10th Aug2017

Endurance Racing Tests More Than Machinery

by Michael Chandler

On a recent episode of the Deadcast, the Deadspin.com podcast, they had a debate about what is the most mentally grueling sport.  They brought up tennis, some weird amateur marathons and cycle races, then someone threw out endurance auto racing.  It got some approval, but it was then shot down because “you’re sitting down the whole time”.  While yes, the driver and crew spend a fair bit of time sitting, they’re not exactly hanging out or going on a leisurely cruise.  Let’s take this past weekend’s Utah 6 Hour as an example, and go from there.

Some teams didn’t even get the mundane testing sessions others had.  The Pink Ribbon Racing Team, locals Toby and Lisa Crawford, along with Michele Abbate and her husband/crew chief Anthony Philleo, and with JJ Chen of Pink Ribbon Racing, were wrenching on the car most of the weekend.  The supercharged Subaru BRZ lost a differential seal during Friday practice, which meant they had to overnight one to the track.  Then they needed a new differential, because of course.  Thankfully they borrowed one from Mike Bratsch.  Then the car was ready for qualifying and the actual enduro!  Michele started the race, and showed some good pace, considering this was her first race in the car and on an unfamiliar track.  They did some pit stops, and a driver change, and all was alright.  Then, at about the half way mark, something went wrong.  The car went behind the wall, and everyone jumped on it.  After a long fight, they retired.  A faulty coil pack the likely culprit.

A stint in an endurance race isn’t a Sunday drive.  Yes, you’re sitting the whole time, but you’re also wearing a fire suit, driving gloves and shoes, and a helmet.  Did I mention that a lot of these cars don’t have amenities such as air conditioning or bluetooth?  The only thing coming in on the radio is someone in the pit telling you the gap to the car in front of you, your lap times, and when you need to come in to the pits.  And more so than usual, you have to be aware of what’s going on around you.  Your daily driver might have lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking, but racing cars don’t.  All of that falls on to the sack of meat in the driver’s seat, and a spotter if you’re lucky.  A lot of the teams aren’t that lucky on this level.  If the driver has a momentary lapse of focus, things can go really bad really quick.  Nothing really bad happened at this year’s race, but there was one scary moment.  And that moment almost went from “oh no!” to a speechless moment.  

When the car comes in, the crew goes over the wall.  At this level, only certain things can be done at certain points in the stop.  Unlike a NASCAR or IndyCar stop, where fuel goes in while tires are being changed, here fuel has to be done independent of the tires.  So the fuel nozzle goes in, fuel goes in the car, nozzle goes out, then the car goes up on jacks and the tires can be changed.  Spill some fuel, that’s a penalty.  Swap tires before the fuel is done, that’s a penalty.  Have too many people over the wall, that’s a penalty.  Fuel person not in the proper gear? Penalty.  There are an insane amount of ways to get penalized in the pits, and I’ve only mentioned the stuff that could happen in the box.  There are pit lane speed limits, you have to be in the correct lane while traversing the pits, and you could get parked in the penalty box for leaving your pit stall in an unsafe manner.  OR you could not have tires and fuel ready for the stop.  The car sitting while the crew fumbles for fuel cans and tires might as well be a penalty.  Everyone in that pit has to be ready to go, and on the same page, or else the race can get out of reach without the car moving an inch.

Even before getting the car for qualifying, drivers have to sit through a meeting.  A meeting where they are given information such as pit lane speed limits, rejoining the track from pit lane, all of these seemingly little obvious things are told to all the drivers at once.  This is where they ask for clarification on rules, get them, and enjoy some air conditioning.  This part really isn’t so bad.

This is the rough part: driving at night.  It’s dark out there.  Away from main straight, there isn’t much light outside of whatever the car has on it.  Teams strap light bars, put brighter bulbs in the headlights, and even with all of that, it is still the kind of darkness that makes a person uncomfortable.  The race organizers put additional reflectors out on the track, to mark the limits of it, but the drivers are going mostly by instinct.  The small envelope of light is all you can see out there.  Anything beyond the reach of the light is the unknowable unknown.  Could the rumble strips be out there?  Or is it the kitty litter?  Who knows, but that bright light behind you is getting a lot brighter.  Is it a Miata, or is it a Porsche?  Hopefully it’s the former, because you’re probably at your turn in point for the next turn.  In front of you is darkness, behind you is blinding light, and you’ve been driving at a high rate of speed by feel for the past half hour.  Or has it been forty minutes?  Should you be expecting the radio to crackle to life?  OH SHIT THERE’S A TURN!

