When Ghais Khaleghi came off the track at Virginia International Raceway after running a session in Time Trial Unlimited, the first people to greet him were his wife and son.

Racing is great, yet it’s even sweeter with the family along for the ride.

The NASA Mid-Atlantic Region racer and his family travel to NASA events in an RV, staying overnight at the track for the full experience. They host cookouts, watch movies and Khaleghi can wrench on the car if needed.

“It makes it very fun,” said Khaleghi, who lives in Richmond, Va. “I went (to the track) without them a few weeks ago and it was different. I was like, ‘I’m missing something.’”

Khaleghi’s wife, Nahid, and 6-year-old son, Abraham, serve as the de facto support crew, from wrangling race gear to fueling the car. The family sets the schedule at the beginning of the season, aiming for one track event a month.

The Khaleghi family are familiar faces at the track, with Ghais campaigning a Stohr sports racer in NASA’s TTU. Looking for wheel-to-wheel action, Khaleghi is expected to start racing a Spec Miata this year and will continue to compete in Time Trial.

Khaleghi runs a Stohr WF1, an open cockpit racing prototype that weighs less than 1,000 pounds with an engine that produces 175 horsepower. What the Stohr racecar lacks in horsepower, it makes up for in performance in the turns.

“I can brake at two or one, and I also carry an extreme amount of speed in the turn,” Khaleghi said. “While I’m mid-turn, I can get on the throttle immediately and build a lot of speed getting out of the turn.”

The Stohr’s aero-body kit, with full ground effects, a rear wing, and front and rear diffusers, helps the WF1 hold its own against the horsepower-rich Corvette and Mustangs that traditionally run in TTU. Khaleghi sees a top speed of 136 to 140 mph in straightaways, and on a track like Virginia International Raceway, he’ll run a 1:55 lap.

Khaleghi started racing motorcycles in his early 20s, and a few years later bought a Porsche 911 Turbo for the track. Eventually, the 36-year-old Khaleghi ran a couple of Chevrolet Corvettes before buying the Stohr.

“The Corvette was a really good car for the racetrack, but it just required a lot of money and time to get it to where I wanted to be,” Khaleghi said. “When I saw one of them (Stohr WF1) for sale, I just jumped on it.”

From the outside, the Stohr WF1 looks like an expensive car to run, but Khaleghi said the car costs far less than running a Corvette. In Time Trial, drivers usually get their best lap time within the first four or five laps, so the wear and tear on the car is substantially less than the wheel-to-wheel competitors.

Khaleghi, who owns an automobile repair shop in Virginia, does his own maintenance. The oil and brake fluid are changed after every track weekend, but rotors and brake pads last a full season.

“It’s very low maintenance,” Khaleghi said. “Compared to the Corvette, I get so much more seat time and use so much less fuel. Between the fuel and the tires, the consumables are pretty low.”

Khaleghi ran in his first NASA Championships in 2023 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, and between the weather and mechanical problems, the weekend was challenging for Khaleghi, who finished third in TTU.

NASA Speed News Editor Brett Becker summed up Khaleghi’s weekend in a story published in Speed News after the 2023 National Championships.

“In his first session out, he put on the wrong tires — 2-year-old tires — and had no grip. Then he discovered his rain tires weren’t balanced properly. Then his shifter broke, his brakes overheated and his throttle stuck so that it limited power output from the Suzuki-powered Stohr prototype. They replaced the pads, but the rotors were warped, so the car still shook like mad under braking and the shifter broke again. In spite of all that difficulty, Khaleghi managed to come in third, but because he and his crew were working on the car, they missed the noontime podium ceremony.”

Khaleghi said the NASA Championships in Pittsburgh is a weekend he will never forget.

“The whole event, to be honest, was beyond my imagination,” Khaleghi said. “From the timing to getting there and the cars, everything was pretty fun.”

The Stohr WF1 that Khaleghi ran in Pittsburgh is in pieces. Running in the final event of the 2023 season at Summit Point Motorsports Park, the crankcase broke loose and Khaleghi spun out running 90 mph. Thankfully, Khaleghi wasn’t hurt, but it was time to rebuild the car. From a new suspension to a motor rebuild, the WF1 should be ready for the 2025 season.

“That was the time for putting the car in the shop and taking it all apart to see what’s going on,” Khaleghi said. “We found a bunch of things that need to be replaced and repaired.”

Khaleghi isn’t without a car this season, having purchased another Stohr WF1 from Canada in the offseason. The newer Stohr has a carbon-fiber body kit and is powered by a 200-hp BMW motor.

The few times Khaleghi has been out at the track with his latest WF1 car, the difference in handling and performance is noticeable, he said. Khaleghi ran the car at Carolina Motorsport Park with a lap time 5 seconds better than his previous times on the South Carolina track in the other car.

“The first thing I noticed was the power. I floored it and it put me back and I was like, ‘That’s a lot of power,’” Khaleghi said. “The braking is much, much better. I’m new to the car and it was the first track day of the year, so I wasn’t really pushing it.”

There’s a good chance Khaleghi and his new WF1 car will be making the trek from Virginia to Utah in September for the 2024 NASA Championships at Utah Motorsports Campus. The goal for Khaleghi is to climb a couple spots on the podium and have a drama-free championship.

“That was my first time and didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “This year, I’m ready for it.”

Name: Ghais Khaleghi
Age: 36
Region: NASA Mid-Atlantic
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Racing Class: TTU
Sponsors: RVA Motorsports
Day Job: Automotive tech
Favorite Food: Tacos
Favorite TV show: F1
Favorite Movie: “Rush”
Favorite Track: Barber Motorsports Park
Dream Racecar: Norma M30
Images courtesy of Ghais Khaleghi and Downforce Media

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