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The Nitto Tire NMCA WEST Auto-X Series’ third race set the stage for an exciting race to the finish

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by RJB
Photography by Will Estrada

 
The third round of the Nitto Tire NMCA WEST Auto-X Series brought us to the Fastest Street Car Showdown and I felt that it required an appropriate course. This was important so we went all out to a point where we deployed all the regular cones and dipped into the reserve of well-used cones to put pointers in the slalom section. This turned out to be the longest track in the history of the event and included several interesting elements. It was also fast, challenging, and exciting. 
 
This event put us at the halfway mark for the six-event season, so we broke down each class and to reveal an idea of where the championships stand. Keep in mind that we only count the five best events for each competitor and although some people have already used their mulligan, we still have a long way to go. With the points being determined by the average of every lap you run and the points being awarded — regardless of class — anything can happen.
 




The TCI Classic Muscle class saw 37 cars line up for a chance at the top spot. Chad Ryker added another clean sweep for this weekend in the Pro class behind the wheel of the TCI 1967 Mustang fastback. Moving up this weekend Garrett Randall drove his Beautiful C3 Corvette (Rambo) to a narrow win over Dan Wilcox on Saturday by .068 seconds on Sunday, Peter Pelekis put a notchback Mustang into the Pro class with an even closer win, again, beating Dan Wilcox this time by .036 seconds. Our defending champion Efrain Diaz missed the first two events as he is rebuilding his car. Although he raced at this event, he put himself in a pretty deep hole. Chad Ryker’s dominating performance gave him the points lead in TCI Classic Muscle and in fact, he is battling our Super Car class leader for the overall grand championship. Being behind by two points after three events is impressive but if we drop the lowest event for both, they are only separated by one point! After this even Jason Wilcox held second and is closely followed by Tom Kamman, George Reiss, Chris Humphreys, and Dan Wilcox. Chris and Dan have both missed one event already and if we include the drop, Chris would be tied for second with Jason. Dan would be one point behind in fourth, followed by Tom and George. This is going to be great to watch as the season unfolds.





Three events is impressive but if we drop the lowest event for both, they are only separated by one point! After this even Jason Wilcox held second and is closely followed by Tom Kamman, George Reiss, Chris Humphreys, and Dan Wilcox. Chris and Dan have both missed one event already and if we include the drop, Chris would be tied for second with Jason. Dan would be one point behind in fourth, followed by Tom and George. This is going to be great to watch as the season unfolds. 
 
The Anderson Composites Modern Muscle Class is always exciting, and Matt Ramirez proved that his SN-95 Mustang is going to have something to say about this year’s championship. On Saturday, he was the first car to run a 59-second lap and only four other cars were able to equal that feat, and they were all Custom Machine Performance Super Cars. Winning the Pro Class both days earned him fifth overall in the points standings and put everyone on notice. Brian Stafford put his Camaro in the top spot of Modern Muscle on Saturday and Kurt Burris (Mr. Consistency) earned the class win on Sunday. This is a perfect example that one fast lap does not win a championship. Although Kurt just moved into the Pro group he currently retained a four-point lead over our three-time Defending Champion Paul Molina and a 31-point lead over third-place Matt Ramirez. Matt had a disappointing second event and if we drop the lowest events; Matt would have a three-point lead over Paul and a seven-point lead over Kurt, who would be in third. With guys like Gary Cameron and Jason Flaherty close behind, either of them could throw a monkey wrench into the works and mix it up even more. 
 




The Custom Machine Performance Super Car class is something to behold, who doesn’t love watching a Porsche GT3RS, an Acura NSX, and a Lamborghini flying around the course. Eric Sheely stepped up his game and took the NSX to the fastest lap of the day and the class won on Saturday. Our back-to-back defending Grand Champion Tom Berry had to switch cars on Sunday and took a Tesla Model 3 to the win and fastest lap squeaking ahead of Sheely. Robert DuPree finished third by .001 seconds on Sunday and that could have had major implications for the points standing. Tom Berry has a target on his back and only held a one-point lead over Chad Ryker for the Grand Championship. The battle for the Custom Machine Performance Super Car spot is far from over and Guy Dreier sat second followed closely by Sheely, who already used his mulligan by missing the second event and if we brought in the points drop, Sheely would only be four points behind Berry, Dreier would drop to third and Wes Drelleshak, Chad Sage, and Jon Bickford are definitely in the hunt. 
 



