This video was shot earlier this year for the /DRIVE+ Channel on Youtube as a subscription only feature. It hasbeen released now to the public at large on the Electric Fedral Youtube Channel and here it is:
From Electric Federal:
Published on Jul 13, 2015
After ten iterations, the Evo is about to kick the bucket with no real successor in sight. We decided to pay homage to a modern tuner icon.
In our latest EF release, which first aired back in March on /Drive+, we profile two significant players in the Mitsu Evo realm: Mike Welch, the West Coast’s premier Mitsu tuner, and Canaan O’Connell, an up-and-coming star in the racing world. RRE and JemFX Motorsports make for a fun, mildly chaotic combination.
We had so much fun that we decided to profile their race at Pikes Peak in 4K.
No, we don’t just mean GoPro 4K. We mean all sorts of footage in 4K. We’ll update you on that soon.
Special Thanks to:
+ Mike Welch and Road Race Engineering: http://goo.gl/JgWFHD
+ Elia Popov and JemFX Motorsports: http://goo.gl/uQu5PB
+ Canaan’s parents for making Canaan (and therefore a cool subject)
+ Mitsubishi Motors for building (and then sadly killing) the Evo: http://goo.gl/AlVVWj
– Matt Genesis as Director/Editor
– Rony Karkar (a.k.a. “Ronky”) as Colorist
– Ian Norum on Camera
– Chris Belizzi as Grip
– Andrew Montiveo as Producer
Here is some pure in car video of the Jet Black Racing RRE EVO 7 running with NASA at Willow Springs on the Big Track. Canaan worked through the weekend to get the lap times down to 1:25. That was good for First Place in the Open Class Time Trial class.
Video shot and edited by Electric Federal
First Drives: Shaking down my RRE built EVO VIII at Streets of Willow for the first round of the AWD Challenge
words by James Singer
stills by CaliPhotograpy
In previous blog entries, I have said that I am a pretty normal guy that is trying to track his car without going broke while maximizing fun. I started writing about my experiences while running NASA’s HPDE series from HPDE1 to 3. After that, I started trying out some time attack competitions with Extreme Speed in their AWD Challenge. Since starting out, I have had some ups and downs. I have gotten a lot of support and even some hook ups but I have also shattered a piston due to my own stupidity. However, I did not give up and this is the next chapter with a new set up for 2013!!
We are happy to announce a new Brake Specialist at RRE. His name is Bryce. You might think that it is weird that such a young guy could rise to such a prominent position but his size is what made us so interested in him. With lifts in such high demand at RRE, having a guy who can just walk in to a wheel well is priceless. Here we see Bryce working on Ed Nazarian’s RRE supported EVO IX. Ed Nazarian is that guy with a blog that has no pictures.
Ed is completely changing his tire setup this year going to full race slicks. Between this and changing the downforce setup with the added front splitter, this will be a learning year for Ed. He wont be going to the national championships because of some family obligations he has.
Saturday was mostly a disaster dealing with the new tires and pressures. Ed was busy again on Sunday getting his corded tires flipped/mounted/balanced, so he was late to grid again. He didn’t have enough time between his qualifying session and the race to get everything done quickly enough to make it to the grid on time. He had to start in the back again.
At the start the cars in front of him looked confused. Ed was able to capitalize on that and passed 3 out of class cars, and a fellow ST2 racer. He set his fastest lap of the entire weekend in lap 2 with a 1:48.622. Unfortunately, his tires started cording again during this race also, but this time it was far worse than Saturday’s race.
Ed’s Full War Story:
The 2011 season opener was at ACS Roval on March 4-6. Up until last year our season opener has been at Big Willow in February, but NASA decided to cancel that event this year. It’s really unfortunate because I love Big Willow.
Before anything I want to say a quick thank you to Mike Welch (owner of RRE), KC from APR, and Art from RRE. Due to some personal challenges in the off season, I didn’t have time to get ready for our season opener in a timely manner. I literally prepped my car a few days before leaving for ACS. Mike, as usual, was extremely helpful and generous. He even made the time to get my car on the dyno in the midst of a busy schedule to see how things were looking. KC from APR went out of his way by driving out to ACS on Friday to hand deliver a set of risers, that he installed himself. Since I had used the GTC-200 wing without the risers, I could feel they made enough of a difference. As for Art, he was there that weekend crewing for someone else but made time to check up on me. I was doing some work on my RF fender and had him come over to give me his opinion. He ended up doing some work on the fender also.
Earlier I said that since I had some personal challenges in the off season I couldn’t get ready in a timely manner. The major factor I didn’t have time to sort out was getting my alignment adjusted for this event. And Robi (owner of Robispec) was going to be out of town during this event, so we couldn’t make adjustments at the track like we usually do. I knew it wasn’t ideal but I figured it was close enough from when I did a test day in November, so I decided I was willing to race as-is. Besides, I figured it would be a good learning experience.
Saturday was a day full of incidents before and during the race. I qualified P2 with a 1:48.745, but after qualifying I realized I was cording my RF and RR tires. Since our drivers meeting was after our qualifying session I didn’t have enough time to get my tires flipped, get ready, and make it to grid on time.
For Saturday’s race our group had 2 rolling starts. Super Touring was with the 1st start, while GTS had the 2nd start. When I entered the track both groups were long gone. By the time I was approaching T9 the first group had already taken their start and the leaders were entering T3. A few seconds later GTS took their start. My only chance at that point was if there was an incident that entailed a full course double-yellow, or a pace car to collect the field. Due to a pretty serious incident, that’s exactly what happened. As I crossed start/finish to start my 1st lap there was a yellow issued before T3 due to an incident in T3. As I started my 2nd lap the pace car was entering T1 with a full course double-yellow. What are the odds? I had to do over 2 laps to catch the pack behind the pace car. It was unfortunate that incident happened, but it gave me what seemed like a one in a million scenario. I was in the very back of the pack, but at least I was with the pack.
The race then restarted on lap 5. After 4 laps I closed in on one of my competitors, but there was another incident at the start of lap 9 which caused another full course double-yellow. The pace car was deployed again to collect the field, and our race ended as-is with the pace car. I have in-car footage of this race but there is no point in posting it.
Sunday was nearly a repeat of Saturday. I corded my tires again during qualifying and was busy after that rushing to get my tires flipped in time for the race. This time I just barely made it to grid in time, but as I was pulling in they were rolling out, so I had to start in the back. But at least this time I was able to start the race with everyone else.
At the start the cars in front of me looked confused, so I was able to capitalize on that and passed 3 out of class cars, and a fellow ST2 racer. I then passed another Super Unlimited American Stock Car on the outside of T4 totaling 5 cars I passed by T5. So I started off pretty strong, and set my fastest lap of the entire weekend in lap 2 with a 1:48.622. I got into a decent groove and was ready to gradually push it a little harder, but I quickly realized something didn’t feel right with my RF tire. So after lap 2 I focused on trying to maintain consistent and decently fast laps. Unfortunately, little did I know that my tires were starting to cord, but this time it was far worse than Saturday. If my tires didn’t cord, I was on pace to run 1:47s all day from start to finish. And if I had the luxury of having [forum-restricted] there with me, I think 1:46s were within reach. At least now I know what I’m capable of doing in a race with my new setup. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next years March event to see what I can do at ACS Roval. Here’s a breakdown of my lap times illustrating how badly my tires corded:
Consistent and decently fast laps in the beginning:
Lap 1: 1:54.130
Lap 2: 1:48.622 (Fastest lap of my weekend)
Lap 3: 1:48.747
Lap 4: 1:49.094
Lap 5: 1:49.022
Since my tires started cording I tried to maintain consistent yet somewhat fast laps:
Lap 6: 1:51.451
Lap 7: 1:51.376
Lap 8: 1:51.518
I could no longer maintain those lap times because my tires were cording severely:
Lap 9: 1:53.155
Lap 10: 1:54.272
Lap 11: 1:55.658
Lap 12: 1:57.688
Lap 13: 1:57.187
Lap 14: 1:58.173
Ed Nazarian racing his RRE Evo 9 at the 2010 NASA National Championship in Super Touring 2 at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), in Utah. This is in-car footage of the National Championship race. ST2 had about 26 entries, but a few of them broke down before or during the National Championship race. There were 19 ST2 cars listed for the National Championship race, and Ed was in P10 for the start.
