Temperatures rise at FIR West Print
Written by Kent Buckley   
Friday, 16 September 2011 07:32

Temperatures rise at FIR West



NASAAZ hosted another summer morning event at Firebird West Course on August 20-21.  With action starting at dawn and wrapping up by 11ish, a qualifying race on Saturday and race on Sunday it was a fast paced weekend.  The small bore race group included spec 944, 1 spec Ford, 1 Honda, and 2 spec rx7s.  Joining the spec 944 group was NASAAZ boss Tage Evanson borrowing Dave Hauck’s rental 944 (8), along with first time 944 racers Rob Giorgio (489) and Pete Dimuzio (4).




Saturday’s qualifying race gridded up as follows: P1 Elliot Freireich (56) spec Ford, P2 Norman Hamden (99) 944, P3 Joe Paluch (94) 944, P4 Dave Hauck (08) 944, P5 Tage Evanson (8) 944, P6 Steve Marlow (47x) 944, P7 Darren Griffith (7) 944, P8 Doug Evans (95) Honda, P9 Pete Dimuzio (4) 944, P10 Rob Giorgio (489) 944, P11 Paul Seiferth (011) rx7, P12 Rick Downing (74) rx7. 




The pack gridded up nicely and took the green with a clean start.  Griffith (7) got by Marlow (47x) on lap 1, and they both got by Evanson (8) on lap 2.  It was obvious that Evanson (8) was on tires that must have been retrieved from a dumpster sometime in '05 as he spent more time sideways than straight, but managed to keep it on the track.  Rob Giorgio (489) was conservative at the start, this being his first race, and was passed by both rx7s.  He managed to get them both back by lap 2.  Dimuzio (4) the other rookie, held his position off of the start and began to make passes by lap 3, getting by the Honda of Evans (95).  By lap 5 Dimuzio (4) got by Evanson (8) as cars started dropping like flies due to the heat.  First to go was Downing (74) rx7.  On lap 6 Marlow (47x) and Evans (95) Honda retired as Giorgio (489) got by Evanson (8) who was in full drift mode and would retire on lap 7.  


Lap 7 running order: P1 Freireich (56) spec Ford, P2 Hamden (99), P3 Paluch (94), P4 Hauch (08), P5 Griffith (7), P8 Dimuzio (4), P9 Giorgio (489), P10 Seiferth (011) rx7.  The main battles were between Hauck (08) and Griffith (7) for third, and Hamden (99) and Paluch (94) for first.  On lap 8 Paluch managed the pass on Hamden as the spec Ford of Freieich went off in tight left before the long straight spraying muddy water all over the track and over Hamden’s windshield.  The battle continued as they were bumper to bumper through the entire course.  Just like a stripper, Hamden wanted his spot on the pole, but Paluch wasn't giving it up!  While all of that was going on, Griffith forced a nice pass on Hauck by lap 9.


The heat was taking its toll, on cars and drivers.  By lap 11 Giorgio (489) had simple half spin/stall and was unable restart the car parking at pit out causing a local yellow as the battle for the pole continued. Hauck was all over Griffith waiting for a mistake to capitalize on, but that mistake wouldn't come.  Hamden was able to get back on that coveted pole on lap 13.


As the white flag flew, it was Hamden (99) with Paluch (94) all over him, Freireich (56) in the spec Ford was enjoying a front row seat to the battle for the pole.  About a second behind him was Griffith (7) who had a small gap on Hauck (08) whos car was now boiling over, and rookie Dimuzio (4) was just on his heels.  The rx7 of Seiferth (11) retired as he knew his position in class was secured.  Could Paluch get Hamden???  A little hesitation by Hamden as they went by the local yellow was just what Paluch needed.  He squeezed by and was able to put on a clean block going into the long straight and that was all she wrote!


Final position for the finishers: P1 Paluch (94), P2 Hamden (99), Followed by the spec Ford of Freireich (56), P3 Griffith (7), P4 Hauck (08), P5 Dimuzio (4).




August 21st race day!!!


944 Starting grid was based on race results from Saturday (including all small bore cars): Pole Joe Paluch (94), P2 Norman Hamden (99), Elliot Freireich (56) spec Ford, P3 Darren Griffith (7), P4 Pete Dimuzio (4), Paul Seiferth (011) rx7, P5  Rob Giorgio (489), P6 Steve Marlow (47x), Doug Evans (95) Honda, P7 Dave Hauck (08), Rick Downing (74) rx7, P8 Tage Evanson (8).


As the cars gridded and headed for the green flag, everyone in the paddock was searching for high ground to see as much of the track as possible.  The first turn at FIR west is tight, really tight.  Try to go more than 2 wide and someone is going to be in the dirt.  All would be on their toes for the next 25 minutes witnessing an epic battle only to be compared to a scene from Braveheart!


