Just when we lost one of our most beloved tracks in the NASA-AZ region, another one popped up on our radar. This particular event brought us to Inde Motorsports Ranch, located in Willcox—about a 1.5hr drive (if you follow the posted speed limit) outside of Tucson.
Despite the bit of travel this event required, there was a fantastic turnout in all run groups making for a plethora of fun for everyone who participated. After all that driving on track (not to mention to/from it), let’s recap on why this event was definitely one to remember.
As you all noticed, Tage is back in action! As impressed as I was that he made it to the track, I did not expect him to drive it! His recovery has been slow yet steady, and despite the circumstances of his accident, I am pleased to see that he has maintained the inner-racer that we all have come to know and appreciate. While not in Race Group for this event, Tage jumped into his infamous Accord and put down some laps during Time Trials. Welcome back Tage!
Did someone say fire?! Did someone say snake?! Yea, a little of both. Another quick response by Tage helped bring a small fire in the paddock to a halt. Not only does he do the job of regional director and back-up fireman, but he also takes on the role of pest control when a 3-foot king snake was discovered at track exit trying to get into impound.
Aside from the hint of race gas, love was in the air. A very special couple got engaged at Inde late on Sunday. Many of you know Joshua Ray, or have seen him working for NASA-AZ doing everything from tech, to clean up, to gate-worker. When the event was over, Josh gave his girlfriend Megan Parent a very special ring and proposed to her. Needless to say she accepted! Congratulations to the both of you!
The first day at Inde you might have noticed a plane sitting on the runway. Fellow NASA-AZ racer Chad Nelson “flew-in” to meet and greet with friends. While he did not drive the course itself this weekend, he did get to use the long straightaway at Inde that doubles as a runway and got (quite literally) a bird’s eye view of the facility.
While it goes without saying, kudos to everyone who made this event possible—the Inde staff, NASA-AZ workers and officials, and of course all the participants who drove all the way to the track…to drive some more!
Saturday’s big bore race began with Mark Alger, Bob Gottlieb, and Bryan McCormick as our top three starters, each qualifying fairly close with only a few tenths difference between McCormick and Gottlieb. As the green flag crept into sight, the first official NASA-AZ Big Bore race at IMR was officially on. Alger took the first turn and lead the field as the rest began to sort out their position on track. This sport naturally comes with a set of challenges; some are mechanical and others are more tactical. With several racers falling behind or out of the race completely, our top finishers were eventually determined. Alger maintained the first position and was our top overall finisher, followed by Gottlieb in second. CV Wells placed third overall and also won his class (ST-2) in the process. Second in ST-2 was secured by Adam Bode, followed by Michael Papworth in third.
PT-A was made up of a trio of racers, led by Brian Turner in his #524 Porsche. John Dowling–also a PT-A Porsche driver–came in second, with Sean Southland taking third. Our lone PT-C car wasn’t alone…far from it. The #19 BMW E30 driven by Leroy Moore was mixing it up with all sorts of cars outside of his class, definitely making for some fun racing, not only for him, but the spectators who gathered in the Inde tower. Last but not least were our PT-B cars driven by Matt McIntyre and Jeremy Renshaw. While McIntyre secured the first position with a blazing qualifying time of 1:59.567, technical issues forced him to drop the race leaving Renshaw to take the win.
Small Bore’s race on Saturday not only had a great turnout but also had some great racing across the field. Qualifying in the front of the pack was an all 944 Spec lineup beginning with Norm Hamden, Doug Nelson and Jeff Wojnar with the rest of the pack following closely behind.
Amongst the crowd of 944s were our PT-E cars driven by Shane Kneisel and Geri Amani, who found themselves starting in the third and fourth positions respectively. Even though PT-E and 944 Spec diced it up together, our top three 944 Spec drivers finished in their starting order. Geri Amani took the class win for PT-E, followed closely by Shane Kneisel in second.
This event accommodated our usual race lineup but also included the FIR Main makeup race. This race in particular brought both Big Bore and Small Bore drivers together in a field of 16 cars. On a track that is spread out over 2 miles, competition was definitely going to be segregated into respective classes. For racers that made the journey out to IMR, each had the opportunity to participate in this race race that took place late Saturday afternoon. Grid positions were sorted based on previous results from FIR, mixing high-powered cars amongst their slower, low-powered counterparts right from the start.
