August 14-15 Wraps Up


It was a hot one at Firebird West and the last of the Summer events of the 2010 season. As it was during our event in June, nearly everyone awoke only a few hours after Friday ended to the so-called “cool” of the summer morning with a hint of race gas looming in the air. With the overhead lights shining above the pits attracting countless flying desert insects, the gates swung open for us at 4am rolling out a full schedule of Race Group, Time Trial, HPDE and Time Attack sessions. Our condensed summer schedule always means plenty of nonstop back-to-back excitement. Lets take look at the highlights from this event along with a few safety reminders and some helpful information for those of you going to NASA Nationals at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

Tage shows all of us how to stay cool in Arizona.

Tage shows all of us how to stay cool in Arizona during a NASA Summer event.

Let’s take a poll… how many of you were sticking to your seats by the end of the day? Raise your hand. Okay, that pretty much makes all of you. We must be serious drivers (or a little crazy) driving in 100+ degree heat, right? Take a whiff of that expensive helmet. That’s the odor of pure commitment. There comes a time when one must ask why we endure such extreme temperatures, wakeup at unreasonable hours (or get no sleep at all) when we could opt to laze about in the air conditioned indoors while nursing a chilled beer. I like to think we exert such effort because NASA-AZ offers unique camaraderie combined with the element of competition that we naturally assemble together during and after the events.

A gathering of 40 meet at the Tilted Kilt for post-track day jubilations!

A gathering of 40 meet at the Tilted Kilt for post-track day jubilations! Yes, that's NASCAR on the big screen.

What was new?
Our event organizers took note of things that went well and not so well the last time we ran FIR West back in March, and made some changes for this event. The new grid layout ultimately made the day run much smoother for those controlling traffic. It increased safety for spectators by keeping them out of a potentially dangerous impact zone, and allowed groups to safely enter the track while the last cars from the previous run exited. This allotted us 30-40 minutes of additional overall track time which is why we were lucky to enjoy four separate HPDE run groups, along with split TT and Race Groups!

Leadership Changes
NASA-AZ also has a new face representing our Time Trial program. Effective immediately, Eric Jacobsen will assume the role of TT Director along with Jeremy Renshaw. Eric is a regular Time Trial competitor, well known for his TTE Ford Taurus that was nicknamed “The Pumpkin”, but is now found tracking a silver Ford Focus. Eric’s positive and professional attitude, rules expertise and all around “nice guy” demeanor made him a perfect fit and an obvious choice.

Jacobsen will be filling the shoes of Brady Dohrmann (TT Director) as he opted to “retire” from the sport we all love (and sometimes hate). After 12+ years of track driving, all of us in NASA-AZ express our gratitude for Brady’s leadership, rules expertise, tech support, download skills, and event write-ups, not to mention a significant amount of general admin support. We sincerely wish all the best to Brady and hope that he becomes as competitive in his “ironman” quest (or whatever else his new hobby becomes) as he was in a race car.


Sound Testing for AMP
In anticipation of the grand re-opening of AMP, sound meter testing and logging took place at FIR West to get a gauge on how “loud” we really are. AMP will be under strict sound regulations and will not allow for any car to run there until its peak sound levels have been “properly documented”. Needless to say the loudest of the bunch will need to make modifications to their cars to reduce the associated noise pollution. AMP has indicated that the sound limitation will be set at 92dB per car with a 99dB track limit. The latest information can be found on the NASA-AZ forum:

Rules! Rules! Rules!

Let’s face it; rules are there for the safety of all drivers, workers and spectators. I’ll be politically correct here: we all need to remember that drivers that deliberately push the limits of these rules or blatantly break them WILL receive appropriate sanction or penalty that is prescribed in the CCRs or worse, as determined by NASA-AZ leadership.

Watch your Speed.

You’ve heard it from Tage in the morning drivers meetings, but I will remind us all here: “keep it slow in the pits.” Remember when you were a little boy (or girl) and your crazy neighbor with the hot rod ran over your beloved puppy? Let’s not let this happen… or worse yet… to your children! Keep speeds at 5mph for the safety of everyone.

Did you see that flagger?

