March 6-8 Event Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wrap Up – 3/6-3/8 – Phoenix Intl. Raceway

Perhaps the most difficult part of doing the recap for the March 6-8 event, was figuring out where to start!  With so much happening over three days in all of the various NASA run groups, as well as the BMWCCA racers and drivers, it’s tough to pin down the best moments, which are usually what leads off an article such as this.  That being said, it’s time to jot some notes down on paper (or on your computer screen) so we can mark this event and remember it!

BMWCCA Headlines Weekend

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Of course, the headlining event for the weekend was the arrival of the BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA) club racers and DE drivers that participated all three days and brought big numbers to the various classes and groups.  Perhaps the most memorable moment for everyone took place on Sunday, as D-Modified driver Mario Rigoli started in the back of the pack for the 12:00pm BMWCCA Club Race.  It seems like whenever Chad Nelson (SM Class BMW) takes the green flag in the lead, it’s a rare occasion that he gives it up.  While that didn’t happen in this race, Mario put on quite a show going from 23rd place to 2nd, ending up just over five seconds behind Chad Nelson in the overall results.  Quite a few people walked away afterwards, shaking their heads and wondering if they truly witnessed that remarkable drive or not!

Aside from Mario’s hero run during the Sunday race, Chad Nelson took pole (out of 23 drivers) on Saturday and managed to win that race overall by a similar margin over Bill Bentzen in his C-Modified BMW E36.  The HPDE1 school, which was put on by BMWCCA this month, drew a large crowd and filled the cold pits with student cars, mostly of the BMW marque.  Many thanks go out to BMWCCA for making it a very seamless union between the two organizations for this long and diverse weekend!

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2008 Awards Ceremony

As typical for early March, the affluence of iced Budweiser (although, literally a drop in the bucket compared to NASCAR at PIR) and record-setting sales night for Little Caeser’s Pizza in Tolleson could only mean one thing:  It’s time for some year-end trophies!  Nearly everyone who participated in Saturday’s event, and even a few regulars who weren’t racing that day, came out to take part in the awards celebration.  Former NASA Regional Directors Jason Boles and Marty Saltzman had the honor of handing out trophies to all winners and top finishers in the Performance Touring, Super Touring and Time Trial classes.  Along with a few dozen slices of pizza and some fresh Bud to wash it down, Jason entertained the masses with his personal experiences and tales of the glory days about each person, adding some perspective and charity to the evening.

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Congratulations to all of the NASA year-long series winners and participants!  Often a season with as many events as we face in Arizona can be riddled with obstacles both on track and in personal life, not to mention the situations we all face today aren’t necessarily conducive to spending budgets that are required for many months of racing.  The year-end awards ceremonies are about commending the finishers who came out month after month to not only race hard all day, but make NASA solid as an organization.  We thank you for your time, effort and everything else that is put into your season efforts!

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Time Trial Mania

Speaking of trials and tribulations off and on the track, an uncountable measure of nonsense has been brewing on the NASA forum for many weeks; more importantly, in regards to whether or not the TT track records were “solid enough” to hold up against some of the racer’s efforts.  With the smack talk (albeit, friendly smack talk) came an entirely new level of competition that has really never been witnessed in TT in Arizona.  It would be fair to say that what made this weekend different from the rest was the level of driving that was exhibited throughout the various classes.  The true test of a dedicated Time Trialer is how they make the best of a situation.  With our economic situation being as it may, seeing several TT drivers step up and make significant driving improvements with literally no major vehicle changes, defined the true spirit of pushing the driver versus the clock in order to pull a fast lap time.  March 7-8th saw a change in the level of competition, and some amazingly quick lap times.  Here goes:

In the midst of a heavy “discussion” on the NASA forum about the merits of the TTC record—a record previously held by national champion Greg Greenbaum for many years, and was finally broken in January by Doug Evans—was questioned by TT drivers and racers alike.  After a few hours of worthless banter on the forum, rumors about a bet (something about a bucket of Cold Stone ice cream for the winner?) stirred between Brady Dohrmann and Rick Johnson.  Neither competitor had participated in TTC for a while, as Rick races and Brady drives in TTD.  Seeing the commotion, Doug Evans elevated his driving to new levels as well.  More on this later.

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TTR, the fastest of all TT classes, has long stood under command of Shirl Dickey and Peter Creek in their Corvettes, with a lap in the low 1:04 range.  Thomas Glenn, a new competitor to TT (but a long-time racer) stepped up raised the bar for all TT competitors, turning in a 1:03.12 lap – the fastest ever in TT competition at PIR.  Congratulations Thomas!  Eric Jacobsen, who is still standing in the spotlight from his Who’s Who feature last month, beat his own record in TTE, improving on his 1:12.9 lap with a record-setting 1:12.77 in the first session on Saturday.  Along the same lines, the record books and perhaps all theory about vehicle setup was rewritten when two laps after Eric’s feat, Brady Dohrmann, running in TTD on Saturday, broke his previous TTD record of 1:11.9, with a 1:09.936, on street tires!

