Mervin Tan

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Full Name: Chezurn Mervin Tan
Hometown:
Singapore, Singapore
Mervin’s 9-5:
Software Engineer at General Dynamics
NASA Position:
HPDE 3 Group Leader
Favorite Food(s):
Anything Fried
Favorite Music:
80s rock (Guns & Roses, Metallica, etc) & 90s Hip Hop/Rap (Dr Dre, Tupac, Ice Cube)

We’ve all seen him on the track, in the downloads, and helping his fellow drivers in the paddock. He’s a long-term NASA worker, has history in the local Honda community, and is a friend to many. Yep you guessed it, I’m talking about Mervin Tan. For a lot of new drivers, Mervin might have been introduced to you as you began driving in HPDE.  In my case specifically, I met Mervin several years ago at PIR when I was curious enough to “check out the track” and see what NASA was all about. Upbeat, extremely personable and enthusiastic about the sport, Mervin made it easy for me to want to join NASA.  We all know Mervin as one of our driving instructors and HPDE group leaders, but lets take a closer look and find out what makes Mervin tick.

Originally from the metropolis of Singapore, Mervin came to the US for higher education in the small town of Flagstaff, Arizona. Attending Northern Arizona University was Mervin’s first venture leaving his home country (not even on vacation), so needless to say it took a little bit of adjusting to the dramatic differences in American culture. He has since remained in the US and has been a long term resident of Arizona for over 17 years.

Believe it or not, Mervin wasn’t always into cars. As a child he was a huge fan of Top Gun and wanted to be a fighter pilot. I think it’s safe to say his career ended up far from what he originally wanted to do, but the speed-aspect of racing on track is a close alternative. Safely performing engineering duties in his career, it wasn’t until he overheard a co-worker talking about driving his NSX at the race track that Mervin had any interest in driving fast on 4-wheels.

Mervin had just started reading an internet blog called NSXFiles.com; a website that contains stories of one driver’s exploits with his ’91 NSX on the track. In disbelief that anyone would beat up an $80K supercar, he was encouraged to ask his co-worker if he knew the author of the blog. In this big-small world of motorsports, his co-worker did. Mervin was soon invited out to the track the following weekend and was given a ride in that same NSX. Mervin was hooked and dove right in, learning all he could about performance upgrades that made for better handling and more speed. By this point it was too late… the racing-drug had long been injected into his system and there was no going back!

In 2001 Mervin became a NASA member, running his first HPDE1 event at Firebird West. He drove his 1994 Acura Integra LS with each wheel rolling a different tire brand. Come on, don’t laugh, we’ve all done it! Needless to say the car suffered from much understeer and squealed like something awful. Mervin didn’t care. He was having fun…and lots of it!  He continued to sign up for every event he could, meeting a great network of friends, becoming more and more integrated into the NASA-AZ community. It wasn’t long before he was invited to instruct new participants, and has been helping fellow drivers ever since.

It’s clear that Mervin truly enjoys helping students improve their driving, regardless of driver level. “I learn something new every time I hit the track,” says Mervin. “I try to impart my knowledge to everyone I instruct.” That he does, and he does it well. Many will agree that he can help the newest of drivers feel comfortable in their cars, while offering the right kind of feedback that both educates and motivates them.

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Mervin Tracking his S2K

As Mervin continued his work with NASA, he eventually upgraded to a 1998 Acura Integra Type-R, otherwise known as the much coveted “R” model in the Honda/Acura world. While he drove the wheels off the Type-R, Mervin set his sights on a Honda S2000 and drove that car for 4-years. He found himself involved with the close network of “Honda guys” who often pitted together as FWD friends; driving together and racing together.

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First Race - Firebird International Raceway

Like a lot of drivers who run with NASA long enough, they eventually get the itch to race. For Mervin, this was satisfied by running the infamous night-time enduro with fellow drivers Jeff and Dan Sturla in 2007. The night race proved to be one of Mervin’s most favorite racing memories. After 10 practice laps in the daylight, he was set to take the race start…at night. “Talk about an adrenaline rush when the green flag dropped.” Mervin explained. ”Even though we blew the engine at the very last lap, it was the most fun I had in a race.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an example of why we race. It’s the challenge, excitement, and fun to be had with some of your best friends at the track. Even when there are mechanical troubles, our community of drivers help bring back a running car with a little shared effort in the garage.

