31st Mar2015

NASA Utah 2015 Round 1: WE’RE BACK!

by Michael Chandler

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-131

Words by Michael Chandler, photos by Michael Chandler and Gavin Pouquette

 

WE’RE BACK RACING!!!  Yes, our long local nightmare is finally over.  The 2015 NASA Utah season opened up this past weekend on the Outer Loop of Miller Motorsports Park, and it.  Was.  Glorious!  Let’s kick off our coverage with the TT groups, where the action was.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-15

Joe Sim brought out the Turbo Labs turbocharged Acura NSX and ran a blistering 2:00.305 to take the win in TTU.  The NSX made an appearance at Round 6 last year, and was even running around at GT Live back in 2007 and 2008!  Coming in second place was TW Racing in the familiar Audi R8 LMS.  Can the former GT3 car out pace the local legend?  Will we see more of the NSX period?  And what about the Lyfe Motorsports GTR?  Will it defend its title as TTU monster?  We have the better part of the season to find out!

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-222

After a late night tuning session at Ziptie Dynowerks, Greg Valdez took his WRX STi atop the podium in his first TT1 event.  Shawn Murphy, who had an impromptu barbecue on the front straight last year, came in second and retired early with car troubles.  Third place was occupied by Dave Gilliland.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-223

Alex Whetman broke the Focus of Doom, but won the TT3 class in the process.  The 2:06.2 he ran was a full 4.7 seconds faster than the second place  Team Emerald West Porsche 911!  Jon Carver put his #49 Corvette in third.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-189

In TT2 we saw a battle between Robert Rathbone’s 911 and Frank Wilson’s C7 Corvette Z06.  In this battle, the Porsche pulled out the win.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-164

Paul House came out for one TT4 session in his Spec Z, and won himself a nice bottle opener.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-20

Richard Thiessens took some time out of coordinating HPDE instructors to take the class win in TTB.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-220

TTE is looking to be a hotly contested class.  Ben Lamberson and his Audi barely squeaked by Jeb Brown’s Subaru for the class win.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-43NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-236

We had some new faces in Open Wheel!  And those new faces actually won!  In Super Formula David Lockwood in his sharp, livery free car took race one; and Terry Biner, in the familiar Rodizio Grill car took race two.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-240 NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-237 NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-217

Formula is also seeing a new face.  Literally.  Bruno Carneiro (who is fifteen years old.  15!) has jumped from karts into a Formula Mazda car prepped by Ian Lacy Racing, and won race two after finishing behind Troy Duffin in race one.  Steven Costello took third in both races.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-45

Bruno and David weren’t the only newcomers to the Open Wheel group.  Askew Motorsports was out in a Radical for qualifying and a few laps in race one.  I, for one, would like to see Formula and Super Formula grow as fast and as large as Spec Z has.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-144

Speaking of Spec Z, it is huge!  There were six competitors for Saturday’s race, and a total of seven cars registered for the day.  In the race Arthur Golebiowski topped the podium, with Tom Kaminski in the Dip Kings 350Z in second, and Chad Aalders in third.  Shay Chappell, last year’s TT3 champion, has left his Porsche 911 Turbo at home and hopped into a Spec Z.  Shay can wheel, as is evidenced by his championship, so he won’t be in the basement for long.  With fellow newcomers Richard Fitzgerald and Askew MotorSport, this series is only getting more contested.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-57NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-52

In Spec Miata, David Sherman qualified on pole with Mike Ferrara and Allan Anderson behind him.  In the race David Sherman brought home the win, with Mike Ferrara and Allan Anderson behind him.  In other news, David Dingman was back out on track in a blue and yellow Miata!  David’s a great guy, and we’re glad to have him back out on track.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-54

And in the last Spec class, 944 Spec, Samuel Kapp and Otto Silva began what is always a season long battle for the championship.  These guys duke it out every round, and it’s always a good clean fight.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-114

In GTS2 Chris Haunold, in the red #9 Porsche, beat out Jim Miller, in the red #9 Porsche.  Oh man, watching that red Porsche cross the finish line after seeing the red Porsche retire with mechanical issues was something else.  Red Porsche.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-113

Bill “Wild Willie” Noblitt jumped from PTB to GTS3 and took the win over “Good Guy” Gus Stribakos in another all Porsche battle.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-117NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-133

They may have been the only ones in their respective classes, but Todd Green (#58 Paul Mitchell Miata) and Douglas Turnquist (#421 Porsche 944) took their wins and battled with the entire Lightning race group.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-125

Bad Luck Brendon Stewart detuned his Evo so he could drop down to Super Touring 3 and have some competition.  Long time ST3 competitors Travis Tidball (whose blue Corvette is getting wide) and Gary Free (in the Race Co FR500S Mustang) put up a fight against the newcomer, but in the end they couldn’t stop him.  Brendon won the battle, but lifted the cylinder head in the process.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-200

Les Long ran away from the GTSU field, and the rest of the race group in fact.  He posted a best lap time of 1:59.411 during the race.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-241

In GTS5 Russ Timmons held on to a lead of less than a second over Darrell Troester to take the class win.  Chris Vivolo and his blue and white 996 911 rounded out the podium.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-101NASA Utah Round 1 Gavin Pouquette Photography CAMautoMag-3

