Texas Honda Challenge had eventful weekend in Jennings, Okla., for the Summer Shoot at Hallet Motor Racing Circuit. Taking place near the summer solstice every year, Oklahoma gets close to 15-hour days and a high-pressure system provided 98-plus degree temperatures throughout the weekend. While grueling, the native Texans had to persevere, and so did their cars. The Summer Shootout is a popular and fun event for the Texas Region. It serves as a mock championship race in preparations for the NASA Championships, which take place at Laguna Seca Raceway in 2022. The event consists of a qualifier, two heat races for points, then a long final championship race on Sunday.
Qualifying started on a slightly damp track after a Friday night squall. On grid was Dai Nguyen in a 1998 Civic Hatchback, Scott Adams in a 2005 Acura RSX, Mike Iacino in a 93 Acura Integra, and Dane Byrd in a 1991 Honda CRX. The session went without a hitch, landing Adams on pole, and fastest lap of Group C at 1:28.024, followed by Byrd (1:29.473) and Nguyen (1:29:858). Iacino had a transponder issue, so was unable to record any times. This set the grid for Group C’s first heat race.
Race one began with Adams getting the drop at the green flag. Adams, Byrd, and Nguyen held a tight group through Turn 1 and the most of lap one. Rookie Iacino battled it out as he held off a lone Spec E46. By the start of lap two, Adams has managed to eke a few more lengths while Byrd and Nguyen were nose to tail for the next couple of laps. As the race carried on, the top three raced within a second of each other until Nguyen made a minor mistake, costing him about a second, but quickly regained pace and continued to lay down consistently quick laps.
At lap 11, he dropped two off at the exit of Turn 5, which is known to have a nasty rut. This unfortunately looped the car and effectively ended his race. Iacino continued to keep his nose clean throughout, as he worked off his provisional license races. At the end of the race, Adams took the checkers, followed by Byrd 2.27 seconds behind and Iacino in 3rd.
Race two, Byrd got the jump on Adams and was able to pull half a car length on Adams going into Turn 1. Adams was able to hold the inside of the sweeping left hander and onto the uphill straight to Turn 2 with Byrd and Nguyen close behind. For the entire first lap, Adams and Byrd raced nose to tail through the next several corners, until Byrd dropped two wheels off on the exit of Turn 9, losing a few precious tenths, and let Nguyen catch up into a pressure position.
Over the next laps, Adams made incremental gains laying down consistently fast laps, only to drop two off on the exit of Turn 6, costing him about a second. Byrd took a few laps to get into the groove, and as such was unable to capitalize on the mistake. Unfortunately, Nguyen began to experience a misfire and loss of power and was forced to pull off track.
Iacino started to get comfortable at the new track and managesd to cut off 2 seconds off his personal best! Halfway through the second-to-last lap, Byrd developed a misfire of his own, but didn’t see anything too concerning in the gauges and carried on. However, the intermittent loss in power started to affect his lap times. This allowed Adams to pull a commanding lead over next 10 laps. The race again ended with Adams in first, followed by Byrd and Iacino in second and third, respectively.
After the race, Saturday evening shenanigans ensued, as NASA Texas held its fifth annual Slip and Flip. Hallet’s amazing scenery provided the perfect hills for a massive slip and slide, with table at the bottom. Everyone broke up into teams and donned themed costumes and participated in a relay style race.
One person slides down, runs to the table, chugs a beverage, and flips a solo cup. Once the cup is flipped, that is the signal to for the next teammate to slide down. Team Honda Challenge dominated the Taco Gatos in the first elimination, but a Siren by the Name of Marie Adams somehow talked Texas Honda Challenge into a rematch and beat them.
The Sunday final championship race started with Adams on pole, Byrd in P2 and Iacino in P3. Sunday is the hottest day of the weekend, reaching 98°F with heat index of a blazing 105°F. As the green flag dropped, Adams got the jump, while Byrd fumbled and forgot he was in third gear. This gave Iacino the opportunity for a pass, which he took and moved into P2 heading into Turn 1. Adams continued to make gains, as Byrd and Iacino battled for the next lap and a half, until Byrd managed an overtake Iacino heading around the bus stop at Turn 2.
On lap three, Iacino lost the rear of the car around Turn 8, which is infamously referred to as “The Bitch” around the paddock. This didn’t phase Iacino as he quickly got back to race pace and knocked out a flyer and lost another two seconds off his personal best. For the rest of the race, he continued to lay down clean and consistent fast laps. For Byrd, he found out that his misfire was likely attributed to the heat. After thinking he had solved the issue in the morning warmup, his car again began to misfire. This time it was quite a bit worse but he carried on to try to keep momentum up and distance on Iacino.
The strategy worked, but could not keep up with Adams, so the checkered flag went to the No. 93 RSX. Adams in first, Byrd second, and Iacino third. Since no championship is without a winner’s circle and champagne, the three friends celebrated on the podium and sprayed each other with finest champagne Walmart had to offer.