NASA Arizona Chuckwalla Event- February 2014
National Auto Sports Association, Arizona Region (www.nasaaz.com) held its second event of 2014 at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (http://goracecvr.com/) in Desert Center, CA on February 8 & 9 of 2014. Located an easy 200-mile drive from Phoenix, just west of lovely Blythe, CA, the CVR racetrack features a large and clean paddock area with excellent grandstands, restroom and private shower facilities. There is a large open tent area for meetings and shenanigans along with a food vendor providing great sandwiches and drinks.
For any members that have never traveled to an “away game” you really need to try to make the next one at Spring Mountain, NV. If you are having fun at the local events, you will be amazed at how much fun can be had when you have a full weekend to devote to your “race craft”, making new friends and watching some fast cars rip around the track.
CVR is located on an airport-like Inde Motorsports Ranch, but at CVR the runway is not part of the track (although I wasn’t sure a few times). Flight operations can (and did) resume while the track was hot. The event was run in a counterclockwise direction which was new for me – it felt like a totally new course and the learning had to start all over. CVR features a brilliant, high-banked 180 degree “bowl” turn followed shortly thereafter by an off-camber slider at the top of a hill (which everyone can see from the grandstand) requiring patience and timing to get a fast shot out of.
Micky Grana, one of the Principals of the track has big plans to expand the facility with additional courses, an airshow and potentially air-racing in the future. We hope for even more greatness at CVR and look forward to returning soon.
This event was a crossover with Southern California and so we had many new faces for our Arizona crowd. There were also lots of great new cars, including some really classy “American Iron” cars with tons of innovative parts that gave me some great ideas for future mods on my own cars. By the time I arrived around noon on Friday, the track was already hot with CVR’s Test and Tune sessions and the paddock was starting to fill up. Arriving early is a great way to ensure you get Rock Star Parking and plenty of time to set up camp and enjoy an evening BBQ and refreshments.
The schedule was similar to most NASA events with HPDE 1 through 4, Time Trial, Race Group, UMS Tuning Time Attack and, once again, the inclusion of a Drift Group and an “evening enduro” at the BBQ tent. There was also a bonus race group practice session mid-morning on Sunday and an on-site dyno was set up for tuning and compliance testing.
As always, Tage Evanson’s voice starts up early on Saturday morning with the mandatory “All Drivers” meeting for a briefing on the general schedule, changes and any issues or special requests. Moments later… the fun begins!
Saturday Small Bore Race Group
Saturday’s Small Bore Race Group was packed with 24 cars in 5 classes including 8 Honda Challenge cars, 6 BMW Spec e30 series, 6 Porsche 944, 3 Spec Miatas and Tim Carmen’s Spec3.
Andy Hope won the checkered flag in 34 minutes+change followed by Team LBR and Team Kit, all from the Honda Challenge series. Allen Hauser took first followed by Ken Pearson in the Spec30 class. The 944 victor was Jim Hicks followed by Rob Giorgio, and in the 3rd spot was Austin Newmark (wishing he had another 500hp). Matt Million (A first time NASA driver and winner at age 13!) won the Spec Miata sprint followed by Wilson Steele and Chris Margaritas.13 year old winner Matt Million.
Honorable mention for: Team Kit consisting of NASA veteran Robert Rose and Kevin Gay, completing his second NASA race; Team Snail Performance in the freshly painted Crown Royal Honda, with its first race in the new Livery; And Steve Williams also running his first NASA race with great success! Well done all my fellow Fall 2013 Comp School Grads!!
Doug Evans made a guest appearance in his Acura – now representing NASA from California – but always nice to have our regulars back.
A number of track records to highlight:
• New Track Record (2:10.949) for Spec Miata by Wilson Steele.
• New Track Record (2:10.356) for Spec3 by Timothy Carman.
• New Track Record (2:07.054) for 944 Spec by Jim Hicks.
• New Track Record (2:03.712) for Honda Challenge 2 by Andy Hope.
