NASA Arizona Event Recap WildHorse Pass-East, March 2014

NASA Arizona returned to the Wild Horse Pass East Track (WHP) for an end of winter warm up.  The weather was perfect, if a bit warm, but more on that later!  Rumors continue to flow about the future of this great local facility ( and we can only hope that most of them come true resulting in a world class facility right in our own back yard.

The East track is a small, short knife shaped track with one long straight away and several short straight sections.  There is a small amount of elevation change in a few spots (talking a few feet…) but for the most part it is a flat track.  There are enough good passing zones and wider sections to fit several cars side by side and keep the action rolling.


For this event the NASA-AZ ( participants were paddocked outside of the track in a large parking area.  This made for much better access by visitors and a safer event without the need to pass through the track for guests.  Visibility to the track was just fine as spectators lined up along the northern edge of the track on the “The Hill” and were treated to some fine driving and a little rock throwing.


The April Event is right around the corner!  Get your cars turned and ready because we have another event coming up quickly back here at the Wild Horse Pass West track.  This next event is the weekend of April 5 and 6, 2014 and registration and details can be found here: We hope to see another giant crowd from many different locations at the next event.  The Wast track is also hard on equipment so bleed those brakes and change those engines often!!

Saturday Small Bore Race Group

The Small Bore Qualifying run on Saturday set the tone with the first four cars of Valentin Ivanitski, Team Kit driven by Robert Rose, Leland Forbes the number 469 car of Team LBR all qualifying within a half second of each other! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


The Sprint race began with 16 cars on grid and was full of passing and good action including Leland Forbes falling back to 3rd after the start and patiently clawing back a spot to finish 2nd behind Robert Rose in Team Kit.  Pete Dimuzio was the victor of the 5 Spec944 cars, David Snyder’s Mazda took first in PTC, and Jorge Diaz was the lone Spec Miata car.  Uncontested in GTS2 was Valentin Ivanitski and similarly in David James in PTE rounded out the various class winners.

Official Results:


Saturday Big Bore Race Group

Big Bore Qualification put Michael Pinholster in the Radical on Pole followed by Austin Newmark, Erik Davis and Brian Turner in their Porsche 911s.  The field was well represented with Super Unlimited, Super Touring 3, Super Touring 1, GTS3 and GTS4 cars.

16 cars departed grid for the warm-up lap and after a clean start the field ran for nearly 30 minutes but Michael Pinholster held the front spot with a fast lap of 59.223 and Erik Davis’ freshly repainted 911 just a hair behind with a fast lap of 59.975, then Greg Dalgarn rounding out the podium.   The ultra competitive Super Touring 3 field was won by Erik Davis with Jeremy Renshaw’s BMW second, Brian Turners Porsche in third, another Porsche of Jim Richard and last in class.. a dusty old Datsun.


Ricky Johnson ran his PTB Mini in Big Bore finishing 6th overall and the lone PTB in class.  GTS3 field victor David Leyvas beat the BMW of Jim Fluckey with Marty Saltzman taking the third spot and Justin Stevenson left sprinkling the flowers on the side of the track with an unfortunate water leak but no resulting damage.  Michael Papworth’s thundering blue Corvette represented ST2.

Official Results:


Sunday Combined Race Group

The Sunday Race Group was combined classes which made for fantastic action throughout the race.  The start was a normal running Green Flag after 2 warm-up laps and the field formed up perfectly as the Green Flag dropped on anxious throttle pedals, a pile of iron pooling at Turn 1.  A flurry of passing throughout the field in the first few laps preceded the faster cars eventually catching up to the small bore cars and then the action heated up.  The inclusion of traffic intensifies the opportunities as racers use timing and strategy to move ahead, but hopefully keep their own class competitors tied up in traffic behind them.

The race ended early on a Red Flag due to a 3” hole in the side of the authors (new) engine.  Many thanks to Tage and Ramin and all the others who descended on my smoking car just seconds after stopping in the dirt.  Go away Monkey!!

Congrats to podium finishers Michael Pinholster, Erik Davis and Jeremy Renshaw, to all the Class winners and thanks for the great competition from all the combined groups.

Official Results:

Season Points:

Saturday Time Trials

Some seriously fast action on the Saturday Time Trials as both the Small Bore and Big Bore classes ran 4 sessions throughout the day with a bunch of track records taken over including David Leyvas’ 56.896 on Saturday and Tony Szirka in the UMS Tuning Mitsubishi running 57.864 on Sunday.  Ricky Johnson took a 3 year old record down in TTB class at 1:01.669, Dave Schotz and Hal Dunn each beat down their own records in TTC and TTD to 1:02.647 and 1:04.193 respectively.

Here is where to find some great pics of all classes:

Lots of close finishes including Gary Felton just .076 seconds ahead of Hunter Bennett in TT1.  Even closer on Sunday, Hal Dunn finished barely a whisker ahead of Robert Rose separated by merely .005 seconds.  TTE finishers Team Beer:30 and Team Hashtag Racing also had a close finish with just .078 seconds spacing.

