Making the NASA Time Trial debut, #62
Over the last several years, we have been building, tweaking, fabricating, cussing and maybe even a little embellishing our 1994 MX-5 into something that could be called a race car. Owner, Mike Brose, has been hard at work along the way improving his own skills and knowledge of the platform and racing organizational rules to be a creditable race car driver.
All of that work began with NASA Mid-Atlantic Autocross Championship events in 2011 and eventually took Mike to his first NASA Time Trial weekend just a few days ago on April 16th at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia.
Loading the car up Friday evening to paddock that night is crucial of any NASA weekend. These events are typically highly sought-after and book early which equals a packed paddock and premium parking is sometimes a competition just by itself!
Once paddocked, Mike set up for a good night’s rest in order to be prepared for the tech inspection and early morning warm-up sessions. Morning came, registration and tech inspection went through smoothly thanks to Laura Cobetto and Jon Felton and the NASA staff on hand. Mike was ready to grid for the first Saturday morning session. Myself, Bill Edwards, as acting crew chief (can you have a crew of two? lol) for the weekend was running late driving up that morning had to resort to watching the warm up laps come through on the Race Monitor smart-phone app while being 45 minutes away at the time. As I was driving and checking the times (while pulled off on the shoulder and not driving of course) – I was presently surprised to see the numbers tallying up on screen.
The car was quick. Quicker than Mike or myself thought given our crude stopwatch timing efforts during HPDE3/4 weekends in 2015.
Arriving on site just before Mike and the #62’s first timed session at 11:00am, we did a quick chat about how the car felt in the warm up sessions and what, if anything, should be changed going into the next laps. Only item changed was tire pressures for the Maxxis RC-1s to get them evened out. We began to notice some inconsistencies in the front left tire that needed a better check.
Before heading out for the first session, we hit the scales. The car’s weight came back at 2,416lbs. Not bad considering we’d just topped up another 5 gallons of fuel.
Mike goes out for the session – again monitoring his times through the app and watching the car come through on turn 10, it was still looking quick. Pitting in and running through car again confirmed we had an issue in the front left tire and now the right rear tire. No noticeable leaks could be found, but we were losing 4 to 5 pounds during the sessions. Something wasn’t right. Also made mention of a now broken passenger side sway bar end link in the rear of the car. It didn’t seem to be an issue on this track however.
The day went on and as it stood, the time of 1:28.640 seconds we achieved in the first session was holding off the remaining cars in the TTD class. This is not an easy thing to do pitting the Miata’s 134whp against E36 M3s campaigned by seasoned TTD veterans Christina Lam and Jake Thieves. We were happy to see the Miata could be competitive in the class.
After talking to the #345 driver, Christina Lam, she swapped her street RS3s for a set of fresh Hoosiers. We really wanted to see how quick she could go. This may sound counter productive to trying to win a class, but the NASA family has always been kind spirited and we wanted friendly competition knowing both Christina and Jake traditionally have laid out faster laps then what we were seeing during the day.
None of us knew that during that last session – Team Donovan Motorsports would switch drivers and muster out a blazing lap time enough to not only bump our Miata, but Christina and Jake as well. At the end of the day, I think we were all happy with the outcomes and I know as a team, Twitchy Racing, learned quite a bit.
We completed the day in 3rd place, following Christina and Eric (Donovan Motorsports). Mike was able to receive his first NASA Time Trial plaque and we were able to make some punchlist changes for the next event. Mike stayed over for Sunday’s events, swapping his RC-1s for the set of NT01s we have on hand so that Phil from Phil’s tire service could help diagnose the leaking tire pressure. He swapped all the valve stems for metal versions and we’ll have to wait until the next event to determine if that was indeed the cause on track.
Thanks again to everybody who helped get us there this weekend, the good competition throughout and the entire NASA Mid-Atlantic group for putting on another perfect weekend.