• New Track Record (2:09.772) for Spec3 by Michael Mihld.
Saturday Big Bore Race Group
Saturday morning Qualifying for the Big Bore group began with Bob Blizzard #1 at 1:50.667 to secure the pole. Drew Wadolny took lead in ST2 with Jeremy Renshaw tops in ST3. David Leyvas laid down a 1:57.496 for the top spot in GTS3. The guest group “American Iron” was led by Ryan Walton with 1:59.821.
The afternoon race of 35 minutes had a clean but exciting start, and as the Checkered flag drew down, the first 4 spots were filled with Super Unlimited cars of Bob Blizzard, Michael Pinholster, Keith Kuchler and Martin Daszkal. In classes, Bob Blizzard took Super Unlimited and the overall win. GTS3 class won by Phil Buffington, David Leyvas 2nd and Matt McIntyre 3rd, all in BMW M3. Super Touring 2 class winner was Adrian Little followed by Drew Wadolny carving up turns in his bright red Mustang. Corey Weber in the American Iron Ford beat Ryan Walton, Rob Capetz and Leo Overgaag as winner of the SOCAL contingent.
Hmmm…what else… oh ST3? Your humble author completed enough laps before the polyurethane motor-mount next to the headers caught on fire, earning me a Meatball but still getting me my first class WIN in NASA racing with the green 240Z. My speedy ST3 competitors were out for various reasons. Still, never seen a checkered flag in my 4 starts…
Track records set:
• New Track Record (2:00.397) for American Iron by Corey Weber.
• New Track Record (1:58.278) for GTS3 by Matt McIntyre.
Sunday Small Bore Race Group
Sundays Small Bore Race Group had 22 starters with Andy Hope moving up through the pack, working back and forth on the lead and gathering the checkered flag followed by Eric Dayton and Team Kit in their HC2 cars.
Jim Hicks got his second Win of the weekend in Spec944, followed by Jim Richmond and Rob Giorgio. Allen Hauser also got his second win of the weekend in Spec30, 2nd place finisher was Ken Pearson then Mitch Pepper. Wilson Steele was uncontested in Spec Miata along with Tim Carman in Spec 3.
More track records…
• New Track Record (2:03.523) for Honda Challenge 2 by Andy Hope.
• New Track Record (2:09.906) for Spec Miata by Wilson Steele.
Sunday Big Bore Race Group
Sunday’s Big Bore race was full of excitement from the very beginning. The green flag was tossed and everyone successfully navigated the first turn, which was only part of the battle, as just seconds later heading into the “bowl” those of us in the back of the bus saw David Leyvas’ beautiful BMW come sideways onto the track in front of a stampede of cars. In a big cloud of smoke and dust it was hard to see who was going where, but I sensed that my fresh provisional license could be in jeopardy and I made a right turn into the weeds and slipped by the mess with a few hundred feet to spare. Luckily, everyone got through intact. After this, the field settled down and strung out for a 30 minute sprint.
The top 3 spots were dominated by the Super Unlimited field again with Bob Blizzard the overall winner, Michael Pinholster second in the Radical and Martin Daszkal #3. Taking 4th and the win for GTS3 was Matt McIntyre followed by Jeremy Renshaw who took 5th overall and 1st in ST3. Adrian Little and Drew Wadolny finished just seconds apart to lead the ST2 contingent. In the American Iron class, Ryan Walton took the top spot followed by Rob Capetz and Leo Overgaag.
• New Track Record (2:00.176) for Super Touring 2 by Drew Wadolny*.
* Thanks for the great videos Drew, more of that please!!
* Big NASA-AZ welcome to Drew Wadolny competing with NASA for the first time. Hope you stick around Drew, had a blast on track.
• New Track Record (1:59.293) for American Iron by Rob Capetz.
Authors recollection & new Driver perspective: my first checkered flag on a fresh Provisional License:
Biggest fear?: Screwing up the start!
