Palomar Racing Challenge Review

What a season and to think it all started just over a year ago in August 2021 as a challenge. While enjoying a beverage at night around the fire at the Reunion at Laguna Seca where we were running our 1968 Ginetta G16, Nik Romano said, “Why don’t we go racing for real. Vintage racing is cool, but winning real races is really fun.” In response, I suggested we come up with a dauntng challenge, something that would require the team to grow and meet a challenge that should be pretty much undoable.

The Palomar Racing ST5/E2 Challenge was born.

Nik, “Lets build a car to win the regional ST5 championship.”

Andy, “Sure but you already did that.”

Nik, “Then let’s win the ST5 National Championship.”

Andy, “Ok but didn’t you also do that in the Lexus?”

Nik, “Lets also win the WERC E2 Endurance Championship.”

Andy, “Now this is getting interestng…Has anyone ever done all three?”

Nik, “I don’t think so, we can also try to win the 25 Hours of Thunderhill”

Andy, “This sounds like a challenge, let’s do it! We need a car or 2.”

Palomar Cars

The Palomar Racing 2022 ST5/E2 Challenge

was underway, we soon had a battered old BMW E36 on our lift and began dreaming what we would do to make it a race car again. Literally the car was a wreck, it had been deemed total in early 2021. As the thoughts began to take shape and a schedule was being put together for 2022 it was determined we would need to build a second car in order to take on the 25 Hour race and so our 2 cars 1 team effort began to take shape.

We started the effort knowing that Nik Romano would be our primary driver, but as we were looking at enduros and a 2 car effort additional drivers would  be needed. As fate would have it late October of 2021 we were at Buttonwillow to take a look at a NASA race weekend. We wanted to get a feel for the series we would be campaigning in the following year. While there, we were asked to step in to crew for a friend of a friend in the final enduro of the year. Matt Million was one of the drivers for this team and after they won the championship that night I knew I had met our second driver. Fatefully he had no plans for 2022.

The season started slow in January as we brought the #25 E36 to the track for its first run of the season. Plans were underway to repower the car, but it still had the original underpowered M50 pullng out only 180hp of the allowed 205. It handled reasonably well and we still got a 2nd and 3rd place for the weekend. Soon thereafter the program was in full swing, the body no longer clownish and an S52 had upped the power available to the drivers. Our next race with the car no longer underpowered we came to Willow Springs for our first weekend featuring both ST5 sprint races as well as the first of 6 endurance race in WERC E2. It was here in Willow Springs that the team began to show just how powerful it could be. By the end of the weekend we had won everything, poles, fast laps, new track records and both Sprint races and our first Endurance race. Indeed this was going to be a fun year.

Following Willow Springs, we began to click off finishes, well mostly 1st place finishes. The team set new track records at almost every track we went to. Along the way, we won at Cal Speedway winning in both March and May. A return to Buttonwillow where we won again before making a run up to Laguna to have fun with our vintage cars and shake down our “vintage” E36’s at the track where we would be competing for a national Championship later. We debuted the newly built 24 at Sonoma and then we were off to Utah where we won in both ST4 and ST5 and won the enduro race in E1.

By the time we got to NASA Nationals in Laguna Seca in September, we were firmly in control of the regional and endurance Championships, we were well on our way to completing the Challenge.

Next up is the NASA Nationals

First we would spend another weekend at Laguna Seca with USTCC and Indycar at an unofficial shakedown. It was a monumental experience being a part of the same paddock as the stars of IndyCar and to see the effort put in by these top after teams gave us a goal to aspire to. During this weekend the cars proved very competitive. We won all Sportsman races, the Top Team Trophy for the weekend as well as Matt’s first Rookie award in years. In fact, they were punching well above their weight and gave the team confidence as we approached the Championships. It also gave us a chance to bond as a team and get comfortable as we prepared. A few repairs were needed after the weekend but our new Trailer provided the lift and room needed to work in our shop away from home.


From starting the season as an unknown, to showing up in Laguna Seca as the team to beat for the National Championship was quite an accomplishment for this first year effort by Palomar Racing. At Nationals the team completed the next step in the Challenge by winning the ST5 National Championship and even finishing on the podium for the ST4 championship with our second ST5 car, though contact at the end of the race resulted in a DQ. From SpeedNews magazine, “It would be safe to call the Team Palomar Racing’s ST5 efforts at the NASA Championships a dominant performance. Driver Matt Million was inch-perfect all weekend, scoring the fastest lap times Friday, winning the Saturday qualifying race, and capping it off with a win on Sunday and the ST5 Championship.” To cap off the weekend the team also won the inaugural Seaside Cup 6 1/2 hour enduro. Following the National Championships Palomar made it official winning the last WERC E2 race at Buttonwillow finishing the season with a record of 5 wins in 6 events. At the ST5 next race in Chuckwalla, Team Palomar won 2 more races and finished the ST5 season as the runaway Regional Champion with a record of 12 wins in 17 races.

The first weekend of December brought us to The 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the final event of the 2022 Season and the chance to finish a dream season with an unheard of achievement in NASA. Just as at Nationals, Palomar Racing was no longer unknown, we were again the team to beat in class E2.

The cars proved fast off the trailer, but just before qualifying something was wrong with the 24’s transmission. After a transmission swap, Team Palomar took the pole for class E2. The race started in the rain, the track was wet, traction was low and visibility even lower, tricky doesn’t effectively describe the conditions as Nik and Matt began the race. At the end of the epic first stint by Matt and Nik, the 24 was in the lead by 2 laps with the 25 second in class. Everything was going per plan until Matt comes in to turn over the car to Elliot after 4 hours in the car, the transmission won’t reengage. Bimmerspeed repaired the car, but the 24 was effectively out of contention almost 40 laps down. The race continued through the night until fog brought out the red flag. Amazingly, the 25 was on the lead lap in 2nd place behind Moorewood.

After a 4-hour delay for fog, the race went green again at 9:30AM. The 25 restarted but the engine was down on power. Did we have have the pace with our drivers to possibly keep 2nd place? Fittingly Matt and Nik were in the cars at the end, what a finish it would be, forever to be known as “The Push”. Nik was tasked with pushing Matt to the checkered flag for the last hour. It almost worked, but a couple laps before the checkered flag the 73 car passed us for 2nd place. The Palomar cars both finished and the heroic effort by the team will be remembered by all who were there. The course workers were cheering us on from their flag stations, the PA announcer was without words as he described the push from the team cars, even the Moorewood team was on the wall cheering us on even as they were still chasing us for 2nd place. In the end, the motor in the 25 didn’t have enough left to even make it to pit road, it was pushed onto the pit lane by the 24. After er 560 grueling laps the 25 had raced for 1680 miles and the 24 had gone for 1584 miles. Did we win, no, but we had given it everything we had. NASA and our competitors will forever remember we were there. How prophetic was our tag line on the shirts we made for the race, “25 Hours, 2 cars, 1 team”.

What a year by the Palomar Racing Team, it will be fun to see what comes next.

Thank you to Bimmerworld, Apex Wheels, Red Line Oil, Toyo Tires, AGA Tools, StopTech, MCS, Swift Springs, and Rugged Radios amongst others for all your support.

Thanks to our Partners for their support

Actively seeking partners in addition to our primary Palomar Solar & Roofing.

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Apex Wheels
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Fast Sideways
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Toyo Tires Motorsport
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