14th Mar2016

“Pro Am”

by Michael Chandler

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One of these cars is driven by a guy who has driven a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 for K-Pax Racing, and the other is being driven by a guy who set an Evo on fire.  Guess who’s driving which.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
27th May2015

NASA Utah 2015 Round 3: Fetch Thine Umbrellas!

by Michael Chandler

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Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler and Michael Wells

The unusually wet spring Utah has been experiencing has meant that there were two consecutive rain soaked round of the NASA Utah season for the first time in…  Well, ever.  Mercifully the rain wasn’t as heavy as the second round, and it had let up by Sunday.  So without further ado, let’s get to the winners!

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In Spec Miata, David Sherman led the suddenly surging Spec Miata field to a win on Saturday, and Daniel Williams kept fighting the good fight and took advantage of the sunny Sunday weather to win on Sunday.  Will he sell on Monday?  Your guess is as good as mine, but I doubt he’ll be letting go of his silver NB.

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Spec Z on Saturday was wild.  Tom Kaminski was chasing the eventual class leader Arthur Golebiowski like a man possessed.  He was coming around Clubhouse Turn at full opposite lock, which probably didn’t help close the gap but it looked very cool.  Meanwhile, Kyle Schick (6th in class) had another scary moment in Clubhouse.  He spun out, but managed to slide off the racing line.

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As mentioned earlier, Arthur Golebiowski took the win on Saturday and the #98 of Team Askew Motorsports ran a tight race and took home their first win of the season on Sunday!

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Bill Noblitt battled Gus Stribakos in GTS3, and took the win in his mid-engined Porsche on both days.  Say what you will about the Boxster, but that car in the right hands can do some pretty awesome things.

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Paul Mitchell, guided by the steady hand of Todd Green, navigated the rain and took the win in PTE on Saturday.  Paul wasn’t done for the weekend, but he was done in PTE.  GTS2 had a competitor on Sunday: the Team CA Sport BMW 3 Series.  We need more lots of things out on track, and E36s are one of them.

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While we’re all familiar with Todd Ainsworth’s new ST3 E36 M3, we’re not familiar with the red E36 M3 pictured above (but below Todd’s).  Turns out the red car is driven by one of our favorite Corvette drivers: George Smith.  Where is the Vette?  Beats me, I didn’t see much of George so I couldn’t ask him but it spent the weekend running around in ST2.  There it ran into something the engineers who created the M3 never imagined it would be competing against: a pickup truck.

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Mike Mielke can wheel in that truck!  Hopefully this season we’ll see some epic, and frankly strange, battles between the super truck and George’s new M3.  Because who hasn’t wanted to see that?

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Travis Tidball got himself a wing to go along with his fancy new (for this season) bodywork!  He also got himself a pair of wins out of the weekend.  The car was back on the dyno at JDP Motorsports to verify its power-to-weight ratio after some questions were raised during the weekend.  The results?  The car is ST3 legal.  The C5 Corvette: ruining people’s race weekends since 2001!

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A big surprise was seeing Brent Holden running in with the NASA Utah guys and gals instead of with the Pirelli World Challenge crew up in Canada.  No matter, he had an impressive showing in his Global Motorsports Group Audi R8 LMS Ultra and took wins in the Super Unlimited class on both days.

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On Sunday he battled the TW Racing R8 LMS, and you know what?  The older LMS got around the Ultra!  It was an amazing battle to watch!  However, an untimely penalty forced the TW Racing R8 into the pits to serve out its penalty and cut the fight short.  How did the GTSU class R8 fare in it’s class?

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Not well, unfortunately.  The 911 GT3 Cup cars of Alan Wilson and Les Long took the wins on Saturday and Sunday respectively.  The Air Power Racing prepped Porsche of Les Long is currently tied for first in the season’s points race with the TW Racing Audi.  How will this back and forth battle play out?  Hopefully we’ll see more tight battles between the two as the season plays out.

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More Porsches battled in GTS5.  On Saturday David Lockwood notched another win for the Air Power Racing camp, while Darrell Troester picked up a win for himself and Tatum Racing on Sunday.

Have I told you that I really like the E90 3 series?  Because I like the E90s, especially in race trim.  Conveniently, Byron Smith drives a race prepped E90 AND he won the GTS4 class.  That confluence of events allowed me to express my opinion on the E90.  Moving on…

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TT1 is being dominated by Subarus.  On Saturday, Shawn Murphy in the Lyfe Motorsports STi took the win over Ziptie Dynowerks STi of Greg Valdez by less than a second.  On Sunday the roles were reversed and Greg beat out Shawn, but the margin of victory was smaller: only .33 seconds separated the two!