Byron Smith pitted his BMW against the 370Z of Lara Tallman.  It was a close battle, one in which neither driver could put much distance between the other.  By the time the checkered flag dropped Byron was ahead by 0.593 seconds, and took the win.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-106NASA Utah Round 1 Gavin Pouquette Photography CAMautoMag-6NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-242

Unfortunately not everyone had playmates within their class.  Dan Worley in the Tatum Racing LSX Porsche 944 claimed the ST1 win.  Mike Mielke showed up to ST2 just in time to take over as lone ranger, ironically while driving a Ranger.  And in GTS4 Shawn Tatum held court (see what I did there?  HILARIOUS!) in the Dell & Schaefer Porsche Cayman.

NASA Utah Round 1 Saturday winners Michael Chandler Photography-21

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a solid opening to what’s going to be a great season.  A great season that has an event every month through October!  There’s no excuse to not come out and catch one of these events, and there’s plenty of time to start working your way through the HPDE program so you can start competing with the a fore mentioned drivers.

The next event is April 24-26, and it’s on the West course.  It’s longer straight sections favor the higher horsepower cars, so be prepared to see some blistering lap times in the Thunder race group.  Grab some friends, pile into the car and make your way out to watch some racing!

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

 

 

 

 

 

05th Sep2013

Western Endurance Racing Championship at Miller Motorsports Park part 2

by Michael Chandler

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-36

I arrived back in the pits to find…  The Mustang, in one piece and not on fire.  As it turns out “blew up” means different things to different people.  Unfortunately the clutch gave out, which ended the day for Travis, Todd, Dave and Jason.  It was a melancholy scene, but the hour and a half they were out there wasn’t so bad.  They’re night was done, but for others the evening was about to begin.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-37 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-38

Racing is a physical effort, which is why the drivers do their best to stay in some semblance of shape.  Some take it a bit more serious than others…  Seeing a man do lunges and jog across three pit stalls is a sight I don’t think I will ever forget.  As he was preparing his body and mind for the stint ahead, RaceCo was bringing their guy in for a driver change and fuel stop.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-40WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-43 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-45

Intense doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere during an endurance race pit stop.  There are a lot of moving parts and, while longer than pit stops in other motor sports, time is a huge factor.  Those extra seconds add up, and turn in to minutes, which over the course of a six hour race could become tens of minutes.  Cole Powelson, driver and chief push broom technician at RaceCo, hopped out and declared himself #1 after relaying some information about the car.  He had a couple of minutes to relax and change before it got windy again…

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-46 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-47

Wind can be handled, but the dust and lack of visibility could cause havoc.  Seeing from Clubhouse to Release was almost impossible, even if you were standing in between the turns.  Mercifully the winds died down and visibility picked back up.  I gathered my things, hopped in my car and made my way to Black Rock, the first in a series of hairpin turns on the west section of the track.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-48 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-51

The turn sits at the end of a high speed section, so naturally this is where the brakes would see the most use.  Everyone was lighting up their brake rotors, especially the vehicles that carried buckets of speed in to the turn.  The Factory Five GTM and the Radical had absolutely no problem cooking their brakes coming in to the turn, lap after lap after lap.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-55 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-57

With the sunset painting the sky with hues of orange, blue, purple and magenta, the on track action almost seemed like an added bonus.  There was barely enough light in the sky to illuminate the racers, and when that faded we all had to resort to artificial means of light.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-58

The cars would cast eery slivers of light on to the track, illuminating only what was in their immediate path.  Their tail lights were the eyes of shifty demons scurrying about the track, looking for a victim to terrorize.  It was quite a sight to behold, and a rather difficult one to capture.  Unable to capture thin windows of light, I did something that seemed like a good idea: setting the camera on a tripod and capturing the trails of light the cars were leaving behind.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-59 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-60

Most everyone had bright, white lights.  Everyone, except the Radical.  It had a white LED light bar on the roll hoop, but red orange lights on the front of the car.  The track took on a sinister glow when it passed.  It left a devilish red-orange trail with a little white halo above it.  It was also hitting the curbing, which can be seen by the ripples on the left side of the picture.  Most everyone else played it safe and only touched the curbing while taking  as straight a path through the Attitudes as they could.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-61

I don’t like saying it, but the grand stands on the race weekends I have been in attendance have been rather empty.  This night was no exception.  One of the best spots to watch a race from are the stands on the outside of Release, the track’s final turn before the straight.  From those seats one can see cars coming through Witchcraft and disappear as the cross the Attitudes.  They reappear just past the clubhouse, and you can see them all the way until they dip out of sight as they travel through turn 1.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-62 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-64 WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-65

I returned to the pits, and made my way through lifeless GP garages to a dark and busy pit lane.  Privateers and factory backed crews toiled under the work lights to ready their cars for another stint.  By this time everyone was preparing for their last outing on the track for the night.  The drivers were exhausted, the crews were fatigued but still they fought on.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-69

 

The end was in sight for those still driving.  Last minute information was relayed to drivers, fuel was topped off, lights were cleaned and finally the engines were fired.  Off in to the blackness one more time…

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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