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Mervin's PTC Honda Challenge Race Car

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Mervin Running Time Trials in his BMW E36 M3 at Phoenix International Raceway

As it is for a lot of drivers, their tastes and preferences change as they continue to compete. It wasn’t long before Mervin sold his S2000 to purchase a tow vehicle and a Honda Challenge race car, otherwise known as the #27 Honda Challenge PTC Civic. While he had some great races in this PTC car, he decided to move back into Time Trials, and drive something a little different; a BMW E36 M3. Okay, this was a lot different. But for Mervin, going from FWD to this RWD car seemed to be a logical choice. The car adds diversity to his driving portfolio, yet is neutral and manageable to drive at the limit.

When you sit down with Mervin and “talk cars” you quickly notice that he truly appreciates technical innovations that are born from racing and then introduced into vehicles otherwise considered as “race cars for the street”.  Among some of his favourites include the E30 M3, Ariel Atom, McLaren F1, Porsche GT3 RS, and the Nissan GTR. Organizations like NASA make it fun to follow what manufacturers come out with by watching the cars perform on the track.  One weekend in particular was memorable for many, especially Mervin, where a rare exotic was spotted running with NASA. “I remember seeing a McLaren F1 at a NASA event.” he explains. ” It was at PIR several years ago…I never forgot that track event!”

Speaking of memories, for those of you who remember Mervin ran the license place “THECHEZ” on his PTC Honda Challenge car. To explain some of the history behind this name, there is something many of you may not know about Mervin…his nickname. I’m not talking about Merv, The Merv, Mr. Merv, Mervin McMervster, or any other variation of “Mervin” you can come up with. He was called, “The Chez”. With a unique nickname like this, lets take a look at what brought this to be.


Back in Mervin’s S2000 days he would participate in an annual caravan up to Pahrump, Nevada for a private NSX track event. On this particular trip he arrived at the hotel earlier than the rest of the group, so he proceeded to check-in under his full name, Chezurn Mervin Tan. Planning to share rooms, when the remainder of the caravan arrived and asked if Mervin had checked-in for them. The receptionist paused and shook his head with a rather puzzled look on his face. “No I don’t think so.” he noted, obviously not recognizing the name nor finding it in his records.  After moments of chatter and wondering where Mervin had gone, the group came back in front of the desk and asked “Hey, did a Asian guy check in?” The receptionist quickly came back with… ”Oh yes! The Chez!”

From then on the name stuck. He has since kept the essence of his unique name on his license plate (THECHEZ), even after he and the Civic parted ways. So there it sits, bolted on his truck today.

On and off track, Mervin has been a devoted friend to many and demonstrates the same honorable values from his closest role model…his father. “He instilled in me the values I follow today. Always treat others the way you would like to be treated. He was the one who pushed me to strive for the best, and gave me to the resources to do it. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be in Arizona today.” Mervin explained. “Sadly he also taught me that life is short when he passed away 6 years ago, before I was able to give him a ride on track. I think he would’ve liked it. I hope to involve my son in our sport early on, so we can spend that father-son time together as I would’ve liked to with my dad.”

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Mervin with his wife Koren and Son Aiden

Mervin is clearly a family guy. No, not like the TV show…so get that out of your heads! He has a lovely wife named Koren and 16-month old son named Aiden. Before the birth of his son, he and Koren would travel the world together to see the sights and experience various cultures. However, back home in Arizona, it is clear that Mervin’s family has been endlessly supportive of his racing, especially his wife. “I can’t thank her enough for letting me spend whole weekends at the track.” Mervin explained. “She stays home with the little one, and has been very supportive of the sport even before our son was born. She was my then girlfriend when I started my DE1 back in 2001, and has allowed me to do this for almost 10 years! I’d say she’s a keeper, wouldn’t you?”

