This was our second 2021 visit to Arizona Motorsports Park, known as “Arizona’s Safest Road Course,” is a 2.26 mile, 16-turn, and reversible track with a few passing zones and one big challenge: a sound restriction that forces the NASA crew to setup a single file of cones on one section of the track to ensure that competitors remain compliant with the local sound ordinance.
Great weather on Saturday meant clean racing. The track was run in the clockwise direction both days. In qualifying, Ken Orgeron set the pole for ST3 and overall, with a 1:45.060 in his No. 199 BMW, followed by Spec Corvette racer Darren Griffith in his GM No. 07 with a 1:50.190. Elliot Freireich rounded out the top three and Ted Standen qualified fifth overall and first in ST4 with a 1:55.745 in his Nissan 350Z.
The race was a combined race with ST racers joined by the local Spec Miata racers in a split-start format. At the back of the Super Touring group, ST2 racer Chris Wynne joined, hoping to close out the points needed for a championship. With the race under way, racers began to sort out their positions. Wynne picked up a few positions catching up to Griffith’s Spec Corvette before retiring from the race, having secured a class and seasonal victory.
Orgeron immediately took advantage of a gap and was able to lead the race flag to flag. Once the checkers flew, Orgeron took first overall and the ST3 win, followed by Griffith’s Corvette in second overall, and Jim Richard in third. Ted Standen in ST4 and Wynne in ST2 took their class wins and points unchallenged. Overall, a very clean and incident-free race for guest race director Robert Rose, who stood in for Steve Marlow, who was racing elsewhere.
Sunday was a bit warmer, however still great weather for racing. Shaving a bit of time from Sunday, Orgeron picked up pole position again with a 1:44.851, followed by Jim Shepard making a switch from Spec Miata to an ST3 S2000, running a 1:46.000. Darren Griffith and Brian Turner in his No. 524 Porsche took the second row positions with 1:48.3’s — only .2 seconds apart! Wynne again started from the back, with the possibility of Tage Evanson in his Honda Civic joining in ST2 and threatening the championship lead in that class. Unfortunately, before the race several competitors experienced issues, with Griffith’s Corvette losing a power steering hose. Team Dangerous Enterprises brought their upgraded Nissan GTR to race in ST1, however they also fell to a transmission cooler failure —though they did set a TT class record before doing so!
Once the race kicked off, there was immediate action again as Shepard’s S2000 spun in Turn 6/7, scattering the pack. Orgeron ran to overall victory again, however fast lap honors went to Brian Turner’s Porsche with a 1:47.663, and second place for the 911. Jim Sheard worked his way back up to third, passing Elliot Freireich’s No. 30 Spec Racer Ford, and fourth overall, and Jim Richard’s No. 44 Porsche, and fifth overall, to recover from his spin. Wynne’s No. 50 Mustang again retired early without other in-class cars to battle, because Evanson had his hands full with Comp School.