Ed was battling with 5 of his competitors during most of this race. They exchanged positions several times. After Ed took the lead amongst that pack, his brake pedal fell nearly on the floor. Because of that he had to let 2 of his competitors pass him. Ed had to back off a bit and continued the race one corner at a time. He had to pump his pedal several times before every braking zone to make sure his pedal would holdup. One of his competitors he let by was Scott Howard, driver of the white 1st gen Mazda RX7, who went on to take 2nd place. Major congrats to Scott considering the troubles he’s had the last 2 years at Nationals. The other was Jim Wagaman, driver of the yellow Mazda GT. After letting Jim by, Ed was able to keep him within reach. Unfortunately, NASA ended the race a bit short due to excessive oil spills. If it wasn’t for that Ed would have had a chance to battle for 5th. Beyond that, if Ed had an optimal brake pedal, he would have been in a position to battle for a podium, but that’s racing. As always, a certain amount of good/bad fortune plays a factor for everyone. Ed ended up in 7th place, so it was a successful finish considering the circumstances.
Ed’s Full Story:
The 2010 NASA National Championship was September 14-19 at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), in Utah. We were racing on the Outer course again this year, which is listed at 3.06 miles. I was there racing my RRE Evo 9 in Super Touring 2. Last year was the first time I had raced at MMP, let alone driven the track. And I left MMP with not much interest in the track. It just wasn’t a track that thrilled or interested me. I’m really not sure what happened this year, but I left with the exact opposite experience. I really enjoyed the track this year and left wanting more of it.
The competition this year was fierce and diverse. There were around 3 times as many ST2 entries this year. I don’t know how many ST2 racecars were there, but from what I recall there were around 26. However, we lost a few by the final National Championship race on Sunday. And iirc, 4 people didn’t finish the National Championship race. NASA’s Nationals is brutal because on top of it being our National Championship, it’s 3 days of racing. And the National Championship race is 45 minutes long. So NASA’s National Championship is more like a marathon of races, as opposed to 1 race. Despite trying to be well prepared, you really have to be somewhat lucky because anything can and will happen, especially with 3 days of racing.
Last year I was the first to be racing an Evo at MMP for NASA’s National Championship. This year I wasn’t alone. A Socal Honda Challenge racer was racing in H2 with his Integra, and ST2 with his Evo 9. There was also a guy racing an Evo in ST1, who I think is a MMP local. Although, I barely saw them on track. I think both of them were having some sort of issues.
As for me, I didn’t have any major challenges. I started and finished all 3 races. The only major challenge I had was trying to get used to my new aero on a track that I have very limited seat time on. As I noted in my previous thread, my new aero consists of an APR splitter that’s coupled with an APR GTC-200 wing. KC from APR set me up with the splitter. As for the wing, to help me minimize my expenses for Nationals, my friend Sean Bradley gave me his APR GTC-200 wing off of his STi. My friend Scott Pennock gave me his GTC-300 wing off of his Evo also, but I ended up only using Sean’s 200 wing. Sean’s wing is slightly different than the Evo version, but we made it work thanks to Mike Welch, owner of RRE. The dimensions of the wing are identical, only differences are the size/shape of the end plates, and the location of the wings mounting brackets.
Before anything else I want to thank all my sponsors, RRE, [forum-restricted]spec, Girodisc, South Coast Mitsubishi, and APR. Without their support I would not be able to do all of this. My racecars home away from home is at RRE. I’ve spent many long nights at RRE prepping under Mike’s wing. For instance, Mike spent a great deal of time fabricating and installing my splitter and wing. It was a great deal of meticulous work, but he made it enjoyable. I can’t say enough good things about Mike and his crew. He is such a genuinely good person. I truly enjoy working by his side. More than anything because he is patient, and has the capacity to explain just about anything in the simplest way. I didn’t grow up around cars, so I’m the furthest thing from a gearhead/grease monkey. Not everyone has the capacity to teach, but Mike is one of those rare people. Not only has he been around, but he also has the capacity/wisdom/patience to teach without coming across as arrogant/condescending.
So, did my new aero and brake ducting help? Yes. But I’m not sure by how much because I don’t have a comparable reference point for MMP. I’ll know better when I run ACS in Socal. I can say that my car feels different with the aero. And I can tell that my new brake ducting is helping, but it has its limit. With my experience, I can now say that if I want to maintain faster lap times in a race, I can’t do it with the OEM calipers. I have proven that the Girodisc rotors work, but they can only do so much.
The dyno situation:
There was 1 factor that put me at a disadvantage compared to everyone else. NASA couldn’t get an AWD dyno this year either. Last year they found a MMP local with an AWD dyno. And I went last year to test on that dyno, but it was malfunctioning. That dyno was malfunctioning this year also so NASA tried locating another one. They tried, but they couldn’t get anyone to commit. So while everyone else (RWD, FWD) had the opportunity to check their power at MMP and to tune their car on the 2WD dyno, I couldn’t.
NASA did however have GPS units that they used to monitor a lot of people, including me. I requested that they monitor me all day Thursday so I knew where I was at. That way, if I was down on power I could at least take ballast out of my car. Problem was that they were busy and fell behind, so they didn’t get a GPS unit on my car until Friday. That hurt me even more because I pretty much lost any chance I had on Thursday to adjust my weight. So I basically went into the 2nd day without any real progress on my setup. Although, they sincerely apologized, and went out of their way to help me out.
They finally got some data of me on Friday, and that’s when I found out that I was down on power. They told me by roughly how much I was down on power, however, it didn’t really help me because they weren’t allowed to tell me what my actual numbers were with whatever other math they needed to apply to that data. So I knew I was down on power, but I didn’t know exactly by how much. Therefore, I didn’t know exactly how much ballast I could remove. Best case scenario, I figured I could have been close enough to making the power I needed with their calculations, but there could have been something funky happening in my powerband. Keep in mind that my car was tuned in Socal, so maybe at MMP’s elevation, around 4,400 ft., my powerband wasn’t as efficient as it could have been. It’s not a comforting feeling knowing my car is potentially down on power by enough of a margin, and I can’t really do anything about it because there isn’t an AWD dyno. Meanwhile, my competitors have the opportunity to tune their cars at MMP on the 2WD dyno.
As I noted before, this year I was able to start and finish all 3 races (Thursday, Friday, and Sunday). My focus was to make it to Sunday, so my plan was to progressively get up to speed. We started off with around 26 cars in ST2, but a bunch of them had some sort of issue from the first day. Conversely, everything worked out well enough for me on Thursday. I qualified in 13th place, and finished the race in 11th. I also improved my time in the race by about 1.5 seconds. I was basically on track with my plan of attack. Only issue was that after the race I found out that one of my rear brake pad pins and the clip was missing. It was a first time for me. I called Mike at RRE and he immediately shipped me replacement pins and a clip overnight.
Friday started off well in Qualifying, because I improved my time from Thursdays Qualifying session. I also improved 2 spots by starting the race in 11th, but my race didn’t go as well. PTA was mixed in with us, but they only had 3 entries. However, only 2 of them were competitive. One of the PTA cars, I think it was a turbo Miata, dive bombed a few of us. He was clearly a fast driver with a really fast Miata. Since my goal was to make it to Sunday, I didn’t want to tangle with him, or anybody else for that matter. On the other hand, it didn’t seem like he had the same plan, so a couple of us got stuck behind him. He was clearly trying to use us to put some distance between himself and the other PTA driver. We were all bunched up so I kept my distance and didn’t really bother trying to pass anyone.
Saturday was our groups day off, so I spent pretty much the entire day relaxing and getting ready for Sunday. Everything went smoothly and I was ready to go. Sunday’s race was a great deal of fun. I was in P10 out of 19 ST2 cars listed. For me, it was intense from start to finish. Since I was hit last year at the start of the National Championship race, which ended my race, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a 45min race. All my other races thus far have been 35min races. You can see how it all went down because I have in-car footage of the entire National Championship race.
What basically ended up happening is that my brake pedal fell nearly on the floor. In the meantime I was battling with about 6 other ST2 cars. We exchanged positions several times throughout the race. I finally took the lead amongst our pack, but my brake pedal didn’t have the capacity to allow me to stay competitive, so I let 2 of my competitors pass me. One of them was my friend Scott Howard, racing his White 1st gen Mazda RX7. Scott went on to take 2nd place. Major Congrats to Scott, especially considering the issues he’s had the last 2 years at Nationals. The other driver was Jim Wagaman, driver of the Yellow Mazda GT. After letting Scott pass me, I thought about ending my race, but decided to stay on for a bit longer.
