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Battle In The Snake Pit

Christopher R. Phillip Mar 22, 2013
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If you recall from our first two installments of "Battle in the Snake Pit" (VETTE, Sep. and Dec. '12), Corvettes have become a force to be reckoned with in the North American Road Racing Association's (NARRA) two new grassroots-style racing series: the US GT Championship (USGTC) and the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship (USTTC).

In those two articles, we revealed how five racetracks from Arizona to Virginia hosted the series' exhilarating first 10 rounds, and presented a sampling of the Corvettes that participated.

01 George Whelen continues to lead the charging Corvettes in the US GT Championship. At Monticello, he added another outright win to his name on Sunday, and two more GT-U class wins, bringing his tally to four for the year. While he hasn't attended every round, he and his C6 have dominated the GT-U field otherwise, which is mostly made up of Vipers. He sits at third in points, in striking distance of the class championship.02 Grand Am and World Challenge Corvette stars Eric Curran (left) and Sonny Whelen were just two of a plethora of celebrities attending NARRA's Monticello event. Others included ALMS driver Kuno Wittmer, Dodge SRT head Ralph Gilles, and F1 and sports-car legend Brian Redman.03 David Greenman racked up two more GT-3 class wins at Monticello, putting his C5 second in championship points heading into the finals at Watkins Glen. 04 NASA stalwart Rene Molina, shown here in his C6, had been anticipating NARRA's Texas event for months and did the marque proud, standing on the third step of the USGT's GT-2 podium on both Saturday and Sunday.05 Brooklyn's Ben Lesnak showed what he's made of at Monticello, finishing with the sixth-fastest outright time of 2:31.607 on Saturday to take the TT-3 win and set a new lap record. He won again on Sunday, going even quicker with a 2:30.275. Lesnak's performance is even more impressive considering that he drives his C5 to the track.06 Scott Mandel's C5 Z06 was fastest in TT-2 on Saturday at Monticello, but a technical infringement kept him off the podium. He made up for it on Sunday, winning with a new class lap record of 2:33.203.

This month, we bring you a late-season recap covering NARRA's most recent events, held at Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York (August 25-26), and Texas World Speedway (September 22-23).

"The Corvette has continued to show its track prowess during the past four rounds, and the on-track rivalry with the Vipers couldn't be stronger," NARRA General Manager Rob Morrison tells VETTE in an exclusive interview. "Monticello, the host for rounds 11 and 12, was a big weekend for the marque. I'm a Vette man, and it was nice to see.

"George Whelen dominated the US GT Championship, and Ben Lesnak and Scott Mandel were punching well above their weight in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship," Morrison explains. "Those two were really impressive, given they're driving road cars and beating some of the top time-attack cars in the country.

07 Last seen in rounds 9 and 10 at Virginia International Raceway, Michael Perkins was back in Texas for rounds 13 and 14, with aero fitted to his C6 Z06 for the first time. It made a world of difference, as evidenced by his dominance in the TT-2 class on both days. He also set a new track lap record of 1:50.482.08's Troy Dixon piloted his '09 Z06 again in Texas, finishing Eighth in the TT-1 class of Saturday's Whelen USTTC competition. His 600-plus-hp engine was built by Late Model Racecraft.09 Troy Messer's Doug Rippie Motorsports-built '09 coupe was untouchable in Texas. It annihilated both the previous TT-1 lap record and the outright Whelen USTTC record with a staggering 1:44.375 lap time. Pushing Messer all the way to two class victories that weekend was his son and driving coach T.J.10 Ron Farmer put himself back on top of the GT-3 points standings with two wins in his '01 Z06 at Texas World Speedway. He'll go head to head with Greenman for the title at Watkins Glen.

"Moving to rounds 13 and 14 at Texas Motor Speedway, Troy Messer blitzed the time-trial field. He always seems to be the benchmark when he competes. Michael Perkins shined at Texas, too, as he chose the weekend to validate the advantage of aero on his C6 Corvette. He knocked about 4 seconds off his previous best with his new front end and wing. All in all, the Texas rounds were good to Corvettes, as the marque earned three more GT podiums and set two more time-trial lap records [for the season].

"With the competition so strong in both series, the points couldn't be closer heading into the finals weekend at Watkins Glen International, but Corvette looks good for at least two class championships," Morrison predicts. "The GT-3 points table is dominated by Vettes, Perkins will be tough to beat in TT-2, and Whelen could still win GT-U, but he needs a bit of luck. It's going to be a great fight!"

By the time this issue hits the newsstands, the USGTC and USTTC season finals-scheduled for October 19-21 at Watkins Glen-will be history. Be sure to keep an eye on the pages of VETTE for exclusive coverage of the Corvettes that defined this history-making weekend.

For more information on NARRA, and how you and your Corvette can become involved, visit and www.face And be sure to check out our official website,, where you'll find winner lists as well as racing videos from last year's NARRA season.



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