If you like cars, the next few days at Utah Motorsports Campus are for you.
No matter what kind of car you like — your everyday Mazda or Hyundai, a sporty BMW or Mercedes or an exotic Lamborghini or Ferrari — you’ll probably find it at this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Utah. And while these cars look pretty much like what you’d find on a showroom floor, underneath those stock bodies, they’re anything but.
Hours upon hours of hard work go into turning a simple Mazda MX-5 — no doubt a fun car, but not the quickest — into a racing machine. Countless dollars are required to put a Lamborghini Huracan on the track week after week. These are extremely finely tuned machines that will be taking to the track this weekend.
That’s what makes it all the more impressive when you encounter these drivers and mechanics in the paddock area. They couldn’t be more down to earth. They love to talk about their cars and their craft. Unless it’s coming down to crunch time and they really need to be focusing on the task at hand, they always have time for their fans.
The Pirelli World Challenge has always represented one of my favorite weekends on the Tooele County sports calendar. I enjoy looking at all the cars, the vast majority of which I will never be able to afford. Many of the cars that will be on the track at UMC this weekend look fast while they’re standing still. My own car is so slow, some of my fellow commuters probably think it’s standing still even when it’s going freeway speed.
I enjoy mingling with the fans, particularly the younger ones. The look of awe on a kid’s face when they get up close and personal with one of these exotic racecars, or when a driver takes the time to talk to them and sign an autograph, is a sight to behold. As I’ve said before in this space, try getting that kind of access to your favorite Jazz player. Unless it’s Donovan Mitchell randomly crashing your Fourth of July pool party, it’s not likely to happen.
And, yes, I enjoy all the sounds and smells, too. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a V10 at full throttle, or the smell of burning rubber. There’s a lot to look forward to the next three days, and I can’t wait to be there.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. Unless they create a compact SUV racing class, his need for speed won’t ever be fulfilled. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.