After regrettably missing the NASA 6 Hours of Utah in 2015 RJ Racing returned to the newly christened Utah Motorsports Campus. After the disappointing result in Buttonwillow the team prepped the #23 Mazda Miata as usual while triple checking the steering hub (ie installing a new steering hub AND purchasing a backup hub…you never know) and ECU chips.
The race in Utah is always a fun one. Long road trip, great facilities, fun people and a fast flowing track. We won a national championship there so I guess that helps too…
Roger Eagleton was back to partner with John Gibson. Both drivers were ready to double stint where needed to tackle the race. The beauty of a six hour race is that strategy seems to come more into play so the strategists would be working their slide rules overtime for this one.
John qualified the car in second place behind the Team Sector Purple Mazda Miata but Roger ended up starting first when the pole sitter didn’t show up to the grid (they arrived later almost 15 laps down due to an unscheduled car repair).
The opening several hours were a tight battle with the Carpenter Motorsports car. Some faster class lap traffic (I know, sounds like an oxymoron) was getting in the way of the battle but Roger was able to pick and choose his spots to use the car as a pick. Eventually the Carpenter car pitted and, later, dropped out of the race.
Roger double stinted to start the race and pulled the team out to a commanding lead. By the time John got behind the wheel the team already had a several lap advantage on the competition. Despite some radio issues during his first stint John continued to pull out a lead and some fast pit work by the #23 crew got John out almost four laps ahead of the second place car. He quickly caught the #58 Paul Mitchell Mazda Miata and had a friendly battle with local instructor and regional NASA director Matt Guiver, an all around great guy with some serious skills behind the wheel. Even though there was nothing much to gain some trusting side-by-side and bump drafting action made the end of a long race loads of fun. It’s always a good time racing out in Utah…
The car ran smoothly the whole race which was a relief after Buttonwillow. Now only if the radiator on the truck wouldn’t have blown on the way home… but that’s a story for another day.