If it takes a couple of laps for you to realize that a flag has been thrown or thrown AT you and you don’t see it, don’t be surprised if you get the attention of an official when you exit your vehicle after the session. Flags are put into use for the safety of all; they facilitate communication between corner workers and the driver to anticipate track conditions or to make drivers aware of their behavior. It’s important to remember what the flags mean. Keep an eye out for them.

Race Groups – Big Bore and Small Bore

All race groups enjoyed a good turn out of participants this event, with full practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday and split races on Sunday. The biggest run group was of course 944 Spec, but few classes ran with less than four drivers. It was also noted that the green flag race start was difficult or impossible to see for those gridded up on the “outside”.  NASA-AZ will address this for future races at FIR West. Here’s a closer look what took place on track and the results when the checkers fell.

Big Bore
No doubt the narrow features of FIR West make it interesting for a pack of fast cars. Starting with Qualifying Tage took the pole in ST-2, bringing home the fastest lap in this group in one lap, then exited the track. I am guessing he had to return to his Director duties… stat! In PT-A David Leyvas qualified first, followed by Jeremy Renshaw leading PT-B.

Ron Ballard, #93 Mustang takes the win in Big Bore.

Ron Ballard, #93 Mustang takes the win in Big Bore.

The race on Sunday had to have been one of the more entertaining races I’ve watched in awhile, nothing short of off track excursions, mechanical issues and slick track conditions which ultimately sorted out the field. Starting with ST-2, Ron Ballard took the win, bumping Tage Evanson to second a few laps after race start and keeping him mid-field for the remainder of the race. It does appear that the man piloting Casper the Friendly Civic is a “one lap kind of guy”. His excuse? “I didn’t want to beat ‘the customer’. Sort of like how you don’t beat a client at a friendly round of golf.” I fully expect Tage to make a full come back in the next race. But, as the saying goes by famous Golfer Raymond Floyd, “They call it golf because all of the other four-letter words were taken.” Race also happens to be a four-letter word!

Moving on to PT-B, Jeremy Renshaw held his place finishing first with Marty Saltzman placing second. Brian Turner brought out good stuff to the track, starting the race in fourth but ultimately taking the win in PT-A, with David Leyvas not far behind placing second.

Here are the top finishers for Big Bore:
ST-2 – Ron Ballard #93

PT-A – Brian Turner # 524
PT-B – Jeremy Renshaw #12

Small Bore
944 Spec dominated FIR West with a lot of circumstances that certainly rearranged our drivers in all sorts of directions. Beginning with qualifying, Austin Newmark took center stage with a quick lap that placed him in the pole position, with Rich Geisler and Norm Hamden not far behind. For the qualifying session we also enjoyed the company of our #8 Spec Miata, driven by Charles Jackson.

Post-race, Small Bore group.

Post-race, Small Bore group.

Austin Newmark's dad is always at the track supporting his son's efforts in Race Group.

Austin Newmark's dad is always at the track supporting his son's efforts in Race Group.

The Small Bore race started with slick and dusty conditions… with dusty incidents taking place on the first lap. Newmark was quickly sent to the back of the pack, left sitting still in the entry of the carousel turn. It became evident he was determined to regain his position, battling his way towards the front after each lap. Newmark dominated 944 Spec this weekend; starting first, bumped to last, then back to first – all within a 25-minute sprint race. Rich Geisler maintained his pace finishing second, followed by Kent Buckley finishing third in front of Joe Palush. For Buckley, this race proved to be a great personal achievement. When I asked Buckley his thoughts about the race, he replied “… that was one of my best races! I’ve never been able to beat Joe in a toe to toe battle, will remember that for a while! Forgot to hook up the camera, dammit!!” As an aspiring racer myself, I extend a round of applause to Kent in achieving this on-track milestone!

Kent Buckley gives Norman Hamden a ride around the pits.

Kent Buckley gives Norman Hamden a ride around the pits after the race.

We had another driver join Small Bore on Sunday, Mike Halpin in #4 Spec Miata. While the 944 Spec racers showed little love on track for their Mazda counterparts, Halpin and Jackson found themselves in an all-out two car Spec Miata battle. Halpin saved the best for last, ultimately finishing first in the Spec Miata class.

