Firebird West NASA-AZ Enduro Recap
November brought NASA AZ back to one the beloved home tracks, Firebird West. Now, saying beloved is rather one sided as it always seems to be the chance for the little power guys to beat up on high horse power. The quick track with its tight turns and fast lap times gives the momentum cars a real edge on the so called straight line racers. Not only that, but the weather does not get much better than November for racing. The return to Firebird West not only brought fast times and great weather, but also an extra element of fun for the racers with the addition of a 75 min race ran under NASA’s Nationally sanctioned Enduro rules.
As we near the end of the year and the weather cools off, it makes for the perfect time to host the annual NASA AZ enduro. After the Arizona racing community lost PIR, the track choices remaining to host the end of year enduro in either Nov or Dec (with the dates that were available), FIR West really was the best pick. With a shortened race, temporary hot pit and 2nd loop installed, the racers quickly realized that NASA AZ will always find a way to make the best out of what we have.
To any true endurance racer, 75 mins is hardly a test of endurance for some, but considering most AZ drivers only do 25-40 min races, this most definitely would be a challenge for many since we don’t host enduro races very often. FIR West is a tight technical track but no more difficult to pass on than any other track in AZ (actually easier than FIR East). The strategy and performance for a team’s pit stop was actually just as important if not more than performance on the track!
With a 75 min race and nearly all teams coming in for a pit stop regardless if they needed one or not (PTF-PTA were required to add at least 5 gallons of fuel at some point during their race), qualifying was not nearly as important as it typically is for a sprint race. One highlight from qualifying worth mentioning was rookie racer Simon Pavlick, who grabbed the top spot in the “Small Bore Qualifying” and later went on to set a new PTE track record during the race at his very first NASA race ever!
Now, moving on to the main event! Sometimes it’s tough to see the battles in race group once things get going, but if you follow the season points and keep up with the real time race results via “Race Monitor”, it will completely change your perspective on this race or really any of the NASA Sprint Races.
With double points up for grabs and NASA’s strict enduro rules in play, it was nearly impossible to determine the finishing positions until the dust settled in impound with multiple infractions against teams from passing under yellow to non-compliant classed vehicles to fuel spills and anything else you can imagine to add to the drama!
On track there was actually a ton to watch from a spectator view. Only 2 laps into the race, Mark Powel who qualified 1st in his class blew his motor and had to retire from the race and was forced to end his entire weekend early.
In SU, Mark Alger and TeamArizonaPain.com went at it all race long. To most folks looking the TeamArizonaPain.com Radical had a clear on track advantage over Alger’s Viper (running consistent 57’s at one point during the race!) but what most spectators probably didn’t know was the Radical couldn’t run the entire 75 mins without a fuel top off and the Viper could. This meant the Radical had to pass the Viper a total of 3 times (and not just for position) in order to win SU and the race overall. In the end it was TeamArizonaPain.com coming across the finish line first. Unfortunately a fuel spill during a pit stop, which was deemed no penalty by NASA officials, had teams questioning the win. The following day in a fine showing of sportsmanship, TeamArizonaPain.com stepped forward and accepted a 5 minute penalty for the spill moving Mark Alger into 1st place SU and taking the overall win.
ST-2 was led mostly by CV Wells in the Corvette but fans could tell that would not last long the way his rear tires kept locking up and eventually caused a tire failure which ultimately handed Bryan McCormick with the win and 2nd for Tyler Thompson. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the race weekend was how quickly CV’s crew changed his tire on Sat (as well as one during the Sun sprint race). NASCAR, eat your heart out! With his 3rd place finish, Wells was able to hang on to his season points lead leaving the last race next month as the deciding factor between him and Bryan McCormick.
