May 14, 2021

NASA Utah Round 2: The Monsoon

NASA Utah round 2 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (15 of 15)

April 26 was a miserable, cold, wet day. The daytime high hovered in the lower forties, the rain came down in buckets, and often sideways thanks to the stiff wind. Miller Motorsports Park had planned a huge opening weekend event, but the weather put the kaibosh on that. That said, that NASA Utah guys and gals, SCCA auto-crossers and Masters of the Mountain riders were not detered by the rain. Well, some may have been but there was still a sizable group of racers out in the rain.

NASA Utah round 2 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (8 of 23)

The Time Trial entrants were doing their best to cope with the poor conditions, some were coping better than others. In TT1 Shawn Murphy elected to wear his BF Goodrich R1 slicks, which was the wrong decision. His 1:58.285 was second fastest of the day, a staggering five seconds behind the TW Racing Audi R8, but somehow ahead of the Smith-Burke Corvette which turned a very sideways 2:01.957.
One of NASA Utah’s most adorable competitors, Greg Valdez, brought his STi but left the cover on it. He instead brought out his trusty Impreza to do battle against Scott Corsetti’s Porsche. Trustworthy is may be, the TT2 win went with the black Porsche, in which Scott put up a best time of 2:01.203 compared to Greg’s 2:09.194.
TT3 pitted old Porsche 911 vs. less old 911, with Shay Campbell’s 996 chassis 911 walking away from John Carver’s 993, 1:59.344 versus a 2:23.328.
Both TTB and C had one competitor each: Rod Kujaczynski and his GTI in TTC, and Richard Theissen and his 2012 STI in TTB. Despite being in different classes they finished with somewhat similar times: Richard posted a best time of 1:59.739, and Rod threw down a 1:58.286. Both of those times would’ve been competitive in TT1 given the conditions. Let it be said yet again: rain is the great equalizer.
TTE had Jeb Brown in his GC chassis Impreza duking it out with Ben Lamberson in his Audi 90 Quattro. Having been in the Audi I can tell you it has… heart? Ben hustled it to a solid 2:08.142, which wasn’t quite good enough to take the class win. Jeb ran a 2:04.179

NASA Utah round 2 Lightning race group Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (6 of 20)

The Lightning race pitted the usual Spec Miatas against the Spec Zs, with a PTE entry and a GTS2 class car in the mix as well. It also featured something somewhat out of place: Mike Mielke’s American Iron class Pontiac Firebird. Usually the big V8 cars run either against each other in the Thunder race (ST, SU) or against the clock (TT), so seeing the bird running with the smaller cars was a bit different. Or maybe the weather was finally getting to me, not 100% sure, but Mike was out there taking every placed on the podium in AI.
Other driver’s taking first and last in their respective classes were Jim Miller in GTS2, and Allan Anderson in PTE. Not having any class competition doesn’t mean that they didn’t have care-free racing. In addition to the weather they had a three car Spec Z field and a five car Spec Miata field to contend with.
Spec Z displayed a trio of properly prepped race cars, wearing mostly OEM 350Z wheels and tires. Why? Because the tires wrapped around the factory wheels are better capable at handling the odd downpour than the slicks Arthur, Tom and Paul usually run. That said, Arthur Golebiowski made the best use of the stock rubber taking top spot on the podium. Tom Kaminski placed second and Paul House rounded out the podium.
The field of Miatas seemed to enjoy the rain. They would playfully splash in the puddle at the exit of turn two, then slide their way out of it and continue with their lap. David Sherman made it around first, followed by McKay Snow with Chris Bond in third. How long until we see McKay join his brother and mother in the SU field? I don’t know, but I’ve got “It was a Snow-y day in SU” lined up and ready to go when he does.

NASA Utah round 2 Thunder race group Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (12 of 29)

Speaking of SU: it had a new, but familiar competitor! Kyle Schick made the jump to door to door racing, and picked an utterly awful day to do so. That said, he didn’t do too badly considering the seasoned field he was up against. John Scarlett ran away with the win, and Lara Tallman came in third… Behind Wild Schick Racing, aka Kyle. Yes, in his debut race he took second! Can we attribute this to a diminished field and the weather? Probably, but still: second place in that weather behind John Scarlett is not a bad first outing.
The Smith-Burke duo, bolstered by their sideways TT run, took first in ST1. They were the only ones in the class, but it was still an impressive run.
ST2 was a two man battle between Dave Dingman, who returned in his bananas Miata, and Brendon in his rain tire shod Evo. While Brendon had rain tires he was missing some other crucial pieces of equipment: windshield wipers and a defroster. I watched an in car video of his qualifying run, and by the end you couldn’t see a thing. Half way through it was looking dicey. Nonetheless Brendon got out there and battled with Dave, who picked a bad day to make his return. Dave took the win in the poor conditions, proving that Miata is the answer.
I want to take a moment, and propose that we start referring to ST3 as “The Mustang and Occasional Others” class, because the majority of the field is comprised of Mustangs. That said, only one Mustang put itself on the podium: Gary Free took third place, ahead of fellow Mustang driver Travis Williams, but behind Cary Wilson’s Corvette. Alex Whetman, and the Focus of Doom, took the top spot in the rain.

NASA Utah round 2 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (6 of 15)

People were having a tough time with the rain, but most people over came this. The open wheel racers were having a more difficult time than others. Why? Because of how they work. They need downforce to grip, and to create downforce they need air to move over the car to push the car down into the ground. To get enough air moving over the car they need to go fast. This is not a problem when it’s a nice, warm day; however, when it is raining cats and dogs and all sorts of other animals it begins very difficult. This was evident between turns five and six. Everybody got sideways at the least, and spun around in the dirt at the most. Thankfully everybody finished their races, nobody had a major incident.
In race one Terry Biner took top spot in Super Formula, followed by the #5 car of David Lockwood and the #12 car of Steve Burns. In Formula Chris Taylor took the win, followed by Steven Costello. The results in the second Formula race were the same, while in Super Formula Terry Biner took another win while Steve Burns took second.

NASA Utah round 2 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (12 of 15)

It was a rough day for us all, rougher for some than others, but all in all it was a good day. Everyone came in cold and wet, but under their own power. The next event is on May 24th and 25th, where hopefully we won’t have another storm. Either way, we’ll be out there and we hope to see you guys there too!

Words and photos by Michael Chandler.  All results courtesy of

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Michael Chandler

Director of Photography, writer, man about town and owner of Big Ronda, the Mk3 Toyota Supra project

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