NASA Arizona Season Opener – January 2014

National Auto Sports Association, Arizona Region ( kicked off its 2014 season under the hard-charging leadership of Tage and Adina Evanson. The Wildhorse Pass MotorSports Park (WHP), in Chandler Arizona was the venue for this first NASA-AZ event of the year.

Formerly Firebird Raceway, the WHP Casino assumed control of the venue in August 2013. A wise move for the Casino to leverage the existing facility to bring new events to Phoenix with the promise of new jobs and tourism. The WHP management has significant plans to expand and improve the facility in coming years – Great News! (

Competitors ranging from first-time recruits to experienced racers began setting up Friday afternoon under perfect Arizona Skies. Cold, dry and dense air gave a welcome boost to the naturally aspirated drivers. The mornings come early for all participants with drivers meetings, tech inspections, sorting out the schedule and figuring out just where to stand! But shortly, the roar of engines overwhelms the paddock area and – It’s On! IMG_20140112_092738_440

There was a very full schedule for this season opening track day, beginning with the High Performance Driving Event which starts as level 1 (HPDE-1) with one-on-one guidance from experienced instructors and progresses through solo in level 2 and the ability for more advanced passing, carrying passengers in HPDE-3 and the most advanced level HPDE-4. As usual, the Time Trial and Time Attack were well-populated with both seasoned and new participants, and the same with Race Group. Sunday added a few special guest appearances including several impressive performances by the Drift Group, and a Bugatti Veyron making jet-like laps on the track.

Racing is not only about racing, but the friends and family in the paddock spending time fixing cars, planning and visiting with old friends. There was no shortage of crowds at this event which is great to see. Spectators who just love to watch racing, racers who were standing-down this event and friends and families of the NASA group were treated to a full weekend schedule. There aren’t that many racing events where visitors can just come to spectate for free, but with NASA… all are welcome.

As always, these events can literally not happen without the tremendous dedication of the NASA staff, manning the corner stations, the waiver booth, the Fire and Medical crews. These are the hardest workers of the weekend, standing out on track for hours at a time watching from their vantage points to make sure things are safe and sane on the track. Corner workers are the backbone of a driver’s view into track conditions, while at the same time, they are our biggest fans. As a new driver to NASA last year, my absolute favorite thing was getting a big thumbs-up from the corner workers.. (or were they telling me to “beat it”!) In all seriousness – Thanks Guys!!


Now some results..
Saturday Small Bore Race Group
Saturday Small Bore Sprint Race mixes cars of many different types and configurations, from front-wheel drive Honda, Acura and Mini Cooper to rear-wheel drive BMW, Porsche 944 “Spec” and rotary powered Mazdas. Ricky Johnson in his Mini Cooper (PTB) smoked out a 1:02.637 for the pole, even besting many of the larger more powerful Big Bore qual times. It was no surprise to see him pull through the checkered flag during the race followed by Team Kit, Team LBR, Justin Markiewicz in the BMW E30 and special congrats to Sephen Busler in 11th in the #500 HC car, his first NASA race, well done. Dave Hauck, Jeff Wojnar and Kent Buckley took the podium in the 944 Spec cars with Kent fighting to stay in 2nd place the majority of the race, but buckled under the relentless pressure of Jeff on the last turn of the last lap for a photo finish! 944 Spec is always one of the closest battles in the NASA ranks.
Ooops, almost forgot. Congrats Ricky Johnson: 1:02.367 New Track Record: PTB!!

Saturday Big Bore Race Group
Saturday morning Big Bore Race Group started the day with a feisty practice session on a relatively cold and dusty track, but the long winter’s break brought the competitors back out with a roar as we all struggled to find tire temperature and clean pavement. Qualifying went off without a hitch as the track warmed up, allowing the top competitors to place their times. Mark Alger (SU), Erik Davis (ST), Timothy Bidwill (GTS3) and Michael Papworth (ST2) were the top Pole times for their respective classes.

The Saturday Race started on time, and we had a good clean start while all dog-piling into turn 1 at about the same time and place. Quickly, the field spread out and racers set to work. This race was long-awaited for me, as it was my first race ever (Provisional #1).

