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.
26th Jun2013

NASA 2013 Round 4

by Michael Chandler

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-32

 

Another busy weekend out at Miller Motorsports Park!  NASA Utah and the United States Touring Car Championship were running on the outer loop, DRFT Utah (formerly iDrift, formerly you damn kids) were in the midway, and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series was on the offroad course.  We were very explicitly told to stay away from the Lucas Oil stuff, which is a good thing because it allowed me to focus on the NASA and USTCC stuff and Trent to focus on filming the drifting.  Today we’re going to focus on the road racing.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-53

The small bore group was stacked with familiar faces, and a couple of new ones.  This meant the herd of Miatas were not only doing battle with each other, but Spec 944s, a Spec E30, a Civic hatchback and a pair of E36 BMWs that led the pack most of the day.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

The lone E30 had absolutely no problem with using every square inch of the track.  If it was paved, he was on it.  Kudos to him for charging every corner!

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-13

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Battles were happening all over the track, but the closest one and most hard fought were between the #12 Miata and the #15.  They might as well have been tied together for most of the race.  In the end the #12 pulled away.

 

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-41

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-17

Meanwhile in the Big Bore group, the regulars were joined by German Touring Class cars and a lone Super Unlimited class prototype.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-68

The SU prototype was near the top of the field all day, chasing down John Potter in the Magnus Racing Porsche 911.  Unfortunately, the prototype spun out in Release which gave Mr. Potter the class win.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-21

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-67

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-82

We had a trio of rookies running!  Todd Ainsworth was out in his silver STi, and Brendon Stewart got his Evo together and made his race start!  It was a miraculous event.  His engine was out of the car forty five minutes before the start of the race.  Someone mistakenly installed the wrong seal, so the engine and transmission had to come out and a new seal had to be found.  George Evans of Ziptie Dynowerks stepped in and ran to find one.  A dealer in Tooele had one in stock, but the parts department was closed and the manager of the dealership refused to go back and get it for him.  Deterred but not defeated, George ran to Salt Lake (forty minutes away) to get the correct seal.  The Ziptie guys got everything back together and got him on track.

Then on Sunday his engine decided it didn’t want to keep its internals all to itself, so it shot a rod through the block which caused a bit of a fire.  Quite the downer to an otherwise awesome weekend for him.

NASA June 22 HPDE ST Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-66

Jason Smith and the Innovative Garage crew got the K20 powered Civic out on the track, where it proceeded to clean up.  He won his class, passed the USTCC field, and finished mid-pack after starting towards the back of it.  Impressive feat.

 

NASA June 22 HPDE 3 4 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-8

The TT group was paired with the HPDE 3 & 4 drivers, but that didn’t affect the quality of the on track product.  Greg Valdez made the start in TT2 his Ziptie Dynowerks sponsored STi, while Shawn Murphy began a dominating run in TT1 in his GrimmSpeed backed STi.

NASA June 22 HPDE 3 4 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-35

Kyle Schick, fresh off his excellent showing at Global Time Attack, took the TTU win in the RaceCo GTR.

NASA June 22 HPDE 3 4 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

Sally was also coming off a good weekend at Chuckwalla Raceway, and hoped the good times would continue.  And they did for a while…

NASA June 22 HPDE 3 4 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-30

Then the car started over heating in pre-grid for the third session.  A lap later she came rolling through Wind Up, and came to a stop in the gravel on the outside of the turn.  She made it back to the pits under her own power, but the damage was done.  A blown head gasket ended her day prematurely.

NASA June 22 HPDE 3 4 TT Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-43

Park Beutler was turning laps with the TT group in his ST1 Corvette.  Was he quick?  Yes.  Could he drive this car home?  If he didn’t feel like driving his Porsche 911, he could.

 

NASA June 22 USTCC Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

And then we come to US Touring Car.  This is odd, because it isn’t the premier touring car series in America.  Does that change anything?  Well, if you were hoping for a massive field and door banging racing and brand new chassis then I have some bad news for you…

NASA June 22 USTCC Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-7

It was a small field.  So small that for their race they were grouped with the Big Bore group, which provided lots of passing action…  For the Big Bore guys.  The touring cars were quick, but they were lumped in to a group that had a Grand Am Porsche, a World Challenge Mustang, a former Sprint Cup Ford, and some flat out faster cars.

NASA June 22 USTCC Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

NASA June 22 USTCC Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

These were the newest cars in the field.  And they were willing to go door to door with anyone, which is always a good thing.

NASA June 22 USTCC Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-12

They were definitely some of the more competitive guys on track.  I’ve been out there many times, but never have I seen someone cut someone off heading in to pit entrance.  Let me repeat that: one of the USTCC guys swung in front of another one, who had his hand out and was heading in.  No hand out, cut over the red and white painted section right before the Armco, nothing.  The game was on, and it was awesome to watch.

 

NASA June 22 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

There were a few new cars in Open Wheel, but unfortunately it was its usually small field.

NASA June 22 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-5

The small fields are disappointing because these are brilliant little machines.  They’re quick, handle well and are the next step up in the racing evolutionary chart.

NASA June 22 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-1

NASA June 22 Open Wheel Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2

That, and they look really cool.  Hopefully as our little community grows we will see more people jumping in to these little formula cars and going wheel to wheel.

It was a good weekend.  No event in July, but we’ll be back out there in August for Round 5!

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners. Images and words may not be re-posted, re-distributed, modified, or copied without expressed written consent from CAMAutoMag.Com.