Racers accustomed to Buttonwillow Raceway know what they’re getting when they report for duty at this facility. They know they will be facing a technical racetrack with blind rises, fast sweepers, camber changes and interrupted braking zones. Buttonwillow is a tough track to master, and taking the win here requires a commensurate amount of skill and experience — and nerve.

Then, of course, there are the infamous clouds of Buttonwillow dust, which can obscure your vision to the point of treachery. You can’t see anything in front of you, or in your mirrors, and if there’s no wind, those clouds tend to linger. Buttonwillow dust played a role in the Western States Championships when cars dropped wheels and in the races late Sunday afternoon when the wind picked up.

But those are the challenges that any racer must rise above to become a Champion.

This year’s event presented those challenges and more. When the dust settled, after all the results were tallied and the cars were inspected, NASA crowned 23 new Champions, all of whom had earned that title honestly. These are their stories.

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