2nd Annual Florida Slalom


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2nd Annual Florida Slalom!
by Ginger Corda, Jaguar Club of Florida and Art Dickenson, Pacific Jaguar Enthusiast Group
Pictures by Ginger Corda, Mike Baker, Pascal Gademer

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posted 11/27/2002


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The 2nd Annual Jaguar Club of Florida Slalom was held November 24, 2002 at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida, the “World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection.” At 8am we started set up and the course was laid out and ready for action by about 9am. The cars arrived steadily until there were approximately 30 cars ready to go. Tech inspections were carried out on all the cars and the drivers’ meeting was held and we started to run at 11am. The track was a little dusty and interfered with the timing lights for a while until the dust had all been blown off. After that, the lights worked perfectly. We were on a tarmac (concrete) with open hangars full of vintage aircraft, and the day was sunny and clear.

Our club had major sponsors for this event, including Direct Auto Group, Aston-Martin Jaguar of Tampa, and individual club members. The Wheeler family volunteered and worked hard all day at the registration/timing table with Sue Hagopian and on the field at the start and stop gates. Others pitched in where they could. JCNA President Gary Hagopian and JCNA Slalom Chair, Art Dickenson, were our guides and helped the Florida clubs as we begin our slalom program and do things correctly and safely. Several members were in attendance from JCOF and the Suncoast clubs, Pascal Gademer from the South Florida Jaguar Club , and others from JANE like Frank and Marylin Wiliams . The cars entered in the event were varied and we had six in the Modified Sports class. Gary Hagopian’s E-Type, Tom Curren’s XK120 and The Predator team’s XK120 and Bugeye Sprite were special to watch. There were eight E-Types. Non-Jaguars included a Porsche, Mini Cooper , Lexus, Makes and Models Magazine’s decorated BMW , and a Dodge Neon. First timers gained experience and had no problem getting the hang of slaloming and even drivers of larger cars like Bill Wheeler(XJ40) , Bill Weisman (X300) or Hudson Marvel (XJS) enjoyed the exercise.

During the slalom, each entrant was allowed 5 runs. The excitement level was high as competitors lined up and waited their turn. Helmets on and hands gripping the wheel, they squealed from the starting gate and roared with determination into the sea of cones.

Although there were several cone-killing incidents, we all had good fun and were able to drag the cones out from under the cars fairly easily. The most spectacular cone death was when Art Dickenson took out the stop box end cone driving Gary Hagopian’s E-Type. He said he hit the gas and the brake simultaneously with his right foot and completely forgot about the clutch. Pretty embarrassing for a National Champion (who drives automatic only?). On Ginger Corda’s first run, she was giving first-timer, Tracy Lash , a ride when a pinched wire caused billowing smoke to emit from the dash area, and she cut her run short for a DNF . Tracy leapt from the car fearing it was on fire and ready to blow. Not to worry, Ginger’s car is already repaired and will return to the competition next year for this event she had to settle for a run in Pascal's Silver Rocket... Bill Suter probably gave the wildest show in his car when he accelerated too much out of the 2nd turn, did a 360° and then continued the run as if he meant to do it! All of the drivers did well, learning something on each run, and improving their times throughout the day. Race car drivers Tom Curren, Larry Ligas, David Hinton, and Adrian Cuarta were on hand to thrill the crowd with their driving prowess. David Hinton's XK120 took the HSR Rolex Endurance championship this year, and enjoyed a little play time.

We continued on until around 2:30pm then had a lunch break, and after that slalomed until almost 5pm. The restaurant at Fantasy of Flight is art deco style and is very good. The museum is based on the history of flight, including WWI and WWII exhibits in a simulated atmosphere, where each era is experienced through sights, sounds, and special effects. The hangar houses several vintage planes and cars, and tours were given. While we raced, a 1929 open cockpit Biplane gave rides and flew by, landing near us and sharing the tarmac. Other planes came and went during the day, sometimes “buzzing” past us and probably wondering what we were doing down below. The attraction's owner, Kermit Weeks, parked his P51 Mustang out with us for a great photo op.

Competition was at it's peak since it was the last slalom event of the year. This was the final chance to get a good time and set a new record, if possible. Gary and Art were competing in Gary’s car to be the Fastest Man in JCNA for 2002. Art held on to the title with his standing time of 38.936 achieved in his Silver XJS, and thus has bragging rights for a year. Gary bested his personal time and the record he set at our slalom last year, ending up just a fraction below Art with a fantastic run at 39.111 seconds. . After one of Gary’s runs, the Predator teammates offered 3 gallons of 110 octane fuel to reduce his “pinging” noise, and he readily accepted it. Next year, Gary hopes to have his Silver Hammer supercharged, and guaranteed to rock the track with many runs below 39 seconds.

This second Annual Florida Slalom was big success, not just because of the record turn out (19 cars, 30 drivers) but for the friendly atmosphere. Many members helped with setup, timing and scoring; Sue Hagopian spent most of her day with Cecilia Wheeler at the registration and scoring table ensuring things went smoothly. It took a while for Slalom Fever to catch in Florida... but it is here to stay and show other regions that Floridians can push a Jaguar around the JCNA course...