The last weekend of July is the traditional calendar location for NASA’s annual visit to Pitt Race located in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, approximately an hour northwest of Pittsburgh. A technically challenging track with outstanding facilities, Pitt Race was described by a first-time visitor from the West Coast as “one of the most underrated tracks in the country” after a track walk Saturday night. The Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic crossover event drew large fields, with 76 cars in the Lightning race grid.
Despite best efforts by Brian Silvestri to bring on wet weather with a rain dance, the rain stayed away except for a brief shower early Saturday, having little to no impact on qualifying. Teen Mazda Challenge hot shoe Camden Gruber grabbed the race one pole with a 2:07.7, followed by Will Dodd (2:08.2) and John Allen (2:08.3). Gruber and Dodd held their positions all 10 laps, but the battle for third was tight the entire race. John Allen, TMC driver Andrew Balgoyen, and Brian Silvestri separated by less than one second for five consecutive laps. Balgoyen passed Allen for third on lap nine and held on for the final lap.
The race two Spec Miata grid was led onto track by three of our five TMC drivers. Camden Gruber (P1), Andrew Balgoyen (P2), and Zach Rubin (P3) held the honor, but that order didn’t hold for long. The first three laps shuffled the leaders, with John Allen going from P6 at the start to P2 on lap two with Gruber dropping to P5 on lap three. The battle for fifth was razor thin, with the final four laps between Will Dodd and Silvestri, separated by no more than 0.11 seconds, Silvestri ultimately took fifth. Bruce Myrehn and TMC driver Wyatt Wood continued their close racing from NCM a few weeks prior. Wood held the edge over Myrehn from lap one by 1 second or less the entire race, until the final lap, where like NCM, Myrehn got around for seventh.
Another shuffle at the top of the class was in order for the final race of the weekend. John Allen (P1), dropped to P6 the first lap, allowing Gruber to take a lead he would not relinquish. Silvestri continued his streak of podium appearances with P3 to finish the weekend.
We’d also like to send a shout-out to Camden Gruber for loaning Dan Mount a cam position sensor to solve an engine sputter, and to rookies Ryan Waldo and Nick Davis for their solid weekends, racing clean and securing solid finishes on a very demanding track.