March 6-8 Event Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wrap Up – 3/6-3/8 – Phoenix Intl. Raceway

Perhaps the most difficult part of doing the recap for the March 6-8 event, was figuring out where to start!  With so much happening over three days in all of the various NASA run groups, as well as the BMWCCA racers and drivers, it’s tough to pin down the best moments, which are usually what leads off an article such as this.  That being said, it’s time to jot some notes down on paper (or on your computer screen) so we can mark this event and remember it!

BMWCCA Headlines Weekend

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Of course, the headlining event for the weekend was the arrival of the BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA) club racers and DE drivers that participated all three days and brought big numbers to the various classes and groups.  Perhaps the most memorable moment for everyone took place on Sunday, as D-Modified driver Mario Rigoli started in the back of the pack for the 12:00pm BMWCCA Club Race.  It seems like whenever Chad Nelson (SM Class BMW) takes the green flag in the lead, it’s a rare occasion that he gives it up.  While that didn’t happen in this race, Mario put on quite a show going from 23rd place to 2nd, ending up just over five seconds behind Chad Nelson in the overall results.  Quite a few people walked away afterwards, shaking their heads and wondering if they truly witnessed that remarkable drive or not!

Aside from Mario’s hero run during the Sunday race, Chad Nelson took pole (out of 23 drivers) on Saturday and managed to win that race overall by a similar margin over Bill Bentzen in his C-Modified BMW E36.  The HPDE1 school, which was put on by BMWCCA this month, drew a large crowd and filled the cold pits with student cars, mostly of the BMW marque.  Many thanks go out to BMWCCA for making it a very seamless union between the two organizations for this long and diverse weekend!

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2008 Awards Ceremony

As typical for early March, the affluence of iced Budweiser (although, literally a drop in the bucket compared to NASCAR at PIR) and record-setting sales night for Little Caeser’s Pizza in Tolleson could only mean one thing:  It’s time for some year-end trophies!  Nearly everyone who participated in Saturday’s event, and even a few regulars who weren’t racing that day, came out to take part in the awards celebration.  Former NASA Regional Directors Jason Boles and Marty Saltzman had the honor of handing out trophies to all winners and top finishers in the Performance Touring, Super Touring and Time Trial classes.  Along with a few dozen slices of pizza and some fresh Bud to wash it down, Jason entertained the masses with his personal experiences and tales of the glory days about each person, adding some perspective and charity to the evening.

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Congratulations to all of the NASA year-long series winners and participants!  Often a season with as many events as we face in Arizona can be riddled with obstacles both on track and in personal life, not to mention the situations we all face today aren’t necessarily conducive to spending budgets that are required for many months of racing.  The year-end awards ceremonies are about commending the finishers who came out month after month to not only race hard all day, but make NASA solid as an organization.  We thank you for your time, effort and everything else that is put into your season efforts!

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Time Trial Mania

Speaking of trials and tribulations off and on the track, an uncountable measure of nonsense has been brewing on the NASA forum for many weeks; more importantly, in regards to whether or not the TT track records were “solid enough” to hold up against some of the racer’s efforts.  With the smack talk (albeit, friendly smack talk) came an entirely new level of competition that has really never been witnessed in TT in Arizona.  It would be fair to say that what made this weekend different from the rest was the level of driving that was exhibited throughout the various classes.  The true test of a dedicated Time Trialer is how they make the best of a situation.  With our economic situation being as it may, seeing several TT drivers step up and make significant driving improvements with literally no major vehicle changes, defined the true spirit of pushing the driver versus the clock in order to pull a fast lap time.  March 7-8th saw a change in the level of competition, and some amazingly quick lap times.  Here goes:

In the midst of a heavy “discussion” on the NASA forum about the merits of the TTC record—a record previously held by national champion Greg Greenbaum for many years, and was finally broken in January by Doug Evans—was questioned by TT drivers and racers alike.  After a few hours of worthless banter on the forum, rumors about a bet (something about a bucket of Cold Stone ice cream for the winner?) stirred between Brady Dohrmann and Rick Johnson.  Neither competitor had participated in TTC for a while, as Rick races and Brady drives in TTD.  Seeing the commotion, Doug Evans elevated his driving to new levels as well.  More on this later.

