18th Sep2014

2014 Utah Grand Prix Day 2

by Michael Chandler

Utah Grand Prix Day 2 NASCAR Pro Series K&N West Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (2 of 35)

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

No time for pleasantries, let’s get right to it! The day opened up with the second Touring Car class race of the weekend, and while nobody attempted to climb over anybody else there was still some close racing.

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Nathan Stacy came into the Black Rock hairpin too hot in the #14 TSG/Ford Racing Motorsports Development Group Ford Fiesta, opening the door for Brian Price to drive the #51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit right on through.  Unfortunately their battle was for third place, Johan Schwartz used the Schwartz to put his Garrett Racing/Drive4Diabetes Honda fit on top of the podium, with Andrei Kisel in the #57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com Mini Cooper taking home second place.  Despite his third place finish, Brian Price took home the Driver’s Championship for the B Spec Class!

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TCA was an in house battle, with Jason Wolfe and Nik Jonsson battling for the class win.  Jason Wolfe in the #36 Wolfe Trucking/Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup squeaked out a first place finish over Nik Jonsson in the #38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup.  The margin of victory was .003 seconds!  Rounding out the podium was Jason Cherry in the Autism Society of America/Avpro Jets/Purposeful Architecture Shea Racing Mazda MX-5 Miata.  Jason Wolfe’s narrowest of narrow victories cemented his Driver’s Championship.

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Touring Car wasn’t nearly as hotly contested as TCA and B Spec was, but that’s not to say it was completely devoid of action.  Steven Doherty in the #94 Skullcandy/Nissan/GT Academy Altima Coupe fired off a 1:38.411 lap on his way to victory, which was better than the existing track record!  No slouch himself, Michael Pettiford in the #41 Go4It Racing Schools/ Hawk Brakes Pontiac Solstice turned a 1:38.693 lap; however, he could not overcome the lead Doherty had.  Fred Emich, #30 Emich Racing/Emich Volkswagen Jetta GLI had the same problem of an insurmountable lead, but he still parked the Jetta on the podium.  The 4th place finisher would end up taking home the Driver’s Championship: Michael DiMeo in the #71 Grand Alarms/Compass 360 Racing/Children’s Tumor Foundation Honda Civic Si.

The Touring Car classes in World Challenge didn’t garner as large of crowds as the GT classes did, and that’s a bit of a shame in my opinion.  Sure the cars aren’t as fast or as flashy, but the racing is just as good, and just as competitive as it is in the senior circuit.  If you ever get the chance: find a good seat, settle in and watch the entire field go nose to tail and try to get around each other.

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Next on the docket was the Miller GT Challenge group.  The twenty car field consisted of eight of your favorite locals in the title class, nine United States Touring Car Championship drivers, and three USTCC GT drivers.  In the UTSCC field it was a battle of BMWs, with Jason Alexandridis in the #22 Perfromance Technic M3 beating out another M3, this being the #12 of Beau Borders, for the class win.

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In the GT field it was two manufacturers vying for the win.  Unfortunately the #34 GoGoGear.com BMW of Larry Bani retired, relegating him to third place.  Finishing ahead of him was the #16 Red Star Racing BMW of Daniel Akhromstev.  Sitting atop the heap was the #98 Honda S2000 of Andrie Hartanta.

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And finally in Miller GT we saw a three way battle for first place.  Derek Wolthoff in the #08 Makes And Models/TW Racing Audi R8 LMS battled Cindi Lux in the #5 Lux Performance Dodge Viper SRT and Cole Powelson in the #23 AMS Performance/OS Giken/RaceCo Nissan GTR.  The battle raged for twenty-five laps, but nearing the end of the race a piece of the GTR’s under tray came loose and caused them to fall off the pace.  Cindi and Derrick continued the fight, but by the time the checkered flag came down it was Derrick who was in front by 4.7 seconds.

On a side note: Cole Powelson has been a friend of the site’s for many years.  Today he announced that he would be leaving his position at RaceCo to create a new opportunity for himself in motorsports.  All of us here wish him the best of luck going forward, and we can’t wait to see what he ends up doing.

