14th Oct2016

2016 TresDuro: Tres Means Three Part 1

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

The 2016 NASA Utah season came to an end this past weekend.  I know, I’m sad too.  But instead of the usual, conventional, “one track configuration for the entire weekend” business that we’ve seen at every other weekend this year; Dave, Matt, and Momma NASA (Cheri Miller) had something special for the end of the year.  Instead of running the Outer Loop, or the East track, or even the Full track, they arranged it so the drivers could race on ALL THREE IN THE SAME DAY!!! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the TresDuro.

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IT’S BACK, BABY!  Just like last year, and the year before; BUT, unlike last year, they were blowing the dust off the gigantic Full track.  To the best of my knowledge, the last time the Full track was run was two years ago.  I should probably explain how one wins the TresDuro, since it has been a year.  It’s pretty simple for the race groups: you qualify once, and start the first race from that position.  Where you finished in that race is where you start the next race from.  Where you finish also gives you points.  Driver/team with the most points at the end of the third race wins.  For TT: they take your fastest times on each track, add them together, and person with the lowest overall time is the winner.  Got it?

It’s been a hot minute, but the drivers managed to drive the track without getting lost or forgetting which configuration they were driving!  However, the weekend wasn’t without incident.  That incident, while unfortunate, provides a convenient segue into the actual race coverage.

THUNDER

German Touring Series Unlimited

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Taking home the win in GTSU by a mere 5 points was Makes & Models, in their Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo 620-2.  Their main competition throughout the day was David Donner, in his Porsche 911GT3R.  You know, the other Effort Racing car that showed up at Air Power Racing at the beginning of this year.  David had the pace to run away with it, but a broken axle in race 2 served up the win to Makes & Models.  The TresDuro would hinge on the third and final race.  The Lamborghini was on the pole, and Les Long’s 997 Cup car was starting from second.  And then this happened.

This is video of the start of the third race, shot from Michael Eifling’s ST1 Corvette.  It was uploaded by Brendon Stewart, driver of the Makes & Models Huracan.  FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve known Brendon for many years, long before he was working and driving for Makes & Models.  Makes & Models has been friendly with us, we have stickers on the Huracan and a few other Makes & Models cars.  That said, it’s pretty clear Les makes a move to the left to keep the Lamborghini behind him.  Then as the Lambo starts moving to his right and passing him, he moves to the right and pushes him West pit out.  The result of all of these moves was the Huracan spinning out in turn one, and having to rejoin at the back of the field.  Despite that, Brendon fought through the field and finished second.

 

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5 points behind Makes & Models was David Donner.  It’s been a few rounds since we’ve seen him at UMC, but he’s been spending that time wisely.  He’s very in tune with the 911 GT3R, and showed INSANE pace in the first race.  Good God was he flying!  David, I’m begging you!: come out for more races!  I’d love to see you, David Lockwood, Derek, and the DXDT guys have an all out death match (not really a battle to the death, but you know what I mean) one NASA weekend.  Do it for me, do it for the children, do it for America!  Or England if your James Burke.

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In third place, with 255 points, was Les Long.  He narrowly edged out David Lockwood for the final podium spot.  Les is a really good driver, but I’m not used to seeing him drive as aggressively as he did on Saturday.  From what I’ve seen over the years, he is most definitely not a dirty driver.  Just an aggressive driver, something we typically enjoy.  While he may be at fault for the incident at the beginning of the third race, I think he just got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Super Touring 1

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Being alone in a class has advantages sometimes, and Michael Eifling took full advantage of being the sole ST1 driver.  He took the fight to Robert Gardner, in the orange Jagermeister Porsche, and they had amazing battles all day long.  Good on ya Michael!  Thanks for not just turning laps, and taking the easy win.  Also, thank for bringing Buddha!

Super Touring 2

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ST2 started the day with two competitors: JR Smith in his Porsche Boxster, and Toby Crawford in his Subaru BRZ.  By the end of the first race, there was only one.  The head gaskets in Toby’s BRZ let go, allowing the man, the myth, the legend that is JR Smith to take the win.

Super Touring 3

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ST3 had a field of 5 cars: four of the Ford Performance Racing School BOSS 302 FRSes and the Minion mobile, the UAO Clothing M3.  I know I saw Alex in the car on Saturday, so I’m going to say it was he who won the shiny, not chocolate filled gold medal for ST3.  I’m sure I’ll hear about it if I’m wrong, but until then: congratulations Alex! UPDATE: Todd Ainsworth also drove on Saturday. Matt Guiver probably wasn’t in the car on Saturday, so we can rule him out.  So congratulations Todd and Alex on the win!

