Words by Michael Chandler, photos by Michael Chandler and Gavin Pouquette
WE’RE BACK RACING!!! Yes, our long local nightmare is finally over. The 2015 NASA Utah season opened up this past weekend on the Outer Loop of Miller Motorsports Park, and it. Was. Glorious! Let’s kick off our coverage with the TT groups, where the action was.
Joe Sim brought out the Turbo Labs turbocharged Acura NSX and ran a blistering 2:00.305 to take the win in TTU. The NSX made an appearance at Round 6 last year, and was even running around at GT Live back in 2007 and 2008! Coming in second place was TW Racing in the familiar Audi R8 LMS. Can the former GT3 car out pace the local legend? Will we see more of the NSX period? And what about the Lyfe Motorsports GTR? Will it defend its title as TTU monster? We have the better part of the season to find out!
After a late night tuning session at Ziptie Dynowerks, Greg Valdez took his WRX STi atop the podium in his first TT1 event. Shawn Murphy, who had an impromptu barbecue on the front straight last year, came in second and retired early with car troubles. Third place was occupied by Dave Gilliland.
Alex Whetman broke the Focus of Doom, but won the TT3 class in the process. The 2:06.2 he ran was a full 4.7 seconds faster than the second place Team Emerald West Porsche 911! Jon Carver put his #49 Corvette in third.
In TT2 we saw a battle between Robert Rathbone’s 911 and Frank Wilson’s C7 Corvette Z06. In this battle, the Porsche pulled out the win.
Paul House came out for one TT4 session in his Spec Z, and won himself a nice bottle opener.
Richard Thiessens took some time out of coordinating HPDE instructors to take the class win in TTB.
TTE is looking to be a hotly contested class. Ben Lamberson and his Audi barely squeaked by Jeb Brown’s Subaru for the class win.
We had some new faces in Open Wheel! And those new faces actually won! In Super Formula David Lockwood in his sharp, livery free car took race one; and Terry Biner, in the familiar Rodizio Grill car took race two.
Formula is also seeing a new face. Literally. Bruno Carneiro (who is fifteen years old. 15!) has jumped from karts into a Formula Mazda car prepped by Ian Lacy Racing, and won race two after finishing behind Troy Duffin in race one. Steven Costello took third in both races.
Bruno and David weren’t the only newcomers to the Open Wheel group. Askew Motorsports was out in a Radical for qualifying and a few laps in race one. I, for one, would like to see Formula and Super Formula grow as fast and as large as Spec Z has.
Speaking of Spec Z, it is huge! There were six competitors for Saturday’s race, and a total of seven cars registered for the day. In the race Arthur Golebiowski topped the podium, with Tom Kaminski in the Dip Kings 350Z in second, and Chad Aalders in third. Shay Chappell, last year’s TT3 champion, has left his Porsche 911 Turbo at home and hopped into a Spec Z. Shay can wheel, as is evidenced by his championship, so he won’t be in the basement for long. With fellow newcomers Richard Fitzgerald and Askew MotorSport, this series is only getting more contested.
In Spec Miata, David Sherman qualified on pole with Mike Ferrara and Allan Anderson behind him. In the race David Sherman brought home the win, with Mike Ferrara and Allan Anderson behind him. In other news, David Dingman was back out on track in a blue and yellow Miata! David’s a great guy, and we’re glad to have him back out on track.
And in the last Spec class, 944 Spec, Samuel Kapp and Otto Silva began what is always a season long battle for the championship. These guys duke it out every round, and it’s always a good clean fight.
In GTS2 Chris Haunold, in the red #9 Porsche, beat out Jim Miller, in the red #9 Porsche. Oh man, watching that red Porsche cross the finish line after seeing the red Porsche retire with mechanical issues was something else. Red Porsche.
Bill “Wild Willie” Noblitt jumped from PTB to GTS3 and took the win over “Good Guy” Gus Stribakos in another all Porsche battle.
They may have been the only ones in their respective classes, but Todd Green (#58 Paul Mitchell Miata) and Douglas Turnquist (#421 Porsche 944) took their wins and battled with the entire Lightning race group.
Bad Luck Brendon Stewart detuned his Evo so he could drop down to Super Touring 3 and have some competition. Long time ST3 competitors Travis Tidball (whose blue Corvette is getting wide) and Gary Free (in the Race Co FR500S Mustang) put up a fight against the newcomer, but in the end they couldn’t stop him. Brendon won the battle, but lifted the cylinder head in the process.
Les Long ran away from the GTSU field, and the rest of the race group in fact. He posted a best lap time of 1:59.411 during the race.
In GTS5 Russ Timmons held on to a lead of less than a second over Darrell Troester to take the class win. Chris Vivolo and his blue and white 996 911 rounded out the podium.
Byron Smith pitted his BMW against the 370Z of Lara Tallman. It was a close battle, one in which neither driver could put much distance between the other. By the time the checkered flag dropped Byron was ahead by 0.593 seconds, and took the win.
Unfortunately not everyone had playmates within their class. Dan Worley in the Tatum Racing LSX Porsche 944 claimed the ST1 win. Mike Mielke showed up to ST2 just in time to take over as lone ranger, ironically while driving a Ranger. And in GTS4 Shawn Tatum held court (see what I did there? HILARIOUS!) in the Dell & Schaefer Porsche Cayman.
And that’s all she wrote. It was a solid opening to what’s going to be a great season. A great season that has an event every month through October! There’s no excuse to not come out and catch one of these events, and there’s plenty of time to start working your way through the HPDE program so you can start competing with the a fore mentioned drivers.
The next event is April 24-26, and it’s on the West course. It’s longer straight sections favor the higher horsepower cars, so be prepared to see some blistering lap times in the Thunder race group. Grab some friends, pile into the car and make your way out to watch some racing!
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