Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic TCR Finishes Eighth at Mid-Ohio In IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge

When it rains, it pours. Except when it doesn’t.

With the radar showing rain quickly approaching at the mid-point of Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge, the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic TCR team had to choose between staying on the Michelin slicks or switch to rain tires. When that rain didn’t quite come to fruition, drivers Brian Henderson and Todd Lamb were left with an eighth-place finish in the TCR class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

Henderson led twice for a total of 13 laps, including the opening nine laps. By the midway point of the two-hour timed race, every team up and down pit lane was trying to decide when and how much it would rain.

Ultimately, the TCR class winners were cars that elected to stay on slicks. When the skies didn’t open up until after the checkered flag, the Atlanta Speedwerks Civic came home in eighth.

“We made the best decision we could at the time,” Lamb, also the Atlanta Speedwerks owner, said. “It’s easy to sit here and second guess it now, but all of the information we had said that it was going to rain. It’s a frustrating finish, but we had the pace to run with the leaders, we led laps for the third race, and I’m certain we’re going to see the results we expect very soon. We unloaded and were fast right away. Brian led laps again. Everyone did a great job this weekend, and we’re already turning our attention to Watkins Glen.”

Henderson moved into the lead on the first of 68 laps and turned the fourth-fastest lap of the race in a time of 1:30.826 (89.498 mph). The No. 84 machine, running with support from HPD and Pagid Brakes and carrying the Friends of Jaclyn charity, stayed clean throughout the two-hour race.

“We had a lot of speed this whole weekend,” Henderson said. “We led at the beginning of the race then fell back a little bit, but the strategy didn’t play out for us. The team did a great job, we just had an unfortunate finish. We’ll get them next time.”

Despite some hard luck to open the season, Lamb and Henderson sit just 22 points out of the Championship lead through three of 10 Championship rounds. The Mid-Ohio race will air on Saturday, May 11th at 11 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

The team returns to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge action June 27 – 30 at Watkins Glen for the Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 at the Glen, a four-hour endurance race at the upstate New York track.

Promising Finish Cuts Out For Atlanta Speedwerks At Sebring

Drivers Brian Henderson and Todd Lamb had the TCR podium in hand until late in the race

SEBRING, Florida (March 16, 2019) – For the second time in this young IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge season, Atlanta Speedwerks worked a combination of speed and strategy to perfection to put Brian Henderson and Todd Lamb in position to score a podium finish in the TCR class.

And for the second time this season, bad luck cost the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks/BHR Honda Civic TCR late in the race.

The team leaves the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway on Friday with an eighth-place finish that doesn’t tell how strongly the blue and yellow Honda ran throughout the race for the team, making their debut in the series this season.

Henderson started second but was already in the lead as a full-course yellow came out on the race’s opening lap. Though he relinquished the lead on the lap four restart, Henderson ran in the top-three for the first hour of the two-hour timed race.

A small bobble on lap 18, 45 minutes into the race, dropped Henderson to third, behind the leading Audi and another Honda Civic TCR. Running third in class, but with the GS cars beginning their pit stops, Henderson was running fifth overall.

With an hour remaining in the race, the Atlanta Speedwerks team called Henderson to pit lane – the first of the class leaders to make their lone stop of the race.

“What a fun weekend at Sebring, right up until the finish,” Henderson said. “It was great to run in that lead battle. The Honda Civic TCR is such a great car. Even on a difficult track like Sebring, it handled the bumps and our Pagid Brakes helped get us into the corner. That kept us up front, and the Atlanta Speedwerks team made a great call to pit when we did. Hopefully we’ve got our bad luck out of the way, because we’re really looking forward to the rest of the year.”

After a stop for fuel, fresh Michelin tires on the front and a driver change to Lamb, the Honda was back on track. As the remaining leaders made their stops over the next three laps, Lamb cycled back to a 2.37-second gap over second-running Tom O’Gorman’s Honda.

But less than one lap later, the race’s second and final full course caution erased that gap, as well as the 14 seconds to third place and the 21 second lead over fourth. With the GS class cars making their second and final pit stop under yellow, Lamb was riding in 2nd overall position, still leading the TCR class, behind the pace car.

Poised for the final 30-minute dash to the finish on the lap 35 restart, Lamb’s momentum literally disappeared. The Civic unexpectedly lost power at the green flag, dropping several positions.

“We really don’t know what happened yet,” Lamb said. “At one point, it felt like it was at 50 percent power. I reset the car and fired it back up, and everything seemed fine. We came to the green flag and as soon I stepped on it coming out of turn 17 I could feel it switch to low power mode. I just got out of the way. We fell right to the back of the pack and I spent the rest of the race resetting it every lap and trying to keep every position I could.”

