March 20th Wraps Up

March 20th Wraps Up – Firebird Intl. Raceway, West Course


2010 so far has been an interesting year for NASA Arizona due to many new “items” being implemented—people, procedures, classes, activities and of course, the schedule.  I’ve ranted on quite a bit in the past about the 2010 schedule and how it’s a first for Arizona:  no back to back events at the same track, more frequent use of Firebird, and what seems like a more compact, efficient and busy schedule.  March 20th was the first daytime event NASA Arizona has had at Firebird West…. Probably ever!  And that’s thinking back to 2003 or so.  Of course there have always been the usual August summer events with the small schedule ending before the baseball games start, but March 20th was a nice twist in the program for everyone:  a full-day at the track, but not the large commitment of a 2-day event at Firebird Main or PIR.  Not to mention, Tucson, Chandler & east-valley residents got to sleep a little later Saturday morning.

Racers & Time Trialers Unite!

Darrell Rayburn splits his time between TT and Race, or just runs both sometimes!

Darrell Rayburn splits his time between TT and Race, or just runs both sometimes!

With all respect due to all groups within NASA Arizona, the most interesting for many was the combined sessions of Time Trial and Race Group.  Crediting TT competitor Eric Jacobsen for his track record analysis on the NASA Arizona forum, it’s always interesting to see how the track records stack up against each other:  Race Group vs. TT.  Which group is faster?  Which group has more established drivers capable of pounding old records?  And of course, which group has more excuses as to why they’re slower?  (I can see blood boiling from a few race group members already).  For the record (excuse the pun), TT drivers have all day, everyday to set a fast lap and track record during a NASA event.  Racers on the other hand, can only solidify and beat track records during the race—not qualifying or practice—making it tough because there’s a lot going on during a race beyond trying to set a track record.  That’s a reasonable explanation for why sometimes the track records are sometimes “different” (see how nice I’m being?!) than the TT group’s.

However, all bets were off on March 20th!  TT and Racers were combined into the same group with all fast lap times counting towards the overall (and only) track record list for Firebird West.  The setting was perfect—a clear winter day, clean track, split groups for big bore (TTS-TTR, ST1-SU) and small bore (TTF-TTA, PTF-PTA) and no excuses otherwise.  For the sake of this comparison, any racer that typically supersizes and runs TT, will be considered a racer.  Let’s see which group set more records!  Racers in red, TT drivers in blue.  Everyone run for cover!

•    TTR – Pete Creek – 59:81
•    TTU – Darrell Rayburn – 1:01.56 (2008)
•    TTS – Tage Evanson – 59:72
•    TTA – Brian Turner – 1:05.34 (2009)
•    TTB – Rick Johnson – 1:03.95

•    TTC – Brady Dohrmann – 1:05.30 (2009)
•    TTD – Robert Rose – 1:06.53
•    TTE – Simon Pavlick – 1:07.65
•    TTF – Brady Dohrmann – 1:09.15

Six of the nine records were broken at FIR West on March 20th, which shouldn’t be a big surprise considering the lack of time NASA Arizona has had on that track over the years, not to mention the improvement all drivers have made since our last visit in August 2009.  But, looking at this comparison, Time Trial drivers left the track holding six track records with racers sitting at three.  Knowing that, the debate will continue–onto the next event, the next year or the next time NASA Arizona drives at Firebird West in August.

The BMW camp fought hard against the racers all day in the combined group

The BMW camp fought hard against the racers all day in the combined group

Most importantly was the sportsmanship between the two groups working together:  racers adapting quickly to the TT routine, TT drivers and racers pushing each other to turn faster laps, efficient downloads and so on.  A big thanks go out to everyone who participated in the combined sessions and helped making it a successful day.

Full results from the Time Trial/Race Group combined sessions are located here.