Then the race ends.  You come down the front straight one last time, and you see the waving checkered flag.  OH THANK GOD!  A cool down lap, then it’s time to get out of that hot ass racing suit, and into a nice cold beer.  And get a trophy if you and your team did well enough.  Hell, drink enough beer and you can make those cans into a trophy.  If you made it through all six hours, congratulations!  If not, it was a damn good try!  You can try again next year, or at the next endurance race you are eligible to enter.  Maybe it’ll be shorter, two or four hours perhaps.  Or maybe you’ll end up doing a twelve hour race, or twenty-four, or even a twenty-five hours.  Whatever you do, you’ve done one of the most mentally grueling sports a person can go through.  

And now the race’s winners

E0: RK Motorsports

E1: TAPG Motorsports

E3: Neth Racing Works

ENP: Ice 9 Motorsports

ES: TruSpeed Autosport

ESR: Norma’s Last Chance

And now, a gallery.  If you’re interested in purchasing photos from this, or any NASA Utah event, head to my SmugMug page.

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02nd Aug2017

Utah 6 Hour PREVIEW

by Michael Chandler

WERC endurance race 2015 MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-175.jpg

We’re fast approaching the annual Utah 6 Hour endurance race, a Western Endurance Racing Championship race that brings out all types: fool hardy amateurs in Miatas, seasoned veterans in Miatas, and everyone else who doesn’t think Miata is always the answer, they all show up to our slice of heaven in a cow pasture to ply their trade.  And in an effort to ply my trade, here’s a preview of the cars and teams you’ll see.  Class by class, with the usual mix of useful information and bad jokes you’ve come to expect.  AND AWAY WE GO!

E0

In E0, we have ten entries in a wide breadth of vehicles.  Some of which have your favorite locals, and others that you may have seen elsewhere.  Let’s talk about them!

  • In the #89 Team Automaxx Nissan 350Z we have Spec Z regulars Richard Fitzgerald, Tom Kaminski, Chad Aalders, along with Stephen Martin.  From Matt Guiver “2nd year attempting to finish the 6 hour. Running Stephens car, Stephen is also running it in the sprint race! All star team roster means pace is good, just need strategy and a trouble free run. Competing against much faster cars in E0.”  All Star might be an understatement, two of the top three Spec Z drivers (Tom and Chad) in the car, and Richard had an amazing showing at the last weekend.  Look for these guys to make E0 difficult for some other teams
  • NASA Regular Toby Crawford is being joined by Michele Abbate in the #432 Makes & Models Subaru BRZ.  Who is Michele?  Well, she’s a championship winning road racer along with being a finalist in the Hoonigans’ #HooniganWanted female driver search.  Toby and the BRZ haven’t always been on the same page this season, but hopefully they can work out a tentative peace so they can see the checkered flag.
  • Erik Davis, Jeremy Renshaw, James Fluckey, DJ Quint, and Phillip Buffington will be sharing the #8 German Auto Service BMW 325is.  Don’t know much about this team, except that apparently DJ works for Toyota.  Or is somehow affiliated with the automotive giant.
  • TruSpeed Autosport is back this year to defend their win from last year.  The familiar #45 is sporting the Mother’s Polishes and Wax livery, but there has been a last minute driver change.  Tom Haacker and James Slavik won’t be joined by Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA pro Kelly Collins.  Instead Sloan Urry, local hot shoe and Porsche specialist, will be taking his place.
  • Strom Motorsports is entering an Audi RS3 LMS in this year’s enduro.  The #77 car will be driven by David DePillo and the man himself Brett Strom.  
  • The #61 Roadshagger Racing M3 will be driven by Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley.  The car is sponsored by Simply Vegas Real Estate, which is leading me to think that these guys are coming up from the greater Las Vegas area.
  • In the Heart of Gold (the #42 car Spec Z) we have Jan Gerday, joined by Spec Miata gangster Carter James and Spec Z wizard Arthur Golebiowski.  Neither driver is sporting two heads, nor are they from Betelgeuse V, but according to Matt “this could be a threat for Spec Z E0 podium run.”
  • Daren Jorgensen and Steve Marx are teaming up in a Rearden Racing prepped BMW M325i Racing to challenge for the top spot in class.  The car will be wearing Darren’s #65
  • The #50 RK Motorsports M3 will be driven by Andy Kwitowski and Skip Rebozzi.  If you think I copied and pasted that sentence, you’re wrong!  Anyway, the car is sponsored by AK Construction, and is orange and white.
  • Our final E0 entry is the #175 Team BMW Z4 Z4 M Coupe, sponsored by Anne.  Don’t know if that’s a person, or a company, or what, but there’s that.  The driving duo will be Dean Mansour and Blaine McNutt.

