31st Mar2014

NASA Utah 2014 Round 1: Thunder and Lightning

by Michael Chandler

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (55 of 105)

The first NASA Utah weekend of the year brought with it its fair share of action.  From new track records to people driving the wheels off their cars, local hero’s, rookies, and national champs all came out to enjoy Utah regions Round 1.  Over 100 drivers challenged Miller Motorsports Park’s outer loop configuration, and our Thunder and Lightning race group featured well over 40 cars on grid for the start of Saturdays race!

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (8 of 105)

David Donner

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (1 of 14)

Peter Spencer

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (25 of 105)

John Scarlett

The GTS drivers were out in force, and entirely in Porsche 911s.  In GTSU David Donner put his red and white Air Power Racing prepped machine in First place ahead of Peter Spencer and John Scarlett, both also in Air Power Racing machines. 

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (12 of 14)

Roberto Albarran leading the pack

 

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (1 of 105)

Alan Wilson

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (10 of 14)

Russ Timmons

GTS5 demonstrated some close racing between Alan Wilson and Roberto Albarran, with Roberto edging out Alan by just under 1 second, despite Alan posting better lap times.  Russ Timmons debuted his beautiful new orange and chrome wrap job to round out 3rd.  Sundays race was another barn burner for these two, Alan was leading a close battle when a daring move in lap traffic, quickly turned into a carefully managed spin, moving him to 2nd, but with Desire supporting over the radio, Alan climbed back into 2nd place, while Mark Brouse finished 3rd.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (11 of 105)

Darrell Troester

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (86 of 105)

Chris Vivolo

 GTS4 was a two man battle between Darrell Troester and Chris Vivolo in their Tatum Racing 911s.  When the checkered flag dropped it was Darrell taking the class win.  Darrell was able to repeat his victory on Sunday, securing a healthy lead for his season.

 

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (93 of 105)

Douglas Turnquist

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (69 of 105)

Bill Noblitt

In the Pro Touring classes it was Douglas Turnquist versus Bill Noblitt in PTB and Todd Green versus his Miata in PTE.  Douglas put his Porsche 944 ahead of Bill Noblit’s Boxster, which retired early due to a mechanical issue.

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (14 of 14)

Todd Green ahead of the Spec Miata group

Todd Green had an exciting Saturday in PTE. After only 4 laps his driver’s front wheel decided it wanted to take a lap off.  It took the hub and brake rotor off into the infield while Todd wrangled the rest of the car to a stop just outside of turn 6. Determined to get back in the game he recruited Matt Guiver and Travis Tidball to sacrifice the E3 Miata sitting quietly in the garage.  Todd worked hard and got his #60 PTE Miata back on the grid in time to edge out Allan Anderson for the class win on Sunday.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (45 of 105)

Chris Bond

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (40 of 105)

David Sherman

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (64 of 105)

Troy Duffin

In other Miata racing news, Chris Bond was your Spec Miata winner, ahead of David Sherman and Troy Duffin respectively.  Rounding out the class were McKay Snow, Paul McGarvey, and rookie Joe Shubert.  David came back with all cylinders firing on Sunday and put down some consistent laps to take 1st place, Troy Duffin clinched 2nd, and Chris Bond had to settle for 3rd.  Larry Carpenter had his hands full keeping cars tuned up for this competitive class.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (50 of 105)

Arthur Golebiowski leading Tom Kaminski into Release

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (44 of 105)

Paul House

Spec Z featured all rookie drivers, in 3 brand new Nissan 350Z Spec racers. Spec racing rules meant the cars were nearly identical, but Arthur Golebiowski, Tom Kaminski, and Paul House drove them very differently.  Arthur wrestled his Strace Z into first, Tom pedaled to 2nd place, and Paul closed the race in 3rd. Arthur even took home a BFG R1 race tire, and $250 from Nissan for his debut race with NASA Utah.  Sunday saw a surprise reversal, Thomas managed to take advantage of traffic to secure 1st place, even though Arthur set a new Spec Z track record with a 2:11.4 his effort was only good enough 2nd.  Paul managed to bring it home in one piece for 3rd. All weekend these three drivers could be found in the paddock discussing strategy, and working on each other’s cars, it’s always nice to see camaraderie in the race grids.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (103 of 105)

Samuel Kapp

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (84 of 105)

Otto Silva

Rounding out the Spec classes is Spec 944, which was the closest racing of the day!  Samuel Kapp in his Eurotonic backed 944 battled with Otto Silva and his orange Euroworks machine.  It was close, but Samuel took the win by .396 seconds after 10 laps on this 3 mile course!

