Tom Kaminski went to the Western States Championships on a recruiting mission to grow the Spec Z class, and brought home his first championship.
“We came here with our four guys just to make a presence in hopes of showing there is a Spec Z class out there and it’s very active,” Kaminski said.
Kaminski, Chad Aalders, Richard Fitzgerald and Paul Terry hope they made a persuasive recruiting pitch to grow the number of Spec Z cars beyond the Utah region where they race.
The competitive racing over the weekend might convince a few drivers to start looking for Nissan 350Z race cars.
Kaminski was the favorite heading into the finals having won both qualifier races. While friend and Spec Z racer Fitzgerald had to swap engines (see sidebar), Kaminski was enjoying a trouble-free weekend with his car.
“This was the first weekend where I didn’t have any problems with the car, which was good timing,” he said.
Aalders started out the race off the pace because of his tire selection. He opted for sticker tires and at one point flew off the track on the back straight.
“All of a sudden finally the heat started coming into my tires and I was able to pick up pace and I was able to close the gap, get through traffic and catch Richard (Fitzgerald),” Aalders said. “Rich’s fuel was cutting out and I was able to get by him.”
Aalders then tried to close the gap on Terry on the last lap but ran out of time. “He played perfect defense,” Aalders said.
It was all for naught, though, because Terry was disqualified after the race. The disqualification moved Aalders into second and Fitzgerald into third place. Considering that Fitzgerald was ready to leave after his engine gave out during session, a third-place finish was a notable turn of events.
“It was a challenge to get here,” Fitzgerald said prior to Sunday’s championship race. “If the cars go home and there is no carnage, that’s a good weekend.”