March 20th Wraps Up – Firebird Intl. Raceway, West Course
2010 so far has been an interesting year for NASA Arizona due to many new “items” being implemented—people, procedures, classes, activities and of course, the schedule. I’ve ranted on quite a bit in the past about the 2010 schedule and how it’s a first for Arizona: no back to back events at the same track, more frequent use of Firebird, and what seems like a more compact, efficient and busy schedule. March 20th was the first daytime event NASA Arizona has had at Firebird West…. Probably ever! And that’s thinking back to 2003 or so. Of course there have always been the usual August summer events with the small schedule ending before the baseball games start, but March 20th was a nice twist in the program for everyone: a full-day at the track, but not the large commitment of a 2-day event at Firebird Main or PIR. Not to mention, Tucson, Chandler & east-valley residents got to sleep a little later Saturday morning.
Racers & Time Trialers Unite!
With all respect due to all groups within NASA Arizona, the most interesting for many was the combined sessions of Time Trial and Race Group. Crediting TT competitor Eric Jacobsen for his track record analysis on the NASA Arizona forum, it’s always interesting to see how the track records stack up against each other: Race Group vs. TT. Which group is faster? Which group has more established drivers capable of pounding old records? And of course, which group has more excuses as to why they’re slower? (I can see blood boiling from a few race group members already). For the record (excuse the pun), TT drivers have all day, everyday to set a fast lap and track record during a NASA event. Racers on the other hand, can only solidify and beat track records during the race—not qualifying or practice—making it tough because there’s a lot going on during a race beyond trying to set a track record. That’s a reasonable explanation for why sometimes the track records are sometimes “different” (see how nice I’m being?!) than the TT group’s.
However, all bets were off on March 20th! TT and Racers were combined into the same group with all fast lap times counting towards the overall (and only) track record list for Firebird West. The setting was perfect—a clear winter day, clean track, split groups for big bore (TTS-TTR, ST1-SU) and small bore (TTF-TTA, PTF-PTA) and no excuses otherwise. For the sake of this comparison, any racer that typically supersizes and runs TT, will be considered a racer. Let’s see which group set more records! Racers in red, TT drivers in blue. Everyone run for cover!
• TTR – Pete Creek – 59:81
• TTU – Darrell Rayburn – 1:01.56 (2008)
• TTS – Tage Evanson – 59:72
• TTA – Brian Turner – 1:05.34 (2009)
• TTB – Rick Johnson – 1:03.95
• TTC – Brady Dohrmann – 1:05.30 (2009)
• TTD – Robert Rose – 1:06.53
• TTE – Simon Pavlick – 1:07.65
• TTF – Brady Dohrmann – 1:09.15
Six of the nine records were broken at FIR West on March 20th, which shouldn’t be a big surprise considering the lack of time NASA Arizona has had on that track over the years, not to mention the improvement all drivers have made since our last visit in August 2009. But, looking at this comparison, Time Trial drivers left the track holding six track records with racers sitting at three. Knowing that, the debate will continue–onto the next event, the next year or the next time NASA Arizona drives at Firebird West in August.
Most importantly was the sportsmanship between the two groups working together: racers adapting quickly to the TT routine, TT drivers and racers pushing each other to turn faster laps, efficient downloads and so on. A big thanks go out to everyone who participated in the combined sessions and helped making it a successful day.
Full results from the Time Trial/Race Group combined sessions are located here.
TT Group Business
It’s worth noting that for the TT group, all of the official results are located on the NASA Time Trial page, not MyLaps.com. Whether it’s for contingency, bragging rights or a personal reference, the NASA TT site is The Bible of Results. All TT drivers are encouraged to bookmark NASA-TT.com and reference it frequently. Inside NASA-TT.com are:
- Official rules, classing sheets, license forms
- TT results from across the country
- TT points standings
- Track records from across the country
Many have inquired about changes to the online results as well. Here are the details:
- Protests cannot be made to another competitor past the day of the event. Therefore, once the results are online, a competitor cannot file a protest that would have an effect on the already-published results
- Simple changes must be made before the start of the next event. For example, once April 10th takes the green flag, the March 20th results are set in stone.
