NMCA West Auto-X Round 1 | Auto Club Speedway, CA | Feb 23-24, 2019
We had a lot of work to do to prepare, and the NMCA West Autocross series season opener was closing in fast! We worked long hours getting our Corvette ready. The list of upgrades for "Bernice" (2017 Grandsport) was short with the addition of Essex AP Racing Brakes, JDP 2" Long Tube Headers with a 3.5" x-pipe by American Racing Headers feeding into a Borla S-Type NPP Axle-Back and a Drysump system by Armstrong Race Engineering. We worked after hours to complete the brakes and exhaust, but the drysump system wasn't available so that is on our short list heading into the next USCA event in Las Vegas.
JDP also has a newcomer for the 2019 season, a 2018 Camaro ZL1-1LE driven by team member John Grow. This car has a LONG list of upgrades planned, so we decided to break up the list into two parts: the engine, then everything else. The list for "Lilith" (2018 ZL1-1LE) includes our 1200HP Engine Package, JDP Track Spec Suspension Package, Essex AP Racing Brakes, Forgeline ZO1R wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich tires, Anderson Composites carbon body pieces and Recaro seats to start. We completed the first round of modifications and got the car on the dyno at 10:30 PM Thursday night. Unfortunately, we ran into some fuel pressure issues that prevented us from completing the car for the event. With no choice but to leave Lilith behind, it was fortunate that our newest team member Greg Nelson offered to co-drive his 2015 Z/28 so John could get seat time. Thanks Greg!
Though we had planned to leave first thing in the morning on Friday, the late night spent working meant we didn't get on the road until 1:30 PM. The 11 hour drive from our shop in Utah to the track in Fontana CA gave us some time to reflect on the upcoming event. We knew the level of competition was going to be incredible and the target was squarely placed on team member Jordan Priestley’s back as a returning NMCA West Autocross Champion. We found out that the Sunfood's 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Race Car was going to be allowed into the event in the Sports Car class piloted by Austin Barnes and Robert Dupree based on information they had documentation that the car was street legal. We also knew there would be new cars coming out from the Sheely stable capable of contending for the event win. Eric Sheely was set to drive a 2019 ZR1 Corvette that was prepared by Able Chevrolet, but he decided to run their newly acquired 1972 Corvette built by Ridetech as well. This would take him out of the overall competition but still allowed Eric to compete for the Fastest time of the Day since there would be an advantage with additional track time. We also knew that 2017 NMCA West Champion Scot Spiewak was going to be there in his C5 Z06 Corvette. Scot has continually improved over the last year and become a top contender.
The weather on Saturday morning was cold and overcast and everyone was ready to get the season started! Jordan Priestley had several strong runs in the morning, but 4 clipped cones (more cones than Jordan hit in the entire 2018 season) put him in 3rd Overall on Saturday and we thought we were out of the hunt. Jordan did manage to lay down a run that was good enough for 3rd Fastest overall and the win in the Pro Sports Car Class Saturday. Out of the gate Austin Barnes had a DNF just after the first corner, and in the NMCA Series, a DNF equals a 99.99 Second run, effectively eliminating your chances of winning the overall event. Robert Dupree also had a DNF in his first round in the Super Trofeo. DNF's aside, the Super Trofeo was in a league of its own and it really wasn't much of a competition with Austin behind the wheel as he bettered the field by more than 2 seconds. Eric Sheely proved that Pat Sheely's 2019 ZR1 was going to be a contender as he edged Jordan Priestley out for the 2nd fastest time of the day in the final session. Scot Spiewak was clean all day and he laid down solid times giving him the best average overall after Saturdays competition.
JDP Team member Greg Nelson was able to take the Pro Modern Muscle Win on Saturday and put himself in a solid position for the Overall. John Grow had a solid day in the Z/28 with an 8th Place finish in Modern Muscle and he gained valuable seat time. Paul Molina was a force to be reckoned with as he dominated the Modern Muscle Class and was sitting in 2nd Place after Saturdays competition for the Overall. We always have a long list of great friends and customers at the CA events and we appreciate everyone's support.
One of the highlights of the weekend was Natalie Priestley in her Corvette taking the win in the Powerwheels Challenge at the lunch break. She did have an advantage with a JDP Built car that Shop Director Jeremy Hart put together for her. With her enthusiasm for competing, we're sure this is the first of many trophy's to come.
Sunday started off warmer than Saturday and we knew we had a hole to dig out of to catch Scot and Paul. His never give up attitude pushed Jordan to be clean and fast all day! Jordan did catch one cone along the way, so the hope was to get a 2nd Place Overall and capture 99 Points of the available 100 Points. Since Austin was seemingly out of the competition for the overall, Scot just had to be clean all day and do what he did on Saturday. Unfortunately for Scot he clipped a cone after the finish line resulting in a DNF! That put Paul and Jordan in the hunt for the overall and the pressure level increased for both drivers. The fastest Sports Car Pro award went to Austin in the Lambo with Jordan in 2nd Place. Scot was able to take the fast time of the day on Sports Car over Eric in a last session slug fest that put Jordan back to 4th overall for fast time of the day. After the dust settled, JDP driver Jordan was able to secure the Overall win over Paul with Austin coming home in 3rd Place. Greg was able to secure a 2nd Place finish in Pro Modern Muscle Class and 4th Place overall Sunday! John did an amazing job and ended up 3rd in Modern Muscle and 10th Overall after a solid weekend!
The NMCA Series is one of our favorite series because of the people and the courses. It brings some of the best street cars (and race car this weekend*) out and it rewards speed and consistency which is unique to this series. We always enjoy running with this great group of folks and we're looking forward to the remaining events this season! If you're in the SoCal area checkout our Events release and come on out! We enjoy meeting customers and you can even get in the cars and see what it's all about! We appreciate everyone's support and we'll see you soon.