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In second place was Frank Gannett.  Frank the Tank has been pounding away in that Mustang, and doing a damn good job too.  Hopefully we see Frank in a different chassis next season, preferably one that doesn’t belong to the fine folks at the Ford Performance Racing School.

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Rounding out the podium was Josh Williams, in the #85 FPRS BOSS 302 FRS.  It’s in my favorite color, which makes it the best looking Mustang they have at the school.  Ask for it by name!

Super Unlimited

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Super Unlimited also had a five car field, but unlike the ST3 field there wasn’t a dominant model in the field.  There was; however, a dominant team: CA Sport.  They represented four of the five cars, the fifth being George Smith’s Corvette.  It was also a rather diverse field: the aforementioned Corvette, a PWC TC Class 370Z, a widebody E92 M3, and a pair of Cayman GT4 Clubsports.  It was one of those Caymans, the #41 driven by Andrew Smith, that took home the win.

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Chasing Andrew was Davis Warnock, in the #70 CA Sport Cayman GT4 Clubsport.  It was really fun watching these two cars duke it out for first place, and mix it up with some of the other classes.  And the new liveries look great.

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Locking out the podium for CA Sport was Lara Tallman in the 370Z.  Hey!  I just noticed that it has one blue mirror!  I like that.  And also congratulations to CA Sport for locking out the podium!  That quite the feat, especially considering who all could’ve run in the class and taken a spot on the podium.

And there you have it for Thunder!  Looking for Lightning or Time Trial?  I’ve got those in their own posts, so you don’t have a 3000+ word article to rifle through

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
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29th Apr2016

Weekend Wallpaper April 28

by Michael Chandler

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Hey look! A pretty awesome new wallpaper for you.  Enjoy!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
28th Apr2016

The Race For The Auld Mug: NASA Utah Round 2 Thunder Results

by Michael Chandler

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It’s just not a NASA Utah season without at least one rainy day.  Conveniently,  Mother Nature decided to bring the rain for round two, and so the annual NASA Utah Regatta was under way.  If you’ve been a loyal reader this week, or if you’re not blind, you’ll have come to the conclusion that this is the Thunder Group write up.  These guys, in their high horsepower and high downforce cars, got lucky and qualified in the dry!  But the photo above is from lap one of the race on Saturday, which is clearly not dry.  A some of the field packed it in when the rain began falling at lunch time, which led to a total of ten entrants in the race.  Let’s talk about those brave sailors, and how they finished.

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Byron Smith was the lone GTS4 entrant, and completed 11 laps in the rain.  He had a best lap of 2:00.717, and took home a gold medal for his troubles.

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Russ Timmons made an appearance in his orange and chrome 997.  Always enjoy seeing that car on track.  Russ was alone in GTS5, so he could have completed less than the 7 he did and still would have taken home a medal.

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We had a couple of rookies in ST3!  Both Frank Gannett and James Harrell were both out in Boss 302RS’s from the Ford Performance Racing School.  Frank, in the black #93 Mustang, didn’t do anything meme worthy on Saturday and took home the win.

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ST2 was another solitary car field, and that man was J.R. Smith.  He, and the nobles steed that is the E36 M3, ran 11 laps en-route to a class win.

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So, I only heard that Air Power Racing had both of the former Effort Racing 911 GT3Rs, but I needed confirmation before saying something like “holy f&#king ass crackers!  Air Power has both of the Effort cars!”.  On Saturday I got that confirmation, because both cars were out for qualifying.  David Donner went out in the #41 car as the lone Super Unlimited entrant, finished on the lead lap, and ran a 1:43.699!  In the rain!  In one of the widest 911s I’ve ever seen!

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As mentioned earlier, wonder kid Madison Snow was out in the UIS Huracan.  And since he has significantly more experience in said platform he dominated the GTSU field.  He took the win by 18.603 seconds, and his fastest lap was near-as-makes-no-difference a full second faster than Derek Wolthoff’s in the second place Makes & Models Huracan.

The GTSU and SU competitors were ridiculously fast for being in the rain.  The Thunder group races are going to be bleeding speed from every pore this season, and we can’t wait to see what happens when these guys are let loose on the Outer Loop of Full Track!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
17th Mar2016

Have Yourself a New Wallpaper

by Michael Chandler

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Gavin snapped this sweet photo of the UIS Porsche coming through Release, with the Air Power Racing 911 GT3R in tow.  It looked so good, that we’re giving it to you in Wallpaper form.  Set this thing as your desktop wallpaper, and enjoy turning on your computer.

