Winter weather was the forecast going into the NASA Central season opener Spring Fling event at Gateway Motorsports Park on April 6 and 7. However, despite these unfathomable weather predictions, it stayed dry but cold and we still had some ferocious drivers come out and brave the conditions. What was the result? Drivers were greeted with coffee and donuts to fuel their endeavors and treated to great race conditions, which led to fast lap times and happy drivers. Jeremy Butcher, the new NASA Central Regional Director and his staff laid the groundwork for a new and improved Central Region with a joint effort from NASA Great Lakes.
There was an impressive turnout of new drivers in HPDE, with many drivers moving up the ladder. Terry Bouge, HPDE1 and 2 leader likes to say, “You only stay in an HPDE class as long as needed.” Chris Carpenter started out in HPDE 1 Saturday morning and by midday Sunday advanced to HPDE3! Drivers were successful overall in HPDE, with nine drivers moving up a rung on the HPDE ladder over the weekend.
There was some great racing despite the conditions, with Aaron Spiegel in his Racin’ Rabbi Racing Mazda Miata and Team Cohn’s BFGoodrich Tires/SPS/Injector Pulse Nissan Sentra driven by Nadeem Bari duking it out in race one. They exchanged the lead numerous times with Spiegel leading the last lap all the way to Turn 3 of the oval where he missed the upshift, allowing Bari to sneak by for the win. The two repeated the fight Sunday with Spiegel coming out on top. Saturday in-car highlights from Spiegel:
Five new lap records were set, including TT5 and ST5. Team Chameleon’s FueLab Mazda Miata led off with a 1:10.253 in TT5 and ST5 with 1:09.056. Lap records were also set in ST4 by Brian Borshoff as he wheeled his Pro Challenge car to a 1:10.138 and in TT3 by Jon Eye in his Kinetic Motors BMW 325i at 1:07.680. The ultimate track record for this weekend has to be the efforts of Cliff Pierce in Spec E30 with a 1:12.065. While any lap record is in itself fantastic, this one is right out of Hollywood.
Cliff’s car was an innocent victim in someone else’s crash out in Race 2 and had to be bashed into shape and realigned. Looking rather haggard, Cliff took the car back out and flew in race three! With event one on the books, NASA Central Region has set the pace for what looks like a legendary 2018 Race season!