Nick Stentiford: A Time Trials Story
Nick Stentiford: A Time Trials Story
The 2019 Tire Rack SCCA Time Trials National Tour at Carolina Motorsports Park presented by Hagerty was a success by any measure. We caught up with Nick Stentiford, who was running his first SCCA event ever during the event. Coming to us from Global Time Attack, Nick is a lesson for anyone on how to get involved.
Nick told us:
I have the typical “high school kid who is into cars” story, so I went from being 18 with a car to being 31 and running events across the country. I've built plenty of cars in my time, truly gorgeous cars but have never done anything with them. They looked great and made excellent power, but aside from parking lot meets and highway pulls that's the most action they saw.
For the past seven years, I've attended Formula Drift and Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta. I saw those Time Attack drivers and idolized them. I kept thinking every year I would get out there and do it, but with every year came an excuse. The car isn’t ready… I still need this… I'm not sure of this… blah, blah, blah.
Three years ago, my good buddy Jamin, who has a green FD-generation Mazda RX-7, said to me “let's go to the track.” In my bone-stock 1999 Nissan Silvia, I said yes. I didn’t know anything of tires, brake pads or even bother to read anything on the internet. But off we went to an HPDE event at Roebling Road.
After three events at Roebling Road, I registered for my first Global Time Attack event at Road Atlanta - the place I had spectated at for years! All of a sudden, I’m fulfilling a dream and running with those drivers. The same people I looked up to on social media and in magazines are now passing me. It was insane! I even ended up finishing in second-place in their Enthusiast Class.
Life took me to Colorado with a cross-country move. Since then it's just been a snowball of entering every event I can! I made it a goal to run every Global Time Attack event (pro & pro-am) of the 2018 season. I only made the podium once but gained the experience of driving my car to every event, coast to coast. I did it by sleeping in the car or in a tent at the track, strapping wheels to my roof, whatever was necessary. Meeting all those people made it beyond worth every dime!
It wasn’t all fun and games. I actually blew my engine in the first session of the first event of the Global Time Attack season. Because motorsports is a family, I borrowed an R32 Skyline from a total stranger and competed in that. All the experiences were beyond what I could have imagined, and all the drivers I had looked up to for so long had become my family. At Buttonwillow Raceway, I was awarded the first ever “Spirit of Time Attack” award and it almost brought me to tears. They recognized the sacrifice and hard work I had put in. It literally meant the world to me. I would have never imagined any of that would have happened - but here it is a season later.
All of that brought me to CMP this past weekend for my first SCCA event. I had heard of the Time Trials program but didn’t know the details. I just knew it gave me an opportunity to cross another track off of my list in between two other East Coast events.
I was shocked by how many drivers showed up to what I thought was going to be a low-key Time Attack event. I was glad to see so many relatively factory or lightly modified cars. That tells me new people are coming into the sport, which benefits everyone with more competition and ultimately more events and lower entry fees.
The event was run very well, the timing stayed up to date and there was an announcer who kept spectators updated on the action. It was great. Free food, drinks, everyone hanging out all night and a great, helpful atmosphere among the entrants. I'll definitely continue coming to these events. I'm already registered for the next event at High Plains Raceway.
One thing I'd like to get across to everyone is that there is nothing special about me. I work a regular job, I don’t make much money, but I absolutely do what I have to in order to drive. I’ve skipped meals and I’m constantly selling things to sacrifice and hopefully be on track every weekend. If someone has enough passion they can make anything happen. That's what I'm doing and I want people to see that. It's insane to me that I have fans! People recognize me off the track. It blows my mind that people look up to me and I hope I'm the motivation they need to follow in my footsteps and grow this sport.
The one thing I wish I knew while I was “just a spectator” is that you don’t need anything finished to come to these events! Bring your car, rent a helmet and have a willingness to learn and I promise it will change your life. After that, buy brake pads and nice brake fluid and you're set. You'll be hard pressed to outdrive most vehicles in factory form. That's where I see a lot of people get mixed up. They'll build a "time attack" car having never been to the track to even feel the car out. I know it sounds lame, but a driver mod will always be the best mod. Don’t believe me? Let an experienced driver put some laps down and compare your times. Now what did they change about your car? Nothing. Just keep growing your driver mod.
Please stop by and say hello if you see me at an event. It hasn’t been long since I’ve been the “new guy” full of questions. I still have questions! But don’t let that keep you from getting on track yourself.
Photo by Tradd's Photos