Clean Slate—Racers start fresh as the NMCA West Auto-X Spring Fling kicks off the 2021 season

Written By RJB
Photography by Terry Lysak

Do you know what love is? For us, it is spending Valentine’s Day at the track. Sharing what you love with who you love is one of the greatest things in life. Sharing cars and spending time together, it was great to have so many friends and family sharing the passion for something we love. As we start a new season, it’s a clean slate, and everyone is tied for first. Life, love, and racing; it’s like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re going to get! We cannot wait to see how it turns out. Check out the highlights from the Nitto Tire NMCA West Auto-X Spring Fling in Fontana as we kick off the 2021 season.

It may have started as a three-hour tour, but it ended up being a six-year journey. Always a contender, Chad Ryker clocked numerous class wins, event wins, and multiple series championships in Classic Muscle. He has an impressive resume, but to be the outright fastest car on the property is no easy task and when you are up against Corvettes, EVOs, Lamborghinis, and Porsches. Try to doing that with a 1967 Mustang. Chad did just that by running as the fastest car on the property both days. What an incredible accomplishment by man and machine!

George Reiss is a corruptor, and I mean that in the best possible way. As an incredible ambassador to our sport, George always brings new people to the event to share in his passion for having fun racing cars. He takes people for rides, helps others with setup changes, and spends his time making sure everyone is having a good time. George has a big heart and apparently a bigger right foot. Taking the win on Sunday this early in the year proves that he is a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season.

It’s not easy, but with great effort comes great reward. As the rest of us prepared to race Saturday morning, Matt Ramirez and his dad (we call him “Matt’s Dad but he also answers to Jim) found themselves removing the transmission from their car—again. First the clutch, flywheel, and fluids came out, followed by repeated testing and adjustments. The car was finally loaded into the trailer sometime after 1a.m. Sunday morning. The relief of making it to the track was quickly replaced with questions and concerns as Matt pulled to the starting line for his first run. At this point, we were midway through the first round and many fast cars had already run so we knew what a fast lap time was on the course. If the anticipation and pressure wasn’t enough, it seemed that the entire field was watching. The clock showed us that Matt was the first person to break the 46 -second barrier with a 45.958. However, the look on Jim’s face told the real story. In fact, you could see it on both their faces. That’s what it’s all about! Winning the Demon Motorsports Modern Muscle Class was awesome, but the memories of this weekend will last a lifetime.

Love is in the air. We were honored to be part of a monumental event in the lives of these two incredible people, Josh Mason and Nicole Shumate. Josh did it the right way and got down on one knee and Nicole said “Yes!” We wish them both many years of health, happiness, and racing.

Our defending Grand Champion, Tom Berry, knows what it’s like to have a target on his back after more than a decade of winning national championships, so you know he is ready for the challenge. A long line of competitors showed up ready to take a shot at the top spot. Berry proved that he is Mr. Consistent and claimed the first event win of the series in the Custom Machine Performance Super Car class! It’s a long season and you never know what could happen.

As the event wound down, the proud winners gathered to collect their hardware for a variety of achievements, including the overall victories in the Sports Car, Demon Motorsports Modern Muscle, Classic Muscle, The Sheely Collection Truck, Custom Machine Performance Super Car, and Auto Ricambi Compact classes.