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.
03rd Sep2013

Western Endurance Racing Championship at Miller Motorsports Park Part 1

by Michael Chandler

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-9

 

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.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

 

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.

WERC Enduro MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-27

 

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!