The third annual NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires is receiving entries from across the country that will assure strong competition October 14-16 at Buttonwillow Raceway.
NASA Western States Championships event director Ryan Flaherty will be using two different track configurations over the three-day event. The Buttonwillow track layout options, known as CCW (counter clockwise), will be a great test of speed and handling over the Championship weekend.
“On Friday we are using configuration No. 1 CCW,” Flaherty said. “Configuration No. 1 is 3-miles, which includes the Star Mazda Turn and the Bus Stop. These two sections are challenging and require a precise touch along with a good handling race car. On Saturday and Sunday we will use configuration No. 25 that measures 2.92-miles, which removes the technical Bus Stop and provides another passing opportunity and higher speeds. Using the combination of tracks is a perfect blend of technique and speed, providing a unique opportunity for NASA racers to demonstrate their skills.”
Justin Casey (No. 85 Mazda Miata) is heading to Buttonwillow with two goals, win the Spec Miata race overall, which will make him the NASA Western States Champion on Sunday as well as win the Teen Mazda Challenge (TMC) championship that will be decided Friday and Saturday.
“I have raced at Buttonwillow Raceway Park many times, the first time being several years ago when I was racing with the Northern California Karters,” Casey said. “My biggest competition will be, that is if Mark Drennan is not racing, Matt Cresci. Matt is a good friend of mine and he always performs really well under high-stress situations, so I am looking for him to give me a good run. My goals are the same as everyone else who is entered, to win this race. Simple.”
Casey is also in the hunt for the Teen Mazda Challenge Championship.
“The Teen Mazda Challenge is a series within NASA that consists of drivers who are between the ages of 13 and 22 that race within the Spec Miata Class. The drivers race against the entire Spec Miata field, follow the same rules that NASA has created, and usually each region will have four-to-six race weekends per season. TMC competitors are scored based on their position compared to the rest of the TMC drivers. So for example if someone finished second overall within the Spec Miata field, but first overall amongst TMC drivers then that driver will be awarded first place points for the TMC championship. The overall concept of the Teen Mazda Challenge is to allow younger drivers to begin racing cars at a younger age in order to allow more time to improve their race craft. We are racing to be eligible to be invited to the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. If the driver is invited and wins the shootout, then they win a $100,000 scholarship to compete in The Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup for one year. So overall, this series provides an extraordinary opportunity from Mazda for younger drivers to further develop their racing career.”
Manny Coats is a previous Honda Challenge Champion, winning at Mid-Ohio in 2008 and 2011. He is bringing his No. 72 Acura Integra to Buttonwillow to go for a third Championship title.
“I have a lot of laps around Buttonwillow in both configurations and it is my favorite track in our region,” Coats said. “Buttonwillow has a great mix of technical turns, with some of them blind. I had a great battle with Carlos (Valenzuela) last year at the Championships before I had a mechanical failure that took me out of the race. I know he is bringing an even better car this year, so I expect he may be the guy to beat. There’s also last year’s H4 Champion, Steve Peterson, with a newer, faster power plant than he had at last year’s Championships.”
NASA Western States Championships 2016 schedule:
Buttonwillow Raceway track configurations: