Words and photos by Michael Chandler
No time for pleasantries, let’s get right to it! The day opened up with the second Touring Car class race of the weekend, and while nobody attempted to climb over anybody else there was still some close racing.
Nathan Stacy came into the Black Rock hairpin too hot in the #14 TSG/Ford Racing Motorsports Development Group Ford Fiesta, opening the door for Brian Price to drive the #51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit right on through. Unfortunately their battle was for third place, Johan Schwartz used the Schwartz to put his Garrett Racing/Drive4Diabetes Honda fit on top of the podium, with Andrei Kisel in the #57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com Mini Cooper taking home second place. Despite his third place finish, Brian Price took home the Driver’s Championship for the B Spec Class!
TCA was an in house battle, with Jason Wolfe and Nik Jonsson battling for the class win. Jason Wolfe in the #36 Wolfe Trucking/Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup squeaked out a first place finish over Nik Jonsson in the #38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup. The margin of victory was .003 seconds! Rounding out the podium was Jason Cherry in the Autism Society of America/Avpro Jets/Purposeful Architecture Shea Racing Mazda MX-5 Miata. Jason Wolfe’s narrowest of narrow victories cemented his Driver’s Championship.
Touring Car wasn’t nearly as hotly contested as TCA and B Spec was, but that’s not to say it was completely devoid of action. Steven Doherty in the #94 Skullcandy/Nissan/GT Academy Altima Coupe fired off a 1:38.411 lap on his way to victory, which was better than the existing track record! No slouch himself, Michael Pettiford in the #41 Go4It Racing Schools/ Hawk Brakes Pontiac Solstice turned a 1:38.693 lap; however, he could not overcome the lead Doherty had. Fred Emich, #30 Emich Racing/Emich Volkswagen Jetta GLI had the same problem of an insurmountable lead, but he still parked the Jetta on the podium. The 4th place finisher would end up taking home the Driver’s Championship: Michael DiMeo in the #71 Grand Alarms/Compass 360 Racing/Children’s Tumor Foundation Honda Civic Si.
The Touring Car classes in World Challenge didn’t garner as large of crowds as the GT classes did, and that’s a bit of a shame in my opinion. Sure the cars aren’t as fast or as flashy, but the racing is just as good, and just as competitive as it is in the senior circuit. If you ever get the chance: find a good seat, settle in and watch the entire field go nose to tail and try to get around each other.
Next on the docket was the Miller GT Challenge group. The twenty car field consisted of eight of your favorite locals in the title class, nine United States Touring Car Championship drivers, and three USTCC GT drivers. In the UTSCC field it was a battle of BMWs, with Jason Alexandridis in the #22 Perfromance Technic M3 beating out another M3, this being the #12 of Beau Borders, for the class win.
In the GT field it was two manufacturers vying for the win. Unfortunately the #34 GoGoGear.com BMW of Larry Bani retired, relegating him to third place. Finishing ahead of him was the #16 Red Star Racing BMW of Daniel Akhromstev. Sitting atop the heap was the #98 Honda S2000 of Andrie Hartanta.
And finally in Miller GT we saw a three way battle for first place. Derek Wolthoff in the #08 Makes And Models/TW Racing Audi R8 LMS battled Cindi Lux in the #5 Lux Performance Dodge Viper SRT and Cole Powelson in the #23 AMS Performance/OS Giken/RaceCo Nissan GTR. The battle raged for twenty-five laps, but nearing the end of the race a piece of the GTR’s under tray came loose and caused them to fall off the pace. Cindi and Derrick continued the fight, but by the time the checkered flag came down it was Derrick who was in front by 4.7 seconds.
On a side note: Cole Powelson has been a friend of the site’s for many years. Today he announced that he would be leaving his position at RaceCo to create a new opportunity for himself in motorsports. All of us here wish him the best of luck going forward, and we can’t wait to see what he ends up doing.
On to the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GTS race, where championships were on the line! Well, at least in GTA and GTS, the latter of which is where we begin. Lawson Aschenbach in the #1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 needed to hold off Jack Baldwin and Mark Wilkins to claim his Driver’s title. Fortunately for Lawson, and unfortunately for Mark, the prior race’s incident between the Kias left Mark looking up from third place in the standings, and 17th in the race. Drew Regitz, #02 TRG-AMR Aston Martin GT4, battled with Lawson all race long, but Lawson pulled eeked out a .461 second lead by the drop of the checkered. Jack Baldwin, in the #73 RESET-MD/GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S took the class win by nearly a second over Lawson, but the win was not enough for Jack to claim the Driver’s Championship from Lawson.
Less than 100 points separated the contenders for the GTA Driver’s championship, and Michael Mills (#41 Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R) secured his championship with his hard fought third place finish in the race. Marcelo Hahn in the #0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 narrowly took second place in the race behind the #54 Black River Caviar/Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Tim Pappas. It was Pappas who ran away from the field, and finished with a three second finish over Hahn.
The GT class featured a podium completely devoid of Driver’s Championship contenders. Andy Pilgrim, #8 Cadillac Racing CST-V.R, would finish fourth in the driver’s standings but his third place finish in the race secured Cadillac’s Manufacturer’s Title over Audi. The top of the podium was decided by less than 1/4 of a second. Robert Thorne in the #6 K-PAX Racing Mclaren MP4-12C GT3 traded blows with Ryan Dalziel in the #31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R, but managed to hold off the Porsche at the line.
The real battle to watch was further down the pack. The fight for positions 6-7-8 featured your top three Driver’s Championship contenders. Unfortunately, the incident at the beginning of the previous day’s race that left Skeen with a broken axle pretty much secured the title for Johnny O’Connell and his #3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R. Second place in the championship was still up for grabs, and Anthony Lazarro battled Mike Skeen tooth and nail for it. Unfortunately for Anthony and the crew of the #61 R.Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, Mike knew the score. His 23rd place finish the race before narrowed the gap between himself and Lazarro, so he had to outright beat him in the race or at the very least keep him close. The Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra ran well, but not well enough to keep the Ferrari behind it. The 3.2 second gap, at first glance, would seem to vault Lazarro into second place; however, Skeen only finished two places behind him. The gap was not enough, and Mike Skeen maintained his second place.
Finally on the day was the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race. The Home Tracks series are the entry level series in the NASCAR system. Do well enough there, and the potential to move into the Camping World Truck Series arises. From there it’s Nationwide series, and finally the Sprint Cup. Could one of these drivers be the next rising star? Who knows, but your third place finisher is the series’s Rookie of the Year. James Bickford put the #6 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Sprint/Lucas Oil Ford on the podium and secured the ROTY honors. Second place belonged to Bickford’s teammate Dylan Lupton in the #9 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Sprint/Lucas Oil Ford. Taking home the win was David Mayhew in the #17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet. Two races are left in the season, and Lupton is withing striking distance of Driver’s Points leader Greg Pursley.
And so that ends our weekend at the Grand Prix. It was quite the two days. Below are galleries with far more photos in them, neatly divided up into their respective series. We hope to see you again at next year’s Utah Grand Prix, or at the very least on the 27th of September for NASA Utah Round 6.
Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GTS
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Pirelli World Challenge TC/TCA/TCB
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