E1

By the way, all of these photos are from last year’s race.  So, don’t show up on Saturday and expect to see these cars out on track.  ANYWAY…

  • DJ Quint is back, and in an FRS.  He’s listed as one of three driver in the #86 TAPG Motorsports FRS.  The other drivers listed are Richard Woodroffe and Michael Donick.  Matt Guiver says of the team “Another FRS! They ran previously with NASA Utah in our endurance race several years back. Now they are back to see if they can get more laps in then Toby!”
  • Tom Rogers may be in a new BMW 3 Series for his regular NASA duties, but he’s bringing back the ol’ #160 325is for the enduro!  Tom is joined by fellow NASA regulars Joe Evers and Chris Haunold for the race, and apparently the SGS in SGS Motorsports means something.
  • Jennifer Gannett is bringing out her Ian Lacy Racing prepped Miata, and will be joined by Shawn Humphries and Brendon Johnson.  Two Ford Performance Racing School instructors.  Matt thinks this trio will “battle for E1 supremacy”, and I’m inclined to agree.
  • PCS Motorsports’s #184 Porsche Boxster will be driven by Robert Gardner.  Robert, driver of the orange Jaegermeister Porsche in Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy, and his team will be referred to as Party Time Racing from here on out.  
  • The #7 GTI Racing entry is not a GTI, but is a BMW 330i.  Mark Mitchell and John Norris will be sharing driving duties.
  • J.R. and George Smith are not related, but they do race together.  And for this enduro they will be driving the #40 J.R. Smith Coaching Porsche Boxster.  From Matt, “J.R. and George Smith (not related) are once again teaming up and hoping for better luck this weekend. Having made several attempts to run endurance racing in the past across several platforms, have so far met with the fickle racing gods hope to change their luck with a very reliable Spec Boxter.”

E2

One E2 entry, the #88 Stick My Car Ford Fiesta.  Matt says of the car and team “Jason (Harward) has recruited the stalwart Joe Sim and plans to campaign the Fiesty Fiesta!” 

E3

Nine entries in E3, and eight of them are Miatas.  One is a very special Miata…

  • That special Miata is Paul Mitchell, #58.  I’ll let Matt explain: “Team M.A.T.T (Matt Guiver, Alex Whetman, Todd Ainsworth, and Todd Green) trying to capture the E3 title once more on their home court, we have worked hard on making PM easier to drive, and getting our team drivers some much needed time behind the wheel. It’s going to come down to good stops, fast driver changes, and solid pace to keep PM in the fight for the top step.”  Paul is the little car that seemingly can, no matter what.  It’s as reliable as your grandfather’s watch, and has probably survived as much stuff as the old man too.  Don’t count out ol’ Paul.
  • Robert Ames is apparently going to be this year’s Iron Man, as he’s the only driver listed in the #178 Sector Purple Racing Miata.  Good luck Robert.
  • The #76 Hair On Fire Racing Miata will be driven by father and son team Matthew and David Dirks.  David is the 2013 Spec Z National Champ, so don’t sleep on this car.
  • Neil Houston and Alex Nelsen will challenge the podium in the #29 NRG Motorsports Miata.
  • The #3 FG Sport Miata will be driven by Bolivar Monjaraz, and NASA TT regular Eduardo Acuero.  From Matt, “Boli has chosen Eduardo Acuero to join him for the 6 hour. Boli has crewed professional races, and several successful 25 hour teams. He is very excited to join the driving ranks and apply everything he has learned in his long crew career to make a successful bid for E3 this year.”  Could they win?  It’s a six hour race, anyhting is possible.  But this will be a team that’ll battle until the very end.
  • The #1 Rocky Mountain Reapers entry also has one driver listed, Erik Nemnich.  Who will be the 2017 Iron Man?  STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT!!!
  • The Neth Racing Works #15 Miata will be shared by Robert, Nadine, and David Neth.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re all related.
  • Christopher and Andrew Steyn are the duo in the Steyn Motorsports #11 Miata.
  • The Brave Little Toaster is the lone Porsche 944 in the sea of Miatas.  Greg, Blake, and Darrell Troester are sharing duties in the #518 944, and they could give ol’ Paul some fits.  