Full results of Saturdays TT race:

Sunday Time Trials

Sunday Time Trials was slightly different with split groups for the first 3 sessions and a combined afternoon session.    As mentioned above Tony Szirka would have had a track record with this time of 57.864 but for David’s impressive Saturday run in the Porsche.  The close finishes continued with Team Beer:30 finishing just .013 seconds ahead of Team Hashtag.

Congrats to the other class victors on Sunday including Russ Whelan, Erik Davis, Ricky Johnson, Team Schotz, Robert Rose, Team Beer:30 and Tony Szirka.



UMS Tuning Time Attack

The Time Attack series ( was held on Sunday with 3 total sessions and 14 cars spread throughout the day.  Tony Szirka posted his fastest time of the day in the first session in 58.161 seconds but ending with an injured car.  Phil Robles and Russ Whelan were within a fraction of a second of each other to complete the top 3 positions.

In class competition Aaron Hiar took top spot in TA-A with Phil Robles first in TA-B and Tony Szirka top in TA-C

Official Results:


US Drift

The drift group returned once again to NASA-AZ on Sunday running a total of 4 sessions.  The drift event probably draws one of the biggest spectator crowds of any class.  There was some serious horsepower on display and some roasted tires by late Sunday afternoon.


As always HPDE is the “first hit” of road racing and we would like to congratulate the March 2014 HPDE1 class of: Agustin Carcoba, Brent Carver, Kayleigh Casto,  Trevor Girdner, Gabe Hansen,  Dorian Hollingworth, William Janssen, Kevin Kavanagh, David Kweder, Perry Lehman, Quintin Maley,  Rene Mousseux,  Karol Owczarski,  Lee Rateike, Kirk Vidinghoff, Robert Warman and Michael Pearce (who drove his first DE1 at East and now coming back for DE2 in April in the green Acura  below )


Under the expert tutelage of instructor Dave Riddle this gang will hopefully be seen on a race-track near us soon!




There was great “training action” in all the HPDE sessions with a wide variety of cars from Ferrari and Mercedes to Jeff Meade’s 1973 Mini.    Congrats to Jake Castro for moving up into Time Trials and turning some of his best lap times.10009310_10152292666324761_523726301_n

Mechanical Issues:

An unusually high amount of mechanical damage (read carnage) plagued this 3rd event in the NASA 2014 season including at least two head gasket perforations,  a bunch of  transmissions killed, a thrown rod, another blown motor and a fire in a DE4 car.  The fact is stuff breaks and it can become a safety hazard.

Take that extra time you have on grid (because you arrived a few minutes early) to practice your emergency egress, shut off and fire extinguisher procedure.  Create your escape path first by opening the door, removing nets, wheel and then releasing your belts last.  Consider if you were upside down-you want to remain in the seat until you have a way out as it could be difficult to do the other things after getting dropped on your head when you fall out of the seat.

This should be a logical “flow” of your hands that sweeps around the cockpit completing the tasks in an efficient order, ending up at your belts release point and you getting out of the car.  Oh, and practice with your eyes closed and a friend poking you with a stick.

So that’s it!  Hope to see everyone all repaired and ready for NASA-AZ’s first return to the West track in 2014 which is just a few short weeks away.  Get signed up ASAP for both days and enjoy some great tacos, racing and Arizona sunshine.


Join us at Wild Horse Pass in April:

Details of Wild Horse Pass event:



Pictures courtesy of

  • Tage Evanson
  • Ben Kiningham


Please send corrections, half-truths and legal notices to the author:




photo 8


Team Declarations 2019

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HC 2014 Recap – February CVR

While the rest of the country was feeling the winter chill, NASA Arizona Honda Challenge racers were getting busy with their second event of the 2014 season at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway.  This event was a crossover / points event for the NASA Southern California region which brought out some new faces for the Arizona Honda Challenge regulars to contend with.


One of the California racers to make the trek out to Chuckwalla was Andy Hope.  An accomplished road racer and no stranger to hustling his “Circuit Monsters” Honda CRX around a race track, he was quick to lay down some smoldering lap times in the first few laps of qualifying.  Was it a coincidence with his off-road racing schedule or maybe it was all the buzz surrounding Hope and his CRX (which received quite a bit of social and print media coverage last year), that brought Tony Lisa and his Civic EG coupe out of the wood work to stake his claim for the top spot on the podium?  Lisa’s last outing at Chuckwalla in last season’s finale was an awesome display of his car’s potential to run away from the field and not look back.  The table was set for a battle royale between Hope and Lisa.  Unfortunately Lisa’s car suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure early in the day on Saturday and Hope would go on to take the pole position with a smokin’ time of 2:02.8.  The fastest lap time of any Honda Challenge car for the weekend.  Robert Rose, in the Team KIT Integra would start by his side and Mervin Tan in the Team LBR Civic would round out the top 3 for qualifying.

