Jon-Paul Deville, 29, took shelter underneath a tent Sunday as he watched dozens of people hurtle their cars around traffic cones in the Memorial Coliseum parking lot.
Devilles car, a Subaru WRX, wasnt in the shape to drive this year, he said. But it was clear he was envious of those behind the wheel.
The first time you do it, youre hooked, he said. Its like being on a roller coaster – without having to pay for the park.
Deville was one of dozens of people who gathered to watch or participate in the Fort Wayne Region Sports Car Club of Americas fourth autocross event of the year.
The event, sponsored by Fort Wayne Acura & Subaru, drew 84 drivers charged with navigating their street cars through a jagged, approximately one-minute course in the parking lot.
Some people jump out of a plane, said Steve Mieritz, regional executive of the Fort Wayne Region SCCA. We do this.
Autocross is a form of motorsports in which drivers are typically alone on the course, racing the clock instead of other drivers. Any licensed driver with a safe, legal street car can participate in the Fort Wayne clubs autocross events. Many people modify their cars in hopes of making them stronger contenders.
The speed limit for the course is 70 miles per hour, but Mieritz said few drivers actually reach that speed. To be safe, drivers and passengers wear helmets and harnesses.
It feels like youre going 99, 100 miles an hour, but its actually only half that, he said. Youre always way out at the limits of the car.
In addition to the regular racing, the event featured the areas amature and semi-pro Drifters, who slid their cars around the course during a lunch break.
For 46-year-old John Fehring, who drove a red 2000 Pontiac Trans Am Sunday, autocross is a family activity.
He took up the sport 25 years ago with his wife, Rhonda, but started up again five years ago after his oldest son turned 16. Now Fehring, his wife, and his three kids – James, 21; Joel, 18; and Rachel, 18 – make racing a regular part of their summer.
Fehring, a former driving safety instructor, says the sport is a great tool for teaching teenagers how to manage a car. Autocross allows teenagers to practice handling skidding, he said, thereby decreasing their likelihood of an accident down the road.
Plus, he said, its a great bonding activity.
Teenagers tend to grow away from parents, he said. This is a good way to keep families together over the weekends.
Joel said part of the fun of racing is the serious family competition. Hes got an ongoing contest with his twin sister. But so far, he said, his older brother James is the only one who can seriously give their dad a run for his money.