Our first round of Super Lap Battle qualifying events took place at Firebird International Raceway on an unexpectedly hot Arizona April weekend, as temperatures soared to 100-plus degrees. NASA AZ regional director Tage Evanson and his crew organized the largest and most diverse weekend of race festivities in Arizona from dusk to dawn on two racetracks, including a skidpad for drifting. Attendees were treated to the sights and sounds of racing as well as a car show and drifting just adjacent to the main track. This year’s event provided more race action in a single day than what you might find in an entire weekend of motorsports, as NASA AZ pulled out all the stops, even including a DJ and moon bounces for the kids.
The morning started off on Firebird West, a smaller 1.1-mile course, with the Shootout Auto-X before moving onto the NASA HPDE groups 2 through 4, Time Trial groups split into Big Bore and Small Bore, and Race groups also split between Big Bore and Small Bore. NASA AZ also hosted two Hyperdrive sessions on FIR West, which offered an instructional driving seminar for first-time drivers.
Tage Evanson, driving his supercharged K24-powered EG Civic, ran impressive times throughout the day on FIR West, clocking the fastest time in the TTU class with a time of 1:00.4—a second quicker than the Second Place ’04 Dodge Viper. Anthony Szirka, piloting the UMS Tuning Mitsubishi EVO VIII, also tore up the track posting a respectable 1:03.2, landing in Fourth Place with Travis Barnes and his Snail Performance WRX placing Fifth with a time of 1:04.9.
The Firebird Main track, a 1.58-mile road course, went hot at 4 p.m. and it hosted a flurry of events that began with HPDE groups 1 through 4 storming the course, followed by Time Trial groups, Modified Magazine Shootout Time Attack, UMS Tuning Time Attack series, and the first round of Super Lap Battle qualifying. Phoenix native Jeremy Renshaw piloted the AFI Turbo Honda S2000, posting the quickest SLB qualifying lap of the day with a 1:05.2.
The UMS Tuning Time Attack was very challenging in their fourth event of the season, bringing the most competitors to its annual night racing event. The event had 50 registered vehicles in a competition that’s typically open to about 30 cars. Unfortunately, only 38 were able to compete.
At 5 p.m. when track temperatures were at their hottest, the West track went hot (no pun intended) again with Trial by Fire hosting drift sessions, which included a second track with skidpad. By having two tracks, Trial by Fire saw their most participants ever at this event with more than 60 drivers of all experience levels participating in practice and competition. Both drift participants and spectators alike enjoyed a smoke-filled venue with the event running until midnight and the entire event coming to an end at 12:20 a.m.