NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 10/3-10/4, Phoenix Intl. Raceway
October 3-4 weekend marked the second event of the fall season, and what many who went to NASA Nationals call, “The Return to PIR”. Typically this weekend is reserved for the BMW Car Club of America—more specifically, fielding their large race groups of BMWs and MINIs—with NASA Arizona piggybacking onto their event. Due to circumstances which are no doubt unfortunate and used far too often these days, the BMWCCA club race group cancelled for the weekend. (Ok, I’ll just say it: Economic circumstances) Remaining after that were the usual NASA HPDE, Time Trial and Race groups, along with sessions of drivers coming over from the BMWCCA group: A beginner’s school, and driving groups using a similar structure to NASA’s HPDE program. All said, everyone was glad to welcome the nice weather, finally, after a long streak of hot events. Perhaps October 3-4, 2009 had come full circle, with the last cool-weather Phoenix Intl. Raceway event being the last BMWCCA weekend on March 6-7.
Nationals Competitors Return
With the NASA Championships being held on the same weekend as the previous NASA Arizona event, many of the regular drivers in TT and Race group were reappearing at PIR for the first time since May. Perhaps the excitement of Nationals was still in everyone’s system, or the sight of such fierce competition caused everyone to raise their game just a little more on the local level for the remainder of the 2009 season. If you were to have a conversation with many people who attended the NASA Championships, perhaps the word “perspective” would be mentioned a few times, or even a mention of the word “humbling”. One of the common thoughts among the racers and TT drivers was that given the massive amount of meetings, run sessions, schedule changes and sheer mass of the paddock and entrants at Nationals, being back in Phoenix among the local crowd, if anything, seemed a little easier to navigate after the circus up at Miller Motorsports Park. Less effort spent on logistics simply meant more concentration put into driving. In many cases, the results on October 3-4 weekend were reflective of that.
One of the more anticipated run sessions from the weekend was the Big Bore time trial group. Chris Rado—driving the World Racing Scion tC—made the trip from California to participate on Saturday in the TTR run group. “It’s tough to find a setup for PIR. In the infield, we’re making just over 400hp. On the straights, up to 750hp. Despite the huge front tires and a delicate right foot on the gas pedal, it’s hard to put power down here”, said Chris. Despite virtually zero setup time beforehand, the World Racing Scion tC crossed the line turning a 1:03.62—the fastest lap time ever for a FWD car at Phoenix International Raceway. Tage Evanson, the previous overall FWD record holder at PIR stepped up his game and bested his previous record, turning a 1:04.87 in TTU trim with the Honda Civic.
Hot from the TTC race at Nationals, where the lead changed virtually every session, Doug Evans brought his best stuff and beat the TTC track record, turning a 1:09.02 in his Lotus Elise. Rick Johnson couldn’t take the thought of having his Mini bested by Doug’s Elise, so he signed up in TTC as well and chased Doug throughout the weekend. All said and done, Doug’s record from Saturday stood as the top time, with Rick following in shortly behind at a 1:09.26, 0.5sec better than his previous best at PIR. Simon Pavlick (TTE Acura Integra), Brett Lengel (TTD 300ZX) and Mark Algers (TTR Dodge Viper) all turned personal best lap times during the weekend.
All time trial results are located here.
BMWCCA Groups at PIR for Second Time in 2009
As mentioned above, the race groups for the BMWCCA group were put on hold for the month of October. Without any hesitation, however, the HPDE groups and the BMWCCA driver’s school went to full capacity as BMW owners and enthusiasts from the southwest came to PIR for a weekend of driving. Many of the familiar faces from the NASA driver’s school and HPDE program, put on their true colors and volunteered for BMWCCA and put forth hard effort to making their program a success. BMWCCA fielded three levels of HPDE throughout the weekend and ran incident-free both days. All BMWCCA drivers and friends hung out afterwards for the NASA Saturday Night BBQ and left with smiles on their faces Sunday afternoon.
Passengers for HPDE Groups
One of the easiest ways to lure friends into coming out to NASA events, or perhaps enticing them to drive themselves through the ranks of the HPDE program, is to throw them in the passenger seat for some high-G loading laps around the track.
Of course, the number one priority at all NASA events is safety, while having fun comes in at a close second. Since the question, “How can I take a passenger?” comes up quite often, here’s a quick recap of the details covered at the driver’s meeting on the October 3-4 weekend:
- Passengers are only allowed in the following groups: HPDE3, HPDE4, Time Trial
- All passengers must sign the “passenger waiver” at registration and receive a wrist band (different from the main gate waiver).
