Honda Challenge with NASA Southeast Region started off with a great grid of old and new racers in the “Race for Pi” at Road Atlanta in March. Honda Challenge was the second largest group in the Thunder Race both days, and they did not disappoint with great wheel-to-wheel action. Veterans Karl Kondor and new series director Rob Oxford thought they would have a little fun with a few of the new guys Vincent Coker and Stephen Pearce but things never ended up the way they planned. David Isbell qualified with a very fast pace followed by Vincent Coker and both held on to first and second for the full race on Saturday. Rob Oxford finished third.
Pearce developed electrical issues and had to pit early while Kondor must not have tied down the groceries in his racecar, causing it to hit the bump stops and wander around the corners, but the rest of the field finished within 15 seconds of each other.
Sunday’s race went a little different because Honda Challenge got its own second-wave start keeping all the Hondas together. Well that lasted all of 60 seconds because David Isbell and Vincent Coker checked out, taking first and second again. John Putnam finished third.
The bittersweet part of the event came early in the weekend when Kondor developed engine issue in the warmup on Saturday. Karl was borrowing handmade parts from Jim Gorman’s team for the fix, however the damage was deeper in the engine and more than could be fixed at the track. Competitor Jim Gorman and his crew including John Putnam approached Kondor and offered their backup car to race. I know, who brings backup cars to the racetrack? This is what NASA sportsmanship and Honda Challenge is all about. The racecar was an Accord station wagon. That’s right, Kondor never had such a soft bouncy ride before, but handled himself and the wagon flawlessly and delivering it back to Jim Gorman in one piece.