NASA Profiles: Stenos Wijaya
Hometown: Glendale, AZ
9-5: Haskell Auto
Run Group: HPDE3
Projectile: 1994 Toyota Corolla
1st Event: May, 2009
Define… “admirable”. When we’re all sitting around at the NASA events, is an admirable person one that drives the fastest car? Or, perhaps it’s the driver who breaks his engine in the morning, changes cylinder heads and makes the last session of the day? Or is it more admirable to have a vision, and without undermining the complexity, simply follow through with that dream, in the end making it happen? Because let’s face it, regardless of what we do, which car we pilot around the track or the lap time that comes as a result, recognizing the fact that we are able to attend NASA Arizona events at all is the first step into having true perspective and appreciation for what we do. Stenos Wijaya is no exception to this idea, and his story is one that is definitely most admirable.
If you were to take a globe and spin it almost exactly 180-degrees, then put a finger directly in the center near the equator, you’d be in pretty close proximity to the small city of Jember, Indonesia. Growing up there since birth until just a few years ago, Stenos knew from an early age that he wanted to race cars. Figuring out to what extent exactly would be a challenge, especially with his parents keeping a close eye, just as many parents do when their children become obsessed with dangerous hobbies! Combine the goals in the automotive arena with the desire to get a college education in the United States, Stenos had his work cut out for him–moving, schooling, adapting and of course, racing, albeit halfway around the world.
Also Known As: Noz Wiyaya
Favorite Food: Sushi
Music: Linkin Park, Paramore, etc
Obligatory hot actress question: Emma Stone
Fast forward to February 2010–it’s a cloudy day at Firebird Raceway. Stenos and his friends are hanging out in the paddock, downloading in-car footage from the last track session onto a laptop. They stand around, talking about the Corvette that blew by them on the straight, which fast food place has the best burger, and of course amongst the group, whom is the fastest. To the untrained eye, it appears similar to any group of friends spending an afternoon together–immersed in hobbies, culture, trash talking and enjoying life in general. With only a few years logged on U.S. shores, Stenos has already completed an AA degree from Gateway Community College and is working full-time at a family-owned business in Glendale called Haskell Auto. “I was at work one day when a person came in and dropped off some flyers for the April NASA night event. I went and checked it out, then decided that’s what I wanted to do with my free time.. all of my free time!” Stenos attended his first NASA event in May, 2009 and the rest is history–beginning in the HPDE1 program with a daily-driven street car, progressing and moving into HPDE3 for the February event, actually. Through the steps, Stenos clearly remembers his instructors that helped him get started–John Bianchi, Robert Rose, Kent Buckley–and thanks them for giving a solid foundation in driving and car control.
Currently Stenos is driving his 1994 Toyota Corolla on the track, but plans to switch starting in 2011. “Finding parts for the Corolla is tough, you have to search all over the world. I got my sway bars from Australia, for instance”, he remarked. Currently his Corolla is modified with different shocks, springs, bushings and he converted it from an automatic to a manual transmission. Already in possession of an early Mazda Miata, Stenos hope to match his progress into TT and even race group, with the final buildup stages of that vehicle.
When he’s not driving at the track, Stenos spends his time working, studying and making his battle plans for the next track event. He still communicates regularly with his family in Indonesia; more importantly, keeps them updated on his safe driving adventures at the track which he pined for starting at an early age. “Ideally, people in Indonesia will have their own maids, drivers, assistants, etc. Not the case here, for most people at least”, says Stenos when talking about the main differences between his lives here and in Indonesia. “Variety” is the other–in people, food, culture, cars, accessibility (racing) and so on. As if his Toyota Corolla isn’t symbolic enough of the variety of cars seen at NASA Arizona events, Stenos himself will be glad to toss out some of his stories from the past and his adventures both inside, and outside of NASA. Be sure to say hi to Noz next time you see him at the track!
Summarizing his thoughts about NASA, in his own language, Stenos says: NASA keren bo!