January 9-10 Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 1/9-1/10 2010, Phoenix Intl. Raceway

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So, how was that off season?  You know, that 40 or so day break between the Thanksgiving event and the season-opener in January.  Yeah, that topic came up several times in the previous wrap up (ie. how motorsports dominates all other sports when it comes to lack of downtime), but I think it’s safe to say one thing:  Holidays?  Yeah, they’re fun, but it’s great to be back at the track!

You can see by the headlining picture on this month’s issue of the NASA Wrap Up that there was as much fun and competition off the track, as there was on.  Now, if the NASA organizers can only find a way to fill the 23-minute void with something exciting between track opening and tech inspection each morning, NASA Arizona will perhaps have the most fulfilling 48-hour adventure of any organized activity in the world!  Ok, enough rambling and onto the weekend’s activities…

Trial by Fire Drift Returns!

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Superior Racing Development dominated in drift and race groups over the weekend

What’s more mind-boggling is that January marks the 4th event weekend in a row at Phoenix Intl. Raceway, yet the feeling was much different due to new groups, activities and people.  Starting off was the return of the Trial By Fire drift sessions led by George Marstanovic and Joe DiNunzio.  Trial By Fire is Arizona’s oldest and most well-established group for organized drifting in Arizona and has a long relationship with NASA Arizona dating back to TBF’s beginning.  Typically speaking, Trial By Fire’s events are held in parking lots and cater to everyone from beginning drifters, all the way up to professional, licensed drivers that compete in the Formula D and D1 drift series events.  Several times a year, Trial By Fire ramps it up and invites the best drivers out for a weekend of fun with NASA Arizona.

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Two drivers drift around T3, nearly side by side at times

It’s easy to tell when the drifters are on track since the entire facility at Phoenix Intl. Raceway gets covered in tire smoke.  When you see heads turning and people looking for car spinning, it’s not a HPDE1 session gone bad, it’s the sound of hundreds of dollars of Dunlop tire rubber being burned off on the asphalt.  [The debate as to whether the drifters help or hurt grip by leaving rubber everywhere is up for debate on the forums–join in!].  What’s not easy to tell is what exactly is going on.  Here are some simple drifter facts in effort to give credit where due!

  • The top drifters at PIR enter Turn 1 between 85-95mph, then immediately initiate a 4-wheel slide, holding it all the way to turn 8!
  • Popular cars are typically light, RWD platforms:  Nissan 240SX, Mazda RX7, Nissan Z, Toyota Cressida (!), Toyota Corolla
  • Myth:  Grippy tires in the front, all-season, pumped up tires in the rear.  Reality:  Maintaining a slide at 90mph requires grip, and lots of it.
  • Keeping those tires spinning requires one thing:  Horsepower.  Most of the drift cars use turbocharged 4-cylinders making 280-400hp, or swap in Chevy LS-series V8s making 400-490hp!  All in a 2400lb chassis.

A big thanks goes out to Joe and George for bringing the drifters, as well as the friends and spectators out for a weekend of clean and safe driving at PIR.  NASA Arizona looks forward hosting Trial by Fire again in the near future.

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This Nissan 240SX is powered by a Pontiac GTO engine, making close to 500hp

Epic Battles in Race Group

Through the 40 or so drivers and ten classes in the NASA race group, it’s hard to cover in detail what exactly happened during the two days of racing.  Watching, is far different than driving, and having that feeling of being on the ragged edge during a pass or trying to hold someone off is something that’s difficult to convey outside the cockpit of a race car.  What we see as spectators, doesn’t even come close to what a driver sees or feels.   However, on occasion there are some battles that can be seen on paper;  we had a few in January.

Ryan and Terry Denton swept PTA for the weekend in this BMW M3

Ryan and Terry Denton swept PTA for the weekend in this BMW M3

The Performance Touring Class A (PTA) bunch had a weekend of thrills, thanks to two new drivers entering the class. Terry Denton and his son Ryan Denton (BMW M3 #66), the 2009 ST2 championship winner, bumped down a class to join the fun with John Dowling (Porsche 911 #46).  To throw the odds off just that much more, Brian Turner (Porsche 911 #524) moved from the time trial group over the winter break in order to get in on the racing action in PTA.

