16th Sep2013

NASA National Championships

by Michael Chandler

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NASA racers and support crew swarmed Miller Motorsports Park between the 4th and 8th of September for the NASA National Championships.  Every class of NASA sanctioned racer were out there, along with your humble reporter/photographer.  Well, the teams were there the whole time.  I, unfortunately, only made it out on Friday the 6th, but I brought you pictures!  And results!

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Us Against One Clothing printed up some stickers for the locals to run if they chose to.  The locals weren’t going to roll over and make it easy for the out of towners to win.

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The American Iron (AI), American Iron Extreme (AIX) and Camaro Mustang Challenge (CMC) guys were taking advantage of the Full Course layout by doing what Camaros and Mustangs do best: go fast in a straight line.  There were plenty of straights for them to wring their pony cars out.  The AI and AIX classes were dominated by Mustangs that made the trip to Miller Motorsports Park from as far away as Ohio!  But it wasn’t all Mustangs (well, the winners were all piloting Mustangs) or out of towners.

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Gary Free in his RaceCo prepped, South Towne Storage sponsored FR500S took fourth in AIX, besting two other competitors.  Corey Weber and Todd Davis brought out some classic American wheels to compete with.  Weber took fourth in AI while Davis took tenth.

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TTU, 1, and 2 were dominated by the home team.  Kyle Schick ran a blistering 1:55 to take TTU, while Shawn Murphy and his full interior STi took TT1 with a 2:03.  Smith-Burke Racing took TT2 by two tenths of a second!  Their 2:01.039 was just barely quick enough for the title, while Greg Valdez missed out on the podium by four tenths.  He still managed to out run a twin turbo 911 and a 911 GT3 by four and six seconds respectively.

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George Smith took the fight to the STR-1 crowd and emerged with the title in the JDP Motorsports/Smith Marketing Services C5 Corvette.  Corvettes appeared on the podium in ST2 (won by Smith-Burke Racing), ST3 and SU, with outright wins in ST2 and 3!

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SU field was the most exotic.  A pair of  prototype-esqe cars, a pair of Thunder Roadsters, a Viper, a Honda S2000 and a Corvette all vied for the title, but when the checkered flag dropped the #7 Elan DP02 of Jon Van Canegham emerged victorious.

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Also, the Brits were represented.

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Spec Miata was arguably the most action packed field.  Most of the packs were at least four cars deep, and dueling pairs of Miatas and lone Miatas were more the exception than the rule.  Blinkers were left on, doors were smashed, it was one of the more fun groups to see tear it up.  When the dust settled Matt Schultz climbed atop the podium.  He represents the NASA Northwest region.  The best the hometown crew could do was 13th (Chris Bond, 007).  Can’t win them all…

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If Spec Miata was the most action packed, most fun group to watch; then the GTS group was the prettiest.  Porsches and BMWs running hard lap after lap.  The sight was glorious, and the noise was epic!

Out of a possible twenty-eight championships, MMP locals took six.  Nearly one quarter of your NASA National Champions call Miller Motorsports Park home…  Well, not literally, but you get my drift.  The number could’ve been more just as easily as less.  Brendon Stewart’s Evo was still in pieces, Jason Smith sold his very quick Civic, Travis Williams’s FR500S was still down from the endurance race, and I’m not sure where Dave Dingman disappeared to.  Sally McNulty’s WRX was dealing with a bad head gasket, Jordan Priestly was doing support work for some of the drivers.  Those are six locals who could’ve competed for, if not taken a championship.  And we’ll just gloss over the Snows and John Potter, because we know how well they usually do.

The championship trophies may have been handed out, but the racing isn’t over for the season.  The final two events are in October: 4th-6th on the West track and 25th and 26th on the Outer Loop.  Still plenty of good times to be had, and for the TT guys, faster laps since it *should* be cooler out.

A full list of winners, placers, show-ers, just missed its and also rans can be found here.  BUT since you’re here, I present you with a list of the Champions, their class and their home region:

  • Alec Udell, American Iron, Texas
  • John Miksula, American Iron Extreme, Midwest
  • Aaron McSpadden, Camaro Mustang Challenge, Texas
  • Matt Schultz, Spec Miata, Northwest
  • David Schotz, TTB & C, Arizona
  • Sonny Watanasirisuk, TTD, California-Southern
  • Jason Kohler, TTE, Great Lakes
  • George Smith, STR1, Rocky Mountain
  • Michael von Quilich, Super Touring 1, California-Southern
  • Team Smith-Burke Racing, Super Touring 2, Utah
  • Kenneth Smith, Super Touring 3, Great Lakes
  • Jon Van Caneghem, Super Unlimited, California-Southern
  • Tyler Palmer, 944 Spec, California-Southern
  • Dick Hunter, GTS2, Texas
  • Tony Colicchio, GTS3, California-Northern
  • Michael McAleenan, GTS4, Northwest
  • Peter Spencer, GTS5, Utah
  • David Schotz, PTB, Arizona
  • Dennis Holloway, PTC, California-Southern
  • Need Speed Orozco, PTD, California-Southern
  • Jason Kohler, PTE, Great Lakes
  • Walter Carlos, PTF, California-Southern
  • David Dirks, Spec Z, Rocky Mountain
  • Shawn Murphy, TT1, Utah
  • Team Smith-Burke Racing, TT2, Utah
  • Christopher Mayfield, TT3, Rocky Mountain
  • Kyle Schick, TTU, Utah 

And there you have it.  See you in a a few weeks, and because I told them this is where to look, here’s a picture of this AIX Mustang:

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-Words and Photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.
26th Jun2013

NASA 2013 Round 4

by Michael Chandler

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.


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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.


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

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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.

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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.