I was honored to be among the best in Arizona and just tried to stay out of trouble! There were some good hard battles going on and plenty of passing with a couple of off-track events, but all bodies and body parts were safely accounted for. The race ended early under a Red Flag, which was great for me because I was “Pedal to the metal” (unfortunately, it was my brake pedal). As the pace car collected the field I began to think… Oh crap, I hope they don’t restart! No Brakes!~ But we exited track and I got my first notch. Thanks for letting me in, gang!
Sunday Small Bore Race Group
Tage Evanson stumbled on the Pole, qualifying the 944 Spec car with a 1:06.282 just ahead of Norm Hamden. Leland Forbes ran an impressive 1:05.845 and of course Ricky Johnson in the Mini coasting to an overall pole position with a 1:02.247
Not surprising again to see the Mini cruise to Victory on Sunday in PTB with Justin Markiewicz taking second place overall and 1st in PTC, followed by Team driven by Tage Evanson himself in this cameo appearance in the overall third place finish and the win in 944 spec. Leland Forbes smiled all the way to the Checkered Flag #1 in the Honda Challenge #510 car with David James in a vicious battle for the PTE leaderboard.

Sunday Big Bore Race Group
Sunday Big Bore Qualification was clean and fast with Austin Newmark edging out Mark Alger for the pole in SU and Erik Davis and Jeremy Renshaw not far behind in ST3. David Leyvas edged out Matt McIntyre in GTS3 and Michael Papworth uncontested in ST2 for the pole.
Another good clean start to this race, only my second Green Flag ever, and that big rush of “Ow-WOW” as we all careen into turn 1. Any one of these phrases works for the first turn:
• Grin and bear it
• Shut up and hold on
• Quit screaming, I’m scared too

Somehow I think all 45,000 pounds of us made it through a 40’ wide slot at about the same time without major drama, and the action heated up. From my position it seemed the general lineup from qualifying held pretty well during the race. I noticed a white flash in my mirror on the second lap, I think it was a Radical, but when I looked back he was gone and when I looked forward it was GONE! Austin Newmark finished first with Mark Alger 2nd and Michael Pinholster 3rd. Erik Davis (on 3 wheels and 225hp) and Jeremy Renshaw won first and second in ST3 with David Leyvas (Corrected 1-21-14 Tj) at 1:02.551 for 1st again this weekend in GTS3 followed by Phil Bluffington and Matt McIntyre. Michael Papworth #1 in ST2. Me? #793 the Green Z? I broke on Lap #9 due to un-describable buffoonery on my own part.

I learned a LOT these first 2 races and I encourage all the new HPDE drivers to consider Competition School and Race Group down the road. Even if you don’t race, taking NASA Competition School is one of the best things you can do to learn the rules and procedures of for any NASA driving.

Season Points  Race Group Season Points
Event results  January WHP Race Results

Saturday Time Trial
NASA Time Trial is another exciting post-HPDE event pitting drivers from across the country against each other in regional battles. It is available to any closed-wheel street-type car, with a huge variety of different classes to accommodate any performance level. A National Championship is held each Fall.
There were a total of 8 Time Trial sessions held on Saturday, with 4 being in the Small Bore and 4 in the Big Bore categories to divide up the field. Congratulations to Jim Cozzolino, Mark Alger, David Stark, Erik Davis, Ricky Johnson, Team Schotz Racing, Robert Rose, Team Beer30 (very classy) and Eric Jacobson for their wins throughout the day in their respective classes.

Sunday Time Trial
On Sunday, we had a virtual repeat of the Saturday schedule but with a final end-of-day combined session. First the victors: Dan Maloney, Hunter Bennett, Wes Hanson, Erik Davis, Ricky Johnson, Team Schotz, Team Beer30, Harold Dunn and Eric Jacobson each managed to pile up 100 points.

A few Track Records this day as well: Wes Hanson in TT2 with 1:01.273; Erik Davis with another 3 wheeling low 59 second time (on 225hp!!); Team Schotz threw back a 1:03.193 second lap; and Harold Dunn in TTD at 1:04.761, just barely surpassing the seemingly impossible-to-beat record of Robert Rose. Congrats!!! But expect some payback competition on this record in the future if the ex-champ seeks to regain his dominance.