Photo by Gavin Pouquette!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
16th Sep2014

2014 Utah Grand Prix Day 1

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

When Miller Motorsports Park released their 2014 schedule many, many months ago, I saw the Utah Grand Prix in September.  You remember Trent went to it years ago and got some very cool shots.  Well, now was my turn.  So I put in my application for credentials a few months in advance… And was told by John Gardener, the Marketing Communications Manager at Miller Motorsports Park, that I needed to resubmit them when the event was about a month out and that I wouldn’t have any issues getting credentials.  So I waited some more, resubmitted and was granted them!  I was going to my first big boy event, where there would be very serious photographers and big name manufacturers.  The scale of the event didn’t really hit me until the night before, when I felt like a very small fish in a very large pond.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and side tracked.  First, let’s talk about exactly what the Utah Grand Prix is.  This year there was NASCAR K&N West Series racing (which you’ll see in part two of this), Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy racing (All Porsche 911s, all of the time), Miller GT and United States Touring Car Championship (Your local favorites and the USTCC field running all at once), and finally Pirelli World Challenge Championship racing.  AKA SCCA World Challenge, this is the other big sports car racing series in the US.  This event was also a make up for the rained out opening round, and the season finale!  Championships were on the line!  And for those staring blankly at the screen, wondering what World Challenge is, here’s a break down:

GT/GTA/GTS

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Ahh, Grand Touring.  The Gentlemanly auto racers.  Actually, it’s mostly sports cars of varying degrees.  As we reported, World Challenge will let you run FIA GT3 spec cars in GT and GTA, which is why you see the Bentley Continental GT3 bearing down on the GTS class Kia Optima.  GT and GTA is the home of the GT3 cars (Continental GT3, McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, etc) along with Cadillac CTS-V.Rs, the Acura TLX GT (which was wrecked in the previous race and wasn’t repaired in time for this one), and in genreral cars that were too much for GTS (Alex Loyd’s Corvette and Louis-Phillip Montour’s Dodge Viper).  GTS is home to more pedestrian entries, if you want to call them that.  Mustang Boss 302S’s, Nissan 370Zs, Chevrolet Camaros, and Porsche Caymans represent the majority of the field.  Also running in the class are the Kia Optimas and Aston Martin GT4s, with the Kias competing for the Manufacturer’s Title in class.

TC/TCA/TCB

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TC is short for Touring Car, and if you’ve ever watched any of European Touring Car series then you know how wild the econo boxes can be!  Sorry, sport “sedans”; although, as you can see the Skullcandy Altima is a coupe.  That’s neither here nor there.  TC and TCA is populated by small displacement rear wheel drive cars, like the Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe and the venerable Mazda MX-5 Miata, and front wheel drive cars like Civic Si’s, Altimas and Jetta GLIs.  TCB is the land of the little B Spec cars, Honda Fits, Mini Coopers and Fiat 500s.  Armed with this knowledge, lets get on with this story.

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I had to be at the track early.  Not pre-dawn early, but early for someone who is usually ready to face the day at the crack of noon.  I arrived, got my wrist band and found a seat in the media center.  I chatted with Michael Wells, and finally met Chance Hales.  After the meeting, Chance, myself and Shawn Pierce, who shoots for NoBraking.com, piled in to my Subaru and made our way to some corners for the practice sessions of GT/A/S TC/A/B and Miller GT.

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By lunch we made our way half way around the track.  We formed a plan for the qualifying sessions and races, and made our way to the paddock.  I dropped them at the Media Center and made my way to RaceCo to chat with Cole Powelson and Kyle Schick, and meet up with Derrick Wolthoff of Makes and Models and TW Racing.  On the way I ran into George Smith, and asked him why he suddenly disappeared from the Miller GT session.  The crank sensor in his Corvette failed, and it was an all hands on deck effort to replace it.

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Eventually I made it to the Makes and Models garage just in time to tag along with Derrick to talk about getting some fuel from some people.  Those people happened to be Audi Customer Support Racing, Global Motorsports Group and Mike Skeen who was #2 in GT Driver’s championship.  While Derrick was conducting business, I wandered about the paddock and got some photos.  I would’ve stayed for more photos, but the next session was coming up quick so I had to get my car and grab Chance and Shawn.