With camaraderie from the track and support from his family, I expect to see Mervin racing with us for many years to come…maybe someday with his son Aiden. “Hopefully, my son will be just as into it as me…” Says Mervin. “I definitely think it would be a great father-son thing.” You better look out folks because we don’t know what Aiden has in store for us when he starts driving.  I’ve already witnessed Mervin teaching him heel-toe techniques in the stroller!

Now that we all know a little more about Mervin, be sure to give a shout out to our friend, instructor, and HPDE 3 group leader… The Chez!Article written by Geri Amani.

Jeremy Renshaw

jeremy_renshaw2Full Name: Jeremy Renshaw
Hometown: Boise, Id

Jeremy’s 9-5:
FedEx Ground dock manager
Run Group: Time Trial and Race Group
Favorite Food(s):
Bud Light, Tacos, and Pizza
Favorite Music:
60’s and 70’s rock & roll
NASA Position: Time Trial Director
Obligatory Hot Actress Question: Angelina Jolie

Looking back to our youth, a lot of us never thought that we would find ourselves driving a car on a NASCAR roval course, yet we do. Some of us never imagined gutting a beloved street car, but did. Others never thought they would configure their annual spending to accommodate tires, suspension parts, fuel, and track fees. Seeing a trend? I think there comes a time when we should all step back and look at what we do and have done in this sport, and take note how lucky we are to be involved. For this edition of Who’s Who I selected someone most of you may know already .The attention given here is well deserved with his longstanding involvement and support within the NASA community.

Lets’s introduce … Jeremy Renshaw.

Jeremy had spent much of his youth in Boise Idaho, later moving to Alaska during his teen years. Once graduated from High School he left the cold of the north and found himself living in an inverted climate of Arizona. Here he continues to reside with his wife Angie, a lab named Lily, three cats, and (I quote) “a big ass fish”. That’s no fish story! Okay, very bad joke…moving on.

Jeremy and his Lab Lily 'Gone Fish'n'

Jeremy and his Lab Lily ... 'Gone Fish'n'

Many drivers have climbed up the racing ladder by participating in one or multiple motorsports genres over their years of driving. Having lived in Arizona for nearly 10 years, Jeremy Renshaw did a little bit of it all. Starting with Autocross, he later discovered NASA and commenced his participation through HPDE track days. The action on the road course really appealed to Jeremy, and eventually became encouraged to purchase his first dedicated track car; a 1991 Nissan 240SX. From that point forward, he was hooked. The racing bug bit, and bit hard. There was no going back.

Jeremy's 240SX at PIR

Jeremy's 240SX at PIR

Nearly everyone in motorsports has heard the saying, if you want to make a million dollars in racing, you’ll need to start with two-million. It doesn’t take long for drivers to realize that funding is critical to survival on-track. From the cars themselves, to safety gear and regular consumables, it all costs quite a bit of money. Jeremy soon found himself running multiple track events per month, eventually taking on a second job to help cover track expenses. At this point it was evident that the racing bug bite became infectious.

For those of you who have been around the Arizona racing scene long enough, you might remember a time when Club Racing AZ was in existence. In addition to road course sessions, this organization formulated a Drift run group. With Jeremy regularly running drift events at Firebird International Raceway and Tucson Raceway Park, his dedication to the sport eventually led him to be in charge of the drift portion of the Club Racing AZ. While popularity of the group was certainly niche, it eventually became too small to warrant their own run group and was consequently canceled. Today however, Jeremy continues his leadership role as Time Trial Director for what is currently called NASA-AZ.

Jeremy had spent several years working his way up the HPDE ladder, eventually settling into Time Trials. It was only a few years in when Jeremy began to show interest in racing, which is often the progression for drivers in the TT program. While Jeremy currently focuses on Race Group, he continues his participation in Time Trials maintaining regional points and the opportunity to shake out a few quick laps without race traffic.

