August 9, 2020

NASA Utah Round 3: Things Happen


Disappointment is a fact of life. All of us will be disappointed at some point, and sometimes it’s a minor disappointment. You get your heart set on that delicious looking burger you’ve seen on TV, so you hit up the drive thru on your way home. You pay, you get home, only to be greeted by soggy fries, a smushed sandwich, and the realization that you just spent $10 and and extra 10 minutes on it. Not a big disappointment, but still a bummer.

Then there are bigger disappointments. You get to a point where you can get your own place. Not a house, but damnit it’s going to be your own place. You find an apartment complex that looks good, check out reviews and talk to tenants. Everything looks good. Your budget allows for rent, renters insurance, and a little something nice for your new place. You go in, sign on the dotted line, and move in. And then you find out that none of your utilities are going to be turned on for at least a week, your upstairs neighbors are a herd of hippos, and those “new” appliances were new in 1988. That’s a huge disappointment compared to the burger.

Saturday’s Thunder race was a disappointment, and its level of disappointment varied depending upon where you were for it. But we’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about some of life’s little victories.

Two hands, buddy

When he wasn’t spilling a Coke all over the garage, Rhett Panter managed to go out and snag himself a class record!

After popping the engine in his Lotus last month, and in a session where he was on old tires and just trying to figure out some issues, David Muskovitz pipped the TT4 class victory from Lynn Hodges.

He popped the motor in his M3, and he had a less than stellar Spec Miata race, but Austin Kent qualified third AND brought the little car home in one piece!

Andy was Andy.

This was an interesting part of the day. Both Toby and Tom are in ST4, and they’re both in BMWs. Chirs Bond is also in ST4, but in a Miata that wound up being much quicker than either of the BMWs. So we got to watch Toby, in his new to him E36, duke it out with Tom, who normally cleans up because he and the car have become one, for second place. Saturday was not Tom’s day, especially after he ran wide in turn one, and Toby could be heard screaming for joy in race control.

Now on to the Thunder race, which seemed like a disappointment, but in reality contained many successes. First was Jason Harward, who was pulling double duty by racing his Lamborghini and his Integra. He took the overall win ahead of Jeff Burton, who bungled the restart JUST enough for Jason to get ahead of him. Why did I say restart?

Because of Stephen Martin’s disappointing race. He locked up going into turn 1, skipped across the kitty litter, hit the tire barrier, and caved in the passenger side of his Spec Z. That brought out a safety car, and the recovery and medical personnel. He drove the car off (because it bounced off the tire barrier, and didn’t get buried), and was cleared by medical.

Arthur should’ve lost this race. His car was having issues, and Chad, Justin, Mike Kresser, and Brendon were all bearing down upon him. But when it looked like his Latvian magic was about to run out, he was saved by an act of god: another safety car.

They say that cautions breed cautions. Jan Gerday, friend of the program, Patron, and recent race winner, was lined up along with everyone else for the restart. Coming through Release she came down towards the apex and pinched Chris Hutchens. Jan spun and nearly collected Henry Hill (dude in the Ecoboost Mustang), and Kyle. Thankfully nobody was collected, but Jan was stalled. She got the car going again, but then parked it in front of the air barriers at the end of the pit wall and on the exit of Release. That brought out the second safety car, and kept Arthur in the lead of the Z field. It also prevented Jeff Burton from mounting a comeback against Jason, and sealed the race for everyone.

I say that because the NASA races are timed, like many of the professional sprint series out there. It’s not who completes the prerequisite number of laps first, it’s who’s completed the most in the 25 minutes allotted for the race. It’s also why there are TT and HPDE sessions following the races: because they’re timed races NASA Utah can have more opportunities for people to get on track and progress through the HPDE program, move into TT, or move into a race group. Disappointing? For the drivers, yes; but it wasn’t all bad. Chris Gibson finally got a win, which is awesome. We got to see how top notch the safety and recovery teams are. We got to see how close some people are to moving to the tops of their classes, and how even a small mistake can result in defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory.

Life can be tremendously disappointing at times, believe me I know. But if you focus on JUST the disappointments, you won’t see the little things that build up and outweigh those disappointments. You won’t see the slivers of light shining down through the clouds, and you won’t see Mike and Karsten fake laughing like they’ve done every time I’ve pointed a camera at them.


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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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