November 28-29 Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 11/28-11/29, Phoenix Intl. Raceway

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Well Ladies and Gentlemen, that time of year has arrived:  The off-season.  All one month of off-season from racing.  Racing and performance driving rarely get the credit they deserve, in that the preparation, effort, time and of course, financial commitment sure are a lot more intense than say, watching football 16 weekend of the year, or the occasional trip to The BOB (let’s be nostalgic here, being that it’s the holiday season and all).  Another tough, but fun season of driving and racing has come and gone in Arizona, only to start right up again with an exciting 2010 schedule that really is should I say, “cutting edge” for Arizona–the possibility of new venues, a dynamic schedule with no back-to-back appearances at the same track and more dates than ever.  However you describe the entrants at the November 29-28 event–excited, relieved, relaxed, stuffed, busy or simply wiped out from 12-months of driving–nearly everyone left the 2009 season ready for things with eyes wide open, looking forward to see what’s next.

First off, a huge thanks and congratulations go to the people that really made 2009 happen:  Tage and Adina Evanson.  Our commanders in chief, Tage and Adina, took over the leadership role for NASA Arizona and not only hung on for the entire year, but really took control right off the bat and kept NASA Arizona headed in the right direction that was set forth by Jason Boles and his staff for the previous two years.  Of course the army of workers, staff members, instructors and group leaders made the show go on month in and month out, but Tage and Adina really pulled it off and raised the bar a few notches every month at our local events.  Thanks again go out to the Evanson family! (Enjoy your 40 “days off”!)

Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Enduro

Green flag drops for the 3-hour enduro with some familiar faces up front.

Green flag drops for the 3-hour enduro with some familiar faces up front.

Of course it’s hard to know what exactly to say following each event, especially coming off three straight PIR events in a row that more or less ran flawlessly the entire time.  However, there’s always business that needs to get covered and credit needs to be given where needed.  First up, the 3-hour enduro, which has been a tradition (while varying in time length) was the spectacle of the weekend.  Getting the nerves to enter a race like this, better yet finish one, is no easy task.  The time that goes into vehicle prep, logistics in the pits, race strategies, driver endurance and the financial burden all get exponentially tougher as the distance and time increase.  Don’t forget–this was at the end of a 12-month racing season as well!  That being said, here’s a nice long list of the drivers who entered the 3-hour Thanksgiving Weekend enduro, so credit can be given for their hard work:

  • Chad Nelson – Overall and ST1 Winner
  • Mike Halpin – ST2 Winner
  • Dan Maloney – PTA Winner
  • Paul Bloomberg – PTB Winner
  • Rick Johnson – PTC Winner
  • Bill Mader – PTD Winner
  • Austin Newmark – 944 Spec Winner
  • Brent Crosser
  • Mike Browning
  • Mark Alger
  • Sarah Cattaneo
  • Glen Gormley
  • Norm Hamden
  • Ryan Denton
  • Terry Denton
  • Rich Geisler
  • Jim Foxx
  • Tony Lisa
  • Steve Lisa
  • Tage Evanson
  • Steve Marlow
  • Jim Richard
  • Wade Guthrie
  • Marty Saltzman
  • Dave Hauck
  • Jeremy Renshaw
  • Phil Eglin
  • John Dowling
  • Darren Griffith

When it was all said and done–3 hours and 3 minutes later–a familiar face was up front on the leaderboard.  With a 7-lap lead at the end, Chad Nelson took the ST1 and overall win in his BMW M3 in fine fashion as he did 365 days earlier, making him a back-to-back overall winner in the Thanksgiving Weekend enduro.  Full results by class are located here.

NASA Hyperdrive

Thumbs up for a great weekend at PIR!

Thumbs up for a great weekend at PIR!

Coming in a close second to the enduro, was the introduction to NASA’s Hyperdrive program to PIR.  The commitment and obligations needed to compete in the HPDE1 program and/or a full day at the track with NASA are often too much for some drivers.  Work schedules, family time, other hobbies (imagine that:  a hobby other than racing?!) and so on, often take precedent over getting one’s feet wet for the first time on track.  NASA Arizona simplified the process by reducing this cost, commitment and run time in order to give a small teaser to those interested in seeing what the lifestyle is all about.

