Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Snow Race GTS Recap

NASA Mid-Atlantic's February "Lap Dance" event is always a gamble with weather.  After the past couple years of fairly warm weather, we were bound to have a change.  This year was quite memorable in that the Friday test day was a warm and sunny 60 degree day.  However, that would change quite dramatically.  Mid-Atlantic GTS director Eric Wong was trying to play amateur weather forecaster of late and was already changing his tires and car setup in said sunny 60 degree weather to a wet configuration.  He did warn a good number of people to expect rain/snow all day Saturday.  Some listened, while some others did not bring down wet tires at all for this event.  Saturday proved quite challenging as snow fell and temperatures hovered around 34-35 degrees.  GTS2 competitor Jim Khoury dragged his brother John down to this event who had this to say of the snow: "if anyone told me my first ever rookie race would be in the snow, I'd would have laughed. Only thing that motivated me to run anyway was seeing you (Wong) and Max (Fischer GTS4) suit up in spite of the snow. Damn, now I have to race..  One more thing checked off my bucket list.." 

In GTS2, at least 3 competitors did not bring rain tires with them.  They scrambled around the paddock asking to borrow wheels and tires.  DJ Fitzpatrick ended up borrowing a fellow DE driver's street tires, Paul Newby borrowed some trailering wheels which were all mismatched and Jim Khoury took advantage of some tires that became available when Donnie Weymer had a mechanical issue.   Newby would later comment: "You'd think the exciting and novel thing this weekend would be the snow race but for me it was racing on 3 different tire sizes with three different brands of tires that was most unique".  Fitzpatrick took the green and did not look back.  Michael Dayton finished second, followed by John Carey.  Khoury unfortunately bowed out early trying to do a Tough Mudder run.

Sunday weather cleared up and setup nice conditions for challenging lap records (Sunny with temps in the mid to upper 30s).  in GTS3, Wong would take down a prior record held by Josh Smith who is still completing a new car build.  After battling through traffic, Wong backed off some to get some open laps and clicked off a 2:04.316, which will now be the new benchmark.  In GTS2, Dayton would suffer engine issues dropping him back from P2 to P4.  Again, Fitzpatrick remained unchallenged while a nice battle ensued in P2-P4.  Jeff Emanuelson took P2 early but Carey battled and was able to take the position in the longer 40 minute race session.

GTS Mid-Atlantic also has a new contingency sponsor for 2013.  MCS (Motion Control Suspension) is a market leader for high quality, race proven and race winning setups.  MCS will award winners of MidAtlantic GTS classes at the end of the year with very generous awards for P1-P3.  After this first event, the leaders for each class are as follows: GTS1: Joe Boschulte, GTS2: DJ Fitzpatrick, GTS3: Eric Wong, GTS4: Max Fischer, GTS5: Jim Taggart

Eric Wong's Sunday video (with Cobetto, Korzen, and Fischer):

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 NASA GTS Mid-Atlantic Preview

  The GTS Series in Mid-Atlantic has garnered some serious attention in the past few years as racers have made the series one of the most competitive in the nation.   It has developed some recognizeable names on the national level, such as Josh Smith (GTS3 National Champion), Eric Wong (GTS3 Nationals Runner Up), as well as regional stalwarts, Jason Crist (GTS2), Jim Khoury (GTS2), Joe Boschulte (GTS1), Peter Kamarchik (GTS1), Omar Lopez (GTS4) and Max Fischer (GTS4).  Newcomers, such as rookies DJ Fitzpatrick (GTS2) and Paul Newby (GTS2) look to keep things interesting and competitive.

As many of these names continue to dominate in this region and those abroad, taking home the bulk of trophies and prizes, the MidAtlantic region series could be as heated as ever.  Here is a look at some developments that could make this season quite the fight:

1. GTS2
Despite a math error for one race, rookie sensation DJ Fitzpatrick shocked the veterans last year with consistent driving and results propelling him to the MidAtlantic title.  After some early season headaches, Khoury came back charging towards the end of the season.  Crist suffered motor issues mid-season, but aims to impress this year with a detuned S54 transplanted in his GTS2 car.  Crist could very well post a significant challenge in 2013, but he will have to make sure the car performs with no issues from event to event.  He must also have a consistent performance, not just at his home track VIR, but Summit Point as those valuable points add up.

Michael Dayton renting a GTS2 car all 2012 has plans to continue this year in a rented E36 M3.  Dayton seemed poised to take multiple wins in 2012, but various incidents would elude a win for him.  Hoping to escape this jinx, he is determined to take the top spot at multiple races this year.

Donnie Weymer also had motor troubles mid-2012.  After a full engine teardown, it appears the problem was isolated to a loose oil pickup bolt!  Sparing the need to spend even more money on another replacement motor, Weymer can now focus on driving!

Fitzpatrick seems to be the man to chase this year.  Like Crist, should Khoury and Weymer maintain their cars and are consistent, they will pose a significant threat to Fitzpatrick.  With Dayton ridding himself of the monkey on his back, DJ will have to work hard to defend his GTS2 MidAtlantic Title.

Scenes like this were regular in 2012.  The close racing meant any mistakes would cost you a win.  Being consistent and making few mistakes will be the key to winning GTS2 in 2013.

2. E46 M3 v. E92 M3 in GTS3
Josh Smith rode 2012 all the way to the top of NASA ranks by securing and defending his 2011 National Champion title in GTS3.  High on his pedestal, Smith sold his proven, winning E46 M3 in order to challenge himself building and developing a new platform in the E92 M3.  Eric Wong saw momentum towards the end of 2012, finally dialing in the new to him E46 M3.  It will be interesting to see how Wong's E46 M3 does versus the new E92 M3 Smith is bringing to the party.

Details are key.  As seen here, Smith goes over pre-race checklists and settings to ensure his car is 100% ready.

3. Fischer v. Lopez
Both known names in NASA MidAtlantic, these two continue the BMW vs. Porsche fight.  Max Fischer (BMW) sold his E46 M3 last year and is also building an E92 M3 this year.  Omar Lopez (Porsche) continues to fine tune his 996 turning faster and faster laptimes.  It will be interesting to see these two battle it out this year.

Max Fischer's new E92 GTS4 M3

4. Boschulte v. Kamarchik
In what was a BMW v. Porsche battle in 2012, Joe Boschulte is ditching his Porsche this year for a BMW.  Boschulte spent all winter building a BMW 3-series for GTS1.  Looking to take back some of the records that Peter Kamarchik took in 2012, Boschulte hopes the new platform will provide some close racing with Kamarchik's BMW which is equipped with every imaginable goody you can think of.

Kamarchik's new graphics package

5. Rookies will be relevant again
There are many newcomers this year.  From the grapevine, I have heard about Martin Dettlebach, who bought Smith's championship car, Sanjeev Duggal in a Euro motor powered E36, John Huebner in an E46 M3, and a few more.  These rookies have the benefit of racing in one of the most competitive regions in the nation which will prepare them well for the future.

John Huebner's McDonalds GTS3 M3.  This is going to make us hungry while racing.
Look for most, if not all of these names at the first event to kickoff at VIR in February.  Event information can be found here:

Here's to a successful and fun 2013!