Top three finishers from 944 Spec:
1 – #47
x Austin Newmark
2 – #03
Rich Geisler
3 – #11
Kent Buckley

Top finishers from Spec Miata:
1 – #4
Michael Halpin
2 – #8
Charles Jackson

Time Trial Groups

It was a slow weekend for everyone; with Time Trial drivers doing everything they could to overcome very hot and slick track conditions. Everyone enjoyed split run groups this event, with combined sessions at the end of the day. Taking a look at the results there were no new track records. Clearly the summer weather was not helping anyone shave off those extra tenths. Congratulations to everyone for enduring the heat during your hot laps!

Dave Evans, #453 TTB Nissan 350Z.

Dave Evans, #453 TTB Nissan 350Z.

Matt MacIntyre led the pack this weekend with the fastest laps in Small Bore, running a rather quick 1:04.63 in his TTB BMW M3. David Schotz in his 1989 Chevy Cameo took TTC with a 1:06.24, and TTD was led by Robert Rose running a 1:07 flat. Another Miata joined the fun in TTE on Saturday; Brad Lundahl and Geri Amani enjoyed a good Mazda chase around the track on Saturday, with Amani finding the fastest TTE lap on Sunday with a 1:10.13. TTF was represented by Eric Jacobsen in his Ford Focus running a 1:13.63.

Matt McIntyre, TTB #31 BMW M3.

Matt McIntyre, TTB #31 BMW M3.

Simon Pavlick made a return to the track on Sunday driving a TTB Honda hatch.

Simon Pavlick made a return to the track on Sunday driving #526 TTB Honda hatch.

Top Drivers from Saturday:
TTB – Matt McIntyre #31 / 1997 BMW M3: 1:04.84

TTC – Dave Schotz #175 / 1989 Chevy Camaro: 1:06.70

TTD – Robert Rose #16 / 1993 Mazda Miata: 1:07.00

TTE – Brad Lundahl #12 / 1995 Mazda Miata: 1:10.32
TTF – Eric Jacobsen #97 / 2003 Ford Focus: 1:14.06

Top Drivers from Sunday:
TTB – Matt McIntyre #31 / 1997 BMW M3: 1:04.63

TTC – Dave Schotz #175 / 1989 Chevy Camaro: 1:06.24

TTD – Robert Rose #16 / 1993 Mazda Miata: 1:07.18

TTE – Geri Amani #34 / 1991 Mazda Miata: 10.13
TTF – Eric Jacobsen #97 / 2003 Ford Focus: 1:13.63

Big Bore

The faster bunch of Time Trialers brought good stuff to the track, with Wayne McKeen taking the lead yet again on both days with his fastest lap being a 1:01.48 in his TTR Corvette. Tony Szirka ran the fastest TTU lap for the weekend with a 1:04.00, Darrell Rayburn driving his TTS Corvette found a quick 1:02.91, and TTA Porsche 997 driven by David Leyvas ran a 1:06 flat.

Big Bore lined up on grid.

Big Bore lined up on grid.

Top Drivers from Saturday
TTR – Wayne McKeen #7 / 2002 Corvette: 1:01.48

TTU – John Bianchi #5 / 2006 Z06 Corvette: 1:04.12
TTS – Darrell Rayburn #421 / 2007 Corvette: 1:03.60
TTA – David Leyvas #997 / 2006 Porsche 997: 1:06.00

Top Drivers from Sunday:
TTR – Wayne McKeen #7 / 2002 Corvette: 1:01.50
TTU – Tony Szirka #11 / 2003 EVO 8: 1:04.12
TTS – Darrell Rayburn #421 / 2007 Corvette: 1:02.91
TTA – Brian Turner #524 / 1978 Porsche 911: 1:06.18


There was plenty of fun for everyone running HPDE this event, enjoying separate sessions for every group. It’s always great to see some familiar and new faces along with the latest upgrades that they’ve made to their car… and the last minute fixes that took place the night before. That’s what Redbull is for, right?! Everyone seemed genuinely excited about running on this track. After all, it’s been nearly two months since the last event and everyone had the chance to put rubber to the road.

Markos gives Ravi a good chase during an HPDE session.

Markos gives Ravi a good chase during an HPDE session.

Some of the most shiny stickers in HPDE, 240SX driven by Yahasmin Soto.

Some of the most shiny stickers in HPDE, 240SX driven by Yahasmin Soto.

