2006 NHIS 1

Greg Amy, #33 ITA Nissan NX2000:

ITA Top five:
1 - Erik Shifflet
2 - Victor Gangi
3 - Richie Hunter
4 - Greg Amy
5 - Anthony Ruddy

Jeff Lawton, #34 ITA Saturn SC:

I want to thank Brian Austin and especially Justin Hughes for there helpat the New Hampshire International race. Without them I would have packed up before the race even started!!

I was instructing at the SCCA school at NHIS on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, they threw me in with all the students that had big bore cars, GT1, GT2, T1, T2, American Sedan, etc. All with a "little" more horse power than my little Saturn!! (like 100 to 500 more horsepower!!)

On the second day, we put the students through a practice qualifying and practice races. To create more traffic, they sent us instructors out to play with them!! Needless to say, they have new found respect for Saturns! One student in an AS Camaro said he was "embarrassed" after I bump drafted (what NASCAR calls it) him up the hill out of turn 3!! [Way to go, Jeff: messin' wid da students! - GA]

On the last practice race of the day, we gridded the students, slowest to fastest to see how they handle the traffic. I slotted myself in 7th. As the green flag waved, I popped out to pass the car in front of me and immediately had two Porsches, two Camaro's, and an RX7 blow past me like I was standing still (OK, so horsepower is everything on the starts!!) [yeah, even da students know how to push on the loud pedal! - GA] Going into turn one, everyone got caught up behind the slower cars. I managed to duck down onto the apron of Turn 1 and 2 and proceeded to pass 11 cars!! Came out of 2 in second place and dragged another instructor in an AS Mustang down into turn 3. Started up the hill side by side when I heard a "bang".....Hmmmmmmmm, a stone hitting the fender maybe?? I realized when I spun in turn 9 in my own coolant, that something "not good" happened. When I got back to the garage, the shredded belt was hanging from one of the pulleys. "No problem", I thought, I have a spare!! As I started threading the new belt over the pulleys, I realized there was no pulley on the power steering pump!! And of course, my spare pump and pulley were at home!! That's when Justine volunteered to come down the next morning with his new Saturn and let me pull the pulley off his car and put it on mine so I could start the race!! Unbelievable!! Due to a couple of issues, that ended up not working. So we sent Justine out to every auto parts store in the Concord, NH area to find the right sized belt that would allow us to bypass the power steering pump. By time he came back, I had already written off qualifying and was prepared to start from the back of the field. But Justine, Brian and a couple others thrashed like crazy and got me out just in time!! As Justine said, I only got in a couple of hot laps (in the rain.....on rain tires..... in a brand new car........)before I got nailed for sound. I guess I made the right decisions on tires and suspension setting cause I still managed to qualify 11th out of 22 cars.

On the start, I managed to pass the row in front of me and had the momentum to pass the next row as well (the Saturn has sooooo much more torque than the Honda/Integra's) when I missed a shift and watched as car after car splashed by me!! I think I may have ended up 12th or 13th going into turn 1?? (Brian and Justine might have a better feel for it) Not a great way to start a race!!

As I said, the suspension and the Hoosier Dirt Stockers were doing incredible the rain!! I was able to power away from any of the Honda/Integra's with little problem. After 3 laps I was up to 7th with my sites on the 6th car when a double yellow came out for one lap due to a bad accident in turn 3. They ended up bringing us in after the 4th lap and we finished the race sitting in the pits while they tried to clean up the accident. The bad news was I only got 8 laps of track time, but the good news is the Saturn can keep up with the faster ITA cars in the Northeast. Very encouraging!!

Thanks again to Brian and Justine for making it happen!!

Justin Hughes, #34 Support Crew

Jef Lawton ran #34 ITA (yeah, THAT one, Walker's old car) at NHIS this weekend for a school and today's race.  I went to see him and help out today, and Brian Austin showed today and yesterday.  The power steering pulley decided to eject somewhere around turn 3 during yesterday's last session, never to be seen again.  This morning we managed to bypass the power steering entirely with a belt intended for a completely basic SL(no AC, no power steering) and got him on track barely in time for qualifying. He was black flagged after 4 laps for being too loud, even though the car was fine yesterday, but qualified 11th in class, a good midpack showing all things considered.  We suspect the damp conditions made sound carry a bit more today, resulting in the noise violation.  Fortunately he had an additional muffler he could swap into the exhaust in place of a straight pipe, plus the primary muffler he already had, and there were no noise issues during the race.

Unfortunately, the race itself was cut short due to a classic Triumph spinning into a wall at turn 3 (that's just not a lucky turn, is it?) and the resulting cleanup operation.  But I was thrilled to watch Jeff move up several positions in just a few short laps between the start and the Triumph incident - mostly taking out Hondas. >:)

Quick video, from Turns 3 and 10:



Results, courtesy MYLAPS.COM:

Saturday Qualifying

Sunday Race