Summer is here, and marks the start of the NASA-AZ summer event format–early to rise, race, and return home before the heat takes over the valley. Why drivers meeting before sunrise? Because RACE CAR! While the lack of sleep might be hard on everyone, it spares us being out in the highest temperatures later in the day. Unlike other club racing organizations, NASA-AZ does a good job at keeping to the condensed schedule (even with track clean up), sending you home in time to relax by the pool.
This time around we ventured to Firebird International Raceway—East Track for a full schedule of racing, Time Trials, HPDE and Time Attack. Track temperatures start out “tolerable” but tend to climb rather quickly, introducing all sorts of challenges as participants make their way around the track.
Despite how uncomfortable the summer can be, NASA-AZ drivers certainly have continued to show their commitment to our region by braving the heat and making every effort to enter the track gates for a very early morning start.
With a condensed schedule, the racing lineup of sessions had a slight twist to the usual. As we began with qualifying, lap times sorted the field for a qualifying race later in the morning. The heat played games with grip on the track and the Small Bore field found themselves in reversed order more than once, with some great battles amongst drivers. In qualifying, Norm Hamden turned our fastest overall lap but a landscaping venture brought him a consequential DQ, introducing Darren Griffith as our pole sitter, followed by Joe Paluch and Dave Hauck.
With a qualifying race underway, a battle for position began to unfold. The finishing order was established with Jeff Wojnar up at the front of the 944 pack, followed by Dave Hauck and Steve Marlow as our top three. With a bit of drama having taken place during this session, several drivers found themselves with penalties and were consequently sent to the back of the pack.
Sunday’s race would be the time and place to sort out unfinished business from Saturday’s results. It was bound to be an exciting start as the fastest qualifiers from Saturday were all in the back. Once the green was revealed, Hamden took every opportunity at the start. Taking the inside of the field, and creating a giant dust cloud in the process, Hamden passed nearly the entire field and with 2 tires off the entire way.
With the session over, the dust settled and the checkered flag in the air, Norm Hamden took the lead and finished first, followed by Darren Griffith and Dave Hauck finishing second and third respectively. Our lone PTF driver Paul Seiferth, kept his race clean and turned quality laps throughout the weekend.
The Big Bore race was host to a lot of action on this small track. Qualifying sorted the field in several respects; not only in terms of lap times but also how those times were effected by continuous changes in grip on the track as the heat began to increase. That did not seem to stop Rich Marziale (in SU) who ran a sub-minute lap placing him as our Big Bore pole sitter, followed by Mark Alger who ran a minute-flat, positioning himself for second in SU. Next up is CV Wells, who qualified first in his class (ST-2) running a minute-flat. PT-B was led by Matt McIntyre, while PT-A and PT-C were led by John Dowling and Leroy Moore.
With the qualifying race next on the agenda, the field was turned loose with the green flag and drivers sorted themselves into their positions—all while trying their best to turn clean laps–despite the grime and dust. With Alger absent missing from the field, Marziale was sure to lead the pack and continued to do so with a 0:57 as his best in the session. Next to cross the finish line were McCormick and Wells in ST-2, followed by Dalgarn. In PT-B, it was a dual between McIntyre and Renshaw who finished first and second. While Dowling and Moore were the only cars in the PT-A and PT-C classes, they did mingle amongst the PT-B field.
Sunday brought us some very fast and very good racing. Ricky (Boo-Boo) Johnson (ST-1), Dan Maloney (ST-2), and Mark Alger (SU) started the race in the back of the pack—as a result of not running the qualifying race the day before. Mixing it up amongst the PT field, the start immediately presented the higher-powered cars with some traffic to contend with. Johnson was on new slicks, which certainly brought out the best in the car as he navigated through the entire field finishing only second to Alger, who was our overall winner. It was an interesting battle between Alger and Johnson, both turning quick laps during the race — :59.3 and :59.7!
PT-B brought our regular trio of racers to the field, with a battle between McIntyre and Renshaw who maintained their first and second positions, followed by Marty Saltzman in third. In PT-A, John Dowling had the company of Brian Turner. However, Dowling maintained a fair lead from the start, helping him to secure a class win for the day. Last but certainly not least was Leroy Moore in PT-C who mingled yet again with PT-A and PT-B cars and finished a respectable 10th overall.
