Why is Spec3 exploding in popularity with 40-plus new builds up and down the East Coast? Look no further than the NASA Southeast event at Carolina Motorsports Park to find your answer! The weekend featured a newly licensed racer earning his stripes — literally! — in his new Spec3 build, a paddock working together to get a racer back out on track, and tight wheel-to-wheel racing from start to finish.
To kick off the weekend, Justin Hite completed competition school in his new Spec3 build. Fellow Spec3 southeast racers Andreas Schmidt and Sean O’Connell were there to support Hite and to join him in his first race. Hite’s brother, Robby, a future Spec3 racer himself, was also there to support his brother and gain more experience before tackling competition school later this year. Hite conquered competition school, facing difficult conditions in the morning when the first four sessions were wet. However, the weather improved for the afternoon, and he was ready to race wheel-to-wheel by day’s end in the dry.
Andreas Schmidt faced a mysterious misfire in his car, so the Spec3 paddock helped him work late into the night and again early morning Saturday. They found a solution just in time for Schmidt to compete in qualifying, and the session became an indicator of what would be seen all weekend. All three Spec3 racers qualified within a second of one another, setting up a dramatic showdown for the Saturday feature race, and proving how close the competition is in Spec3 thanks to the parity between cars.
Due to a miscommunication of where newly licensed racers like Hite would need to start, he ended up out of contention in the first race, but the race between Schmidt and O’Connell remained incredibly tight. O’Connell got the better start and defended his position through Turn 3. O’Connell was able to create a gap on Schmidt, but surrendered most of it on the penultimate lap after a small mistake that saw Schmidt catch up right to his bumper, setting up a last lap finish for the books. Andreas attempted an overtake into Turn 1 in the last lap, but O’Connell countered with a textbook over/under move. The two racers went side-by-side through turns 2 and 3 before O’Connell was able to squeeze ahead by Turn 4.
Schmidt was able to take advantage of the tow from O’Connell’s car and was able to stay right underneath O’Connell’s rear bumper until Turn 12. There, Schmidt got a better exit, was able to place his car next to O’Connell’s and make the pass on the very last corner of the race, Turn 14.
The race ended with a drag race down the front straight, with Schmidt taking the win by 0.1 seconds. As if that weren’t close enough, the fastest lap times between the drivers were only 0.005 seconds apart. At the end of the weekend, Spec3 set the second fastest lap time of all Lightning racers, Andreas Schmidt set a new Spec3 lap record of 1:47.520.
Andreas Schmidt set a new Spec3 lap record of 1:47.520 at Carolina Motorsports Park in February.