When you visit DriveNASA.com and click the “Join” button, it opens you up to a world of possibilities. High performance driving and racing enthusiasts will find a number activities that they can take part in, but there is so much more to the wide world of NASA than just track events and racing.
There is a litany of activities and benefits that come with being a NASA member, so we wanted to give you an overview of all the activities you can be part of, and all the benefits NASA members nationwide can take advantage of. We’ll start with the obvious, which will give you a review of what NASA does, and give you more things to talk about when your friends ask you why you always seem to be at the track.
NASA’s HPDE program is the gold standard among all track-day organizations across the country. It’s a well-established pathway to Time Trial and racing. What sets it apart is that NASA provides HPDE drivers with an instructor at no additional charge. That puts a wealth of knowledge in the right-hand seat to help new HPDE drivers get the most out of their early experiences on track in real time.
Toyota GR Experience
Capitalizing on the NASA HPDE program, the Toyota GR Experience provides all buyers of new Toyota GR Supras and GR 86s with a yearlong NASA membership, and one complimentary day of HPDE. That program also has been expanded to now include the new GR Corolla, Toyota’s new hot hatch and the latest model in its GR model line.
Partnering with the largest automaker in the world is a testament to strength of NASA’s HPDE program and the quality of its instruction.
Teen Car Control Clinic
NASA created an instructional program designed to teach teen drivers the basics, and some advanced driving and car-control techniques. Teen Car Control Clinics are largely hands-on, which means that the students learn the most while sitting behind the wheel. The curriculum has been designed to expose new and experienced drivers to different road and driving conditions, in a safe and controlled environment.
All that is required to participate is a vehicle in good condition, either a learner’s permit or driver license, closed toed shoes, and a willingness to have a fun day while learning how to save lives and become a better driver. Contact your local Regional Director to start a clinic in your area.
Talk to enough people, and they’ll tell you the path that brought them to NASA began with drag racing, then to autocross, and then, when they wanted more track time, NASA HPDE. But autocross is still a lot of fun even if you have a competition license, maybe even especially so. Only a couple of NASA regions currently offer autocross programs, but others might offer it if there is enough demand. If you don’t already know, autocross is a timed run through a course of cones that changes at each event.
NASA Time Trial is a series focused on time trial-style competition. In NASA Time Trial competition, anything goes, from prototype racecars and converted production cars to the current crop of electric cars. Weight-to-horsepower ratios make for fair classes and lots of creative freedom to build the car you want. NASA Time Trial provides a venue for spirited on-track competition with a high degree of safety and convenience. NASA Time Trial allows qualified individuals to compete in a “best lap time” format in a prepared car in advanced-level open-passing sessions, and bridges the gap between NASA HPDE 4 and wheel-to-wheel racing, making for a great place to fill your need for competition without the barrier to entry that exists in wheel-to-wheel racing.
The focal point of all things NASA, sprint racing is the highlight of every weekend, from the tight fields in Spec Miata and Spec E30 to the thundering beasts in Super Touring and Super Unlimited. A NASA competition license is your ticket to race with some of the best drivers in the country.
The core of NASA’s grassroots racing takes place at the regional level. NASA offers 18 series of road racing, so you’re sure to find one that matches up with your automotive passion. All NASA classes nationwide abide by one set of rules, so everyone races on a level playing field.
If you like a tight rules set and close competition, spec-class racing is for you. In NASA, you can choose from 10 spec series from Spec E30 and Spec E46 to Spec Miata and NASA’s flagship class, NASA Prototype. If you like a bit more freedom to innovate, the rules in NASA’s Super Touring and German Touring Series allow for more creativity.
Once you have your competition license, you can visit any NASA region to race on those “bucket list” tracks you’ve always dreamed of. Your competition license also means you’re eligible to race at the NASA Championships, held each fall at a different track each year.
The NASA Championships is the ultimate showdown among the fastest drivers from across the country. The NASA Championships fits in a condensed three-day format to allow as many drivers as possible to tow in from around the country and compete in a winner-take-all weekend designed to produce one national champion for each of NASA’s classes.
25 Hours of Thunderhill
The first weekend of December is when the 25 Hours of Thunderhill takes place. This race is the premier amateur endurance racing event in the nation, but it has taken on a life of its own as something of a pro-am over the last several years. It runs from 11 a.m. Saturday morning till noon the following day. 25 hours straight. The challenge of the weather and that the race is run more in the dark than in the light is as daunting as the speed differentials among the cars in the different classes. Winning the 25 Hours really means something.
