“The Big American Hot Rod!”

……..is what the announcer labeled Missouri STs #45 car, and that hotrod put on a pretty good show this afternoon.
Today was a roller-coaster ride of technical and emotional ups and downs. S&T got through tech inspection but found a leaky brake caliper just a few hours before the 75-point skid pad event closed for good. It took an all-out effort to pull the system down and fix it in time to get to the first dynamic event.
In the U.S. the figure-8 skid pad is normally run on dry asphalt; in Europe it’s run in the rain, as sprinklers keep car, driver, and pavement thoroughly soaked. Drivers dare not attack the course because it’s too easy to kick the drive wheels out and get a “DNF” for the event; steady, steady, steady on the throttle is the conventional wisdom.
Derek Martin must have slept through the class about steady driving, since he simply burned rubber and threw the monster into the course. You didn’t need a timing display to know that S&T’s car/driver combo was the fastest and most aggressive of the day. The previous leaders, electric AND gas-powered, were notching times right at 6 seconds, and most teams were in the mid-to-high 6 second range. Derek scorched (?) the wet course in a blistering 5.77 seconds, then added the second fastest time of the day on his next attempt. And didn’t so much as brush a cone on either run.
Back in the pits a beaming Nick Schweissguth exclaimed “Performance speaks for itself!”
When asked how he handled the car so well, a relaxed Derek Martin said “I’ve never driven on a wet course before, so I just punched it and drove like I always do!” When Mittweida driver (and good friend) Jens Fellmeth (photo, left) heard that he called it “Unglaublich!” (Unbelievable!) He was truly happy for S&T, since the team had been battling back from parts problems almost since they landed.
That’s especially kind of Jens, because late in the day some twenty teams still hadn’t passed tech inspection and scrutineering. European lineage was no guarantee of success, since it looks like most (if not all) of the North American teams made it through to the dynamic events.
Until then the afternoon hadn’t gone quite so smoothly. There was the brake leak to fix, and when S&T joined the skid-pad line, they had to turn the car around and head back to the pits for some unspecified problem. They finally rejoined the line less than 20 minutes before closing time, leaving Miner nerves more than just a little strained.
Tomorrow? Acceleration and autocross. S&T’s design strength lies in autocross, because the target market for these prototypes is the amateur autocross racer for whom handling trumps speed.