After qualifying results rolled in on Saturday, I think everyone watching the race group just stood there, amazed and thankful that we have 11 more months to watch and see how this class is going to unfold in 2010!  To give you an idea, here are the qualifying results for PTA over the weekend:

Saturday

  1. Terry Denton – 1:09.801
  2. John Dowling – 1:09.808
  3. Brian Turner – 1:09.916

Sunday

  1. Ryan Denton – 1:09.551
  2. Brian Turner – 1:09.909
  3. John Dowling – 1:10.821

Really–does it get any better than that??  The results unfolded in a similar fashion with The Dentons taking the wins in PTA on both days.  John Dowling took second twice and Brian Turner, in his inaugural weekend in the NASA race group, took home a pair of third place podium spots.  Congratulations to all the PTA guys for keeping it close, clean and keeping the spectators entertained all weekend.

Post race discussion in impound

How does that saying go... A picture is worth a thousand words?

ST1 had a similar experience on Sunday, with Clay Koevary dusting off his Porsche 911 and taking the overall pole for the race group, with a 1:05.053 lap.  Mark Alger qualified second overall and in ST1 with a 1:05. 663, while Chad Nelson (and eventual ST1 winner) qualified at a 1:05.893.  Clay, Chad and Mark battled it out for the first ten minutes of the race with Chad eventually pulling away.  Clay finished second and Mark rounded off the podium ending up 3rd overall and in ST1.

Complete race group results are listed here:

Saturday Race Group Results

Sunday Race Group Results

Race group awards near impound

Race group awards near impound

HPDE Groups

A HPSE2 driver rounds turn 3 during the January 9-10 weekend

HPDE driver Stenos Wijiya rounds turn 3 during the January 9-10 weekend

Without quantitative “results” from a group, it’s hard to report on any specific action that went on over the weekend while on-track with the HPDE groups.  However, a couple interesting things happened in the HPDE groups over the weekend that are worth noting.

First off, Robert Rose, a long-time member of NASA (since the beginning in Arizona) has been working with the time trial program since 2005. Starting in 2010, Robert has been assigned responsibility of the HPDE2 group leader, giving guidance throughout the day and during the downloads.  Given the perfectly clean run sessions of HPDE2 during the weekend, I think it’s safe to say Robert settled into his new role nicely.

A nice 350Z doing what it was designed for--weekend track driving!

A nice 350Z doing what it was designed for--weekend track driving!

Drills are back!  No, not fire drills, I’m talking about the HPDE driving exercises!  You’re probably thinking, “Say what?”, but with the combining of groups HPDE3 & 4, group leaders saw it as a perfect opportunity to challenge the HPDE3 drivers, while giving some of the HPDE4 drivers some refreshers and perhaps preparation for moving into either the race or time trial groups.  During the designated drill sessions, which were scheduled longer in length to provide ample time for training and regular driving, participants practiced passing, side-by-side driving through corners and other critical maneuvers on track.

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Passing drills in HPDE3/4

Lastly, January saw a record number of HPDE4 drivers move into the Time Trial group to drive against the clock, the competition and up the stakes just a little.  (More on that below)

Time Attack and Time Trial

The UMS Time Attack series saw its first event of the year and had a strong field of 18 drivers.  With nine events on the schedule for 2010, drivers were anxious to see who would be occupying which class and what the tone would be like for the rest of the year.  Not surprisingly however, some familiar faces topped the leaderboard at the end of the day on Sunday.  Full time attack results are located here:

UMS Time Attack Series Event #1 Results

For anyone interested in the UMS Time Attack series, the full 2010 rules are located on the NASA AZ Website and by clicking on the link.

Drivers get their cars ready and talk a little trash before the UMS Time Attack

Drivers get their cars ready and talk a little trash before the UMS Time Attack

The NASA Time Trial Series had 36 drivers on Saturday and 39 drivers on Sunday, making it one of the biggest TT events ever.  Perhaps most notable this weekend was Rick Johnson’s sub-1:08 lap (1:07.926 to be exact), setting a new record for the TTC class!  This means that in the past twelve months, the TTC record at Phoenix Intl. Raceway has been broken five times!  In addition, records were broken in TTR–Wayne McKeen @ 1:02.37, and in TTF–Tage Evanson @ 1:17.21.

