NMCA West Auto-X Summer Nationals Coverage

Home Sweet Home

Competitors carved up the cones once again as the NMCA West autocross action resumed

Written by RJB

Photography by Claudia Robles/Ashton Robinson

Picture a parking lot filled with cones as the smell of the cool morning breeze glides across the pavement. The scent of smoking tires, a hint of burnt clutch, and wait, is that the smell of race fuel? It was like being in a different world, a different time, a distant memory of days gone by. It was like something that felt strangely familiar and comforting. It was like being at your grandma’s house where she would use her secret recipe to make something really amazing. I can almost smell it now…

With all of the sights and sounds of engines revving, tires squealing, and the timer running, it was a little overwhelming to say the least. Let’s face it, with everything going on, none of us knew exactly what to expect. What we found was that we could socialize. We kept our distance and simply showed respect for our fellow racers. By the time the first session was over and everyone had a chance to drive, the only thing that mattered was where they were in the standings, did they hit a cone, and how could they get faster.

That’s when it happened; People were actually having fun! The sound of laughter and the unmistakable smiles that could be seen through their masks and helmets brought it all together. We were back with our Auto-X family. We were home!

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. This one speaks volumes and barely scratches the surface on the story of this guy. Tom Kamman is a character in the best possible way. This weekend, Tom put forth an incredible effort to take the top spot on both days in arguably one of the toughest Classic Muscle groups in the nation. As if that wasn’t enough, Tom drove his C4 Corvette, that he affectionately and appropriately calls “Hail Mary,” and knocked one out of the park on Saturday beating out the entire field of Classic Muscle, Modern Muscle, sports cars, two super cars, and took the Fastest Lap of the day. This isn’t easy; it’s not all sunshine and lollipops out there as the competition is tough. In fact, early on Saturday during his third run as Tom was barreling down the final straight before a tough right to get to the finish line, his car lost power. He managed to coast across the line, but it added about 10 seconds to his lap time, which was better than the alternative—a DNF. Knowing he was fighting an uphill battle, Tom was determined to do his best, which turned out to be the quickest overall average lap time on Sunday. This earned him the Wilwood event award and the battle of the two Tom’s was on…

Speaking of characters, these two guys are series favorites and a big part of the reason that the Compact Class exists. James Gassor (above) drives his Saturn Sky and is one of the most likable and big-hearted people I have ever met. With a smile on his face and a cool accent, it was our honor to present him the award for the Compact Class on Saturday.

The other guy is this guy, Mark Allison, who drives his highly modified Fiat that he built at his shop. Every time I see him on the track it reminds me of the Little Engine that could: I think I can, I think I can… and this weekend he did, taking the win on Sunday. We congratulate both of these guys on making it into the Compact Pro Class.

This is the dynamic duo of Shani and Brandon (a.k.a. Bobby) Borchert. As you can see by the picture, Bobby won the award for the Best Shorts/Driving suit. Nobody wears a pair of jammie pants better than Bobby! Shani had never raced before and mentioned that one day she would like to give it a try. There is no better time than the present, so she got in the car during our break and went out for some fun runs. The look on her face said it all. Sorry Bobby, I think we may have created a monster!

For the last four or five years, Jason Wilcox from TCI attended every event, but not as a driver. He’s been working, taking pictures, shooting videos, and supporting all of the TCI cars. He is one of the hardest working guys around. This year, however, Andy “The Nova Guy” offered to share his car and Jason is running the full season. In only his second event, Jason notched a win in the Classic Muscle class and showed everyone that he is one hell of a driver, plus he still does all the other stuff, too.

NMCA West Auto-X presents some Special Recognition Awards for a variety of things. This time we awarded Brian Gage a Spirit of the Event award. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, Brian took his four-door Malibu out on course and pushed that sled for everything it had. If you have ever wondered what Santa Claus does during the summer, now you know. He is truly a jolly soul, and yes, we are trying to get off the naughty list.

With an epic battle happening before our eyes Tom Berry once again showed that he is Superman in a car! With laser focus and nerves of steel, Tom completed 20 flawless laps over the two days and earned his second Victor Award of the year. With the gauntlet thrown down, this battle is far from over and we can’t wait to see what happens next!

Saturday Winners: Tom Kamman (CMP), Efrain Diaz (CM), Paul Molina (MMP), Eric Sheely (MM), Tom Berry (SCP), Robert DeuPree (SC), Pelton Barnes (CP), and James Gassor (C).

Sunday Winners: Tom Kamman (CMP), Jason Wilcox (CM), Kurt Robinson (MMP), Kurt Burris (MM), Tom Berry (SCP), Eric Sheely (SC), Marc Lewis (CP), Mark Allison (C), Sean Kelly (TP), Mike Williams (T), and Ryan Thacker (E).