TT Group Business

It’s worth noting that for the TT group, all of the official results are located on the NASA Time Trial page, not  Whether it’s for contingency, bragging rights or a personal reference, the NASA TT site is The Bible of Results.  All TT drivers are encouraged to bookmark and reference it frequently.  Inside are:

  • Official rules, classing sheets, license forms
  • TT results from across the country
  • TT points standings
  • Track records from across the country
TT driver Geri Amani reviews her lap times and track data from an earlier session

TT driver Geri Amani reviews her lap times and track data from an earlier session

Many have inquired about changes to the online results as well.  Here are the details:

  • Protests cannot be made to another competitor past the day of the event.  Therefore, once the results are online, a competitor cannot file a protest that would have an effect on the already-published results
  • Simple changes must be made before the start of the next event.  For example, once April 10th takes the green flag, the March 20th results are set in stone.
  • Those eligible changes would be:  Spelling errors, vehicle info, classing and even lap times that are not inputted properly.
  • All changes must be requested to one of the two Arizona TT officials directly via email:  either Jeremy Renshaw or Brady Dohrmann.  Email info is on the contact page of

HPDE Groups

All of the HPDE groups had a strong showing of regular and new drivers, with HPDE1 selling out as always.  Determining which event will have a bigger crowd is tough; are people more inclined to sign  up and drag all their equipment out for a single day, or is the one-day format more appealing because that leaves people with some sort of weekend after the track?  Being stuck between the big BMWCCA weekend at PIR and the massive night event at Firebird Main on April 10th put this event in an awkward location, but the numbers in each group told all.

HPDE drivers circle around onto the front straight at Firebird West

HPDE drivers circle around onto the front straight at Firebird West

That being said, many of the above speculations were the reason the race group didn’t have a stand-alone program and were instead combined with the time trial group.  For many of the racers with large trailers, crews and an extensive amount of pit equipment, it can be a lot of work for a single day of driving.  But all in all, there are so many benefits to driving at Firebird by itself, the paddock was full and everyone had fun.  NASA Arizona responded to this demand with an increase of Firebird track time for 2010 over previous years (more on that below).

UMS Time Attack Series

The UMS Time Attack series has fluctuated in attendance somewhat over the years, as does nearly series in motorsports.  Right now, however, thanks to promotion from series leader Jeremy Ward, as well as stronger national series such as Redline and the Super Lap Battle, the UMS TA series is stronger and more competitive than ever.  New drivers from HPDE3-4, TT and Race Group are always welcomed to join.  With the increasing attendance comes a few complications, with the most important being the timing system and availability of the AMB transponders.

Team Tein Arizona getting ready for the UMS Time Attack

Team Tein Arizona getting ready for the UMS Time Attack

NASA Arizona always has a healthy stock of AMB transponders available for rental.  While it hasn’t become a problem yet, with the upward swing in attendance of the UMS Time Attack series, things might get complicated in the future since this series, TT and Race group all share from the same rental transponder pool.

So, this is more or less a heads up message saying that if you are planning on being a regular in the UMS Time Attack series, TT or Race Group, you might want to consider purchasing an AMB transponder for yourself.  The AMB transponders cost around $400 new and can often be found for much less with light use on racer classifieds (NASA Forums, etc) or Ebay.  Just some food for thought.  Speak with Jeremy Ward to get info on the proper transponder model you will need to purchase.

Business aside, the TA-B class saw a first time winner in Dave McCombs, taking the victory in his Honda S2000 with a time of 1:06.841.  Dave comes from a long background of autocrossing, which suited him well for Firebird West’s tight roadcourse.  In addition to the TA-B win, that lap time stood all day and was strong enough for the overall win in the UMS Time Attack Series.  Congratulations Dave!  Familiar to Time Attack, Gabe Ortega took the win in TA-A, edging out Simon Pavlick by three-tenths of a second.  Bryan McCormick was the winner in TA-C.

Full results from the UMS Time Attack series are located here.

Time Attack headmaster Jeremy Ward prepares for a photo session of the TA group.

Time Attack headmaster Jeremy Ward prepares for a photo session of the TA group.

Next time at Firebird West

If you couldn’t get enough of Firebird West, NASA Arizona will return for a two-day event on August 14-15.  I know what you’re thinking–NASA is crazy for having a two-day event in the middle of the summer, right?  Well most people from NASA Arizona have attended the early morning summer events.  If not, the concept is simple:  Start early.. really early, and get out of there before it gets too hot.  While the final schedule hasn’t been released yet, expect a 6am start time for first session, with the last session ending just after 10am, and at around 90degrees.  Sessions are shorter, entry fees are less as a result, everyone is home by noon and drivers still get their fix during the summer.

