While staring at this blank screen for a while trying to figure out where to start when talking about the 2012 season for the team, so much comes to mind that it is hard to decide what to mention first. Between Global Time Attack, filling in months with NASA AZ events, and closing the year visiting the various trade shows around the country, we have certainly seen our own ups and downs as a team both emotionally and financially. I think it is safe to say, that in 2012, the Snail Performance team increased their brand recognition, and had a great time along the way.
Having been committed NASA drivers for many years, we began the year just as gung ho as any year previous with goals of topping both the Time Trial and Ums Tuning Time Attack Series podiums at each event. As we pushed ourselves and our cars harder than ever before, it was clear to see this was not going to be as easy as it is said. Arizona as a region does not have the opportunity for open testing days which leaves only NASA weekends for testing. This proves difficult when combined with 15-20 sessions that are scrapped if one thing as simple as an intercooler coupler pops. With these frustrations aside, our first main event of the year came with the always popular NASA AZ Night Event and Modified Magazine Tuner Shootout at Firebird International Raceway. Little did we know at the time, this may have been the last year for the shootout or any event to be held in this venue.
The event started out great with a solid start on the Dyno event and AutoX. As Time Attack practice went on times looked promising. Unfortunately a dying transponder failed to make it back onto the car before the official timed session. It wasn’t until we came off track we realized the mistake. Luckily they allowed us to rerun immediately, however hot Arizona ambient, underhood, and tire temps meant our best times were behind us. None the less, we went on to the last event, the drag races. With a new clutch in the car, we were unaware how it would respond to being launched. This would be our downfall, as nothing would provide a solid launch, including throwing our drag racing ringer in the car, Travis Barnes. In the end low points in the drag and emissions testing left us with a 3rd place overall finish. Not bad at all and our best finish in the shootout yet.
With the shootout in the bag, we looked to the rest of the year and put our focus on Global Time Attack. The April Buttonwillow Raceway GTA event was hot to say the least, and the team finished with a 2nd place finish in both Unlimited AWD and Street AWD. As a team we were excited with our finish. Markos Mylonas, fed up with standing by decided this would be the last event he would miss and looked into making plans for the next team GTA event. Unable to make the immediate following events due to budget and distance, the team set their sights on Texas Motor Speedway. With family in the area, we couldn’t wait to get to Texas and enjoy the new venue.
The travel time from Phoenix to Texas Motor Speedway is a 16 hour drive towing. The Wednesday before the event, we closed the shop and headed straight for Texas. We arrived the next day around lunch to an open infield and the GTA staff setting up.
As promised, this would be our first event fielding 3 cars, and with the special guest Dale Barnes running his daily driven Mustang GT, we ended with 2 enthusiast class cars, and of course the Street and Unlimited AWD cars. When the event was over, the 4 team entries finished with 4 podium finishes. Dale Barnes took 3rd place Enthusiast RWD. Markos Mylonas finished 2nd Place Enthusiast AWD. Taylor Wilson finished 1st place Street AWD. Travis Barnes finished 3rd place Unlimited AWD.
On the way home from Texas, the 16 hour drive turned into an almost 22 hour drive. The team caravanned with their 3 rigs alongside Tony “Hawt Kawk” Szirka of UMS Tuning and Mike Warfield of GST Motorsports. Despite overheating trucks, pepper here and there, and a few hoses in places that will remain unspoken, the group managed to survive the drive back, some doing the whole stint fueled on Energy Drinks, Hawaiian BBQ, candy, and driving the last few hours with heads sticking out windows enjoying the midnight air.
Global Time Attack Buttonwillow / Super Lap Battle was planned for the last event of the year. A last minute offer to have our unlimited class 2003 Subaru WRX as a featured vehicle in the Turbo by Garrett booth at the SEMA show cut the deadline to have the cars ready by 2 weeks.
Already with big plans for the last event, the team hustled and spent the final weeks before the show at the shop day and night preparing. After many long nights, some self-taught welding, and sleep deprivation reminding us that plastic is not a great grounding contact, the car was finished on the dyno just in time to be pulled into the trailer and driven to Las Vegas. We made a number of great contacts and some new relationships for the 2013 season while at the show that are very exciting!
With the hard parking out of the way, half of the team hustled back to Arizona to pick up the rest of the cars and make their way to Buttonwillow Raceway for the final event of the year. Markos Mylonas was especially excited as this would be his first experience on this amazing race track. The weather was perfect and each car ran flawlessly, just as they had all year long. There’s something to be said about returning from every event during the season only needing an oil change to prep for the next event.
Markos learned the track very quickly holding down 3rd place Street AWD for the most of the day. It was only during the last session of the day his time was overtaken. Considering the mild modifications of the car, and significant underpowered disadvantage, we are excited to see very fast times from Markos next season. Taylor Wilson was able to hold onto 2nd place Street AWD for the day. With times only slightly quicker than past visits, some changes are in store for this car in the off season. Travis Barnes, testing his newly designed splitter, found 3 seconds over past visits which yielded him a 2nd Place Unlimited AWD finish.
With such a successful year for a group of ultimately, privateers, we are very excited to see what next season has in store for us. We want to thank all of our sponsors who have helped us this year including Lic Motorsports, Whiteline US, Turbosmart USA, Turbos Direct, and Wheeldude.com. We are also excited to welcome Turbo by Garrett ( #TurboLife) to our family for the 2013 season.
After such a great season filled with awesome memories, it saddens us to announce, our team will no longer reside in one state. Team Principal, Unlimited Driver, tuner, and most of all brother, Travis “Sauce Bauce” Barnes will be moving to the Northern California Area. Travis is the reason this team exists, and it will not be the same having him 800 miles away. We will do our best not to let the distance change anything that has become expected of our small family and still have a full schedule planned for 2013. While it does not seem like a great distance, and is only a quick Southwest flight away, he will be missed in his absence and we hope to one day have him home in Arizona again. If not, everyone’s selling their homes and we are just going to have to move to California. Don’t test us, we will do it!
Now with 2012 out of the way, we look toward 2013 with our first event at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway with NASA AZ. You can catch all of the coverage from this event as well as the rest of the team’s season at any of the outlets below. Keep up with the latest modifications, trials and tribulations, and team victories all year long! Be sure to keep up to date with the team!
Photos By: Amanda Gift of Snaps Studio
Photos By: AFL Photography
Photos By: Forward Motion