Top Racers from Saturday (Big Bore Qualifying Race)
– Ritch Marziale
– Bryan McCormick
– CV Wells
– Greg Dalgarn
– Matt McIntyre
– Jeremy Renshaw
– John Dowling
– Leroy Moore
Top Racers from Saturday (Small Bore Qualifying Race)
– Jeff Wojnar
– Dave Hauck
– Steve Marlow
– Paul Seiferth
Top Racers from Sunday (Big Bore Main Race)
– Mark Alger
– Ricky Johnson
– Bryan McCormick
– CV Wells
– Dan Maloney
– Matt McIntyre
– Jeremy Renshaw
– Marty Saltzman
– John Dowling
– Brian Turner
– Leroy Moore
Top Racers from Saturday (Small Bore Main Race)
– Norm Hamden
– Darren Griffith
– Dave Hauck
– Paul Seiferth.
Even with the Summer heat, our many dedicated Time Trialers hit the track, bringing some close in-class competition. From TTR to TTE, drivers had their chance to turn some quick times and continue to collect much needed season points.
Starting with our Big Bore Time Trialers, we have Ritch Marziale; who not only turned our fastest laps in Race Group but turned the quickest overall lap in TT with a :57.287—a new TTR track record. In TTU Mark Alger took center stage with his Saturday win as he turned the quickest lap in his class with a :59.551, followed by Travis Barnes who ran a 1:01.948, and Gary Felton who turned a 1:03.366.
TTS was led by some NASA-AZ regulars, including Pete Creek, Bryan McCormick, and CV Wells—all turning 1-minute flat laps with only a tenth or so apart. Creek led TTS with a 1:00.2, McCormick turned a 1:00.747, and CV Wells an equally quick lap with a 1:00.784!
TTA was a 5-car lineup, led by ITR driver Paul Bloomberg who ran 1:04.093, followed by Justin Markiewicz with a 1:04.539, and in third was Doug Evans who turned a 1:04.759. Matt McIntyre definitely kept the pace despite the summer heat, keeping the lead in TTB by over a second with 1:03.086 as his best for Saturday, followed by Mervin Tan who turned a 1:04.516, then a 1:05.288 by Jeremy Renshaw.
TTC was led by the bright orange Camaro piloted by Dave Schotz, who turned a 1:04.506, securing the win for Saturday. Next up was Phil Robles, who ran a quick 1:04.688, and Eric Dayton with a 1:06.740. In TTD, Robert Rose turned a quick lap his second session of the day, but the 1:06.404 was not to be counted. However, despite the DQ Robert secured his 1st position with his original fastest lap of 1:07.022, followed by Dave McCombs who ran a 1:08.841.
Last but certainly not least was our TTE lineup. Now becoming a TTE regular, Tage Evanson’s white Honda Accord had been recently revamped with the intention to break some E-class track records. Indeed it did—with Evanson turning a very quick 1:06.915, a new track record. TTE’s second place finisher was Marc McCombs who ran a 1:08.264, followed by Eric Jacobsen who turned a 1:11.744.
On Sunday our fastest overall Time Trialer was Mark Alger in TTU, who brought out some quick laps with a :58.566 as his best. Not far behind was Rick Johnson who turned a 59.962 securing second in class, followed by Travis Barnes, who seems to be getting quicker all the time—with a 1:01.097. Bryan McCormick was next up, our third fastest TT driver of the day, who turned a 1:00.471, followed by Pete Creek (less than a tenth away) with a 1:00.532, and then CV Wells who ran a 1:00.749. The TTS field was slightly larger than usual, with our newest car #66 driven by Tage Evanson—while not in our top-three in-class, he managed to turn quality laps despite some mechanical challenges with the car. Brian Turner secured a TTA class win on Sunday, turning a 1:03.581, followed by Doug Evans in second who ran a 1:04.066, and in third place we have Justin Markiewicz who turned a 1:04.769. In the meantime, Matt McIntyre was enjoying his second win of the weekend running a 1:03.015, followed by Chris Wilson who ran a 1:04.273, and in third was Jeremy Renshaw with a 1:04.428.