New for 2010 is the two-day summer event format.  This will use the compact schedule as roughly described above, on both Saturday and Sunday.  And unlike years past, Race Group will be more involved in the summer events.  Saturday will serve as practice and qualifying, with Sunday having a warmup session and the actual points race.  This will give racers a chance to race on FIR West (same concept applies for FIR East in June as well) for the first time, as well as get a final tuning session before NASA Nationals at Miller in September.

That about wraps up the details from March 20th at Firebird Raceway!  Thanks go out to everyone–drivers and workers alike–for making March 20th a successful event despite the fact that it sees less use by NASA Arizona than other locations.   See  you at the track!

February 6-7 Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 2/6-2/7 2010, Firebird Intl. Raceway


Have any trouble finding the place?  Last time NASA Arizona was at Firebird International Raceway during the daytime on the Main course was November, 2006–a time when there were 2-3 less casinos, Wild Horse Pass Rd was called Maricopa Rd., you couldn’t cross the freeway to Love’s to get race fuel and the closest lunch spot was deep into Ahwatukee.  With all the amenities at our finger tips, the stage was set for a great weekend of racing and HPDE out at Firebird.. but with a twist.  That being, the rain which dumped bucket loads and surely spiced things up a bit for all.

Saturday showed slightly bigger attendance than Sunday for most groups, which is typical for most NASA Arizona weekends.  Due to the  rain, a slew of mechanical failures across the board and the fact that many people that didn’t have rain-worthy rubber, some opted to sit out rather than take their chances between the concrete barriers at Firebird on Sunday.  Those who did brave the storm (quite literally), aside from the extremely slick dragstrip, found the infield section at Firebird to be rather amusing and challenging in the wet conditions.  It’s a rare case when drivers get to practice driving in the rain in Arizona, so many took the opportunity to learn car setup, patience, and driving methods on various surfaces in the wet.

Matt MacIntyre held the TTB track record for 24 hours, only to get robbed on Sunday afternoon by Rick Johnson

Matt MacIntyre held the TTB track record for 24 hours, only to get robbed late on Sunday

The NASA Saturday evening social was a hit as always.  Restrictions on the Firebird property meant specificlimitations on certain types of beverages, which some theorize were responsible for a lower turnout than NASA typically sees at Phoenix International Raceway, but rest assured the BBQ was still a hit as always.  Terry Denton and his band came out to Firebird once again to provide excellent entertainment throughout the night.  Thanks again to Terry and his crew for making the evening more entertaining and welcoming for all!

Now, it’s time for business!

Track Records

Rather than divide this up between Time Trial (TT) and Race Group, it’s worth noting that due to the long-weekend at FIR Main, finally, drivers had time to settle in, setup their cars, and reset all those track records which often are touch to reach under the lights at the yearly April event.  The thought of having two days to reset the records, however, was short-lived as the clouds rolled in Saturday afternoon and kept the track damp nearly all day Sunday.  This condition mostly affected the racers, leaving them with  three new track records (ST2, PTB, 944 Spec).

The tape sums up Rick's weekend, setting new track records in TT and Race Group

The tape sums up Rick's weekend, setting new track records in TT and Race Group

Time trial drivers on the other hand, have an advantage due to the competition format and only needing one clean, fast session to beat a track record.  All said, six of the nine records were trumped, giving the track records page at a faster, and more consistent look.  In total, TTR, TTB, TTC, TTD, TTE and TTF records were broken, giving drivers a new benchmark for the April 10 night event and for future events at Firebird Main.

UMS Time Attack Series

The UMS Time Attack series often goes unnoticed by many at the events, so I thought it’s worth focusing on here for a minute!  If you haven’t noticed the UMS Time Attack series, it’s probably because the series organizer–Jeremy Ward–works quickly to get cars on track to turn their hot laps, then off and out of the way so NASA can continue with the daily schedule.  In addition to that, the driving exhibited by the drivers in the UMS Time Attack Series has been first class–very few (if any) incidents or spins, excellent car prep to prevent mechanical failures and delays (except someone running out of gas once.. not sure who that would be!) which in turn has created a smooth and stealth machine of a program.  Working in such a manner opens the door for UMS Time Attack events on a more regular basis, along with bigger fields.  A few important links for familiarizing yourself with the UMS Time Attack series:

The Rules – There are only a few, which is what makes the series appealing.  And the results are amazingly close everytime, despite popular logic.