With eight Honda Challenge cars lined up on the grid, all of them eager to establish position within the first few corners after the green flag, it was clear that this race was going to be nothing short of epic.



Hope jumped out to an early lead and looked like he may run away with an easy win, but a minor off track excursion for Hope left the door open for Tan to roar to the front of the pack.  Hope gave chase and for the next 11 laps and the two played cat and mouse trading the lead 4 times.  Rose stayed firmly in third and looked like he might make a run on Tan or Hope, or even both on some laps where he would get unabated runs out of some of the corners on them.  With one lap to go, Hope’s CRX made a surgical pass on Tan’s Civic in the last corner that feeds the front straight away which allowed Hope to claim first place when the checked flag dropped one lap later.  Mervin Tan followed closely in 2nd place, with Team KIT’s Robert Rose finishing in 3rd place.  In addition to the podium finishers, this race was also of special significance to Taylor Wilson of Team Snail whose Civic hatchback was fresh out of the paint booth sporting signature royal purple livery, and Steven Williams’ Integra (also newly painted) who showed great potential finishing their first rookie race without incident.  With some additional vehicle development, both of these drivers should be jockeying for position up front by summer time!

hc-02-cvr-03 1st Place – Saturday
Andy Hope
hc-02-cvr-04 2nd Place – Saturday
Team LBR
hc-02-cvr-05 3rd Place – Saturday
Team KIT

* Photos courtesy of Project130 –

Sunday’s qualifying session was packed with new faces as many of the drivers competing in this year’s Honda Challenge series have teamed up with other drivers to leverage their time, money, and strategy.

hc-02-cvr-06Rookie racers Taylor Wilson and Markos Mylonas have partnered up as
Team Snail  to campaign this Civic in the season points chase

Leland Forbes edged out Eric Dayton in qualifying for P1 going into the Sunday race.  Team KIT’s Kevin Gay qualified 3rd.  Another full field for Sunday’s race meant the opening lap or two would prove for some fierce passing and defending.

hc-02-cvr-07Great action shot of the Honda Challenge pack getting funneled into the first turn of the first lap.
Thank you Project130 for the amazing shot(s)!!

Eric Dayton would quickly make his way past Leland Forbes in the opening lap and the two of them went back and forth….that is until Andy Hope, who started in dead last due him not qualifying in an effort to save the wear and tear on his ailing transmission, roared up to the front to get a piece of the action.  Hope and Dayton would eventually distance themselves from the pack and trade the lead 4 separate times in 14 laps.


Team KIT made a pass late in the race (we’re talking last lap late!) to edge out Forbes for the last spot on the podium.  Team LBR finished off the top 5, but not before former Arizona resident, now California resident, Doug Evans and his Integra Type-R made a hard charge in the last 3 laps of the race to finish just a few seconds behind Team LBR.  The Arizona regulars haven’t seen the last of Evans though, since he has plans to attend the upcoming events at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch and Willow Springs.  Steven Williams shook off the rookie nerves on Sunday and cut 4 seconds off his best time in the previous day’s race.

hc-02-cvr-09Williams ran his Integra on Toyo RA1 tires all weekend,
with some fresh Toyo RR slicks he’ll be even faster.

For awhile it looked like Williams and Team Snail pilot for the day, Markos Mylonas, would have a good battle, but a mechanical issue from the Snail team’s engine would force an early retirement for their car.  The Team Snail drivers showed what they were capable of last year at Chuckwalla as co-drivers in the 3 hour endurance race in already sorted cars, it’s only a matter of time until they work the bugs out of the Snail car and the rest of the field will have another front running contender on their hands.

hc-02-cvr-10 1st Place – Sunday
Andy Hope
hc-02-cvr-11 2nd Place – Sunday
Eric Dayton
hc-02-cvr-12 3rd Place – Sunday
Team KIT

The overall sentiment in the paddock after both races was that of a very successful weekend for most of the racers and teams.  Strong turnout (9 cars, 12 different drivers) lots of close/clean racing in class, and tons of position changes for most all of the racers from first through eight place.  Toyo Tires shelled out $800 in Toyo Bucks over the course of the weekend, which was spread out over five different cars.  Honda Performance Development awarded $450 good towards Honda OEM parts to the 1st, 3rd, and 5th place finishers on Saturday.  Thank you Toyo Tires and Honda Performance Development for the generous support!!


Next Event – Wild Horse Pass Raceway (East Track)
The action returns to Wild Horse Pass Raceway, next month.  Beginning with this event all Honda Challenge race cars will are required to run Toyo’s RR (DOT-approved racing slick) tire.  The consensus in the paddock after Chuckwalla was unanimous: the RR retains the predictable handling qualities the older RA1 had at the limit and introduces a whole new level of grip.  Will this tire give the performance needed to dethrone Team FTW’s Integra Type-R as the lap record holder?  Will this be the event that Arizona Honda Challenge sees its first 10+ car field?

10/Arizona Honda Challenge

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