NASA Great Lakes made its traditional fall stop in Joliet, Ill., for a little “No (Speed) Limits” racing on Autobahn Country Club’s south course. The 15-turn, 2.06 mile course is somewhat unique with turns 3, 4, and 5 all left-handers on the clockwise course. Weather for the weekend could not have been better, with mostly sunny skies, highs in the 70s, cool evenings, and not a rain drop to be found. A total of 12 Spec Miata racers joined us on track.
Teen Mazda Challenge racer Ayrton Grim started the weekend strong by taking pole during qualifying Saturday morning with a 1:39.6. The always quick Jack Dorsey was 0.2 seconds behind Grim with Wyatt Wood and Chris Finnigan P3 and P4, each another 0.2 seconds off.
Race one on Saturday was hard fought because the track stayed green the entire 35 minutes. The top four racers held position through the first six laps, with around one second total separating them. On lap seven, Dorsey got a run on Grim and successfully passed him. Wood (P3) was quick to capitalize following Dorsey and also got around the pole sitter for P2, dropping Grim to P3. From there, Dorsey dominated, building to nearly a nine second lead by the checkers on lap 17.
Running in P3, Grim held off Finnigan until lap 12, and Wood fell the very next lap with neither racer able to stop the charging season points leader. Just behind the top four, Randy Summerville, Blake Korth (TMC), and John Poppenhouse fought during the opening laps. Poppenhouse passed Korth on the outside of 14 lap 1, but Korth was quick to regain the position four corners later. Both got around Summerville on lap three. Dustin Crooks and Ryan Waldo also battled hard the entire race. Less than a car length separated them as they swapped positions twice, with Crooks eventually coming out on top.
Sunday morning brought cooler temps, but no change in the top four competitors. Gridding by race 1 fast lap times, Dorsey was P1, with Finnigan in P2, Wood at P3, and Grim P4. At the green, Grim got the jump on Wood for P3 and held on the entire race, with Wood no more than 0.4 seconds adrift waiting for any potential slip-up by Grim. Finnigan successfully got around Dorsey on lap two to take P1. Dorsey also was just off his bumper trying to force a mistake, but Finnigan did not flinch in the yellow-flag-shortened seven-lap race. Summerville demonstrated one of his classic hard-charging starts, getting to P5 on lap one after starting P8.
The weekend finale early Sunday afternoon saw temperatures rise considerably from race two, and a few competitors guessed incorrectly on starting air pressures. The starting grid was led by the same cast of hot shoes, Finnigan, Dorsey, Wood and Grim. The race start was similar to race two, with Grim getting around Wood and Dorsey doing the same to Finnigan on the first lap. Grim held P3 to the end. Dorsey and Finnigan, however, swapped P1 and P2 a total of five times during the 14-lap contest. Dorsey was the victor, but only by a thin 0.13 seconds at the stripe. Summerville and Korth competed hard for P5 exchanging positions two times, remaining within 0.5seconds of each other. At the checkers, Summerville won that battle.