- Those eligible changes would be: Spelling errors, vehicle info, classing and even lap times that are not inputted properly.
- All changes must be requested to one of the two Arizona TT officials directly via email: either Jeremy Renshaw or Brady Dohrmann. Email info is on the contact page of NASAAZ.com.
All of the HPDE groups had a strong showing of regular and new drivers, with HPDE1 selling out as always. Determining which event will have a bigger crowd is tough; are people more inclined to sign up and drag all their equipment out for a single day, or is the one-day format more appealing because that leaves people with some sort of weekend after the track? Being stuck between the big BMWCCA weekend at PIR and the massive night event at Firebird Main on April 10th put this event in an awkward location, but the numbers in each group told all.
That being said, many of the above speculations were the reason the race group didn’t have a stand-alone program and were instead combined with the time trial group. For many of the racers with large trailers, crews and an extensive amount of pit equipment, it can be a lot of work for a single day of driving. But all in all, there are so many benefits to driving at Firebird by itself, the paddock was full and everyone had fun. NASA Arizona responded to this demand with an increase of Firebird track time for 2010 over previous years (more on that below).
UMS Time Attack Series
The UMS Time Attack series has fluctuated in attendance somewhat over the years, as does nearly series in motorsports. Right now, however, thanks to promotion from series leader Jeremy Ward, as well as stronger national series such as Redline and the Super Lap Battle, the UMS TA series is stronger and more competitive than ever. New drivers from HPDE3-4, TT and Race Group are always welcomed to join. With the increasing attendance comes a few complications, with the most important being the timing system and availability of the AMB transponders.
NASA Arizona always has a healthy stock of AMB transponders available for rental. While it hasn’t become a problem yet, with the upward swing in attendance of the UMS Time Attack series, things might get complicated in the future since this series, TT and Race group all share from the same rental transponder pool.
So, this is more or less a heads up message saying that if you are planning on being a regular in the UMS Time Attack series, TT or Race Group, you might want to consider purchasing an AMB transponder for yourself. The AMB transponders cost around $400 new and can often be found for much less with light use on racer classifieds (NASA Forums, etc) or Ebay. Just some food for thought. Speak with Jeremy Ward to get info on the proper transponder model you will need to purchase.
Business aside, the TA-B class saw a first time winner in Dave McCombs, taking the victory in his Honda S2000 with a time of 1:06.841. Dave comes from a long background of autocrossing, which suited him well for Firebird West’s tight roadcourse. In addition to the TA-B win, that lap time stood all day and was strong enough for the overall win in the UMS Time Attack Series. Congratulations Dave! Familiar to Time Attack, Gabe Ortega took the win in TA-A, edging out Simon Pavlick by three-tenths of a second. Bryan McCormick was the winner in TA-C.
Full results from the UMS Time Attack series are located here.
Next time at Firebird West
If you couldn’t get enough of Firebird West, NASA Arizona will return for a two-day event on August 14-15. I know what you’re thinking–NASA is crazy for having a two-day event in the middle of the summer, right? Well most people from NASA Arizona have attended the early morning summer events. If not, the concept is simple: Start early.. really early, and get out of there before it gets too hot. While the final schedule hasn’t been released yet, expect a 6am start time for first session, with the last session ending just after 10am, and at around 90degrees. Sessions are shorter, entry fees are less as a result, everyone is home by noon and drivers still get their fix during the summer.
New for 2010 is the two-day summer event format. This will use the compact schedule as roughly described above, on both Saturday and Sunday. And unlike years past, Race Group will be more involved in the summer events. Saturday will serve as practice and qualifying, with Sunday having a warmup session and the actual points race. This will give racers a chance to race on FIR West (same concept applies for FIR East in June as well) for the first time, as well as get a final tuning session before NASA Nationals at Miller in September.
That about wraps up the details from March 20th at Firebird Raceway! Thanks go out to everyone–drivers and workers alike–for making March 20th a successful event despite the fact that it sees less use by NASA Arizona than other locations. See you at the track!