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On to the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GTS race, where championships were on the line!  Well, at least in GTA and GTS, the latter of which is where we begin.  Lawson Aschenbach in the #1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 needed to hold off Jack Baldwin and Mark Wilkins to claim his Driver’s title.  Fortunately for Lawson, and unfortunately for Mark, the prior race’s incident between the Kias left Mark looking up from third place in the standings, and 17th in the race.  Drew Regitz, #02 TRG-AMR Aston Martin GT4, battled with Lawson all race long, but Lawson pulled eeked out a .461 second lead by the drop of the checkered.  Jack Baldwin, in the #73 RESET-MD/GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S took the class win by nearly a second over Lawson, but the win was not enough for Jack to claim the Driver’s Championship from Lawson.

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Less than 100 points separated the contenders for the GTA Driver’s championship, and Michael Mills (#41 Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R) secured his championship with his hard fought third place finish in the race.  Marcelo Hahn in the #0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 narrowly took second place in the race behind the #54 Black River Caviar/Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Tim Pappas. It was Pappas who ran away from the field, and finished with a three second finish over Hahn.

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The GT class featured a podium completely devoid of Driver’s Championship contenders.  Andy Pilgrim, #8 Cadillac Racing CST-V.R, would finish fourth in the driver’s standings but his third place finish in the race secured Cadillac’s Manufacturer’s Title over Audi.  The top of the podium was decided by less than 1/4 of a second.  Robert Thorne in the #6 K-PAX Racing Mclaren MP4-12C GT3 traded blows with Ryan Dalziel in the #31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3R, but managed to hold off the Porsche at the line.

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The real battle to watch was further down the pack.  The fight for positions 6-7-8 featured your top three Driver’s Championship contenders.  Unfortunately, the incident at the beginning of the previous day’s race that left Skeen with a broken axle pretty much secured the title for Johnny O’Connell and his #3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R.  Second place in the championship was still up for grabs, and Anthony Lazarro battled Mike Skeen tooth and nail for it.  Unfortunately for Anthony and the crew of the #61 R.Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, Mike knew the score.  His 23rd place finish the race before narrowed the gap between himself and Lazarro, so he had to outright beat him in the race or at the very least keep him close.  The Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra ran well, but not well enough to keep the Ferrari behind it.  The 3.2 second gap, at first glance, would seem to vault Lazarro into second place; however,  Skeen only finished two places behind him.  The gap was not enough, and Mike Skeen maintained his second place.

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Finally on the day was the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race.  The Home Tracks series are the entry level series in the NASCAR system.  Do well enough there, and the potential to move into the Camping World Truck Series arises.  From there it’s Nationwide series, and finally the Sprint Cup.  Could one of these drivers be the next rising star? Who knows, but your third place finisher is the series’s Rookie of the Year.  James Bickford put the #6 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Sprint/Lucas Oil Ford on the podium and secured the ROTY honors.  Second place belonged to Bickford’s teammate Dylan Lupton in the #9 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Sprint/Lucas Oil Ford.  Taking home the win was David Mayhew in the #17 MMI  Services/Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet.  Two races are left in the season, and Lupton is withing striking distance of Driver’s Points leader Greg Pursley.

And so that ends our weekend at the Grand Prix.  It was quite the two days.  Below are galleries with far more photos in them, neatly divided up into their respective series.  We hope to see you again at next year’s Utah Grand Prix, or at the very least on the 27th of September for NASA Utah Round 6.

Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GTS

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

Pirelli World Challenge TC/TCA/TCB

Miller GT/USTCC

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

 

 

16th Sep2014

2014 Utah Grand Prix Day 1

by Michael Chandler

Utah Grand Prix Day 1 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (11 of 189)

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.

 

11th Aug2014

Top Of The Line Imports Show & Shine

by Michael Chandler

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If you believe the media, then summer is coming to an end.  And when summer comes to an end, that means the show season comes to an end.  Thankfully the summer isn’t actually over, so there are still shows and meets going on.  Shows like the Top of the Line Imports Show & Shine that happened over the weekend.

The parking lot behind the K2 Church was swarmed by everything from Audis to Fords, and BMWs to Hondas.   Race builds were parked next to dedicated hard parkers, bagged and static cars were parked in harmony.  I parked Rhonda, got my stuff together and made my rounds.  The results of my wandering the meet are lovingly shoved into the gallery below!

