Just a few weeks after the hectic holiday season, NASA AZ returned with a brand new season. What better track to start the season than the rarely run, but always loved Firebird Main? In past years this track was saved exclusively for the illustrious Night Event; however NASA AZ wanted to keep with the holiday season of giving and offer this track including a bonus by utilizing the fast configuration. The weather was cool and the drivers took to the track at full speed looking to start the season with a bang!
With a fresh season at hand, the NASA AZ racers were pumped and ready to go in an attempt to clinch top points early. Saturday was a beautiful day for racing. Cool temperatures took some of the stress out of qualifying and allowed drivers to focus on their cars and the track. Qualifying went smoothly with all drivers keeping it clean and setting some quick times. You may have also noticed certain classes growing including PTA with Jeremy Renshaw and Matt McIntire joining the crew. It was also great to see many familiar faces back on track with NASA including Wayne McKeen, Steve Lisa, and the whole crew from Race Techniks. We also wanted to recognize several new guests from SCCA. We really appreciate having you and hope you’ll realize that “the door” to our “home” is always open.
Saturday Small Bore Race
You may have noticed something different during the small bore race on Saturday. As the green flagged dropped, 944 Spec and PT racers took off leaving a small group of 6 sitting at the starting line. That’s right; Honda Challenge has hit NASA AZ! In case you missed all the talk last season, a number of our competitors have been preparing cars for HC racing. A total of seven cars qualified, however an unfortunate bearing failure left Tony “Sriracha” Szirka unable to start the race in his red hatch. Racers led by P1 qualifier Tony Lisa, pulled to the starting line awaiting their start. With a drop of the flag, FWD frenzy ensued down the drag straight with each driver looking to gain position early. In 944 Spec Norm Hamden was off to his usual quick pace setting the lead however much like last season, Darren Griffith was following closely behind. In HC Tony Lisa ran away within the first lap. Leland Forbes displayed some great driving holding the #2 position in HC and gapping the rest of the pack. Jeff Sachs walked away with a nice lead in PT-E with Kevin Michaels in 2nd. In 944 Spec Norm Hamden bounced around falling into 3rd only to regain position on Joe Paluch where he would finish the race. Darren Griffith held onto the race lead until the last lap when Tony Lisa worked his way to the front of the pack and took 1st place overall. The rest of the Honda Challenge pack did their best to overtake in traffic. Eric Dayton worked to find an opening around Simon Pavlick at the end of the race. While not able to make the pass, Eric would take 3rd due to a disqualification for Simon from illegal tires.
Big Bore Race
Wayne McKeen got a great start to take the lead but was quickly overtaken by The TeamArizonaPain.com Radical driven by Tage Evanson. During the next few laps a number of passes would be made. Curtis Lansing in the #2 Camaro made numerous quick passes first taking the pass on Mark Alger. He then continued to work his way up the field passing the #318 Porsche of Paul Fairchild and the #07 Corvette driven by Wayne McKeen. The PT-A group added some faces this year, fielding seven cars for this race. New to this group Matt McIntyre lead the group and began making some distance on the rest of the pack. Later in the race lapping traffic would cause TeamArizonaPain.com to slow their pace slightly allowed the #2 Camaro Curtis Lansing to slowly fill the gap from 2nd to 1st and eventually take the lead. This was short-lived however as only 2 laps later, the Radical would use the same traffic to not only take back the 1st place position, but also put two lapped cars between them and Lansing earning TeamArizonaPain.com some distance. Overall we saw some great racing on Saturday from all the drivers including some fine passing by Mark Alger, Paul Fairchild and Ricky Johnson. Also keep an eye out for the new competition in PT-A as Matt McIntyre and Jeremy Renshaw finished 1 and 2 in their first PT-A race.
Sunday Small Bore Race
Sundays small bore race was slightly smaller than Saturday, which allowed spectators to really focus on some of the great battles during the session. 944 Spec was once again led my #7 Darrin Griffith who after one lap takes a pass on Jim Richard in the Spec Boxster for the overall lead. Lingering in the background is Tony Lisa sliding his #19 Honda Civic while leading the Honda Challenge crew and working the pack once again. Kevin Michaels was setting a great pace in PT-E quickly catching the back of the 944 pack. Jeff Sachs however, turned things up and made Kevin work for his position. In Honda challenge the pack is holding together running nose to tail. Due to a rough standing start, Eric Dayton had his work cut out for him if he was going to podium in this race. During the first 10 minutes of the race it seemed he would hold his 5th place position until he found some grip in his tires and started working through the group. Soon Dayton was putting pressure on Pavlick and Forbes who were having a great battle of their own, and found himself in 3rd place. Going into the final turn before the checkered flag, Dayton went for a pass on Forbes diving inside going into turn 12. Forbes’ exit speed was superior to Dayton’s but it wasn’t enough to get the position back before the finish line where they had a “photo finish” for 2nd place with Dayton making it stick! Tony Lisa having led the entire race would eventually pass Darrin Griffith for the overall win once again. With Griffith taking the 944 win, Steve Marlow and Joe Paluch put on a great show finishing 2nd and 3rd.