A few drivers always seem to arrive at the track in an especially cheerful mood, and as the saying goes, attitude is everything! Leland Forbes, corner worker and HPDE3 driver, expressed his love for motorsports with custom rattle-can paint on his Acura Integra.

Leland's car certainly refelects his attitude. All smiles!

Leland's car certainly refelects his attitude. All smiles!

See previous picture.

See previous picture.

Some of our drivers travel a very long distance to reach the Phoenix area, one of which is Michelle Abbate from Las Vegas. A tip of the helmet goes to Michelle for making such a long journey just to join us on track!

Michele gives a thumbs up before heading on track.

Michele gives a thumbs up!

A few folks moved up in the HPDE ladder, including Sergio Perez in white E46 and appeared to be really working it in HPDE4. Brian McCormick in his Kronik Energy M3 is considering preparations for Race Group, while others are looking to move into TT.

The HPDE program is a fun and safe environment to learn the limits of yourself and your car, offering all there is to know about getting a start in motorsports. With four different levels in HPDE, our instructors can help you find a faster line, increase driver skills, and increase awareness. For those of you interested in competition driving, be sure to speak with our TT and Race Directors for information on how you can participate.

Time Attack

Another great turnout for the UMS Tuning Time Attack event, where 24 drivers took to the track in three classes. Gabe Ortega took the win in TA-A, running a brisk 1:06.89 (also continuing his streak of TA-A class wins this year). Brian McCormick took over TA-B with 1:06.76, and Tony Szirka ran a 1:04.13, which secured his win for TA-C.

Time Attack grided up!

Time Attack grided up!

Here are the top three drivers from each TA Class:

Tony Szirka – 1:04.13
Travis Barnes – 1:06.71
Robert Smithson – 1:08.23

Brian McCormick – 1:06.76
Dave McCombs – 1:07.486
Dave Evans – 1:08.50

Gabe Ortega – 1:06.8
Leland Forbes – 1:09.44
Markos Mylonas – 1:09.66

2010 NASA National Championships

For those of your going up north to run at NASA National Championships this year, you will be pleased to know that this event will count as local points and bonus attendance points (Time Trial points event #16 and Race Group points event #13 main race only), so don’t miss your chance to ramp up your totals for the end of the 2010 season. This is NASA’s most notably challenging event of the year, which takes place at Miller Motorsports Park where competitors from all over the country show up to battle for the National Champion title in their class.

If you are planning to attend, and haven’t registere­­d yet, be sure to do so as rates increase the longer you delay:

Miller is a state-of-the-art road racing facility that is located just 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City in Tooele, Utah, and is easily accessed by major highways (I-80) and surrounding county roads. It is a relatively new track, officially opening its gates for the first time in 2006. Since then it has been considered the finest facility of its kind in North America. Miller Motorsports Park now hosts many of the world’s most significant racing series such as the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Superbike World Championship, NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the new Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. How lucky NASA is to be able to race here also!

There will be several tire vendors at MMP including Toyo, Hoosier, and Goodyear. The word is out that vendors may be backordered so be sure to place your orders well before the event. The fuel pumps at MMP are open 24-hours a day and have pay at the pump convenience for Texaco 85/91/Diesel, and Sunoco 260 GT (100 Octane, unleaded, oxygenated), Sunoco 260 GTX (98 Octane, unleaded, not oxygenated), and Sunoco 110 leaded. There are also a wide range of contingency programs for a cumulative total nearing $1-million dollars including Hawk, MAZDASPEED, Hasport, Honda Racing, Race Keeper, 986, Yokohama, just to name a few. Top runners driving eligible vehicles will have a chance to race at the season finale World Challenge event to be held at Miller Motorsports Park October 1-3, 2010.

I’ve included some general schedule information for reference, but be sure to check out the latest information and discussions regarding this event on the official NASA Forums Championship thread:

Full Preliminary Schedule (PDF):

Wednesday, September 15 : Test & Tune (additional fee)
Thursday, September 16 :
Warm up / Qualifying / Qualifying Races
Friday, September 17 :
Warm up / Qualifying / Qualifying Races
Saturday, September 18 :
Championship Races
Sunday, September 19 :
Championship Races

Event Regulations (PDF):

Current Entry List:

Per the schedule, here are the Race Directors for each group. Be sure to become familiar with them at the event should any issues arise on or off track.