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (9 of 14)

Madison Snow battling Todd Ainsworth

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (4 of 14)

Smith-Burke Racing on their way to setting a new NASA Utah record

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (9 of 105)

Dan Worley sporting a temporary two tone color scheme

Super Touring was a dense field, with the quickest cars and some very experienced drivers at the wheels.  It also featured the widest variety of vehicles. From Alex Whetman’s Focus of Doom to Madison Snow’s IMSA GTD class 991 Porsche that sees action in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.  There are also a good handful of Corvettes, and in ST1 is where we find the 2013 National champ Team Smith-Burke Corvette.  They were competing with Dan Worley and his Chevy LS1 powered Porsche 944.  They came out of the box with a fast pace, opening up a 1:15.701 gap, and setting a new NASA Utah record in the process.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (38 of 105)

Byron Smith

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (4 of 105)

Brendon Stewart

ST2 had old hand Byron Smith in his BMW against rookie Brendon Stewart in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.  Brendon was hoping to not have a repeat of last season’s catastrophic failures and missed races, and things seemed to be working great.  However an incident with the the #33 Skullcandy Team Nissan Altima in Clubhouse turn resulted in a spin, and driver penalties for Brendon.  Determined to learn from his mistake, Brendon found the very small pieces of his bumper, and got the car back together to take 1st on Sunday with a 2:05.4.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (27 of 105)

Cary Wilson

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (15 of 105)

Alex Whetman

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (70 of 105)

Gary Free

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (39 of 105)

Ryan Curl

ST3 was the deepest class with eleven drivers, seven of whom with driving FR500S Mustangs.  Of the Mustang drivers, R. Ryan Curl proved to be the fastest, coming in fifth in class behind Todd Ainsworth’s Us Against One Clothing backed Subaru WRX STi.  Cary Wilson took the class win in his gray C5 Corvette, earning some Hoosier race tires for his efforts, and Alex Whetman’s managed his Focus into second despite a catastrophically failed power steering pump. His effort was good for a contingency award for 1 free BFG R1! Gary Free’s RaceCo prepped Mustang FR500S rounded out the podium in what is shaping up to be an exciting season. Sunday saw Cary once again secure 1st place, while battling a new to him car, Todd Ainsworth drove the UAO STi to 2nd place, and Ryan Curl put down a blistering pace in his Ford Racing school FR500S easily securing 3rd place with a 2:13.9.

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (11 of 14)

Madison Snow in the #13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche

NASA Utah Round 1 CAMautoMag Michael Wells (3 of 14)

2013 National Champ George Smith

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (80 of 105)

Melanie Snow

SU was the class to watch.  Two IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship Porsches paired off against the two Skullcandy Team Nissan Altimas which see action in Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge.  Also in the fray were 2014 NASA SU National Champion George Smith and NASA Rookie Skip Sasser in Chevrolet S10. The Nissan’s were plagued by problems: the #33 had an incident with ST2 driver Brendon Stewart, while the #34 Nissan had clutch issues which forced them to retire after eight laps. No stranger to the race track, Skip Sasser drove his #38 S10 to a fourth place finish behind Melanie Snow in the #62 UIS Snow Racing Porsche 911.  Ahead of her was George Smith in the yellow JDP sponsored C5 Corvette.  And topping the SU podium in 1st place, Madison Snow. The 2013 IMSA GT3 Cup champion had a commanding lead by the time the checkered flag dropped.  Sunday saw Les Long owner/operator of Air Power racing get behind the wheel of his Super Unlimited GT3, but there was nothing he could do to compete with Madison Snow. Driving hard, Madison managed a record shattering 1:52.0 to secure the win.

