NASA sanctioned the 44th Anniversary Lone Pine Time Trials held May 17 and 18 at the Manzanar Airport, which is located 10 miles north of Lone Pine, Calif. The high desert has played host to this historic event for more than four decades. The Lone Pine Time Trials are unlike any other motorsport event. With gorgeous mountain vistas and an abandoned World War II airfield, the race is part high-speed autocross, part road course, and all tire-scrubbing and engine-whining insanity. People from as far as Utah make the journey each year to Manzanar to run the fast, technical course. All you need to enter the event is a car, a few bucks and an SN95 helmet.

The track itself doesn’t change much each year, with its long straights, wide slaloms, and big U-turns — named Burro Turns, because occasionally you will see a donkey out there. With the big 2-mile course, the opportunity to drive fast is certainly available, yet the focus of the event is the camaraderie between competitors. Most participants got together each night to enjoy food, tell lies, bench race, and throw back some brews at Jake’s Saloon in Lone Pine. Jake’s Saloon looks like it hasn’t changed since the day people arrived there on horseback. Besides being host to one of the nation’s longest running time trial events, Lone Pine is rich with history. Some 400 films have been made there — mostly Westerns — and the views are unbelievable. Lone Pine also offers access to Mt. Whitney, and a Japanese internment camp museum.

Locals welcome racers with open arms and come out to see the cars run. A local business, Lee’s Chevron, donated a keg of beer for a Friday night welcome party held at the Dow Villa Motel. Not only was the time trial a great time, but it also was put together for a good cause, with proceeds donated to the Los Angeles Braille Institute Youth Center. This year’s race was called the “Craig and Renee Angel Memorial Series” for the Angel family, who chaired this event for many years and kept it going. The National Auto Sport Association stepped in a few years back as the sanctioning body to keep the event alive. Bret Norgaard, multiple solo national champion, stepped in to chair the event for 2014 and it ran without a hitch.

The course is so large there is no time to do a walk-through to learn it, so the beginning of each day of competition started with parade laps to learn the track and knock down some pesky weeds that sprout up between the asphalt cracks during the off season. When the racing started, the carnage instantly began with the first car running off course and finding the only pine tree near the airstrip. Now you know why they call it Lone Pine. The car — a rental with the full insurance — was patched up and ran the rest of the weekend with its rear bumper cover flapping in the wind. Set in the Wild West, the event is essentially an outlaw autocross. Welcome to the Lone Pine Time Trials.

Local tourism and beautiful views aside, the competition was fierce, with teams racing within a few tenths of a second of one another. Miatas, vintage Triumph GT6s, GTOs, Corvettes, Porches, Honda S2000s, and damaged rental cars, all took to the high-speed course one at a time and did their best to post a quick lap. The Lone Pine Time Trials also included a Beater class, which showcased some fun cars with a lot of ingenuity and a serious lack of care.

As the runs ticked off, competitors shuffled for position, bettering their times each lap and moving up the leaderboard. When the dust settled on day one, Bret Norgaard, driving his modified Acura TL, picked up the fastest raw time, a 121.811, but unfortunately he was dirty on that run picking up a cone — and a two-second penalty. That allowed Brandon Ellingsen in his black Mitsubishi Evo IX, to earn the top “clean” time of the day with a 122.124. Winning the PAX adjusted class overall and the Stock Combined class was Rob Krider in his Corvette Z06 with a 103.951. A local California Highway Patrol officer was kind enough to stop by the event and use his radar gun to capture some trap speeds. The Krider Racing Z06 earned the top speed of the event, 117 miles an hour — heading into a slalom.

