October was a busy month for NASA-AZ with a multi-track lineup including PIR and FIR East. The October 16 event brought us back to the East Course at Firebird International Raceway, our first visit back to this track since June.
Even though it is considered to be the Fall Season (at least that’s what people are telling me) temperatures were still HOT. Cooking inside of a hot car was highly reminiscent of our summer events for many of you. Personally, I think it would be great if I can make it home without smelling like gym shoes! One can only hope that Mother Nature brings us a cool front in the near future! I think it’s safe to say that everyone, especially our corner workers, deserves a break from the heat.
Did anyone find grip out there? Consider yourself lucky if you did. The East track recently received a fresh coat of resurfacing material on its highly abused surface, which certainly affected limits of adhesion. These changes naturally created additional challenges for our drivers, transforming the track into a skating rink. Early sessions were the most affected, causing the lap times to increase comparatively to what’s been on record. As the day went on there was noticeable improvements in grip helping to keep cars pointed in the right direction.
Time Trial and Racers… Unite!
Because this event was absent of Race Group, Time Trialers and Racers united together in their respective Big Bore and Small Bore sessions. With the slick track conditions it was inevitable that spectators were going to witness some John Deer’n action … and the consequential DQ.
The fastest Time Trials driver in this event was Wayne McKeen, driving his TTR Z06 Corvette running our only sub-minute TT lap with a 59.947. Tage Evanson was next in line running a quick 1:01.630 in TTS followed by CV Wells turning 1:01.810.
In TTU Tony Szirka in his Evo 8 won TTU for the weekend with 1:03.015 with David Montgomery and Joe Terrell, both in Corvettes pulling 1:04.031 and 1:06.723 respectively. It was a close match in TTA between Brian Tuner and John Dowling as both were running very similar lap times. Turner ultimately took the win for the day with 1:04.280, with Dowling finishing only a few tenths off with 1:04.863.
Another close match was found in TTB lead by two BWW M3’s driven by Jeremy Renshaw and David Tellez. Renshaw’s 1:05.117 sealed the deal for first place followed by Tellez with a 1:05.538. Phil Robles put some good laps down taking the win his TTC Honda Civic with 1:06.833 after splitting his time in Big Bore testing the K-Sport DC5-R, followed by Jason Milller running 1:07.629 taking second.
The field of TTD cars suddenly increased with the 944 Spec drivers joining in, making for a healthy dose of competition for those in momentum cars. A close win was taken yet again by Robert Rose in his Mazda Miata (aka Black Betty) running 1:07.721, while Mervin Tan was less than a tenth away running a 1:07.811. Dave McCombs brought the newest TTD car to the field this weekend, joining the fun had by our pack of 944s with his Acura Integra. Then last but not least, TTE and TTF were solo driven by Geri Amani and Eric Jacobsen running 1:10.1 and 1:12.747 respectively.
Top Drivers from Big Bore:
TTR #07 – 2006 Z06 Corvette, Wayne McKeen – 59.947
TTU #11 – 2003 Evo 8, Tony Szirka – 1:03.015
TTS #17 – 1995 Honda Civic, Tage Evanson – 1:01.630
TTA #524 – 1978 Porsche 911, Brian Turner – 1:04.280
Top Drivers from Small Bore:
TTB #11 – 1997 BMW M3, Jeremy Renshaw – 1:05.117
TTC #12 – 1992 Honda Civic, Phil Robles – 1:06.833
TTD #3 – 1993 Mazda Miata, Robert Rose – 1:07.721
TTE #34 – 1991 Mazda Miata, Geri Amani – 1:10.108
TTF #97 – 2003 Ford Focus, Eric Jacobsen – 1:12.747
Our schedule accommodated a full HPDE line-up; with everyone from first time HPDE1 drivers to HPDE4 veterans in attendance. A few of our corner workers had the chance to join us for some laps, including Melanie in her Integra Type-R. She spent the day entertaining her friend who traveled all the way from Germany, and who also happens to be a part of a touring saxophone quartet!
With their distinctive logos and vibrant car graphic, the Snail Performance group of Subaru’s are hard to miss in HPDE4. These drivers have also shown a lot of dedication in their attendance to our events, exhibiting both teamwork and commitment running both HPDE and Time Attack consistently.
