Showroom stock racing is old enough for a dedicated HSR event

Colin
By Colin Wood
Jul 27, 2021 | HSR, Showroom Stock, Street Stock

Photography Courtesy HSR

Once all the rage in the 1970s, ’80s and even early ’90s, showroom stock and street stock racing returns in a reunion-style motorsports event on the HSR calendar: the HSR Street Stock Road Racing and RS/IS Reunion.

The gathering will celebrate “the pioneer eras of showroom stock and street stock endurance road racing" as well as "IMSA Racing Stocks and International Sedan (RS/IS) competition in North America.” Read more about this unique event over on Classic Motorsports now.

Do you have any stories or memories of showroom stock and street stock racing from back in the day?

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Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/26/21 5:28 p.m.

I wish HSR were closer to me; I'd have a real interest in running a Stock C Miata.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
7/26/21 6:57 p.m.

Wasn't Improved Touring created as a class structure to accomodate out-of-date Showroom Stock cars?

I wonder how many SS cars still remain.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/26/21 11:00 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

It wouldn't be hard to put one back to Showroom Stock trim.

JimS
JimS Reader
7/27/21 12:14 a.m.

Showroom stock and Formula Ford/Club Ford were my favorite scca classes. 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
7/27/21 8:17 a.m.

Do you have any stories or memories of showroom stock and street stock racing from back in the day?

I was a member of the Guldstrand autoX team and we were invited to come help out at the first 12 hour at Willow Springs. 

http://www.racinghistoryproject.com/84willowarticleontrack.pdf 

jimbbski
jimbbski SuperDork
7/27/21 10:10 a.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

Wasn't Improved Touring created as a class structure to accomodate out-of-date Showroom Stock cars?

I wonder how many SS cars still remain.

That's pretty much what SCCA did with old SS cars. It would be better to let old IT cars compeate in vintage since they are better prepared for racing then SS cars. At least you didn't have to cheat to be competitive in IT (Well not as much!) then in SS class. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/27/21 10:47 a.m.

In reply to jimbbski :

HSR is already running IT cars at vintage races.

As for cheating my car finished top 5 at the RunOffs and it was 100% legal. The original owner insisted on it. I've also seen the underbelly/innards of two RunOffs  winners (SSB Miata and SSC Neon) and those were 100% legal.  Yes lots of guys cheated but the people winning drove better and put in the extra effort. Things like buying a pile of shocks and testing them and then keeping the best set. The SSC lap record at my track was set by Alex Gurney. There were some really high quality drivers in the fields as well as manufacturer backing; I remember John Fernandez (Chrysler exec) bringing a Neon to one of our races.

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/27/21 12:24 p.m.

A racer who once ran Showroom Stock in the 80's once told me, no showroom stock car has ever won a Showroom Stock race.  Anytime there is "factory support", the cars are a long way from what was sold to the public.  Granted, they are modified for safety equipment, but there were plenty of shenanigans to improve the cars performance on track.

The HSR and SVRA rules for these cars are more liberal than the rules for the original series.  Some things that were required in the original series are not allowed.  When I started running my SVO in these classes I tried to keep it as stock as possible, only to have tech make me do things like install a fuel cell and remove the carpet, all valid safety items for sure.  I know the guy that has the original, restored SVO that my car is modeled after and I dare say that if it showed up at a HSR or SVRA race to compete, it would not be allowed on the track.  More importantly, in this day and age and from what I have learned about the hideous handling characteristics of an unmodified Ford Fox chassis, along with the limitations of the brakes, I wouldn't WANT to put it on the track.  The more liberal modern rules allow for a panhard bar, decent bushings, stiffer spring and better shocks, sway bar mods, chassis stiffening items, caster/camber plates, race brake pads, et al.  None of those things would have been legit in the original series, unless they were hidden or specification games were played. 

The most significant restrictions in the HSR/SVRA classes cars relate to the engine, trans, wheels/tires, and aero.  Even so, the usual hot rod type mods like headers and minor porting, oil system mods and such things are allowed.

There are too many different cars and race series for the sanctioning body to police to make any sort of "leveling the field" possible.  Do I care?  Not in the least.  That is the beauty of this sort of vintage racing.  You are provided a well run event at a great venue, put in a group where the cars have somewhat similar lap times and are cut loose to have a ball.  I can be pretty sure that there are going to be cars in my group that qualify within a second or so of my time, and that gives me someone to race with/against, even if they are not in my exact same class.  That's where the joy comes.  After all, there are no purses, you might get a medal or trophy, and a hat.  Bragging rights if anyone wants to listen or care.  These series are about fun, at least for me, but I believe it to be true of the vast majority of the folks that I have met at the track.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/27/21 2:46 p.m.