I had to back off and focus on taking it one corner at a time. The only way I was able to do that was to pump my pedal several times before every braking zone. For the longer straights I actually had to pump my pedal in 2 sets. Around 3/4 way down every long straight I’d apply 1-2 pumps to make sure my pedal still had the capacity to rise. Then before the braking zone I’d start pumping again to prepare the pedal. All the while I was able to keep Jim within reach, and with about 2-3 laps to finish we closed the gap on Josh Carroll, driver of the Bronze Mazda GT. Josh clearly had some sort of issue also. However, NASA ended our race a bit short. We were told it was due to oil spills. I remember hearing of 2 cars specifically that dumped a bunch of oil all over the track. If our race wasn’t cut short, both Jim and I would have passed Josh in that lap. And since Jim wasn’t pulling away from me, I’m confident that if I had the entire race I would have had an opportunity to pass him again. Furthermore, if I had an optimal brake pedal, I was in a position to battle for a podium. Either way I’m happy with 7th place given the circumstances. If you watch my entire race you will see how busy my left leg gets pumping my pedal before every corner and down the long straights. It was another great experience.
Beyond all that, a certain amount of good/bad fortune pretty much always plays a factor also. Here are some examples of people I know of who weren’t fortunate. Ryan Cashin blew his engine on the first day and never got to race. Oli Thordarson had a puncture in his oil filter during the National Championship Race and had to pull off on the warmup lap. John Gordon was dominating all week by winning both Qualifying Races, and also set the fastest lap times. However, John’s car broke down in the National Championship Race. I’m not sure but I think it was due to a blown engine. Basically, anything can and will happen in a race because despite trying to be well prepared, a certain amount of good/bad fortune always comes into play.
Link to the Results of the National Championship Race:
In-car footage of my National Championship Race:
– 2010 National Championship Race in-car
The SU/ST1/ST2 National Championship race is now online at SpeedCastTV.com:
Thanks again to all my sponsors:
– RRE: Mike Welch and the entire RRE crew for everything from tuning, to maintenance, to everything in between.
– Robispec: Robert Fuller, aka Robispec, and his crew for providing me trackside suspension tuning.
– Girodisc: Martin Meade for providing me phenomenal 2pc rotors and Raybestos brake pads.
– South Coast Mitsubishi: Rigo, Sam, Abbas and everyone else for all their support.
– APR: KC for setting me up with a splitter and all the other little things.
– Friends: Sean Bradley for giving me his APR GTC-200 wing off of his STi. Scott Pennock for giving me his APR GTC-300 wing off of his Evo. And also a thanks to Matt Dennison and Sean Sisco for going out of their way to help me out.
By Ed Nazarian – RRE Team Driver
The 2010 NASA National Championship is right around the corner, September 14-19, at MMP in Utah. Last year was the first year that Nationals was held at MMP. Cool thing was that I was the first to be racing an Evo at MMP for NASA’s National Championship. This year I won’t be the only one racing an Evo at Nationals. Earlier this year a Socal Honda Challenge racer started racing his Evo with us. Last time I saw he is registered to race in H2 with his Integra, and ST2 with his Evo. Hopefully both of us do well and return without any issues.
After this year, Nationals is going back to Mid-O for 2 years, 2011-2012. It will return to MMP for 2 years starting in 2013. So it’s sort of my last year at Nationals because, given how things are, I don’t foresee being able to do the 5,000 mile round trip drive to Mid-O and back.
As of today there are 21 racecars entered in ST2 for Nationals. That is the biggest field of racecars for a higher class series. There might be a few more come Nationals, but you never know who’s going to make it until it happens.
Looking at the names that have registered for ST2, the competition is looking really fierce. The racecars are pretty diverse, and it’s been changing, so we’ll have to wait and see. So far there are a bunch of Corvettes, a few of the Mazda GT’s, 2 Porsches, Mazda RX8, Honda Civic, Nissan 240SX, E46 M3, Roush Mustang, my friend Scott Howard in his 1st gen RX7, and so forth. I know most of my competition, and since the National Championship race is 45min, I’ll need all the luck I can get.
In the meantime I want to note something we’ve modified on my car…some aero and better brake ducting. It’s the first time that I’m modifying my aero, so bear with me. I contacted APR, and they set me up with a splitter. And to help me minimize my expenses for Nationals, my friends stepped up to the plate and gave me their APR wings! Sean Bradley gave me his GTC-200 wing off of his STi, and Scott Pennock gave me his GTC-300 wing off of his Evo. Then, Mike Welch (owner of RRE), fabricated and installed pretty much everything. Mike, on his own time, bought all the parts we needed to put it all together. Then over the course of about 3 weeks, I went to RRE where Mike did his thing. Mike is awesome!
As for the brake ducting, it’s something I’ve been planning on amending ever since I bought a used AMS kit. I wasn’t happy with the AMS kit because it didn’t seem beneficial/efficient for my needs. So I took some basic concepts and incorporated them into my setup. Only thing I can say now is that it came out better than I had anticipated. It’s really cool when something you visualize finally comes together.
I also want to thank Robert Ramirez, a.k.a. Honda Robert, from RRE. I ran into some challenges one night at RRE while prepping and I needed help. Honda was planning on working on his car but he sacrificed his time to help me out. Then, 2 days later I did a shakedown test day on Sunday, August 15, at ACS with Speed Ventures. Everything seemed normal, but my day ended short. During the 2nd session the coupler of my lower IC pipe popped off. I crawled into the pits and had them tow me to my spot. In order to get to that coupler I would have had to remove the splitter. Since it takes a while to remove/reinstall the splitter, I called it a day. After the test day we’ve gradually been continuing with our prep work. Now we just need to tweak on a few more things, wrap things up, and cross our fingers for Nationals.
Btw, if you’re the type that likes road trips and you’re interested in seeing Nationals, don’t hesitate to come out and spectate. Here is my schedule for Nationals. I’ve excluded my Warmup and Qualifying sessions, so this is just a schedule of my races:
– Thurs, Sep 16: 1st Race
– Fri, Sep 17: 2nd Race
– Sun, Sep 19: National Championship Race (45 min)
In the meantime I want to thank my sponsors and friends:
– RRE: Mike Welch and the entire RRE crew. Too many things to note. RRE is basically my racecars home away from home. One thing I will note again is the APR splitter and wing that I added in preparation for Nationals. Mike pretty much did all the fabrication work. And he did it on his own time, even on weekends. Mike is so easy to work with. I truly enjoy working by his side and learning from him. He is such a genuinely good guy.
– Robispec: Robert Fuller, aka Robi, and his crew for providing me trackside suspension tuning at my races.
– Girodisc: Martin Meade for providing me phenomenal 2pc rotors, Raybestos brake pads, and awesome customer service.
– South Coast Mitsubishi: For their continued support. I can’t imagine there being a better car dealership out there.
– APR: For the splitter and for all their help. KC was the rep that dealt with me, so a special thanks to KC for being so helpful and swift with everything.
– Friends: Sean Bradley, and Scott Pennock. To help me minimize my expenses for Nationals, Sean gave me his GTC-200 wing off of his STi, and Scott gave me his GTC-300 wing off of his Evo. Thanks also to Matt Dennison for letting me borrow his Tactrix cable.
– All my other friends and everyone else for their support.
Ed Nazarian racing his RRE Super Touring EVO 9 at Buttonwillow #13CW, on Saturday April 17, 2010. At this weekend event Super Touring was mixed with a bunch of lower classed cars. Typically ST2 is mixed with SU, ST1, ASC, GTS, AIX and AI. This time around GTS was in a separate group with BMWCCA, so a bunch of lower classed cars were mixed with them instead. Ed’s group consisted of Super Unlimited, Super Touring, Honda Challenge, Performance Touring, and Spec E30. Basically, most of the cars in his group were significantly slower. On top of that they had a really big group, nearly 50 racecars. So maneuvering through traffic played a significant role that weekend, which resulted in slow lap times. Ed was also held up quite a bit by a Super Unlimited FFR GTM-R prototype when he was battling one of the Mazda GTs. By the time Ed got around that SU racecar he ran out of time. Ed got 6th place on Saturday out of 10 ST2 racecars.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get the camera to record on Sunday so this race from Saturday is all we have to show. It’s really unfortunate because this Saturday race fails in comparison to how intense Sunday’s race was. On Sunday Ed and one of the Mazda GTs were battling intensely. They exchanged positions many times throughout that race, while maneuvering through traffic. Ed was able to pass that Mazda GT towards the end, and ended up passing another Mazda GT in the meantime. He caught up to the leaders and had them in sight, but ran out of time. He ended up getting 5th place on Sunday out of 10 ST2 racecars.
