Stenos Wijaya

February, 2010

NASA Profiles: Stenos Wijaya


Vital Stats

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.


Taking some hot laps at PIR in January

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.

Random Facts

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.

Stenos's loyal companion for the 2010 season

Stenos's loyal companion for the 2010 season

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!

Stenos Wijaya and his racer after a long day at the track

Stenos Wijaya and his racer after a long day at the track

Norm Hamden

November, 2009

NASA Profiles:  Norm Hamden

norm1Vital Stats

Hometown: Sedona, AZ

9-5: AZ Real Estate License/Driving Contracts

Run Group: Race Group

Vehicle: 944 Spec #99

Total Race Starts: 267!

You hear the phrase “I learned how to drive on back country roads” quite a bit.  In fact, many legends of motorsports such as Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, most of the old-school Winston Cup drivers, and of course, Bo and Luke Duke honed their craft in a similar manner.  One legend from that era who slipped through the cracks is NASA Arizona’s own Norm Hamden.  “West Virgina’s highway system is like Firebird East.. just a couple hundred miles longer”, said Norm during a conversation.  Statements and stories like this, which unfortunately didn’t actually include any about Runnin’ Shine with The Dukes, kept popping up in our late-night discussion, so Norm earned his place in NASA Who’s Who history.

“Ok guys–Norm just bought a motorcycle.  We’re taking bets on how long he’s gonna be with us.. if you know what I mean”, said a huddled group of employees working at the famed Greenbrier in West Virginia (famed for hosting every President since Eisenhower, and also covering the underground bunker built to shelter Congress during the Cold War).  Norm recalls his first experience driving at the age of 11, when his brother took him out to Interstate 77, which was still under construction at the time.  After moving some barricades out of the way to get onto the unfinished stretch of road, his brother 7-years his senior, sat him behind the wheel of a 396 Chevelle SS.  A quick jaunt to 100mph quickly spurred an interest in cars and driving fast, which continues to this day.  Needless to say, eventually Norm won the bet among employees at The Greenbrier in 1993 when he sold the motorcycle and bought the first of two race cars that have filled the Need4Speed void in his life.  First time around, it was a 1978 Porsche 911SC.

Norm Hamden's 944 Spec racer

Norm Hamden's 944 Spec racer

Rarely as the author do I account my own experiences in this section, but I clearly remember driving into Texas World Speedway in the year 2000 for a Porsche Club event.  After the long 1,200-mile tow, I got out, stretched, and remarked about how terrible that drive was.  30 seconds later, a green 911 SC, stuffed full of tires, clothes, helmets, candy bar wrappers and water bottles stormed through the tunnel and into the infield; it was Norm, driving his 911 racer from Arizona to compete for the weekend.  Patterns like that have defined Norm’s style, such as the period where he would leave his work at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs at 4pm on a Friday, arrive in Phoenix at 4am on Saturday to drive with NASA all weekend, then make it back to Colorado in time for work at 8am on Monday.  Not kidding.  And you thought Sedona to PIR was a trek.

Random Facts

Favorite Movie: The Bucket List

20 minutes around PIR, any car: Aston Martin One-77

Is it Spec 944 or 944 Spec: 944 Spec

What’s Cookin’: “I’m a steak, corn and salad kind of guy”

Gormley vs. Paluch: No Comment!

Why do it?  “Because my best friends, experiences and my family are the people I see at the NASA Arizona race weekends”, said Norm without any hesitation.  We’ve heard this before, but to hear it from someone who has made no stops to attend nearly every event since 1997 and see NASA through just about every change that has ever occurred, really means something.  When he’s not racing, Norm has been an instructor for NASA Arizona, in addition to some driving stints in his personal and professional career.  “While living in Dubai, I was hired by Tina Turner’s security team to be a driver during a tour stop in the city”, said Norm.  Norm has worked as an instructor at the Dubai Autodrome (ask him about his “interview process”, it’s fascinating), graced Hollywood with his presence as a precision driver in The Kingdom, and even climbed Pikes Peak in a Cadillac.

Doin' it old school--driving the race car to the track!  In this case, to the 2009 NASA Championships.

Doin' it old school--driving the race car to the track! In this case, to the 2009 NASA Championships.

His accomplishments on-track are about as amazing as his whirlwind tour off-track.  Of his last 42 race starts in the 944 Spec series, Norm has finished on the podium 38 times including a 3rd place finish at the NASA National Championships in 2009.  When asked what his favorite track was, Norm replied:  Infineon, Summit Point, and….. Pueblo.  Pueblo?  Really?  “Yes”, Norm insisted.  “You just go to the hardware store down the street, get the key for the gate and drive ’till you’re either out of gas, or out of tires.”  Given his start in HPDE and racing events on the east coast, his willingness to drive through the night to race, and his current residence out west, Norm has hit up some of the nation’s best tracks, including but not limited to Sebring, Charlotte, Rockingham, Texas World Speedway, Miller Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio, Second Creek (RIP!) and Road Atlanta.

