Miller Motorsports Park: The Race In Pictures

Photojournalism: R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

Miller Motorsports Park is a Wonderful Road Race Venue located in the next valley west of Salt Lake City. Specifically, it is located in the town of Tooele, Utah.

The weekend of 30 April was billed as the Utah Grand Prix. No less than 4 major Sports Car Racing Divisions were part of a 3-day event that also included NASCAR’S K&N Pro GN Cars.
That reality alone should have been the story of the weekend but, at altitudes close to 4,500 feet, snow, wind and, cold, can conspire to produce a “Springtime Surprise” – and become an unwelcome part of the weekend’s racing.

For Brett Thompson and the #61 TMS Team, a broken Track Bar mount coupled with a flat tire, added yet another measure of difficulty to go along with the cold Tooele weather.


The Thompson Motorsports Hauler enters Miller Motorsports Park along a row of the ubiquitous flags that are seemingly everywhere at the track.
However, as a sign of weather to come, the mountains look more like the beginnings of a Ski Vacation than a NASCAR Race!

At 8:30 AM, it was 33 degrees, cloudy, and moderately windy. Fortunately, fans and teams came prepared: here the #61 car is shown as it is being made ready for NASCAR Tech.


Although one Official can be seen checking a Rule Book, the #61 Impala SS went through Tech without any significant issues


Shortly after noon on Friday, the dark clouds to the west began to produce snow on the Race Track. Since the Sports Cars have rain tires and race in the wet, the track remained open for practice. Here a Porsche GT 3 passes the starting line while accelerating down the ¾ mile long front stretch … in the snow!


Meanwhile, the NASCAR Teams, with no scheduled practices on Friday, began to cover up cars, tools and, equipment.


The snow became very heavy as the afternoon wore on. Practice and qualifying for the Sports Car Classes was cancelled: not because of the wet track but because of driver and corner worker visibility!


Meanwhile, the NASCAR Pits were really “closed”! Someone asked; “Does Goodyear have a Studded Snow Slick” for NASCAR? If so, it remains classified information!


Saturday Morning was cloudy and 30 degrees! But the Track was dry since the 2 feet of snow the Mountains received was “Lake Effect” and located east of Tooele. Brett Thompson seems relaxed as he drives around in the slowest vehicle in the TMS Garage. MMP is a huge facility covering around 600 acres; golf carts are a Crew necessity for this track.


Fan walks begin early; the snow showers visible to the west passed to the south and there was some pleasant late day sun forecast.


The #61 car practiced fairly well but it was reluctant to achieve a good balance around the full track.


During qualifying, which is by “group”, Brett ended his stint 20th. He reported that the car was better and was confident it would race OK.


Before the late afternoon NASCAR Event, Miller hosted two Sports Car Races. Pictured are Porsche GT 3 cars … said to cost $300,000 from the factory!


Another race, a class promoted by Pirelli Tires, had no less than 50 cars entered. A Dodge Viper was right for the track and it finished 1st followed by a Porsche, a Corvette and, two very fast Cadillac race cars.


In the late afternoon sun, 35 NASCAR K&N Pro cars are lined up for their race.


As race time approaches, Team Members set up their Pit Boxes for the race. Unfortunately, they would be very much needed for this race.


After Pre-Race Ceremonies, it is Race Time as 35 cars await the call to “Start Your Engines”.


During the early laps the #61 steadily gained positions on the track.


The Racing action, shown here at “Release”, was excellent.


At roughly the 1/3rd mark in the race, Brett Thompson was scored in 3rd place. Although the car was probably not a 3rd place car, it did seem capable of a very good finish.


In an effort to get a top 5 finish, Brett Thompson was driving the car unusually hard. While in a section of track called the “Attitudes”, the Track Bar mounting failed.
Entering the next turn, a tight left hander, at 100+ mph, was described by Brett as being quite “interesting”. It was also a disaster as the broken mount was re-welded in the Pits; then failed again, then caused a flat tire, and eventually led to a 22nd place finish! (Above: the track bar can be seen dragging on the track)


For all, it was a difficult trip back to the Jerome ID Race Shop.


TMS will be back at Miller next year. Perhaps lady luck, and a warm Sun, will shine on the #61 Team and their racing fortunes will be improved over 2011.

And, for some anonymous fan of the #61, perhaps it will not SNOW!

Thompson Motorsports next race will be at the Iowa Speedway on 05.21.2011. The Iowa race is a combined event where the NASCAR GN cars from the East and West compete together.
The weekend at Iowa should prove to be a fan favorite as it also features a NASCAR Nationwide Race.

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