Group A: Fernandez – Factory Five Racing, Camaro Mustang Challenge, CMC 2
Group B:
Covini – American Iron, American Iron Xtreme, STR1, STR2
Group C:
Lepper – Honda Challenge
Group D:
Winkleman – Performance Touring A, Super Touring, Super Unlimited, ASC
Group E:
Lang – 944Spec, SpecE30, Spec3
Group F:
Johnson – Spec Miata
Group G:
Anderson – Time Trial: TTA, B, C, D, E, F
Group H
: Pantas – German Touring Series (1-5), BSR
Group I:
Anderson – Time Trial: TTR, S, U
Group J
: Rucker – Performance Touring (B, C, D, E, F), Legends
Group K:
Balingit – Formula Mazda

And finally, NASA-AZ is tentatively planning a regional meet-up at Miller, details to follow.

Next Event Sneak Preview: October 2-3, 2010 (Sat & Sun)
The next regional event will take place at Phoenix International Raceway October 2-3, bringing us to our normal full schedule of HPDE, TT, Race Groups, and Time Attack. It will be nearly 5 months since we’ve last visited this track so don’t miss out on your chance to turn some fast laps in some significantly cooler weather! It should also be noted; for those of you interested in joining Race Group, October will be the time to make it official as we will be offering the annual Competition School. When registration opens you can sign up for this event here:

Article written by Geri A. Amani. Photography by Geri A. Amani and RacePhotoLabs.

Paul Bloomberg

Full Name: Paul Bloomberg
Home State: Illinois


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.

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.

Racing Starts


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.

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.

944 to FWD


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.

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

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

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.


Racing around Phoenix International Raceway

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?”


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

June 5-6 Wraps Up

Firebird East – NASA-AZ Summer Event

NASA-AZ typically runs Firebird East only but once a year. However, the June 5-6 event would be one of two visits we’ll make to this track in 2010. Sure, we all had the option of sleeping in, relaxing inside of our air conditioned homes all weekend, maybe mow the lawn (if it hasn’t dried up already), or catch a few episodes of Dancing with the Stars that you’ve been recording on TiVo (or not). Regardless, when the track is scheduled to go hot our drivers kit-up and officials brave the heat.


Gathering around for the early morning drivers meeting.

"Where's the coffee??" ...

Drivers and officials regroup at dawn, likely plotting "Operation-Coffee".

Firebird East is one of those tracks that rewards driver skill and handling; often closing the competition through various classes, keeping drivers and spectators on their toes. It is also one of my favorite tracks, and likewise for other momentum car drivers it is a popular pick. This would be the first of two summer events this year maintaining a condensed and (very) early schedule, avoiding the hottest temperatures of the day, which often reach over 100*F!


Before the sun came up, David Leyvas' #997 PTA Porsche was ready to roll.

Long before any Starbucks opened in the whole of Phoenix, our drivers began entering the gates at 4am. Thanks to the organizers of NASA-AZ, this special event accommodated Big Bore and Small Bore races, Time Trial groups, HPDE, and Time Attack. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights from this event.

Race group heats up!

I was looking forward to seeing how many of our drivers in Race Group would make this event since NASA-AZ normally doesn’t offer races in the summer, let alone at this track. Since we were running a condensed schedule, Race Group followed a slightly different format; practice and qualifying took place on Saturday, followed by practice and race sessions on Sunday.


Big Bore, Small Track.

If anyone was going to get a sub-minute lap time it was going to be in this group along with Big Bore Time Trial. The race began with a cluster of cars tight through the corners, gradually thinning out lap after lap. Mark Alger driving the fast red blur… I mean… #4 SU Dodge Viper, qualified first overall running a 59.748, followed by Victor Pfluger, Darrell Rayburn and Tage Evanson.

Big Bore, Small Track

Big Bore apex take-over!

Sunday’s race began with a 15-car field, noting most cars in their expected order with the exception of Brian Turner who missed qualifying due to mechanical issues. Starting in the back he worked his way through the pack ultimately taking fourth, just behind Matthew Seech in third. In the front of the pack was Mark Alger yet again who found a few extra tenths, beating his own qualifying lap time — also notably the fastest lap in Race Group for the weekend – a 58.932. When the checkers fell Alger took pole winning the SU class for the weekend, followed by Darrell Rayburn placing first in ST-2, David Leyvas took PT-A, and Rick Johnson won PT-B.