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Not without getting a little sidetracked though.  The Black Swan Racing SLS AMG GT3 is the most gorgeous car in the field, hands down.  And the KPAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3s have names: Reginald and Edward.  Why they’re named that is beyond me, but it led me to thinking of names for the Cadillacs and the Bentleys.  The Caddys are George and James, while the Bentleys are Lord Percival Umberbottom and Duke Albert Thistleton IV.  I didn’t ask either team if they would consider naming or changing the names of their cars, but I think Cadillac would’ve been a bit more receptive to the idea.

Anyway, Chance and Shawn decided they wanted to skip the next session, and go grab some food.  I agreed with this, and off we went.

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After lunch we made our way to Witchcraft and The Attitudes for the Pirelli GT3 Cup race, which had a healthy amount of local Drivers in it who had quite a showing.  David Donner, Alan and Desire Wilson, John Scarlett, Les Long and Darrell Troester all demonstrated what is meant by a home field advantage.  We stayed in the attitudes for the World Challenge GT qualifier, before making our way down to turn one for the start of the TC race.

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And what a start it was! In the opening lap Paul Holton in the #65 Shea Racing Honda Fit collided with, and almost drove over top of, the #58 Racing.ca Mini Cooper of Glenn Nixon.  Somehow Holton’s Fit was able to continue with the race.  The same could not be said for Nixon’s Mini.  Both drivers received Driver Conduct penalties, $1000 fines and lost 20 points each.  Holton finished 9th in class, and 22nd overall while Brian Price in the #51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit finished first in TCB.  Adam Poland in the Eastex Motorsports MX-5 Miata took the TC class win, and Nic Jonsson took the TCA win in Russell Smith’s #38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup.  After the track was cleaned up, it was time for the GT race.

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Before I tell you about the race itself, I need to tell you something we were told in the media meeting.  We were told we couldn’t be on the pit wall for the beginning of the GT race.  Why? World Challenge does a standing start, like Formula 1 does.  Most of the time, this isn’t an issue but lately drivers stalling on the start has been a problem.  When a driver stalls, and is in the middle or front of the grid, everyone behind him has to take evasive maneuvers.  Sometimes these maneuvers result in collisions, which can send pieces of the cars flying.  So for our safety, we weren’t allowed on the pit wall for the start of the race.

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This was a good thing, because guess what happened.  The GTS Kias got into each other, and Mike Skeen broke an axle in his Audi R8 LMS Ultra.  Mike made it off track under his own power, but the Kias had to be towed off.  This immediately brought out the yellow flag and the safety car.  Since this was a timed race, some of the other photographers began getting worried/annoyed, which led me to cracking off a one liner.  It was not well received.  Anyway, the Kias were finally removed, and the green flag flew again.

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After watching the calamity of turn one iron itself out (everyone is trying to get around everyone else.  Remember the incident between the Fit and the Mini?), we made our way over to the Clubhouse to grab some photos of the final three turns, where more calamity ensued.

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An incident occurred as soon as we got to Clubhouse turn.  The #6 KPAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C of Robert Thorne got into the back of the #96 Capaldi Racing/Dat Dog Ford Mustang Boss 302S of Brad Adams, causing both cars to spin out right in front of the massive and massively fast Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3s and Cadillac Racing CTS-V.Rs.  Thankfully nobody else was involved in the spin.

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With Mike Skeen’s race over before it began the battle for the podium came down to two iconic luxury marques: Bentley and Cadillac.  Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim battled the Bentleys of Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger for two of the top three spots.  When the dust settled, Guy Smith was atop the podium.  His Continental beat out O’Connell’s CTS-V.R by 3.47 seconds for the top spot.  It was very nearly a 1-2 finish for the Brits, but Johnny held Leitzinger off by less than 1/10 of a second!

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Michael Mills in the #41 Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R took the GTA class win, and without the class leading Kias in his way or Driver’s Championship leader Lawson Aschenbach’s Black Dog Speed Shop Camaro ZL1 to worry about Nick Esayian cruised to victory in GTS in his TRG-AMR North America Natural Cures Aston Martin GT4.

And that wraps up the first of two days I spent at the Utah Grand Prix.  Stay tuned for Day 2, which held the Pirelli World Challenge final races, the Miller GT race, and the NASCAR K&N West Series race!  Below are a few galleries, neatly organized by series.

World Challenge GT/A/S

World Challenge TC/A/B

Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy

Miller GT

 

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.