Down Time

What is better than a vacation? If you are a racer, I would say a vacation that included racing! Fortunately for me and 220 NASA members, many of us made a racing vacation around a special regional crossover event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend after the Fourth of July. Jerry Kunzman and I had been working for a few years to get a high-sound-limit date at MRLS — the track only allows a few select days over 93 dB — so our members could enjoy this premier race circuit.

Well, our persistence paid off and we were lucky enough to get a 105 dB weekend, so we decided to pull out all the stops and make this a NorCal/SoCal regional crossover for competition groups. Our goal was to host a sellout event with only racing and Time Trial competitors, and we came very close. In fact, we set some records at this event, one being the biggest Spec E30 field in history, with 37 cars taking the green flag.

With the two regions attending, large fields were the norm for every class. On average, most of the classes exceed 10 cars, which also generated large contingency payouts from our generous sponsors. Of course, large fields mean tight racing, and the battles that took place over the weekend did not disappoint. The Time Trial competitors fought for that fastest time each session and it was a regular occurrence to see the best lap time get reduced nearly every session.

Suffice it to say it was National Championship caliber competition, and all the better since NorCal and SoCal have always enjoyed a spirited rivalry. I haven’t done the data crunching to determine which region took home the most podiums, but I do know Jerry’s group did rule supreme in the number of body contact reports!

Many members took advantage of the location, weather and special accommodations this track offers to make the trip a vacation. Monterey has lots to see and do besides the racetrack, which lies just a few miles from the ocean. When we drove past one of our usual tracks on the way to MRLS, it was 105 degrees. Upon arrival in Monterey, it was 67 degrees. The racetrack is part of the county park system and it has one of the best RV campgrounds I have visited. Our vacation started July 3, so we were able enjoy some downtime and socialize with other NASA folks who also arrived early.

We spent Independence Day with several of our closest friends for a trip to a pub in downtown Monterey followed by a perfect barbecue at camp later that night. Friday was even better since the track has a nice shooting range within the park premises. Jerry and I are active in competitive shooting, so along with a dozen other NASA members and spouses, we spent half a day at the range. Our informal top shot contest was a harbinger of the racing to come. Fulton Haight from SoCal won round one, but with all that confidence he challenged Jerry to a final match by pushing the targets back even farther. When the final tally was scored, Jerry Kunzman had won by a single shot just a few millimeters closer to the bullseye.

There is nothing better in life than doing what you love with the people you love. Take a purely American holiday and celebrate it with your closest friends by racing, shooting, camping, drinking, barbecuing and telling tall tales. Put all this in one of the most incredible track locations in California and that will certainly yield a memorable vacation. I hope all our NASA members enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

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