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TTR, the fastest of all TT classes, has long stood under command of Shirl Dickey and Peter Creek in their Corvettes, with a lap in the low 1:04 range.  Thomas Glenn, a new competitor to TT (but a long-time racer) stepped up raised the bar for all TT competitors, turning in a 1:03.12 lap – the fastest ever in TT competition at PIR.  Congratulations Thomas!  Eric Jacobsen, who is still standing in the spotlight from his Who’s Who feature last month, beat his own record in TTE, improving on his 1:12.9 lap with a record-setting 1:12.77 in the first session on Saturday.  Along the same lines, the record books and perhaps all theory about vehicle setup was rewritten when two laps after Eric’s feat, Brady Dohrmann, running in TTD on Saturday, broke his previous TTD record of 1:11.9, with a 1:09.936, on street tires!

Finally, the Royal Rumble in TTC came down to three drivers.  Rick Johnson, afraid of losing ice cream to Brady Dohrmann, ripped off a 1:09.80 lap in TTC on Saturday morning, which not only marked his personal TTC/PTC best at PIR ever, it clicked six-tenths off Doug Evans’s TTC record of 1:10.42 set in early January.  This time motivated Doug Evans to drive at a new level, which resulted in a 1:09.85 lap on Saturday afternoon, and eventually a 1:09.59 lap on Sunday!  Nearly an entire second off his previous best from January!  Hungry for more (ice cream), Brady Dohrmann mounted up some Hoosiers on his BMW M3 and moved up to TTC for Sunday.  Within three laps, Brady reset the record books with a 1:09.18 lap in TTC, marking the fasted ever lap in TTC or PTC at PIR.  Phew!

Safety

Now, note that first off, this isn’t a lecture.  Secondly, while the subject is often taboo, an interesting “change” happened that’s worth noting, mostly in effort to keep the momentum up and make NASA Arizona a better place for everyone.  No one will deny that there were a couple incidents throughout the weekend in a couple of the groups.  Luckily everyone walked away unharmed, there were no foul words tossed back and forth and despite the rather large mass quantity of cars, driving and track time, March 6-8 was a great weekend.

What changed however, was the reaction to the incidents; more specifically, the discussions about safety that spurred as a result.  Sure, there are always discussions about safety, but the mentality made a switch for the better, from “What happened”, to “What can I do to protect myself in an incident”.  The HANS device is relatively new to racing and discussions about the utilization of the HANS device, alternatives and creative methods such as sharing a single device among drivers, group discounts, how to use our NASA vendors better and more, were brought about during the driver’s meetings and in the paddock.  Those discussions have carried momentum onto the forums as well, which is a very good issue to be involved in.

NASA Arizona On the Web

NASA Arizona is on Myspace!  If you are on MySpace, be sure to add NASA Arizona as one of your friends!  URL is http://www.myspace.com/arizonanasa

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign  up for the NASA Arizona discussion forum!  Much of the news regarding NASA Arizona is communicated on the forum, so be sure to sign up and participate in order to stay current on what’s happening.  URL is http://forums.www.nasaaz.com

2009 Year End Awards Facts

Since this topic of awards came up earlier, it’s only fitting to outline some basic facts for the 2009 points series and awards eligibility.  If you are competing in the year-long points series in either Time Trial, Performance Touring or Super Touring (race group), here’s what you need to know:

  • The championship title winner (1st) for each class will receive a championship jacket.
  • In order to be eligible for a championship title position (ie. 1st), you must score points in at least 50% of the points events.
  • In order to score a trophy position (1st-3rd) in your class for the season points series, you must participate in at least six points events.

