Hot Fun In The Summertime—NMCA West autocross action heated up at the Summer Fling

Written by RJB
Photography by Luis Vivar

As dawn’s early light washed across the track, we were blessed with an amazing view of Mt. Baldy. Eventually, soaking in the purple mountain majesties of America the beautiful gave way to triple-digit temperatures. However, even the heat couldn’t stifle the mood of the drivers. As we like to say, it’s a dry heat. The weather didn’t really didn’t matter; we were just happy to be racing.

That said, some people got inventive. The group from San Diego devised an incredible misting system that encompassed three tents and worked flawlessly all weekend thanks to two 55-gallon drums of water—genius!

As temperature rose, so did the level of competition. With fierce battles in every class, the action on track was exciting and intense to watch as several of the class wins came down to the competitor’s last runs of the day. It is an honor to be a part of this brotherhood of racers and our AutoX Family!

No longer is the Camaro the dominant force in the Modern Muscle class, as it has been overrun by a stampede of wild Mustangs. Kurt Burris saddled up his GT350 and led the pack, taking the Modern Muscle Pro class win both days. With the top-five fastest cars all Mustangs, the balance of power has definitely tilted toward the Blue Oval. The running of the Mustangs on Sunday was a sight to behold. Burris hit full stride and ran a 40.966, while defending Champ Paul Molina clocked a 41.004 and newcomer Gary Cameron logged a 41.062. The runs were close to say the least. That’s 0.096 between the top-three guys. Like a great horse race; they were neck and neck as they crossed the finish line. Burris holds a narrow lead in the class championship, but there is some good news for our Chevy fans… the next five guys in the points standings all drive Camaros!

This red 1967 C10 Stepside is stunning and if that isn’t enough, it will shock you with its on-track capabilities. Like many of us, Sean Kelly was lured to one of our events by a good friend and he hasn’t missed an event since. Thanks to tons of hard work, too many upgrades to list, and lots of seat time, Sean became one of the top guys in the Truck class. Running his best time on his last lap to take the win on Saturday shows that he is a serious competitor for the Truck championship.

Anyone who is into cars, or trucks, or well anything that you can race understands the plate on Mike Williams’ C10. The truck started out pretty stock with a long bed. Since then, he added a new motor, short bed, front clip, suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, and a bunch of other stuff. Needless to say the plate is apropos. On Sunday, Mike took the early lead after the first session, but with the top-three trucks being close, it was going to be a tough battle. Putting down his fastest run of the day in the last session earned him the win on Sunday. It took 20 solid laps over the weekend for Mike to edge ahead of both Sean Kelly and Pat Sheely in the event points standings. He continues to lead the Truck class Championship points standings, however, only eight points separates the three drivers, so this will get interesting before it’s over.

As the event came to a close and everyone headed home, Mike Williams and Sean Kelly loaded up and headed to NCM Motorsport Park to compete in the first-annual Pro-Touring Truck Shootout. Two days of autocross, a speed/stop challenge, and a driveability cruise at this event put both men and machines to the test. Competing in the T-1 class, which was the largest group at the event, the guys went up against the toughest trucks in the nation. We would like to Congratulate Mike for his second-place finish and Sean for his third-place finish in the overall competition. Way to go and keep on truckin’!

This young man gives me hope for the future of our youth. You may recognize Austin by his YouTube handle, Speed Phenom. Many of his videos include on-track footage and this kid can drive. He brought out a Mustang GT350R and a C8 Corvette for some testing on the autocross. He posted a video comparing the two cars on track. I thought it was awesome—you can see what he is up to on the ’Gram @speedphenom.

Competing for a weekend event and earning points toward a season championship is no easy task. Every lap counts and points are awarded based on times regardless of class. To excel, you must run consistently fast with no mistakes. As if that wasn’t tough enough, try doing it in a car you haven’t driven in two years. That’s exactly what Scot Spiewak did this weekend. Consistently quick runs and no penalties were impressive, and he took the event runner-up award in his C5 Corvette.

As what seemed to be the theme for the weekend, our current points leader, Tom Berry, showed up with a different car. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the Evo, or maybe it was just Tom… What we do know is we all witnessed a master class in driving as Tom executed a clean sweep (Maybe he should call his car “Broom”). With overall fastest laps each day and the largest margin of victory to date, Tom secured his top spot in the points standing with another event Victor Award!

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree with this one. Lisa Berry, yes one of Tom’s daughters, showed that she is a force to be reckoned with. Earning the Fastest Lady award, she’s another really great kid who gives us hope for the future.

Saturday Winners: Chad Ryker (CMP), Greg Thurmond (CM), Kurt Burris (MMP), Gary Cameron (MM), Sean Kelly (TP), Marc Lewis (CP), Mike Knudsen (C), Tom Berry (SCP), and Ben Zukowski (SC).

Sunday Winners: Chad Ryker (CMP), Chris Humphreys (CM), Kurt Burris (MMP), Mike Horn (MM), Mike Williams (TP), Jeff Rodes (T), Marc Lewis (CP), Kerryann Adams (C), Tom Berry (SCP), and Matt Ramirez (SC).