The chase!

Nose-to-tail chase: Ricky "Boo Boo" Johnson and John Dowling.

The chase continues...

... a few laps later ... the chase continues...

Here are the class winners from the Big Bore race on Sunday:
Mark Alger #4, SU
Darrell Rayburn #421, ST-2
David Leyvas #997, PT-A
Rick Johnson #00, PT-B


Small Bore Race goes 944… and a Miata.

The Small Bore race was comprised of 99.99% 944 Spec, and .01% Spec Miata. Events like these make it obvious to me that the 944 Spec racers (and the Spec Miata) are committed to our racing schedule, even when weather conditions reach ‘wow-my-race-suit-really-does-smell-that-bad’ highs. An early start and 20 laps later, Austin Newmark in #47x took first overall with Rich Geisler in #03 not far behind, followed by Darren Griffith in #7. Our esteemed #8 Spec Miata driven by Charles Jackson, who also got the new Spec Miata track record, is an example to everyone who has been watching the races and contemplating to build a Spec car, that a) they should do it, and that b) all of them can be competitive together!

Top 944 racers from Sunday:
Austin Newmark #47x, 944 Spec
Rich Geisler #03, 944 Spec
Darren Griffith #7, 944 Spec

… and in Spec Miata:
Charles Jackson #8, Spec Miata

New track records:
Rich Geisler #03, 944 Spec – 1:06.452
Charles Jackson #8, Spec Miata – 1:10.416

Time Trial Groups

Big Bore

Big Bore Time Trial was hot, and I’m not referencing the Arizona summer, or anybody’s car overheating… But in terms of speed they were all smoke’n! Throughout the weekend Wayne McKeen brought good stuff to the track in his TTR Corvette, running consistent sub-minute laps and setting the TTR track record on Saturday, then breaking his own record on Sunday with a fast 57.93.

Darrell Rayburn set the TTS record on Saturday with a 59.78, however Tage Evanson in his well-known Honda Civic (Casper) raised the bar on Sunday running 59.14. Brian Turner set a new record for this track with 1:03.39 in TTA, and Mark Alger took the lead in TTU turning 59.76


#44 TTA Audi S4 driven by Dan Maloney

Here are the top racers on Saturday:
TTR Wayne McKeen – #7 Corvette – 58.26
TTU Mark Alger – #4 Dodge Viper – 1:00.01
TTS Darrell Rayburn – #421 Corvette – 59.78
TTA Dan Maloney – #44 Audi S4 – 1:03.97

Here are the top racers on Sunday:
TTR Wayne McKeen – #7 Corvette – 57.93
TTU Mark Alger – #4 Dodge Viper – 59.76
TTS Tage Evanson – #17 Honda Civic – 59.14
TTA Brian Turner – #524 Porsche 911 – 1:03.39

New track records:
TTR Wayne Mckeen – #7 Corvette
TTS Tage Evanson – # 17 Honda Civic
TTA Brian Turner – #524 Porsche 911

Small Bore

The Small Bore group also enjoyed fast laps around East with a couple new track records. First up is Matt McIntyre, who obtained the TTB track record twice in one weekend; Saturday running 1:03.02, then shaving off a few tenths on Sunday running 1:02.72. Gabe Ortega and Eric Dayton battled it out in hopes to shave off those few extra tenths between each other, with Dayton ultimately taking the lead with the fastest lap in TTC on Sunday. Tage Evanson joined Small Bore yet again with his Honda Accord in TTF, also finding a new track record running 1:08.87.

Pace Car and TTC Integra driven by Eric Dayton.

Pace Car and TTC Integra driven by Eric Dayton.