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
07th Jul2014

NASA Utah Round 4

by Michael Chandler

NASA Utah Round 4 CAMautoMag Michael Chandler (2 of 225)

Round four of the NASA Utah season was held on the East Track of Miller Motorsports Park on a lovely late June Saturday.  Not only were the usual competitors out and about, there were guests from some of the neighboring states who came to get their fill of racing.  The track also welcomed competitors from the Formula 3 PanAm series for what was… Well, the little Abarth powered cars were out and about.

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See? There they are.  It was immensely interesting to watch them run around and hear their turbos spooling up.  Unfortunately Saturday was a series of practice sessions for these little cars, but the Formula and Super Formula racers made up for it with their two races and combined nine car field.  You could say the action was *puts on sunglasses* hot.

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YYYYYEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry.  The Formula field was home to the flame throwers of #42 Chris Taylor and #16 Steve Dickert, pictured above.  While they looked the coolest while doing so, they finished in positions three (Taylor) and four (Dickert) in both races.  Second place in both races went to Steven “No, I don’t know Elvis” Costello, and taking the win twice was Troy “The Duffman” Duffin.  This is the second consecutive race day where the Duffin and Costello took the top two spots, and the first weekend where they received nicknames.  It may also be the last weekend for the nicknames.  On to Super Formula!

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Races one and two were taken by Ian Lacy, with an average margin of victory of twenty seconds.  Who was looking at the back end of Lacy’s Mazda was a different matter.  In race one it was Terry Biner in the #11 Rodizio Grill car, who was ahead of the #6 piloted by Bryant Gay.  In race two the pair switched, with Gay finishing ahead of Biner.  Positions four and five in both races were held by John LaBrie and Dennis Gay respectively.

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The Time Trial group saw new faces from our neighboring states, and also the freshly wrapped T.W. Racing Audi R8 LMS.  Derek Wolthoff took home the win in TT1, but not after a situation in one of the morning sessions.  The car lost all power, leading to the session being black flagged.  There was concern as to what happened.  I managed to find Derek in his garage during the lunch break, but he was napping.  Thankfully someone else with the team told me a relay box came loose, which cause the loss of power.  The reattached the box and away they went in the next session.  Second place belonged to Mark Melchor and his blue FD chassis RX7, and rounding out the podium was another blue car: Shawn Murphy’s STi.

TT2 was a two man affair between Greg Valdez and John Allen.  On paper it would seem as though Allen’s 911 would walk away from Greg’s STi, but Lelantos proved victorious by running a 1:43.648, 1.57 seconds quicker than the Porsche could manage.

Christopher Mayfield and his red BMW took the top spot in TT3, running away from Travis Williams’s Mustang which edged out Shay Chappell’s Porsche 911.

TTB saw two of the top three spots owned by Honda S2000s.  Michael Forsythe and Hsun Chen took first and third, with Richard Thiessens breaking up the potential 1-2 S2000 podium by less than half a second with his STi.

In TTD Gordon Anderson’s Miata too the win over Kieth Pizio’s Honda Civic, while in TTE another Miata (driven by David Sherman) beat out Ben Lamberson’s Audi and Jeb Brown’s Subaru to take thw win.

Cole Powelson took the Wild Shick Racing GTR to the winner’s circle in TTU, followed by Robert Cowan in his Shelby Cobra kit car.  Richard Weston is listed in third place in the class, but no time is listed.

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A twenty-three car field made up the Lightning race group, and within it there were bright flashes of brilliance.  The first such flash came form Arthur Golebiowski in Spec Z.  Not only did he win the class, but he yet again took the top spot in the run group.  To be fair, the Spec Z class was the fastest class in the group and also one of three 5 car classes.  Second place in Spec Z belonged to Ashley Burt, and third was Tom Kaminski’s.

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The top of the Spec Miata field was a race long battle between Chris Bond and MacKay Snow.  Chris held the young Snow off for a while, but MacKay got around the red 007 car and managed to keep Bond in his mirrors, securing another win for the Snow family.  Meanwhile, David Sherman took the other white and blue Miata to the low step on the podium.

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Speaking of Miatas, Todd Green took his to another victory in PTE.  Mr. Green can wheel, and the 40+ second margin of victory and a fastest lap two and a half seconds faster than the next quickest show that.  Allan Anderson and Randy Cummings battled for second place, with Cummings coming out on top.

