Momentum is everything in a class like Spec Miata. So important even, that it extends off the racetrack as well. Spec Miata may be one of the most popular classes in all of road racing, but it’s no secret NASA Northeast had not been seeing fields quite as large as it’s known for nationally. Over the past few years, many of NASA Northeast’s Spec Miata regulars have been working hard to change that, and we’re happy to say that moment seems to have arrived.
Momentum is in our favor. The growing class has crested 20 regulars, with 23 Spec Miatas taking the green flag at our season opener in April at Watkins Glen. At our event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Lightning saw 21 cars. The big news however, was the announcement of our own run group for July’s Lime Rock Park race. For both races, 26 Miatas took the green flag around the 1.5 mile “Bullring.”
The new class participants have been a mix of new drivers promoted up through NASA’s HPDE program and others coming from other clubs. The steadily improving numbers even have enticed drivers to come over from other classes within NASA. Spec Miata breaking off into its own run group allowed four drivers — Pete McIntosh II, Robert Casella, Chris Allen, and Jim Tramontano — to supersize and run in Spec Miata and Spec E30, with a fifth driver, Mark Mattice supersizing from American Iron Extreme.
At Lime Rock, after a rocky start to his season, NASA Northeast 2020 Spec Miata champion Pete Mcintosh II had been building momentum and was hoping to continue it, despite some extra competition in the growing field. With the remnants of Hurricane Elsa forecast to blast the already-challenging track, the weekend was sure to be interesting.
Miraculously, Friday’s weather outlook constantly improved and the Spec Miata group was lucky enough to enjoy a dry qualifier and race, with the exception of the portion of Turn 3 still under water. Day one qualifying was a shocking show of force by the home-team drivers, with four of the top five being Lime Rock Club members, spearheaded by Michael Gershon’s blistering 1:03.1.
Race one, however, had other plans. McIntosh II worked through the field and built up a sizable 5-second lead. There were great battles throughout the entire field, but most notable was the four-car fight for second through fifth, running door to door the entire race with a few position changes between second-place finisher Chris Graham and third-place Ben Wallace.
During the race, Spec E30 drivers Evan Luce and Mike Kovac graciously took up the PA system’s mic and offered their services, roasting, er, announcing the race and providing colorful commentary on the drivers, the racing, and Spec Miata in general.
Saturday began with this season’s big change from the traditional schedule: a qualifying race instead of the traditional hot-lap-style qualifying session. The podium held their positions through the eight-green-laps sprint, eventually finishing under yellow for a car stuck in the swampy runoff. Starting from the back, Devin Gregory and Robert Casella charged up through the pack gaining 10 and 12 positions, respectively. Steve Bessett also climbed six spots coming off his Friday DNF.
Saturday’s race was another win for Pete McIntosh. The big story of Saturday’s race was the other two podium slots. Chris Allen, a leading Spec E30 driver, used the opportunity of a Spec Miata-only run group to rent a car and supersize. Throughout the weekend, he consistently climbed through the field as his comfort in the Miata grew, ultimately finishing in second place on Saturday and cutting McIntosh’s Friday lead in half.
Dean Lambros also showed up for the weekend in a fresh car. With some teething and needing to be pulled out of the swamp twice earlier in the weekend, he started Saturday’s race at the back. When the green flag dropped, he put on a spectacular show and climbed 23 positions to round out the podium in third place!