Jeremy driving the AFI Turbo S2000

Jeremy driving the AFI Turbo S2000

Jeremy running his PTB E36 BMW M3

Jeremy running his PTB E36 BMW M3

Last year Jeremy was asked by AFI Turbo to drive their Time Attack S2000 in the Redline Time Attack series and Super Lap Battle. Whenever possible he has continued to drive the S2000 a long with his newest racing build; a BMW M3 which was finished last winter. For Jeremy, switching from the 240SX to the M3 was a no brainer. The design, power and reliability of the E36 BMW are renown, not to mention the fact the chassis has been raced world wide for 20-years. It makes sense why this car is a popular platform to race in; the research has been done and performance parts are abundant. Jeremy continues to build his driving resume running with NASA-AZ, NASA-SoCal, Redline Time Attack, Super Lap Battle, and Porsche Club as often as possible.

Two Jeremys: Renshaw and Ward, part of the NASA-AZ Crew

Two Jeremy's: Renshaw and Ward, Members of NASA-AZ

Like many drivers, much of Jeremy’s life revolves around the track with little time for other hobbies. The thrill of driving at speed, preparing the car, pushing it to the limit and the social camaraderie are all reasons he finds himself intertwined in the NASA-AZ community. It is a lifestyle for many, Jeremy included, a choice that most drivers can relate to.

Many participants bring the family to the track to share the fun and excitement with those who are closest. Jeremy’s wife Angie is no exception. In fact, she can be found helping Jeremy at the track throughout the season. In the years Jeremy has developed as a driver, Angie has expressed moments of worry. Well, maybe a little more than a few moments.

“She worries a lot… then up’s my life insurance policy again.” Jeremy explained, when I asked how Angie feels when he races at the track. “It’s changed about 4 times in the last 6-years actually.”

Could these life insurance policy changes be caused by endless variations of on-track excitement? For example, the time Jeremy ran off track at Willow Springs in turn 8, going 140mph… sideways? While Jeremy’s joy on track is a source of Angie’s worry, her willingness to support her husband along the way is what makes these two a great pair.

“Without the support of my wife, I would not be where I am at today. She helps me in every way. In the garage helping with motor swaps, bleeding brakes, tire changes. She is at almost every event helping with refueling, air pressure checks, and parts runs for myself and others.”

I inquired what Jeremy wanted to do in the future with his racing, or other activities for that matter. His answers are loud and clear that this man is a true driver at heart who loves the sport. “My long term goals are to be doing what I am doing now, but with the winning Power Ball ticket,” explains Jeremy. In chuckle he later adds… “Okay, I want to be a business owner someday, but will always be a driver first.”

Power-ball or not, I think it is safe to say that Jeremy is here to stay in the NASA community. He proves that dedicated racers add greatly to what NASA has to offer by ways of leadership, camaraderie, sportsmanship, and good driving.

So next time you see Jeremy at the track give him a friendly shout, and be sure to
ask about his “Big Ass Fish”.

Article written by Geri A. Amani.

Paul Bloomberg

Full Name: Paul Bloomberg
Home State: Illinois

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Paul’s 9-5: Office Equipment Sales, Service Supplies
Run Group:
Race Group
Car: Acura Integra Type-R, #51

Favorite Food(s): Italian, Rib Eye Steaks, and Chinese
Favorite Track: California Speedway
Favorite Music: Too broad to list here, but noted alternative rock (i.e., Rush), guitar jazz (Al Di Meola), blues (Gary Moore, and Eric Johnson)

Obligatory hot actress question, who is it?
Diane Lane

Bloomberg Factoid: Did you know that Paul was a serious guitar player in his youth? Yes, it’s true. He played and opened for headliners throughout the country.

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Who’s Who: Paul Bloomberg

It takes a certain level of commitment and enthusiasm to stay in the racing game; as there are always ups and downs, starts and finishes, losses and wins. In NASA-AZ we have decades of combined racing experience among us. Taking a closer look at participants in race group we can easily find some great people with greater stories. For this edition of Who’s Who, I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow Racer and Time Trailer, Paul Bloomberg–who has a story to share with us all.

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Racing Starts

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Paul began his track time as a young child, not in the seat of a car but over the handles of a motorcycle. He was an avid motocrosser from the early age of 7, and continued to run two wheels on track into his 20’s. Along the way, his family always supported his efforts in racing competition. It wasn’t until 1998 where Paul found himself at a PCA autocross event, soon blending a mix of SCCA Solo events when he found the time. It took the careful persuasion of his fellow drivers to begin running a 944 at a road course.