With a run group at full capacity, new drivers who have never been on track before, came out to PIR on November 28-29 to get a single run session at a very reduced entry fee.  New drivers were taken on track, with an instructor of course, and let loose (within reason!) for some quick laps in their personal cars.  Many brought tuned street cars, while others showed up in the family haulers.

Leland--keeping the Hyperdrive entrants in line, while wearing the wrong t-shirt.

Leland--keeping the Hyperdrive entrants in line, while wearing the wrong t-shirt.

It’s easy to get caught up in the thick of things at a NASA weekend and not realize every activity that is going on.  For those of you who overlooked the NASA Hyperdrive program, take note and let your friends and co-workers know about this fun, exciting and very simple way to check out track driving with NASA!

Time Trial and Performance Touring

Time Trial was the largest competition series for NASA Arizona in 2009.

Time Trial was the largest competition series for NASA Arizona in 2009.

As with any year end wrap up, many thanks should be given to Paul Bloomberg, Robert Rose and Jeremy Renshaw for keeping Time Trial and Performance Touring from getting overly-chaotic on race weekends.  Compiling points and race results is no easy task, not to mention the endless hours of classing, rule interpretation and run group enforcing can take a toll on just about anyone.  Robert and Paul have done an excellent job at keeping the PT and TT results up to date so competitors can see how they ended up throughout the year.  Before getting to those results, it’s worth noting the track records that were hammered over the weekend, thanks to great weather and very fast 1.59-mile racing surface at PIR:

New Track Records

  • TTC:  Rick Johnson – 1:08.36  (in his Cold Stone farewell tour!)
  • TTE:  Eric Jacobsen – 1:12.15

A full listing of Time Trial track records are here.

  • PTB:  Tage Evanson – 1:09.828
  • PTC:  Mark Congleton – 1:09.618

A full listing of the Performance Touring,  Super Touring and 944 Spec track records are here.

The new 2010 Time Trial, Performance Touring and Super Touring results have been released!!

This means that all drivers participating in any of those series, must:

  1. Read the 2010 rules
  2. Fill out the proper classification forms (this is a January ritual every year)
  3. Email Paul Bloomberg with ST/PT questions, or Jeremy Renshaw with any TT questions.

The goal is to have all of this out of the way as soon as possible so when January rolls around, there is very little work that needs to be done and everyone is classed properly.

Here’s the bottom line:  January 9th will be given as leeway to get paperwork in order.  When the green flag drops on January 10th, if you don’t have the proper paperwork, you will be automatically placed in TTR (for Time Trial) or SU (for race group) until the proper paperwork is turned in.  No exceptions!  Please remember that all the classing and group leaders will most likely be swamped on January 9th, so don’t expect to figure it out at the track on Saturday.  Please come prepared!!!

The 2010 Rules

Super Touring (SU, ST1, ST2) Rulebook

Super Touring Classification Form

STR1 & STR2 Classification Form

Performance Touring (PTA – PTF) Rulebook

Performance Touring Classification Form

Time Trial Rulebook (All Classes)

Time Trial (TTR-TTS) Classification Form

Time Trial (TTA-TTF) Classification Form

And finally, the season points results from both Time Trial and Race Group have been tallied and posted.  Congratulations to all participants in the 2009 season, as well as the season champions in each class!  Details on the awards banquet will be announced early in 2010.

Race Group Season Points

Time Trial Season Points

If you haven't noticed, the photos are especially good this month.  Thanks to Geri Amani for the photography work!

If you haven't noticed, the photos are especially good this month. Thanks to Geri Amani for the photography work!

Time Attack

Last, but certainly not least in the long list of season points series, is the UMS Time Attack series.  Starting in 2005, the UMS Time Attack series was an old idea in the community of motorsports, but new and unique to NASA–no other region puts on a similar series.  Champions have come and gone, but the quick 2-lap timed format to the time attack series is appealing, yet challenging, and has drawn a steady flow of entrants since the beginning.  Time Attack is also unique in that there is a steady stream of newcomers at each event, while the regular “veterans” of time attack still stick around for the competition every month.  A huge thanks goes out to Jeremy Ward and UMS Tuning for keeping this series going month after month, and putting in year-end prizes which kept the competitors active and hungry for competition.