Within the first lap, Big Bore cars sorted themselves in their respective battles in the front, leaving small bore behind them—minus our SU class who did not finish the race. With an extended race such as this on a 2.31-mile track, much transpired between the green and checkered flags. CV Wells took first overall and first in ST-2. Wells happened to turn the fastest lap during the race (2-minutes flat), followed by Michael Papworth who took second in class. Sean Southland was our second fastest racer in the field who took second place overall and first in PT-A. Next up was John Dowling who would take second in PT-A. Third place overall was Leroy Moore who kept his pace with PT-A. As it was in the sprint race, Moore turned some very respectable times in PT-C ensuring he would have some regular company with cars outside of his class. Jeremy Renshaw was our lone PT-B car during this race, turning similar times to Moore and finished fourth overall.
In the back of the pack, several notable battles ensued throughout the race. With a 5-car lineup in 944 Spec, Norm Hamden led his class and ultimately finished first, followed by Kim Unger and Dave Hauck. Our PT-E cars were able to mingle with the 944 Spec crowd, with an epic (and familiar) nose-to-tail battle between Shane Kneisel and Geri Amani. With Kneisel taking full advantage of the green flag, he led his class throughout the race by passing Amani early after the start. Ultimately the two E cars turned nearly identical lap times and were within an arms reach of each others bumpers throughout. By the time the white flag was out, a minor contact set Amani behind, bringing Kneisel the class win.
This would be the first official NASA-AZ Time Trials event at Inde Motorsports Ranch, and as a result, each class enjoyed establishing track records! On a course such as this—one long straight, blind crests, off-camber apexes, and 21-turns of fun—drivers had a great opportunity to bust out those car control skills that might not have been fully exercisable on our local tracks such as FIR. Let’s take a look at the results from this very memorable TT event.
On a track like IMR, anything below a two-minute lap is certainly cooking the pavement. In our “traditional” Big Bore group, we saw several drivers break that marker and in the process set fresh track records. Our top three begins with Mark Alger who turned the fastest lap on Saturday in his #4 Dodge Viper CC with a 1:53.313. TTR driver Lou Lupo ran a 2:01.703 in the #496 Z06. In TTS, Pete Creek busted out a 1:55.625 in the #727 BMW E46 M3. TTB driver Matt McIntyre brought some very fast laps, turning a very respectable time of 1:58.896. In TTA, #524 Porsche driver Brian Turner delivered a class win, turning 2:03.217.
Moving along the class lineup we have Dave Shotz in his #175 Camaro, who turned a hearty 2:02.146 in TTC. Robert Rose is continuously setting precedent in TTD leading the field by a sizable margin turning 2:04.112. In TTE, Marc McCombs continuously made improvements throughout the day and finished Saturday off with a 2:07.505. Eric Jacobsen brought out the notorious TTF “1985 Mazda POS” (aka – Zombie) and ran a 2:20.667!
Sunday brought times up a notch or two for several drivers with slightly different track conditions to contend with. However, there were a few exceptions. Mark Alger in TTU turned times over a second faster than his best on Saturday finishing with a 1:52.564. Sean Southland broke the TTA track record with a 2:02.132, and Matt McIntyre who turned a great time for a TTB car with a 1:58.066 (also beat his own track record). In TTR, Lou Lupo turned a 2-minute flat and in TTS, a 1:55.650 lap was turned by Pete Creek.
Dave Shotz took a two-day win for TTC running a 2-minute lap, with Robert Rose chopping nearly a second off his Saturday’s best with a 2:03.323 in TTD. TTE was led yet again by Marc McCombs with a 2:06.415, breaking his previous track record. TTF should stand for TT-Flatout as Eric Jacobsen stepped it up with the #98 Mazda POS running a 2:18.693.
Top Time Trial Drivers from Saturday
TTR Lou Lupo #496 Corvette Z06 – 2:01.703
TTU Mark Alger #4 Viper CC – 1:53.313
TTS Pete Creek #727 BMW E46 M3 – 1:55.625 (Track Record)
TTA Brian Turner #524 Porsche 911 – 2:03.217
TTB Matt McIntyre #31 BMW E36 M3 – 1:58.896
TTC Dave Schotz #175 Camaro – 2:02.146
TTD Robert Rose #3 Mazda Miata – 2:04.112
TTE Marc McCombs #439 VW Jetta – 2:07.505
TTF Eric Jacobsen #98 Mazda POS – 2:20.66
Top Time Trial Drivers from Sunday
TTR Lou Lupo #496 Corvette Z06 – 2:00.038 (Track Record)
TTU Mark Alger #4 Viper CC – 1:52.564 (Track Record)
TTS Pete Creek #727 BMW E46 M3 – 1:55.650
TTA Sean Southland #777 CTS-V – 2:02.132 (Track Record)
TTB Matt McIntyre #31 BMW E36 M3 – 1:58.066 (Track Record)
TTC Dave Schotz #175 Camaro – 2:00.541 (Track Record)
TTD Robert Rose #3 Mazda Miata – 2:03.323 (Track Record)
TTE Marc McCombs #439 VW Jetta – 2:06.415 (Track Record)
TTF Eric Jacobsen #98 Mazda POS – 2:18.693 (Track Record)
NASA-AZ was host to a great lineup of HPDE run groups. Many drivers came back into the pits after the first session out raving about the track. While the track itself is long and technical, it can be a great place to learn the essentials of car control and the tricks of the trade to move up the HPDE ladder.
