Geri Amani

September, 2009

NASA Profiles:  Geri Amani

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Vital Stats

Hometown: Gilbert, AZ

9-5: Multimedia for a  publishing company

Run Group: HPDE4/Time Trial

Vehicle: The Paseo, Mazda Miata

Best NASA Region: Arizona, naturally!

Surely everyone has seen the legendary silver Toyota Paseo making brisk hot laps around PIR.  Well, brisk might be a little generous, but given the limits of the car and the overwhelming passion of the driver behind the wheel, the next candidate for the Who’s Who Showcase, naturally, is Geri Amani.  Surely most have seen Geri with her silver Toyota on track, or perhaps her camera in the pits.  While the readers have struggled through many months of terrible photography thanks to yours truly, this month is much different as all photos have been taken by Geri herself!  As the writer, I’ve enjoyed this feature the most simply because I had the pleasure of scrolling through thousands of art gallery quality photos for this article. We’ll get into the photography part in a bit, but for now, let’s get to know Geri Amani a little better.

The Paseo, like you've never seen it before!

The Paseo, like you've never seen it before!

One distinguishing factor that lets everyone know Geri is piloting the car in front of them, is the trademark British flag on the back of her various track cars.  While not a native of the UK, Geri has spent much of her life living and working in the UK, which is where her motorsports interest originated from.  The various stints in Europe weren’t without a trip to LeMans to stroll through the city and walk around the actual race course.  Combining an interest, or should we say, obsession with motorsports and her hobby/career of multimedia together, leaves Geri with an exciting cycle of motorsports involvement and us with a plethora of amazing output in the form of photos, videos and websites.  Currently Geri is developing the official USA website for the Gumper Apollo supercar–an opportunity that arose after working for Evolution Motorsports and Bondurant in Arizona.

Quick Facts

Favorite Movie: Dune

Spec 944 or Spec Miata: Spec Miata

Favorite Food: Chips  (we’re not talking about Doritos here either)

Sting v. Bono: Sting

Coffee or NOS: Coffee

Lift through NASCAR 3-4?: Never!

Geri driving a Spec Miata

Geri driving a Spec Miata

Of course when it comes to NASA Arizona related activities, one critical factor is what Geri does on track.  Sure, the silver Paseo spent many years as the obligatory learning car, in which Geri spent many late Sunday afternoon sessions doing lap after lap to learn the basics of car control, driving etiquitte and the in’s and out’s of NASA.  In recent developments, after much debate (which lead to some epic Spec Miata vs. 944 Spec debates on the NASA AZ forum!) Geri has taken posession of a first-generation Mazda Miata–a specific interest that was developed after some time spent behind the the wheel of a SM racer in the NASA Texas region (more on that, later).  After nearly a year of driving with NASA Arizona, NASA Texas and a trip to the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Geri and her crew have began prep work on the Miata.  For now, Geri plans to stick with the Time Trial program fielding the car in either TTE or TTF, while doing modifications that align with Spec Miata rules in order to leave that door open.

Geri's newest project - a Mazda Miata for TT and eventually, Spec Miata

Geri's newest project - a Mazda Miata for TT and eventually, Spec Miata

Aside from her NASA Arizona endeavours, Geri is the Creative Director for the NASA Texas region, which partially involves attending all of their events,  (And you guys thought you were hardcore!) in addition to developing NASA TX’s internet and media presence.  NASATXRacing.com and TexasMile.com, as well as the photography from NASA Texas shown in the NASA SpeedNews section of Grassroot Motorsports were all a result of Geri’s wizardry.  “NASA Texas is a great group of people.  The race groups are the main focus in that region, with large fields of Spec Miata, American Iron and CMC, whereas NASA Arizona has large HPDE, Performance Touring and Time Trial fields.  Attending both regions really shows the diversity NASA has to offer for a driver/racer” said Geri.