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Autocross to the Road Course

Instead of dodging cones and slaloms, Paul was regularly aiming for apexes and top speeds. As with most drivers who started out with Autocross, he quickly adapted to a road course environment. At this time, Paul decided to try his hand at the 944-Spec series that just started. Back in 2001, Paul finished runner up to Joe Paluch. A year later, Paul won the highly competitive 944-Spec Championship in 2003. Much of his core racing experience came from learning to cleanly race these extremely well balanced cars.

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944 to FWD

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Back in the Day: Paul and his Acura Integra Type-R

After the 944-Spec car Paul decided to try something completely different … a FWD race car. The next time you walk around the pits, take a closer look at the easily spotted Acura Integra Type-R (ITR) with a spirited “get outta my way” yellow-black-and-white painted theme, complete with racing trim. When you find it, you will be looking at the car driven by Paul Bloomberg.

The first time I took a gander at this Integra, I knew there was likely a good story behind its presence at our events. As it turns out, I wasn’t far off – what we’ve come to know as our PTB ITR was once under the care of King Motorsports. This car had some well known drivers in its seat at the prime of its use, including Will Nonnamaker in Grand-Am. In 2002, it was also driven by Bob Endicott who won the Grand Am ST Championship, along with many other wins to follow in 2003. The Nonnamakers decided on an all-Porsche GS Grand-Am effort, so naturally the Acura’s had to go. Paul found the right connections at the right time, becoming the proud owner of this car.

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Racing the ITR

The most memorable racing event for Paul in the ITR was the San Jose Gran Prix in San Jose opening for Champ Car. “It was an amazing event!” Paul said. “…Racing through downtown surrounded by k-wall not being able to see around any corners is an experience! I finished 13th out of 30+ but was disqualified due to missing a yellow along with five others who didn’t pick up a yellow flag sticking through a catch fence surrounded by canary-yellow banners–oh well excuses are like… eh, everyone knows what excuses are like, no explanation needed!”

Paul was able to reconnect with Bob Endicott at a local Phoenix Modified Tuner Shootout event were Endicott was driving for Hasport. In their reminiscent discussion, Endicott noted the ITR’s superb handling compared to new KMS World Challenge TSX’s – naturally, they both agreed that ITR was and still is, a great race car.

Paul's Acura Integra Type-R

Current Photo: Paul's Acura Integra Type-R

Most of us have had some “sketchy” moments on track (or going off-track for that matter). When you’ve had as much seat time as Paul you are bound to witness and experience all sorts of interesting scenarios, some that may require you to change your shorts. The first time you see a real shiny surface on the track and you don’t realize what it is till you’re spinning around like a tornado “…experience pays drivers dividends when someone blows a motor in front of you at full speed.” Paul explained. No doubt that this statement has much truth to it when you are carrying enough velocity to send your internal organs to the base of your spine, and then quickly realizing you are going in all sorts of random directions regardless of your inputs.

“I think my biggest challenges recently have been staying on top of the car along with personally staying motivated to push as hard as I can in a consistent manner which has been lacking all this year.” Paul said. “Another racing buddy recently reminded me “…remember this is supposed to be fun!”

If any one thing can be said about NASA – it’s the people. Our fellow drivers keep us in the game, help us stay motivated and solve problems. Simply put, NASA has a very special circle of support and camaraderie that is rarely found elsewhere. Paul has received a lot of support over the years, notably from Mike Browning – one of our local drivers with pro racing and team coaching experience. “Mike has been such an important part of my auto racing, he was a great mentor when I first started, and is good at teaching the culture of clean race driving.” Says Paul. With the assistance of Browning, Paul’s times became increasingly consistent, which is key. Being able to hit your marks lap after lap is one of the more difficult challenges in this sport.