PT-B was a tight race as usual between Jeremy Renshaw and Matt McIntyre. Renshaw however lucked out with perfect timing of his pit stop (prior to a full course caution) he was able to make up some serious ground on McIntyre since the NASA enduro rules state the pits are closed unless you already entered them prior to the full course caution. Unfortunately after the race there was… drama. Let’s just say the end result was BOTH drivers were DQ’d from the race results on Sat. 🙁
PT-A had four competitors all running nearly identical lap times!!! In the end it was John Dowling in 1st with Brian Turner coming in 2nd. Rumor has it, John’s pit stop took under 1 min and with on track lap times so close was the likely well deserved win! Simon Pavlick ran uncontested in PT-E. 944 Spec saw 7 teams on track. The team of Steve Marlow and Kent Buckley saw the quite the race. Marlow qualified the team in 5th however Kent started the race for the team. After fighting his way up to 1st place, Kent came in after almost 50 minutes as he missed the halfway flag. Steve took off and held on to 1st place for the rest of the race. Unfortunately during Buckley’s stint, he made a subconscious pass during a local yellow. This unfortunate mistake resulted in a disqualification! That being said, 1st place went to Rob Giorgio and Leroy Moore. 2nd place was Dean Schaeffer and Joe Paluch with Dave Hauck and Austin finishing 3rd. Finally we have Lou and Bob running 1st in ST-1.
Congratulations to all the teams for their efforts and participation to make this event so special each year. We leave you with a few quotes from our racers.
CV Wells had this to say:
“The #24 Caldera Ventures Corvette had an 11 second lead in ST2 when I blew a tire. My AWESOME volunteer crew had me back on track in minutes so I could finish 3rd and maintain my points lead. Another tire blew in Sunday’s race and my crew changed that one in less than 2 minutes! Astounding performance guys!”
“I want to thank Gabe and Stephen for their excellent job doing pit crew for me. Also, I want to give a *thumbs up* to Austin Newmark. Austin and I were practically bumper-to-bumper for about the first half of the enduro!”
Making light of the incident resulting in a DQ, Paul Lynch wanted to keep things light and fun and had this to say:
“Dr. Paul Lynch of Team ArizonaPain.com was in EXCELLENT shape for the enduro race…many of the teams and ladies at the track commented on his chiseled physique. During the driver switch many of the young hotties packed in close and tried to get an autograph in a beatle-mania type moment. A few of the more hysterical girls were crying and “spilled” a few tears in the paddock next to the ArizonaPain.com Radical. These were, of course, misinterpreted as fuel and the Radical was slapped with a 5 minute penalty.”
Finally, here are the words of Tage Evanson:
“My car fire has changed my life in so many ways. Beyond the scars, the most noticeable is the lack of a race car (that I own)!!! I need to give a huge thanks to my wife for letting me continue to enjoy my passion and to Paul Lynch and Arizona Pain Specialists. Without all their tremendous support I wouldn’t be racing today.”
Here are the top results from Sundays Races:
The return to Firebird West in November was a favorite amongst Time Trial drivers as the slightly smaller track seems to even the playing field and really toss up the times amongst the drivers. Despite some Friday night rain, everyone came out strong and stayed progressively faster as the day went on.
TT-R was a class of its own with only TeamArizonaPain.com running. Despite showing no times their first sessions out, the team eventually put down a blazing time 0:56.03 smashing the previous track record. TT-U had quite the line up on Saturday with seven drivers putting down times. The fastest of the day was set by the always consistent Mark Alger with a 1:00.269 which was also good for a new track record. Ken Gerhart set a fast time of 1:02.662 and Gary Felton put down a 1:03.241.
TT-S consisted of three drivers on Saturday. Bryan McCormick blasted off a 1:01.508 which is fast enough to compete with most of the TT-U drivers. Always running on pace was CV Wells with a 1:04.655 and Gordon Levy with a 1:07.065.
TT-A top drivers were separated by only 3 seconds. Brian Turner set a fast time of 1:05.021. Gabe Ortega managed a 1:06.859 with the consistently quicker Ravi Tomerlin not far behind setting a 1:07.215.