Ed’s Full War Story:
We were racing at BRP last weekend, April 17-18, on configuration #13CW. The last time we were racing at BRP was this same event in 2009, so it’s been a year since the last time I raced there. I felt rusty at BRP and never really got into a groove, but at least I wasn’t busy this time fixing/wrenching on my racecar like I was at ACS because my front end didn’t get coned this time. Even though I’ve driven ACS significantly less than BRP, things seemed to click better at ACS. We rolled with the punches and finished 2 more 35min races totaling 6 that we have finished this season, with a total of 14 races since our last years debut.
Before I proceed with the results, I want to say thank you to a few people. Thanks to Mike Welch and his guys at RRE for helping fix the damage my car sustained from ACS. New Griffin IC, lip, undertray, fixed my side skirt and front bumper. A few months ago Mike also sourced some Carbontrix CF replacement headlights. Mike installed those also. Yes, Mike actually works on my racecar. Want to thank Martin Meade from Girodisc for shipping me some ST43 brake pads. Also want to thank Robert Fuller, aka Robi from RobiSpec for providing me trackside suspension tuning for both races.
This weekend I set some blisteringly fast lap times in my ST2 races, and qualifying sessions…not. The BMWCCA was racing with us this weekend, so the groups were changed up a bit. Typically, the group we race in consists of SU, ST, ASC, GTS, AIX, and AI racecars. This time GTS was in a separate group with BMWCCA, and the AIX/AI drivers skipped this event because they have their own West Coast schedule. Therefore, our group this time consisted of SU, ST, and they added HC, PT, and Spec E30 with us. Basically, most of the racecars in our group were significantly slower. On top of that, we had a really big group, nearly 50 racecars. So maneuvering through traffic played a significant role that weekend. Other than that you just needed to get lucky. The weather was a little on the warm side also, but we managed.
I couldn’t set a fast lap in qualifying if my life depended on it. Just way too many lower classed cars out there. Drivers usually cooperate in a race, for the most part, but the Qualifying sessions seem to always be every driver to himself. Everyone is trying to set a fast lap, and since there were nearly 50 racecars out there you’re basically hitting traffic pretty much every other corner. And sometimes one corner to the next.
Out of the 10 ST2 racecars, I qualified P8 and finished the race in P6 for ST2. I thought since we had 10 ST2 racecars, we would get our own rolling start. But we didn’t. Instead, we were mixed together with SU, ST1, and a solo Orange AIX Mustang. So given our mixed rolling start, I was in P15. Mixing us with those other classes ruined the ST2 race. Because instead of having the opportunity to battle with other ST2 drivers as a whole from start to finish, we ended up getting scattered all over the track because we had SU and ST1 drivers in between us. And on top of that, we had to deal with traffic, which scattered us even more. I was pretty upset with that because as a higher class series, ST2 had the biggest field that weekend. And we had the potential to have a really close and exciting race from start to finish. I think it was such a big time waste to have not given us our own rolling start.
As for the race, I’m not sure what happened at the start, but something appeared to get mixed up because I was supposed to be on the left side when we were in formation, but I ended up on the right side. Beyond that, since we got scattered I only had the opportunity to battle one of the Mazda GTs, Mark Montoya. Unfortunately, a Super Unlimited driver in a FFR GTM-R prototype held us up quite a bit. At one point Mark passed him, but I got stuck behind that SU prototype. Not sure why he wouldn’t just let me by because he was by himself. I finally got close enough to him at the buttonhook and made a move on him. I took the inside line and was around his RR. I was gradually pulling on him and at one point he for whatever reason turned into me a bit and almost drove me off track to the right. I decided it was now or never so I kept my foot in it and maintained my position. I passed him at the entry to cotton corners. You can watch my in-car from Saturdays race to see it all unfold. Mark then had an off after the bus-stop and I passed him. If he didn’t have that off I may have never caught him again because that SU prototype had held me up too much.
It was the same deal as Saturday. I was a bit more lucky with traffic, but still couldn’t set a fast lap.
For Sundays race, out of 10 ST2 racecars, I qualified P6 in ST2, and was P12 for our rolling start. I finished the race in P5 for ST2. Sundays race is probably my most exciting race thus far because I was having a major battle with one of the Mazda GTs, Thorpe logemann. We exchanged positions I don’t know how many times. But what kills me is that I couldn’t get my GoPro camera to start recording. Pretty ironic when I think about it. It’s really upsetting to not have that footage. And unfortunately, Thorpe doesn’t have any in-car either. There were many incidents in the race, so on top of trying to deal with traffic, we were also trying to deal with yellows, and double yellows. At one point I thought the race was going to end under double yellow, but it finally restarted. At one point I passed Thorpe around the buttonhook and I got lucky with traffic while he got left behind. In the meantime we passed another Mazda GT. I caught up to the leaders towards the end, and had them in sight, but I ran out of time. My in-car from Saturdays race fails in comparison to how exciting this race was. In fact, if I had in-car from this race, it would have been at the top of my list.
Saturday Qualifying times:
1. 1:54.474 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
2. 1:55.123 – Jon Van Caneghem #00 Mazda GT
3. 1:55.557 – Josh Carroll #35 Mazda GT
4. 1:57.001 – James Wagaman #98 Mazda GT
5. 2:00.879 – Thorpe Logemann #3 Mazda GT
6. 2:01.225 – David Beatie #6 Mazda GT
7. 2:02.970 – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
8. 2:03.781 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
9. 2:05.787 – Dan Miller #34 Mazda GT
Saturday Race results:
1. 1:57.059 – Josh Carroll #35 Mazda GT
2. 1:56.183 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
3. 1:57.122 – Jon Van Caneghem #00 Mazda GT
4. 1:59.024 – James Wagaman #98 Mazda GT
5. 2:01.333 – Thorpe Logemann #3 Mazda GT
6. 2:02.241 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
7. 2:03.594 – Dan Miller #34 Mazda GT
8. 2:02.180 – Mark Montoya #50 Mazda GT
9. 2:04.318 – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
10. 2:08.885 – David Beatie #6 Mazda GT
Sunday Qualifying times:
1. 1:54.575 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
2. 1:56.350 – Josh Carroll #35 Mazda GT
3. 1:56.596 – Jon Van Caneghem #00 Mazda GT
4. 1:57.349 – James Wagaman #98 Mazda GT
5. 2:00.739 – David Beatie #6 Mazda GT
6. 2:01.596 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
7. 2:08.111 – Dan Miller #34 Mazda GT
8. DQ – 2:01.724 – Mark Montoya #50 Mazda GT
9. DQ – 2:02.603 – Thorpe Logemann #3 Mazda GT
Sunday Race results:
1. 1:56.538 – Josh Carroll #35 Mazda GT
2. 1:55.877 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
3. 1:57.852 – Jon Van Caneghem #00 Mazda GT
4. 1:59.194 – James Wagaman #98 Mazda GT
5. 2:00.536 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
6. 2:01.518 – Thorpe Logemann #3 Mazda GT
7. 2:00.800 – Mark Montoya #50 Mazda GT
8. 2:08.655 – Dan Miller #34 Mazda GT
9. 2:02.502 – David Beatie #6 Mazda GT
10. 2:04.062 – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
Write Up by Ed Nazarian (driver/author of stories in boldface)
Snippy comments and edits by James Singer (slow driver/book reader)
We were racing at ACS last weekend, March 13-14. Last time I raced at ACS was this same event in 2009, so it’s been a year since the last time I raced there. Since I used our Super Touring season opener in February at Big Willow mainly as a shakedown event, I was ready to start pushing it progressively at ACS. Despite all my efforts, it turned out to be another weekend of struggles. However, it ended on a completely unexpected result. I will get into the details accordingly, but for starters I want to say a quick thanks to Mike Welch from RRE for showing up and helping out, and also to Robert Fuller from ROBISPEC for providing me trackside suspension tuning for both races.
[all the crazy cars Ed has to race with lined up in a row. The first time I attended a NASA event, I was blown away with how much diversity there is in his field.]