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Mr. Joseph Ostrander narrowly beat out Rob Hickman for the GTS2 win.  The BMWs battled all race long, and Hickman kept trying to make moves on Ostrander but nothing would stick.  Christina Werley, a bit further back from the acation, took third place.

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The 944 Spec class had the second closest gap between the winner and second place.  Daniel Williams and Greg Troester went head to head all race, fighting through traffic to keep pace with the other.  Williams passed Troester and managed to hold him off for a win by .220 seconds!  Otto Silva  rounded out the podium.

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Despite being in PTB, Bill Noblitt ran with the top two GTS2 competitors.  His total time of 22:06.854 was five seconds slower than GTS2 second place finisher Rob Hickman.  He took the class win by default, but still put on quite a driving performance.

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After the Lightning comes the Thunder, and this group was very solid.  There were multi-class battles all over the track (pictured above: ST2 class winner Brendon Stewart and GTS4 class winner Chris Vivolo battle through The Attitudes), and also some disappointments.  Kyle Shick blew the intercooler piping off in the Wild Shick Racing GTR and retired after five laps.  Dave Dingman lost the clutch in the Freeway Mazda sponsored Miata after four laps, and spent the rest of the race stuck on the side of the track.

There were three one man classes in the group.  Camaro Mustang Challenge was occupied by Joe Bogetich and his white Camaro.  Russ Timmons and his orange and chrome Porsche 911 were all by their lonesome in GTS5, and Dennis Gay in the white RaceCo 911 was the one man band in GTSU.

As mention previsouly, Chris Vivolo took the win in GTS4.  He put a twenty-seven and a half second lead on John Allen, who took second, while Gregory Dell finished a lap down for third.

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Ricky Rudd, I mean Bob Evans in the #88 Snickers Ford Fusion Car Of Tomorrow beat out  Patrick Laughlin’s deBoulle Porsche 911 for a ST1 win.

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Brendon Stewart was the only driver in ST2 to finish on the lead lap, which meant he won.  A lap down in second was Drew Wadolny.  Nine laps down was Dave Dingman, who retired with clutch issues.

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Travis Tidball held off the massive ST3 pack to claim a victory.  Second place in the nine car class was Todd Ainsworth in the Us Against One clothing STi, with Jason Bamberg nipping at his heels in the #92 Mustang.

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With the Wild Shick Racing GTR retiring after five laps, Super Unlimited was George Smith’s to lose.  He did not do that, finishing a lap ahead of Skip Sasser’s S10 pickup.

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It was a solid day of racing, with a record number of entrants: 132.  Will there be more in August for Round 5?  Here’s to hoping we see some new faces and yours August 15-17 for some racing on the outer loop!

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
25th Apr2014

Import Spring Showoff 2014

by Michael Chandler

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What once was the UtahHondas.net spring meet has bloomed into one of the, if not the biggest show of the year.  450 cars made it into the pay lot, and into the judging for the various awards, while hundreds more filled the parking lots surrounding the Davis County Fairgrounds.  I popped the top on the Supra, grabbed a camera, and made my way north.  I arrived, made my way to one of the lots, reapplied the top and got to shooting.

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I didn’t quite make it into the paid lot, I ran into Nick Long as he was walking out.  We chatted and saw this bright green Bricklin SV-1 affectionately named “Kermit”.  After staring at what Canada can do we parted ways and I made my way in.

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There was almost everything there: a very clean NA2 NSX, to a Yugo!  A freaking Yugo!  Look at how clean that little communist hatchback is!  The Yugo, for those who don’t know, is a Fiat 127 built by Communists for as little as humanly possible.  Then Malcom Bricklin, the guy behind Bricklin and responsible for introducing Subaru to America, started importing and selling the things as inexpensive transport.  Then some lady got blown off of a bridge in Michigan while driving one and the rest is history.  Now that you’ve had a history lesson, here’s a gallery for you to enjoy.

06th Jan2014

Because Van: Bisimoto Honda Odyssey

by Michael Chandler

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“Anyone who follows me knows I’m a bit of a contrarian,” This is what Bisi Ezerihora said to me when I asked him why he built a 1029 horsepower Honda Odyssey. “Typical is boring, atypical is very exciting.”