When he’s not working hard at racing and being the NASA socialite everyone has grown to recognize him as, Norm likes to play golf, relax in Sedona, visit his friends in Phoenix, travel and as you may have picked up, manage some of the finest resorts and hotels in the world.  Norm spent some time working in Dubai, UAE just recently.  While he enjoyed his time instructing at the Autodrome and living the life overseas, he still insists his best times are spent in the United States, with his comrades here at NASA Arizona.  It was too difficult to choose which incredible stories and details to include in this profile section, but next time  you see Norm at the track, sippin’ a beer at the NASA BBQ, be sure to approach and ask him about some of his favorite racing stories.. trust me, there are plenty!

Geri Amani

September, 2009

NASA Profiles:  Geri Amani


Vital Stats

Hometown: Gilbert, AZ

9-5: Multimedia for a  publishing company

Run Group: HPDE4/Time Trial

Vehicle: The Paseo, Mazda Miata

Best NASA Region: Arizona, naturally!

Surely everyone has seen the legendary silver Toyota Paseo making brisk hot laps around PIR.  Well, brisk might be a little generous, but given the limits of the car and the overwhelming passion of the driver behind the wheel, the next candidate for the Who’s Who Showcase, naturally, is Geri Amani.  Surely most have seen Geri with her silver Toyota on track, or perhaps her camera in the pits.  While the readers have struggled through many months of terrible photography thanks to yours truly, this month is much different as all photos have been taken by Geri herself!  As the writer, I’ve enjoyed this feature the most simply because I had the pleasure of scrolling through thousands of art gallery quality photos for this article. We’ll get into the photography part in a bit, but for now, let’s get to know Geri Amani a little better.

The Paseo, like you've never seen it before!

The Paseo, like you've never seen it before!

One distinguishing factor that lets everyone know Geri is piloting the car in front of them, is the trademark British flag on the back of her various track cars.  While not a native of the UK, Geri has spent much of her life living and working in the UK, which is where her motorsports interest originated from.  The various stints in Europe weren’t without a trip to LeMans to stroll through the city and walk around the actual race course.  Combining an interest, or should we say, obsession with motorsports and her hobby/career of multimedia together, leaves Geri with an exciting cycle of motorsports involvement and us with a plethora of amazing output in the form of photos, videos and websites.  Currently Geri is developing the official USA website for the Gumper Apollo supercar–an opportunity that arose after working for Evolution Motorsports and Bondurant in Arizona.

Quick Facts

Favorite Movie: Dune

Spec 944 or Spec Miata: Spec Miata

Favorite Food: Chips  (we’re not talking about Doritos here either)

Sting v. Bono: Sting

Coffee or NOS: Coffee

Lift through NASCAR 3-4?: Never!

Geri driving a Spec Miata

Geri driving a Spec Miata

Of course when it comes to NASA Arizona related activities, one critical factor is what Geri does on track.  Sure, the silver Paseo spent many years as the obligatory learning car, in which Geri spent many late Sunday afternoon sessions doing lap after lap to learn the basics of car control, driving etiquitte and the in’s and out’s of NASA.  In recent developments, after much debate (which lead to some epic Spec Miata vs. 944 Spec debates on the NASA AZ forum!) Geri has taken posession of a first-generation Mazda Miata–a specific interest that was developed after some time spent behind the the wheel of a SM racer in the NASA Texas region (more on that, later).  After nearly a year of driving with NASA Arizona, NASA Texas and a trip to the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Geri and her crew have began prep work on the Miata.  For now, Geri plans to stick with the Time Trial program fielding the car in either TTE or TTF, while doing modifications that align with Spec Miata rules in order to leave that door open.

Geri's newest project - a Mazda Miata for TT and eventually, Spec Miata

Geri's newest project - a Mazda Miata for TT and eventually, Spec Miata

Aside from her NASA Arizona endeavours, Geri is the Creative Director for the NASA Texas region, which partially involves attending all of their events,  (And you guys thought you were hardcore!) in addition to developing NASA TX’s internet and media presence. and, as well as the photography from NASA Texas shown in the NASA SpeedNews section of Grassroot Motorsports were all a result of Geri’s wizardry.  “NASA Texas is a great group of people.  The race groups are the main focus in that region, with large fields of Spec Miata, American Iron and CMC, whereas NASA Arizona has large HPDE, Performance Touring and Time Trial fields.  Attending both regions really shows the diversity NASA has to offer for a driver/racer” said Geri.

Porsche Turbo at the NASA Texas Mile event

Porsche Turbo at the NASA Texas Mile event

Beyond the world of NASA (I know, hard to believe there is one, right?), Geri is passionate about advancing in the automotive, or hopefully the motorsports community.  Whether that future career involves PR for an automotive firm, interactive content, televsion/radio (ie.  when Tanner Foust gets bored and quits, Geri will be waiting at SPEED’s doorstep!) or perhaps in driving, the sky is the limit at this point.  Luckily for Geri, she has a large group of supporters from NASA Arizona willing to help and keep her on path for future events and perhaps even a future, exciting motorsports related career.  Next time you see Geri at the track, be sure to say hello!


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