Favorite part?: The sound of the rocks slinging off the Hoosier tires as you first depart the pit area, like a thousand little applauses.
Gridding is pretty easy and making it onto track isn’t so bad, it’s just figuring out who and where to form-up with is still a concern. I was lucky both days to have veterans like Justin Stevenson in front of me that left an obvious hole for me to put my car in and then I looked around… nobody was yelling or waiving at me, so I stayed put and now just need to wait for the noise to begin. From the back you don’t see the flag, or at least I haven’t, but it’s pretty obvious at some point from the sound and the fact that ALL the mirrors are simultaneously filled with cars.. and so ya floor it. For a few seconds it’s all pretty easy, then you realize the track isn’t straight and yet none of them seem to care. Nothing to prove except that I can stay out of trouble, so just tip-toe through the first turn and let the big dogs bark it out.
Made it through the start, and the majority of the field is right there in front of me (lol), so relax… Brakes warming up and feeling good, water temperature holding steady at about 205f, oil warning light dim.. I’m starting to wonder if today might be my day for a checkered flag? I was lucky to be a bit faster in the turns than one other car and stuck my nose in at the beginning of the bowl to test a pass, but couldn’t quite get my tire in his cheek. As he gently closed the door I backed off and resolved to start that push a little earlier on the next lap. When the time came I started my advances about 2 turns prior and got setup for a shot down the straight leading into the bowl, trying to look menacing in his mirrors. This time I got my whole car abeam his, we were both aware of each other, I felt I had good stiction on the inside, advanced the power a little to lock in the pass and held the spot-on turn exit. Now there are 2 important things to do… Keep the position, and not run off the track! I went gentle and big into the next turn and from there just concentrated on being smooth again.
The field strung out enough by mid-point that I could back off a bit and just not screw up. Justin Stevenson was about 3 seconds ahead and some blue BMW was behind me making ground, but slowly. Then I sensed it… motor cutting out, fuel starvation! Not now, please! I passed the white flag moments later and knew I just needed to keep my Weber DCOE float bowls filled for a bit longer, preserving the straights so the fuel pump could catch up, easy throttle in the turns… oh crap here comes David Leyvas! But I kept enough fuel in the bowls to buzz across the checkered flag as #2 in ST3 and 8th overall. I can’t even begin to describe how great that felt. First NASA checkered flag!! Definitely worth the wait.
In other news, Erik Davis topped the TT3 crowd at 1:54.617 for 2nd overall followed by Jeremy Renshaw (also TT3) at 1:55.281 in 3rd overall. Gary Felton edged Russ Whelan for the win in TT1. Team Schotz drove a 1:59.885 beating a pile of other competitors in TTC including such TTC celebrities as perennial super-coach and nice guy Jason Griepentrog and our very own Chef du Cuisine Gordon Levy wheeling a 2:06.361 best lap.
Russ Taylor led TT2 at 2:00.623.
Harold Dunn in TTD at 2:04.132
Team Hashtag Racing TTE #206201
Need Speed Orozco TTF at 2:16.019
Sunday Time Trials
Tony Szirka dominated the Sunday TT event a hair slower at 1:50.005 but the car injured itself and had to be carried home. Speedy recovery wished for the killer EVO. Jeremy Renshaw second overall and TT3 leader 1:54.831 followed by Matt McIntyre in his BMW at 1:56.418
Welcome John Atkinson driving his first TT event with NASA in his Ford Mustang. An experienced driver from Tucson making the long trip and improving his lap times consistently from Saturday through Sunday. Welcome.
Hunter Bennett led TT1 in 1:59.416
Team Schotz in TTC 1:59.520
David Stark in TT2 2:02.795
Harold Dunn again in TTD at 2:03.068
Team Hashtag wins TTE with 2:05.769
Need Speed Orozco in TTF at 2:13.232
Dean Danganan TTB: 2:14.235
UMS Tuning Time Attack
UMS Tuning in Tempe, Arizona is the sponsor of NASA-AZ’s Time Attack series (http://www.umstuning.com/). Held on Sunday with 15 competitors in three different classes based on power and weight.