Event results  WHP January 2014 TT Results

UMS Tuning Time Attack
UMS Tuning sponsors the NASA-AZ Time Attack series. This class is another great stepping stone to get on a time-clock and still avoid the extra stress of wheel to wheel racing. Classing is divided purely by weight / power ratios and they even sponsor their own regular Dyno Days. Jump on quickly, as the next dyno event is the weekend of January 25 and 26,
details on the Facebook page:

In 3 sessions, about 16 cars competed in this series. In the first session, NASA-AZ’s newest father, Russell Whelan, took TA-C with a 1:04.009. We look forward to your newborn son, Lucas, pulling a few tenths off of that when you hand him the keys in a few years (after completing the Evanson Academy of Marketing, Driving and Hostage Negotiation, Dewey, AZ). Congrats to you and your Family!

In TA-B Philip Robles clocked a 1:03.841 followed by Jeff Abrams and Jesse Robles. Jason Griepentrog and Zach Spisak won the TA-B Synchronized Racing contest with identical 1:06.124 times.

In the TA-A Session Patty McGray took 100 points at 1:08.952 with Aaron Hiar winding the Crown Royal Miata to a 1:09.075. Aaron Hiar deserves the crown for the single greatest driving suit known to man.


Season Points 
Event results 

There was a record HPDE turnout for this first 2014 event, promising a great new group of drivers in the pipeline to join the racing ranks. Just one short year ago I showed up to my first HPDE event (in pouring rain!) and experienced the thrill of being on a track with other cars. The instructors in the classroom and driving sessions reviewed a lot of information, and I was happy that I had studied some in advance like many of this new group had obviously done.

The HPDE Classroom was held in the luxurious NASA equipment trailer, just adjacent to registration. Several periods of classroom work, videos, rules review and general discussion gave the HPDE1 drivers a good preparation for their first NASA track event.
NASA-AZ wants to congratulate the following first-time NASA drivers and we hope you will join us at the next event in Chuckwalla. The local events are a blast, but all the REAL fun happens out of town. Bring a Tent, an RV or get a hotel, but don’t miss it!
Jeff Love, Curtis Good, Jerome Stanton, Dennis Miller, Justin Cacho,
James Thompson, Greg Schwimer, Earle Smith, Jackson Tuton,
Justin Gourley, Alfredo Lozano, Devan Jackson, Tim Weber*, Brian Gates,
Shelly Papworth, Rene Mousseux, Sebastian Gozdziewski.

Note: Tim Weber, retired professional Airshow Pilot, got so hooked on track driving that he sold his street car and bought a NASA legal & prepped race car within 5 days of his very first HPDE event! Congrats Tim, will be a great addition to the NASA family and a quick study through HPDE and into the competitive ranks.

HPDE is the route to advancement in road racing, and a dedicated driver can study hard and move up quickly to wheel-wheel racing. From my first day in HPDE less than 1 year prior to this event, I have been watching the racers battle and I set my eyes on that goal. I completed Competition School at Inde in October and held a Provisional Racing License shortly thereafter. So you aspiring HPDE drivers… study the rules, work on your car, INVEST IN SAFETY EQUIPMENT FIRST and keep at it.

OK Gang, get your cars turned around and your brakes bled, refill the kitty because we are going back to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for some counter clockwise racing and a weekend of shenanigans! If anyone has been on the fence about trying an away-race, this is a great one. Just a few short hours drive from Phoenix and a wide-open track and beautiful paddock area. They have an excellent large restroom facility with private showers and hot water.
Look forward to seeing everyone in California.

Author: Tom “Tjyak50” Johnson (DISCLAIMER: I had the Flu during much of the writing of this article and I’m new to boot, so just send me corrections to the most glaring lies and misprints: [email protected])

Photo Credits:
• Chris “the help” Dowers
• Tage and Adina Evanson

Join us at Chuckwalla in February:
Details of Chuckwalla event:
Facebook for Chuckwalla: