The 2023 NASA Championships are a culmination of hard work and sacrifice for the drivers who came from across the United States to compete at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

As they’ve learned after a long season of racing, so many things are out of their control, from the weather to parts that fail without notice. It’s no different at the NASA Championships, where the races are longer and the stakes are higher.

That makes the champagne even sweeter when they pop the cork on the podium as a new crop of National Champions were crowned Sunday at PittRace in Wampum, Pa. Whether they made podium or were middle of the pack, for drivers in 21 racing classes and seven Time Trial classes it was a week of racing they’ll remember forever.

Some results were still provisional at publishing deadline, and could be subject to change.

944 Spec

Polesitter Matt Giuffre’s main competition from Saturday, Bart Welte, suffered engine problems during Friday’s qualifying race, and that put Giuffre in the catbird’s seat for Sunday’s Championship race.

Giuffre got off to a good start and Todd Checkley was on his bumper for a lap or two, but then Giuffre seemed to switch on the afterburner and began to increase his lead lap after lap. After 30 minutes of green-flag racing, Giuffre had 15 seconds between himself and second place. One would think Giuffre would have been content to cruise to victory — but no.

“The first lap there I was being a little timid letting the tires come in nicely up the temperature. But once they gripped up, man, I decided to just throw the hammer down, see if I could put a gap on Todd,” Giuffre said. “Then a smarter person than me might’ve let up a little bit and just kind of managed the gap from there. But I was just having so much fun out there. And then I started seeing Miatas at the end of those straightaways and I was like, ‘Well, I guess I could probably go and try and catch those guys,’ like a little carrot dangling in front of me. And yeah, it was a fun time. I just had a ball.”

In the end, Giuffre was aces all weekend, winning qualifying, the qualifying race and the Championship. Checkley finished second with John Koryto in third. 

American Iron

Bruce Byerly has been racing nearly 20 years, and Sunday was the first national championship for the American Iron racer.

“This is the first win, it’s pretty sweet and pretty awesome after all this time,” said Byerly, who races in the Florida Region. “I’m sad for my buddies Marcos Rodriguez and Pat Wehmeyer. They broke down. We couldn’t do this if we weren’t all working together, so I’m happy to be here, but. …”

From the outside, Byerly’s victory looked easy, with a 14.5-second differential over second-place finisher Carmine Pace. Byerly said it was anything but easy.

“It looked better than it did from in the car because the transmission quit shifting,” Byerly said. “I had to do one shift with two hands, it wouldn’t go into fourth gear and fifth gear, so I struggled. I was just praying for the checker, quite frankly, but we made it work.”

Bob Collins joined Byerly and Pace on the podium with a third-place finish in American Iron.

American Iron Extreme

Brian Faessler has the ability to detune his car from the settings he uses for Super Unlimited and Time Trial Unlimited, and adjust the engine so it makes the appropriate power levels for American Iron Extreme. Even at those reduced power levels, it was more than good enough to get him to the front of AIX and to get him the Championship.

Faessler simply unplugged his car’s boost controller and ran on the boost-control spring, which brought the car down to about 580 horsepower at the wheels. But because he hadn’t turned a wheel in any of the qualifying races in AIX, he had to start from the rear of the field and make his way forward. Once he got by Daniel Manis, he never looked back. When he had Manis in his mirrors, he was able to build a gap, add another AIX National Championship to his collection, and set the track record at 1:47.502.

“I just wanted to make sure the start was clean, not piss anyone off. We’re all in this together and I just wanted to just make it a clean race for everyone,” Faessler said. “The traffic to me is not really all that bad, at least for our Great Lakes Region. Usually there’s 50, 60 cars here on track. So, this is actually kind of nice not having as many.

Camaro-Mustang Challenge

Hunter Lydic built a large lead early in Camaro-Mustang Challenge after an entanglement between Tom Long and Derek Wright, but Lydic had bigger worries when his car started smoking halfway through the race.

“It started smoking pretty badly under braking, so I wasn’t exactly sure what it was,” Lydic said. “I thought it might have been a rear brake line or a pinion seal. It was pretty tough to manage that and not get black flagged, but I was happy to bring it home.”

Lydic and Team Topdog was the team to beat in CMC, having won the qualifier and qualifying race before heading into Sunday’s Championship. Lydic, who knows the Pittsburgh International Race Complex well, said it was some of the best conditions he’s run on the track.

“There’s tons of grip out there and with the weather we couldn’t have gotten luckier with the clear skies,” said Lydic, who earned a podium spot at the Daytona International Speedway NASA Championships in 2021. “It wasn’t too hot, but towards the end of the race it was getting up there.”

Wright finished second and Steven Gernon was the third-place finisher in Camaro-Mustang Challenge. 

German Touring Series 3

Any good racer knows that if you drive off line long enough and often enough during a race that you might get your tires dirty with “marbles” and lose some grip. You also could collect all those bits of rubber on the inside of your wheels and cause an imbalance, which is what Dan Williams experienced during the qualifying race on Saturday.

As if that weren’t bad enough, a heim joint in his front suspension went bad and his car was shaking, vibrating mess by the time the qualifying race was over. With a full evening for his crew to make the needed repairs, Williams took his BMW E36 and scampered to a large early lead till lap 11 when double-yellows came out and bunched up the field. At the restart, Williams simply pushed the “rinse and repeat” button and finished in first place 5.677 seconds in front of Roberto Crescencio in second and Peter Agapoglou in third.

“It was just super fun and I was certainly after the checker, but even during the race, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for how fun it is and how lucky I’m to be here,” Williams said. “And so many NASA staff helping make this show happen for us. It’s really amazing how many people it takes, and they work so hard to make it great. So, a lot of appreciation to them and my family as well, helping me make this possible.”

Honda Challenge 2

Back-to-back championships are rare, but NASA Mid-Atlantic’s Jonathan Baker nailed a repeat championship in Honda Challenge 2, nabbing two championships in two consecutive years at two different tracks.

Baker didn’t get the best of starts against former National Champion Brian Shanfeld, but he did manage to put Shanfeld behind him by the exit of Turn 5. When a double-yellow emerged in lap three, it bunched the field up, but Shanfeld had dropped well back after an off-track incident, and by the time the race came to a close, Baker had an 18-second lead over second-place Jeremy Lucas and third-place Yevgeniy Noak.

“We knew that the other guys were going to be fast on the start. We’re kind of a long-game player, so yeah, Brian was right in the mix with me,” Baker said. “He was next to me. He looked like he missed his braking point, I think honestly, because I was blocking where he could see the brake markers and I could see he braked way too late. So instead of turning in with him, I just waited, turned in behind him.”

Lucas finished second with Noak in third.


All the Legends cars are built in the same shop and according to newly crowned Legends National Champion Bobby Christensen. What separates the cars is how the driver handles the 2.78-mile PittRace course.

“They’re dead equal, so just whichever driver happens to have the best day or something didn’t break is probably going to win,” Christensen said. “Bobby (Pugh) got black flagged and that messed his day up. Bryan (Poage) got knocked off the track by a Thunder Roadster and I happened to be the lucky one.”

Christensen has tried five times to win a National Championship and Sunday’s Championship was the first for the Texas Region driver. He broke a gear in qualifying, so he didn’t know what to expect.

“I was always close, but never quite there,” Christensen said. “Today happened to be my day.”

Poage was second and Pugh was third in the three-car class.


It was Great Lakes Region’s Gobel Newsome’s first time competing in the NASA Championships, and he came away with a championship by outlasting rookie racer Harry Colson, who joined the NP01 class this season after participating in HPDE.

Newsome, who had a clean sweep by winning qualifying and the qualifying race earlier in the event, built an early lead after getting through traffic and rode it to the checkered flag.

“My brakes got a little hot, I got a little nervous there for a little bit,” Newsome said. “But I let it cool off for a few laps and brought it home.”

Colson’s first year in wheel-to-wheel racing is one he’ll remember.

“It was a great experience being out here on track with a lot of fast guys in Super Unlimited, ST 1, 2 and 3,” Colson said. “I’m a first year out here, so I’m just loving it.”