Thus far I have tried to be as patient as possible with mods for my racecar. I have been patient long enough, so I decided it was time I upgraded something. One of the mods I’ve been considering is the TRE rear-diff. I contacted Jon at TRE and we set everything up through RRE. Being the cool guy that Mike is, he gave me an extra rear-diff and then shipped it to TRE. This way we can keep mine as backup. Thanks Mike! TRE Jon shipped it back to RRE and the guys at RRE installed it for me. Thanks guys! Since [forum-restricted] does my suspension tuning, we will be setting up the car from track to track as things progress throughout the season. I’ll post a separate thread regarding my initial impressions of the TRE rear-diff coupled with [forum-restricted]s suspension tuning as the season unfolds. But for now I’ll say that driving my car with the TRE rear-diff feels like I’m driving an entirely new car. And I’m looking forward to seeing how we can develop my car with it. Beyond upgrading to the TRE rear-diff, Martin from Girodisc sent me a new set of front 2-pc rotors. My second set had run its course, so it was time for another set.
[note that in the group Ed runs in, they trade paint. This isn’t for pretty boys. Every single time I have been to the track, this group gets rough and tumble with each other. Look at ST2 cars and you will see battle scars]
I noticed right away that the track was setup a bit tighter than last year, especially the last set of turns leading onto the Roval, T16-21. Since that section leads us onto the Roval, it decreases our exit speed, thereby decreasing our speeds onto the Roval. I gradually pushed it more and more from our Practice session, to our Qualifying session.
Before I proceed with anything else, I want to give a little welcome to an Evo newcomer, John Hsu. I think John approached me on Friday while I was getting situated. He recently purchased an Evo 9, and decided to race with us that weekend in Super Touring 2. He’s a Honda Challenge driver, so he’s not new to racing, just new to Evos. He was racing his Integra in H2, and his recently purchased Evo 9 in ST2. I hope he continues to race his Evo 9 with us in ST2 because it will be really cool to see another Evo out there. Other than us 2 Evo 9s, there was Scott Howard with his white Rx7, Ryan Cashin with his white Vette, and a guy named John Gordon in his blue 996 Porsche. The Mazda GT guys skipped this event.
[See Ed’s eyes in this picture? Dude is intense. What is going on up there? I have been trying to figure it out by having him ride with me and riding with him in my car because when he gets this look on his face, he is about to destroy the earth in his EVO. Super intense focus!!]
We were part of race group B, which consisted of SU, ST, ASC, GTS, AIX, AI, CMC, and FFR racecars. Most of the classes didn’t have enough cars, so our rolling start was combined including SU, ST, ASC, AIX, and AI. And they set our grid according to the overall lap times with respect to each rolling start, not lap times within each class. So despite qualifying in P2 for my class, I was in P10 for our rolling start. That meant we had out of class cars in between us which made things a bit difficult. For whatever reason, there is always one or more out of class drivers that end up racing other drivers. They hold you up by drag racing you down the straights. There were plenty of those guys at this event.
Some guys botched the start so a bunch of cars passed me through T1 and T2. After watching my in-car, 8 cars passed me, 3 of which were my competitors (Vette, Rx7, Evo9), and 5 out of class cars (2 AI cars, 2 AIX cars, and 1 ASC car). I was held up quite a bit and had to overtake several of those cars. But my biggest challenge occurred early in the race on lap 3. On the first lap someone knocked the cone that’s in between T10-11 into the middle of the infield straight. In lap 3 I was nose to tail with Scott exiting that chicane. I stepped out to pass him and that cone ended up eating my lip, my entire undertray, and some of my IC. I didn’t know any of that until the race was done. After hitting the cone I could hear something dragging around my RF, and I thought it was part of that cone. After the race I found out it was my undertray. The entire undertray was hanging by (1) zip-tie the whole time! I somehow finished the race in 3rd place. A pretty good result considering my struggles in that race. Unfortunately, my camera shut off about 8min into the race. Therefore, you won’t be able to see the out of class cars that were drag racing me the whole time, who btw had none of their competitors around them. Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of that from my Sundays in-car race footage.
As for the cone that ate my lip, undertray, and some of my IC, my friend Mark was able to help out. Mark drives an Evo 9, so he loaned me his lip and undertray. Thanks a bunch Mark! On Sunday morning Mike brought me an extra undertray, lip, and a whole bunch of plastic clips. Mike helped me finish up the rest with some zip-ties. Thanks Mike!
Mike and my friend, Scott Pennock, helped out by checking my tire temps and pressures. The undertray and lip felt fine so I pushed it more and more, and it felt like things were progressing. Unfortunately, I found out afterwards that I forgot to mount my transponder so the officials had to somehow time me manually. I didn’t get a good qualifying time because of that.
[I am secretly scared to run on this track as a n00b. I know Ed has the skills but ACS is FAST! Look at Ed Go! Blurry fast is faster than just background blur!!]
For some strange reason, this event had a whole bunch of drivers who were flat out horrible. Drivers drag racing out of class cars, incorrect/late grid formation, start jumping, and who knows what else. It has never been this bad, so I’m a little confused as to what happened. One in particular was an Orange AIX Mustang. We were all over him in the braking zones, and the corners, but within a few seconds he would become a dot down every straight. Then we’re all over him again in the next corner. Not sure why he wouldn’t just let us by. There was only 1 other AIX Mustang in that race and that driver was days behind the Orange one. He was all by himself, and wouldn’t let us by.
As for the completely unexpected result, I won on Sunday. That race on Sunday is by far my biggest come from behind win, while trying to get around more out of class cars that were drag racing me when they didn’t have any of their competitors around them. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the car that took 2nd place, Blue 996 Porsche, hit me on the last lap. Fortunately, I was able to save a potential spin/off and maintained the lead for a completely unexpected win. The Porsche was on my tail at the finish line trailing me by .152 seconds. Meanwhile, the Orange AIX Mustang almost ruined my lead again.
I don’t know how I caught the Porsche in the first place. I felt like I was so far behind that catching the leader never even crossed my mind, let alone having a chance at winning. You have to watch the entire race to understand why. As for getting hit by him, it happened at the apex of T4. He went in too hot into T3 and nearly drove off track. I passed him on the inside of T3 and was in front of him shortly. I was then already turned in and committed to T4 and he came crashing into my right-rear. Sounds like he went for a last minute out of control pass because you can hear his car slide into mine as his tires lock up. I’m not sure what actually happened to him, but my best guess is that he went in too hot into T3 and lost control. And then maybe he was a bit over-zealous and thought he could save it while nearly off-track, and also regain the lead with a last minute pass.
[look at this pic. Getting on this track IS NOT intimidating to you? Are your scared? You will be!]
Saturday Qualifying times:
1. 1:48.848 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
2. 1:50.331 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
3. 1:51.720 – Team Cashin In #32 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
4. 1:52.079 – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
5. 1:52.567 – John Hsu #2 Mitsubishi Evo 9
Saturday Race results:
1. 1:49.222 (in lap 3) – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
2. 1:49.358 (in lap 8 ) – Team Cashin In #32 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
3. 1:50.144 (in lap 10) – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
4. 1:50.794 (in lap 6) – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
5. 1:55.052 (in lap 3) – John Hsu #2 Mitsubishi Evo 9
Sunday Qualifying times:
1. 1:50.799 – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
2. 1:51.688 – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
3. 1:52.618 – John Hsu #2 Mitsubishi Evo 9
4. 1:53.986 – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
Sunday Race results:
1. 1:49.913 (in lap 11) – Ed Nazarian #415 Mitsubishi Evo 9
2. 1:50.558 (in lap 4) – John Gordon #30 Porsche 996
3. 1:52.660 (in lap 3) – John Hsu #2 Mitsubishi Evo 9
4. 1:50.652 (in lap 3) – Team Howard Racing #70 Mazda Rx7
5. 1:50.192 (in lap 3) – Team Cashin In #32 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Watch out for Ed at the track. If you are a n00b like me, you can learn a lot from a guy liek Ed. If you are a sponsor, well, what are you waiting for? Shout outs to John Gordon and Team Howard. These guys also rule. I have shared garages and parking spots with them and they are all really good at being supportive to me even when I went off and got a tidal wave of dirt in my car on my first weekend
By Ed Nazarian
Socal NASA’s 2010 season opener was this past weekend, February 6-7, at Big Willow. The last time I raced at Big Willow was May of 2009, so it’s been a little over 8 months. I have been dying to get back out to Big Willow. And the last time I drove my racecar on track was at NASA’s National Championship in September of 2009 at Miller Motorsports Park. So it has been a good 5 months since I have driven it. Main reason why I haven’t driven my racecar since then is because I was hit during the National Championship race. Details are here:
Beyond that I had some setbacks that delayed the prep work we needed to fix the damage. But with a few really late nights during the week leading up to the races and we were able to get the car ready for the season opener. It wasn’t fun, but we got it done.