Indeed it is Bisi, indeed it is.

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The van has a full interior, so he can hustle his family (our man became a father not too long ago) around very quickly and comfortably. It sits on a massive set of fifteen52 Tarmac R40s, shod in Toyo rubber. All that meat neatly tucks under the wheel arches via a custom AirRide set up.

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It looks cool, but you’re still stuck on that four figure horsepower number. How did he do it? Well, necessity is the mother of invention. Back in the day Bisi created the market for single cam F-Series Honda parts. “If you remember years ago there was nothing available for the F22 Accord. We created everything, and now there are a plethora of parts.” Being that lone explorer to venture out into the unknown is nothing new to Bisi and the crew at Bisimoto.

“One thing that Bisimoto Engineering does that really sets us apart from everyone else is that we’re creative, okay? When we have a project like this it allows us to create awareness and create products.” Custom non-VTEC camshafts, pistons, intercooler, fuel system, engine management, and manifolds were created for this project, and will soon be available in the store on Bisimoto.com.

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“We’re creating opportunity,” he said to close out our little impromptu interview. Between this, the products and services he offers for other Honda platforms, and the always entertaining projects he does with Hyundai Bisimoto Engineering and Bisi himself will be creating opportunities for many years to come!

Words and Photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
16th Oct2013

NASA Utah Round 6

by Michael Chandler

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Nationals were only a month behind them when the Miller locals returned to the west track for Round 6 of the NASA Utah season.  It was also three weeks before the season ending endurance race.  That led to some of your favorites taking the weekend off.  They still came out to instruct HPDE and hang out, but their chariots were still.

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But that doesn’t mean the track was empty.  Cole Powelson was out in RaceCo’s new Porsche, Todd Ainsworth was out in his STi in ST2, George Smith hustled his flying banana C5 Corvette to a win in the Super Unlimited class and first place overall in the race, and Park got a few runs in in his Vette as well.

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Oh, and Jason Smith raced Roger Miller’s World Challenge Mustang.  More on this humbling experience in a later post…

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STR1 went to Bob Evans in the Snickers, EA Sports Ford Fusion.  He battled with Jason for a good chunk of the race, but he left him behind when they encountered traffic.  Passing Jason got him into second overall.

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Again the Spec Miata/GTS guys were out with the bigger, faster guys.  While Jason and Bob had a good battle going, there was a dog fight happening at the front of the herd of Miatas.

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Todd Green and Mike Ferrara were never out of the other’s sight the whole race!  They might as well have tied their cars together, thats how close they were.  After an epic battle, Mike emerged the victor.  They might not be as fast as the open wheel or ST cars, but they fight just as hard if not harder than those other classes.

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Speaking of open wheel, the shorter track kept them closer than usual.  There weren’t any dirt drops or wheel touching, a la the Japanese GP, but the closeness brought action.

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This is Dave Wann.  He ran a 1:49.75, and did the best pirouette of the day.  Kudos to you Dave, kudos.

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I see you race a Z32.  I too like to live dangerously.  And if I remember right this either placed or won TTC.  You don’t see a lot of Z32 300ZX’s out on track days, which is a shame because, as our friend here is demonstrating, they can do some serious work.  They’re also such handsome vehicles.

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You don’t see too many Z cars out in general, at least out on our little ribbon of tarmac.  370z’s are pricey, and S30s are gorgeous and more people would rather do them up and then take them to shows instead of the track.  Hopefully seeing that Datsun go will bring a few more out.

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Here are some random photos from the HPDE session.  Nothing too crazy to report, just some guys getting in some supervised laps.  Anyway, thats what happened in a rather light day.  We’ll be out there for the season ending endurance race on the 26th, and we’ll do a photo dump ahead of that.  We’ll see you there!

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Words and Photos by Michael Chandler.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
03rd Sep2013

Western Endurance Racing Championship at Miller Motorsports Park Part 1

by Michael Chandler

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This was going to be an entirely different article.  It was going to be like the old Honda Challenge stuff we did: chronicling the local guys on their home track as the battle the out of towners.  I was going to talk about how Dave Dingman, Todd Ainsworth, Travis Williams and last second addition Jason Smith took the fight to them over the course of the six hour race.  It was going to be heroic and epic and all of those things.

