Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
12/14/15 11:38 a.m.

The 2016 Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge is about 4 months away, so it's time to get things warmed up for our annual search for the coolest track cars in the country. As always, there will be editorial in the magazine on each car in the challenge.

This year's event will be held on Friday, May 20 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, during the infamous HyperFest weekend.

The details are live on the UTCC Event page..

You can also join in the conversation and see pictures of cars that are coming on our Facebook event page.

The format is very similar to last year. Details will be forthcoming, but we currently have an up to date list of trophies and sponsors on the event page. As always, we're looking for a broad range of awesome entries, from naturally aspirated front-wheel drive cars to carbon-fiber monocoque, purebred track terrors.

Our friends at NASA Mid-Atlantic will be handling the sanctioning and logistics of the track event, and their Time Trial director, Jon Felton, will once again be the man in charge of licensing and safety. In a nutshell, all drivers must have a NASA Time Trial or equivalent license, and all cars must pass a NASA tech inspection. He'll chime in here with more details, and he's very good about answering questions.

Think you've got an awesome track car? Want to see how it measures up in a no-holds-barred contest of speed against the clock? The Ultimate Track Car Challenge is for you.

getfast
getfast Reader
12/14/15 11:46 a.m.

Thanks so much Ed! Jon Felton here. Just like in prior years I am the point of contact for all UTCC driver clearance as well as one of the points of contact for NASA's end of the event (i.e. all the registration, operational, on-track type stuff) so please feel free to reach out to me anytime you have questions. Email to jfelton@drivenasa.com is usually quickest. We are really looking forward to another awesome UTCC this year especially since it's now combined with Hyperfest - our biggest event of the year by far! I'll post again shortly with driver requirement details which are basically the same as last year and all recent years. Thanks again and more soon,

Jon

getfast
getfast Reader
12/14/15 12:16 p.m.

The 2016 GRM UTCC is effectively a NASA TT run by GRM's categories instead of NASA TT classing. It will be on the 3.3 mile full course at VIR with tentatively two run groups ("big bore" and "small bore" or similar.)

UTCC registration will take place through the NASA event registration system. You must apply to rick@grassrootsmotorsports.com and receive an acceptance letter prior to registering with NASA. All UTCC drivers will need to be current NASA members and all cars will need to have an AMB transponder on board - NASA will have rental transponders available but they must be reserved in advance. All cars will also need to pass a NASA HPDE pre-tech and drivers will need to bring a completed copy of that form so we can we double check it and issue the tech sticker on site, starting the night before. Approved helmets as per the CCR, long pants, possibly long sleeve shirts, and closed-toe shoes are mandatory. NASA- and VIR-approved rollbars are required in convertibles. Further safety equipment (cage, harness, H&N restraint, window net, fire suit, etc) is optional but highly recommended. Please note though, additional safety systems will need to conform to the NASA CCR (example: certain 4-point belts aren't allowed...)

On event day, registered drivers can expect a warmup session then several timed sessions per group. Passing rules are "anywhere with or without a point-by" and fastest lap of the day counts. Session times will be DQ'd for drivers who have any contact, 4-off, spin on or off pavement, or significant loss of control. Repeat offenders will be dealt with harshly to keep things safe for everyone. Also, later timed sessions will be gridded by prior session times to hopefully give everyone at least a few hot laps before having to deal with traffic (i.e. car in front of you is slightly faster & car behind you is slightly slower, in theory.)

Now back to the beginning as far as driver qualifications go. Keep in mind, safety is of utmost importance as far as NASA and GRM are concerned. Also that this event will feature a wide range of cars with a theoretically larger than usual spread in terms of lap times and closing speeds. Combine that with our open passing rules, as well as the aforementioned fact that cages and soforth are recommended but not required, and you will understand why we can only allow highly skilled drivers with significant related experience.

Having said that - everyone driving in the 2016 GRM UTCC will need to show one of the following at the drivers meeting that morning to get a wristband and go on track:

-a current 2016 full (not rookie or provisional) roadracing competition license with valid medical from: NASA, SCCA, BMWCCA, PCA, or various pro organizations

or

-a current 2016 NASA Time Trial national license (i.e. hard card);

or

-a provisional NASA TT license issued in 2015 or 2016 (paper copy with two signatures) and a written waiver from Jon Felton personally.

How does this last requirement work? The document is here:

https://nasa-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/document/document/272/Time-Trial-License.pdf

There are two levels involved if this applies to you (i.e. you don't have one of the other licenses listed above.) The first level is equivalent experience. If you have proof of this, and possibly specific history & references if needed, Jon will double-sign and snail mail you the form with two signatures and the written waiver. These qualifications include, but are not necessarily limited to:

-NASA instructor hard card

-NASA or SCCA provisional/rookie roadracing permits (if obtained via equivalent track time, training, and experience - i.e. one 3-day "pro" school isn't equivalent)

-BMWCCA or PCA rookie or non-rookie roadracing permits

-various regional organization rookie or non-rookie roadracing permits

-various vintage organization rookie or non-rookie roadracing permits

The second level is minimum experience. Specifically we need proof of at least 4+ weekends of NASA-MA HPDE3/HPDE4 Advanced or direct equivalent, passing-in-corners (with or without a point-by), non-instructed road course driving experience in the last 2 years. We will need to see groups, dates, passing rules, passing zones, and references. Depending upon who this was with, when it was, and what your references say, this may or may not require a check ride at any NASA roadcourse event anywhere in the country between now and the UTCC. You will then either get the signed paper TT license in the mail, or have it generated/signed when your check ride is done.

Across the board we handle these licensing issues on a case by case basis, and Jon Felton (jfelton@drivenasa.com) is the main point of contact for those purposes as well as a great one to answer general UTCC event questions. The quickest & easiest way to get your UTCC driver approval process started is to send your driving resume in as much detail as possible to jfelton@drivenasa.com.

Also, just as before, if you have a hot car that gets accepted - but you aren't quite qualified as a driver - you are welcome to arrange a 'ringer' for those purposes as long as that person meets the driver requirements stated above. Offhand, we can think of several seriously fast drivers who are interested & available, so if that's a possibility you would consider, please don't hesitate to contact Jon @ NASA or Rick @ GRM so they can put you in touch with 'em.

Thanks again and see you at VIR!!!

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