If you are reading this hoping to find tips from the great beyond from Mark Donohue, I’m sorry to disappoint you. However, I would like to share my thoughts on NASA’s unique and awesome crossover events.
A few times a year, we have NASA events where two or more regions get together to host an event. The concept is simple. The host region invites guest regions to one of its events at a home track. The guest region puts the event on its calendar as a points race and prompts its drivers and staff to attend.
Later in the year, the guest region typically reciprocates and plays host for out-of-area drivers. Crossovers tend to be the largest events of the season, and offer the best racing, according to participants.
When Revkah and I started the Rocky Mountain Region, we knew crossover events needed to be part of a successful model. With that in mind, we didn’t wait long to host our first multiregion event at the brand-new Miller Motorsports Park. We originally planned for just two regions to be involved, but it soon morphed into at least five regions being represented. We had drivers from California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Kansas in attendance. I think we hit that one out of the ballpark!
Travelling to different racetracks is an important part of why I like to race. First, there are the destination tracks that have special meaning to many of us. Maybe we saw our first race there or it has been the scene of great battles played out on television. We are fortunate to be involved in a sport where no two venues are alike. Once you have bowled in one alley, it doesn’t much matter if you are in the Northwest or Midwest, except for the type of beer you are drinking and the snacks you eat. But with race facilities, the scenery can vary greatly, as well as the terrain of the track.
We visit tracks where trees surround green grass, and tracks with nothing but sand and rocks just beyond the racing surface. We have tracks in Nebraska cornfields as flat as a pancake and roller coaster rides like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta. Each facility has its own unique character and challenges. I love them all, but I feel that if I could only drive one track, I might give in to other distractions.
Travel to different types of tracks is beneficial to sharpening your skills, regardless of whether you are in HPDE, Time Trial or wheel-to-wheel racing. With crossover events you can branch out and compete against a whole new set of racers. For HPDE drivers, you may experience a certain characteristic of a turn that you have never seen and have a huge light bulb come on.
Coming up in the middle of June will be the seventh annual Summer Shootout at Hallett Motor Raceway in Oklahoma. In my opinion, this is the granddaddy of crossovers. We’ve had as many as four NASA regions officially involved and seven regions represented by drivers at one event. The level of competition is out of this world and the faces you see on the Sunday podium are often those you see at the Championships. Hallett is not a racetrack you see on TV and most racers couldn’t tell you how to get there, but for all of the reasons listed above, it makes for the perfect setting for a giant camping trip, BBQ and party with all your closest racing friends. Oh, and yes, we do spend some quality time on track, too.