Phil Robles almost broke the 02:00 flat barrier with a 02:00.395, putting him one second behind Robert Buckingham’s Arial Atom from California. Jake Casto stepped up his game and added weight to fit into TA-A, giving Aaron Hiar a run for his money in TA-A for this year. Jason Griepentrog had a rough break with a cracked rotor on his warm up lap, causing him to withdraw from TA this event. Jon Via managed staying on track with a 02:19 while driving a Miata for the first time.
Several new drivers this event: Kevin McGuiness, J.C. Gomez, Tood Roetken, Ed Poss and Richard Buckingham in the killer Ariel Atom.
Many thanks to the US Drift group for their impressive performances and some superb videos “in the bowl”. For those of us that went to bed at 9pm… word on the paddock is the Drift Group Lit Up the entire Saturday night BBQ. Great time, guys.
Drift Drivers: Bryan Young, Ryan Fahey, Patrick Reynolds, George Marstanovic, Jasmine Soto-Soehren, Chris Soehren, Damien Payne, John Hazelton, Joe Haven, Dan Zimmerman, John Landy, Joe DiNunzio, George Kiriakopoulos, Andrew Hateley, Eric Beaver and Danny George.
HPDE classes one through four were very well stocked with over 60 participants this event including drivers from Arizona, California and Texas.
We always like to thank the HPDE1 drivers for coming out to NASA events and getting into the mix. It’s a great way to learn from the ground up and we had 6 in DE1 this event: Mikhael Haddad, Carson Kolozsvari, Warren Wong, Sam Valenzuela, Matthew Weltzien, Si Nguyen
Three other first-time participants at NASA events, all from California this weekend: Welcome David Dipillo in his 997GT3 Porsche, Joseph Dipillo driving an e46 M3 and Pat Price in his Spec Rx7. Returning to NASA were 240SX driver Aaron Henry, back after being away a few years, and Neal Lowell of California, returing to his second NASA-AZ event to run DE2 with us. Welcome back, guys.
Nick Frunzi and Patty “Brownie Lady” McGray returned to NASA-AZ driving as they do for almost all our events. Tim Weber drove HPDE1 in his street Porsche in January and within 2 weeks bought a fully prepped go-fast BMW M3 racecar from a Colorado NASA driver. Tim quickly moved from DE2 to DE3 over the weekend as most everybody on the track “evaluated” his car on track for him, including Justin Stevenson bagging a 2:02 on a specially prepared session in corded R6’s at 20+ heat cycles. Nice!
We are headed back to Wild Horse Pass East track in a few weeks on March 15 and 16, so make sure you register early to get the best pricing. Bleed those brakes! East track is a hot spot for brake fade. The local events are great for first-timers, so if you know any potential drivers that have been sitting on the fence now is a great time to get them spun up for this March event. Even if they just come for one day that usually enough to get them hooked.
Finally, The Paddock
All the fun happens here. When you are 200 miles away from home, friends/competitors all lend a hand to fix and improve their times and cars. Erik Davis hunting for used brake rotors, Steve Williams looking for compliance stickers, Tim Weber scanning the track to relocate his new car… everyone helps. Below are some shots around the paddock among the NASAAZ family. See you at the next event!
Author: Tom “Tjyak50” Johnson with help from Tage Evanson, Tony Szirka, John Via, Gabe Ortega, Justin Stevenson and Jason Kiningham for attempting to edit my BS.. (Please send additional corrections to me directly: email@example.com)
• Chris “the help” Dowers
• Tage and Adina Evanson
Join us at Wild Horse Pass in March: https://www.nasaproracing.com/event/1806
Details of Wild Horse Pass event: http://forums.nasaaz.com/showthread.php?t=6407