NASA Southeast Time Trial returned to Carolina Motorsports Park in upstate South Carolina May 6-7 for the second of three scheduled competition weekends and marking the halfway point of the 2023 season.
Saturday competition at the always challenging 2.28-mile, 14-turn circuit in Kershaw, S.C., saw near perfect weather conditions throughout the weekend as 31 Time Trial competitors rolled off the qualifying grid on Saturday morning.
With 10 competitors, TTU was the largest group of the weekend, where Saturday’s competition saw P1 go to the No. 21 Dodge Viper of Mark Kirby with a fast lap time of 1:33.303, P2 went to NASA Mid-Atlantic regular Kevin Sprague in the No. 122 Corvette with a fast lap time of 1:36.821, and rounding out the podium finishes in P3 was the No. 525 Ford Mustang FR-500 of Ed McGuire with a fast lap time of 1:45.242. During Sunday’s competition, No. 21 Mark Kirby retained the P1 spot with a 1:34.024 lap time and No. 122 Kevin Sprague was bumped to P3 with a 1:38.748 lap. The P2 spot was nabbed by the No. 27 Stohr Prototype driven by Ghais Khaleghi, with a fast lap of 1:34.203.
Fielding eight competitors, the TT3 class was the largest of the power-to-weight-restricted classes for the weekend, which saw the P1 spot go to the No. 165 BMW M3 of Jens Polte, with a quick lap of 1:40.281. The P2 podium spot went to first time expectant dad, Tim Spittle, in the No. 849 Corvette with a fast lap of 1:43.764 and rounding out the podium in P3 was NASA-SE veteran TT driver and instructor, Gary Trickett, in the No. 706 BMW M3, with a quick lap of 1:44.305.
Of note: P4, P5, and P6 in TT3, driven by the No. 95 Corvette of Neill Bustle, the No. 507 Corvette of Wes Harper, and the No. 92 BMW M3 of Drew Hall respectively, finished with fast lap times less than .4 seconds behind the P3 of Gary Trickett, making TT3 the most closely competitive class of the weekend. Sunday’s TT3 competition saw the No. 165 of Jens Polte retain the P1 spot from Saturday, but with the No. 95 and No. 507 Corvettes of Wes Harper and Neill Bustle sliding into the P2 and P3 spots to round out the podium spots.
With two entries, the TT2 class consisted of the No. 32X Corvette of veteran TT driver, Jerry Digges, and rookie driver Christian Aranha in the No. 55 Chevrolet Camaro SS, who took the P1 spot with a fast lap of 1:39.939, with Digges taking the P2 spot with a lap time of 1:44.645. Both drivers would retain their finishing spots during Sunday’s competition as well.
The TT4 class saw three competitors in class for the weekend, which included rookie driver Kevin Batten in his No. 170 Mitsubishi Evo X, who took the P1 spot with a fast lap of 1:45.607. Not far behind in P2 was the No. 8 Ford Legends car of Brad Miller with a lap time of 1:46.281, with the No. 18 Spec BMW E9X of Roy Parsons in P3 turning a fast lap of 1:52.309. Sunday’s competition would see all three drivers retain their finishing positions from Saturday.
In the TT1 class, the P1 spot went to Rob Turczany in his No. 192 supercharged BMW M3 with a fastest lap of 1:46.607 and the No. 418 ProChallenge Mustang of Ron Richey grabbing the P2 spot with a fastest lap time of 1:50.655. Both TT1 drivers would retain their finishing positions during Sunday’s competition.
Finishing out the field in TT6, five Mazda Miata drivers vied for podium spots with the P1 slot going to the No. 9 Miata of Nishant Patel and a fast lap of 1:52.053. Just under .4 seconds behind Patel in the P2 position was the No. 188 Miata of Wilmington, N.C., local, Fred Kumpel, with a fast lap of 1:52.359. In a distant P3 was the No. 09 Miata of Patrick Kelley with a fastest lap of 1:56.667. Sunday’s results saw Patel retain the P1 spot from Saturday, but with Kumpel bowing out on Sunday with a long drive home, the No. 819 Miata of Matt Swords was able to slide into the P2 spot with a lap time of 1:58.211, just squeaking out the No. 09 of Patrick Kelley, who also retained his P3 spot from Saturday.
Next up for NASA-SE Time Trial will be the first of two scheduled competition weekends at the historic 12 turn, 2.54-mile confines of Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, June 11-12 for the Turn 7 Gurl Flatten the Curves race weekend. The event is named in memory of Hazel Harrell, affectionately known as “Turn 7 Girl” for the corner flag station where she was a fixture for 15 years before tragically losing her life on June 3, 2017, while doing what she loved, working Turn 7 during a motorcycle racing event. Always be sure to thank your corner workers and officials!