Feature Article, Other Motorsports, Washington — August 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Jerry Lee and Mike Mejer (issue 98)

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By Steve Heeb

Jerry Lee of Lynnwood, Wash., and Mike Mejer of Tacoma both took up racing about the same time in 2008.

Jerry had picked up a Corvette a few years earlier that was destined to become his weapon of choice in autocross competition.

“It was a totaled car that had gone into a wall,” he says of the damaged ’04 Z06 Corvette he would bring back to life. “I’ve put 40,000 miles on it since then.”

Many of those miles have been going to and from autocross competitions.

“Part of the pleasure is driving it to the track,” he smiles. “It gets 28 mpg. How can you beat that?”

Jerry and Mike go to about 40 events each year at Northwest venues like Bremerton Raceway, Shelton and Packwood, as well as events in Utah and California.

“Every time is different,” Jerry says of the winding courses that are set up for each event.

“There can be tight or loose slaloms,” Mike adds. “You’ll never see an entire course the same twice.”

Mike likes to run his ’03 Z06 Corvette at Bremerton, while Jerry prefers the venue in Packwood.

“They have a shed there that’s like a NASCAR garage,” Jerry says of the spacious Packwood location.

 “There is so much open space that a designer can do anything they want,” Mike adds.

Autocross tracks are set up so that it should take a driver 60 seconds to complete the course.

“Our tracks are smaller but more happens in a minute than happens all day in other types of racing,” Jerry says.

“It takes quick reactions,” Mike explains. “You can change directions 30 times in 60 seconds.”

“It’s a test of the skill of the driver,” Jerry says. “You have to approach the course in the correct manner. You have to be able to look ahead and plan ahead how one point connects to another. If you screw up at one spot it messes up the whole course.”

He says that putting the car in the right spot is important, as is the car’s braking ability.

“It’s 70 percent driver and 30 percent car,” Mike says of autocross.

Drivers complete the course as quickly as possible, receiving time penalties for infractions during the run.

“If you hit a cone there is a two second penalty,” Jerry explains. “Ten seconds if you miss a gate.”

He points out that such penalties hit hard considering there may be only a couple seconds difference between the fastest and slowest cars.

“But no one is limiting you,” Jerry adds. “You are out there by yourself.”

And the autocross field is out there in all types of weather.

“We run rain or shine,” Mike says. “Or snow.”

“There can be changing conditions even during an event,” Jerry says.

Jerry has attended the Nationals championships from 2001 to 2010, and for the last five years has had the fastest C-5 Corvette at the championships.

The event can draw 1,500 drivers from around the country.

Jerry estimates that around 20 percent of the autocross drivers today are women.

“Even my girlfriend is driving autocross now,” he laughs.

In addition to his Z06 Corvette, Jerry also owns a Porsche, Shelby Cobra and collector cars such as a Roadrunner convertible and a ­Little Red Express Truck.

In addition to his Corvette, Mike also fields a ’08 Solstice GXP, and has had several other Vettes pass through his garage at one time or another, including a ’92 LT1, a ’91 ZR1 and a ’01 Z06.

“I’ve raced the Z06 since I got it,” Mike says. “The C5 version is the best car out there.”

And 40 times a year he gets the chance to prove it.

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