But then their day went belly up.  Here’s how it happened: Dave went out first, and irony found him.  See, Dave pilots the Freeway Mazda Miata we all know and love in the NASA Utah events.  As he was out in Travis’s FR500S Mustang was hit by a (wait for it) Miata.  This prompted the stewardess to tell Travis and Jason that he had thirty minutes to come in and file a report.  If he didn’t the team would receive a five minute penalty.

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After a brief discussion, the team decided to leave him out.  When he came in they’d get his side of the story, top him off with fuel and send him on his marry way.  His side of the story goes something like this: he gave the Miata plenty of room going in to turn one, but closed the door because thats how his line was.  The Miata, seeing that there wasn’t any room, decided to stick its nose in there.  Contact was made, it was the Miata’s fault.  Anyway, the team didn’t have radios so Travis grabbed a white board and a red marker to communicate to Dave that he was to come in.  He scribbled something on the board and ran to the pit wall.

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As it turns out, it’s hard to see red on white as you’re at speed with the sun in your face.  The crew in the next pit stall noticed Travis’s mistake, gave Jason a black marker, and the sign was re-scribbled.  Travis again ran to the pit wall and held the sign.  It worked better that time around, and Dave came in.

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Travis got Dave’s story and explained the situation.  He also made sure Dave stayed strapped in, because if he unstrapped then his stint would be over.  Jason topped off the fuel tank and Todd held the fire extinguisher just in case.  The tank was brimmed after some more conversation, and Dave took off making sure not to abuse the clutch upon his exit.  They weren’t going to leave him out there for too much longer, so I hung around the pits so as to not miss the driver change.

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The professionals at RaceCo were a few stalls down, showcasing the professionalism, enthusiasm for produce and the proper way to kinda listen to someone’s story about something…or whatever.  They were also fielding a FR500S Mustang in the race.  The competition had been meet, and they had watermelon and a canopy in their stall.  More on them later, because Dave was about to come in for the first driver change of team TRADINGWOR’s night.

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Dave out, Todd and fuel in.  Dave took over fire extinguisher duties, while Travis helped Todd get settled in.  Jason, and his Vans, manned the fuel can.  Notes were passed between the drivers and the rest of the team.  I imagine that this is what it was like in the fifties.  All the drivers had other responsibilities and the only time they could communicate what the car was doing or feeling like was when they came in for fuel and fresh rubber.  Except I don’t think anyone would be wearing bright red shoes, but I could very well be wrong.

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Todd left gingerly, but not any harder than you or I leaving a stop light quickly.  Dave proceeded to tell us his story, and show us when the Miata decided to test just how small it was.  He also mentioned that the car felt good, and he wasn’t using the clutch much.  He was rev matching up and down shifts because he wanted to keep the clutch for later in the night.  Remember: it was a marathon, not a sprint.  With that handled, I hopped in the Subaru and made my way to turn one to catch some of the cars on track.

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Miller is a challenging track for many reasons, but one reason I have heard many times is it’s very dusty.  This is because the track is built in the middle of high desert grazing land, which will grow wild grasses and other native vegetation but not a whole lot else.  The track is never going to look like Road America, and that’s not a huge problem.  Willow Springs is in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere, and it does plenty fine.  However, that lack of vegetation has one drawback.  That drawback, coupled with the recently constructed motocross track in the infield of the east half of the road course, can become a calamity when it gets windy…  Like it did the whole weekend and pretty much every evening in Tooele county.  Eventually the wind died down and visibility returned to a safe level.

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An HPD backed Fit was out.  They were banking on only having to stop a few times for fuel.  They were also excited by the prospect of being lapped so it would look like they were in the race!  That’s the kind of optimism and creative thinking we like around here.  We also like E30 BMWs with crazy light bars, because who needs lights in factory locations when you have a bunch of really bright LEDs on your hood?  Oh, and there was the very patriotic Factory Five GTM.  Nothing says freedom like a mid-engined LS powered car you can assemble in your garage.

I sent a text to my friend Jenny to inform her that Jason was going to be driving the #22 Mustang.  The pack passed by a few more times before she responded.  Her response was concise and very concerning:

“I knooowwwww It just blew up though! :(”

After seeing that a few thoughts raced through my head: where did it blow up?  Why wasn’t there a yellow flag?  Why wasn’t the safety crew rolling out?  Did I miss them on the track the whole time I was stand on the outside of turn one?  I ran back to the Subaru and double timed it to the pits.

