The 2017 NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires will be remembered as the year of the fire. A multi-acre grassfire delayed the Sunday morning schedule by almost three hours. When the smoke cleared, it was a hot battle between 29 Spec Miata racers chasing an opportunity for the $100,000 Mazda Road to 24 (MRT24) Shootout.
Tristan Littlehale won the Spec Miata championship race after Nick Sommers was penalized for an on-track infraction. Both Littlehale and Sommers are now qualified for the MRT24 Shootout. Sommers had already secured the West Coast Region Teen Mazda Challenge championship.
Joining Littlehale and Sommers on the podium was Matt Million. Roy Fulmer IV was the hard charger of the race, moving from 27th to sixth. Sommers, Million, and Fulmer are all Teen Mazda Challenge competitors.
In the NP01 class, where all of the Elan prototypes are powered by Mazda MZR engines, Brian Lock scored the win over Jeremy Croiset and Chad Plavan.
In the ST4 open class, Austin Newmark won both qualifying races, but missed the pre-grid cutoff time and had to start from pit lane. Austin drove his Mazda Miata through the field of BMWs, Porsches, Hondas, Nissans, Acuras, Minis, and Chevrolets to finish second, just 3.465 seconds behind the winner.
“Our hats are off to Tristan Littlehale, Brian Lock, and all of our NASA Racers in Spec Miata, NP01, and the many PT and TT classes,” said David Cook, business development manager, Mazda Motorsports. “We had a great weekend at Thunderhill and we can’t wait to wrap up the year with NASA at Sebring in two weeks.”
The NASA Eastern States Championships will take place on October 19-22 in Sebring Florida. A select group of the competing racers from both NASA championships will be eligible for the Mazda Road to 24 shootout, seeking to earn a Mazda Scholarship to compete in the 2018 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires. The shootout will take place in early December. Shootout details will be announced at a later date.