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Competition Ramping up for 2017 NASA Western States Championships

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Johnny D

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NAPA, Calif., Sept. 18, 2017 — The fourth annual NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires is racking up entries from across the country that will ensure strong competition October 6-8 at Thunderhill Raceway.


In Spec Miata, Teen Mazda Challenge racer Nick Sommers won last year’s Championships event at Buttonwillow Raceway. Obviously, Sommers is looking for a repeat. His performances this year certainly indicate that 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. 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,” Sommers said. “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 large 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 and other Teen Mazda Challenge drivers Matt Million and Hannah Grisham.


Hannah 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 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 Spec E30, Steve Stepanian finished fifth at the 2016 Western States Championships, and is currently fourth in the 2017 points chase in the Southern California Region. Stepanian has had some big wins this year, so he’s making sure his car is tip-top and, after a DQ earlier this season, compliant with the rules. Stepanian is also competing in German Touring Series 2 class.


“So, getting the car stuff together, it’s pretty much like a normal race weekend for us,” he said. “We’re just being a little more aggressive because we’re running in two classes.”


In terms of preparing himself as a driver, Stepanian has been reviewing video of the track and focusing on visualization to add to his experience at Thunderhill racing at the NASA 25 Hour.
“I haven’t raced Thunderhill that much,” Stepanian said. “I’ve only done the 25 Hour stints there, which is a lot of seat time, sort of, but it’s a different type of racing, so you’ve got to prepare for sprints a little differently. The biggest thing I have to remind myself of is to enjoy it. I have raced in NASA for many years, some of them I’ve really wanted to win, and I’ve focused on it. This last season, I focused on fun. I didn’t care where I started. I didn’t care what I did. If I qualified well, great. If I didn’t, I just made sure I enjoyed my time there, and it was probably my most enjoyable season of racing.”

Details and Information

NASA Western States Championships event information page: https://nasachampion...com/west-event/

For additional information and photography, please contact Brett Becker at brett@drivenasa.com or 805-850-8310. More details can be found at nasaproracing.com or nasachampionships.com.

To qualify for the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires, NASA competitors must compete in and score points in five regional races around the country.

About Toyo Tires

Established in 1966, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. represents the innovation, quality, performance, and excellent service that Toyo Tires has delivered worldwide for more than 70 years.Toyo offers a complete selection of premium replacement tires for nearly every make and model including light trucks, SUVs, high performance cars, and luxury vehicles, as well as commercial trucks. Many of these tires are built here in the United States at our state-of-the-art factory in Bartow County, Georgia.


About NASA

The National Auto Sport Association was formed in 1991 with the premise of delivering high-quality motorsports events to enthusiasts at major racing venues throughout the United States. NASA has created programs that allow owners of racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full performance capabilities of their cars in a controlled professionally managed environment. NASA offers many different programs that will allow you to enjoy motorsports on a number of different levels, including our High Performance Driving Events (HPDE), Rally Sport, Time Trial, NASA-X and Competition Racing programs.

NASA Membership

NASA members are entitled to enter and participate in any NASA event across the country, and membership includes an array of benefits, including vendor discounts and a subscription to NASA’s online magazine, Speed News. Members will also receive an official membership hard card that will identify them as part of the organization and a welcome packet that includes more information on the many benefits and programs available to NASA members. While participating at events, all NASA members are covered by a uniquely extensive insurance policy, which includes General Liability, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and Excess Medical coverage. Best of all, membership is only $45. Refer to www.nasaproracing.com for member information.


NASA Thanks Our Partners

NASA would like to thank its National sponsors for their continued support: Toyo Tires, Hawk Performance, and Winding Road Racing. We also want to thank Mazda, Honda Performance Development, Nissan, and Ford Motor Company for supporting our members. We greatly appreciate those companies that offer our racers contingency support, including Toyo Tires, AST Suspension, BFGoodrich, Ford Racing, Maxxis Tires, Traqmate, Hawk Performance, Honda Performance Development (HPD), Hoosier Racing Tire, MAZDASPEED, Nissan, Frozen Rotors, P2R Power Rev Racing, Spec Clutches, Sampson Racing Communications, Winding Road Racing, Tilton, Whiteline, Supertech Performance, Fuel Lab, AKG Motorsports, Maximum Motorsports, and G-LOC Brakes.  NASA competitors can also get discounts from Mazda, Honda Performance Development, APR Performance, F.A.S.T., Metal MC2 Conditioner, Tire Stickers, ProMotive, HotelStorm, FR.Sport, Jongbloed Racing Wheels, Racing Fire Systems, Fuel Safe, Avis, Konig, Winding Road Racing.

NASA at a Glance

    NASA was founded in 1991 on the premise of providing motorsport competition programs that allow owners of both racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full-performance capabilities of their cars in a safe and controlled environment.


    NASA has more than 14,000 members in 15 regions.


    Key events include the NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires at Thunderhill Raceway, Oct. 6-8, 2017; Eastern States Championships presented by Toyo Tires at Sebring International Raceway Oct. 20-22, 2017;  and the season culminating NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance, Dec. 1-3, 2017.


    Each NASA Championship event will run 30 race classes and nine Time-Trial classes during the event.


    NASA runs over 150 events each year encompassing over 250 races, including the association's Rally Sport and Time-Trial program.


    Manufacturer partners include Mazda, Honda, Nissan, and Ford Motor Company.


    NASA Management: Jerry Kunzman, Executive Director; Ryan Flaherty, National Chairman; Jeremy Croiset, Director of Business Development; Dave Ho, Business Operations Manager.

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