Before I proceed I want to thank RRE and Robert Fuller from Robispec for their respective work. I’m not going to bother with the details of all the work RRE and Robi did. Simply put, if it wasn’t for their support and hard work none of this would have been possible. The guys at RRE put in a lot of their personal time to patch up the car. My friend Sean Bradley came over for a day and also helped out, thanks Sean! Quite a few parts needed to be replaced and RRE as usual pulled their strings and hooked things up. Robi then did his work accordingly. He also applied the necessary alignment/setting adjustments at the track both days. More than anything because it rained on Saturday, and ended up clearing on Sunday. Furthermore, I want to thank Mike, Honda Robert, and Robi for being there both days (Sat/Sun), to provide me the support I needed. It is such a major relief to have them there with me in the trenches.
Before I proceed with the weekend, one thing I’d like to mention is my turbo. In a few recent threads I had noted that before leaving to race at the National Championship, RRE set me up with their GT3076 turbo kit to test out. Upon returning I decided to go back to my OEM Evo 9 turbo. Given my setup I am looking to make around 340whp. That power range coupled with my OEM engine cripples the 3076. It’s really unfortunate that I can’t further test it in race conditions because despite my limited experience, it appears to be a solid turbo kit.
As for the results, last place both days! I am not sure why, but I say that with pride. On a serious note, the season opener was a shakedown weekend for me. Considering everything that has led up to this point, coupled with the weather conditions, it was a successful weekend. I got out there, did what I wanted to do, and brought the racecar back unscathed.
Regarding the weather, the forecast was indicating rain on Friday and Saturday, with the potential of rain on Sunday. Given the weather forecast it was a low attendance weekend. It ended up raining pretty hard on Friday, and continued to rain on Saturday. I don’t really have any experience in wet conditions, let alone any experience racing in the rain. It was strange driving on track with my wipers on. It was a good experience.
As for lap times, that data is pretty much useless to me at this juncture. Either way, here are the results. But before I proceed with that, I am really excited to note that the Mazda GT racecars have stepped things up big time. Only 2 of the Mazda GTs were racing, but they ran some really solid ST2 times on Sunday. If the season progresses like this, there is going to be some serious ST2 competition this year in Socal.
Saturday Super Touring 2 Qualifying times:
1. 1:42.664 – 98 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
2. 1:49.545 – 00 – Jon VanCaneghem – Mazda GT
3. 1:51.774 – 415 – Ed Nazarian – Evo 9
Saturday Super Touring 2 Race results:
1. 1:34.390 – 00 – Jon VanCaneghem – Mazda GT
2. 1:35.393 – 32 – Team Cashin In – Vette
3. 1:35.412 – 98 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
4. 1:44.513 – 415 – Ed Nazarian – Evo 9
Sunday Super Touring 2 Qualifying times:
1. 1:27.118 – 00 – Jon VanCaneghem – Mazda GT
2. 1:28.049 – 98 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
3. 1:33.551 – 415 – Ed Nazarian – Evo 9
Sunday Super Touring 2 Race results:
1. 1:28.319 – 00 – Jon VanCaneghem – Mazda GT
2. 1:28.591 – 98 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
3. 1:31.512 – 32 – Team Cashin In – Vette
4. 1:33.099 – 415 – Ed Nazarian – Evo 9
Thanks again to my sponsors for their continued support:
– South Coast Mitsubishi
– I’d also like to thank Honda Robert, Mike Welch, Robi, Sean Bradley, and Mark Homer for their help on Sat/Sun.
A nice video production by the guys at The Smoking Tire of Russ Taylor in his RRE Powered EVO X tearing up the track and an unsuspecting BMW as he learns to try to handle 460 whp of 4B11 power. Only one BMW was injured during the filming of this video on a NASA weekend.
By Ed Nazarian
Results: 2009 NASA National Championship
The 2009 NASA National Championship was September 10-13 at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), in Utah. It was a week packed with challenges stacked with more challenges. We endured a great deal of hard work and perseverance. I realized for the first time how much my real sponsors care. They are the reason why we were able to get things done.
About a month or two before Nationals, we started preparing my car at RRE. My cars home away from home is at RRE, so we have spent tons of time there working on lots of different things. There are a few things we upgraded on my car before I went: brake duct kit, fuel surge tank, and a turbo kit. RRE reached out to AMS who set me up with their fuel surge tank. Thank you AMS! RRE then set me up with an AMS brake duct kit that they found locally for me. And the biggest one of all, RRE totally hooked me up with their GT3076 turbo kit.
RRE is a primary example of what a sponsor is all about. If it wasn’t for Mike, I don’t see how I would be able to race. Mike is not only a veteran, but he is a genuinely nice and caring guy. More than anything I consider Mike and everyone at RRE my friends. Everything I say about them I say from the bottom of my heart. And I say it not because I have to, but because I want to.
RRE is there to help me progress. Their support is tremendous. And most importantly, they help me out because they want to. I don’t have to beg and plea with them to get them to help out. They have families, and a personal life outside of all this, but they somehow make the time to help me out. You have no idea how many nights and days, including weekends, they have spent with me, and my car. There is no way I can articulate how amazing RRE has been for my racing program. On top of all that, Robert Ramirez (a.k.a. Honda Robert) made arrangements to come up to Miller for the entire week to crew for me. Honda worked extremely hard all week. He was the brains and muscle at Miller. I’m not sure how I would have been able to get through the challenges we encountered if he wasn’t there.
Before we left, there was a great deal of time spent on lots of little things. Beyond all that, since my wheel bearings hadn’t been replaced in about a year, I figured it would be best if we replaced all 4 to be safe. So I made a call to South Coast Mitsubishi, and they sponsored me with 4 new wheel bearings. SCM’s support doesn’t end there for my National Championship trip. All those details will be noted later in this thread accordingly. But to keep things relatively short for now, I want to say a big thank you to South Coast Mitsubishi for sponsoring me with some more vital parts. Those parts were the only reason why we were able to continue at Nationals. We encountered some braking issues, and SCM shipped me a master cylinder and 4 OEM calipers overnight. Something had malfunctioned and our only solution was to replace those parts. I don’t have a spare for every single part, so we had to find those parts somehow. I called South Coast Mitsubishi and within a few hours they shipped me those parts overnight. Thank you so much!
At this time I also want to say a thank you to my newest sponsor,Robispec. Robi has joined the team and is now doing my suspension tuning. Robi is one busy guy, but he sure is enthusiastic. Even though he had his hands full, and given the limited amount of time he had to help me prepare for Nationals, he stepped up to the plate with open arms. We are taking baby steps, but what we are doing is for the better. Robi did quite a bit of work on my car before Nationals. Even though we are starting from scratch and have a great deal of work ahead of us, I’m happy for the first time with that regard. Robi has a great deal to offer, and just like RRE, I don’t have to beg and plea with him to get him to help me out. He is forthcoming with ideas, and all he does is try to help me progress. Before we left for Nationals, he even made arrangements so that we can do a test day at Big Willow. Totally last minute, but he made it happen. All I had to do was show up and drive, that’s it.
( Tuesday, September 8 )
We arrived at the track late Monday night. Honda was already there and ready to go. MMP offered a separate test day on Tuesday, but it was a bit too expensive for me, so I opted to skip the Tuesday test day. Instead, I used Tuesday to unpack everything and get situated. Spent most of Tuesday just getting situated, learning the facility, and meeting some people. I must say that Miller has a really nice facility.
( Wednesday, September 9 )
The NASA test day was on Wednesday, so I couldn’t wait to get out on track and learn MMP. I realized for the first time on Wednesday that MMP is much harder on brakes than I had estimated. My brake pedal didn’t feel normal, and it gradually got worse as the day progressed. Something didn’t feel normal, but I wasn’t sure what to think. I also noticed right away that my peak boost was down a good 2psi due to the altitude. Prior to going, from what I had gathered I was supposed to lose around 2psi of boost, but either way it was interesting to actually see it happen.
