When I arrived at the Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama, I had full intentions of shooting pictures and video of the popular Autocross course.
I never expected to participate.
But that’s exactly what was proposed when another Summit Racing team member chatted with Brian Finch, co-founder of the American Street Car Series (ASCS).
Katie, our videographer, and I made our way through lines of events and classic cars spread throughout the infield of Atlanta Motor Speedway, to the front parking lot, which was fenced off from public access and featured a few dozen cars, a lot more cones, and pavement caked with fresh tire marks.
We poked around the participating cars—from a late model Corvette Z06, to trucks, to a Nissan 240SX, and practically everything in between—and soon connected with Finch, who quickly offered us to hop in the passenger seat. I went first.
“The good news for you is you get to ride in the fastest car here,” Finch said as I stumbled through my five-point racing harness.
Finch wasn’t kidding. His ’71 Camaro is powered by a built LS7 and produces 660 horsepower. It’s currently featured on the cover of Super Chevy, has been featured on the covers of Hot Rod, Camaro Performers, and Chevy High Performance, and was featured in the Speed TV show “R U Faster Than a Redneck.”
“Me and Bill [Howell ] were the main characters,” he said. He went on to explain that he bought the car in 1991 at a Navy auction for $320. He started racing it in autocross events in 2006. “You just get addicted,” he added, as the cars in front of us cascaded through the course. We were up next.
He approached the starting line and asked if I was ready. I flipped my iPhone to video mode and grasped it with both hands, secretly hoping I could film the entire experience without it launching out the window. That might have provided Finch some extra incentive.
“This will be the fastest 40 miles per hour you’ll ever experience,” he reassured me.
Finch ripped through the first line of cones like a slalom skier. His four BF Goodrich g-Force tires squealed through the first sharp curve as my head made contact with the roll cage. Not that I could check, but there was no blood. I made an effort to brace myself tighter than I already had, still grasping the phone like it was the only thing holding me in the car.
Around turn three I actually envisioned the car losing its grip with the asphalt and rolling several times before crashing into the nearby retaining wall. I thought I might survive the crash, but I certainly wouldn’t remember it. Finch whipped it like a champ, barely missing the cones and quickly accelerating through the short straight-away as the LS7 growled.
Another few turns, another straight-away, and Finch let off the gas to coast back to the prep area.
I was ready to rotate Katie into my seat. “Ready to go again?” he asked. I had barely survived, but we were going to take another gamble with Death.
I nodded vigorously and said another short prayer, more confident than I was the time before.
I quickly realized Finch’s first run was a warm-up. His second was even faster and tighter. It was difficult as a passenger to not feel like you were on an overly aggressive rollercoaster…without a track tying you down.
But Finch was nothing if not flawless with his execution. Cone-free, we revved across the finish line as Finch chirped, “32.4. That’s the fastest run of the day.”
That time would stand throughout the remainder of the day as the fastest on the course. I try to be humble, but feel like I deserve a bit of credit.
Finch took Katie for two spins next. She maneuvered our HD camera through the process as Finch recorded the second-fastest time of the day—a 32.7-second run.
Exhilarated and humbled, we bragged our way back through the show and compiled these pictures and videos for you. And mildly considered returning home to set up an Autocross course for our much slower daily drivers.