NATA champions crowned at Super Lap Battle

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Mar 14, 2024 | SCCA, gridlife, Circuit of the Americas, NATA, NATA Championship, Global Time Attack, Super Lap Battle, Feras Qartoumy, Jackie Ding, SCCA Time Trials, Devin Hofmann | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2024 issue | Never miss an article

Photograph Courtesy Gridlife

Three series. Three elite events. Three classes. This formula comprised the inaugural NATA Championship presented by Grassroots Motorsports with events at the Super Lap Battle at COTA, Gridlife at GingerMan Raceway and the SCCA Time Trials Nationals. Three NATA classes simplified the contest, with the yearlong, 300-plus-driver field solely grouped by tire choice: Unlimited, Large 200tw and Small 200tw.

[Introducing the NATA Championship presented by Grassroots Motorsports]

Unlimited Champion: Feras Qartoumy, Chevrolet Corvette


Photo courtesy Gridlife

Undefeated for three years. That’s the track record behind the C6 Corvette that Feras Qartoumy campaigns. Oddly enough, he didn’t intend to keep this car for long. Then he found its speed potential.

Feras, a former off-road car fabricator and chassis builder, wanted to build a tube-frame car. He picked up this Corvette to feed his need for speed in the interim. It snowballed from there.

“The only thing that remains factory to the car is whatever remnants of the chassis, the suspension, torque tube and diff. Besides that, everything’s been changed,” Feras explains.

The formula Feras used to create this track-record destroyer is simple: “A car that’s super light makes a lot of power, and a lot of downforce equates to a really fast car,” he says.

The car incorporates a carbon-Kevlar body from HGK. The Corvette now weighs 2640 pounds, about 500 pounds less than stock. Verus Engineering came up with an aero package that delivers up to 6000 pounds of downforce, while Late Model Engines built a 427-cubic-inch powerplant fed by twin Garrett G35- 900 turbos. Feras typically sets the boost to put out 1000 horsepower.

It sounds like a lot to handle, but Feras says the car’s more of a pleasure to drive than you might think. “The Corvette is such a neutral, well-balanced platform,” he says. “Some could be intimidated by it, but any well[1]rounded driver could get into the driver’s seat and in a couple of laps be very comfortable.”

After conquering the tracks and events Feras wished to win here at home, including the first two rounds of NATA, he put the Corvette on a ship to Australia. Down Under, he became the first American to post a class win at the World Time Attack Challenge in Sydney. Feras now seeks to carry his winning ways to the birthplace of time attack, Japan, and compete at the famed Tsukaba Circuit in February and March. Faras hasn’t forgotten the American scene, though, as he built a clone of this car for the 2024 domestic schedule.


Photo by J.A. Ackley

Large Tire 200tw Champion: Jackie Ding, Toyota GR Supra/BMW M2


Photo by Tradd's Photos/Racing for ALS

Jackie’s season started with a Toyota Supra, but he soon switched to a new platform: the latest BMW M2.

[Why Jackie Ding Chose to Build a BMW M2 for Time Trials]

“We were done with the Supra at that point,” says Jackie. “We pushed it to 760 horsepower, did all the aero we could. We maximized what the rule book would allow. We were happy with the way the car was, so it didn’t make sense to keep on pushing. It would be more fun to go start fresh.”

Jackie and his PhD Racing team selected the M2 as its next project. “We thought the M2 was a good starting point,” he says. “You have a good chassis underneath. Not only is the drivetrain stout–the S58 and 8HP ZF transmission combo–but it was much cheaper than the regular M3 and M4–about $20,000 cheaper.”

Some might argue that the Toyota Supra is really a BMW underneath, which Jackie doesn’t dispute, but the Supra and M2 are two different animals. “When you drive them back to back, they feel very different,” he explains. “Toyota had a lot of input on the fine-tuning on the Supra. The M division got to play with the M2 a little more. So you have more track-suited electronics [on the M2].”

How much more track-suited? Jackie went on to win the NATA Championship for the final two rounds with relatively minor modifications: safety gear, 305mm tires all around, coil-overs, camber plates, removed rear seat and GiroDisc brake rotors. That’s about it.

