The new year marks an important milestone for one Lockton Motorsports partner, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), which officially formed 30 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Three decades later, NASA is still bringing high quality motorsports events to all level of enthusiasts across the country. Here’s a look back at National Auto Sport Association and its history over the last 30 years.
National Auto Sport Association Beginnings
Back in 1991, NASA cofounders Jerry Kunzman and Ali Arsham were two young racing enthusiasts dreaming of a different kind of racing experience. They wanted a club where it was easier to get started in motorsports, with vehicle classes and requirements that were less rigid. Unable to find a suitable home, they started hosting their own track days with friends.
Their first event had happened in November 1989, when 22-year-old Kunzman and 24-year-old Arsham rented Sears Point Raceway for a day of lapping. Over the next few years, the duo hosted more track days, getting organized, tweaking rules and letting in new drivers. By 1991, demand for their events was so strong they decided to make it official and form their own club.
By 1994, Kunzman and Arsham had turned NASA into a for-profit business and were promoting it full time as more regions and events continued to open. Membership had grown to 11,000 after the first decade and tops 14,000 today.
NASA at first faced skepticism from other more established sports car clubs, who wondered if the project would be sustainable. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also checked in with the duo, but agreed they could keep the short name NASA, as long as no cars were launched too high into space.
As a for-profit business, NASA has been able to make motorsports accessible to more drivers and adapt quickly as interest in vehicles, classes and events change. NASA today hosts HPDE events, rally sport series, time trials, 14 competition racing series and an annual national championship.
NASA Events History
One of NASA’s earliest organized events was HPDE training. The HPDE program started with having volunteer instructors on hand for early track events. Later, NASA developed four levels of HPDE to help motorsports enthusiasts safely progress from education to road racing and NASA professional series. Thanks to its HPDE, NASA boasts an enviable safety record, with no serious injuries since it started offering its four-level HPDE training for drivers in 1993.
NASA has hosted its Time Trial Program since 2003, increasing the number of regions participating each season. There are now seven Time Trial classes, including one unlimited, three production car classes and three combined classes. Each has its own regional championships, qualifying drivers for the National Championship event.
NASA’s Rally Sport series is also in its 18th year this year, with the first four rally series events held in 2003. In 2017, the series had grown to more than two dozen events, with 10 events scheduled for 2021. The Rally Sport series boast several tech firsts, including live web event broadcasts, custom apps for drivers and build teams and the first electric car rally class in 2020.
The NASA National Championships are now in their 15th year, with the first races held in September 2006 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For several seasons, NASA experimented with Eastern and Western Championships divisions, holding events at top tracks around the country, such as Circuit of the Americas, Sonoma Raceway, WeatherTech Raceway, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen International, Virginia International Raceway and Sebring International Raceway. NASA opted to recombine events into one true National Championships in 2018.
The 2020 Championships had to be canceled due to Covid-19, but the 2021 Championships are back on, with events scheduled to take place at The World Center of Racing, home of the famed Daytona Road Course, this September.
Making Track History
If you’re a motorsports enthusiast interested in National Auto Sport Association membership, HPDE training or road racing, more information can be found at the NASA website.
As a longstanding partner, we wish NASA the biggest congratulations on 30 years, and hope they continue bringing high quality motorsports events to enthusiasts for 30 more years to come.