Created for the Corvettes and Vipers, the Hamburger’s Performance Products Sports Car Class ended up with a few oddball cars in the group because of restrictions for the other classes. Scot Spiewak showed up with his red Corvette taking the Pro class win both days and finishing fourth overall for the weekend. Rob McIntosh, driving another red Corvette, had a great day on Saturday beating the rest of the group by almost a full second and moving into the Pro group. Sean McKillop drives one of those oddball cars — too many cylinders for Compact and not enough seats for Modern Muscle — so this is the epitome of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Despite all that McKillop managed to beat several Corvettes and a Porsche 911 to get the top spot Sunday and move into the Pro class. Last year’s class champion Tom Kamman is racing in the TCI Classic Muscle Class this year so the championship for the Sports Car Class is wide open. Spiewak is currently 14th overall but he missed the second event and after the points drop he would be fifth overall, only 11 points out of the Top spot. Lisa Berry is 7 points behind Spiewak closely followed by McKillop. Dannie Pinard and Rob McIntosh will also have something to say about who finishes where before it is all over. 
 



The Sheely Collection Truck class shows what can be done to a Classic Truck these days. The back-to-back Truck class champion, Mike Williams, continued his winning ways taking the Pro class win on Saturday and Sunday. This event also marked the return of Bronco Bill Kinsman. Driving what is being called “The BroVette,” Kinsman earned the class win on Saturday. It’s awesome to have our resident T-Rex back at our events and we look forward to seeing great things from Bill. It looks like a two-horse race between Mike Williams and Sean Kelly with Mike holding an eight-point lead. Sitting in third, Jeff Rode still has an outside chance, and like they say; it ain’t over till it’s over. 
 


The Auto Ricambi Compact Class saw the same car take the class win with two different drivers. Marc Lewis, driving his Miata that he affectionately calls ‘Slash,’ won on Saturday, and his better half, Kerryann Adams drove the car to the win on Sunday. Samy Valafar has a 13-point lead over our three-time defending champion Pelton Barnes, who sat second. With Valafar already missing one event and Marc Lewis and Mario Torres both within striking distance, this could get twisted before it is over. 
 




Awards are an important part of our events and we have always tried to provide some of the Best awards in autocross. We don’t believe in Participation awards but we do like to acknowledge Special people and those who go out of their way to share their passion for racing. Brian and Tara Johns have been involved with the autocross community on the east coast for many years and they recently moved from Tennessee to Southern California. Hence, Mike Hammrick from Wilwood and I got together and offered them both a chance to come out and race with us. They brought out their beautiful, Third-Gen Camaro Z28 and we presented them an award to welcome them to our Racing Family. Speaking of family, Cheryl and Bill Shumate choose two incredible gentlemen to receive the TeamJustin Big Heart Awards — Pat Sheely and Jim Ramirez. These two hard-working, old-school fathers both raised outstanding kids. These guys are always the first to jump in when someone needs help and it was truly an honor to present these exceptional men with an award that is well deserved. 
 
The RacingByrds’ Passion for the Event Award also went to a deserving individual. Jason Wilcox is one of the hardest-working guys you will ever meet. He is an emotional guy with a  big heart and loves sharing his passion, family, and friends. It was an easy choice and an honor to present this award. 
 

Saturday’s winners included Chad Ryker (Classic Muscle Pro), Garrett Randall (TCI Classic Muscle), Matt Ramirez (Modern Muscle Pro), Brian Stafford (Anderson Composites Modern Muscle), Eric Sheely (Custom Machine Performance Super Car), Scot Spiewak (Sports Car Pro), Rob McIntosh (Hamburger’s Performance Products Sports Car), Mike Williams (Truck Pro), Bill Kinsman (The Sheely Collection Truck), Samy Valafar (Compact Pro), and Marc Lewis (Auto Ricambi Compact).      
 

Sunday’s winners included Chad Ryker (Classic Muscle Pro), Peter Pelekis (TCI Classic Muscle), Matt Ramirez (Modern Muscle Pro), Kurt Burris (Anderson Composites Modern Muscle), Tom Berry (Custom Machine Performance Super Car), Scot Spiewak (Sports Car Pro), Sean McKillop (Hamburger’s Performance Products Sports Car), Mike Williams (Truck Pro), Sean Kelly (The Sheely Collection Truck ), Samy Valafar (Compact Pro), and Kerryann Adams (Auto Ricambi Compact).    
 
Tom Berry took his second event win of the season by a very narrow margin over Eric Sheely. With three events remaining there is no telling what may happen but I can say one thing for certain, it’s going to be interesting! 

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