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Battle In The Snake Pit

Part 4: Season finale and championship

Christopher R. Phillip May 1, 2013
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In the first three installments of "Battle in the Snake Pit" (VETTE, Oct. '12, Dec. '12, and March '13), we brought you a recap of the top Corvettes in the North American Road Racing Association's (NARRA) two new grassroots-style racing series: the US GT Championship (USGTC) and Whelen US TimeTrial Championship (USTTC).

Chevy Corvette 2/13

Those three features, covering 14 rounds of action at seven tracks across the country, led up to NARRA's finals weekend at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen, New York, on October 19-21.

With eight class titles on the line in the USGTC and USTTC championships, the legendary track served up the ultimate test for both man and machine as Corvette and Viper faced off for the final time in 2012.

"As has been the case all year, Corvette was well represented and did the marque proud," NARRA General Manger Rob Morrison says. "Whelen Marsh Racing brought in Grand-Am big gun Eric Curran to bolster their efforts, [but] he wasn't the only pro driving, with Tommy Archer behind the wheel of a Viper. Curran looked set to win the final US GT race of the season in the team's '09 Z06 before it succumbed to suspension failure, while teammate George Whelen in another '09 Z06 had an outside chance of taking the title. He ran strong to bring home Second in the race and Third in the GT-U championship."

US-LED's Ron Farmer secured the first championship for Corvette, capturing GT-3 in his '01 Z06 with the round win over fellow Vette driver David Greenman.

In fierce USTTC competition, David Santillo and his "mash-up" C5/C6 Z06 got ever so close to the Unlimited round win, while Michael Perkins and his '03 Z06 clinched the TT-2 title. Scott Mandel and his '02 Z06, meanwhile, gave Corvette another class victory in TT-3.

"Corvette recorded the most class wins in the 2012 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship—more than Viper, Ferrari, Subaru, or anyone else," notes Morrison.

The winners netted some serious swag at the Champions' Banquet, held at the Corning Museum of Glass. Prizes included unique Forgeline trophies, complete Cool Shirt systems, GoPro Hero 2 camera sets, $500 Moton Suspension vouchers, and TeamTech six-point cam-lock racing harnesses. As Morrison puts it, "Not a bad way to end the year."

Watkins Glen 3/13

So what's in store for NARRA in 2013?

"A manufacturers' title for both the USGTC and Whelen USTTC, based on wins and podiums," Morrison says. "If we'd had it this year, Dodge, would have won them both, so we hope the Corvette community will respond and ensure the first official titles goes to Chevrolet and Corvette.

"There's also going to be two regional championships, North and South, as well as the National. By popular demand we've reintroduced our Solo class to the USPDE, so that all those guys who want to take their road cars on the track, but not compete, have even more opportunity to do so."

For more information on NARRA, and how you and your Corvette can become involved, visit and

Name: George Whelen/Whelen Engineering.
Series/Class: USGTC/ GT-U
Championship Ranking: Third

Notes: The Glen was a new track to Whelen, but he learned quickly, finishing just behind Jim Stout's Viper Comp Coupe to clinch Third in the championship. After his podium finish, NARRA interviewed him for its video series (shown here). George's father, Sonny, who retired from racing at NARRA's VIR weekend, finished Eighth in the GT-U championship.

George 4/13

Name: Eric Curran/Whelen Engineering
Series/Class: USGTC/GT-U
Championship Ranking: N/A

Notes: Curran showed why he's worthy of the Whelen team's Grand-Am seat, setting the fastest times in practice, taking the pole, and leading the final US GT Championship race of 2012 before a suspension failure took him out, effectively ending his chances of winning the championship.

Eric 5/13

Name: David Greenman/Parabellum Racing
Championship Ranking: Second

Notes: Only 60 points separated Greenman and Farmer going into the finals weekend, and while Farmer held on, it was a strong debut for Greenman in the USGTC. Will Stukas (not shown) was Third in points. That means Corvettes enjoyed a clean sweep of the GT-3 class.

David 6/13

Name: Ron Farmer/US LED Racing
Series/Class: USGTC/GT-3
Championship Ranking: First

Notes: Farmer handed the reins of his Vette to his coach Jason Hart, who was dying to prove what the Z was capable of. The pair co-drove and won the event's GT90 Endurance race. Later that weekend, Farmer blitzed the GT-3 field to take the round win and the championship. He also set a new class lap record of 1:58.895.

Ron Farmer Chevy 7/13

Name: David Santillo/BSM
Series/Class: USTTC/TT-U
Championship Ranking: N/A

Notes: The Unlimited class was a battle between David and Goliath—Goliath being Philip Grabow in his monster Subaru STi, and David being Z06 driver David Santillo. The pair ran within 0.001-second until Grabow cranked up the boost to take the win. Still, Santillo's 1:59.935 lap time and Runner-Up finish in the class round impressed many.

David 8/13

Name: Troy and T.J. Messer/Troy's Transmissions
Series/Class: USTTC/TT-1
Championship Ranking: Fifth

Notes: Troy Messer and his son T.J. were sorely missed at Watkins Glen after they blew an engine only weeks before the finals. Given their dominant performance in Arizona and Texas, who knows how the dynamic duo might have fared at the Glen? While they finished Fifth in the 2012 TT-1 championship, they're already planning a full assault on the 2013 TT-1 title. They're shown here at the podium at NARRA's Texas Motor Speedway weekend. That's T.J. second from left, receiving a congratulatory hug from Troy.

Troy And Tj 9/13

Name: Michael Perkins/Target Air Conditioning
Series/Class: USTTC/ TT-2
Championship Ranking: First

Notes: Michael Perkins moved ahead by a mere 20 points in the TT-2 class after crushing the opposition in Texas. He wasn't immediately quickest at the Glen, though he was faster than his nearest championship rival. A Mitsubishi Evo and a Viper led the way in the early stages of the final session, but Perkins shaved nearly four seconds to set a new lap record of 2:04.173, taking the round win and the class championship.

Michael 10/13

Name: Ben Lesnak
Series/ Class: USTTC/TT-3
Championship Ranking: Second

Notes: Lesnak didn't compete at the Glen, but his unbeatable four-in-a-row wins at New Jersey Motor Park (shown here) and Monticello (New York) earned enough points to make him championship Runner-Up in his class.

Ben 11/13

Name: Mark Nunnally/Industrial Depot
Series/Class: USTTC/TT-3
Championship Ranking: Third

Notes: Like Lesnak, Nunnally and his red C5 Z06 didn't compete at Watkins Glen but nevertheless made quite the impression, managing a clean sweep at Road Atlanta, which is his home track, and VIR (shown here). He tied for points with Lesnak, which earned him the third spot on the class-championship podium.

Mark 12/13

Name: Scott Mandel/1st Class Alignment and Repair
Series/Class: USTTC/TT-3
Championship Ranking: 12th

Notes: New Yorker Mandel was three seconds ahead of his nearest rival at the Glen. He proved how mighty American muscle can be in the right hands, winning his class over a Nissan GT-R, a Subaru STi, and a number of Mitsubishi Evos, and setting a class track-lap record of 2:06.112.

Scott 13/13



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