Did the car blow up?  Was Todd horribly disfigured?  Does Travis have to buy a new car?  Where are the night shots?  All of these questions will be answered in the thrilling conclusion!

21st Aug2013

NASA Utah Round 5

by Michael Chandler

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August 10th was an extremely busy day at Miller Motorsports Park.  The Gotham Dream Car Sprint was happening in the Midway, starting at 6pm there was a Western Endurance Racing Championship six hour endurance race, and during the day the NASA locals were joined by some SCCA fellows for some laps!  Exciting right?  You betcha!  However, the arrival of the SCCA guys meant that some of your NASA heroes raced with them instead of in the NASA groups.

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This was most apparent with the open wheel guys.  It was one of the larger open wheel fields in recent memory.  And since this was a SCCA deal, I don’t have the results…  Sorry guys, but I do have more pictures!

Looks like you herped when you should've derped there Bill.

Looks like you herped when you should’ve derped there Bill.

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See?  That kinda makes up for the lack of actual information!

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I’m not 100% sure what these are, but I think they’re Club Ford cars.  Whatever they are, they’re very cool and deserve some time in the spotlight.

I don’t have results for the SCCA groups*, but I do have results for the NASA guys.  With the increase in traffic on track, they split the NASA folks in to three groups:

  • Thunder:  GTS 3, 4, 5; American Iron, Camaro Mustang Challenge, Spec Z, STR1, and ST2, 3 and U
  • Lightning:  GTS1, 2, 3; Spec Miata, Spec E30, Spec 944, and PTB, C, E and F
  • TT:  I’m not explaining this one

Let’s start with the TT group.

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Despite a momentary lack of traction control, which led to a slight off track excursion, Kyle Shick took top honors for TTU in the RaceCo/Envision Wraps GTR with a 1:59.336.  The car is fine, and Kyle was his usual smiling self about the incident at the awards dinner later in the evening.

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The TT1 crown was claimed by Steven Streimer in the Lux Performance/Streimer MotorSports/Natalie’s Estate Winery Porsche 911 with a time of 2:03.395

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Greg Valdez took #lelantos to the top of the heap in TT2 with a time of 2:09.348.  The Ziptie Dynowerks sponsored STi has been getting better over the course of the season.  Fun fact: the wing on the car is wider than Greg is tall.

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The TT3 title was claimed by this fellow: Steve Nagel in the MarVista BMW M3.  His time: 2:09.318.  I would say something witty or funny, but I know nothing about him so I shall refrain.

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Emilio Cervantes and his 949 Racing sponsored Mazda Miata took the TTB crown with a 2:13.901

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Another Miata took TTC.  This time it was Sonny Watanasirisuk with a lap time of 2:17.986

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AND Jay Kidd took first AND last in TTE by being the only competitor in the field.  The Track Speed Engineering Miata put up a 2:20.258.

Moving on to the Lightning group, and more specifically the three Spec classes that were running.

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Dan McKeever took Spec Miata in the #10 Falcon Graphics sponsored roadster.

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Larry Moore took the Spec E30 win in his wild Bavarian coupe.  Quick question: when did red and blue become the official M colors?  This came up while out shooting and nobody had a good answer.

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And Samuel Kapp was deemed the fastest  of the Spec 944s.

The Pro Touring field was pretty deep, featuring privateers and a factory backed effort.  Logically the factory team would be the fastest on the day right?  Allow me to show you why that isn’t really true.

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When you show up in a Fit, you make Miatas look like fire breathing Blancpain series Lamborghinis.  That said, it probably had to fill up once the whole weekend.  It also took the PTF class.

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Andrew Kidd put the #71 Track Speed Miata in the winner’s circle again in the PTE category.  See that Porsche he’s chasing?

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It’s the PTC class winner driven by Ed Mineau!  Eight hundredths of a second separated the fastest laps turned by your E and C class winners.

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And speaking of Porsches, Douglas Turnquist took the PTB win in his non-Spec 944.