“It’s insanely easy to drive,” Jackie says. “You shut your brain off and let it do its thing.” The traction control, he adds, is fantastic. Despite the BMW M2 being great out of the box, Jackie and PhD Racing aren’t done yet. They debuted a new aero package at the PRI Trade Show and look to do some engine tuning to get even more speed out of the car.


Photo by J.A. Ackley

Small Tire 200tw Champion: Devin Hofmann, Subaru WRX STI


Photo courtesy Danny Phantom/Devin Hofmann

One event. That’s often all it takes to turn someone on the sidelines into a racer. That was the case for Devin Hofmann when she first tracked her 2015 Subaru WRX STI. Now she’s a NATA champion.

“I had no intentions of ever being a race car driver,” notes Devin, a manufacturing engineer by trade. “I have always been behind the scenes developing, testing, designing parts. People were like, ‘You gotta track the car. You gotta try it one time.’ I did, and that’s when it escalated.”

Incidentally, Devin crossed paths with her Subaru when another door in her life closed. “After a bad breakup, I sold my engagement ring and I wanted a dream car that was affordable,” she recalls. “I always loved how the burble sounded on a Subaru, and I wanted a manual. That’s why I got it.”

When Devin bought the Subaru four years ago, she had no intention of tracking it. However, after she started to, parts manufacturers began leaning on her for her engineering and driving background. After testing parts on her Subaru for years, she decided to take a new approach this season.

“Before, my car was a development car [to test parts],” Devin says. “It wasn’t driver-focused. This year, especially after COTA, I felt I had potential to do well. I wanted to stop being a test mule.”

Devin won her class at COTA, the first round of NATA. For the second round at GingerMan, she had teamed up with Turn In Concepts to change the focus from car to driver.

To help preserve the engine, Turn In Concepts detuned it from 660 wheel horsepower to 530. The shop also installed an all-new suspension from SPL Parts and kept the existing aero package from Verus Engineering. The biggest change, however, has come from data analysis.

“I did it on my own, but [Turn In Concepts] has a guy on the team and that’s what he does,” Devin says. “Having someone who has driven, is experienced in [data analysis] and does it for other drivers–that’s helpful.”


Photo courtesy Danny Phantom/Devin Hofmann

The 2024 NATA Championship

This year’s NATA Championship presented by Grassroots Motorsports offers more opportunities for drivers to accumulate points. The schedule spans across six events, with the best three points showings counting toward the year-end title.

2024 NATA Championship Presented by Grassroots Motorsports Schedule

  • April 13-14: Road America, SCCA
  • May 10-11: Road Atlanta, GTA
  • June 28-30: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Gridlife
  • July 5-6: Ascend PPIR, GTA
  • September 14-15: Autobahn Country Club, Gridlife
  • October 24-27: NCM Motorsports Park, SCCA

For more information, visit natachampionship.com.

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Comments
J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/14/24 11:20 a.m.

Quick update on Feras: He posted the fastest time at Tsukuba, putting an American in an American car atop the time charts for Attack Tsukuba in Japan.

DavyZ
DavyZ New Reader
3/14/24 1:46 p.m.

Congrats to Feras for making it happen at Tsukuba!   I was looking at the photo of the Vette and noticing the "paint", so thank you for putting in the description that it has a carbon-kevlar body...mmmm..sweeet!

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/14/24 3:59 p.m.
J.A. Ackley said:

Quick update on Feras: He posted the fastest time at Tsukuba, putting an American in an American car atop the time charts for Attack Tsukuba in Japan.

Is there a video of that run? I'd love to watch a Corvette tear up Tsukuba.

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/14/24 4:11 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Yes! Check this out:

 

 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/14/24 4:58 p.m.

In reply to J.A. Ackley :

Holy crap that's fast. surprise

j_tso
j_tso Dork
3/14/24 5:19 p.m.
J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/15/24 6:55 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Yes! That sums it up nicely. That kind of speed makes a big track seem small.

livinon2wheels
livinon2wheels GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/15/24 4:12 p.m.

Holy crap if Jeremy Clarkson had been driving he would have said " I believe a wee bit of poo slipped out" - that would be a very busy car to drive on a shorter track

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