As mentioned above, the following drivers moved up from HPDE4, completed a weekend in time trial and received their TT Licenses:

  • David Barbey
  • Dave Tellez
  • Jim Williams
  • Terry Lee

And for you TT insiders, the Curse of January has finally been broken!

Full Time Trial results from January, as well as track records:

January 2010 TT Results

NASA-AZ Time Trial Track Records

Saturday Evening Banquet Updates

Yes, you knew it was coming eventually.  For those of you who have stuck around on Saturday nights after the driving has settled down, you may have noticed the line is getting increasingly longer for the BBQ, drinks and even a turn at RockBand.  NASA Arizona is politely asking donations for those who can afford it, and are willing to help support the increasing costs it requires to put on a social event like this.  As mentioned, it’s strictly optional, but if most people can pitch in $10 every few months to offset the cost of the food, drinks, BBQ grills (NASA Arizona now owns several!) and so forth, it will only help to make these events even better.  The easiest way to donate to the cause–and it’s a worthy one–is by selecting a donation option on the registration page.

NASA Arizona thanks you in advance for your support!

February 6-7 Preview – Firebird Intl. Raceway – Main Course

Several NASA drivers tested cars for the 24 Hours of Lemons race in January

Several NASA drivers tested cars for the 24 Hours of Lemons race in January

First off, does everyone remember where Firebird Raceway is?  Yes, it’s been a long time since NASA Arizona has been to Firebird Raceway in general, but even longer since there has been a two-day event, and even longer since there has been a winter daytime event on Firebird’s Main Course!  If you can think back long enough, last time was November, 2006–over three years ago!  Needless to say, it’s great to be back to FIR.

Expect another fun Saturday evening social at Firebird Raceway

How to make your dog happy: Bring him/her to the Saturday evening NASA social!

Secondly, yes, that game everyone refers to as the Super Bowl is on Sunday.  Not that it’s of any concern to us racers who make driving our first priority, but just in case, Sunday will be using an abbreviated schedule to make sure everyone is home, on the couch, by kickoff time.  Here are some essential facts for the February event:

  • If you need to register for February 6-7, Click Here.
  • A rough draft of the schedule, as well as other important information can be found on the NASA Forum by Clicking Here.
  • HPDE2 will be offered on Sunday, but HPDE1 will not due to the condensed schedule.
  • Race group will use Saturday’s race results as the qualifying for Sunday’s race.  Accordingly, there will be no qualifying session on Sunday.
  • TT & HPDE groups will have three sessions on Sunday instead of four.
  • Lastly, prices for groups which have shortened track time on Sunday have been adjusted as a result.

That about finishes this month’s edition of the NASA Wrap Up.  As with the previous installment, a HUGE thanks goes out to Geri Amani with Redlign Photography fortaking event photos.  More NASA Arizona photos are available on Redlign Photograhy’s website.

Thanks again for a great January event and we look forward to seeing everyone at Firebird Raceway in February!

(now let’s see some more pictures from the RockBand shootout on Saturday!)

The Dentons looked to clean up the race group, and RockBand on Saturday

The Dentons looked to clean up the race group, and RockBand on Saturday

Gabe Ortega, doing his best Neil Peart impression

Gabe Ortega, doing his best Neil Peart impression

Getting Started with NASA Videos

NASA Arizona Introduction video

NASA Arizona Time Trial & Time Attack video

All about NASA – MotorWeek Autoworld: A Taste of Auto Racing

How to get started with NASA (Part 1)

How to get started with NASA (Part 2 – Time Trial)

How to get started with NASA (Part 3)

KBB Races a Mazda Miata – Part 5: On Track With NASA

KBB Races a Mazda Miata – Part 7: Time Trials

November 28-29 Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 11/28-11/29, Phoenix Intl. Raceway

