The NASA Southeast 2022 season kicked off at Roebling Road Raceway. The weekend included a competition school on Friday where two Spec Miata drivers earned their provisional licenses. Congrats to Jason Pannell and Danny Dyszelski — who’s only 13 by the way!
Saturday morning qualifying started off with a dry track and cold weather. Keith Williamson won pole after setting a blistering lap time of 1:22.416. Teen Mazda Challenge driver Alex Berg qualified second with a time of 1:22.934 and Don Elvington qualified third with a time of 1:22.935.
The race started off clean, with cars falling in line as Williamson led the field through the first few turns. On lap six, things got mixed up a bit as the Miata pack caught an E30 on to the front straightaway. Williams, Elvington, and Dia all went to the right while Berg went left, splitting the E30 in the middle.
The three cars working together had more momentum and shuffled Berg back to P3. The conga line continued, with the front four running together lap after lap, each waiting for the other to make a mistake. It seemed the order would remain unchanged as they took the white flag lap. However, as they raced through the last corner, Elvington spun causing Berg and Dia to take evasive action into the grass, barely missing Elvington as he spun backward off the track. It was a close call, but amazingly none of the cars made contact with one another! The race ended with Williamson winning, Berg in P2, Dia in P3, Ernie Cole in P4, and Jason Ball in P5.
Rain covered the area overnight, so racers woke up to a sopping wet track Sunday morning. By race time, the track was dry and sunny. After the green flag flew, Dia and Berg got a good start on the outside line, pushing Berg to the front past Williamson in Turn 1. Berg remained out front until lap six, where Williamson took the lead back after getting a good draft push from Elvington.
On lap 10, Berg drove hard to the inside of Turn 1 and regained the lead. The intensity was high as Williamson made pass attempts for the next three laps, each time Berg holding him off. Williamson finally got it done on lap 14, passing Berg along the front straightaway. However, just a few turns later, Berg tapped Williamson on the inside of Turn 4, spinning Williamson and sending them both off track.
It was then Elvington in the lead with Dia chasing behind. Dia passed Elvington on lap 16, but Berg was still in the hunt and closing in on both of them. On lap 21, Berg took second place from Elvington and had Dia in his sights. Later that lap, Dia missed a shift coming out of Turn 7 and Berg jumped on the opportunity to pass him for the lead. Dia continued to pressure Berg and finally regained the lead on lap 24, the white flag lap.
As they rounded the last turn, the three front runners gave it all they had, pushing and bumping to the finish line. At the end, Dia took the win with Elvington .031 seconds behind in second, and Berg .296 seconds behind in third. Rounding out the top five were Williamson in fourth and John Palazzolo in fifth. Two days of racing and two exciting finishes for the Miatas!