Though the car made it to the finish, it was a lap behind the eventual winning Honda. Despite the disappointing finish, the season-long momentum continues. Lamb’s best lap of 2:15.757 (98.129 mph) was the second quickest of the race in the TCR class. And, of course, the team found itself out in front – just like in Daytona, when Lamb led a flat tire with minutes remaining in the four-hour race.

“We keep putting each other in position to win, and that’s all you can do,” Lamb said. “We’ll come back the next time and hope to put it all together.”

The Atlanta Speedwerks team has a lengthy break in the schedule until round three during the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, May 3-5. The Mid-Ohio race is another two-hour race for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge championship.

The Sebring race will air on NBC Sports Network on Thursday, March 28 at 3 p.m. EDT.

About Atlanta Speedwerks
Atlanta Speedwerks is a professional road racing team and prep shop, providing road racing services, car builds, roll cages, and parts. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the company runs winning arrive & drive programs in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup and SCCA Spec Miata, among others. Professional coaching and driver development round out the company’s offerings.

Arrive and Drive racing options for 2019

Ready to make your racing plans for 2019? Atlanta Speedwerks has several options to make it easy for you to show up with your helmet and race!

Join us for one of the following programs:

Option 1: PRO LEVEL IMSA TCR arrive and drive program in Honda TCR car with sequential gearbox. Includes coaching, tires, entry fees, fuel, crew, car rental, and all consumables. Top level program, 10 race weekends plus Daytona Roar test. $250k per driver (2 drivers) for the season plus insurance. Option to co-drive with a pro driver for additional cost.

 


Option 2: Global MX-5 Cup series arrive & drive program with front running team in 2019 spec Global MX-5 Cup (ND2) racecar. Includes coaching, tires, entry fees, fuel, crew, car rental, and all consumables at $120k/season. 2018 spec (ND1) racecar available for $100k/season.

 


Option 3: Spec MX-5 Challenge arrive and drive program. Includes tires, entry fees, fuel, crew, car rental, and all consumables. Identically prepped, series owned Mazda MX-5 (NC) racecars. $50k per season.

 


Downloadable/printable version: Racing opportunities 2019

Contact Todd Lamb 248-797-0309 or todd(at)atlspeedwerks(dot)com for more info or to sign up.

Lally Joins Speedwerks for Global MX-5 Challenge

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship star Andy Lally has packed his bags, grabbed his skateboard, and is headed for Sebring International Raceway in pursuit of the $50,000 prize Mazda has put up to win the Global MX-5 Cup Challenge event.

As part of IMSA’s Michelin Encore weekend at Sebring, the buzzing swarm of Mazda MX-5s will add plenty of fun to the mix as a pair of 45-minute races will be held, with the best average finishing position across both being used to determine the winner. Second place is worth $20,000, and third will receive $10,000.

SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – MARCH 16: #44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3, GTD: Andy Lally during the Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 16, 2018 in Sebring International Raceway, United States of America. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images)

“It started out as a conversation where my buddy Todd Lamb, who we used to race karts against each other 25 years ago, have stayed friends, we live pretty close to each other, and when this race at Sebring popped up, he called me and told me about the race, that Mazda put up 50 grand to win, 20 grand for second, and he needed a drafting partner!” he told RACER.

The story continues at Racer.com here…

Lally closes season with $50K Global MX-5 Cup Challenge pursuit

Atlanta Speedwerks Spec MX-5 Series, $100k winner

With eight drivers still alive for the Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship prize of $100,000 on Sunday morning, Peter Ensor erased all doubt by dominating the field, leading all 13 laps at Road Atlanta, and taking home the grand prize.

The Championship prize boiled down to one race, with the regular season worth one-third of the points, and each of the two weekend races at Road Atlanta worth two-thirds of the final tally. All season long, each driver was placed in a randomly selected, identically prepared NC-generation (third generation) Mazda MX-5, all on Yokohama Tires and Pagid Brakes.

The story continues here….

Ensor Sweeps Spec MX-5 Weekend, Claims $100,000 Prize

Spec MX-5 Inaugural Championship Heating Up

Just one more round remains for the East Series in the inaugural Spec MX-5 Challenge before both the Central and East come together at the SCCA ARRC at Road Atlanta, November 1-4, with a $100,000 scholarship on the line for the champion to run the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires in 2019.

Spec MX-5 Challenge is an affordable pro road racing series with a focus on driver development and a top prize of $100,000. In 2018, its ten-race regular season in the East ran at Virginia International Raceway, Summit Point Raceway, Road Atlanta and, soon, Monticello Motor Club; the ten-race Central season ran at NCM Motorsports Park, Circuit of The Americas, Hallett Motor Racing Circuit and NOLA Raceway Park. When the regular season is complete, top competitors from each region will compete at a championship-deciding event at Road Atlanta in November.

the article continues here….