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Well Ladies and Gentlemen, that time of year has arrived:  The off-season.  All one month of off-season from racing.  Racing and performance driving rarely get the credit they deserve, in that the preparation, effort, time and of course, financial commitment sure are a lot more intense than say, watching football 16 weekend of the year, or the occasional trip to The BOB (let’s be nostalgic here, being that it’s the holiday season and all).  Another tough, but fun season of driving and racing has come and gone in Arizona, only to start right up again with an exciting 2010 schedule that really is should I say, “cutting edge” for Arizona–the possibility of new venues, a dynamic schedule with no back-to-back appearances at the same track and more dates than ever.  However you describe the entrants at the November 29-28 event–excited, relieved, relaxed, stuffed, busy or simply wiped out from 12-months of driving–nearly everyone left the 2009 season ready for things with eyes wide open, looking forward to see what’s next.

First off, a huge thanks and congratulations go to the people that really made 2009 happen:  Tage and Adina Evanson.  Our commanders in chief, Tage and Adina, took over the leadership role for NASA Arizona and not only hung on for the entire year, but really took control right off the bat and kept NASA Arizona headed in the right direction that was set forth by Jason Boles and his staff for the previous two years.  Of course the army of workers, staff members, instructors and group leaders made the show go on month in and month out, but Tage and Adina really pulled it off and raised the bar a few notches every month at our local events.  Thanks again go out to the Evanson family! (Enjoy your 40 “days off”!)

Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Enduro

Green flag drops for the 3-hour enduro with some familiar faces up front.

Green flag drops for the 3-hour enduro with some familiar faces up front.

Of course it’s hard to know what exactly to say following each event, especially coming off three straight PIR events in a row that more or less ran flawlessly the entire time.  However, there’s always business that needs to get covered and credit needs to be given where needed.  First up, the 3-hour enduro, which has been a tradition (while varying in time length) was the spectacle of the weekend.  Getting the nerves to enter a race like this, better yet finish one, is no easy task.  The time that goes into vehicle prep, logistics in the pits, race strategies, driver endurance and the financial burden all get exponentially tougher as the distance and time increase.  Don’t forget–this was at the end of a 12-month racing season as well!  That being said, here’s a nice long list of the drivers who entered the 3-hour Thanksgiving Weekend enduro, so credit can be given for their hard work:

  • Chad Nelson – Overall and ST1 Winner
  • Mike Halpin – ST2 Winner
  • Dan Maloney – PTA Winner
  • Paul Bloomberg – PTB Winner
  • Rick Johnson – PTC Winner
  • Bill Mader – PTD Winner
  • Austin Newmark – 944 Spec Winner
  • Brent Crosser
  • Mike Browning
  • Mark Alger
  • Sarah Cattaneo
  • Glen Gormley
  • Norm Hamden
  • Ryan Denton
  • Terry Denton
  • Rich Geisler
  • Jim Foxx
  • Tony Lisa
  • Steve Lisa
  • Tage Evanson
  • Steve Marlow
  • Jim Richard
  • Wade Guthrie
  • Marty Saltzman
  • Dave Hauck
  • Jeremy Renshaw
  • Phil Eglin
  • John Dowling
  • Darren Griffith

When it was all said and done–3 hours and 3 minutes later–a familiar face was up front on the leaderboard.  With a 7-lap lead at the end, Chad Nelson took the ST1 and overall win in his BMW M3 in fine fashion as he did 365 days earlier, making him a back-to-back overall winner in the Thanksgiving Weekend enduro.  Full results by class are located here.

NASA Hyperdrive

Thumbs up for a great weekend at PIR!

Thumbs up for a great weekend at PIR!

Coming in a close second to the enduro, was the introduction to NASA’s Hyperdrive program to PIR.  The commitment and obligations needed to compete in the HPDE1 program and/or a full day at the track with NASA are often too much for some drivers.  Work schedules, family time, other hobbies (imagine that:  a hobby other than racing?!) and so on, often take precedent over getting one’s feet wet for the first time on track.  NASA Arizona simplified the process by reducing this cost, commitment and run time in order to give a small teaser to those interested in seeing what the lifestyle is all about.