Dave Schotz was our only new track-record setter on Sunday, changing the par for TTC by turning a 1:03.632, followed by Phil Robles with a 1:04.694, and Eric Dayton who ran a 1:05.911. Another competitor, Joe Catteneo, entered the mix in TTD on Sunday. He was close but not quite quick enough to catch Robert Rose. Turning a 1:06.226, Robert took the TTD win, with Catteneo running a 1:07.746. In third place was Dave McCombs, only a few tenths from Catteneo, turned a 1:07.923. Our TTE trio kept the pace from Saturday. While no new track records were set, Evanson still maintained his class lead—turning a 1:06.981. Marc McCombs picked up the pace, turning a second faster than Saturday, running a 1:07.923, followed by a 1:11.930 turned in by Eric Jacobsen.
Top Drivers from Saturday
TTR – Ritch Marziale #56 Dodge Viper – 0:57.287 (New Track Record)
TTU – Mark Alger #4 Viper CC – 0:59.551
TTS – Pete Creek #727 BMW E46 M3 – 1:00.227
TTA – Paul Bloomberg #51 Acura Integra – 1:04.093
TTB – Matt McIntyre #31 BMW E36 M3 – 1:03.086
TTC – Dave Schotz #175 Camaro – 1:04.506
TTD – Robert Rose #3 Mazda Miata – 1:07.022
TTE – Tage Evanson #7 Honda Accord – 1:06.915 (New Track Record)
Top Drivers from Sunday
TTU – Mark Alger #4 Viper CC -0:58.566
TTS – Byan McCormick #727 E46 M3 – 1:00.471
TTA – Brian Turner #524 Porsche 911 – 1:03.581
TTB – Matt McIntyre #31 BME E36 M3 – 1:03.015
TTC – Dave Schotz #175 Camaro – 1:03.632 (New Track Record)
TTD – Robert Rose #3 Mazda Miata – 1:06.226
TTE – Tage Evanson #7 Honda Accord – 1:06.981
Share some shade with a stranger and make a new friend–how many times has this happened to you during a NASA weekend? Remember that first “epic chase” on the track? Or the time you boiled your brake fluid and found yourself surrounded by fellow drivers eager to help you with your car? Stories like these bring to light a slew of small yet positive experiences between drivers. This event was no exception. As drivers continue to look out for one another, there were no major incidents this event, and half-dozen drivers graduated from DE2 to DE3. It’s always great to see positive, safe drivers continue to run with us. This is the kind of environment NASA-AZ strives to achieve.
This positive environment not only comes from our fellow drivers but also our group leaders and officials. Without them, the HPDE ladder system could not exist, and NASA-AZ’s safety standards could not be upheld. With many familiar faces within our HPDE program, I think it’s safe to say that we’re definitely doing something right!
UMS Tuning Time Attack
One thing is for certain, the UMS Tuning Time Attack series is growing–now with a consistent field of nearly 30 cars, it’s the largest turn-out of the series all year. What I like about these sessions is that it not only affords HPDE drivers the opportunity to compete, but also helps set benchmarks for drivers in the same class. As we have seen from previous results, drivers have continued to make strides in their lap times and overall level of competitiveness!
Starting with our fastest class in the UMS Tuning Time Attack series is our TA-C class, with Paul Lynch as our fastest overall driver who ran a 1:01.24. Second in class was Jerome Silvers who ran a 1:01.77, followed by Taylor Wilson in third with a 1:02.154.
Next in TA-B is Phil Robles, who took first in his class with a 1:04.590, a noted success for our underpowered FWD TA-B competitor. Second in class was Justin Markiewicz–only a few tenths behind running a 1:04.803. Chris Wilson took third in TA-B, who ran a 1:05.064.
Next up is our winner for TA-A, Robert Rose, who ran a 1:06.370. Leland Forbes took second in class and, after noticeably shaving off time throughout his efforts in DE4, he turned a very respectable 1:07.286, beating Dave McCombs who was only two-tenths slower running a 1:07.458.
Congratulations to all of our TA participants!
Next Event Preview
We have a little bit of a break between now and the next event, which takes us to FIR West August 20-21. Following a similar format to our event at East, our August venue will include a full line up of HPDE, Time Trial, Time Attack, along with practice and qualifying sessions for Race Group on Saturday, with a race on Sunday. For now, get your cars prepared and your calendars marked for this next event, which will be the last of the NASA-AZ Summer series.
Draft Schedule –> http://forums.www.nasaaz.com/showthread.php?t=4961
Register here –> https://nasaproracing.com/event/1284
Article written by Geri Amani
Photography by Doug Hughes (http://www.waypast210.com) and Tage Evanson