NASA Utah Round 1 Thunder and Lightning group CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (95 of 105)

And so ends a successful opening weekend to the NASA Utah season.  The next race weekend is April 25-27 on the West track.  Registration is open and we look forward to seeing everyone return for Round 2 of the NASA Utah racing series

Words by Michael Chandler and Matt Guiver, Photos by Michael Chandler and Michael Wells

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
12th Feb2014

Bad Luck Brendon

by Michael Chandler

Lap Battle HPDE3-1

Hitting every light on the way to work and showing up half an hour late. Parking seventeen miles away from the mall entrance, and coming out to see that not only has someone parked next to you BUT they have completely ignored the lines and are millimeters from your car’s door. Running out of gas. All of these are considered bouts of “bad luck”. Brendon Stewart laughs at your bad luck. Why does he laugh at your pain? Because while you were sitting in traffic he was in his garage replacing his second transfer case pinion gear. While you were contemplating teaching that fellow a lesson, he was missing ANOTHER race weekend because his Evo decided to not want to work. What was he doing while you were trudging to the gas station, readying your body for the gouging you were about to receive? Well, let’s just say it was worse than that…

Despite all of the problems, Brendon is hopeful for the 2014 season. He sat down with me to talk about last year’s problems and this years plans.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-82

What happened last season?

In general what happened?

Yeah, in general what happened.

Oh man, last season was tough. I had a lot of really unfortunate situations with mechanical failures in the car. Just seemed like every single time I went out I didn’t ever have a very successful day, until the very last race of the year; so I was always working the car and everything was always not right.

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The most spectacular failure that we all saw was the fire. What happened there?

Umm, that was incredibly unfortunate because that was a brand new engine. So my stock engine spun a rod bearing after 5000 race miles, which is not really that unusual. It was probably time for a refresh, but because it happened I ended up building an engine. Thought I’d spend the money and make it nice, not cut any corners, and it ran really, really well. It was a really good engine, first day.

It was too good to be true

Second day unfortunately, just kinda down the main straight it spun another bearing and started knocking. And I just tried to limp it around to get back to the pits, and it didn’t even make it another half a lap. It seized, shot a rod through the block and everything caught fire, and that’s that.

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So you said that was a new motor, but was that the original transmission? Did you have to replace that?

I believe that was the original transmission, which has been rebuilt a few times. New synchros, maintenance stuff. There’s never been any catastrophic transmission failure, which is good… yet.

Yet *knocks on wood*

But I have blown through two transfer case pinion gears, two engines in this car now. Umm… I think that’s the extent of the really big problems.

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The really big ones that have sidelined you. Was this your first year doing door to door or your second?

First year doing door to door. I was just working on doing all my individual rookie races done so I could get my full competition license. Unfortunately I was only able to complete two full race days, which actually count, so I still need to work on that. Gonna be an interesting 2014.

Did you have to change anything going from TT (time trail) to ST (door to door)?

Umm yeah, the biggest changes were safety items in the car so I really didn’t have to change a lot of, really anything for rules other than safety cause the power to weight ratio rules and stuff like that were all the same.

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So nothing mechanical wise, just safety stuff.

Exactly. I had to get an updated harness, I had to add either a new seat or a seat brace and I added a seat brace. Window net, fire suppression system. I had to change my roll cage a little bit cause it was uncompliant. But other than that…

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The car is for sale, and all I heard was that you want something V8 and rwd for your next platform. But the car hasn’t sold…

The car has not sold, but I do have an interested person potentially … So we’ll see what happens with that, but if it doesn’t go through then I’ll continue to just race this car through next year. Hopefully work on making it more reliable, and be able to finish developing the car because I still don’t feel that I’ve been able to reach its full potential in its current state.

What were you going to be getting? If the Evo sold you’d be getting…

If the Evo sells, or sold, it’d be an S13 240 chassis with an LS1 V8. Pretty basic, reliable.

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I don’t want this to happen, but I gotta ask: if last season’s events start to repeat (this year) will you just hang it up or will you keep trying to get out there?

I don’t know. That’s a really tough question honestly, because it’s been really difficult to keep going and I have so much passion for this sport that I really want to keep going. But at some point. I don’t know, something needs to change for me to keep being able to do it. If I keep having bad luck, or if there’s a really big problem then it’s going to be tough.

Lap Battle-1

Hopefully you can get back out there! And I noticed something. When the car was orange you had the sock monkey hanging from the riser on the spoiler, and everything was kick ass. Then the next year you didn’t (have the sock monkey) and everything went wrong.

It’s true.

Can you have the sock monkey on the spoiler? Or…

Umm… I’m not sure because I got a lot of grief when it was on the spoiler previously, but they let it slide cause it was actually sewn on and they were afraid it was going to fall off and cause debris. But that was also before we moved into the NASA rule set, so they’re a lot more strict now. But maybe I can put it inside the car now.

Kinda like Mumphrey, with Ryan Gates and his Evo.

One extra horsepower!

 

Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler, Trent Bray and Michael Wells.

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