Our regular HPDE driver from Las Vegas, Michele Abbate, joined us yet again running her Mazdaspeed Protégé. With an unlucky twist of fate at the end of Saturday, Michele’s engine decided to call it quits while running the UMS Time Attack session, leaving her stranded before her journey back home. Thanks to the amazing generosity of those in the NASA-AZ community, fellow drivers pulled-through with an overnight engine-swap, which helped Michele get back home… just in time for her college class early Monday morning. Now that’s what I call dedication!
The UMS Time Attack invites drivers in HPDE3 or higher to bring out their best in aims to drive the fastest lap in their class. Lap times were slightly skewed due to track conditions, but nonetheless our participants exhibited some great driving. First up is the UMS Evo 8 driven by Tony Szirka who has maintained his consistent wins in TA-C , this time running a 1:02. Subaru driver Taylor Wilson took a first place finish in TA-B with a 1:07.385, followed by Gabe Ortega in TA-A with a 1:08.903.
With the new UMS Dyno Day on the calendar, we can expect some drivers to undergo re-classing efforts. Next time the scales are available at the track, make use of them to ensure you are within the required weight ranges. The dyno results from UMS will not only help you properly class your vehicle, but will be required if you wish to accumulate series points throughout the season.
Here are our top three finishers for each class:
UMS Tuning – 1:02.081
Travis Barnes – 1:04.360
Rus Whelan – 1:07.220
Taylor Wilson – 1:07.385
Phil Robles – 1:07.545
Dan Lynch – 1:08.266
Gabe Ortega – 1:08.903
Leland Forbes – 1:09.925
Michele Abbate – 1:10.561
Current TA-Points standings:
Gabe Ortega TA-A FWD 200pts
Philip Robles TA-B FWD 174pts
Travis Barnes TA-C AWD 148pts
Robert Smithson TA-C AWD 134pts
Markos Mylonas TA-A AWD 120pts
A quick reminder to regular TA competitors: the last TA event of the year is a DOUBLE POINTS event. That means 40-points will be up for grabs for our first place finishers. Current standings are obviously not final so you best be on your game for the last event!
Safety Reminder: NASA-AZ Passenger Policy
The number one priority at all NASA events is safety. We can’t be reminded enough that while we aim to have fun on track, being safe is a must. A lot of drivers want to share the excitement with their guests, inviting them a long as passengers. Since the question “…how can I take a passenger with me?” comes up rather often, here’s a quick check list of requirements that are covered in our morning drivers meetings:
- Passengers are only allowed in HPDE3, HPDE4 and Time Trial groups;
- Passengers MUST sign the “passenger waiver” at the registration desk and receive a passenger wrist-band;
- Passengers MUST be approved from the group leader you are running in;
- Passenger cards are REQUIRED and MUST be surrendered before entering grid;
- For Time Trial drivers, your times will not count when you are accompanied by a passenger;
These same rules apply to driver COACHES. They too must have the credentials listed above. If your coach is not signed up to drive at the event, just because they are more experienced than you does not make them exempt from these requirements, nor does their experience give them license to drive your car.
With the precarious track conditions, quite a bit of cleaning had to be done between sessions. We should all take a minute and thank everyone who helped push brooms across the racing surface so we could all enjoy our time on track!
Next up for NASA-AZ is Phoenix International Raceway for a season finale event featuring a full HPDE schedule Saturday and combined sessions Sunday, complete Time Trial sessions, Time Attack, and our annual 3-hour Thanksgiving Day Endurance Race plus simultaneous 1-hour Sprint Race.
This will be your LAST chance to gather up extra points, and could easily put current standings up for grabs. With Time Trial and Time Attack sessions awarding drivers with double-points on Sunday, running on Saturday only could leaving you missing the points needed to take the class win for the season. Racers participating in the Enduro on Sunday will also reap the benefits of double points (standard CCR Points allocation x2) for ALL drivers of the car. All NASA Enduro rules will apply with exceptions made in the announced supplementary rules.
With double points on the line no driver can afford to miss this arguably most important event of the year!
Official NASA Enduro Rules
What better way to spend Thanksgiving than to be around the sights and smells of the race track! Stick around after the races for some Thanksgiving fun, good food, and charitable fund-raisers that help those in need.
Go here to register: https://www.nasaproracing.com/event/1094
Note that if you are a Racer who wants to enter the double points Enduro then you will ALSO need to register for the “Enduro” option as listed on the event registration page. For anyone co-driving a car that is already registered, you will need to only register for the “Enduro” option. It is advisable to register early, this is a very popular event!
See you at the track!
Article written by Geri Amani.
Special thanks to Christopher Wynne for his photographic contributions (www.rolex24pics.com).