As for the track, other than the front straight, it really doesn’t have any other sections that are extremely high speed. Coming off the front straight, T1-4 are the last set of corners that are relatively high speed. The rest of the track involves short straights that are coupled with low-mid speed corners. It’s a great deal more technical than I had anticipated. It’s a very deceptive track. Overall it’s a flat track, but it does have some elevation changes. And there really aren’t any major reference points, so it took me a few laps during the first session to remember where I was. I found myself braking a few times where I needed to be on the gas. Overall, I was captivated by its challenges, and couldn’t wait to get back out every session.
Before I get into the results, I want quickly explain how Nationals works. During Nationals we have 3 days of racing. Our group was group D, which comprised of Super Unlimited, Super Touring 1, Super Touring 2, American Stock Car, and Performance Touring A cars. Our races were scheduled on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. On Thursday and Friday we had a Practice session, followed with a Qualifying session, and then a Qualifying race on each day. When a race is finished, you get points according to how you finished, 100 for 1st, and so forth. NASA then adds your points from both races, which then determines what your grid position will be for the National Championship race on Sunday.
( Thursday, September 10 )
Since my first race was scheduled on Thursday, Honda and I bled my brakes on Wednesday night. My brake pedal felt ok, but it never felt normal. I was confused, so I didn’t know what to think. I thought that maybe it was just me, but my gut feeling was that something was not right. We ran our Practice session and then our Qualifying session.
Since something didn’t feel right with my brakes, I didn’t focus on laying down fast laps. I stuck to my routine and worked on different scenarios. During our Qualifying session I qualified 7th out of 9 cars with a 2:09.080. Here are the results from our Qualifying session:
1 – 2:06.164 – Jon Van Caneghem – Mazda GT
2 – 2:06.653 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
3 – 2:06.770 – Ron Farmer – Corvette Z06
4 – 2:06.817 – Bobby Fischer – Cadillac CTS-V
5 – 2:07.293 – J.R. Smith – Corvette Z06
6 – 2:08.157 – Kenneth Smith – Corvette Z06
7 – 2:09.080 – Ed Nazarian – Mitsubishi Evo 9
8 – 2:12.839 – Tom Dragoun – Mazda GT
9 – –:–:–.— – Scott Howard – Mazda RX7
Since something didn’t feel right with my brakes, my plan for the Qualifying Race was to just get out there and feel things out. However, the challenges were endless, and they began to unfold from the beginning of the race. While parked at the grid, some car in the front of the pack was having problems. Some cars were let out, then the rest of us were held up. A bunch were let out again, then when I approached I was held up. By the time they let me out of grid my group was gone. At the time I didn’t know how far ahead they were, but I never imagined what was about to happen.
I worked on getting my tires up to temp, but I knew I had to catch the field so I tried to drive around during that warm-up lap a little more quickly. By the time I hit T13 I realized it was too late. My group was in formation and was waiting to take the green flag. By the time I hit the front straight the green flag had already dropped and my group was entering T1. I couldn’t believe it. At that point I figured my 1st race was done. Fortunately, my group got a little bunched up and I was able to catch the back of the pack by the 2nd lap. I made a few moves the next few laps and I progressed from 7th to 4th place. My brakes were not feeling right and I could feel my brake pedal deteriorating. Two of my competitors were on my tail and I tried my best to hold my position. Unfortunately, my brakes did not hold up. With about 3 laps to go my brake pedal got extremely soft. I further extended my braking zones, and started pumping my brake pedal. Then my brake pedal dropped to the floor with 1 lap to go. I started pumping my brake pedal urgently but there wasn’t much of a response. There were only a few corners left before the race ended, but I had no other choice but to let my 2 competitors by. With a few corners left I lost my 4th place position, and fell back to 6th. During the cool-down lap I had to use my e-brake a few times, but it didn’t help. My brake pedal was on the floor. I coasted around the track and carefully exited. Honda had to physically slow me down as I rolled into impound. The last few laps were very nerve wrecking because all I could think about was my brake pedal. And when the race was done I had to keep my distance from everyone and everything because I was afraid of simply rolling into someone or something. Here are the Qualifying Race results:
1 – 2:05.889 – Kenneth Smith – Covette Z06
2 – 2:06.280 – Bobby Fischer – Cadillac CTS-V
3 – 2:04.803 – Ron Farmer – Covette Z06
4 – 2:08.246 – Scott Howard – Mazda RX7
5 – 2:09.283 – Jon Van Caneghem – Mazda GT
6 – 2:09.286 – Ed Nazarian – Mitsubishi Evo 9
7 – 2:14.261 – J.R. Smith – Covette Z06
8 – 2:05.930 – James Wagaman – Mazda GT
After the race I still didn’t know what to think. My gut feeling was that something was not right with my brakes, but I thought that maybe it was just me. Maybe I was too hard on my brakes. But I have been much harder on my brakes before, namely my Socal Regional races at Buttonwillow in May. I had (2) 35min races that weekend against the Mazda GT’s. Both races were intense from start to finish. And each one was much longer than this Qualifying race. My brake pedal got soft during those 2 races also, but my pedal didn’t fall to the floor. And like I said, each of those races were much longer. As you can see, I was confused, and didn’t know what to think. Honda helped me and we went through a few bottles of brake fluid that night in preparation for Friday.
( Friday, September 11 )
I was optimistic with my brakes because we had gone through a few bottles of brake fluid on Thursday after my race. My brake pedal was firm, and we figured there was simply lots of air in my system. But since my pedal was firm we thought everything was good to go. Friday morning I got suited for my practice session and got ready to go. I turned on my car and applied my brakes. My pedal went down half way and my heart stopped. I was really confused because my brake pedal was firm the previous night. I pumped my brake pedal and my pedal got firm, but then a few seconds later it would get soft again. I was stressing out. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I kept thinking…what am I supposed to do? What is going on? Why is this happening now? I decided to still go out for the Practice Session, but I was going to take it easy and feel things out. I did a lap or two very carefully, but I didn’t feel that it was safe for me to continue. I exited and Honda and I started discussing our options.
We figured that we needed to replace my master cylinder and my calipers. Problem was that I didn’t have an extra master cylinder, let alone extra calipers. We got on the phone and started making some calls. I called South Coast Mitsubishi, Girodisc, and some local Utah racers that I had met. After a bunch of back and forth phone calls, and a whole bunch of waiting and stressing out, SCM found me a master cylinder and calipers. They assured me everything was good to go and they were going to overnight me everything so I could have it all on Saturday. They had to overnight everything because it was Friday. Packages don’t arrive on Sundays, and since my National Championship race was on Sunday we had to receive everything by Saturday to get it all installed and ready to go. One of my local contacts called me back and said he found me some parts also. He knew Vesko Kozarov and Lara Tallman, who were the people that had campaigned an Evo 9 in SPEED World Challenge. I kept them as my backup for the just in case factor.
( Saturday, September 12 )
First thing I did Saturday morning was I went to shipping and receiving. I checked to see if my package had arrived, but they said no. I went back several times and the anticipation was killing me. As the hours progressed the anticipation evolved into more of an overwhelmingly stressful situation. I had this bad feeling that was brewing because everyone told me the package would arrive in the morning. I checked again around noon, and I noticed a few packages had arrived. But the MMP worker told me none of them were mine. He then said that if it hadn’t have arrived by then, maybe something was wrong. My heart dropped and I was stressing out tremendously. If I couldn’t get those parts, my trip to Nationals was pretty much done. I couldn’t sit around and wait any longer. I got in touch with the local MMP racers I had met and they put me in touch with Vesko. I called Vesko, and I was surprised that he made the time to actually help me out. He was in the midst of preparing for a Grand-AM race, but he took the time to find the parts I needed. I told him the situation about how my package hadn’t arrived yet, and he said he had the parts I needed ready to go. If my package didn’t arrive all I needed to do was to give him a call. Even though I didn’t have his parts in my possession, it was a relief to know he had something for me as a backup. Shortly after that I went back to shipping and receiving and to my surprise my package had finally arrived. There is no way for me to describe how relieved I was. A big thank you goes out to South Coast Mitsubishi for sponsoring me with those parts, and getting them to me overnight. Its times like that when you realize who really has your back.
I rushed back with the package and Honda got started. It was around 1pm, and we only had about 3 hours. I had 1 practice session on Saturday at 5pm, so our plan was to get the car ready so I could test it then. Honda took everything apart and worked like a mad man. I helped him as much as I could, but we couldn’t get it done in time for me to make the 5pm practice session. It was a really long stressful day, and Honda attacked it like a freight train.