TT2 is ruled by the iron fist of Robert Rathbone, and his authority is enforced by his 911 GT3.  All those who oppose him will be laid to WASTE!!!  Well, not really… at all.  He is currently running away with the TT2 championship.

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Alex Whetman is a bad, bad man in a bad, bad Focus.  He took TT3 on both days, earning his 4th and 5th wins on the season. He also had the fastest TT times of the weekend.  Not just TT3, ALL of TT.  By the way, buy the shirt.

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In the sea of FRS’s and BRZs, what rises to the top?  A Honda S2000.  Dave Wann took TTB  on both days, and is right in the thick of things in the class.  We don’t have a shirt to promote here, or anything really.

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Paul Mitchell ladies and gentlemen!  The intrepid Miata won TTE on the weekend, but that’s not the story here.

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Jeb Brown and Ben Lamberson are continuing their battle from last season, with Jeb currently leading Ben by a mere 70 points.  Was this little update necessary?  Eh, probably not.  But would you look at that picture!

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Fresh off their win at Global Time Attack, Lyfe Motorsports brought out their R35 GTR on Sunday AND!… Did not post a time during a TT session.  They did post the fastest time of the day (1.31.803!) during the Thunder group practice that morning. The TW Racing R8 LMS did post times during TT sessions.  Did it on both days.  It’s fastest time in the class was a 1:40.763, but that wasn’t the fastest lap it did over the weekend.  In the Sunday Thunder Group race, they posted a 1:33.825!

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McKay Snow was out again in the Patron Elan DP02, racing in Super Formula.  He took both races in commanding fashion.

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Formula saw Troy Duffin take the first race of the day with young Bruno Carneiro in second.  In the second race, they swapped podium places: Bruno won, and Terry took second.  At the end of the day, the young Brazilian clings to a twenty-five point lead in the class.

And there you have it.  If you’re doing rain dances, stop it!  Round 4 is also on the East Course, and the Lucas Oil Offroad series will be dropping by the off road course at MMP as well.  Come out, bring an umbrella (and possibly a winter coat.  You won’t be laughing when it snows three and a half feet!), and take in a full weekend of all sorts of racing!

Saturday Gallery

Sunday Gallery

Michael Wells Gallery!

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

 

24th Oct2014

Tresduro: NASA Utah’s 2014 Season Finale

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Every year for… many years NASA Utah, and MPRA before them, have thrown an endurance race to close out the season.  Normally it’s the standard X amount of hours in a row, on a track that has the corners in the same places as the lap before.  This year things would be different.  Very different.  Not mind blowingly, life alteringly different, but still different.  There would still be an endurance race, but not all in a row.  It would run on the Outer Loop… and the East Course… and the West Course.

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That’s right baby!  Dynamic track!  Basically here’s how it would shake out: All the HPDE groups and TT would run on the Outer Loop only, while the race group and the open wheel guys would jump between all three configurations.  If you remember the Pirelli World Challenge races from a couple of months ago, then this track switching concept isn’t so foreign.  They ran the World Challenge GT races on the Outer Loop, Spec B and Miller GT Challenge on the West Course and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West guys got the East Course.  What was foreign, and I can’t stress this enough, was having the same group of competitors running three different track configurations on the same day for the same race!  Well, technically it wasn’t all the same race, but the drivers’ times in each race would be combined and whoever had the best time would be the class winner.  Speaking of which, let’s stop talking about the track thing and talk about racing!

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The Open Wheel guys were in the same boat as the Race Group: three different tracks, three races, one time to decide a winner.  In Formula Troy Duffin and Steven Costello continued their season long battle, but at the end of the long day there had to be a winner.  And that winner was Troy, who completed 34 laps in the allotted time compared to Steven’s 33.  In Super Formula it was the the #11 Rodizio Grill sponsored car of Terry Biner running away with the class win, leaving Steve Burns and John LaBrie to duke it out for second.  In what can only be described as driving feats never seen since the days of Juan Manuel Fangio*, Steve Burns defeated John LaBrie!

