You never know what the weather will deliver the first of December in Georgia: warm, sunny, cold or even snow. This year the Santa’s Toy Run opened to fog so thick and heavy it was like misty rain, and visibility of only 150 to 200 feet. The sun was up for several hours before anyone could see from one flag station to the next, finally allowing cars on track.
Given the fog delay, there was no all-racer warmup session, so all Honda Challenge racers in NASA Southeast qualified on cold tires on a wet track and only enough time for a few laps to get it done. Michael Kramer in H2 and Daniel Madamba in H1 both had lap timer issues and forced to start of the rear of their class. Kevin Hennings set pole in H1 followed by Andrew Hicks in P2, Rob Oxford in P3, Will Hunter in P4 and Daniel Madamba in P5. Team Moar Door with Shane Lovely at the wheel set the pole in H2 followed by Wil McKenzie in P2 and Michael Kramer in P3.
As Honda Challenge cleared Turn 12, the green flag waved and away they went. They quickly got nose to tail at Turn 1 as they negotiated the slick, wet track. Team Moar Door had the inside line at Turn 1, putting Madamba on the wetter, outside line allowing Team Moar Door to lead the way up the hill. As they went through the downhill esses, the top four in H1 stretched their legs and put a gap on the rest of the Honda Challenge field.
Madamba got more comfortable and passed Team Moar Door at Turn 10a and sets his eyes on catching the H1 pack just ahead. After a few laps, Hennings jumped out to a commanding lead in H1. Hicks, Oxford and Hunter stayed in a pack while Madamba closed the gap.
In H2 on lap two, McKenzie developed a clutch issue, ending his race for the day. On lap four, Michael Kramer got a good drive out of Turn 7 and passed Team Moar Door just before the brake zone at Turn 10a. They remained nose to tail for 4 laps and then Team Moar Door got almost side by side out of Turn 7, but did not have the momentum to make the pass stick.
Team Moar Door never gave up, and two laps later passed Kramer at Turn 6 and took the lead by Turn 7 then hammered it down the back straight. Just like lap four, Kramer passed Team Moar Door at Turn 9 and took back the lead before the brake zone at Turn 10a. They battled for two more laps, turning their fastest laps on the checkered-flag lap. Taking the win in H2 was Kramer followed by Team Moar Door in P2 less than a second behind and in P3 was McKenzie.
In H1, Hennings remained in the lead while Hunter followed in P2. Madamba worked his way past Hicks and then Oxford to slide into P3. On the next lap, Oxford took back the position only to have it taken away again. Halfway through the race, Madamba began battling Hunter for the number two spot. Going into Turn 10a, Madamba dive bombed Hunter on the inside, forcing them to go two wide and came out in the lead as they navigated Turn 10b. Now in P3, Hunter did not give up and stayed right on Madamba’s bumper. Those two slipped away and put a gap on Oxford and Hicks. At the checkered flag, Hennings took the win followed by Daniel in P2 and Hunter in P3.
That evening everyone celebrated the regional championships for all classes, including Time Trial, Rookie of the Year, Worker of the Year and several other awards we earned. Honda Challenge 2 Southeast regional champion was Team Moar Door drivers Shane and Melissa Lovely. H2 second place was Wil McKenzie and H2 third place was Michael Kramer. Honda Challenge 1 Southeast regional champion was Will Hunter. H1 second place was Rob Oxford and H1 third place as Boston Maler.
Thank you all for reading along and following the Honda Challenge Series in NASA Southeast. In 2024 we plan to have one new track on the schedule with NASA Gulf South and Florida regions at NOLA in March, and revisit an old NASA North vs. South battle at Watkins Glen in October. Keep reading Speed News for updates and results.