Finally, the Royal Rumble in TTC came down to three drivers.  Rick Johnson, afraid of losing ice cream to Brady Dohrmann, ripped off a 1:09.80 lap in TTC on Saturday morning, which not only marked his personal TTC/PTC best at PIR ever, it clicked six-tenths off Doug Evans’s TTC record of 1:10.42 set in early January.  This time motivated Doug Evans to drive at a new level, which resulted in a 1:09.85 lap on Saturday afternoon, and eventually a 1:09.59 lap on Sunday!  Nearly an entire second off his previous best from January!  Hungry for more (ice cream), Brady Dohrmann mounted up some Hoosiers on his BMW M3 and moved up to TTC for Sunday.  Within three laps, Brady reset the record books with a 1:09.18 lap in TTC, marking the fasted ever lap in TTC or PTC at PIR.  Phew!

Safety

Now, note that first off, this isn’t a lecture.  Secondly, while the subject is often taboo, an interesting “change” happened that’s worth noting, mostly in effort to keep the momentum up and make NASA Arizona a better place for everyone.  No one will deny that there were a couple incidents throughout the weekend in a couple of the groups.  Luckily everyone walked away unharmed, there were no foul words tossed back and forth and despite the rather large mass quantity of cars, driving and track time, March 6-8 was a great weekend.

What changed however, was the reaction to the incidents; more specifically, the discussions about safety that spurred as a result.  Sure, there are always discussions about safety, but the mentality made a switch for the better, from “What happened”, to “What can I do to protect myself in an incident”.  The HANS device is relatively new to racing and discussions about the utilization of the HANS device, alternatives and creative methods such as sharing a single device among drivers, group discounts, how to use our NASA vendors better and more, were brought about during the driver’s meetings and in the paddock.  Those discussions have carried momentum onto the forums as well, which is a very good issue to be involved in.

NASA Arizona On the Web

NASA Arizona is on Myspace!  If you are on MySpace, be sure to add NASA Arizona as one of your friends!  URL is http://www.myspace.com/arizonanasa

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign  up for the NASA Arizona discussion forum!  Much of the news regarding NASA Arizona is communicated on the forum, so be sure to sign up and participate in order to stay current on what’s happening.  URL is http://forums.www.nasaaz.com

2009 Year End Awards Facts

Since this topic of awards came up earlier, it’s only fitting to outline some basic facts for the 2009 points series and awards eligibility.  If you are competing in the year-long points series in either Time Trial, Performance Touring or Super Touring (race group), here’s what you need to know:

  • The championship title winner (1st) for each class will receive a championship jacket.
  • In order to be eligible for a championship title position (ie. 1st), you must score points in at least 50% of the points events.
  • In order to score a trophy position (1st-3rd) in your class for the season points series, you must participate in at least six points events.

Race Group

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As always, the racing action at Phoenix Intl. Raceway was intense.  42 cars took the green flag on Saturday and 37 did so on Sunday.  With the exception of a few minor dings and the infamous brake duct tube sitting in NASCAR 4, both races were green flag from start to finish.  Sarah Cattaneo had a weekend reminiscent of the best IndyCar and NASCAR drivers, where she finished 2nd in PTC on Saturday, flew to Las Vegas that night and back to Phoenix on Sunday morning only to win the class later that day.  Sarah:  Robby Gordon (the nutty guy who tries to win the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 on the same day every year, but fails) would be jealous of your accomplishment.

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In addition to Sarah’s win, Jeremy Renshaw swept the weekend in PTD, while Steve Powers won PTE on Saturday in a Spec Miata, then pulled of a win in PTA on Sunday in a 350Z using take-off Hoosiers.   For overall and class results, visit the MyLaps Page for NASA Arizona.

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Who’s Who in NASA – March, 2009

This month, NASA corner worker and HPDE driver Cory Starr is featured in the Who’s Who section of the website.  Be sure to stop by and read about Cory, his accomplishments and his contributions to NASA Arizona!

April 11th Event

This event is going to be so insanely huge, it’s deserving of its own section in the weekend wrap up.  The question shouldn’t be, “What is at the April 11th event?”, it’s more like, “What isn’t at the April 11th event?”  The basics will be there of course—racing, HPDE, Time Trial—but nearly everything has a twist.  Since the majority of the readers come from the racing, HPDE and TT programs, it’s worth noting the changes to those groups first.