I used to crew for a Showroom Stock racer. Good times, good times. 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
7/27/21 3:00 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

I used to crew for a Showroom Stock racer. Good times, good times. 

I used to love those mandatory five minute pit stops because I could just sit on pit road and run the a/c

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/27/21 3:14 p.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Also, a good chance to check social media. 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
7/27/21 4:46 p.m.

In reply to stukndapast :

It isn't surprising the HSR and SVRA rules are more liberal than the original rules. I doubt many cars from that era are still in Showroom Stock condition. Some were changed to IT and some were wrecked and some just got old and went away. I imagine that was taken into consideration when the rules were written. Otherwise there would be very few cars to run in vintage.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/27/21 5:16 p.m.

In reply to L5wolvesf :

I took the cage out of my car,pulled all the graphics off it and then used is as a street car.  I later swapped for a rally car and they guy I traded it to sold it to a guy in Utah. No clue what became of it after that.

I would love to run it as a period correct SSC car.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
7/27/21 5:29 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to L5wolvesf :

I took the cage out of my car,pulled all the graphics off it and then used is as a street car.  I later swapped for a rally car and they guy I traded it to sold it to a guy in Utah. No clue what became of it after that.

I would love to run it as a period correct SSC car.

Randy Pobst was taking a flight out of the Daytona airport and needed a place to keep the 1991 Civic Si SSC car that he used as his airport car. He left it with me, and a couple days later my car broke so he told me to just drive the Civic until he got back. After he got back he drove the car to Atlanta and won the Runoffs with it. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/27/21 5:35 p.m.

In reply to stukndapast :

There was a lot you could do within the rule set to make them much faster as well as some other crazy things that you normally wouldn't bother do.

I was being lazy with mine; the former owner encouraged me to check the alignment, it was slightly off so I put it back and lo and behold picked up 4 tenths.

The hot set up on my Miata was rear shocks that were a bit soft; the car cornered on the bump stops. I found that a 10mm narrower tire was worth a few tenths in qualifying but after 3-4 laps the tires would get hot and start going off. I also seem to recall the transmission oil being thinner viscosity than advisable as that freed up a couple of extra horsepower. There were other things I remember like people loving going though the power steering pump to free up miniscule amounts of power.

The biggest take away was the driving style; once you turned into the corner if you weren't a passenger you simply weren't trying hard enough (it was the same style I was used to from road racing 125cc GP bikes). It also explained why folks were bouncing off of each other with alarming regularity.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/27/21 5:42 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Tom1200 said:

In reply to L5wolvesf :

I took the cage out of my car,pulled all the graphics off it and then used is as a street car.  I later swapped for a rally car and they guy I traded it to sold it to a guy in Utah. No clue what became of it after that.

I would love to run it as a period correct SSC car.

Randy Pobst was taking a flight out of the Daytona airport and needed a place to keep the 1991 Civic Si SSC car that he used as his airport car. He left it with me, and a couple days later my car broke so he told me to just drive the Civic until he got back. After he got back he drove the car to Atlanta and won the Runoffs with it. 

That's why I loved the class. Eric Morehouse, was the original owner of my car and he finished  3rd with the car at the 93 RunOffs.

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
7/27/21 7:17 p.m.

Had no idea this was a thing. I take it it was an effort to put the meaning back into “stock car”?

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/27/21 7:45 p.m.

In reply to P3PPY :

Sort of. I think it was more of an effort to get some manufacturer involvement.

The class was rather expensive at the National level. It wasn't just the purchase of a brand new car, it was the thousands of dollars prepping the car. The motors would be professionally built to the maximum allowable tolerances. The same went for the rest of the car. 

At the Regional level the cars were cheap. The rules were such that cars were eligible for National for 5 years then only eligible for Regionals for two years. Because of that you could get a car cheap. In 1995 I paid $6500 (11.5K in today's money) for a car that had podiumed at the RunOffs. That's a heck of a bargain for a 5 year old fully prepared race car.

jimbbski
jimbbski SuperDork
7/27/21 9:25 p.m.