Spec MX-5 Inaugural Championship Heating Up

New Entry Level Road Racing Pro Series Announced

CUMMING, GA, and AUSTIN, TX, December 19, 2017 — Atlanta Speedwerks and Winding Road Racing today announced the creation of a new road racing series, Spec MX-5 Challenge. In 2018, the series will debut on tracks in the eastern and central portion of the U.S., including Virginia International Raceway, Circuit of The Americas and Road Atlanta.

New Entry Level Road Racing Pro Series Announced

Spec MX-5 will feature identically prepared NC generation (2006-2015) Mazda MX-5s, that are owned and maintained by both Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks. Winding Road Racing will be conducting a 6 weekend/12 race Central series in conjunction with NASA events, while Atlanta Speedwerks will be hosting a 6 weekend/12 race Eastern series in conjunction with SCCA events. 10 drivers will be selected to compete in each series, with the top 7 drivers from each series coming together for the 14 car final event to determine the overall champion.

Central series Spec MX-5 Challenge schedule
March 23-25                        NCM                                      NASA
May 4-6                                OTA                                       NASA
June 8-10                             Hallett                                   NASA
Sept 8-9                               NOLA                                    NASA
Sept 13-16                             COTA                                     NASA
Nov 2-4                                Road Atlanta                        ARRC

Eastern series Spec MX-5 Challenge schedule
March 10-11                          VIR                                         SARRC
May 11-13                              VIR                                         SARRC/MARRS
June 16-17                           Summit Point                        SARRC/MARRS
July 28-29                          Road Atlanta                         SARRC
TBD                                     TBD                                        TBD
Nov 2-4                               Road Atlanta                         ARRC

High quality competition is a very important aspect of Spec MX-5 Challenge.  To ensure fairness, drivers will be randomly assigned a different car each weekend, with procedures in place to ensure each car is identically prepared. Drivers will only be allowed to use one set of dry tires per weekend; an official tire manufacturer will be announced soon. Drivers will drop their lowest race finish from the points tally to account for any incidents, mechanicals, or missed races.

Mazda is integrating the Spec MX-5 Challenge into their industry-leading pro racing ladder system. “Mazda has done more for road racing in the United States than any other brand, and we are thankful that they have joined us in this venture to create a new series for drivers to showcase their talents and move up the Mazda ladder,” said Todd Lamb, owner of Atlanta Speedwerks.

With assistance from Mazda, the Spec MX-5 series will award the 2018 Spec MX-5 Challenge champion with a $100,000 scholarship toward running the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires series in 2019. In addition, Mazda will pick one at-large nominee from the Spec MX-5 Challenge for the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. “We are excited to assist Spec MX-5 in creating a bridge for driver talent to move from successful amateur classes like Spec Miata to Global MX-5 Cup and beyond,” said David Cook, business development manager, Mazda Motorsports.

Only available as an arrive-and-drive program, the cost for the season will be $45,000. This price includes Spec MX-5 race car rental, entry fees, transport, prep, trackside support, tires and consumables. “We have observed that costs continue to rise in all forms of racing, so we wanted to find a way to create an affordable arrive-and-drive series,” said Tom Martin, CEO of Winding Road Racing.  “Our experience running professional teams has shown us ways to reduce costs for racers and we have incorporated that knowledge into Spec MX-5,” he said.

Mazda, Winding Road, Atlanta Speedwerks and many others in the racing community intend for Spec MX-5 Challenge to grow beyond the 2018 season. The series has plans to expand car count, race shop support and geographical coverage in 2019 and beyond. “Ultimately, we need to be running hundreds of Spec MX-5s to fulfill the vision of creating a new level of road racing,” said Martin. “With support from Mazda and other partners, along with a step-by-step strategy, we are confident that Spec MX-5 Challenge has a bright future.”

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First LevelUp Racing School is huge success

We conducted our first event with LevelUp Racing School Dec 18-19 at Atlanta Motorsports Park. The instructors, Steve Debrecht, Keith Watts, Terry Earwood, and Peter Stolz, were exceptional in getting the drivers acclimated and up to speed with their knowledge and experience.

Our new Spec MX-5 cars ran flawlessly. Look for the next school to be announced soon, coming in February to a track in the Southeast.

Teaser: Spec MX-5 Pro Series

Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks are partnering to create a new 2018 race series built around a new class called Spec MX-5. The objective is to build a race series that has some of the attractive elements of pro racing, like meaningful prize money and top drivers and high-quality tracks. At the same time, WRR and Speedwerks want to keep costs down so that more drivers can compete and more drivers can treat a Spec MX-5 season as a step on a racing career ladder.