Race Group

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As always, the racing action at Phoenix Intl. Raceway was intense.  42 cars took the green flag on Saturday and 37 did so on Sunday.  With the exception of a few minor dings and the infamous brake duct tube sitting in NASCAR 4, both races were green flag from start to finish.  Sarah Cattaneo had a weekend reminiscent of the best IndyCar and NASCAR drivers, where she finished 2nd in PTC on Saturday, flew to Las Vegas that night and back to Phoenix on Sunday morning only to win the class later that day.  Sarah:  Robby Gordon (the nutty guy who tries to win the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 on the same day every year, but fails) would be jealous of your accomplishment.

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In addition to Sarah’s win, Jeremy Renshaw swept the weekend in PTD, while Steve Powers won PTE on Saturday in a Spec Miata, then pulled of a win in PTA on Sunday in a 350Z using take-off Hoosiers.   For overall and class results, visit the MyLaps Page for NASA Arizona.

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Who’s Who in NASA – March, 2009

This month, NASA corner worker and HPDE driver Cory Starr is featured in the Who’s Who section of the website.  Be sure to stop by and read about Cory, his accomplishments and his contributions to NASA Arizona!

April 11th Event

This event is going to be so insanely huge, it’s deserving of its own section in the weekend wrap up.  The question shouldn’t be, “What is at the April 11th event?”, it’s more like, “What isn’t at the April 11th event?”  The basics will be there of course—racing, HPDE, Time Trial—but nearly everything has a twist.  Since the majority of the readers come from the racing, HPDE and TT programs, it’s worth noting the changes to those groups first.

HPDE will have the usual “night event” format, with sessions both in the daytime and at night.  Time Trial and race group will have double points.  While the exact details have yet to be fully ironed out, the rough format should be enough to give you an idea of what to expect.  Time Trial will have four sessions – two in the daytime (well, as close as possible without charting sunset times for April), and the later two being considered the night sessions.  The first two sessions will be “one event”, paying out points.  The last two night sessions will be the “second event”, counting for the remainder points. Essentially, there will be two points events for the price of one.  Race group, rather than having the typical long night-time enduro, will have two sprint races, paying out points and contingency for each race result.

In addition to the regular NASA curriculum, there will be a plethora of additional events:

Hyper Drive – On FIR West, new drivers will pay a very reduced rate to drive for one session on track; sort of a “get your feet wet” taste for NASA events.

Drifting – They’re back, on the skidpad.  This group is amazing to watch every year!  No more explanation needed.

The Kid’s Corner – From 4-9pm, kids will have an opportunity to jump around in the Bouncy House, meet the Easter Bunny (seriously!) and participate a bunch of games and activities for prizes.

DJ and GoGo Contest – The Valley’s great DJ Tranzit will be playing music, while GoGo girls dance it out for prize money.

Autocross – Autocrossing on the FIR Skidpad!

Time Attack – The UMS Time Attack series continues!

Exotics Showcase – The Scottsdale Exotic Car Club will be out showcasing their finest vehicles!

Dyno – UMS Tuning is bringing out their DynaPak dyno for testing.

Modified Tuner Shootout – The top import tuner shops from around the country are coming to Arizona to battle it out in a comprehensive contest consisting of time attack, autocross, drag racing and dyno testing.

If that’s not enough activities for a night of fun, then I don’t know what is!  There is guaranteed to be something for everyone at this event, so tell all of your friends and family!

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Thank you for reading this month’s edition of the NASA Arizona Newsletter!

January 31st Event Wraps Up

On Track

The January 31st event was the first of two single-day points events in 2009. As usual, single-day events have their share of fans, and a few skeptics. That aside, given the fast track conditions of the January 10-11 weekend, which resulted in many new track records, I think it would be safe to say that everyone was anxious to get back on the track to settle their unfinished business. By 5pm on Saturday, people were packing up and beginning to talk about the events that transpired earlier that day. Let’s take a look at that, as well as new developments within NASA-Arizona.

