March Madness with NASA Mid-Atlantic always proves to be a surprise. You never know what you’re going to get. In some years, it has been 70s and sunny and in other years, 30s and snowing. This year, a lot of people departed for VIR early because a snowstorm hit Friday in the D.C. area and points north. This provided many with extra time at the track to wrench, test, tune and dyno. Speaking of dyno, in anticipation of 2015 Nationals EAST at VIR, regional director Chris Cobetto has employed the services of an AWD dyno for the entire season. This will ensure everything will run absolutely smoothly for the Eastern States Championships because the region will be able to practice and fine tune procedures.
As for GTS, there was much anticipation for the start of 2015. Last year ended with a V8-swapped E46 M3 winning the Eastern States Championships. John Huebner took on the largest winter project of all, trying to swap in an S62 V8 (E39 M5 powerplant) into his McDonalds E46 M3. As with most custom builds, there are lots of bugs to iron out. John unfortunately spent most of Friday dealing with issues while his competition looked on in awe of the massive torque monster in his engine bay. The new 2015 GTS rules were updated and torque was removed from the calculation, and this was part of John’s grand plan.
GTS3 saw the return of Josh Smith who was probably one of the pioneers of the infusion of V8s in the class. Eric Wong opted for a different route seeking to modify and fine tune his S54 inline six for more torque and midrange power. Steven Laderman decided to update his ECU with the “Spec-EPIC Motorsports Detune.” Everyone seemed to chart a different path for their destination of a VIR Championships win. Time will tell which method will be successful.
GTS2 had the departure of 2014 Eastern States Champion D.J. Fitzpatrick, which opened up the top dog position in this class. Would newly minted rookies, Amid Vargas, Mohammed Ali, Zach Spielman and Lawrence Gibson be able to take on the tested veterans in GTS2 of Jeff Emanuelson, Ron Boustedt, or Peter Kamarchik?
Will the out-of-region drivers knock the home-field advantage out the window? As the year progresses, Mid-Atlantic hopes to play host to the spectacular driving of Hugh Stewart, Edgar Cabrera, Luke Pardi and company out of the Northeast region. Perhaps some sweet talking might get Scott Berkowitz, Zach Hillman and Ryan Upham out from hiding in Great Lakes?
Back to this weekend’s racing, on Saturday, Danny Marshall drove his Synergy Racing GT3RS to a GTSU win. Ed Baus and Robert Wisen visiting from Great Lakes region took the top spots in GTS5 and GTS4, respectively. Smith cruised to a victory with Wong coming in second place and Vernon McClure rounding out third in GTS3. Unfortunately Huebner and Laderman were out due to mechanical issues. In GTS2, the finishing order was Boustedt, Emanuelson and Kamarchik. The dyno impound was strong as the GTS field ran dyno run after dyno run after the race and almost into the awards ceremony!
On Sunday, GTS3 was a much tighter race with Smith and Wong dueling it out the entire 40-minute race. Wong had a shot toward the end of the race with a full-course caution that bunched the field due to an unfortunate mishap, which ended the race early for GTS2 racers Boustedt and Spielman. Wong could not capitalize and finished again in second behind Smith. McClure, who saw a podium on Saturday unfortunately missed grid — sleeping? — and then pitted in early enabling Sanjeev Duggal to take the last GTS3 podium spot for Sunday. GTS2 had Emanuelson, Kamarchik and rookie Vargus taking the podium.