Spec E30

You know, for a while there during the 2023 NASA Championships, it looked like it was going to come down to a battle between Jack Cobetto and Eric Pennington for the Spec E30 crown, but the two drivers made mistakes that cost them a number of positions on grid for the Championship race.

Then there was Robert Grace, who put together a measured approach to the qualifying race and wound up on pole, which was all he needed to break away and nab the win — and his third Spec E30 National Championship.

It was a good thing that the race had been shortened by an aborted start due to a Spec E46 crash in Turn 1 on lap one. If the race had been a lap or two longer, Cobetto might have caught him, which could have been due to Grace being on cruise control or Cobetto driving wheels off his car.

“Probably a little bit of both. He was driving great, for sure,” Grace said. “I got a good gap at the start and was trying to just kind of manage at that point. But Jack was closing in there, so maybe a little too close for comfort at the end.”

Cobetto finished second and Jason Griscavage finished third.

Spec E46

The Spec E46 race was marred by an aborted start due to an incident in Turn 1 on lap one. The race was red-flagged and started late, so drivers knew the race likely was going to be shorter than the usual 45 minutes. That meant they had less time to get the job done.

Michael Kanisczak might have had pole position, but Casey Mashore leapt from his second place starting position and took over the lead by lap two and built a bit of a gap on Kanisczak. However, as out-of-class traffic thickened for the two front runners, Kanisczak began to reel in Mashore and eventually and methodically overtook him to take the lead and to hang on for the win.

“I think his car is strong. He definitely had the advantage in the straights. I had a little bit in the corners, so I had to be patient, right?” Kanisczak said after the race. “I had to be patient, wait for tires, look for weak points, and then when one was there, just take advantage of it.

“So, I mean, I think he has a very strong car. So, coming out of any straight, he just pulled a little bit, so it was hard to stay on the gap. But anytime it went into the esses or 11 or 12, I would scrunch that gap a little bit and it would stretch again on the back straight. So, a little bit of a Slinky, but again, waiting for an opportunity, pounce on and it worked.”

Mashore finished second with Eric Haagenson in third.


In Friday’s Q1 and Q2, Charles Ford was looking like the man to beat, but a less-than-optimal tire choice in Saturday’s qualifying race relegated him to a second-place finish behind Jon McAvoy, who started on pole.

Well, you don’t give McAvoy any advantage if you can help it, because he will capitalize on it. And he did when he sprinted from pole position and took an early lead in the Spec3 race, which was shortened by a voided start due to a Spec E46 crash in Turn 1 on lap one. McAvoy led from flag to flag and took the Spec3 National Championship, his third such title.

“If you don’t have somebody to fight with the way those two guys were fighting (behind me), then I get lucky, right? I mean, they’re battling each other. They’re looking in the mirrors. That might be a 10th, 10th and a half a lap, and I can just focus straight ahead. That was luck today,” McAvoy. “We’ve been here all weekend having a great time. I’m lucky and I’m happy to be up here and I’m blessed for the guys I ran with and I’m thankful for the group across the board. Everyone was aware today, heads up driving in the mirrors if you came up on lapped traffic or if they came up on you, and that’s just what this is all about. It was a blast.”

Sean O’Hara finished second and Ford finished third.

Spec Iron

Alex Schwartzenberger is set to get married in early October and a title he can add to the party favors is National Champion. Schwartzenberger won the competitive Spec Iron Class, getting the best of Jeff Wood and Robin Burnett, who finished in second and third place, respectively.

“From start to finish we were all over each other, the three of us were all covered up the whole time,” said Schwartzenberger, who won his first National Championship. “It was a good race, I can’t complain.”

Wood kept chasing Schwartzenberger but didn’t have enough to catch him.

“I was chasing him like a rabbit trying to keep pace and save my tires until the end, which kind of seemed to pay off.” Wood said. “I caught him, but I just couldn’t quite get the job done. We got into some lapped traffic and got side-by-side a couple times and had a good race. I’m pleased to get second.”

Spec Miata

Starting from pole position, like Travis Wiley did on Sunday, does have its benefits, but in a 45-minute-long Championship race, it doesn’t offer much advantage over P2, which is where Michael Carter started.

