NASA Southeast and Honda Challenge was back in Kershaw, S.C., for round two at Carolina Motorsport Park, breaking all kinds of records for the track and NASA Southeast. While not official at the time of this article there was record attendance in HPDE, Time Trial, racing and spectators, leaving very little real estate to put any additional trailers, cars or tents. Lap records were broken in many classes, not just Honda Challenge.
For Saturday’s race, Stephen Pearce was on pole in H1, followed by Andrew Hicks in P2 and William Hunter in P3. In H2, John Reamer was on pole followed by Team Moar Door with Shane Lovely at the wheel in P2, John Putnam in P3, Michael Kramer in P4 and the rookie Jason Scarbrough in P5. Both pole sitters had been away from racing for a while and came back proving they still had what it takes to drive fast.
Pearce, Hicks and Hunter got a jump on the field and the H2 field was in a dead-even drag race to the brake zone of Turn 1. As they looked through the corner, they saw a spinning Super Touring car coming to a stop in the middle of the track pointed in the wrong direction. Since they were all still door to door, they split the spun car down the middle then rejoined at the exit of Turn 2 back to door to door racing.
Exiting Turn 3, Scarbrough carried more momentum and passed Kramer moving into P4. As they approached Turn 4 there was another ST car spun but this time off track causing a local yellow. This finally set the field single file as they exited the Carousel and onto the back straight. The front five cars stayed in position through Turn 8, but Scarbrough put a late-brake move on Moar Door, taking the inside line attempting to pass, but could not outpace the corner speed of Moar Door.
Somewhere before the Kink, Reamer put a move on Hicks as he moved through toward the leader Pearce. Kramer laid back entering Turn 8 and got a huge drive out of the corner, closing in fast then bump-drafted Scarbrough to slingshot around Moar Door, but they got waved off at the last second due to another local waving yellow at the Kink, so Scarbrough and Kramer backed out. Right after they completed the first lap, a full-course caution came out. The incident at the Kink was an STU car that lost a motor, spun in his own oil, did a few 360s and came to a stop in a dangerous location.
A few laps into the double-yellow, the pace car pulled in and they went back to racing. Pearce, Hicks, Reamer and Putnam were well out front in clear sight of the start station waving the green flag. Not so lucky were the rest of the Honda Challenge racers and you could tell who had radios and spotters and who didn’t.
Kramer and Scarbrough instantly jumped on Moar Door and Hunter before they knew what happened. Scarbrough got past Moar Door but not enough motor to make it past Hunter, too. Kramer pulled up beside Moar Door, but the Thunder Roadsters start working their way through, making passing difficult. Two corners later, Kramer used the draft of one the Roadsters to slingshot around Moar Door just before they enter the Carousel.
Going into Turn 8, Scarbrough passed Hunter under braking and Kramer followed while Moar Door got caught in the middle of five BMWs and fell back with Hunter. At the entrance of Turn 11, Moar Door passed Hunter on the outside and set his sights on Kramer. A few laps later, Kramer got hit by a Spec Iron car, which ended his race early. Up front in H1, Pearce had a commanding lead and set the new H1 track record. Two laps later, Putnam developed an issue, which ended his race early. Moar Door closed the gap on Scarbrough and looked for a way around as the white flag waved.
At the finish line in H1, Stephen Pearce was the winner, followed by Andrew Hicks and Will Hunter in third. In H2, John Reamer was the winner followed by Jason Scarbrough and Team Moar Door in third.
Sunday morning Kramer was still making last minute repairs to his car from Saturday’s impact. Determined to do well, he went out for qualifying and dropped almost 2 seconds from Saturday’s fastest time. Reamer replaced a front axle after his went bad in qualifying and still set pole for H1. Hunter fought transmission issues during qualifying that ended his weekend early. On grid for H1 was Pearce in P1 and Hicks was P2. H2 was Reamer in P1 followed by Kramer in P2, Putnam in P3, Scarbrough in P4 and Team Moar Door in P5 with Melissa Lovely at the wheel.
At the green flag, Hicks got a great start, passing Pearce on the outside of Turn 1 and Putnam scooted around Kramer in Turn 3. Reamer tried to get around Pearce in Turn 3 but couldn’t make it stick. As they went around the Carousel single file, Pearce got a great drive on exit and went around Hicks on the back straight. H2 followed with Reamer, Putnam, Kramer, Scarbough then Moar Door all single file.
After the first lap, Reamer had another axle failure that ended his race early. On lap two, an ST car lost some liquid, spun off track then back on, stopping sideways dead center of the track in the brake zone immobilized, bringing out the full-course caution.
The cleanup was difficult and time-consuming because there was only a narrow path for the cars to go by while they spread kitty litter. Once that was cleaned up, the pace car pulled in and the racing began again.
All classes bunched together created one massive restart and traffic management was key. Pearce and Hicks were gone in H1, with Putnam on their tails. Then came the Roadsters, Spec E46 and Spec Iron working their way past Moar Door,but she got them by quickly allow her to return racing sooner and kept Scarbrough and Kramer in her sights. Next that pack caught Scarbrough and Kramer making it difficult for them to make any passing attempts. This went on for the rest of the race and positions never changed from there.
H1 finished with Pearce sweeping the weekend in first and Hicks in second. H2 finished with John Putnam in first, Michael Kramer in second and Jason Scarbrough in third.