With the dedication and support exhibited from our HPDE group leaders, drivers enjoyed a brand new track to run on with the encouragement and positive learning environment that made for two very successful days.
It just goes to show that despite the commute that everyone had to drive to get to IMR, the track and camaraderie was worth every mile!
UMS Turning Time Attack
For this event, NASA-AZ was able to accommodate not just one but TWO UMS Tuning Time Attack sessions. Saturday (a no points event) brought out approximately 22 drivers to the test of who could turn the fastest lap in their class. Starting with TA-A Robert Rose has consistently been leading his class with no signs of him loosing any momentum. 2:04.865 was his fastest lap, separating himself nearly 5 seconds from the rest. In second was Markos Mylonas who turned a respectable and consistent 2:10.311, followed by Dave McCombs who ran 2:13.941 to secure third.
TA-B was and has been one of our largest TA classes. At the top of the roster is Sean Southland who ran a quick 2:01.926, followed by Justin Bowie, a half-second off Southland, with a 2:02.490 and only another half-second away was Mervin Tan with a 2:02.988.
Our smallest yet FASTEST class is TA-C. It was led yet again by the UMS Tuning Evo 8, which ran our only sub 2-minute lap of a 1:58.875, followed by Tim Schoeppner with 2:02.133, and Paul Lynch with 2:02.487.
On Sunday, numbers diversified slightly per class and TA season points were up for grabs. Starting with TA-A, Robert Rose took the win turning an even quicker lap of 2:03.797, followed by Dave McCombs who stepped it up a bit running 2:09.975 to secure second. A 2:10.075 secured third for Markos Mylonas. TA-B was led by Taylor Wilson this time around running a 2-minute flat, followed by Phil Robles who also ran a 2-minute lap and only 3-tenths away from the win! Chris Wilson took third place running 2:02.374.
In TA-C, UMS and Snail Performance were our two front runners, each turning sub-2-minute laps. UMS would ultimately win TA-C and secure the fastest lap in the UMS TA series for the weekend with a 1:58.327. Snail Performance took a very respectable second running 1:59.986, followed by Russ Whelan in third who turned a 2:00.495.
Congrats to everyone who participated in this Time Attack event!
Top Drivers from Saturday
1 – UMS Tuning – 1:58.875
2 – Tim Schoeppner – 2:02.133
3 – Paul Lynch – 2:02.487
1 – Sean Southland – 2:01.926
2 – Justin Bowie – 2:02.490
3 – Mervin Tan – 2:02.988
1 – Robert Rose – 2:04.865
2 – Markos Mylonas – 2:10.311
3 – Dave McCombs – 2:13.941
Top Drivers from Sunday
1 – UMS Tuning – 1:58.327
2 – Snail Performance – 1:59.986
3 – Russ Whelan – 2:00.495
1 – Taylor Wilson – 2:00.663
2 – Phil Robles – 2:00.988
3 – Chris Wilson – 2:02.599
1 – Robert Rose – 2:03.797
2 – Dave McCombs – 2:09.975
3 – Markos Mylonas – 2:10.075
Next Event Preview
Did you get your cool suit yet? Well, you still have time before we hit the track again at FIR East. This event commences our summer sessions that start bright and early June 4th and 5th with a full HPDE lineup, Time Attack, Time Trials, racing, and of course seasonal Arizona temperatures. Be sure to check out the links below to register for the event and see what we have planned. See you at the track!
Draft Schedule: http://forums.www.nasaaz.com/showthread.php?t=4881
Register Online: https://nasaproracing.com/event/1190
Photography by Doug Hughes (http://www.waypast210.com) and Geri Amani.