News: Racers hit Cherry Point flight line for autocross
Story by Lance Cpl. Glen Santy
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Marines and members of the Cherry Point community drove their jalopies and Jaguars out to the air station flight line, Oct. 9, for the Sports Car Club of America autocross.
The contestants varied in age and raced time-trials in cars ranging from souped-up speed demons to stock station wagons on a tightly coned track.
“When you’re going down Highway 70, you’re only going 55 mph,” said Lance Cpl. Garrett A Chapman, a 23 year-old Tucson, Ariz., native who has been into cars since he was about 10 years old. “But out here, no one gets a ticket. You can pretty much take your car to its max.”
Chapman, a ground support equipment representative with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, said he tries to get as many guys from his squadron to come out as possible.
“It’s just a fun time; the cars don’t need to have a whole lot of horsepower because the track isn’t long and open,” he said. “It’s a lot of short corners and whatever it is, you could bring it out here and have a blast.”
Gwen Baake, 64, who goes by Gwennie, is a six-year autocross veteran and was a revered contestant at the autocross in her custom modified 2009 baby blue Mini Cooper.
“I always give the young guys a hard time,” said Gwennie, who resides in Bohemia, N.C., with her husband, who worked on aircraft at Cherry Point as a contractor for 33 years. “This is kind of like coming home.”
“It’s a great site,” Gwennie said of Cherry Point. “You can do more things in this space than most of the places in North Carolina.”
Gwennie said she has done a lot of things in her life, but nothing else quite compares to autocross.
“It’s the adrenaline. It’s conquering the track and there is always something that you could have done differently,” she said. “You never get a perfect run.”
The average time for most drivers was between 46 and 53 seconds. Even though most insisted they came out for each other’s company, they kept an eye on the stopwatch display that clocked them when they crossed the finish line.
“The second you get done with a race, you want to know what everybody else ran,” Chapman said. “I’ve gotten addicted to it.”