Corvette enthusiasts offer to run autocross for Salem Super Cruise

SALEM – The 9th annual Salem Super Cruise is moving ahead with a possible expansion of the auto cross and improvements in communications and parking for 2014.

Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst, who manages the event, told a crowd of 20 people they expect to make better usage of the East Second Street parking lot, South Broadway Avenue and they’re looking at the Reilly School practice lot for added parking.

In its fifth year under city management, the Super Cruise will run from June 19 through June 22 and the goal is still to “make sure people who do come here have a good time,” Kenst said.

The same committees for concessions, sponsors and advertisers and entertainment will be employed.

Kenst said, “Again, what we need are volunteers” noting people are needed in the show car lot across from Timberlanes, the East Second Street lot and to help sell T-shirts.

Kenst said last year’s parade went pretty well and cruisers will use the same route to cruise around the city.

Sam Sicilia introduced special guests Dan Lyden from the Mahoning Valley Corvette Club and Chuck Stephens, the regional competition director for east Ohio National Council of Corvette Clubs Inc.

The two attended the meeting in regard to the autocross that was started by Dominic Righetti and his father, Mark, at the Salem Walmart store last year.

Dominic Righetti, a high school student, presented the idea to the Super Cruise committee in 2012 and followed through by making the event happen in 2013 with the NEO Valley of the Sports Car Club of America’s conducting it.

The event was held on Sunday, the final day of the Super Cruise.

Autocrosses are timed speed and skill events over a defined course in which drivers race one car at a time around safety cones on a short enclosed course with emphasis on safe competition.

Sicilia said Stephens was there to help with the 2014 autocross and pointed out that the Walmart lot was “a little small and the Salem High School lot is about the right size.”

He said it would need the OK of the school board.

Stephens said he was involved with Corvettes for over 20 years.

“I’m not here to take over your event,” he said, explaining the ONCCC’s eastern region has 1,000 members. He presented a booklet on the council’s rules.

Stephens said the Walmart course has “too many constraints” and explained the ONCCC carried $5 million in secondary insurance and it would come in and run the event to its compliances.

Stephens explained the ONCCC would bring all the equipment needed to run an event and would make sure waiver forms were signed, a control area was designated and access to it was controlled by wristbands.

“If you don’t want to sign, you’re out, everyone signs a waiver, every precaution is taken … you have to meet our compliances,” he said noting safety workers with radios and flags and fire extinguishers are placed around the course along with pylons to keep speeds below 35 mph.

He said safety was most important, there is no noise, and two cars are allowed on the course at one time.

“We have an outstanding safety record,” he said.

“We’re here to help,” he said adding they have to go by their own handbook.

“We’re not here to take it over,” he repeated.

Kathrine Righetti, Dominic’s mother, pointed out that the SCCA helped out last year and Stephens said it “wasn’t Ford versus Chevy stuff” and Mark Righetti said last year’s event was “more of an exhibition to expose it … in addition to the cruise … we didn’t know what to expect.”

Stephens said, “You were on a lot that was very marginal …”

In other discussions, Sicilia, as he did last year, suggested obtaining an event planner and skilled organizer.

“Someone we call and go to,” he said, adding he was speaking for “many, many people.”

Kenst asked, “Where do you find someone like that?”

Sicilia suggested a person associated with the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival and Kenst said he would call but insisted events like these happen because “they have great volunteers.”

Kenst said, “Keep in mind too, we had 800 cars last year. This is not just the car people … for bands. It’s like a reunion for the town and vendors pay fees to the city …” He said city employee overtime has to be paid, adding, “Our goal is to cover expenses and not make a lot of money … the trick is volunteers.”