Thirteen Spec E30s turned onto the front stretch at Carolina Motorsports Park for NASA Southeast’s June event. It was Saturday qualifying, and each racer was planning that perfect lap that lies on the knife-edge between “slow” and “tire wall.” Then the rain started.
Qualification in the sudden downpour created some close calls. Several drivers simultaneously ran out of grip, luck and skill, and spun into the grass, but everyone survived unscathed. Ty Young earned pole for Saturday’s race, followed by second-year racer Craig Guthrie, and perennial favorite, the bashful Sandro Espinosa.
In Saturday’s main, Guthrie and Espinosa got by Young on the first lap. On lap three, Paul Patrick passed Young and moved into third. By lap five, Guthrie was in the lead and keeping Espinosa at bay when Murphy’s Law struck a heartbreaking blow, and a relay popped out of its socket — and Guthrie’s car coasted out of the race. That set the finishing order, with Espinosa in first, Patrick in second and Young in third.
In Sunday’s qualifying, Scott Gress took pole, followed by Guthrie and Patrick. Gress had never been on pole before and seemed bewildered. Guthrie fastened his relays down with zip-ties sufficiently enough to defeat a Sawz-All.
The racers voted for a standing start. As the crowd watched the highlight of the weekend, Guthrie executed the standing start brilliantly and gained two car lengths before Turn 1. Sandro “Chupacabra” Espinosa, having slept through morning qualifying, started working his way forward from dead last.
On lap three, Espinosa passed Gress and headed for Guthrie, the leader. A lap later Chuck Taylor, one of the longest participating racers in the class, passed Patrick and then Gress, which moved him up to third. Ten seconds behind Patrick there were five close friends engaged in a fierce midpack battle for fifth through 10th place. Then Patrick pulled off with engine trouble and the finishing order was Espinosa, Guthrie and Taylor, and Gress, who ended up in fourth.
There was not a single yellow flag in the weekend’s Lightning races. Congratulations to Sandro Espinosa for his back-to-back wins, and Ty Young and Craig Guthrie for their first-ever podium finishes.