NASA Arizona opened the racing season at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park’s East Track, a 1.25-mile test track once heavily used by IndyCar teams for testing. Running alongside Interstate 10 in Phoenix, the 10-turn course offers some great racing opportunities and challenging braking zones. With cool Arizona-in-January temperatures, 28 super touring racers lined up on the grid for action!
In Super Touring, the top qualifiers were as follows:
ST3 Ken Orgeron 59.354
ST2 Tage Evanson 59.849
ST3 Alex Petitdemange 1:00.335
ST2 Chris Wynne 1:00.363
ST4 Ricky Johnson 1:01.622
ST3 Brian Turner 1:01.659
ST6 racer positions were determined from a preceding Spec Miata race result, doubling-dipping races to satisfy their wild wheel to wheel cravings!
The stage was set, with new and old racers joining the fray, from longtime NASA Arizona members Jon Rook and Ravi Tomerlin, to new racers Dylan Pemberton and Jake Cooper. When the race kicked off, immediately the front cars went to work to build a gap while wrestling for the lead. Evanson quickly found the front with his No. 99 Civic, followed by Orgeron’s BMW. Alex Petitdemange in the No. 33x Spec Ford Racer closely followed the pair. Wynne found himself fourth with his No. 50 Ford Mustang but before a move could be made up front Brian Turner — the No. 524 Porsche — and Ricky Johnson in the No. 00 Mini Cooper introduced themselves to the scrum.
Orgeron’s BMW had to retire early due to a battery issue, and unfortunately the BMW and the other leading cars found themselves sorted back due to a yellow-flag infraction. Rookie racer Dylan Pemberton in the No. 219 BMW might have had the biggest benefit from his fellow racer’s missteps, because after being moved to ST3 from ST4, he found himself not only racing cars one class up – he found his way to the ST3 podium with a third-place finish! In ST6, Steven Powers in his No. 145 Mazda found the win by a 2-second gap over Jason Bleak. Michael Babcock’s No. 166 Miata was just 3 tenths behind to round out the ST6 podium. Ravi Tomerlin’s No. 8 NSX left the field early but found himself in second place in ST2 after the field was sorted out.
Saturday Race Results were as follows:
1st ST2 / Overall Chris Wynne 1:00.798
1st ST3 / 2nd Overall Brian Turner 1:01.285
2nd ST3 / 3rd Overall Team Moneyshift Racing 1:01.463 (James Shephard)
1st ST4 Ricky Johnson 1:01.985
3rd ST3 Dylan Pemberton 1:02.916
2nd ST4 Jake Cooper 1:03.908
3rd ST4 Timothy Bidwill 1:06.200
2nd ST2 Ravi Tomerlin 1:02.939
1st ST6 Steven Powers 1:06.402
2nd ST6 Jason Bleak 1:07.050
3rd ST6 Michael Babcock 1:06.877
Sunday featured slightly sunnier and warmer weather. As the green flag dropped the first corner featured plenty of excitement as racers tried to fit two and three-wide through the chicane with some racers finding great grip and others not. Tage Evanson’s No. 99 Civic maintained his lead on the front lap followed closely by Ken Orgeron again in his No. 199 civic. Wynne’s yellow No. 50 mustang was right behind the pair with the Team Moneyshift No. 991 Honda S2000, now driven by Sean Shepherd, and Ricky Johnson’s No. 00 Mini cooper in close pursuit. As the group spread out Orgeron’s BMW was practically attached to Evanson’s civic, putting on a 10-lap show.
On lap 11, Wynne’s Mustang exchanged positions with Orgeron to take a shot at getting around the wailing-supercharged civic. After seven laps of the “Tage Evanson wide-car clinic,” Wynne attempted an ill-fated late-brake pass maneuver on the front straight, sending him off track and costing four positions as the No. 199 BMW and No. 991 Honda closed in on the No. 99 civic. For those 18 laps the three cars were only feet apart, keeping spectators on the edges of their seats in a wildly close race.
A full-course caution set the stage for a restart, and the three lead cars found themselves in a three-wide entry to T2 – and all cars made it out but in a new order: Ken’s BMW in the lead, with Team Moneyshift now also around the Civic. Wynne’s Mustang was able to take advantage of the restart and found himself in the mix just one corner later, eking by Tage’s Civic, which Evanson shortly thereafter retired from suspension issues that plagued him all race, quite the effort to keep the car competitive while it refused to track straight!
Wynne ultimately made it around Team Moneyshift for second overall, and Orgeron found himself uncontested for the lead position at the checkered flag. Johnson’s Mini (first in ST4) found itself in front of Brian Turner’s Porsche (third in ST3), followed by Dennis Tucker and Timothy Bidwill for second and third in ST4. In ST6, Steven Powers took home first-place honors, joined by Michael Babcock and Josh Lambeth – the latter finding the first podium finish for his No. 81 Mazda Miata, certainly of many more to come as the top ST6 racers were all within tenths on their fastest laps.