Porsche Turbo at the NASA Texas Mile event

Porsche Turbo at the NASA Texas Mile event

Beyond the world of NASA (I know, hard to believe there is one, right?), Geri is passionate about advancing in the automotive, or hopefully the motorsports community.  Whether that future career involves PR for an automotive firm, interactive content, televsion/radio (ie.  when Tanner Foust gets bored and quits, Geri will be waiting at SPEED’s doorstep!) or perhaps in driving, the sky is the limit at this point.  Luckily for Geri, she has a large group of supporters from NASA Arizona willing to help and keep her on path for future events and perhaps even a future, exciting motorsports related career.  Next time you see Geri at the track, be sure to say hello!

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August 8th Event Wraps Up

NASA Arizona Wraps Up, 8/8, Firebird West Raceway

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Once again, over one-hundred brave drivers woke up just barely after Friday ended, and headed out to Firebird Raceway’s West course for the last summer round of the 2009 schedule.  One fact that boggles the mind, is how NASA Arizona manages to dodge the dismal Phoenix weather, which has been remarkably predictable since well, the beginning of time (or as far as our oldest NASA AZ member can recall!).  Case in point:  May night event ’08 – rain and overcast conditions.  June ’09 – cloudy.  May night event ’07 – so many flying beetles that the sunlight was reflected back into outer space.  And of course, August ’09 – “cold front” comes through, leaving drivers with temperatures beginning in the high 70’s, ending up in the low 90’s.  In 15 years of living in Arizona, I can’t remember a day on August where I walked outside and remember thinking, “It’s actually cold out.”  Never the less, drivers and spectators alike were willing to take whatever the cosmic forces threw at them in order to get on track for the first time since early June.

Last Chance Before NASA Nationals 2009!

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944 Spec drivers gave it one last shot before the NASA Nationals.

That’s right–Time Trial and Race Group test and tune sessions were full to capacity as drivers gave it one last shot and made final adjustments before heading off for Miller Motorsports Park in early September.  After two years of NASA Nationals being held on the east coast at the Mid-Ohio Sports Complex, the good people at NASA National headquarters decided it was time to give the west coasters an opportunity to compete at the highest level, so NASA Nationals for 2009-2010 were moved to Salt Lake City.  Currently Arizona has over 20 drivers that are making the trip up to Utah in early September to attend the four-day national championship event.

Arizona Corvette Racers were out in strong force, taking a track record and filling up most of the Big Bore TT Group.

Arizona Corvette Racers were out in strong force, taking a track record and filling up most of the Big Bore TT Group.

Back in Phoenix, 36 drivers, split into Big Bore and Small Bore groups, filled the tiny 1.1 mile track on Saturday.  Apparently, with the thought of the national championships on everyone’s minds this past weekend, drivers stepped up and most of the TT track records were re-written.  Here is a list of the Firebird West track records that were reset on August 8th:

  • TTR – Wayne McKeen – Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – 1:02.409
  • TTS – Tage Evanson – Honda Civic – 1:01.390
  • TTA – Brian Turner – Porsche 911 – 1:05.338
  • TTC – Brady Dohrmann – BMW M3 – 1:05.303
  • TTD – Jeremy Renshaw – Nissan 240SX – 1:06.578
  • TTE – Kent Durkee – Honda CRX – 1:07.952
  • TTF – Tage Evanson – Honda Accord – 1:11.239

Full Time Trial results, rules and season standings can be found on the NASA Time Trial website.

HPDE 1 Fills Up Again

Drivers stand and contemplate.. tire pressures, shock settings.. lunch.

Drivers stand and contemplate.. tire pressures, shock settings.. who was the second gunman on the grassy knoll, etc.

One advantage to being an HPDE1 driver in the summer months, is the usage of Firebird’s air conditioned portable classroom that’s dragged out to the skidpad and shared with registration.  As usual, HPDE1 was full to capacity with first-time drivers, interested in getting their feet wet with the world of motorsports.  While it doesn’t always get the coverage it deserves, the HPDE 1 group is responsible for the regeneration and seemingly endless supply of new drivers, racers and time trialers which help NASA Arizona grow every year.  In addition, if you can recall 3-4 years ago, NASA has historically taken the summer months off from racing all together.  Due to demands and strong growing of the HPDE1 program, racers, HPDE2-4 and TT drivers alike benefit with the added events required to keep them occupied on track year-round.

An economy car with a stack of tires changed at the track--the true grassroots way!

An economy car with a stack of tires changed at the track--the true grassroots way!