After the snow melts in the NASA Mid-Atlantic Region, HyperFest celebrates the opening of spring with one of the craziest, most wonderful outdoor car festivals you’ve ever attended. Billed as, “The Automotive Amusement Park,” HyperFest is a feast for the eyes and ears, and if you’re near one of the many food trucks, the nose as well. There’s a full weekend of NASA HPDE, Time Trial and sprint racing, HyperDrives, drifting competitions, a night party with a live DJ, camping, air guitar contests, off road demo rides, hot pepper eating contests and a crazy downhill race with motorless Power Wheels. HyperFest has to be experienced to be believed.
NASA offers two different kinds of endurance racing. The latest iteration is Team Racing Endurance Challenge, an enduro series focused more on fun than outright competition. TREC drivers don’t need a competition license, although some seat time in HPDE is strongly encouraged. Cars are classed by lap times. There are no requirements other than that cars must pass NASA’s tech inspection for safety. Racing in TREC also is a path to a provisional competition license. Driver who complete six TREC races can apply for a provisional NASA competition license.
When you do get bit by the bug and want to do some more serious endurance racing, NASA’s Western Endurance Racing Championship visits tracks all over the West Coast and Utah, with some of the country’s best amateur racing teams vying for a season championship. With seven classes, WERC has a slot for nearly any car, from a Spec E30 all the way up to European prototypes, which regularly appear at WERC races.
NASA Prototype Series
Originally developed by NASA and Élan Motorsports and currently built by SEBECO Motorsport, the NP01 EVO NASA Prototype is the only closed-cockpit prototype available to amateur racers for less than $80,000, a price point unheard of before its debut. The NP01 EVO is powered by a 210-horsepower Mazda MZR engine routed through a six-speed Sadev sequential gearbox, which features no-lift upshifts and the option for paddle shifting. It offers the highest performance per dollar of nearly any purpose-built racecar on the market today.
NASA Rally Sport
If you like racing on dirt, then NASA Rally Sport is the venue for you. Divided among three divisions: Atlantic Rally Cup, Pacific Rally Cup, and the Eastern Rally Spring Series. Each series hosts rallies across the country on different kinds of terrain to provide one of the most challenging forms of racing you can find. Best of all, it takes teamwork, with a navigator riding shotgun and sharing wrenching duties in between stages.
One Lap of America
The competition started by Cannonball Run founder Brock Yates continues under the stewardship of his son, Brock Yates Jr. Sanctioned by NASA, the Tire Rack One Lap of America pits teams against one another, traveling from track to track across the Midwest in a time trial-like competition — all done on one set of tires. There are 13 different classes for cars of varying types, engine displacements, fuel types and model year. It’s a one-of-a-kind event and a unique blend of motorsport and grand touring.
Sanctioned by NASA, the Targa California is an exclusive by-invitation event that tours California in cars older than the 1981 model year, driving on some of the most spectacular back roads in the state. Other highlights of the Targa California include awards presentations for the cars in attendance, dining at spectacular, little-known and out-of-the-way restaurants and, when the day’s driving is done, sampling some of the region’s delicious wines.
Contingency Prize Money
To help defer the costs of our sport, NASA puts together a host of contingency programs for Time Trial and racing drivers. NASA also offers contingency prize packages from Toyo Tires and Hawk Performance to drivers in its HPDE program. No other sanctioning body offers such a program to HPDE drivers.
These contingency programs include prize money, discounts, product coupons for finishers on and off the podium. NASA contingency programs spread the wealth.
Your NASA membership costs you $59 a year, but that is miniscule compared with what you can save by taking advantage of the many companies that participate in NASA’s Member Benefits program. In fact, it’s possible to recover the cost of your NASA membership two and three times over by taking advantage of the member benefits program!
A lot of the member benefits are for products and services related to racing, such as programs from Competition Motorsport, Hagerty Motorsports and Blayze coaching. On top of that, there are discounts on hotels such as Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn and Avis and Budget rental cars, airport parking and even event tickets and dash cams, and that’s still only scratching the surface of all the benefits available to NASA members!
Say you want to put together a car show or a tour or an autocross in your hometown. Did you know you can get NASA sanctioning for those events? You can, and there are lots of other activities NASA members can get NASA sanctioning for, including driving clinics, drifting, skid pad exercises, overlanding, hill climbs, road rallies, drag racing, land speed competitions and more. A NASA sanction can get you plugged in to the great insurance benefits that come with it and can give you peace of mind when staging your own local event.