As the air continues to chill and winter storms hit over three-quarters of the country, it’s safe to say that the automotive show and race season is just about over. Just a couple weeks ago, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association celebrated yet another great season with their season-closer and AutoCross finale, the Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona.
While we may have a few dormant months to go before we’ll be shouting from the sidelines for our favorite drivers again, the excitement from the Goodguys AutoCross Finals Shootout is still fresh in our system.
Check out the highlights of this year’s final shootout at the Southwest Nationals, which was dominated by none other than classic Chevrolets.
Back in August we told you about the incredible majority that Chevy drivers had over the Goodguys AutoCross finals positions, with three-quarters of those competitors qualified to compete in the final shootout dubbed “Duel in the Desert” making their way to the top ranks behind the wheels of their Chevys. Though there were a number of spots left in August, Chevy drivers didn’t disappoint, maintaining their majority over the rest of the competitive field right up through the final competition.
Going into the final Goodguys AutoCross weekend, 20 competitors, including many long-time pros, were qualified for the event thanks to wins at previous 2014 Goodguys events or outstanding point totals (in case of a number of the pros). That left 12 positions up for grabs on Friday, November 14th to make the 32-car field for the final competition on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, these 16 drivers were narrowed down to the top 12, which went on to compete Saturday afternoon with those individuals previously qualified for the final competition.
Of the top 16 drivers from Friday’s competition, 14 competed in Chevrolets, with one GM cousin, a ’68 Pontiac Firebird, thrown in for good measure, and a lone Mustang. When the competition was narrowed down to the top 12 qualifiers, all but one came to the arena with a Chevy Bowtie on their grille. This made for 27 of the 32 finale drivers competing with Chevrolets.
The top 32 drivers and their vehicles are as follows:
Brian Hobaugh- ’65 Corvette
Mike Maier- ’66 Mustang
Greg Thurmond- ’64 Corvette
Danny Popp- ’72 Corvette
Mike DuSold- ’67 Camaro
Rob MacGregor- ’68 Camaro
Keith Corrigan- ’55 T-bird with a Chevy 350
Josh Leisinger- ’64 Corvette
Jarred Leisinger- ’70 Chevy C-10 pickup
Karen Leisinger- ’70 Camaro
Bob Bertelsen- ’69 Chevy C-10 pickup
Tom Farrington- ’66 Chevelle
Tyler Powell- ’63 Corvette
Scott Fraser- ’66 Cobra
Robbie Unser- ’65 Nova
Mary Pozzi- ’72 Camaro
Chris Smith-’67 Chevy C-10 pickup
Terry Neuville- ’68 Camaro
Cheryl Herrick- ’67 Nova
Roger Burman- ’63 Dodge Dart with an LS power plant
Bret Voelkel- ’67 Camaro
Jason Brady- ’68 Camaro
Deb McGilton- ’69 Camaro
Gregg Blundell- ’69 Camaro
Marshall Machado- ’70 Corvette
Dan Ballard- ’72 Nova
Rodney Prouty- ’68 Camaro
Dick Eytchison- ’65 Chevelle
Greg Schneider- ’66 Chevelle
Gerald Lum- ’71 Camaro
Mark Allen- ’67 Camaro
Mike Young- ’65 Mustang
On Saturday afternoon, all 32 competitors were placed in a modified bracket in order to keep the competition fierce and gradually weed out the slower drivers, leaving the competitors with the fastest lap times to battle each other out toward the end of the competition. The difference in lap times between the fastest qualifier and the slowest going into the final shootout was 8.7 seconds.
Because of this modified bracket, many of the PRO drivers edged ahead quickly, setting up the later battles to come down to tenths of a second. Having qualified in first place, Mary Pozzi was an immediate star in her ’72 Camaro, taking out fellow Chevy drivers DuSold and Smith before reaching the quarter finals mark to compete against ’66 Cobra driver Fraser.
Reigning Goodguys AutoCross champ, Popp entered the quarter finals to compete against top driver Powell and his ’63 Corvette after beating out Schneider and RideTech’s Voelkel, Powell having beat out Lum and McGilton in previous brackets.
After winning to his brother in the first round, Josh Leisinger and his ’64 Corvette moved to the quarter finals after taking out Unser Racing heir Robbie Unser and his ’65 Nova. Competing against Leisinger in the quarters was Maier Racing’s Mike Maier in his ’66 Mustang.
Last but certainly not least in the quarter finals was autocross great, Hobaugh and his ’65 Corvette, who took out Jet Hot’s Herrick in the first round, followed by late qualifier Blundell, and Burnman, who piloted his Chevy-powered ’63 Dart past Ballard in round one and Prouty in round two.
Quarter finals were fierce, with Pozzi, Hobaugh, Popp and Leisinger coming out on top with all their lap times falling within 8/10ths of a second of the fastest time.
For the semi finals, Pozzi battled Hobaugh while Popp battled Leisinger. Hobaugh and Popp came out running and swept their competition away, setting themselves up to go against one another in the final round.
With Hobaugh and Popp destined for the top two positions, Pozzi and Leisinger had to battle it out on the course one last time for third and fourth place. When all was said and done, Pozzi took fourth with a 70.543 lap time and Leisinger took third with a 70.076 lap time.
For the final round to determine the Goodguys AutoCrosser of the Year, it was extremely close with Popp trying to hold on to his previous AutoCross title, but it was Hobaugh that came out victorious with a lap time of 70.376 seconds, just 0.323 seconds faster than Hobaugh’s 70.699 final lap.
It was an absolute treat getting to watch a number of the industry’s greatest PRO and Street Machine drivers compete for top honors at the Goodguys 17th Southwest Nationals and we can’t wait to see where the 2015 autocross season takes them next year!
For more of the action from the Duel in the Desert AutoCross competition (and some shots from Sunday’s Chevy-filled All American autocross competition), be sure to check out the massive Chevy Hardcore Photo Gallery after the jump and be sure to come back for our full coverage of the 2014 Goodguys Southwest Nationals in the next couple weeks!