My knowledge of SS racing was more of the Pro level.  And it wasn't as Showroom Stock as National level SS racing was.  I had a friend who went to work for Kenny Brown who was the team manager for Saleen Racing when Saleen Racing was running their Saleen Mustangs in a Pro Enduro SS race series. I don't remember the exact year but it was the first year of the Pro Mini Race truck series as my friend spent most of the few months he worked there working with the rest of the team and a number of Ford engineers.  They were swapping around parts on both race cars, the Saleen  Mustang and the Saleen Ranger PU. They did a lot of crazy things to be competitive.  The  Mustangs ran in 12-14 hour races and used brake pads that were so hard that they wore out rotors.  The pads would last 24 hours but they had to change the rotors 2-3 times during the race! 

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/27/21 10:00 p.m.

Old-school Showroom Stock was a riot. Had to put an IT, or prod group out with the SS cars or you didn't realize there was a race going on - too quiet otherwise.

I crewed for a guy who had a pair of MR2s, one in SSB, one in SSC. We street-drove them both home to Boston from Pocono once - three race tires strapped in the passenger seat. one in the frunk! Full numbers and decals.

Had another friend whose SSC Neon was also her daily driver - no trailer needed getting to the track, either.

You could also always tell when an SSGT race was almost over when the Camaros would come through turn 3 @ NHMS with their left front brakes on fire. 

Factory pads, bolt-in cages, full carpets and interiors.

motobill
motobill New Reader
7/28/21 9:48 a.m.

One of my cars from back in the day iw pictured below. It was actually my ex wife, Lea's, car. I'm pretty sure she is driving it in the picture, although I did rent it out a few times. 

I had three ACR Neons and would love to have any one of them back for vintage racing or street use or autocross or... Although I am certain the memory of them is better that the actual driving experience. 

There have been some interesting comments made here about SS racing and the rules. I cleared tech every time, while running at the pointy end of the pack. I did get weighed once (in a SSB Neon that I had just purchased) and was too light. Lost my qualifying time. Threw a spare tire in the trunk and was good to go. 

I was handed a number of parts during my time racing Neons. Without going into too much detail, a Chrysler exec would send me a part that had been, um, developed at DaimlerChrysler. It was simple stuff, but that stuff added up. So, yes, there was some stretching of the rules going on. They were stock parts in appearance and not everybody got them. One example: a DCX engineer came by my car at the Runoffs and flashed my ECU. He said it had to do with the fuel that we were running and that was being tested in tech. For all I know, he did every Neon in the paddock, but I was asked to keep it under my hat, which I did (until now). 

I struggled with this for some time, eventually buying a second car that I knew was stock. I think it had better straight-line speed than my "built" engine/car. So, who knows. I am not convinced that some of the stuff we did to improve our cars did much. The stuff I got from DCX certainly did. 

--Bill

 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/28/21 9:55 a.m.
Tom1200 said:

Quoted because that livery is amazing. 

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/28/21 12:51 p.m.
motobill said:

I was handed a number of parts during my time racing Neons. Without going into too much detail, a Chrysler exec would send me a part that had been, um, developed at DaimlerChrysler.

The infamous "trunk kits" that some manufacturers seemed to be allowed, as in "gee, there were all these parts in factory parts bags in the trunk when I bought the car, so I guess they're all stock." The Neon ACR was the biggest rule-bender in and of itself, a separate model, initially available only to SCCA members, that was just a little more "stock" than the base model Neons (better shocks/struts, quicker ration steering, A/C and radio delete readily available...)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/29/21 12:57 p.m.

Showroom Stock racing was way cool, but don't forget that this year's hot car could quickly be next year's backmarker--and there was really no way to make up that difference. 

I accidentally wandered into the Tech Shed the year they busted all of those MR2s. Someone was not happy to see me there with my camera. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/29/21 1:54 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Very true; if I remember correctly Eric Morehouse finished 3rd one year, the Neon ACR juggernaut showed up the following and he was 18th the next year.

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
7/29/21 6:52 p.m.

1980 video

 

how cool! And yeah all you hear are squealing tires :)

ive always said this should be a thing

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
7/29/21 10:22 p.m.

In reply to P3PPY :

Great stuff thanks for sharing

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/30/21 9:21 a.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Very true; if I remember correctly Eric Morehouse finished 3rd one year, the Neon ACR juggernaut showed up the following and he was 18th the next year.

Yup. I just pulled the list of Showroom Stock C champs from the SCCA Runoffs media kit. Very few cars enjoyed a long run at the top.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/30/21 9:27 a.m.

And since I enjoy command-4, here are the national champs for the other Showroom Stock classes. I wish this info included the car's year of manufacturer.

 

nlevine (Forum Supporter)
nlevine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/30/21 11:56 a.m.

You'd think Peugeot could have capitalized more on all of those SSB wins :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TQpgdgPTog 

Need to get more body roll back into racing!

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