For November, NASA Southeast took to the flat and smooth pavement of Carolina Motorsports Park. The weather was cool and the track was dry, setting the right conditions for Capers Zentmeyer to grab the pole with a time of 1:51.331.
In race one, 17 Spec Miatas took the green flag. They quickly caught the pack of Spec E30s, which started ahead of them in wave one. Zentmeyer led the assault on out-of-class traffic, followed by Yan Dia and Keith Williamson. While the top three remained in this order for the entire race, it was not without action. On the last lap, Williamson got to Dia’s bumper and was putting on pressure. As they came down the backstretch, the two went side by side through the infamous Kink. Dia had the inside of Turn 11 and maintained the lead. Williamson then took another shot as they approached Turn 14, taking the inside lane and making Dia turn wide.
The two were again side by side coming out of the last turn, but Williamson botched the 2-3 shift, allowing Dia to pull away and finish second. Not too far behind them, John Hammer and Matt Goodrich were having an epic battle for P8 and P9. The two were side by side in the last turn, touched as they exited, first with Hammer ahead, then with Goodrich inching in front as they crossed the finish line and earning P8. The final top five were Zentmeyer in P1, Dia in P2, Williamson in P3, Don Elvington in P4, and TMC driver Dean Dybdahl in P5.
For the Sunday morning race, Williamson led the field having set the fastest lap in Saturday’s race. By Turn 2, Zentmeyer had taken the lead, but the battle was on. Williamson applied pressure the whole race and the two ended up racing each other back and forth for the last several laps. Behind them, Don Elvington was solidly in third place until spinning out of Turn 14 on lap seven, allowing Dia to take over third place. Taking the hard charger award was newcomer and Teen Mazda Challenge driver Aryton Grim, who worked his way up from 16th all the way to P5! The final order was Zentmeyer in P1, Williamson in P2, Dia in P3, Elvington in P4, and Grim in P5.
For the last race, Williamson again led the field with Zentmeyer on his outside. As they took the green, Williamson maintained the lead followed by Zentmeyer, but Elvington took third from Dia as they moved through Turn 3. Before things could even really get warmed up, a red flag came out on lap one bringing the field to a stop.
When racing resumed, Dia got a better start, passing Elvington and taking P3. Elvington challenged Dia on the next lap, but Dybdahl gave Dia a nice bump draft to keep him ahead. This proved beneficial for Dybdahl as well, finishing ahead of Elvington in the end. The top five were Zentmeyer in P1, Williamson in P2, Dia in P3, TMC driver Dybdahl in P4, and Elvington in P5. Further back, David Ardoin, Goodrich, and Palazzolo were duking it out for positions six through eight, all while dicing through out-of-class traffic. It made for some great action and a nice show for the spectators. In the end, Goodrich ended up in P6, Ardoin in P7, and Palazzolo in P8.
This race weekend was dedicated to Darren Brady who unexpectedly passed away in August of 2020. Darren was a longtime racer and instructor for NASA, and a big part of helping grow the Spec Miata race class in the Southeast. It was a fun weekend of racing and a great way to remember our lost friend.
I feel like I owe it to Darren Brady’s memory to post this… I was driving HPDE in NASA Mid-Atlantic and feeling a bit stuck… I wanted to progress to TT, but not really finding a path. I asked an instructor to ride with me and found him to be… less than helpful.
I met Darren at VIR during Hyperfest… he was running Spec Iron, and I bugged him about his car because I was running a 2005 Mustang with the goal of racing SI. He happily talked with me… when I told him about feeling a bit stuck in MA, he immediately suggested running with SE. He called the TT director and set up a check ride at the next SE event at CMP. I ran TT that weekend and had more fun than I ever had… I clicked much better in SE. I ran a season of TT then went to SE’s comp school, racing two seasons in SI… it all goes back to Darren. He got me moving up ladder, and I’m not sure how far I would have gotten without meeting him. Thank you, Darren.