Sunday Big Bore Race
With a gap between the small bore and big bore race, there was just enough time for the skies to open up just enough to make the track slick. Regardless of only a short downfall, the damage would be done in the first laps. Paul Lynch piloted the Team Arizona Pain rocket (i.e. Radical SR8) to the pole position pole and was off to a great start, however rounding the tower for lap 2, a spectacular 720 degree spin before it came to a dead stop. With the engine dead and vehicle not moving, Fairchild made a wise move by simply coming to a full stop to avoid contact and completely avoid the ultra-slippery drag strip. The racers tip toed around the two stopped cars but Renshaw having little time to react made an aggressive move to avoid them but sent his car for a nice little spin on the front straight as well. Amazingly, all cars made it through without contact of the wall or each other! Mark Alger and Rick Johnson were able to avoid the close call and had a huge advantage over the field. 3 laps later, the rain had stopped but residual water would keep the racers on their toes. Fairchild caught back up with the leaders and the three of them put on a fantastic show trading positions numerous times while the entire PT-A class rotated leaders. With Alger and Fairchild fighting for the lead, TeamArizonaPain.com had a chance to sneak up to the front and get a pass on Fairchild. With just Alger holding TeamArizonaPain.com from the lead, traffic in the tower would slow Alger just enough for TeamArizonaPain.com to get a great run out of turn 12 and launch down the drag strip for the lead and the overall win.
We announced some exciting news at drivers meeting both days. NASA AZ now has a new Medical Director! Dr. Paul Lynch from Arizona Pain Specialists (www.ArizonaPain.com) will be filling this role and is a perfect match. Dr. Lynch’s extensive background with handling trauma cases makes him the ideal onsite Medical Director to supervise and/or directly handle any extreme situations. He will also give racers the added benefit of being able to handle the periodic required NASA Medical Exams from the convenience of the paddock when it is not possible to have it done by their PCP.
We would also like to recognize each of the racers who passed their competition license evaluation this past event. Warm welcome and congratulations goes out to: Don Dillon, Tim Bidwill, Rob Davis and Jason Noel. Nice job guys!
Saturday Time Trials
With 43 competitors out for the first Time Trial event of the season, times were sure to be quick and close. With a configuration never having been run for the NASA Time Trial group , it also meant track records were up for grabs in all classes. The fastest time of the day went to TeamArizonaPain.com running a .56.915 for the win in TT-R; however keep an eye out for Curtis Lansing who ran a .58.694. TT-U went Mark Alger running a 1.00.014 good for the class win and new class record. Times in TT-S were scattered and Dave Rosenblum’s 1.03.463 was good for a class 1st place finish. TT-A was led by the new to class Matt McIntyre with a 1.03.102 and Jeremy Renshaw with a 1.04.485. Dave Schotz dominated TT-B running a 1.03.115, 4 seconds faster than the next closes competitor. Justin Markiewicz was able to pull the win in TT-C in the last session of the day with a 1.07.401. TT-D showed the closest times of the day, with four competitors separated by less than a second. 1st place went to Robert Rose in the last session with a 1.08.356, narrowly beating the earlier time set by Tage Evanson of 1.08.490. Dave McCombs 1.08.865 rounded out the podiums in TT-D. TT-E was led by Brad Lundahl running a 1.10.038 and Eric Jacobsen took TT-F running a 1.14.693 in his Zombie RX7.
Saturday Time Trial Results
1st – TeamArizonaPain.com – .56.915 – New Track Record!
2nd – Curtis Lansing – .58.694
3rd – Dave Lansing – .59.874
1st – Mark Alger – 1.00.014 – New Track Record!
2nd – Ricky Johnson – 1.01.043
3rd – Gordon Levy – 1.04.453
1st – Dave Rosenblum – 1.03.463 – New Track Record!
2nd – Ronald Graham – 1.06.595
2nd – Gabe Ortega – 1.08.280
1st – Matt McIntyre – 1.03.102
2nd – Jeremy Renshaw – 1.04.485
3rd – Brian Turner – 1.05.546
1st – Dave Schotz – 1.03.115
2nd – Mervin Tan – 1.07.236
3rd – Chris Wilson – 1.08.353
1st – Justin Markiewicz – 1.07.401 – New Track Record!