Time Trial vs. Time Attack – Not a battle, but to clarify what the difference is, since it can be confusing.

The Players – People who are fast, leading and consistent in the UMS Time Attack series.  I guess you could say, these are the Top Dawgs!

The Results – In the end, this is what counts!

Round #2 of the UMS Time Attack series was held on Sunday at Firebird Main, with an entry list of twelve drivers including all of the season regulars.  Gabe Ortega–a longtime participant in the UMS Time Attack series, changed setups drastically between the TT and TA events in the same day, which apparently worked as he went on to take his second consecutive TA-A class win with a 1:13.286 lap.  TA-B was led by a familiar face; 2009 season champion and current 2010 season leader Phil Robles showed up, and cleaned  up, with a 1:10.444 lap.  The quickest class of the weekend, TA-C, was won by Travis Barnes in his Snail Performance Subaru WRX, with a 1:09.705 lap.

Doug Chernis from Race Technik helps Sarah Cattaneo prepare for the PT race on Saturday

Doug Chernis from Race Technik helps Sarah Cattaneo prepare for the PT race on Saturday

EVO Motorsports from Tempe, AZ brought several cars out to participate in HPDE over the weekend

EVO Motorsports from Tempe, AZ brought several cars out to participate in HPDE over the weekend

Race Groups

Since NASA Arizona last came to Firebird Main, the race group has grown significantly and many of the regulars have switched classes and/or cars.  Throw in a few million gallons of rain on Sunday, and  you have one interesting weekend in race group!  A race group icon, Jeremy Renshaw, finally retired his 1992 Nissan 240SX after about 4,000 miles of track use and debuted his new PTB-class BMW M3 on Saturday.  Rick Johnson’s Mini Cooper, appeared drastically different as he removed 2009’s sponsor wrap and decals, making it look virtually stock.  With the extremely slick conditions of the dragstrip at Firebird on Sunday due to the rain, racers took the green flag almost single-file, as it was deemed by most to be rather unsafe to drive two-wide for a section of the front straight.

27 drivers took the green flag on Saturday and 20 did so on Sunday.   Click on those previous links for race results from each day.  Strangely enough, Chad Nelson took the overall win on both days, with Steve Lisa finishing second twice and Mark Alger in third on both days.  The respective class winners for both days were:


  • SU – Mark Alger
  • ST1 – Chad Nelson
  • ST2 – Ron Ballard
  • PTA – John Dowling
  • PTB – Rick Johnson
  • PTD – Marty Saltzman
  • 944 Spec – Austin Newmark


  • SU – Mark Alger
  • ST1 – Chad Nelson
  • ST2 – Johnathan Greenfeld
  • PTA – John Dowling
  • PTB – Rick Johnson
  • PTC – Michael Papworth
  • PTD – Marty Saltzman
  • 944 Spec – Rich Geisler

Big Spec News for May!

You guys and girls have been asking about this for years, so now is your chance.  Last year, a large group of 944 Spec drivers came out to PIR and their presence was so huge, NASA Arizona gave them their own separate run group;  NASA would love to do this again in 2010, but it’s up to the drivers to show there is sufficient interest.

944 Spec spoke, and was heard.  NASA Arizona looks to have a feature spec race with 944s and Miatas this May

944 Spec spoke, and was heard. NASA Arizona looks to have a feature spec race with 944s and Miatas this May

Now, this idea is not limited to 944 Spec cars!  Spec Miata is another program that has shown big numbers in the past and the interest still lingers, but it’s tough for NASA Arizona to put Spec Miata first unless the drivers appear and show NASA they’re genuinely interested.  The same can be said for Spec RX7.   The May 1-2,  2010 NASA event is the ideal month for the Spec series (Miata, 944, RX7) to join up into a collective force and get the attention deserved from not only NASA Arizona, but the spectators, other racers, HPDE drivers who are most likely interested in moving into one of the two series, and more.