When the green flag dropped, Wiley used pole position to take the early lead, with Carter just behind and Marc Cefalo, Aryton Grim and Dan Williams in hot pursuit.

The front five began to separate from the rest of the field, as Carter and Wiley began to trade the lead every few laps. Because there were no full-course cautions, Carter and Wiley were cat-and-mouse the entire time. When the checkers flew, it was Carter with the win.

“Yeah, I’m not sure how much working together there was, but we did get a gap and that’s kind of what you want in a Spec Miata race, make it where your race is with as few cars at the end as possible,” Carter said. “And yeah, it was funny. My dad came over to the radio and said three laps to go and I saw the white flag. Obviously, this is the last lap, so I’m sure Travis didn’t know either, so that was all she wrote, I guess. But no, it was a good race. Some rubbing. Some bumping.”

Wiley took second place and Jonathan Davis finished third.

Super Touring 1

In hockey, for whatever reason, scoring three goals in a single game is called a hat trick, and we’ve kind of adopted that nomenclature for the NASA Championships when a driver wins Friday’s qualifying, Saturday’s qualifying race and Sunday’s Championship race. Joe Kellerman never picked up a hockey stick during the NASA Championships, but he earned his hat trick, winning everything there was to win at the event.

“I got a nice gap at the beginning to get me a little bit of traction, get out in front of some people and kept my lead the entire time and just maintained my gap,” Kellerman said. “So, it was a fun race. And just finally for the first time in four years, I got second a couple times and finally got my first place and  I won a national championship. It’s exciting.”

Brian Clarke finished second and Chris Ludwig finished third.

Super Touring 2

Jake Latham had a NASA National Championships to remember with victories in Super Touring 2 and Time Trial 2. Although Latham defended his 2022 Super Touring 2 championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, he was a little melancholy after Sunday’s championship race.

Latham had contact with a Viper and quickly went over to the other driver after the race ended.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet. I’m really happy to have the Championship,” Latham said. “I feel terrible I ruined the other guy’s race, so I’m a little bit happy, a little bit sad. I don’t make a habit of running into people.”

Latham won Saturday’s qualifying race, putting him on pole, and he was able to capitalize on a mistake at the start by Ben Grambau, who finished second. Nick Smither earned the final podium spot.

“It was like the messiest race I’ve ever been part of,” said Latham, who races the Rocky Mountain Region. “Nick (Smither) was behind me, I think he had a problem with his car, and he disappeared all of a sudden. I was wondering what the heck was going on. My radio wasn’t working, so I was very confused.”

Super Touring 3

The Super Touring 3 race between Eric Magnussen and Mark Burt was one of the most exciting races in Sunday’s Championships, with the pair swapping leads late in the race before Magnussen powered his BMW to victory.

The pair got caught up in traffic and were trading leads with neither Magnussen nor Burt able to pull away more than a few car lengths. To illustrate how close it was, Burt set a track record for Super Touring 3 with a 1:51.688 lap on the 2.78-mile PittRace course yet ended up in second place.

“I got to tell you, I don’t remember the last time I raced that close with anybody,” said Magnussen, who won a National Championship at Daytona International Speedway in 2021. “He was on it and so was I. We did a lot of sliding around as the tires got hot, the track got hot. The first one to take the checkered flag is all that matters.”

John Hyer finished third in the six-car class.

Super Touring 4

Team ST EDGE MV was fighting mechanical gremlins all week with the BMW 328i. The team had to replace a high-pressure power steering line, a clutch pressure plate and a tie rod. That made the team’s championship in Super Touring 4 all the sweeter.

“This happens so often with cars. They do break and you just have to be as prepared as possible,” said driver Shaun Webster. “We’re coming from the West Coast, so we tried to bring as many parts as we could, and we still didn’t have enough. But luckily a lot of the people around here in the paddock had a bunch of parts, which was huge.”

Webster built a substantial 4- to 6-second lead early in the race, but a yellow flag bunched the field back up. Webster said he had to back off his pace until the tires warmed up.

