NASA Western States Championship Preview

NASA racers from the western half of the country vie for championships at Thunderhill Raceway on Oct. 6-8

The fourth annual NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires is attracting a strong contingent of competitors that will head to Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California on Oct. 6-8. Among the Mazda drivers, that includes not only an early entry of 18 Spec Miatas, but also a field of Mazda-powered Elan NP01s, and the entirety of the Performance Touring D and E fields.

In Spec Miata, Teen Mazda Challenge racer Nick Sommers won last year’s NASA Championships event at Buttonwillow Raceway. Obviously, Sommers is looking for a repeat, and his performances this year certainly indicate he can get it done again. His first-generation 1.6-liter Mazda Miata is well prepped and as competitive as any car in the field.

“At Thunderhill, you can be competitive in a 1.8 or a 1.6,” Sommers says. “I think the 1.6 is a little bit more competitive on the first half of the track because you’ve got to be able to carry a little bit more speed, and the 1.6 allows you to do that. But the 1.8 helps you down the straights a little bit more and there are a few long straights there, so it’s about a 50/50.”

Sommers is bringing a crew and a lot of friends and family to Thunderhill to watch the NASA Western States Championships. Look for Sommers to be dicing with Tristan Littlehale, Justin Casey, Marco Gallaher and other Teen Mazda Challenge drivers Matt Million and Hannah Grisham.

Grisham, with Morningstar Racing, is looking for a top-five finish and to establish herself as one of the elite drivers in the Teen Mazda Challenge and NASA overall. Grisham is currently third in the points in the Teen Mazda Challenge.

“She’s trying to make her place as a driver and gain the respect and trust of her fellow competitors,” said Morningstar Racing team owner James Brown. “She’s going there to show Mazda that she has the talent and capability to be a Mazda factory works driver.”

In PTD, early Miata entries include Tommy Lo and Wilson Powell, while PTE includes Justin Ross, Bill Brown and Brandon Sloan – all of whom are also entered in Spec Miata. Time Trial D has also attracted several Miata drivers racing elsewhere such as Lo and Brown, joined by Tony Heyer. In addition, Donny Edwards and A.J. Gracy will also be competing in TTD with an MX-6.