*Not really true at all, but both John and Steve had really good drives in their races

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It was time for the TT competitors to take to the track after the Open Wheel drivers vacated it.  Their four sessions held weight because, while the season points chases were over for everyone else, this was a points event for the TT drivers.  While some people had wrapped up their season titles (more on that in another post), some people were still fighting tooth and nail for theirs.  People like Shay Campbell and James Pasquier, who pitted their Porsche 911s against some ST3 competitors and a healthy chunk of the Spec Z field.  Despite finishing in 14th, five spots behind James and scoring 5 points less than him, Shay locked up his TT3 points title!  Meanwhile, at the front of the TT3 crowd, Travis Tidball took the win.

In TT1 the guys of TW Racing put their Audi R8 LMS atop the podium, and solidified their championship.  However second place in the class was up for debate.  If you remember, Shawn Murphy ventilated the engine block in his WRX STi which sidelined it for the remainder of the season and seemingly opened the door for Smith-Burke Racing to leapfrog one of our favorite Wyomingans… Wyomingites?  Whatever, Shawn needed to hold off the C5 Corvette, so he did what any enterprising man with a willing girlfriend would do: he used her car for the last two events.  He didn’t win, but he scored JUST enough points to hold off the Data Motorsports backed Corvette to stay in second place.

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In TTE Ben Lamberson put used all 127 horsepower his Audi could muster to beat Steve Larsen, and cement his title.  TTU was missing it’s most notable competitor: the Lyfe Motorsports/Wild Schick Racing R35 GTR was in California doing some testing, which left the class wide open for Rhett Panter to win.  TT2 was won by David Bradshaw, and Josh Bennett took home the win in TTB.

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And we finally arrive at the Race Group, the other group that would take on the perils of driving three different tracks over the course of one race day.  It also had some interesting driver line-ups, including George Smith piloting a Miata with Les Long, Derek Wolthoff driving Brendon Stewart’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and…  Well, there’s no easy way to say this…

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PPPAAAAAAAUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLL MMMMIIIITTCCCCCCHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which was driven by Matt Guiver, Todd Ainsworth, Alex Whetman and Todd Green.  That mighty team could only muster a third place finish in E3, behind Allan Anderson (who slid around Wind Up, but it’s cool because he has a Corolla so he knows what he’s doing) and David Sherman. NASA Utah 2014 Tres Enduro CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-59

In E0 we saw No Whammies (Travis Tidball) hit big money and stop atop the podium, ahead of Travis Williams in the #22 Discount Tire FR500S Mustang and Good Guy Gus Stribakos in the 888 Porsche.

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In a class by himself, literally, was the Idaho Mountain Touring Porsche 911 in E1.  Let’s take a moment to appreciate how pretty it is.  Ahhhhhhhh.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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ES.  The Big boys.  You know the Names: TW Racing, Big Bob Evans, Dandy Dan Worley, Steve “Mister” Burns and “Mister En Fuego” Brendon Stweart.  They were all fighting for the victory.  The gritty field went wheel to wheel and door to door all day! Except when Brendon broke a suspension component.  That sidelined him.  And Bob blew a tire in the last race of the day, so his day ended early too… But when they were running, they were threatening to take away podium finishes from other drivers!  In the end it came down to two teams: the TW Racing crew had adjusted their R8 LMS so Allen Turner could fully exploit it’s advantages, while Tatum Racing had the LSx powered Porsche 944 tuned to peak efficiency for Dan Worley.  Who would emerge victorious?

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In the end the Audi proved too much for the Porsche, and TW Racing took home the class and overall victory.

In the end, we all took home a victory.  Over the course of the season we saw drivers snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and overcome devastating events.  We saw camaraderie and good natured competitiveness, and most importantly: everyone at the end of the day could walk away uninjured.

And so ends the NASA season.  On behalf of me and the staff here at CAMautoMag, I would like to say thank you to Matt Guiver, Dave Kizerian and Dan McKeever for the awesome season, the track workers for the thankless and tireless jobs they do to make the racing happen, and especially to the drivers.  Everyone from the HPDE 1 drivers, all the way up to the Super Unlimited class drivers and everyone in between.  We do this because we have the same passion as you guys, and since we can’t get out there and drive with you guys (yet!) the next best thing is to come out shoot some photos and say some nice words about what you’re doing out there.

We’ll be at the Awards Banquet on November 22, where we’re looking forward to seeing everyone!  We will also have things for you to purchase if you so choose.

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