Here are the top racers on Saturday:
TTB Matt McIntyre – #31 BMW M3 – 1:03.02
TTC Drew Maloney – #52 Mini Cooper S – 1:06.02
TTD Robert Rose – #16 Mazda Miata – 1:05.89
TTE Geri Amani – #34 Mazda Miata – 1:10.46
TTF Tage Evanson – #17 Honda Accord – 1:08.89

Here are the top racers on Sunday:
TTB Matt McIntyre – #31 BMW M3 – 1:02.72
TTC Eric Dayton- #21 Acura Integra – 1:07.16
TTD Robert Rose – #16 Mazda Miata – 1:06.01
TTE Geri Amani – #34 Mazda Miata – 1:08.92
TTF Tage Evanson – #17 Honda Accord – 1:08.87

New track records:
TTB Matt McIntyre – #31 BMW M3 – 1:02.72
TTF Tage Evanson – #17 Honda Accord – 1:08.87


Both mornings I started my day walking about the tech inspection lines snapping a few pictures a long the way. It is always great to see so many familiar faces in HPDE, and all of them eager to get on track despite how early it was or how little sleep they had the night before. Each event I like to take note which HPDE cars appear to be on the fast track towards competition in the not too distant future. With each event those cars slowly become more serious: better brakes, less interior, race seats, safety gear, tires, stickers, and more – the tell-tale signs of the “racing bug”.

Unmistakeable neon wheels, "Subie" driver Taylor Wilson.

Unmistakeable *neon* wheels... One of our "Subie" drivers, Taylor Wilson.

NASA’s HPDE program guides new drivers further up the HPDE ladder, and our spirited group leaders are here to help. Whether you are just starting out or have been driving for awhile – NASA has a great support structure for those eager to learn.

I managed to connect with a few drivers to see how the event was coming along for them. A few of them were quite possibly some of the most enthusiastic I’ve seen in a long while. New to NASA was Ahmed Sulfab, driving his garage-built Integra Type-R. After months of reviving his car he joined us in DE1, graduating to DE2 by Sunday.

Noz Wijaya didn’t return to DE3 with his red Corolla, this time we found him with a Miata! Could this be a budding Spec Miata racer in the near future? Or a soon-to-be Time Trialer? Aside from weight reduction and safety gear, he ran the Miata almost completely stock. Noz ran both DE3 and Time Attack in a completely new platform, receiving some helpful coaching from fellow Miata driver and DE2 group leader Robert Rose.

Miata drivers stick together. Zoom-Zoom!

Robert Rose getting ready to head out with Noz in DE3 for some 1:1 coaching.

Bright and early... yellow S2k!

Bright ... and early!

One of our trusted corner workers Melanie joined us ON track; not holding a yellow flag, but driving her yellow supercharged Integra Type-R. Great to have her out there with us!

Fellow corner worker Melanie joins us in DE3 in her supercharged Acura Integra Type-R.

Fellow corner worker Melanie joins us in DE3 in her supercharged Acura Integra Type-R.

Because we can never be too prepared as drivers, NASA wants everyone to be safe when they drive with us. Make sure to be familiar with the latest safety rules and regulations. You can check out the official NASA website for the latest Club Codes and Regulations (often referred to as the CCR’s) here:

UMS Time Attack

I was pleased to see that the UMS Time Attack was scheduled in the NASA menu of run groups for this summer event, and even more pleased to see the number of participants waiting on grid hoping to turn the fastest lap. The UMS Time Attack provides drivers from run groups DE3 and up with some open track in a competition format. Other than the hot temperatures, after talking with other drivers it became obvious that TA had been a great success.

Gabe Ortega's Honda Civic, our TA-A winner.

Gabe Ortega's Honda Civic, TA-A winner.

With TA-A and TA-B as the largest of the TA run groups, with a few TA-C cars in the mix — a total of 22 cars in participation gave everyone a good dose of competition. Gabe Ortega in his Honda Civic drove away as our TA-A winner running a 1:08.061, Brian McCormick’s #727 took TA-B with his swift 1:04.376, and in TA-C Robert Smithson achieved 1:04.700.

August Event Preview

With our brief break in July our next event takes place at Firebird West in August. Most HPDE groups were sold out in June, and despite warmer temperatures NASA-AZ expects the same turnout. An early 6AM start will kick-off the event, with HPDE1 on Saturday, also HPDE2, 3 and 4 both days. This will also be one of the last opportunities Time Trialers and Racers can accumulate the minimum points required for Nationals in September. For those of you not planning on joining us at Miller Motorsports Park, we wont have any more events in Arizona until October… Be sure to register for FIR West –the last of our summer events, and we’ll see you at the track!

Register for this event –>
Real time event details on the NASA-AZ Forum –>

ritten and photographed by Geri A. Amani.

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