Murto: Racing variety at Summit Point

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS) opened its season of racing at Summit Point (W.Va.) Motorsports Park last weekend.

The two-day show offered eight groups of racing, each group competing on Saturday and Sunday. There was some good racing, the weather was perfect, and the racecars ranged from the exotic to a family car with a roll cage.

There are open-wheel classes, and some that appear they should be running with the prototype cars in the Daytona 24. Then there are the Mazdas — lots of Mazdas — proving that the manufacturer’s claim that more Mazdas compete on any given weekend than any other type of car must be true.

And then there’s the big-bore class, which pits American stock cars converted for road racing against some of the high-horsepower sports cars and muscle cars. Then there’s a class that includes small sports cars against Legends cars and what appeared to be Baby Grands or Allison Legacy-type cars, two-third-scale racers that screamed around the 10-turn circuit.

Most, but not all, of the spectator events at Summit Point are held on the Summit Point Circuit. The property also includes the Jefferson Circuit and the Shenandoah Circuit that hold racing and club events. There is also a rally course, and the Washington Circuit, which is dedicated to Karting.

Most of the spectator events — automobile and motorcycle — allow camping. It is a fun place to get your motorsports fix in a relaxed atmosphere, and enjoy camping as well. There’s nothing like waking up in your tent to the sound of sports cars or motorcycles in their first morning practice session.

Summit Point is not far from Winchester or Berryville. Be sure to visit www.summitpoint-raceway.com for schedule information, including the SCCA MARRS events upcoming and the Aug. 1-2 national event.

You can also link to the SCCA from the Summit Point website. The SCCA is a great place for amateur racers and racers learning the craft. Unfortunately, it is not as well known as it deserves to be. For that reason, some call it the Secret Car Club of America.

Actor Patrick Dempsey is also an accomplished racer, and he learned his racecraft in SCCA competition. The late Paul Newman won SCCA championships. When Tom Cruise tried his hand, some called the club See Cruise Crash Again.

The SCCA have classes for just about every type of car, many of which are more affordable than you might imagine. And with their emphasis on driver safety and respect among competitors, you usually don’t have to worry about getting dumped for position on the track. Accidents happen, but any contact race officials deem intentional can get the offending driver thrown out of the club for good.

Not only were there an incredible variety of cars already in competition, there was the possible future on display.

During the lunch break on Saturday, an Electric Vehicle Sports Racer (EVSR) made a few laps around the circuit and was quicker than its gasoline-powered counterpart. The car was designed, built and campaigned by Entropy Racing, which hopes to build an entire fleet of the cars and host a series. The EVSR is “intended to demonstrate that a fully electric racecar … can be both competitive and viable,” states an EVSR “fact sheet” available at the track. The EVSR was built for a fraction of the cost of any currently campaigned electric racecar and represents “the best balance of cost, performance and range of any electric car built anywhere in the world.”

Entropy Racing owner and project manager, Charlie Greenhaus, was asked about the car after he took a few laps. He said the car wasn’t noiseless, it just made a “different noise.” And that different noise may be low enough to keep some tracks open by keeping noise complaints at a minimum.

What was interesting, however, is that as quiet as the car is it gave the driver another sense at his disposal. Greenhaus said that he could hear the difference when the tires hit patches of sealer that could affect grip level. Most racecars are so loud that drivers don’t have the sense of hearing to guide them in that way. And the weight distribution and center of gravity makes the car handle well in corners, Greenhaus said.

The car will be in competition this year in a variety of events. Visit www.evsr.net, e-mail info@evsr.net or call (570) 682-9666 for more information about this racecar of the future. You can see it return for competition at Summit Point on Sept. 7-8.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.