With a run group at full capacity, new drivers who have never been on track before, came out to PIR on November 28-29 to get a single run session at a very reduced entry fee.  New drivers were taken on track, with an instructor of course, and let loose (within reason!) for some quick laps in their personal cars.  Many brought tuned street cars, while others showed up in the family haulers.

Leland--keeping the Hyperdrive entrants in line, while wearing the wrong t-shirt.

Leland--keeping the Hyperdrive entrants in line, while wearing the wrong t-shirt.

It’s easy to get caught up in the thick of things at a NASA weekend and not realize every activity that is going on.  For those of you who overlooked the NASA Hyperdrive program, take note and let your friends and co-workers know about this fun, exciting and very simple way to check out track driving with NASA!

Time Trial and Performance Touring

Time Trial was the largest competition series for NASA Arizona in 2009.

Time Trial was the largest competition series for NASA Arizona in 2009.

As with any year end wrap up, many thanks should be given to Paul Bloomberg, Robert Rose and Jeremy Renshaw for keeping Time Trial and Performance Touring from getting overly-chaotic on race weekends.  Compiling points and race results is no easy task, not to mention the endless hours of classing, rule interpretation and run group enforcing can take a toll on just about anyone.  Robert and Paul have done an excellent job at keeping the PT and TT results up to date so competitors can see how they ended up throughout the year.  Before getting to those results, it’s worth noting the track records that were hammered over the weekend, thanks to great weather and very fast 1.59-mile racing surface at PIR:

New Track Records

  • TTC:  Rick Johnson – 1:08.36  (in his Cold Stone farewell tour!)
  • TTE:  Eric Jacobsen – 1:12.15

A full listing of Time Trial track records are here.

  • PTB:  Tage Evanson – 1:09.828
  • PTC:  Mark Congleton – 1:09.618

A full listing of the Performance Touring,  Super Touring and 944 Spec track records are here.

The new 2010 Time Trial, Performance Touring and Super Touring results have been released!!

This means that all drivers participating in any of those series, must:

  1. Read the 2010 rules
  2. Fill out the proper classification forms (this is a January ritual every year)
  3. Email Paul Bloomberg with ST/PT questions, or Jeremy Renshaw with any TT questions.

The goal is to have all of this out of the way as soon as possible so when January rolls around, there is very little work that needs to be done and everyone is classed properly.

Here’s the bottom line:  January 9th will be given as leeway to get paperwork in order.  When the green flag drops on January 10th, if you don’t have the proper paperwork, you will be automatically placed in TTR (for Time Trial) or SU (for race group) until the proper paperwork is turned in.  No exceptions!  Please remember that all the classing and group leaders will most likely be swamped on January 9th, so don’t expect to figure it out at the track on Saturday.  Please come prepared!!!

The 2010 Rules

Super Touring (SU, ST1, ST2) Rulebook

Super Touring Classification Form

STR1 & STR2 Classification Form

Performance Touring (PTA – PTF) Rulebook

Performance Touring Classification Form

Time Trial Rulebook (All Classes)

Time Trial (TTR-TTS) Classification Form

Time Trial (TTA-TTF) Classification Form

And finally, the season points results from both Time Trial and Race Group have been tallied and posted.  Congratulations to all participants in the 2009 season, as well as the season champions in each class!  Details on the awards banquet will be announced early in 2010.

Race Group Season Points

Time Trial Season Points

If you haven't noticed, the photos are especially good this month.  Thanks to Geri Amani for the photography work!

If you haven't noticed, the photos are especially good this month. Thanks to Geri Amani for the photography work!

Time Attack

Last, but certainly not least in the long list of season points series, is the UMS Time Attack series.  Starting in 2005, the UMS Time Attack series was an old idea in the community of motorsports, but new and unique to NASA–no other region puts on a similar series.  Champions have come and gone, but the quick 2-lap timed format to the time attack series is appealing, yet challenging, and has drawn a steady flow of entrants since the beginning.  Time Attack is also unique in that there is a steady stream of newcomers at each event, while the regular “veterans” of time attack still stick around for the competition every month.  A huge thanks goes out to Jeremy Ward and UMS Tuning for keeping this series going month after month, and putting in year-end prizes which kept the competitors active and hungry for competition.

