The season opener at Infineon Raceway was a raging success. The series has already grown from the 2 cars last year to 6 competitors on Saturday (March 15th, 2008) and 7 on Sunday (March 16th, 2008). The March event at Thunderhill saw 6 Saturday and 9 the following race. Add to that the 3 or 4 cars in our shop that we’re preparing and we’ll have a full grid of our own by the end of the season. The SpecE30 series is a real testament to BMWs and their durability. The cars are limited to stock engines, transmissions and differentials. Despite the cars being nearly 20 years old they are able to withstand the abuse of the warm up, the qualifying, and 30 minute sprint races with little to no maintenance between rounds! While our fellow racers are busy hammering away repairing or replacing parts we get to stand around and enjoy each others company. This camaraderie has some Spec Miata and RX7 people looking at our series, the Valley Motorwerks / Norcalspece30.com
Saturday’s race at Infineon was pretty trouble free despite half the field was made up of rookies. We took the time to talk to everyone and make sure that they were going to drive a clean race and not damage their car or reputation! The guys did really well and I was proud to watch them in their maiden race. I was not present for Sunday’s race and maybe it was a good thing. All of our good luck from Saturday was gone by Sunday’s race. Brenden Selvig from Carmel managed to overcook turn 11 and total out a Honda Challenge car. Luckily no one was hurt and the parties involved were able to work out an equitable solution. The March Thunderhill race was simply incredible. I thought it would be difficult to outdo ourselves but we did. Having a record number of 9 cars and 2 others at the track going through testing was an incredible feeling. Adam Lazur, Mike Schwartzbart, Ryan Johnson and Brenden Selvig tested for their licenses and passed! Ryan sat out the Sunday race but the others jumped in feet first. The start was a reverse grid that placed 2 rookies on the front of the pack. The races were going to be run with a standing rather than a rolling start adding to the stress. AJ Goldsmith took off early then BACKED UP and got back into place just in time for the green flag. We could have had a real catastrophe on our hands but it all worked out well. There was some really exciting racing but it only lasted a few laps. Unfortunately, the race was red flagged due to a bad accident that involved Brandon Kraus. He took Lifeflight to a Chico area hospital and was released with only bruising a few cuts and a broken arm. His crash was a grim reminder how dangerous our sport can be.
For most of the guys this was their chance to get into racing and live out a lifelong dream. The cost of building and maintaining a SpecE30 is relatively low compared to other forms of auto racing. A set of tires will run 3 race weekends and brake pads will last about half a season.
VMWERKS Racing prepared a car for licensed racers outside the series to drive during a non-race session. Scott and Marcus Miller, Don Bailey, Carlos Suarez, Mark Welch, Tommy Lo and Richard Serafino along with myself took the car out. The common thread between all of us was how drivable the car was. The Miatas owners really liked the stability of the chassis and all the torque. I owned a SpecE30 for 2 years and picked up a second one a year ago but had never driven one. I was excited to get behind the wheel and give it a go. My personal track car is an E30 but is modified to a much greater degree than the Spec cars. I was surprised at how quickly you could pedal around Thunderhill in a stock drivetrain E30. The E30 chassis equipped with the Spec suspension had no bad habits and was “easy” to drive. Needless to say the test drive concept was a good one and allowed other competitors a chance to see what racing “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is all about!
See you at the races!