In GTS they really turned up the wick!  Well, sort of.  These still are semi-reasonable cars we’re talking about.

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Lee Bohning took the #36 Alpine Autohaus M3 to the winners circle in GTS2.

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Meanwhile, in GTS3, Stefan Sajic piloted his E46 M3 to victory.  In addition to being M3s and winning their classes, these cars have something else in common: red roll cages.  I support that 103%.

And now on to the senior circuit: the Thunder group.

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Mark Smith piloted the Eagle Marine Boss 302 Mustang to victory in American Iron, beating an F Body with a big wing.  However, the General would have his revenge!

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And that came in the form of Joe Bogie taking the Camaro Mustang Challenge win!

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The Spec Z crown was claimed by David Dirks, seen here chasing down a CMC competitor.

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GTS was dominated by Porsches.  Gus Stribakos took his physics defying machine to glory in GTS3.

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Darrell Troester won GTS4 in his 996 GT3.

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And Les Long turned a blistering 1:58.901 on his way to a GTS5 victory!  His time was THIRD fastest of the day!

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ST3 was loudly won by Daniel Wennerberg in the Pure Performance, high visibility BMW.

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Bob beat Skip for the STR1 win.  One of my favorite moments from the day was Matt Guiver, at the awards presentation, asking “Hey Bob, where’s Skip?”  Not sure why, but I enjoyed it.

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And the Davidson Racing team took top honors in SU, the Thunder Group, and on the day.  They won their class by 1:07.978, making second place George Smith (and his fastest lap time 1:57.705) look like he was standing still.

After the NASA guys finished up, the SCCA guys got to turn some laps…

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And this happened.  Spec Miatas might not be the fastest cars on track, but they aren’t afraid to bang! Not entirely sure how, or why, but Tyler Dahl and Glenn Conser were going at it the entirety of the SCCA Small Bore race.

And on a more somber note, this was unfortunately the last NASA Utah event Regional Director Roger Miller attended.  The following weekend he traveled to Kansas City for the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.  He and co-driver Ian James finished eleventh in the race.  Tragically that evening, Roger passed away in his sleep.  Roger was a truly great man, and driver.  His passion for racing was unparalleled, and he wanted to bring more people into the fold and share that passion with them.  He will be missed, but the work he has done with NASA Utah will never be forgotten.

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*If anyone has the SCCA results, feel free to send them over and we’ll get a post up for them

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
12th Jul2013

Simple S2000

by Michael Chandler

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 Keep it simple stupid

Simplify then add lightness

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

There are hundreds of quotes talking about the greatness of simplicity, and at one point we have all said we wanted something simple.  But some of us end up with something overly complicated and regret taking the path of over complication.  Nathan Luong has taken his Honda S2000 down the path of simplicity.

 

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The most noticeable modifications the the exterior are the Voltex Type 1V Wing, the OEM hard top and front lip and the APR GT3 carbon fiber mirrors.  Most people keep Honda’s roadster as a soft top, so seeing one with a hard top is a bit of a rarity.  Seeing one with the Voltex wing is a bit more of a rarity.  And you don’t really see Modulo badges everyday either.

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Nate also popped on some clear side markers from a S2000 CR and an AP1 S2000 rear bumper.  Underneath the Voltex wing is a smaller GT Motoring duckbill spoiler.

 

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The car is a bit more stiffly sprung thanks to a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers and a Cusco strut tower bar.  It sticks and stops better thanks to the 255/40 Advan Neovas wrapped around the 17×9 Enkei PF01s.  It’s not pushing a penny across a parking lot low, nor is it a super meaty track car stance.  It’s a nice look for a street car, and capable enough to turn some laps on a track if the situation arises.

 

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The simplicity continues under the hood.  An AutoTecknic carbon fiber cooling plate helps direct airflow to the K&N intake.  From there it makes it way through the engine and out of the car by way of an HKS 75mm exhaust.

 

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Cabin wise it’s painfully simple: Bride Vios 3 seat on Buddy Club Super Low Down seat rails, J’s Racing shift plate and a Team VooDoo shift knob.  He’s had that shift knob in all of his cars, and probably will continue to keep it in all of them.

Is this the most intensely built S2000 ever?  Not even close.  Is it a fun driving, handsome roadster?  And then some.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”  This car embodies those words.

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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