Steady... Steady.... GREEN!!! GREEN!! GREEN!!!  The silence is broken as every drivers right foot goes to the floor and the engines light up!  Dave Hauck (08) must have had Wheaties for breakfast and hid a nitros bottle in his car as he flew passed Evans (95), Marlow (47x), Giorgio (489), and Seiferth (011) on the start straight.  All anyone could see was the yellow of Hauck’s car as he dove inside of rookie Dimuzio (4) going into turn 1.  The sound of tires squealing could be heard as cars got sideways under heavy braking.  Emerging from the mayhem first it was Hamden (99) coming out clean and pulling a little gap on the field almost immediately.  Following Hamden was Paluch (94) with the spec Ford of Freireich (56) right on his heels.  Griffith (7) had Hauck’s front tire next to his driver’s side as Dimuzio had Hauck’s rear tire next to his driver’s side as they exit turn 1.  Griffith shuts the door on Hauck and Dimuzio have to back off as Hauck comes into his line going through the curves before the first carousel.  Marlow picks off Giorgio and they both get by the rx7 of Seiferth.  Evanson (8) gets by the rx7 of Downing (74).  They all come by the finish line clean (maybe a little dusty) without contact.  We are just 1/2 a lap in to this one folks!



By lap 2 Hamden had about a 3 car length gap on Paluch as he broke the existing track record on lap 1 only lower that record by an additional tenth on lap 2 locking in a new track record of 1:08.032.  Freireich in his spec Ford was right on Paluch’s heels, but being the only car in his class, and the gentleman he is, seemed content letting the 944 boys sort it out. 




The real battle was for 3rd (944) as you could throw a blanket over Griffith, Hauck, and rookie Dimuzio. These guys were going 2 and 3 wide through every part of the track.  Dimuzio, in his first race, was going toe to toe with two of the best local 944 racers.  Just behind them was Marlow (47x) tasting blood as he closed the gap on the three way battle, wanting to get in the mix.



Lap 3 running order: P1 Hamden (99), P2 Paluch (94), Freireich (56) spec Ford, P3 Griffith (7), P4 Hauck (08), P5 Dimuzio (4), P6 Marlow (47x), P7 Giorgio (489), Evans (95) Honda, P8 Evanson (8), Seiferth (011) rx7, Downing (74) rx7.


NASAAZ boss Tage Evanson (8) 944 had a nice 'out of class' battle going with the Honda and the rx7s because of the worn out dumpster tires on his borrowed car.  He would not give up though, with Marlow in his sights, he was sideways and waiting for someone to make a mistake. Your beloved author of this article had the privilege of driving the same car in a DE4 session after the race and all I can say is 'hats off' to Tage for doing as well as he did.  Although my passenger and myself enjoyed the drifting, it would be a real challenge to put down some fast lap times.


The order stayed the same through lap 6 as Hamden’s lead grew and the 3 way battle for 3rd (944) continued between Griffith, Hauck and Dimuzio.  Marlow was closing fast but ended up dipping a tire in the dirt and going off track sideways allowing Giorgio, Evans (Honda), and Evanson to go by.  He was able to get Evanson back almost immediately and had to get after the Honda of Evans.  Meanwhile the rx7s of Seiferth and Downing were bumper to bumper having a nice race of their own.


On lap 9 most of the field had spread out a bit with the exception of the race for 3rd.  Griffith, Hauck and Dimuzio were going at it! 





 Everyone in the paddock was watching as these three cars were switching positions several times each lap.  Going into the first turn Hauck finally made a pass on Griffith that looked like it would stick. 





As they exited the first carousel, Griffith followed by Dimuzio went inside forcing Hauck way out side.  A cloud of dust burst up as Hauck went off-roading losing two positions and falling back from the battle.  He wasn't done yet.  Griffith and Dimuzio were going two wide everywhere and this slowed them down. 



By lap 11 Hauck got Dimuzio back and was now after Griffith again.  Meanwhile, Marlow was able to chase down the Honda of Evans and make the pass. 




Finally on lap 13 Hauck was able to put a pass on Griffith and actually start to pull a bit of a gap. 





Evanson worked his way past the Honda of Evans by lap 17.  Dimuzio continued to badger Griffith until the final lap, making his debut in spec 944 one to be remembered. 


 Both 944 rookies Pete Dimuzio and Rob Giorgio had excellent races and earned the respect of their fellow racers.  Also Tage Evanson proved that he can be a threat in a low horsepower car.  I wonder how he'll do with some good tires, maybe we will soon find out!



Finishing order: 1st-Norman Hamden (99), 2nd-Joe Paluch (94), Elliot Freireich (56) 1st spec Ford, 3rd-Dave Hauck (08), 4th-Darren Griffith (7), 5th-Pete Dimuzio (4), 6th-Rob Giorgio (489), 7th-Steve Marlow (47x), 8th-Tage Evanson (8), Doug Evans (95) 1st Honda, Paul Seiferth (011) 1st rx7, Rick Downing (74) 2nd rx7




As the racers pulled into impound both Marlow and Haucks cars were boiling over, it was like 'Old Faithful' times two!  There's nothing the fans and race officials like more than being sprayed with boiling water on a hot Arizona day!  Everyone was all smiles and all sweaty.  That race is what club racing is all about. 






Photo's courtesy of Pete Dimuzio and Norm Hamden