2021 NMCA West Auto-X Fastest Street Car Showdown

Cone Carnage
Competition was fierce at the third stop on the Nitto Tire NMCA WEST Auto-X series
Photography by Will Estrada

Officially dubbed the NMCA West Auto-X Fastest Street Car Showdown, round three of the NMCA WEST Auto-X series might just as easily carried another name, like “Cone Carnage.” With all of the cones flying and tire smoke, it was certainly a great time.

It’s funny, that’s what many people think when you say “autocross.” They think carnage on track is about figure eights or a Death Race 2000 kinda vibe. Others assume it’s like your driving test, just going around cones. The truth is it’s somewhere in between. While we race on a course made with cones in a parking lot. It is timed and you compete against similar cars in your class. It is competitive, or it can be, that’s up to you!

There is more to it than that, of course. It is also a community, a family of people that love to drive their cars. It is one of the few places that you can go and drive your car; as hard as you want, in a safe, and legal environment. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what car you drive, you will remember the first ride you take and the first lap you make for years to come, and you will likely keep coming back like the consistent competitors we saw at the third stop on the tour.

Behold the Majestic Maverick, as seen in its natural habitat, a parking lot full of cones. Bry Morris is always out for a good time, a good lap time that is. He had a solid weekend finishing in the Top 10 of a tough TCI Classic Muscle Class both days. Apparently, he also, had a great time, killing some cones.

Everyone remembers their first kiss, their first car, and, well their first spinout. Krista Biddlingmeier enjoyed a great day on Saturday adding another “Fastest Lady” award to the trophy case. It’s never easy and Sunday she was struggling to be fast. Determined to improve, she kept pushing and pushing, right into a spectacular spin. The crowd cheered, cones flew, and it was awesome. The lesson here is, as is true with everything you do, you have to push yourself to the limits, if you ever want to improve.

Speaking of firsts, Pelton Barnes proves the age-old adage; “You Can Do It”! In a sea of high-horsepower muscle cars, sports cars, and even supercars the little BRZ that could, put together 20 consistent, fast, and clean laps. His combined two-day averages placed him ninth overall for the weekend. This is an Incredible feat and the first time a Auto Ricambi Compact car finished in the Top 10 for the event. That’s one for the record books!

There was a theme of making history of weekend and Mike Williams etched his name in the archives with yet another first. Driving his C10 that he calls “MoniPit,” he claimed the top spot, both days, in the Truck Pro Class. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he finished seventh, regardless of class, in the overall event standings! This set a benchmark that will be hard to beat and proves that Pro Touring Trucks are the hottest platform in autocross right now!

Big-Time Battle

Whether it’s your first or your 75th run, there is a level of excitement to autocross. The sights, the sounds, the rush of adrenaline, the thrill of being thrown back in your seat. It doesn’t matter if you are challenging to make the top 25 against someone you haven’t met (yet) or in an epic back and forth battle for the top spot… these are the things we remember.

Case in point, Matt Ramirez found himself in a battle for the ages, literally. It was Youth vs. Experience, as the young gun battled the wily veteran for the top spot in the Modern Muscle Pro Class. Matt drives an SN-95 Mustang that his dad built and worked on in their garage. They were up against our defending class champion Paul Molina in his GT350R.

When you are passionate about something the emotions can be tough. Saturday was a little rough; Paul came out fast. Matt improved throughout the day, but he just couldn’t get there. Sunday was another day. Matt started out with two cones on his first run, he shook it off and ran a fast lap with a 46.741. Paul answered back with a 46.742 in the second session and the pair were separated by 0.001.

With the battle so tight, many people were using the online Live Timing as they watched the two come up for their final session, and this is what we saw. Paul came right out of the box with a 46.561. Matt answered back with a 46.529, but Paul immediately responded with a 46.518. It was exciting! Once again, Matt went even faster with a 46.425 to reclaim the lead. After not being able to improve on that time in his final two runs he returned to the staging area to find out that he had taken the lead, but Paul still had one… more… lap…

This is were the emotions come in to play. Can you imagine? They all over the place, your amped from getting out of the car, your heart is racing, you have to stand by and watch as the one guy left that could beat you is at the starting line for his final run. If a picture says a thousand words, then the look on Matts dad’s face said it all!

A bad day can be rough, but the idea should be to learn something and improve yourself from it, come back better, stronger, faster! A good day can be amazing and something you will never forget, which is what we saw on at the NMCA West Auto-X Fastest Street Car Showdown.

Saturday’s winners included Krista Biddlingmeier (Fastest Lady), Efrain Diaz (Classic Muscle Pro), Sal Solorzano (TCI Classic Muscle), Paul Molina (Modern Muscle Pro), Ryan Callahan (Demon Motorsports Modern Muscle), Tom Kamman (Sports Car Pro), Dannie Pinard (Sports Car), Mike Williams (Truck Pro), Richard Trujillo (The Sheely Collection Truck), Pelton Barnes (Compact Pro), Nick Elia (Auto Ricambi Compact), and Tom Berry (Custom Machine Performance Super Car/Fastest Lap of the Day).

Sunday’s winner’s included Lisa Berry (Fastest Lady), Sal Solorzano (Classic Muscle Pro), Chris Humphreys (TCI Classic Muscle), Matt Ramirez (Modern Muscle Pro), Peter Pelekis (Modern Muscle), Tom Kamman (Sports Car Pro/Fastest Lap of the Day/Event Runner-Up), Ben Zukowski (Sports Car), Mike Williams (Truck Pro), Jeff Rode (The Sheely Collection Truck), Marc Lewis (Compact Pro), James Gassor (Auto Ricambi Compact), and Tom Berry (Custom Machine Performance Super Car/Event Winner).