what attract these racers and invite all to participate, leaving very few to just stand and watch.
II spent my day watching each car on the course, waiting for the one mistake that would take that driver out of contention, knowing the last turn would be where the most trouble would occur (and it did). Although not set up specifically for spectators, the ones not in the group racing were gathered to watch. I saw the Subaru models lead the all-wheel drive division. I walked away with an understanding of another type of auto racing, all in my own backyard.
Watch the ride-along video from Bart Hockerman's Subaru WRX STI.
-- Melissa Carlson