NASA Arizona Members Sample the Southwest

With the majority of June and all of July free from events here in Arizona, many NASA Arizona members made the trip to other regions to drive, hang out, watch and keep the racing adrenaline flowing.  HPDE4 driver Geri Amani, spent the August 1-2 weekend with the NASA Texas Region, driving a Spec Miata, covering the event for their website, taking photos and enjoying the track at Texas World Speedway.  Might I add in the shameless plug for Geri and all her hard work on the NASA Texas Website as well.

NASA Arizona Time Trialer Brett Lengel rips through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca in July.

NASA Arizona Time Trialer Brett Lengel rips through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca in July.

Former NASA Who’s Who member of the month Corey Starr, fresh into his pit crew gig with local racer Thomas Glenn, spent a cool weekend with the Northern California region at Infineon Raceway on June 27-28.  Thomas won SU on both days, as well as TTR.  CV Wells (TTR), Dave Hauck (944 Spec) and Derek Selman (TTD), all Arizona drivers, made the long trek to NorCal for this event.

Finally, just last weekend, several Arizona racers and TT drivers made the short trip to California Speedway for a weekend of competition with the Southern California region.  Clay Koevary and his dad Richard, drove in the ST1 and ST2 classes with Clay taking the win on Saturday.  John Greenfeld drove his Corvette in PTA, his brother Eric, who is a part-time AZ regular, drove his BMW in PTB, and Brady Dohrmann spent the weekend time trialing in the TTC class.

Longtime autocrossers Dave McCombs has become a regular in the NASA HPDE program.

Longtime autocrossers Dave McCombs has become a regular in the NASA HPDE program.

UMS Time Attack, Round #7

Former TTS and Time Attack champ Shawn Sheble came out in his new BMW M3.

Former TTS and Time Attack champ Shawn Sheble came out in his new BMW M3.

Round 7 of the UMS Time Attack series took place on August 8th.   TA-B class leader Erin Morely opted out of Round 7 due to some summer project work on his Subaru, leaving the door open for Todd Parker to gain some points in the class series standings;  Jeremy Ward took the opportunity to shoot for the class win in this S2000 as well.  TA-A, which has been highly contested throughout the year, saw the return of Phil Robles who went on to win the class, and take a mere 5-point lead in the overall UMS Time Attack series standings over rival Brady Dohrmann.  TA-C was the only single driver class, so Harry De Leon cruised easily to victory in his Dodge Viper.  Class results are as follows:

Time Attack, Class A: Phil Robles – Honda Civic – 1:07.626

Time Attack, Class B: Jeremy Ward – Honda S2000 – 1:10.701

Time Attack, Class C: Harry De Leon – Dodge Viper – 1:15.451

Racers and Time Trialers FAQ for September

As has been said many times in this article already (hint hint.. go to nationals, racers and TT’ers!), NASA National Championships are being held at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah on September 10-13.  That provides an interesting situation as the next NASA Arizona event is the same weekend as the region returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the first time since May.  Determining how the points will shake out afterwards with some drivers in Utah, and some in Phoenix at the same time, was a question that came up often during the August 8th event.  To put all of you to whom this concerns in the know, here’s the deal:

Time Trial

Phoenix Drivers:  Sept. 12-13 will be NASA Arizona points events #12 and #13.  This is a fully-timed, competition event as usual.  All TT drivers in attendance will score points as normal and be eligible for all contingencies.

National Champ Drivers:  Your overall finishing position within class at Nationals, will determine your points allotment.  So if you are entered in TTD and finish 3rd in class, you will get 85 points.  Your points are not based on how you finish compared to other Arizona drivers–it’s overall in your entire class at Nationals.   Once points are assigned, you will get that score twice.  If you finish third, you get 85 points two times to make up for the two missed days in the Arizona region.

This picture, subtly placed here, as a hint for Paul to sign up for Nationals..

This picture, subtly placed here, as a hint for Paul to sign up for Nationals..

Race Groups

Phoenix Drivers:  Sept 12-13 will be a test and tune event only, no points will be given.