Before leaving for MMP, since I didn’t have any extra brake pads, I called Martin at Girodisc to get some as backup. Martin shipped them to the track for me, and they arrived on Friday. It’s a good thing Martin set that up for me, because my pads were starting to wear a little thin. When I had Martin set me up with those pads my plan was to keep them as my backup set. Instead, we ended up installing the entire set on all 4 corners. Thank you Martin! Honda left with his ride and I finished everything up that night. Since I missed the Saturday practice session, I went for a little test drive on Saturday night when I finished. I figured if my braking issue was not resolved by then, there was nothing else left that we could do. Right away I knew my brakes were back to normal. I tested them out on some backroads and everything felt solid. But given what I had been through, I was going to wait to see how things would be the next day.
( Sunday, September 13 )
There was a great deal of anticipation brewing. I got suited and got ready for my only practice session on Sunday. If my brakes didn’t work then, my trip was over because our National Championship race was a few short hours later. I got out there and gradually got up to speed. My brakes felt solid, but I couldn’t help to feel a little skeptical. I gradually pushed it more and more, and everything felt fine. At that point I knew everything was finally working again.
The weather forecast indicated that it might rain on Sunday, and it did. It periodically rained. Honda helped me bleed my brakes one last time. Then at some point it started getting extremely windy. For a second I remembered the 2008 Nationals. Last year at Mid-O, during the last day at Nationals we got hit with remnants of Hurricane Ike which pretty much obliterated the entire Mid-O facility. So when it started getting extremely windy at MMP, all I remembered was 2008 Nationals. As if our challenges were not enough, this out of control wind came flying in, the irony. I was in the midst of changing my engine oil, and it was quite the challenge. We surrounded the front of my car with all sorts of contraptions to block the wind. Otherwise my engine oil was going to splatter all over the place as it drained. That ended up taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. A great deal of my time was lost accordingly. Next thing I knew I was about 45min away from my National Championship race. Honda unfortunately had to leave because of his ride, so I was rushing desperately. I had to finish that up, get my wheels/tires mounted, fueled up, and wrap up everything in between. By the time I got suited and strapped in I could see my group getting situated at the grid. I was in a mad rush. I drove over to the grid, and as I pulled into my spot they called 1min. I had a few seconds to compose myself and the next thing I knew they were signaling us out on track.
National Championship Race:
Our National Championship race is 45min long. All my races thus far have been 35min long, so my overall plan was to take my time. Since I had missed our Qualifying Race on Friday, I had the least amount of points in my class. Therefore, I was grid up in last place in our group, which was comprised of Super Unlimited, Super Touring 1 and Super Touring 2 cars. We were one of the groups that had a special internet broadcast deal with SpeedCastTV, so we had the 1st rolling start, and we were lined up as one entire group. I was in no hurry to challenge my competitors, so I was not going to make any aggressive passes yet. I kept telling myself that it was a long race, and that I was going to stay away from everyone. If someone was going to pass me I was going to let them by with ease. We did our warm-up lap and I couldn’t wait any longer. As we went through the last set of corners I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe we had made it through all those challenges. It had been one hell of a journey, and there is no way I can explain how significant of a trip it had been. We turned onto the front straight in formation and moments later the green flag dropped. However, like I said in the very beginning, “it was a week packed with challenges stacked with more challenges. A great deal of hard work and perseverance.” Little did I know then that my challenges were not over just yet.
After the green flag dropped everyone took off down the front straight. Some people were pretty settled while others were weaving around looking for holes. I stuck to my plan and passed a few cars down the front straight because they were low risk maneuvers. We were a long train of Super Unlimited and Super Touring cars all bunched together. I was towards the back, but had already moved up 2-3 spots in my class. I had 2 Mazda GT’s on my tail and was in no big hurry to maintain my position. We approached T5, and I noticed they took the inside line. I backed off, gave them plenty of room, allowed them to pass me, and tucked in right behind them.
During that 1st lap there was an incident, and as we turned onto the front straight a double-yellow was presented at start/finish. Everyone backed off, but one of the Mazda GT drivers didn’t see the double-yellow and went flying by the entire field. It was pretty funny. The pace car came out eventually and collected the field. We did that 1 lap under the pace car, then as we came around onto the front straight the pace car exited, and the green flag dropped restarting the race. I had another low risk pass on the Mazda GT down the front straight, so I took it. He trailed me through the next few corners and we approached T5. I maintained the outside line and as I turned in I noticed that he moved over and tried to tuck in on the inside of me again. Something inside me told me to give him more room this time. So instead of turning in even more, I moved over far right to give him all the room he needed. I remember glancing over and thinking there was enough room next to me to stick another car there. The next thing I know he comes crashing into me sending me off track. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that he came crashing into me. There was tons of room next to me. I just couldn’t believe it. I was a little dazed. I waited for some cars to pass, and when the coast was clear I got back on track. Right away I realized something was wrong. My car was limping around, and as soon as that happened I realized that my National Championship race was over. I was devastated. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. I knew of the driver who had hit me because he is a Socal racer. And I know he is a veteran racer, so on top of that I was shocked that out of all the people he was the one who hit me. I limped around the last few corners, pulled into impound, and that was that. We both filled out incident reports. NASA officials looked at our forms, checked out our cars, and asked some questions. They finally came over and told me that he was DQ’d and I was free to go.
I eventually made my way back to my spot and started packing up. He came over later on and I could tell he felt horrible about the situation. He apologized and admitted that it was his fault. He admitted that he came in too hot. He also acknowledged that he saw me move over far right to give him more room. I was thankful that he apologized and that he admitted that it was his fault. Either way I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that after all the hard work Honda and I had put in that week, it all came to a crashing end on the 1st lap of the restart. I’m a rookie racer, so my experience with such matters is just beginning. Either way, I have never endured as many challenges and hardships at any event. Honda and I worked really hard all week. I came back without any trophies/rewards, but the experience I gained in result of how we persevered is priceless. There really is no way I can explain how significant of a trip it was. And I owe that all to my sponsors, and my crew, Honda Robert.
The ironic part of that race was that I ended up getting 4th place. As the week progressed we lost 2-3 ST2 cars. In the final race 7 of us started the race, but only 3 finished. The driver who hit me was DQ’d, so he took last place. And the other 2 had issues and did less laps than me. Even though I was hit, which ended my race, I had done more laps than them so I ended up with 4th place.
On a side note, it seemed like quite a few people had issues also. Namely, some of the Socal guys I know. Terry Free was having issues all week also. He first went into the wall at the exit of T6. I was behind him when that happened. He almost had it, but his rear end stepped out way too much and into the wall he went. They repaired his damage and he was back out. Then he had clutch issues which apparently never got resolved. To top it all off his engine blew again. Terry has had quite a few engine issues, so it was sad to hear his trip ended in that fashion. Beyond Terry, my friend Scott Howard was battling issues also. Scott is a fellow Super Touring 2 racer who races a 1985 RX7. I don’t recall his issues in detail, but I think he was having electrical issues at the end. His troubles ended up preventing him from racing in the National Championship race. I’m confident that if he was able to race, he was in a position to win it. He was down on power, but regardless of his issues, he ran a pretty fast time in one of the practice sessions, a 2:04xxx. The really sad part is that he didn’t get to race during the 2008 Nationals either. He blew his engine last year on the first day. Its 2 years in a row now that he has gone to Nationals, but hasn’t been able to race. I know that once he gets his car sorted, he will be one of the fastest guys in Super Touring 2.
As you all can see, the only reason I am able to race is because of my sponsors. And the only reason we were in a position to persevere at Nationals was because of them. Without them I would not be able to do any of this. So a big thank you to all of them:
Beyond them I also want to thank my crew, RRE veteran, Robert Ramirez (a.k.a. Honda Robert). Honda was the brains and muscle at MMP. We had so many challenges thrown at us all week, and Honda literally attacked them all like a freight train. If he hadn’t have come, I don’t know how I would have been able to progress, let alone make it through the entire week. You are one of the people I trust and know that I can count on. Thank you for everything!
Here is my in-car footage from the 1st Qualifying race. I’ve adjusted the position of my camera, so you should notice that the footage is much better now:
Here is in-car footage of the National Championship race from another driver. For whatever reason, my camera malfunctioned so I don’t have any in-car footage from this race. This car is in Super Touring 1. You will see me in the picture from around the 40sec marker. I get hit a bit after the 7min marker in T5:
In-car footage of me getting hit (@7:10):