TT-B was led by Matt McIntyre showing a fast time of 1:04.187. Jim Fluckey was 2nd fastest of the day with a 1:05.927 and Bob Gottlieb came in with a 1:12.310. The top 2 TT-C drivers were separated by only 2 tenths of a second during their second sessions. Joel Schotz ran a 1:06.628 followed closely behind by Dave Schotz running a 1:06.891. TT-D driver Steve Marlow set down a 1:13.365 and finally, our TT-E drivers were separated by only a half of a second with Brad Lundahl running a 1:09.063 and Doug Evans running a 1:09.540.
Highlights from Sunday were as follows. TeamArizonaPain.com ran a fast time but was unable to better their time from Sunday. Mark Alger Led TT-U on Sunday as well, all while running almost a second slower than the previous day. Bryan McCormick once again led TT-S but was also unable to better his fast time from Saturday. Gabe Ortega was able to improve his times on Sunday by almost 2 seconds beating Brian Turner’s Sunday best by only .2 seconds. Dave Schotz was able to pull out the fastest TT-C time on Sunday improving his time by over a second. Robert Rose made an appearance in Sundays TT-D sessions setting an overall fast time of 1:07.233 to put away the rest of the pack, but not by much.
Firebird West is a great track for the HPDE crowd. The tight track and even tighter paddock is a great scene allowing both new and seasoned drivers to mingle amongst one another. The tight space also allows the HPDE drivers the chance to talk driving line with the experienced TT and race group drivers. As you move up the ranks in HPDE, be sure to reach out to another driver for a friendly hand shake and conversation (especially in line at the Sat night BBQ!). Before you know it, you just may be on track together. Also, great job to all the drivers for keeping it on the track. As a whole there were no accidents at the event and officials were glad to enjoy a whole weekend with no wrecks or clean ups on aisle 4. As a friendly reminder, be sure to fill up you tank before heading out onto track. Per NASA CCR section 6.5, any driver who runs out of gas on track will be pulled from the event for the day.
UMS Tuning Time Attack
With 25 cars registered the UMS Tuning Time Attack series just won’t go away, not that we want it to. Allowing drivers of HPDE3 and up to come out and get a registered time, the groups line up for what is becoming one of the biggest time attack series in the country.
TA-C was compiled of four cars. In 1st was Russ Whelan, the man to look out for. Russ has gotten faster at every event and will be someone to watch for in the upcoming season. Jim Cozzolino in his NSX placed 2nd and John Garrison came in 3rd.
TA-B is consistently growing. With 8 entries the top 3 were as follows. Gabe Ortega ran a fast time of 1:05.050 placing 1st. In 2nd was Jesse Robles with a 1:05.654 and KSport Cowboy Phil Robles right behind in 3rd with a 1:06.243.
TA-A has become the biggest group in the UMS Time Attack Series. With 14 competitors in this group the times were spread over an 8 second variable. Coming in 1st was Robert Rose. Making a great showing was Eric Kennel running a 1:08.273 for 2nd place and Leland Forbes placed 3rd with a 1:08.544.
Anyone who is in DE3 or above is welcome to join in on the series. It is a great way to see where you could potentially place as drivers progress in Time Trial and Race Groups. If you are in DE3, or are soon to be, be sure to talk to an official about joining in on the series.
Next Event Recap
Next month takes NASA AZ back to Firebird East for the last event of the season.
We hope to see everyone out there to end the year with the largest group possible.
Race Groups (Both days)
Time Trial (Points events both days)
Time Attack (Sunday only)
Dec 3-4 Registration is open click here to sign up!
Join the NASA-AZ forms to check out the latest info on upcoming events, questions and answers, Etc.
Also check out our Facebook page.
Written By: Taylor “Dr. Koby D” Wilson
Editing and Pictures By: Travis Barnes
Editing: Tage Evanson
Photo by Paul Green from projectonethirty.com