Nationals Champ Drivers:  There is only one “main” race at Nationals, despite the event being 3-4 days long.  You will be assigned points based on how you finish in your class at Nationals.  ie.  6th place in PTA will get 70 points.  Your points from Nationals will be added to your series points total in Arizona.

How is that fair for the racers not attending Nationals you might ask?  Meaning, if you stay in Phoenix you get zero points, whereas if you attend Nationals you get X number of points.  First off, Arizona region allows your five lowest scores to be dropped for the year, so you can use a drop score to cancel it out.  Most NASA regions only have four drop scores for the entire year, so Arizona is being very considerate!  Secondly, attend the 2009 NASA National Championships and you won’t have this problem! 🙂

Other 2009 NASA National Championships Information

  • As with all years, NASA will have live timing and scoring! Log on to the NASA National Championship website and watch your favorite local or national drivers as they practice, qualify, compete and race up in Utah.
  • Registration is still open! In addition to that, the typical price increases for registration have been waived for another month to make it easier on people who are on the fence.  If you race or TT and have five points events scored throughout this year, sign up!
  • Keep an eye on the NASA Arizona forum, as local drivers will be hanging out in the ChatBox throughout the week, discussing the various results.  The trash talking misfits who normally flood the chatbox with worthless banter will be at Nationals, so no worries there!
  • Info on the facility for the 2009 National Championships facility, Miller Motorsports Park, can be seen by clicking this link.
  • Lastly, take a quick lap around Miller’s 3.0-mile outer circuit course, which is the layout being used for the 2009 NASA National Championships.

NASA Arizona is Socially Hip!

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Don’t lie – half of you reading this spend the downtime between sessions updating your Facebook, hearing what your friends are doing via-Twitter, or stalking someone (in a good way, of course) on MySpace. Thanks to the hard work of Adina Evanson and Ramin, NASA Arizona is on all three of those networks, so add us, join us, send messages and spread the word!  Click the previous links to join the club.

Next event, September 12-13

The Legend, Corey Starr, throws the flag for the beginning of an HPDE session.

The Legend, Corey Starr, throws the flag for the beginning of a HPDE session.

All the details for the racers and TT drivers have been outlined above.  For those of you who are tired of waking up at 3:45am (no pun intended), or afraid of any more sun-damaged skin for standing in an open parking lot all morning, fear no more as NASA Arizona is returning to Phoenix International Raceway for the beginning of the fall stretch.

HPDE1 will be having the usual drivers education school, and all other HPDE groups will be out in full force, with expected capacity attendance.  Given that many of the TT drivers will be in Utah this weekend, if you are a HPDE4 driver interested in moving into the Time Trial program, Sept. 12-13 is an excellent weekend to get a taste for the group and earn your Time Trial license.  All interested and curious parties need to contact TT group leader Jeremy Renshaw, right now, and make arrangements for a check ride and approval from your HPDE4 group leader.

The Saturday evening BBQ returns after a successful initial showing in May.  After the track cools down in the evening, be sure to stick around, have a beer or two, eat some food and enjoy the night talking to and making friends at the track.  Remember, knowing a person off the track, makes times on the track much more exciting, safer and worthwhile.

From those of us heading out to Miller next month, have a fun and safe weekend at PIR!  If you’re staying in Phoenix, we’ll be seeing you at the driver’s meeting, bright and early at 7:40!  🙂

Brett Lengel

June, 2009

NASA Profiles:  Brett Lengel

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Vital Stats

Hometown: Tempe, AZ

Job: Driver Training for Nissan NA

Run Group: Time Trial, TTD Class #6

Vehicle: 1992 Nissan 300ZX, 2005 Nissan 350Z

Gives Point-Bys to TTC drivers: Absolutely

Last month in the Who’s Who column, everyone briefly experienced the diversity and dedication people have to motorsports and how that passion doesn’t just start and stop at the track.  For this month, the word “passion”, can easily be replaced with “obsession”, as this month’s guinea pig and TTD competitor Brett Lengel, has just a few.  I know what you are all thinking, “I’m obsessed with stuff too, you know!”   While I’m sure you are, Brett’s hobbies and passions, including his stories of motorsports are diverse, interesting and deserving of this spotlight for the next 30 days.  Let’s spend a few minutes getting to know Brett!