2nd – Joe Cattaneo – 1.09.202
1st – Robert Rose – 1.08.356
2nd – Tage Evanson – 1.08.490
3rd – Dave McCombs – 1.08.865
1st – Brad Lundahl – 1.10.038 – New Track Record!
2nd – Geri Amani – 1.13.143
1st – Eric Jacobsen – 1.14.693 – New Track Record!
Sunday Time Trials
Sunday Time Trials was widely spread with fast times slightly hindered by weather. TeamArizonaPain.com ran a quick .57.233 but was unable to better their time from Saturday. The TT-U record set Saturday was unable to be broken with no times breaking the 1 minute mark. Matt McIntyre while running consistently was unable to better his record set the previous day. Jeremy Renshaw on the other hand stomped a 1.02.871 taking 1st place and the new TT-A record. Dave Schotz held onto the TT-B record and bettered his time running a 1.03.053. Tage Evanson went out in the last session of the day with one goal in mind. Running a 1.07.979 Tage took the win on Sunday for TT-D and set a new record.
Sunday Time Trial Results
1st – TeamArizonaPain.com – .57.233
2nd – Jonh Bianchi – 1.07.245
1st – Mark Alger – 1.00.372
2nd – Ricky Johnson – 1.02.296
3rd – Ken Gerhart – 1.03.232
1st – Ronald Graham – 1.07.167
2nd – Gabe Ortega – 1.07.294
1st – Jeremy Renshaw – 1.02.871 – New Track Record!
2nd – Matt McIntyre – 1.03.247
3rd – Brian Turner – 1.05.762
1st – Dave Schotz – 1.03.053 – New Track Record!
2nd – Chris Wilson – 1.07.299
3rd – Mervin Tan – 1.07.431
1st – Justin Markiewicz – 1.08.330
2nd – Joe Cattaneo – 1.09.275
1st – Tage Evanson – 1.07.979 – New Track Record!
2nd – Robert Rose – 1.08.238
3rd – Leland Forbes – 1.08.705
1st – Brad Lundahl – 1.11.922
2nd – TeamArizonaPain.com – 1.13.781
1st – Eric Jacobsen – 1.15.216
UMS Tuning Time Attack Series
The UMS Tuning Time Attack Series is back once again and as with every event, is stronger than ever. There is no sign of this series disappearing anytime soon. The first event of the season saw 28 competitors hit the track looking to get a great jump on the competition for points. As the racers sat awaiting their launch, the rain began to fall very lightly. The first drivers to hit the track were in a hurry to set their times before the track was affected by the rain. Unfortunately the last running groups were caught in wet conditions. Here are the ending results.
Russell Whelan :: 01:04.188 :: New Track Record!
Taylor Wilson :: 01:04.262
Jim Cozzolino :: 01:05.859
Jesse Robles :: 01:05.103 :: New Track Record!
Markos Mylonas :: 01:05.228
Robert Rose :: 01:06.135
Dave McCombs :: 01:09.894 :: New Track Record!
Stenos Wijaya :: 01:11.529
David Synder :: 01:12.239
It was great to see such a large showing for each of the HPDE classes. We love seeing return drivers out to improve their skills of car control and Firebird Main Fast is a true test of that. Great recognition goes out to each of our HPDE drivers for keeping it clean and incident free on this new and quick moving configuration. Hopefully each of the HPDE drivers also took a lesson from the race group participants, learning just how slick the drag strip can become with even the slightest rain. Congratulations also go out to a few specific drivers who moved up in the ranks. Micahel Esquer, Michael Lee, Dale Volz, and Dan Haski moved from DE2 to DE3. David Snyder, Pablo Soria, and Carson Clark all moved up to DE4. Noz Wijaya, and Jeff Abrams both made the move into Time Trials.
Next Event Preview
Coming up in February, NASA AZ will venture to California for Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. This secluded track is sure to be a change of pace for the drivers of NASA AZ. With a combination of speeds and elevations, we look forward to seeing as many drivers out at the event. This is the first time running this track so track records will once again be up for grabs! For more information about traveling and lodging, be sure to join the NASAAZ.com forums and keep in touch with all the drivers.
Next Event Info
* Test and Tune on Friday (HPDE4, TT, Race Groups)
* Split Small Bore and Big Bore Race groups (Points events Saturday and Sunday)
* Time Trial (Points events Saturday and Sunday)
* Time Attack (Sunday only)
* Saturday night BBQ!!!
Feb 3-5 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 By: Travis Barnes
All Photos by Doug Hughes from www.waypast210.com