Announcements

NASA Arizona is proud to announce Dan Zollo as the new Sponsorship and Marketing Director! With our previous director moving onto new adventures, Dan was ready and willing to take up the task for NASA Arizona. Dan as spent the last six years of his life participating at NASA events in the Time Trial program on the weekends, while his weekdays consist of logging hours as a Marketing executive for a large Scottsdale resort. Dan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Arizona State University. Next time you see Dan driving his white Acura Integra, dubbed “The Turtle” give him a congrats on his new role within NASA Arizona!

HPDE

Who said that two-day events were favored over single-day events? HPDE groups 1 through 3 were full of drivers, including a record number of first-time entrants in the HPDE 1 school. HPDE3 experienced a blown motor dumping oil down the main straight which caused a bunch of excitement for the drivers behind but no contact with each other or the walls. Whew! The rest of the day remained clean and free from incidents, which is always a good thing! HPDE leaders Mervin Tan and Jeff Sturla led the way in their respective groups, while Dave Riddle (classroom) and John Dowling focused their efforts on the HPDE 1 school.

In addition to the on-track activities, the effects of Mervin and Jeff’s driver training activities in HPDE showed once again as three drivers moved from HPDE 3 and into the Time Trial program. Brett Lengel moved into TTD with his 300ZX, Simon Pavlick joined the TTE class in his Acura Integra, and Phil Robles took the highly anticipated leap from HPDE 3 into TTB, driving his Honda Civic. All three drivers had a clean day and qualified for their National Time Trial licenses as well. Congratulations to all three drivers for making the jump into Time Trial!

Time Trial

32 drivers filled the Time Trial groups on Saturday. Jeremy Renshaw’s track records in TTE and TTD, which were long thought to be unbeatable, were in serious jeopardy when Eric Jacobsen rolled into the track on Friday night with this new TTE Ford Taurus SHO, and Brady Dohrmann parked next to him in the garage with an all-new BMW M3. By the third lap of the second session, both records were re-written, as Eric managed to pull off a 1:12.9 and Brady punched out a 1:12.0, almost at the same time. Rather displeased with that turn of events, Jeremy answered the call with a 1:11.968 later in the day in his TTD 240SX, only to be answered back by Brady’s 1:11.927, which held as the current TTD record.

The big bore TT group also welcomed back Darrell Rayburn in a C6 Corvette after a stint in the race group and some general time off. Darrell as you may know is the current TTU record holder, sitting at a 1:03.2 – the fastest lap to ever be turned in the TT program since its beginning in 2004.

Race Group

Who said racers don’t come out for single-day events? 37 racers apparently do, including out-of-towner Mike Pinholster, who sat on the overall pole position in his ST1 Dodge Viper, marking Mike’s first time leading the pack to the green flag. Mike has been commuting between Las Cruces, New Mexico and PIR for several years now, so congratulate Mike next time you see him for his accomplishment and hard work. The race, which consisted of split starts between the Performance Touring group and the 944 Spec drivers, took place late in the afternoon and was green from start to finish without incident. The winners were as follows: SU – Steve Lopez, ST1 – Mike Pinholster (Overall winner), ST2 – Brad Larsen, PTA – John Dowling, PTB – Phil Eglin, PTC – Rick Johnson, PTD – Jeremy Renshaw, 944 Spec – Rich Geisler. Congratulations to all finishers and race winners for a clean, safe event this past weekend.

Preview

The next event will be a 3-day weekend including the popular BMWCCA guest race groups. Friday will be a test and tune, with points races and time trial on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, HPDE will have a full schedule throughout the weekend, with the addition of the UMS Time Attack points event #3.

Thank you for reading this month’s edition of the NASA Arizona Newsletter!

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