- All drivers wishing to carry a passenger, must get approval from the HPDE or TT group leader, in advance.
- Similar to download cards, a passenger must get a Passenger Card from the respective group leader, to submit before entering grid.
- In the case of the Time Trial group, lap times will not be counted during the session in which a passenger is in the car.
Sure, while this isn’t an actual driving event, the NASA social continues to be a favorite part of the weekend for most of the NASA participants. Gordon Levy and his crew spent the evening working behind the grills, while NASA competitors, drivers, friends and family all came out for free food, music, drinks and of course, the antics that follow. With the track going cold around 5pm, the BBQ was fired up almost instantly and people were “happy” within the hour. NASA Arizona looks forward to keeping this event a regular part of the event weekends.
UMS Time Attack Series
The UMS Time Attack series was out in force on both days of the October 3-4 weekend. Seven competitors signed up for Saturday, with eleven on Sunday. Phil Robles continued his chase for the AMB transponder as he turned the fastest overall lap on both days in his Honda Civic and took a commanding 85 point lead in the series standings. Gabe Ortega competed in TA-A on Saturday, then changed his setup and ran TA-B on Sunday, and took the class win. Complete UMS Time Attack series results and standings can be found here.
Race Group News
CCR Review – Of course everyone has read the NASA CCRs (Club Codes and Regulations). Right? RIGHT? Just kidding. Given the sure enormity of the NASA CCRs, a quick recap and review of the codes and regulations is something that should be done on a yearly basis. With the month and a half before the final event of the 2009 season, take an evening to skim through the CCRs which are free to download and read and refresh your memory. CCRs can be located here.
Incident Review Board – From time to time there are incidents in the race group that’s the nature of the game. However, resolving such incidents in a timely manner is imperative as the outcome can often affect the results (DQs, etc). Going forward, NASA Arizona will be assembling an Incident Review Board (IRB) to examine any incidents within the NASA race groups.
Led by Gary Felton, along with a small staff of NASA members, the IRB will identify any and all racing incidents as soon as they happen on track, or as soon as they possibly can afterwards. Following the conclusion of a race, all incidents and the involved parties will be addressed in impound with a conclusion being reached before cars/drivers leave impound. The purpose of this of course is to add in any changes to results in terms of DQs, loss of position and so on, so the correct, official results can be issued and finalized as soon as possible.
Points Clarification from NASA Nationals
After some discussion and a few questions here and there, the details surrounding the points allotment from NASA Nationals are as follows:
- Time Trial: TT drivers at Nationals get the correct number of points that are reflective of their finishing position compared with other Arizona drivers in the same class. If an AZ driver finished 2nd in TTD, while the winner was from New York, and the 3rd place finished was from AZ, then the AZ finished are awarded 1st and 2nd place points.
- TT drivers who stayed in Phoenix to compete, get standard points as they would in any other AZ region event.
- Racers at Nationals get points based on their finishing position in class, compared to their other Arizona region competitors. Local racers who stayed in Phoenix in September for the Test and Tune, get no points.
Next event: November 28-89, Phoenix Intl. Raceway
Carrying on the 20+ year tradition of driving on Thanksgiving weekend, NASA Arizona will be driving at Phoenix Intl. Raceway, including a 3-hour daytime enduro on Sunday. NASA will be back with a full schedule (i.e. NASA hosted HPDE1 & 2) as well as the usual Time Trial and Race Groups. A rough schedule for the weekend has been posted on the NASA Arizona forum, and all questions/comments can be addressed here.
Details for the racers and time trialers are listed below:
This will be a double points event on Sunday only! Here’s how it works:
- Time Trial drivers will receive double points for their finishing position on Sunday. Saturday will be a standard points day.
- Racers participating in the enduro will get double points based on their finishing position within class.
- All single drivers (as in, driving solo. Not unmarried, divorced or casually-dating drivers!) will receive double points for the enduro.
- How NASA will assess points for teams with more than one driver is still TBD, in effort to finalize a correct, fair and proper method for points allotment.
The enduro supplemental rules are posted here. Updates on the points allotment for multi-driver teams will be posted soon.
Thank you for reading the NASA Arizona event wrap up. See you all in November at Phoenix Intl. Raceway!<–>