The raw top time of the day on Saturday went to Bret Norgaard in his silver No. 170 modified Acura TL sponsored by Bret’s company Yawsport. Bret’s fast lap showed that aero mods can get it done through the slaloms since the Acura was down about 15 miles per hour against the Krider Racing Z06 in the long Lone Pine straights. Even with that deficit, the Acura was able to pull ahead of the Corvette for a better raw time through the corners. Bret was the chair of the event and kept the event running smoothly in its fourth decade.
The raw top time of the day on Saturday went to Bret Norgaard in his silver No. 170 modified Acura TL sponsored by Bret’s company Yawsport. Bret’s fast lap showed that aero mods can get it done through the slaloms since the Acura was down about 15 miles per hour against the Krider Racing Z06 in the long Lone Pine straights. Even with that deficit, the Acura was able to pull ahead of the Corvette for a better raw time through the corners. Bret was the chair of the event and kept the event running smoothly in its fourth decade.

Sunday the course was run in reverse. Some competitors jokingly suggested that Krider should run his Z06 in reverse gear. Teams were a little groggy from the revelry at Jake’s Saloon the night before, but the event started on time and the racing continued. Johnny Ellison in his Toyota MR2 suffered an engine failure (and needed to find a way back to Utah). A GTO suffered a cracked radiator and Keith Kramer suffered a hangover. The racing on Sunday was even tighter as teams figured out the setup and tire pressures the day before. The leaderboard shuffled from Saturday’s results and different drivers were able to win their classes Sunday.

When it was all over, everyone was a little sun- and wind-burned, but everyone had a great time and made new friends for life. The Lone Pine Time Trials should be on every motorsport junkie’s bucket list. It was fast and phenomenal.

Top Class Results Saturday

B-Street Dutch Vanderschuit 2006 Porsche Boxster
G-Street Tom Sivertsen 2006 Acura RSX
H-Street Scott Aguilar 1969 Triumph GT6
Street Modified James King 1991 Toyota MR2
Street Mod FWD Bret Norgaard 2005 Acura TL (Top Raw Time)
Prepared Combined Brandon Ellingsen 2006 Mitsubishi Evo Ix (Top Clean Time)
Stock Combined Rob Krider 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (Top PAX)
Street Prep Combined Matthew Haas 1990 Mazda Miata
Touring Combined Jerry Kell 2002 Subaru WRX Sportwagon
Beater Paul Rogers 2011 Lone Pine GTBTR Type SD1STR3.1

 

Top Class Results Sunday

B-Street Dutch Vanderschuit 2006 Porsche Boxster
G-Street Andrew Smith 2014 Infinity Q50
H-Street Tony Spataro 2010 Mazda 3
Street Modified James King 1991 Toyota MR2
Street Mod FWD Bret Norgaard 2005 Acura TL
Prepared Combined Brandon Ellingsen 2006 Mitsubishi Evo Ix (Top Time of Day)
Stock Combined Rob Krider 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (Top PAX)
Street Prep Combined Matthew Haas 1990 Mazda Miata
Touring Combined Jerry Kell 2002 Subaru WRX Sportwagon
Beater Jayson Woodruff 1993 Mazda Miata
From 10,000 feet up, you can see the rubbered-in path of the Lone Pine Time Trial course at Manzanar Airport.
From 10,000 feet up, you can see the rubbered-in path of the Lone Pine Time Trial course at Manzanar Airport.
Jake’s Saloon was home to Saturday evening’s bench racing sessions, and the point of origin for a few hangovers.
Jake’s Saloon was home to Saturday evening’s bench racing sessions, and the point of origin for a few hangovers.

This video clip gives you a good idea of how long the Lone Pine “autocross” course is. At 2 miles long, the course affords speeds up to 117 mph in the Krider Racing Z06 Corvette.

From 10,000 feet up, you can see the rubbered-in path of the Lone Pine Time Trial course at Manzanar Airport.
From 10,000 feet up, you can see the rubbered-in path of the Lone Pine Time Trial course at Manzanar Airport.

Scenes from the 44th Lone Pine Time Trials

Beer Fast Car Fast Driver Sticker

 

Lone Pine T-shirt Manzanar OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Vintage Flyer Windshield Sticker

 

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Images courtesy of Rob Krider, Google Earth and Google Earth