Summit Racing Autocross Week offers a unique challenge

By Guest Writer
Aug 24, 2022 | Autocross, Summit Racing, Autocross Week, Summit Racing Autocross Week

Report courtesy Summit Racing.

Aaron Shoe was looking for a unique challenge for himself and his 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution.

The longtime autocrosser and SCCA competitor hadn’t participated in any national events since 2017, and he was looking for a different experience. “I found a lot of interesting events this year, and Autocross Week was one of them,” he said. “There wasn’t really any other event where you had to drive from race to race to compete at an autocross. It was a unique event, but I felt it was pretty attainable for me to compete and do well.”

Shoe is correct that there wasn’t anything quite like Summit Racing Autocross Week on the schedule because the event is truly the first of its kind. The competition borrows concepts from popular drag-and-drive events like Hot Rod Drag Week and the Summit Racing Midwest Drags but is the first to apply them to autocrossing instead of the quarter-mile.

The concept of it being four days driving, two passes per track and the route stops—all that was basically cookie-cutter,” said J. Heid, promoter and founder of Summit Racing Autocross Week and Summit Racing Midwest Drags. “But we thought, ‘Imagine how cool it would be if we had an event that was the same as Midwest Drags but for autocross.”

Through the hard work of Heid, Summit Racing, and the Akron Sports Car Club, Summit Racing Autocross Week was born.

The inaugural event took place July 12-15 and challenged its participants to drive between three different tracks over four days. The participants kicked off the event at UMI Motorsports Park in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, before heading to Pittsburgh International Raceway, Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio, and then back to UMI for the final day. There were seven classes total covering everything from vintage to late-model, naturally aspirated to boosted, and everything in between. Each driver’s best two autocross times at each facility were recorded and then averaged at the end of the week to determine the class winners and overall champion.

But if you’re looking only at those results, you’re missing part of the goal of Autocross Week.

This is a commitment of Summit Racing to invest into grassroots motorsports,” Heid said. “The appeal of it is for the enthusiast who wants to drive and really enjoys driving their car. It’s an experience with a racing component to it.”

It was the potential for a one-of-a-kind experience that attracted Shoe to the event in its inaugural year.

This event was focused on experience instead of lots of rules focusing on what you can and cannot do,” he said. “It’s cool to be involved with the first time something is ever done, and there was the uniqueness with the endurance element.”

The key for the drivers was to figure out a strategy that would allow them to excel at the track while taking into consideration the endurance factor.

As a drag racer, if you run 10.90 and you expected the car to run 10.90, there’s no point to hanging around,” said Jim Greenleaf, Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports and Events Manager. “As an autocrosser, though, you might feel you could’ve had a better corner there or you could’ve done better at this spot on the course. We didn’t know how many runs people would want to make. We learned they’d probably want to make four to six and then they’d probably want to get on the road because probably the biggest challenge to this event is the survival from track to track.”

The variety of configurations at each location also posed a challenge.

There were really no changes to the car,” Shoe said. “It’s a mental approach to figure out the fastest way to get through each course. At UMI, the infield is very tight. At Dragway 42, there are long straights and slower elements before that. It all impacted our times and how you approach the course. Pitt Race had more slaloms that require a totally different mental approach.”  

And then there are the elements of the event you might not think of initially.

This event was a neat challenge figuring out how to cram everything into the car,” Shoe said. “I probably had 400 pounds worth of stuff and I had to practice how to pack it into the car!”

He also cited the lack of air conditioning as a big obstacle as he moved from stop to stop.

It’s just a different game than sitting at a Saturday morning autocross where you make your six passes and just go home,” Greenleaf said. “There’s just a different vibe.”

In the end, Shoe’s approach propelled him to the top spot as the event’s overall champion over runner up Justin Peachy. Class winners were:

• Boosted “B:” Aaron Shoe

• Classic “C” -1976-1996: Joseph Boyer

• Naturally Aspirated “NA:” Scott Baker

• Sport “S”- 1997 to present: Jeff Dobbins

• Super Sport “SS:” Zachary Sawyer

• Unlimited “U:” Justin Peachy

• Vintage “V”-1975 and older: Nicholas Barnett

Shoe is happy with the results, but Summit Racing Autocross Week was still about the total experience. “A lot of people had great stories about what they had to fix and overcome,” he said. “The commutes were awesome. We went through some cool towns. We rolled through some small towns and kids were out and like, ‘Whoa, look at the cars!”

Greenleaf and Heid are looking for ways to make the experience next year even better after a successful inaugural run.

As we’ve continued to get more involved with autocross, this is something I had been thinking about for years,” Greenleaf said. “Obviously it’s following the (Hot Rod) Drag Week concept—there’s no secret here what this is about. The question was, ‘Can we do this for the Autocrosser and would they want to do it?”

In 2022, the answer was a resounding yes. The event drew participants from as far away as Canada and the United Kingdom and included classic muscle cars, late-models, full-size cars, trucks, and more.

We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of cars,” Greenleaf said. “All the participants had a good time, and we learned a lot. We had rainstorms…we had traffic construction…I think we got everything thrown at us the first year. There’s always something to tweak so we’re getting feedback from the people that were involved in running the event as well as the participants.”

If you’re on the fence about trying an event like Autocross Week, this year’s winner has some advice.

Don’t be afraid to try. One of the great things about an event like this is people helping other people. A lot of people hadn’t been Autocrossing much, but the Autocrossing community is all about helping people.”

Watch and for details on next year’s event.

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View comments on the GRM forums
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/24/22 9:56 a.m.

Trying to think what car I'd take on a week-long autocross series. Is Miata still the answer here? 

te72 HalfDork
8/25/22 8:19 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

If the distance between tracks is more than about 4 hours, I'd lean toward no, unless you're a smaller framed person. Driving to Vegas from our little corner of Wyoming was not at all a fun trip...


This is basically what I built my Supra for, to be able to drive to the track, kick ass, have fun, and drive home. Reality however, has been drive to the track, get my ass kicked, have fun, fix whatever's not happy on the car, and drive home.


Always loved and appreciated the concept behind Drag Week, but have no interest in drag racing anymore. This is perfect to me... any chance of a western hemisphere event next year?

Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/25/22 9:35 p.m.

I find a hard top Miata with cruise not a big deal on long trips.  I go for the answer.  Maybe with boost.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/25/22 10:10 p.m.

This looks like a fun event.  

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/25/22 10:17 p.m.
Stampie said:

I find a hard top Miata with cruise not a big deal on long trips.  I go for the answer.  Maybe with boost.

I agree. My first Miata was a very comfortable highway car. The combination was a hardtop, cruise, good AC, six speed to lower the RPMs a bit, stock exhaust and suspension, and an excellent aftermarket seat. I wasn't traveling that far from home for events yet, so the longest round trip was only about 200 miles, but I'm sure that it would have been fine for an eight or ten hour drive. 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/26/22 5:20 a.m.

C5Z06 or Tesla 3.


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