HPDE will have the usual “night event” format, with sessions both in the daytime and at night.  Time Trial and race group will have double points.  While the exact details have yet to be fully ironed out, the rough format should be enough to give you an idea of what to expect.  Time Trial will have four sessions – two in the daytime (well, as close as possible without charting sunset times for April), and the later two being considered the night sessions.  The first two sessions will be “one event”, paying out points.  The last two night sessions will be the “second event”, counting for the remainder points. Essentially, there will be two points events for the price of one.  Race group, rather than having the typical long night-time enduro, will have two sprint races, paying out points and contingency for each race result.

In addition to the regular NASA curriculum, there will be a plethora of additional events:

Hyper Drive – On FIR West, new drivers will pay a very reduced rate to drive for one session on track; sort of a “get your feet wet” taste for NASA events.

Drifting – They’re back, on the skidpad.  This group is amazing to watch every year!  No more explanation needed.

The Kid’s Corner – From 4-9pm, kids will have an opportunity to jump around in the Bouncy House, meet the Easter Bunny (seriously!) and participate a bunch of games and activities for prizes.

DJ and GoGo Contest – The Valley’s great DJ Tranzit will be playing music, while GoGo girls dance it out for prize money.

Autocross – Autocrossing on the FIR Skidpad!

Time Attack – The UMS Time Attack series continues!

Exotics Showcase – The Scottsdale Exotic Car Club will be out showcasing their finest vehicles!

Dyno – UMS Tuning is bringing out their DynaPak dyno for testing.

Modified Tuner Shootout – The top import tuner shops from around the country are coming to Arizona to battle it out in a comprehensive contest consisting of time attack, autocross, drag racing and dyno testing.

If that’s not enough activities for a night of fun, then I don’t know what is!  There is guaranteed to be something for everyone at this event, so tell all of your friends and family!

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Thank you for reading this month’s edition of the NASA Arizona Newsletter!

Cory Starr

February, 2009

NASA Profiles:  Cory Starr

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Vital Stats

Home: Casa Grande, AZ

Job: School, NASA

Run Group: HPDE2

Car: ’91 Nissan 300ZX

Think about your high school job from way back when.  In the case of some NASA members, you might need a calculator to figure out how long ago that was!  Maybe you delivered pizza or were a lot attendant at a local car dealership, where if you were lucky, got to beat on some poor customer’s Mercedez Benz.  While most of the junior class at Casa Grande Union High School spends their weekends bagging groceries or pressure washing parking lots, our next contestant in the Who’s Who spectacle brought to you by NASA Arizona, hangs out with the cool crowd and plays with race cars.

I know what you’re thinking – who?  What car does he drive?  Thing is, nearly everyone who has driven at a NASA event has not only seen Cory Starr, but chances are we’ve all given him thumbs up, or perhaps been singled out with the infamous furled black flag.  If you haven’t guessed it yet, Cory is one of the dedicated NASA corner workers who ensures our safety and good times on track.  After dedicating an uncountable number of days behind the concrete in turn two, Cory recently started driving in the HPDE program.  Oh, yeah, and he’s only 17 years old as well, making him one of NASA’s youngest participants.

A brief encounter with NASA Arizona legend Kyle Giannuzzi tipped Cory onto the underground world of club racing.  “I was sitting there reading a car magazine, when this guy named  Kyle walked up.  In less than 30 seconds, we were arguing about something car related.  When that was finished, he told me to check out the May night event”, Cory recalled.  Mind you, that was May 2007, making Cory only 15 years old when he worked his first NASA event!

Since then, Cory has worked his way up to become the assistant worker chief, filling in when Kyle is absent.  The years of corner working naturally progressed into entering the HPDE1 school, and then into his current run group of HPDE2.  During the interview, I gave Cory two options:  1.  Drop out of high school and devote your life to NASA like the rest of us, or 2.  Tell me about college and your plans to become a member of Congress to fight for club racing rights around the USA.  “Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of mechanical engineering.  The most interesting part of corner working is watching vehicles work – more specifically, the differences in suspension movement and dynamics.”

Random Facts

Favorite Food: Shrimp Scampi

One Word about High School: Racial

First NASA Event: May Night Event 2007

Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz: Salma Hayek

Coolest Car in NASA AZ: You kidding?  My Car!

Right now Cory commutes from Casa Grande on the weekends to be part of NASA Arizona, both in working and driving.  His Nissan 300ZX is progressing steadily, largely due to extra help from his friend Charles at Powertrix.com and advice from participants at the NASA events.  Cory has chosen to work on upgrading his suspension system, which seems to naturally feed his appetite for mechanical systems and suspension design.  When he’s not in school or working for NASA, his hobbies include working on his car, reading about his car, thinking about Salma Hayek and planning out future modifications for his 300ZX.

What became apparent in my interview with Cory is his undeniable passion for racing, vehicles and enthusiasm being able to contribute to NASA Arizona – all things that are easy to lose sight of after a long weekend at the track.  For that reason, Cory’s presence within NASA Arizona is invaluable, and we wish him many successful years to come!

Written by:  Brady Dohrmann

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