Midseason Moves—The NMCA West Nitto Auto-X Series hit its stride with round three of competition

Written by Brandy Phillips

Photography by the author

With only three events remaining in the season, it is officially the halfway mark of the NMCA West Nitto Auto-X Series. Though anything can happen during the final three events, the drivers leading the overall points championship for the yearend Nitto have stayed fairly consistent up to this point.

Rather than one particular make and model group dominating the podium, the overall leaderboard is spread out between the Sports Car Class, Modern Muscle and Classic Muscle Class. This goes to show that consistency, accuracy, and attendance are more important than just plain being fast. Though speed is still part of the equation in winning the overall championship, it is definitely not the only part to claiming the title.

Jordan Priestley still maintains the overall point’s lead with his JDP-equipped 2017 Corvette. Aside from Priestley racing his Corvette, his Utah-based shop, JDP Performance, is a sponsor the NMCA West Auto-X Series. With his sponsorship comes numerous other responsibilities as Priestley can be seen under customer cars and helping customers improve out on track throughout the weekend. How he does it all is still questionable, but he is definitely on fire this year as he maintains his level of professionalism both on and off track.

Paul Molina sits in second place overall with his 2017 Mustang. Molina is extremely competitive in the SCCA series, but he has also been a longtime member of the NMCA West Auto-X Series. There is no doubt that this extra seat time has helped Molina maintain his overall podium lead out of 112 vehicles, as well as headlining the Modern Muscle Class throughout the past three events.

The Mid-Pack Leader was up for grabs once again over the course of the two-day event. When the group was first started, there were only a select few in contention for the award. Throughout the past year the trophy gained a great amount of attention as new members were inducted into the group. Rick Dehart, one of the original members, was finally declared the new Mid-Pack Leader for the third NMCA West Auto-X race.

An NMCA West Auto-X would not be the same without those who are given Special Recognition awards throughout the weekend. Three generations were honored Saturday, though the true award was highlighting the youngest of the generations, Dean, and his skills behind his go-kart during lunch. All three generations were brought up during the awards ceremony Saturday including Nick Herrington and his father Tom Harrington, who both got behind the wheel of Nick’s 1967 Mustang for some family bonding.

Fast is not always best at these NMCA West Auto-X events, especially when you’re hitting cones. Evan Dalley knows a thing or two about cone carnage during the past event while behind the wheel of his TCI-equipped 1963 Nova. Cone destruction has its own special award, which Dalley was graciously awarded Saturday evening.

The Racing Byrds love highlighting drivers who are new to autocross or new to the NMCA West Auto-X Series. Though Robb McIntosh is not new to the series, he has always played the role as spectator to his son, who drives a fully custom 1969 Camaro. With the recent purchase of a 2009 Corvette, McIntosh felt the need to give his new toy a little test drive. It was inspiring to finally see McIntosh out on track rather than standing on the sidelines and hope to see him behind the wheel of his C6 more often.

The one and only bright green Mopar in attendance at these NMCA West Auto-X events has become quite a familiar sight as Bill and Cheryl Shumate regularly make the trek from Arizona for each of the 2019 NMCA Auto-X events. What is not seen though is the tragedy this family faced five years ago after the loss of their teenage son, Justin. Thankfully, Bill and Cheryl have pushed through the pain and now honor their son with their 2015 Challenger. Team Justin offers a little form of remembrance and for that they were honored with a Special Recognition Award on behalf of Justin Sunday evening.

Lester and Angelica Davis have become regulars in the NMCA West Auto-X series. Though they have faced several speed bumps in their co-driven 1971 Chevelle, the husband and wife team is always keeping it feisty and real. Their main goal each event is not only to improve, but also to beat each other throughout the weekend. Their spirit and passion was rewarded, as they too were highlighted Sunday evening during the award ceremony.

One award that takes place every event, but is not always featured is the Fastest Lady Award, honoring a particular female driver who drove the fastest overall each day. Jane Thurmond has been a force to be reckoned with at these events as she has maintained the Fastest Lady Award for most of the season. Thurmond once again took the lead in her little red 1964 Corvette, earning her the title of Fastest Female both Saturday and Sunday.

Round three of the NMCA West Auto-X Series did mark a new overall winner for the weekend. Though Jordan Priestley still maintain the overall points lead, Tom Berry, in a 2015 GT3 Porsche, cleaned house throughout the weekend earning him the title of champion for round three of the NMCA Nitto Auto-X Series.

NMCA West Nitto Auto-X Series Round Three Winners

NMCA West Nitto Autocross Saturday Class Award Winners

Classic Muscle:Efrain Diaz, 1971 Camaro

Classic Muscle Pro:Chad Ryker, TCI Mustang

Modern Muscle:Mike Horn, 2016 Mustang

Modern Muscle Pro:Paul Molina, 2017 Mustang

Sports Car:Tom Berry, 2015 Porsche GT3

Sports Car Pro:Jordan Priestley, 2017 Corvette

Compact:James Gassor, 2008 Saturn Sky

Compact Pro:Mario Torres 2004 S200

Truck:Mike Williams, 1969 C-10

Truck Pro:Cole Reynolds1962 Ranchero

Exhibition:Sal Solorzano, 1971 Camaro / Michael Ahlstrom, 1965 Dunebuggy

NMCA West Nitto Autocross Sunday Class Award Winners

Classic Muscle:Sal Solorzano, 1971 Camaro

Classic Muscle Pro:Chad Ryker, TCI Mustang

Modern Muscle:Chris Sperling, Camaro

Modern Muscle Pro:Mike Horn, 2016 Mustang

Sports Car:Robert DeuPree, 2013 Lamborghini

Sports Car Pro:Tom Berry, 2015 Porsche GT3

Compact:Brandon Harris, 2002 Mini Cooper

Compact Pro:Marc Lewis, 2017 Miata MX5

Truck:Claudia Robles, 2005 Colorado

Truck Pro:Rob Phillips, 1972 C-10

Exhibition:Michael Ahlstrom, 1965 Dunebuggy