NASA Eastern Championship On Tap

Large Spec Miata field includes some of the best racers from the Southeast

The NASA Western States Championships are done, and now focus turns to the East and Sebring International Raceway, hosting a NASA championship event for the first time. The NASA Eastern States Championships will be held at the historic circuit this weekend, with practice, qualifying and qualifying races on Friday and Saturday, and the championship races on Sunday.

Spec Miata is one of the most well subscribed classes with 30 entries. More importantly, the talent in those entries is deep. In fact, the race has the potential to be a repeat of the blockbuster SM race at the SCCA Runoffs because many of the top players in that championship are registered for Sebring, including winner Preston Pardus.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Preston Pardus can win at the NASA Eastern Champs at Sebring and be a dual champion this year,” says John Davison, who is entered in Spec Miata as well. “Preston has driven very well all year and this is one of his home tracks. If he is on the money in every session like he was at the Runoffs, and his car is well sorted, then he has just as good of a chance as anyone.

“However, I think it will still be a tough race and it is difficult to pick who will win, as there are a handful of drivers that have a good chance at winning,” Davison continues. “If I had to pick favorites, I would say the Florida drivers have a real shot: Pardus, Todd Buras, Selin Rollan and Andrew Charbonneau. You also can’t count out Jim Drago, who won at Sebring earlier this year at the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour, and definitely can’t forget about Chris Haldeman from Texas. It should be a great race at one of the best tracks in the country.”

Drago says he expects a lot of the same players to figure in the race at Sebring. One key element most of the contenders share is Florida residency, and most of them have a fair amount of experience at the track. But some will handle the format of the NASA Championships better than others, no matter how well they know Sebring.

“It’s a little different format, a different race,” says Drago. “And in my opinion, a better racetrack than Indy, although Indianapolis raced well. Todd Buras is going to have a very good shot there – his car is very good and he drives very well there, too.”

Mazdas will be represented in other classes as well. Mazda powers the spec NP-01 sports racer, and the Performance Touring classes are popular ones for Mazda racers. Michael Globe is bringing a MX-5 Cup car to run in PTC, Aaron Michelet will be competing in PTD with a Miata, and Miata racers Tyler Harrell and Brian Henderson – also racing in SM – have entered PTD.

Mazda winners in classes with sufficient entries will be eligible for the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout, and Mazda pays contingency in eligible classes.