The Program

There are still a few details to be worked out, but basically Spec MX-5 will operate like this:

  • Spec MX-5 will run two regional series during 2018, one in the southeastern part of the US, the other in the south central section.
  • Drivers will pay a fee for the season of slightly above $40,000
  • Season fees cover car rental, prep, entry, mechanics, tools, tires, fuel, and consumables
  • Drivers will compete for points and some prize money during the regular season
  • Each region will award a group of its top drivers with a full scholarship to the Spec MX-5 Championship at the end of 2018
  • Drivers in the Championship event will compete for a significant monetary prize that should enable them to take the next step on the pro ladder (i.e. Global MX-5 Cup)

The Philosophy

To keep competition as balanced and driver-focused as possible, all drivers will run in identically prepared cars owned and operated by Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks. The cars are based on the NC (3rd) generation Mazda MX-5, with full cages, fire systems, harnesses and other safety equipment required of any road racing car. The specs for the car limit the number of adjustments to less than a handful, and the WRR/Speedwerks mechanics are being trained on how to prep the cars identically. Drivers will be assigned to a different car each weekend. The series does want drivers to get some experience with providing feedback to the team, so tire pressures will be adjusted for each car/driver pairing.

The Pro Racing Cost Issue

As we discovered in a recent Winding Road reader survey, about 50% of drivers assume that a pro racing season starts in the $40k – $60k range. As of 2017, the reality is that the lowest cost pro road racing series, the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup series presented by BF Goodrich, costs about $100k or probably a little bit more for the season. Pro series rise in cost from there, so that a Pirelli World Challenge TC season costs about $150k, an IMSA GT3 Cup or Trans Am season gets close to $300k and PWC or IMSA series running SRO GT3 cars are well north of $500k.

Obviously, these numbers keep a lot of good, often young, drivers from ever attempting the “pro” game. Mazda in particular has worked hard to create a ladder system that helps these drivers get in the game, but the reality is that, for example, there is only one winner of the Mazda Road To 24 shootout. That lucky driver gets $100k to use toward a follow on season (in Global MX-5 Cup). From there, you have to keep winning to move up. Or get a big sponsorship deal. Very difficult.

Spec MX-5 moves the cost of a pro season down into the anticipated range of $40k-$60k that our survey showed most drivers imagine when they think about pro racing. Spec MX-5 is designed to couple that more accessible entry point with enough prize money that some drivers will be able to move on to the next step on the ladder.

The Driver Development Issue

The other issue with even entry level pro racing is that it is expensive enough that some drivers can’t afford to do it year after year so that they build their skill in the long run. Quite a few drivers can scrape together the funds to do one season (which sometimes ends midway because of optimistic cost estimates). But many of those drivers can’t run MX-5 Cup or PWC year after year. If you don’t peak right away, you may be done.

Spec MX-5 is designed to be inexpensive enough that many more drivers can run Spec MX-5 year after year. With the goal of attracting top drivers, Spec MX-5 should serve as an excellent driver development platform. Drivers get to compete against a tough field and measure themselves. Drivers get the trackside support needed to free them to work on data and video analysis and receive coaching if desired.

Available Seats

Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks have the cars needed to accept 10 drivers for the south central series and 10 drivers for the south eastern series. The teams will bring spare parts and spare cars in an effort to maximize track time.

If you would like to stay in the loop for additional details about Spec MX-5 and/or you think you’d like to apply for one of the open Spec MX-5 seats, please contact Todd Lamb at specmx5@ATLspeedwerks.com.

Runoffs Recap

We just returned from the 2017 SCCA Runoffs at Indy. What a great event!

 

It was a huge success for our client Tray Ayres, who claimed his first National Championship winning SRF3 in a field of 101 cars! As a team we got to kiss the bricks as part of the celebration. Todd Lamb qualified 4th and finished 8th in SRF3.

Andy Devoto showed everyone on the test days that the 1.6 Spec Miata can still hold its own, putting in the 8th fastest time on Sunday.

Senter Smith had a great showing in his new Speedwerks VVT build, starting 39th and finishing 29th in the 90+ Spec Miata field.

Steve Sturm made the big show in Spec Miata by way of the Last Chance Qualifying race.

Matt Reynolds qualified in 4th and had a good run for the opening laps in SM until contact slowed his progress.

Our Spec Boxster qualified 2nd in T3 with Todd Lamb at the wheel, but unfortunately he and the polesitter were knocked out of the race on the first lap by an over-ambitious driver.

 It was great to see many of our racing friends stop by, including Tim Weaver, Jeff VanBendegom, and Tom Brown.