The NASA Championships Contenders

A large crop of NP01s and Miatas in a variety of classes will be contending for NASA Championships at COTA this weekend

With all the excitement surrounding Spec Miata at this year’s NASA Championships at Circuit of the Americas, it would be easy to overlook some of the other classes. But there will be plenty of good racing there as well, and plenty of Mazda contenders in the mix. 

The first united NASA Championships in several years – the organization has conducted both Eastern and Western Championships since 2014 – this year’s event will feature the largest entry in the Mazda-powered NP01 prototype class yet seen at a Championships. With most of the competitors not seeing each other during the season, it’s tough to compare. Two to watch out for are Texas resident James Strader, who won at the NASA race at COTA in May – and was the only starter in two of three races – and NASA Vice President Jeremy Croiset, who finished second in last year’s Western States championship at Thunderhill.

As more people convert to the Super Touring rules, the Performance Touring classes are shrinking. But there will still be a healthy number of competitors, although in PTD there is only one Mazda entrant, Jose Garcia in a Miata. In PTE, there’s potential here for a great race. Miata drivers Bob Schader, who has been a contender in other classes in past championships; Robert Dietz, the 2017 Western champ; and Chris Kopitski, winner at COTA in May, will be contending with RX-7 driver Gian Bowles. 

In the Super Touring classes, Jason Cappelli is the lone Mazda representative in ST2. ST4 will be one to watch, with Texas resident Luis Rivera, the winner in May, taking on former PTD champ Joshua Allan coming from California. Rivera’s NA and Allan’s NC are both very well prepared and both drivers have proven their competitiveness on the track. This is also one of the classes where Spec Miatas can also compete, so look for some of the SM drivers looking for extra track time, such as Todd Buras, to add to the show.

Mazda drivers will also be well represented in the Time Trials competition, both those seeking to win a championship and those who are looking for some extra laps. The NASA Championships kick off with testing on Wednesday and Thursday before official practice sessions begin on Friday. Competitors will have two qualifying sessions on Friday before qualifying races and the Toyo Classic Spec Miata shootout on Saturday. The championship races for all classes except Spec Miata will be on Sunday. Live broadcasts and timing will be available at Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the Spec Miata contenders.