Due to similar speeds, it would be entirely possible to have a run group catering to the various spec series:  Spec Miata, Spec RX7 and 944 Spec.  Possibilities are endless as well–a combined start, split starts, separate qualifying, etc.  The benefit of course is having a separate group for the Spec cars, apart from the faster GT cars and the nine other NASA Arizona classes.  Rather than worrying about faster traffic working through the Spec fields, drivers could concentrate 100% on their Spec race and have a lot better racing, not to mention more fun.  So, the May event with NASA Arizona is open to having a separate run group for 944 Spec, Spec Miata, Spc RX7 or all three (combined with each other).  It’s up to you, the drivers, to make it happen.  Here’s how:

  • Log onto the NASA Arizona forums–more specifically, in the race group forum.
  • Start a thread or join an existing one if someone beats you to it.
  • Make your voice heard!
  • Accurate headcounts and voices from drivers in the Spec series are what counts.
  • With schedules in the early stages weeks and often months in advance, the earlier, the better!
  • Invite your friends from other states and organizations as well.  In most cases, competition licenses from other organizations are accepted at NASA events, which makes the process virtually effortless.

NASA Arizona would like nothing more than a massive Spec race at the May 1-2, 2010 event at Phoenix International Raceway.  Nothing beats a good Spec race, followed by an evening BBQ with entertainment at a nice time of year.  We hope to see you out there Spec drivers!

NASA Arizona is one of the biggest regions in the country for 944 Spec racing

NASA Arizona is one of the biggest regions in the country for 944 Spec racing

March 6-7 Preview

Carrying the theme of no back-to-back events at the same venue in 2010, NASA Arizona returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the second time this year.  Carrying on the tradition of many years past, NASA Arizona will be sharing the weekend with BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA).  Note:  This is BMWCCA’s event–NASA Arizona is just piggybacking off of them per say, so let’s make sure all of the BMWCCA participants have a great time and ask us back for the fall 2010 event and forward!

Between the NASA racers, BMWCCA and Saturday evening, it'll be a mini-Oktoberfest at PIR in March

Between the NASA racers, BMWCCA and the Saturday evening BBQ, it'll be a mini-Oktoberfest at PIR in March

Depending on the final schedule–and I mean, up until the last minute–NASA Arizona should be carrying just about all of the regular programs for this event:  Time Trial (with split groups!), NASA Race Groups, HPDE2-4, the HPDE1 school, NASA Saturday evening BBQ, and the UMS Time Attack series event #3, thanks to excellent planning on the part of Tage and Adina Evanson, the BMWCCA organizers and Ramin Shute in race control.

Details of the event and preliminary schedule are located here.

Registration for the March event is located here.

It’s Never too Early!

That’s right–it’s almost that time.  If you’re on Ramin Shute’s Facebook page, you’ll know that the NASA Arizona team has been planning the April 10th night event since midway through 2009.  Not kidding!

Last year we were plagued with rain for most of the day, only to clear up on a few brief occasions, conveniently around the NASA Time Trial sessions for some reason!  We’d all like to think with the recent weather here in Arizona, this year will be much better now that the rain quota for the year has already been exceeded.

What is April 10th?  It’s the biggest amateur motorsports event in the state of Arizona, year after year!  In it’s 5th year this time around, NASA Arizona is doing it all:  Time Attack, Modified Magazine Tuner Shootout, Car Shows, HyperDrive on Firebird West, NASA-X, Trial By Fire drifting, HPDE 1-4, NASA Race Groups, Time Trial, a Kid’s play area, onsite Dyno testing, GoGo dance contest (always a favorite), Super Lap Battle Qualifying, a Beer Garden and more.

For those on Facebook, the official event page is located here.

Details coming soon on the NASA Arizona forum–almost guaranteed to be up as soon as the March event is over.   Until then, here are some flyers for the April 10th event.  Hold on–this one is gonna be huge!

A special thanks goes out to Geri Amani from Redlign Autosports for the event photos seen in the Wrap Up!

Thank you for reading the NASA Arizona Wrap Up.  See you at the track on March 6-7!



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

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