Time Attack entrants lined up in grid for the season shootout!

Time Attack entrants lined up in grid for the season shootout!

Jeremy Ward has done an excellent job archiving the results from the UMS Time Attack series.  All of the 2009 results, as well as previous years can be found in the UMS Time Attack forum on the NASA AZ website.

2009 Results are located here.

Jeremy Ward’s Recap of the 2009 season is located here.

Fast and steady Phil Robles, despite having some stiff competition early in the 2009 season, came out on top with the overall season points win.  Congratulations Phil!  In addition to the UMS Time Attack series, Phil also won the Time Trial points season in the TTB class.  Season class finalists and winners are as follows:

TA-A

  1. Phil Robles
  2. Gabe Ortega
  3. Brady Dohrmann

TA-B

  1. Robert Smithson
  2. Justin Markiewicz
  3. Todd Parker

TA-C

  1. Harry De Leon
  2. Tony Szirka
  3. Jake Trigiboff

2010 Schedule

As mentioned earlier, the 2010 schedule is perhaps one of the most dynamic schedules used in Arizona in quite some time.  With four racetracks at our disposal, Tage and the NASA Arizona crew took advantage of that opportunity by mixing things up and creating an 11-event schedule, not including the NASA National Championships which will again be held at Miller Motorsports park in Utah.  Here’s what we all have to look forward to in Arizona:

  1. January 9/10 – Phoenix International Raceway
  2. February 6/7 – Firebird Raceway – Main Course
  3. March 6/7 – Phoenix International Raceway w/BMWCCA
  4. March 20 – Firebird Raceway – West Course
  5. April 10 – Firebird Raceway – Main/West Courses (Night Event-Double Points)
  6. May 1/2 – Phoenix International Raceway
  7. June 5/6 – Firebird Raceway – East Course (Morning Only)
  8. August 14/15 – Firebird Raceway – West Course (Morning Only)
  9. October 2/3 – Phoenix International Raceway w/BMWCCA
  10. October 16/17 – Firebird Raceway – East Course
  11. November 27/28 – Phoenix International Raceway (Double Points)

*NASA National Championships – September 16-19 – Miller Motorsports Park

Time Trialers entering T6 on a record-setting weekend at the track.

Time Trialers entering T6 on a record-setting weekend at the track.

The Grand Finale

First off, there are a few major improvements to NASA Arizona worth noting.  Terry Denton and his group took a break from the racing action to provide music and atmosphere to the NASA BBQ on Saturday night.  A huge thanks go out to Terry and the SRD crew for putting on a show and keeping everyone entertained.

Secondly, perhaps you’ve noticed a massive increase in the quality of photos from the October wrap up to this one.  Geri Amani with Redlign Photography worked her magic and captured the bright moments from the weekend for all to see on here.  Thanks Geri for your hard work!

Lastly, wrapping up perhaps the longest wrap up in internet history is tough–too many details that were overlooked, too many exciting moments that were remembered, but had to be compromised because most people don’t have the 4-hour attention span required to read all of those, and so on.  2009 was a year of many firsts for NASA Arizona:  new leadership, track records, super-sized entry lists from HPDE1 all the way up to Race Group, Hyperdrive, the legendary NASA BBQs led by Gordon Levy and Terry Denton’s crews, a GIANT April 11th night event,  NASA Nationals on the west coast, finally, and the list goes on.

Class winners from the 3-hour enduro.

Class winners from the 3-hour enduro.

As people stand and stare at their cars in the garage, beaten and bruised from a long season, they also remember that like any form of hard work, reward typically follows.  On one hand it’s tough to think about the long To-Do list on the car (or the driver) and balance that with the holiday season, but after the dust clears and few week’s break passes, that grin comes back and we’re all thankful for the fact that racing has the shortest off-season of any sport.  We look forward to seeing you all back at the track on January 9th.  Until then, stay safe, enjoy your holiday season and of course….. read those 2010 rulebooks and bleed those brakes!  🙂

2009, summarized in five words:  Paul, what are you doing???

2009--summarized in five words: Paul, what are you doing???

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!

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