Nine Teen Mazda Challenge racers staged their own race within the Toyo Tires Classic to see who the standouts are among NASA’s youngest up-and-coming drivers. When the dust settled, Peter Ensor had finished first in Teen Mazda Challenge and sixth overall, a finish that netted him $2,500 in prize money.

“I was trying to stay clean at the start, but that didn’t work. That was out the window in Turn 1” Ensor said. “I was on the outside and somebody came into me in in Turn 1. I lost a few spots, and then it was just a battle for 45 minutes to try to get back toward the front.”

Peter Ensor

In Saturday morning qualifying, the rain was coming down, but that was just the thing Matthew Dirks needed to score overall pole position for the Championships race and, of course, first in Teen Mazda Challenge. Running one of the only first-generation Miatas in the front of the field, Dirks didn’t get a good start in the Championship event and lost several spots straight away.

“On the start, the 1.6 power was not very good, so I just got freight-trained by Danny Steyn and a couple other cars, and then in Turn 1, we had a little bit of contact, but it was nothing,” said Dirks, who held on to finish second.

Matthew Dirks

Behind him, third-place Hannah Grisham had struggled all weekend long, but found some speed in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. More time on the track helped Grisham navigate the 20-turn Circuit of the Americas, and her Morningstar Racing crew chief James Brown gave her the car she needed.

Behind Dirks, third-place Hannah Grisham had struggled all weekend long, but found some speed in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. More time on the track helped Grisham navigate the 20-turn Circuit of the Americas, and her Morningstar Racing crew chief James Brown gave her the car she needed.

“I went into the first turn and my plan was to just stay on the outside and let everyone else do the chaos on the inside,” Grisham said. “So that worked out pretty well for me. I got around some people, and then in the Esses, I got hit a little bit, but it wasn’t bad. It was a good race, and I’d like to thank Mothers, Morningstar Racing, Dr. Hunt Chiropractic Health Center, my parents and my sister and, of course, Mazda and NASA and Toyo for this great event.”

Hannah Grisham
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Image courtesy of Brett Becker