May 23, 2011

ProSolo At The New Jersey New Meadowlands Stadium

I just got back from my first ProSolo up in New Jersey over at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The entire event was absolutely amazing, and I wish ProSolo events were held locally more often. The atmosphere, the people, the format of the race, everything. I have plenty of pictures and videos from the event, but they don't give it justice. I highly recommend experiencing this at least once, even if just as a spectator. Check out the following links for some great photos of the event, thanks to AutoX4U, Vlad and Steguis. Below are links to the days posted, and then a description of how ProSolo works.

On day 1, you get four runs (two runs each side) in the morning and four runs in the evening. Day 2 you only get four runs in the morning, giving you a total of twelve runs (or six each side) between the two days. Your final time is a total of your fastest run on both sides between the two days. You also get to see your reaction times and 60-ft times, but it does not contribute to your score.

After the morning runs on day 2 then has three challenges at the end of the day. The Gumout Super Challenge, where they take the winners of every class and have them compete against each other. Then they have the Ladies Challenge where they take the fastest female drivers and pit them against each other. Lastly, the Bonus challenge, where eight or sixteen people's names are pulled from a hat to race against each other.

Event Specifics
There are four Heats with two groups per heat. The groups consist of various car classes, going from slowest to fastest, and have to allocate for bump class. It also takes 5 entries to make a class. For example, Heat 3 had Group 5 and Group 6. Group 5 consisted of STU, R1 and R2, and Group 6 consisted of classes BSP and F125.

You have a grid area and then a staging area just before the course. When your heat is coming up to run, you line up in grid, side by side (paired up as they call it) to another car in your class. The grid is numbered and you are given that number at the start of the event, so you know where to grid. As you progress throughout the day, your grid number will change based on your position in your class, so be sure to frequently watch the board for your results and grid position. In grid you can water the tires, check pressures, anything you need to do. Once they are ready for your car class from your group, they bring your entire car class forward to the staging area. If you were in grid on the left, you would go to the left course first, and if you were on the right, then the right course. If you get out of line and lose your pair, your car is done running. You can only take a 10 minute mechanical BEFORE you start running, so if something breaks, you have to either keep running or forfeit the rest of your runs.

In the staging area, you CANNOT get out of your car. If you have a co-driver or a partner, they can check your tire pressures, adjust shocks, turn on/off your camera, but that is it...So it can be helpful to have a partner. As the cars move up in the line, you get your helmet scanned of your name, then move up to the timing lights (known as the "Christmas Tree"). As you're moving up, you have 20 seconds to do a quick burnout to warm up the tires if you want, and then line up with the staging lights.

As you'll see in the videos, you have two lights you need to light up as you are lining up within the 20 seconds. The lights are pre-stage and stage, and are lit up based on your line-up across the beam of lights from the small metal boxes to each side of the car. The first beam is your pre-stage, followed by your stage beam, and the last beam is your starting beam. You want to make sure that you just barely have the stage light lit on the Christmas Tree, as you only have 17 inches between the stage light and the starting light. They allow you to reverse the car if you need to in order to get lined up properly. If you have small accents in front of the car, beware. The pre-stage light can become unlit since it can see past the accent piece (like my RX-8 because of the rotor accent in the front, so I had to line up at a very slight angle).

From here, the 20 seconds finishes counting down, (unless it is a manual start, where the starter will point to each driver lined up to confirm the driver is ready to race) the lights will begin to go. 3 yellows, and then a green. If you pass the starting beam before the green light is lit, you get a red light and your run does not count. The best reaction time you can get when launching is half a second (.500) as that is exactly the time between the lights illuminating. Some people like to be conservative when launching so they do not lose a run by getting a red light. Most people tend to launch right as they see the third yellow light, that way after a small wheel spin, their car will accelerate forward just as the green light comes on.

Once you go on the course and complete your run, you come off the course and go behind the staging area to crisscross over to the other side of the course. Again, you CANNOT get out of the car when you are in the staging area. Once you are done with your four runs, you pull away from the staging area to the dual driver grid area so that you can have your five minutes to switch drivers. Once he is done, or if you raced alone, you bring your car over to impound. Here, everyone opens their trunk and hood so everyone can make sure that all cars are class legal, and then wait for the class results. If there are no protests and everyone is okay with the results, you then can leave impound and head back to the paddocks.
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