After driving one of his first cars–a 1966 Chevy Impala with a 396–last in a string of 60’s and 70’s muscle cars, Brett first saw the light in early 80’s when he got a chance to go canyon carving in his uncle’s 1972 Datsun 240Z.  That experience according to Brett, put the automotive phrase “good handling” into perspective and opened the door for a plethora of future well-handling vehicles, a career path, and a passion for driving with the National Autosports Association.  Shortly after that first test-drive, Brett purchased the ’71 240Z from his uncle, drove it for a while, sold it, then bought it back and he still owns it today. “It’s been on jackstands for a bit.. you know, six years.  Ok, seven.  Now that I think of it, it’s probably closer to eight.”  Whatever the year count is on the original 240Z, Brett has since acquired a fleet of Nissan daily drivers for himself, his wife and their son, including Brett’s “backup track car” 2005 Nissan 350Z and his most prominent vehicle, a 1992 Nissan 300ZX which he uses currently for NASA Time Trial competition.

Brett's motorsport interests aren't limited to TT!

Brett's motorsport interests aren't limited to TT!

Aside from driving on the track, Brett spends his weekdays working for Nissan Research and Development at their proving grounds, where he helps engineers with driver training, driver development and driver safety training.  Previous to his six years at Nissan, he worked at the General Motors proving grounds in Mesa for eight years doing vehicle testing in addition to the driver training and safety program duties.  Brett says his favorite parts of driving with the NASA organization are the learning experiences and development that come from driving on track, which are also lessons he can carry into his work everyday at Nissan.

Most of Brett’s real obsessions come away from the track… far away from the track.  While I had some clue, I wasn’t aware of the diversity and complex world that existed courtesy of the millions of barrels of  rum floating around, and the cult-following and enthusiasts that partake in various rum-related activities.  “There are over 300 different types of rum!  50 of which, I own..”  During our conversation, Brett briefed me on some very essential facts about rum:

  • Worst Rum ever:  Bacardi.   “It doesn’t even taste like real rum”
  • Proper aging time:  Longer the better, but at least four years
  • Favorite Type of Rum: 15-year El Dorado
  • Best local place to taste rum:  Trader Vic’s in Scottsdale
  • Best Mixed Rum drink:  Mango, Pineapple & Guava juice + Rum.  Tasty

As always, the passion for rum-tasting and collecting goes further than an “unsober” night out with friends and family.  Pirates are the first anachronistic character most people think of when they imagine vintage barrels of rum, and Brett often enjoys taking that thought to the next level through participating in pirate parties, conventions and get-togethers around Phoenix and the USA, including a recent trip to New Orleans for five days of rum and walking the plank.  “Seriously, what’s could be more entertaining than dressing up like a pirate, drinking rum and walking around in New Orleans??”

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Random Facts

Most recent movie: Star Trek, of course

Favorite Racetrack: Arroyo Seco Raceway

Guilty Pleasure: Online gaming

Catherine Zeta Jones vs. Elizabeth Hurley: Catherine.. everytime

Girliest Drink Ever: Pina Coloda

Bringing Rum to the next PIR Social? Yeah right

When not swordfighting (literally, with huge metal swords) with other pirates, Brett and his wife are active participants in the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is a worldwide organization that caters people who wish to recreate civilizations that are out of our current time frame.  The Estrella War, the nation’s second-largest gathering of Medieval recreationists, is a popular destination for the Lengel family as they dress up, break out with their jousting weapons and even go so far as to host SCA members from foreign countries wishing to participate in the large gatherings.

Whether it’s swinging large, sharp metal objects through the air, scouring the oceans for floating barrels of rum or upgrading one of his many Z cars to make it faster, the dedication to his various hobbies, or should we just get to the point and call them “obsessions”, indicates that Brett Lengel will be a member of the NASA family for some time to come.  Having participated with NASA in Arizona and California, including a recent NASA event at Laguna Seca, his dedication to the automotive lifestyle and NASA shows with his current season-standings lead in the Time Trial TTD class.  Going for a season jacket, ie. a first place title, it is ensured that Brett will be around in the paddock or on track, so be sure to say hello to Brett next time you see him!

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