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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.