“There were some elements of stress toward the end,” Webster said. “I wanted to build the gap as big as possible, and it worked out.”

Second-place Nick DeRosa finished 1.39 seconds behind Team ST EDGE MV, while Scott Smith of the NorCal Region was third.

Super Touring 5

Traditionally drivers aren’t fans of yellow flags, especially when leading most of the race. For Nicholas Barbato, the yellow flag may have been a blessing in disguise. With a warmer PittRace track on Sunday and a 45-minute race, Barbato could feel the tires starting to give.

The yellow flag was thrown on Lap 11, bringing the field back together, but Barbato held off Samed Rizvi and Jeff Stutler, who finished second and third, respectively.

“I would have preferred it to be green because I had a big gap, but once it went yellow, I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to really get these tires cooled down in case it goes green,’” Barbato said. “If we had to go yellow, getting those (tires) cooled down was a better thing for the Maxxis.”

Barbato credits the championship to the prep work on the BMW M3.

“All those hours busting my butt in the garage for months to make it perfect, it all paid off,” Barbato said. “I’m so happy, man.”

Super Touring 6

All weekend long, the front of the Super Touring 6 field was a slugfest between Isaac Beekman and Christopher Armbruster. The two traded positions — and a flew flakes of paint — all weekend long. The Championship race on Sunday was no different, with Armbruster leading most of the race until a double-yellow on lap 11 bunched up the field.

Beekman was able to get close enough to Armbruster to pounce when Armbruster made a mistake, take the lead and carry on for the win and the ST6 Championship.

“Yeah, same story as last time. It was longer race, so I just settled in and waited. To his credit, he kept his composure for a long time, and it came down to the restart,” Beekman said. “We had some passing traffic and some slow traffic that we were coming up on, and he spun it and then somehow got it back on the track. But I was parked right behind him, basically trying to avoid the carnage, and so by the time we came to the finish line, he was right back on me. So, coming down the back straight, he went on the outside going on the last turn, I think he locked up a little bit, but it was still a drag race to the finish and he nearly got me.”

Armbruster finished second and Andrew Janoski finished third.

Super Unlimited

 Sometimes racing comes down to strategy more than outright speed, and Jonathan Finstrom’s pursuit of a Super Unlimited Championship is a perfect example. Finstrom sat out Saturday’s qualifying race to preserve his car for Sunday’s Super Unlimited Championship race and, as it turned out, for the Time Trial Unlimited Championship, and it paid off.

Because he didn’t start the qualifying race, he started last in a field of six and clawed his way forward to face off against Brian Faessler and his thundering Mustang. Finstrom trailed him for a few laps but found an  opening, made the pass and went on to win the Super Unlimited Championships. The two drivers also set a new track record four times during the race.

“He was definitely protecting the inside line, and he’s a great driver, great car. Hat’s off. I mean for him to be in a tin top, going against my car and being that competitive, it’s amazing what they’ve done with that car. So, congratulations to him. He’s been champion several times, so great job to him,” Finstrom said. “I was just reading him a little bit there and I see his protection, the inside lines and so he was kind of having to slow his corners up a little bit and I held back a little bit, and then I timed it where I could get a run at him and where he couldn’t do anything about it. That’s how I got him on Turn 8.”

Faessler went on to finish second, with Brian Tyler in third in his C&R Lightning Crown car.

Thunder Roadster GTR

Jeremy Zumwalt was running the perfect race when he hit an oil patch on a blind corner, giving Derrek Morehead the separation needed to win the National Championship in Thunder Roadster.

“It was a tough break for him, really a tough break,” Morehead said. “I caught a little bit of it myself. We almost touched coming up over the blind corner there and I was lucky enough to hold it together.”

Zumwalt was in first place from the start until Lap 12 when Morehead took the lead on laps 13 and 14. Zumwalt regained the lead the next two laps before Morehead overtook him on the final lap.

Morehead finished on the podium at the National Championships in 2019, but this year was his first Championship.

“I’ve been wishing for this step for quite some time now,” Morehead said. “I’ve been working a lot of hard hours and putting a lot of effort into trying to do it.”

Images courtesy of Jeremy Bryner and Brett Becker

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