Time Attack entrants lined up in grid for the season shootout!

Time Attack entrants lined up in grid for the season shootout!

Jeremy Ward has done an excellent job archiving the results from the UMS Time Attack series.  All of the 2009 results, as well as previous years can be found in the UMS Time Attack forum on the NASA AZ website.

2009 Results are located here.

Jeremy Ward’s Recap of the 2009 season is located here.

Fast and steady Phil Robles, despite having some stiff competition early in the 2009 season, came out on top with the overall season points win.  Congratulations Phil!  In addition to the UMS Time Attack series, Phil also won the Time Trial points season in the TTB class.  Season class finalists and winners are as follows:

TA-A

  1. Phil Robles
  2. Gabe Ortega
  3. Brady Dohrmann

TA-B

  1. Robert Smithson
  2. Justin Markiewicz
  3. Todd Parker

TA-C

  1. Harry De Leon
  2. Tony Szirka
  3. Jake Trigiboff

2010 Schedule

As mentioned earlier, the 2010 schedule is perhaps one of the most dynamic schedules used in Arizona in quite some time.  With four racetracks at our disposal, Tage and the NASA Arizona crew took advantage of that opportunity by mixing things up and creating an 11-event schedule, not including the NASA National Championships which will again be held at Miller Motorsports park in Utah.  Here’s what we all have to look forward to in Arizona:

  1. January 9/10 – Phoenix International Raceway
  2. February 6/7 – Firebird Raceway – Main Course
  3. March 6/7 – Phoenix International Raceway w/BMWCCA
  4. March 20 – Firebird Raceway – West Course
  5. April 10 – Firebird Raceway – Main/West Courses (Night Event-Double Points)
  6. May 1/2 – Phoenix International Raceway
  7. June 5/6 – Firebird Raceway – East Course (Morning Only)
  8. August 14/15 – Firebird Raceway – West Course (Morning Only)
  9. October 2/3 – Phoenix International Raceway w/BMWCCA
  10. October 16/17 – Firebird Raceway – East Course
  11. November 27/28 – Phoenix International Raceway (Double Points)

*NASA National Championships – September 16-19 – Miller Motorsports Park

Time Trialers entering T6 on a record-setting weekend at the track.

Time Trialers entering T6 on a record-setting weekend at the track.

The Grand Finale

First off, there are a few major improvements to NASA Arizona worth noting.  Terry Denton and his group took a break from the racing action to provide music and atmosphere to the NASA BBQ on Saturday night.  A huge thanks go out to Terry and the SRD crew for putting on a show and keeping everyone entertained.

Secondly, perhaps you’ve noticed a massive increase in the quality of photos from the October wrap up to this one.  Geri Amani with Redlign Photography worked her magic and captured the bright moments from the weekend for all to see on here.  Thanks Geri for your hard work!

Lastly, wrapping up perhaps the longest wrap up in internet history is tough–too many details that were overlooked, too many exciting moments that were remembered, but had to be compromised because most people don’t have the 4-hour attention span required to read all of those, and so on.  2009 was a year of many firsts for NASA Arizona:  new leadership, track records, super-sized entry lists from HPDE1 all the way up to Race Group, Hyperdrive, the legendary NASA BBQs led by Gordon Levy and Terry Denton’s crews, a GIANT April 11th night event,  NASA Nationals on the west coast, finally, and the list goes on.

Class winners from the 3-hour enduro.

Class winners from the 3-hour enduro.

As people stand and stare at their cars in the garage, beaten and bruised from a long season, they also remember that like any form of hard work, reward typically follows.  On one hand it’s tough to think about the long To-Do list on the car (or the driver) and balance that with the holiday season, but after the dust clears and few week’s break passes, that grin comes back and we’re all thankful for the fact that racing has the shortest off-season of any sport.  We look forward to seeing you all back at the track on January 9th.  Until then, stay safe, enjoy your holiday season and of course….. read those 2010 rulebooks and bleed those brakes!  🙂

2009, summarized in five words:  Paul, what are you doing???

2009--summarized in five words: Paul, what are you doing???

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