NASA Pro Racing - TT event report April 29-30 - Turning Up the Heat at Willow Springs We put our 5th and 6th event days of the 2006 SoCal TT season into the books this past weekend with 33 TT drivers participating. We have now had 75 drivers ...
NASA Pro Racing - TT event report April 29-30 - Turning Up the Heat at Willow Springs
We put our 5th and 6th event days of the 2006 SoCal TT season into the books this past weekend with 33 TT drivers participating. We have now had 75 drivers (over 230 entries) participate in the SoCal TT program so far in 2006, with 10 event days to go. We had tight competition in all classes from TTE through TTR. The weather wasn't bad on Saturday with a little overcast helping to keep things cool for part of the day. On Sunday, we were reminded that Willow Springs is in the desert as the air temps pushed into the mid-90's. It looks like we won't have to worry about rain for a while, because summer is getting an early start. On both days, the track temps were pretty high in the afternoons making the second session of both days the most productive for good lap times. About 2/3 of our best times of the day were set during the second sessions. As well, our first session on Sunday showed almost 30% of our fastest times for that day. Our drivers did an excellent job of avoiding incidents (spins and offs) in the first sessions, with a zero count on both days (Hey, Dave Royce, did you hear that?) So, we may be able to count some of our first sessions in upcoming events if they are going to be scorchers, and we continue to have zero incident counts.
This event also turned up the heat on the points standings. The majority of our 2005 Champions have been plagued with mechanical problems all season which has opened the door for many new names at the top of the standings in each class. In fact, only one of our seven Champions currently holds the top spot in his class (Shawn Dolan--TTD). And, unfortunately, Shawn's engine died on Sunday to make it a 100% sweep of our 2005 Champions that have had major mechanical malfunctions this season. However, I guarantee that our former Champs are getting their cars ready to try and regain their spots at the top of the class.
This was our first of two Super Street Time Attack Qualifier events. Russell Warr (1:30.56) and Craig Dabbs from Crawford Performance (1:31.59) won the honors of getting invitations to the Time Attack Final at Buttonwillow in November. Russ also took first place in TTU on both days, with Craig taking a 2nd and 3rd in TTR, getting bested by a Z06 and a Radical SR3 that are not eligible for the Time Attack Final.
Terry Free (1:30.33) took the lead in the TTR standings with his back to back wins this past weekend. Russ is going to have to try and fight his way back from 3rd place because of the events he missed due to car trouble. Tom Silbaugh took his first win ever in TT on Saturday in TTA, and then backed it up on Sunday with another first place finish. He now leads the TTA standings, with Steve Kwak close behind. Dan Rose (1:34.29) continued to impress this past weekend in TTB, making it five wins in a row including Saturday and Sunday. Team Fronti (1:35.52) took their fourth win in a row on Sunday in TTC, with current Champ Greg Greenbaum breaking an axle and hub on Saturday morning. Current third place driver Arthur Weber continues to be fast and consistent, making the TTC class one of the most competitive of all the classes this year. Shawn Dolan (1:37.96) had made it three wins in a row with Sunday's TTD win, but we'll see how long it takes him to get a motor running in that old beast Trans AM. He can afford to miss the next event without a problem and still stay at the top of the TTD standings. But, Ricardo Gomez, Aaron Schwartsbart, and Jerry Buza may have a great opportunity to tighten the points race with our upcoming event at Buttonwillow. Mark Rodrigues (1:40.36--TTE) took his fifth straight win also this past Sunday. Current TTE Champion Shawn Meze borrowed his wife's Beetle Turbo S, and managed a third on Saturday and a second on Sunday. The TTE class still has a tight competition at the top between four drivers. Don Gardner was a bit lonely in the TTF class this month, running solo on both days. However, he did break his previous WSIR TTF track record with a 1:41.21. This was the only track record set this past weekend.
Overall, it was really a fun weekend. There was some very fast and consistent driving, and a very low incident count. We pre-gridded six out of the eight sessions by prior lap times. This method is proving to be the best for getting open track for TT. We are asking our few non-TT HPDE4 drivers and instructors to strap a transponder on the car so that they can be put into the grid as well, instead of moving them to the back of the pack. We didn't have to deal with rain or extreme heat. We had a very nice awards ceremony (photos posted on the TT website) on Saturday, and there was no major drama--which is just what the doctor ordered!
It's not to late to register for the TT event at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah on May 20-21. https://www.nasaproracing.com/nasa_event/show/?event_id=291 <https://www.nasaproracing.com/nasa_event/show/?event_id=291> I announced about a month ago that if we get 10 SoCal drivers to go, that it would be declared an official TT Crossover event where the points earned there would be transferred to our region (And, we would add two more "drop" events so that drivers that didn't go wouldn't be penalized). We are very close to reaching our 10 drivers. We just need a few more at this point. The track has just opened, and is 4.5 miles long with 23 turns including some very fast staights and some very technical sections. The facility is an $85 million complex, and was built to host the top professional events. This will be your only opportunity to drive on this track with NASA this year. Also, we are considering making this event either a Crossover event or perhaps a Western States TT Championship. So, now is your chance to check out the track, and be one of the first drivers in the country to test it out.
Our Buttonwillow SoCal event is three weeks after the MMP event on June 10th-11th.