ENP

PROTOTYPES!

  • The NASA Rocky Mountain Region director Dave Balingit is driving the #16 NASA Rocks Elan NP01
  • Dakota Dickerson and Clayton Magouyrk are in the #1 Ice 9 Motorsports NP01.
  • And Charles Streicher will share driving duties with Benjamin Waddell in the #82 Ice Nine Motorsports NP01.

ES

For the bigger horsepower cars, and other ridiculousness.  Four very diverse entries.

  • Alex Welch, a World Challenge pro out of Colorado, is joining Eban Bell in the #76 Red Beard Racing Porsche Cayman S.
  • The Team Prototype Development Group is back with their Factory Five GTM.   Beau Borders and Mike Holland will be splitting time in the #4 car.
  • ColdCock Whiskey #66 Chevrolet Silverado Super Truck is going to be turning some laps with Troy Lindstrom and Shawn Sampson behind the wheel.
  • David Nadler is going to be out in the #613 Tatum Racing Cayman.

ESR

The top class, with two entries.

  • The #21 Diamond Level Motorsports NP01 will have Scott and Aaron Meyer, and Joseph Fagner behind the wheel.
  • Norma’s Last Chance, a Norma M20FC #1, will be driven by Phil Fogg Jr.  A Norma M20FC is an open top prototype, approved by the FIA and ACO for use in their various series, and can have accept any of a series of engines.  From a tiny 1.2L turbocharged unit, up to a massive LS7.  I have no idea what this Norma has, but it’s going to be pretty cool to see it.

And there it is, all of the entries for this year’s Utah 6 Hour.  We’ll be out there on Saturday, and we hope to see you as well!

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26th Aug2016

Gavin After Dark: Utah 6 Hour Gallery

by Michael Chandler

Utah 6 Hour Gavin Pouquette Photography CAMautoMag-22

Photos by Gavin Pouquette

That title made it sound like this thing was gonna get weird, but it isn’t going to be any weirder than usual.  After I told him to only send me twenty images from the Utah 6 Hour, he sent me twenty-two!  TWENTY-TWO!!!  HOW DARE HE!  Anyway, because it’s easier to upload all of the photos in a folder than it is to not, here’s his oversized gallery from the Utah 6 Hour.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
18th Aug2016

MOAR! Another NASA Utah and Utah 6 Hour Gallery

by Michael Chandler

Utah 6 Hour 2016 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-14

More NASA Utah and Utah 6 Hour goodness!  Fast cars, bright lights, and possibly the most dramatic photo of Jeff Burton anyone has ever taken!

I’ve got the photos for sale!  Purchase one, or several, and help keep this crazy ship afloat.

 

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
17th Aug2016

NASA Utah and Utah 6 Hour Gallery!

by Michael Chandler

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Michael Wells sent us over some photos from the last NASA Utah weekend, including the Utah 6 Hour.  Check em out!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
12th Aug2016

The Utah 6 Hour

by Michael Chandler

Utah 6 Hour Michael Chandler CAMautoMag cover-1

It was the beginning of the best ten days on this year’s calendar.  Acting as the meat in a sandwich where the delicious bread is a Salt City Drift event and Pirelli World Challenge, and the condiments are a NASA Utah weekend, was the annual Utah 6 Hour.  Now a staple on the NASA Utah calendar, the Western Endurance Racing Championship stop provides a unique opportunity for the drivers and fans to drive into the night, and see nothing but lights piercing the dark Tooele night.  And if you were out around turn 5 around 10:30-11, you would’ve seen me with a string of LED lights strewn about my torso.  I was easily identifiable, for safety!  Anywell, let’s talk about who took home a trophy!

E0

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Lyfe Motorsport was out with one of their own Spec Z’s (the Towne Storage Z) and supporting the #99 DLG Racing Z.  Showing that 350Z is life, the Lyfe backed teams finished 1-2 in E0!  The Towne Storage Z completed 147 laps in the 6 hours, with the DLG Z four laps behind them.

E1

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In E1, completing 153 laps in the allotted time, was the #65 E46 BMW of Strom Motorsports.  It was the teams second win of the day, having taken the win in the GTS5 class during the Lightning sprint race earlier.

E2

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The Fit is fucking go!  The #12 Honda Fit of Honda Performance Development completed 143 laps in 6:01:09.257, and probably had to stop for fuel once.

E3

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It was a battle of the Miatas in E3: the mighty and legendary Paul Mitchell versus the bug-eyed RJ Racing Miata.  I mean bug-eyed in the nicest way.  Look at those lights!  Those lights lit the way for 147 laps, and lit their way to victory.

ENP

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The ENP had one entrant, the Valkyrie Autosport Elan NP01.  Despite the teams best efforst, the little prototype went behind the wall after 29 laps.

ES

Utah 6 Hour 2016 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag teaser-5

This was a battle: the TruSpeed Autosport 997 Cup car versus the Makes & Models Huracan Super Trofeo.  A tried and true chassis versus a sprint race car.  WERC class leaders one win away from clinching their championship versus a team with multiple regional championships under their belt?  If you’ve been paying any attention to how these posts go, you know that by seeing the picture of the TruSpeed car that they won.  Not only did they win the Utah 6 Hour, they locked up the ES Class championship.  Congratulations to them!

ESR

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Now we arrive at the car I was most excited to see running.  Toby Crawford, driver of the Pink Ribbon Racing/Makes & Models Subaru BRZ, told me that there was a Ginetta G57 at UMC and that it was racing in the enduro.  It was the Ryno Racing team, sponsored by Design Masonry.  The G57 is based on Ginetta’s LMP3 design, and is probably a lot the same.*  The big difference is that the LMP3 spec Nissan engine, rated at 420bhp, has been replaced with a Chevrolet LS3, which makes 150 more horsepower than the LMP3 engine.  I was excited to see and hear the 900kg prototype tearing through the night, but unfortunately the car was retired after just 72 laps.

And there it is, another six hour race in the books!  I’m already looking forward to next year.  A tremendous shout out to all the race officials, corner workers, and safety crew for sticking it out until midnight.  A big thank you to the family, friends, and well wishers who came out and watched the race and cheered the teams on.  And all of the congratulations to all of the drivers and crew members for racing in the longest race on the NASA Utah calendar!  There were over thirty cars entered in the race, and they all took the green flag.  It was, as always, an amazing experience.

We can’t wait for next year.

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

 

08th Aug2016

Coming This Week: Actual Content!

by Michael Chandler

NASA Utah 2016 Round 6 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag teaser-1

YES!  After… However long it has been, there will be some new content!  Specifically coverage of some killer events.  On Saturday we had NASA Utah racing, where we saw Tom Kaminski debut his new, HKS inspired livery.

Salt City Drift 2016 Round 5 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag teaser-1

On Friday night the Salt City Drift season soldiered on, and we saw David Curtis break out his Corolla.

NASA Utah 2016 Round 6 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag teaser-2

And on Saturday night we had the Utah 6 Hour, a Western Endurance Racing Championship race that ran deep into the night.  Makes & Models pitted their Super Trofeo Huracan, a car that normally runs sprint races, against the field and the clock.

We’ve got a ton of coverage of all of those events coming up this week!  KEEP YOUR INTERNET BOX POINTED IN OUR DIRECTION!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
18th Feb2016

Forget Maui

by Michael Chandler

WERC endurance race 2015 MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-150

The beach is dumb anyway

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05th Feb2016

Goodbye Scion

by Michael Chandler

Tuner Scion xB

Toyota finally axed Scion, the brand that was supposed to be youth oriented, but ended up selling to the same people who normally buy Toyotas.  It’s sad that this news came after the success of the FRS and the introduction of the iA, which is basically a Mazda2 with an extra set of doors.  We can sit around and complain, pitch ideas of what could have been done, and/or point and laugh; OR, we could remember the good times.  Good times like Nik Preusser’s first xB.

Fredric Asabo Scion TC Formula D

Or Fredric Aasbo’s tC

WERC endurance race 2015 MMP Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-69

Or the FRS we saw at last year’s WERC 6 Hour race.  Let’s remember the good times people, and rejoice that the Scion lineup is getting shoehorned into Toyota’s.

02nd Feb2016

Goodnight Tooele

by Michael Chandler

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We love having Michael Wells contributing photos, because he sends us stuff like this.  Plus he’s a great guy to hang out with at the track.

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