The NASA Utah season ended with one final race, and for those who stuck around got their money’s worth. A series of endurance races were run, concurrently, with one ending two hours in, another at four hours and the final big daddy race ending after a staggering SIX hours! Once again Travis Williams, Jason Smith and Todd Ainsworth entered the six hour race; however, Todd joined up with NASA Utah director Matt Guiver and Spec Miata hot shoe Todd Green in a Miata, while Jason and Travis grabbed Alex Honing to pilot the #22 Discount Tire/Innovative Garage/Asea/CAMautoMag FR500S. This is a story about these two teams… For the most part.
They were by no means the only warriors out on the track that day, nor were they the only ones competing in the six hour race. However the field was small. Almost criminally small. At the end of the six hours only five cars crossed the line. After two hours Bob Evans had burned enough gas to make his weekend worth while, after four hours the #25 VP Racing Fuels Mustang took top honors. The final two hours left the #503 Towne Storage/RaceCo FR500s, the #22 Discount Tire/Innovative Garage/Asea/CAMautoMag FR500S, the #58 Miata of team Green/Guiver/Ainsworth, the #13 Miata (which was driven by a lone madman!) and the #54 BMW 3 Series.
The lack of partners made dancing hard, but endurance races are not won with heroics on the track. They are won and lost in the pit stall!
This is where we join the #22. Travis took the first stint, and did well. He didn’t wrap his exhaust around an axle, nor did the clutch mysteriously die. It was a solid effort. Travis came out (with the hope of OP Anderson) and Alex hopped in. While he was adjusting the Mustang to him and vice-versa, the crew was hard at work fueling the car. All went smoothly. The car took all the fuel it could and Alex took off without incident.
With the car away and everyone in the garage it was time for Travis to relay information to Jason. Quick aside, I had been snapping photos of Travis from the moment Alex pulled away. Problem was Travis wasn’t wearing his hat. I’m fairly confident he would’ve been hatless for a bit longer if he didn’t notice my large self (clad in a bright orange vest mind you) going nuts with my camera. Anyway, I had forced Travis into a hat and Jason was explaining something with his hands when the team received some troubling news…
During the stop, while the car was drinking in its necessary fluid, some of the fuel had spilled. This was a problem and required some sort of punishment.
And so it came to pass that Alex would come in to top off and then sit in the penalty box for five minutes. It was EXCRUCIATING. It was only five minutes, 1.3% of the race, but it was five minutes of NOTHING. Five minutes of hearing your fellow competitors lap you. Three hundred seconds of scheming on how you’re going to make up the lost laps. And then they send you off.
And away he went. While the #22 was dealing with penalties and a herd of Jasons, the #58 was dealing with a slight issue of their own…
I went over to their garage to see what was keeping them off the track. I wandered in, said hi to Matt and Todd and watched as they (along with Todd Green and Alex Whetman) tore at the motor. I became curious, and began inching towards the open engine bay.
The valve cover was off, I could see that much. Beyond that I couldn’t tell what they were after. I asked Matt, who after saying hi to me and asking how I was (he’s such a courteous fella!) told me that THEY BROKE A CAMSHAFT.
Not sure how they did it, or where they got the spare bump stick from, but they broke one and managed to replace it. They then stuffed Todd into the car so he could go forth and conquer! Wait, no not conquer… Well, he went out and raced and by god did he race!
They didn’t win their class FYI, but you try telling them they didn’t put on one helluva show!
Back in the #22 things were race-y as well. Alex put the moves on the lone BMW going into turn one and held the position. Passes are great, as are hot laps, but unfortunately they eat tires and fuel. So after draining the fuel cell as much as he could, Alex came in for tires, fuel and a driver change.
The car was brought into the garage for servicing so more things could be done at once. Both right side tires were swapped for fresh (ish) rubber as the car was being fueled. Alex climbed out, relayed information to Jason, then got out of the way.
Jason hopped in and zoned out. While there was a flurry of activity around the car he remained in a state of calm. After the car received its last drops of fuel Jason fired it up, back it out of the garage and headed for the track itself. Soon after his departure the team was hit with ANOTHER five minute penalty. As per the rules of the class they could only add ten gallons of fuel to the car per stop. They added more than that. Jason was told to come in and sit in the penalty box…
Back on the track it was becoming obvious to everyone that the race was winding down. At this point all everyone wanted to do was bring their cars home in one piece and celebrate a race well run and an amazing year of racing. But there was still some time on the clock…
The drivers hustled around the outer loop in the fading light for a little while longer, which led to dramatic pictures for myself.
And then the checkered flag dropped
Much to the dismay of some…
The drivers made their ways back to the pits, where congratulations were shared, hugs were given and team photos were taken.
Some worked out…
…while others worked it!
Winners were declared, and awards and prizes were given out. Hands were shaken and we all agreed that we would come back and try to do this again next season.
And so ends the NASA Utah season. Well, there was a banquet but we didn’t go, but that’s beside the point. It was an amazing year for everyone involved. A lot of new people came out and got involved, and tragically we had to say goodbye to someone who wanted to keep pushing forward. We look forward to the 2014 season with optimism, knowing that those who organize and run the events want the same things we do: more people participating in racing in a safe manner and good times doing what we love doing.
We here at CAM would like to thank all of those who have raced, organized, and helped out the racers and organizers and us this season. In no particular order, we say thanks to:
- Roger Miller and Matt Guiver
- Cole, Pete, Trent and everyone at RaceCo
- Jason and Tyler at Innovative Garage
- George, Ryan, Dave, TJ and Jonny at Ziptie Dynowerks
- Greg Valdez
- Shawn Murphy
- Kyle Schick
- Michael Wells
- Brendon Stewart
- Todd Green and the rest of the Spec Miata racers
- Sally McNulty
- George Smith
- The staff of Miller Motorsports Park
- All of the NASA Utah staff
- Anyone who came out this season to support their friends and loved ones as they raced or went through the HPDE program
- You, the readers
- The racers, because without you we’d be standing around a ribbon of tarmac in the middle of cattle country.
We will be back next year for the 2014 NASA Utah season, we hope you join us and we especially hope to see you at the track!
Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.