Another busy weekend out at Miller Motorsports Park! NASA Utah and the United States Touring Car Championship were running on the outer loop, DRFT Utah (formerly iDrift, formerly you damn kids) were in the midway, and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series was on the offroad course. We were very explicitly told to stay away from the Lucas Oil stuff, which is a good thing because it allowed me to focus on the NASA and USTCC stuff and Trent to focus on filming the drifting. Today we’re going to focus on the road racing.
The small bore group was stacked with familiar faces, and a couple of new ones. This meant the herd of Miatas were not only doing battle with each other, but Spec 944s, a Spec E30, a Civic hatchback and a pair of E36 BMWs that led the pack most of the day.
The lone E30 had absolutely no problem with using every square inch of the track. If it was paved, he was on it. Kudos to him for charging every corner!
Battles were happening all over the track, but the closest one and most hard fought were between the #12 Miata and the #15. They might as well have been tied together for most of the race. In the end the #12 pulled away.
Meanwhile in the Big Bore group, the regulars were joined by German Touring Class cars and a lone Super Unlimited class prototype.
The SU prototype was near the top of the field all day, chasing down John Potter in the Magnus Racing Porsche 911. Unfortunately, the prototype spun out in Release which gave Mr. Potter the class win.
We had a trio of rookies running! Todd Ainsworth was out in his silver STi, and Brendon Stewart got his Evo together and made his race start! It was a miraculous event. His engine was out of the car forty five minutes before the start of the race. Someone mistakenly installed the wrong seal, so the engine and transmission had to come out and a new seal had to be found. George Evans of Ziptie Dynowerks stepped in and ran to find one. A dealer in Tooele had one in stock, but the parts department was closed and the manager of the dealership refused to go back and get it for him. Deterred but not defeated, George ran to Salt Lake (forty minutes away) to get the correct seal. The Ziptie guys got everything back together and got him on track.
Then on Sunday his engine decided it didn’t want to keep its internals all to itself, so it shot a rod through the block which caused a bit of a fire. Quite the downer to an otherwise awesome weekend for him.
Jason Smith and the Innovative Garage crew got the K20 powered Civic out on the track, where it proceeded to clean up. He won his class, passed the USTCC field, and finished mid-pack after starting towards the back of it. Impressive feat.
The TT group was paired with the HPDE 3 & 4 drivers, but that didn’t affect the quality of the on track product. Greg Valdez made the start in TT2 his Ziptie Dynowerks sponsored STi, while Shawn Murphy began a dominating run in TT1 in his GrimmSpeed backed STi.
Kyle Schick, fresh off his excellent showing at Global Time Attack, took the TTU win in the RaceCo GTR.
Sally was also coming off a good weekend at Chuckwalla Raceway, and hoped the good times would continue. And they did for a while…
Then the car started over heating in pre-grid for the third session. A lap later she came rolling through Wind Up, and came to a stop in the gravel on the outside of the turn. She made it back to the pits under her own power, but the damage was done. A blown head gasket ended her day prematurely.
Park Beutler was turning laps with the TT group in his ST1 Corvette. Was he quick? Yes. Could he drive this car home? If he didn’t feel like driving his Porsche 911, he could.
And then we come to US Touring Car. This is odd, because it isn’t the premier touring car series in America. Does that change anything? Well, if you were hoping for a massive field and door banging racing and brand new chassis then I have some bad news for you…
It was a small field. So small that for their race they were grouped with the Big Bore group, which provided lots of passing action… For the Big Bore guys. The touring cars were quick, but they were lumped in to a group that had a Grand Am Porsche, a World Challenge Mustang, a former Sprint Cup Ford, and some flat out faster cars.
These were the newest cars in the field. And they were willing to go door to door with anyone, which is always a good thing.
They were definitely some of the more competitive guys on track. I’ve been out there many times, but never have I seen someone cut someone off heading in to pit entrance. Let me repeat that: one of the USTCC guys swung in front of another one, who had his hand out and was heading in. No hand out, cut over the red and white painted section right before the Armco, nothing. The game was on, and it was awesome to watch.
There were a few new cars in Open Wheel, but unfortunately it was its usually small field.
The small fields are disappointing because these are brilliant little machines. They’re quick, handle well and are the next step up in the racing evolutionary chart.
That, and they look really cool. Hopefully as our little community grows we will see more people jumping in to these little formula cars and going wheel to wheel.
It was a good weekend. No event in July, but we’ll be back out there in August for Round 5!
Words and photos by Michael Chandler
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