Here are some of Paul’s key involvements and achievements over the years…

Positions in NASA:
Driving Instructor

Honda Challenge Leader
PT Director

Small Bore Race Director

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Racing Accomplishments:
944-Spec Runner UP (partial year season)
NASA 03 944-Spec Champion
NASA 03 AZ Region HC *H1 Champion
NASA 04 AZ Region HC H2 Champion
NASA 05 AZ Region Pro Sedan 1 Champion
NASA 06 AZ Region PTB Champion
NASA 07 AZ Region PTB Champion
NASA 08 AZ Region PTB Champion
NASA 09 AZ Region PTB Champion
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Changing it Up?

Given the fact that Paul has had much seat time in his ITR, there must have been a point where he was considering changing it up and driving something else. Most of us have heard the occasional rumor going around NASA-AZ that Paul was selling is car, just purchased a BMW E36 M3, or switched gears to a MazdaSpeed Miata for Time Trial … all of which were true. Yet, the motivation to separate himself from his ITR simply wasn’t strong enough to go through with it.

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Racing around Phoenix International Raceway

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Racing Support and Camaraderie

Like a lot of us, we wouldn’t be able to participate if it weren’t for others in the industry willing to help. Paul has received great support from local shops in the Valley, including Tri-Tech and German Auto for various maintenance and tuning, keeping the ITR in top track-driving condition. “Without Tri-Tech or German Auto, the past year or so would have been very tough to even make an event!” Explains Paul. Moving forward, I expect to see the ITR join us in PTB and the occasional Time Trial session with Bloomberg behind the wheel.

Paul shared an interesting story with me—which notably signifies how awesome people in the racing community can be. A few years ago, John Dowling (driver of our PTA Porsche 911 – also known as The Purple Dinosaur) and Valerie (his significant other) were traveling to Willow Springs for a NASA event in the Southern California Region. John and Valerie arrived at the track early on Friday to get use of the open track for practice. However, Paul was (fashionably) late and didn’t arrive until that afternoon.

Since John had been on the track all day, Paul thought it might be good idea if he followed John around to get familiar with the course and the condition of the track. While driving, Paul had many moments contemplating where he could likely pass, and attempted to do so accelerating down a decline. As he made his move, it wasn’t long before he noticed John’s muffler had dropped to the ground.

Paul zoomed by…

Paul came back around and noticed that what had dropped wasn’t John’s muffler after all — it was his entire engine! Yes, the whole engine fell out of the 911, grinding off one of the distributors and braking all the oil lines. The engine mounts had failed, making for a complete mess. Once the engine and chassis was back on the trailer, the session was closed for the day. John, obviously dejected after the long tow and now expecting to miss the race, was justifiably overcome with feelings of defeat.

Out of nowhere, a gentleman who had pitted a couple of spaces over that neither of them knew or seen before, approached the broken-down “Purple Dinosaur”. He inquired as to what happened, and noted that he had a race shop only three hours away. “I can fix it” the man said. “I’ve got parts for 911’s, or can make whatever I need.”

Paul and John looked at each other in silence.

“What the heck!” John said, after a few curious glances. “Okay, take it.”

John’s Purple 911 was loaded onto a trailer and went off into the sunset in the hands of a total stranger.

That evening over a couple beers and laughs, Paul began to inquire about the man who took the 911 – joking about the horrible possibilities that might transpire.

John quietly replies, “… how come he had Oklahoma plates?”

Well?

Paul and John both arrive at the track early in the next morning with GREAT anticipation, along with a swarm of butterflies in each of their stomachs. Would the car be on its way to some mysterious destination never to be seen again? Could it have been dismantled in that stranger’s garage and parted out to Frito Bandito in Middle-of-Nowhere California? As it turns out, it was neither of those.

There it was, the Purple Dinosaur—John’s beloved 911—sitting on a trailer with the motor back in its proper place!

The moral of this story? First, check your engine mounts. Second, if it’s one thing you can count on … it’s the people in NASA. Without a doubt, this story shows us why Paul loves racing and continues to dedicate his time with NASA-AZ.

Just like most of the drivers I’ve met in NASA, Paul Bloomberg is genuinely likeable and enthusiastic, with a great sense of humor. Whether you are just starting out or have been running with NASA for awhile… the next time you are at the track, give a shout to Paul!


Written by Geri A. Amani

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