With a new season come new faces. Charles Buzzetti made his Spec E30 debut after moving from 944 Spec and Dennis Koselak, from the Florida region, rented the 00 car for the weekend. Rounding out the group would be Ken Shearen, who made his triumphant return to Spec E30.
Drivers scrambled to find rain tires for the SoCal region’s first event of 2014 as it was clear the wet stuff was coming. In fact, all eight drivers enjoyed their morning warm-up in the rain in which Buzzetti announced his presence by laying down the fastest time of the session.
After qualifying on a dry track, Allan Hauser earned the pole for Saturday’s race, with Ken Pearson and Mitch Pepper right behind him. However, the rain would return for the main race, leaving the drivers hustling to get their rain tires back on. All race long, the top four cars stayed close together, with Hauser leading up until lap five, when Steve Stepanian used the draft he caught off Hauser to pass. Pearson maintained third for the final podium spot.
Even though it rained all night, Sunday was dry. Once again, Buzzetti recorded the fastest time of the morning warm-up. The top six finishers from Saturday’s race were inverted for the qualifying race, giving rookie driver Michael Mihld his first pole. Mihld held onto his position heading into the infield. Stepanian and Hauser worked their way through the field and found themselves in second and fourth, respectively, as they exited Turn 4. Stepanian passed Mihld on the opening lap and never looked back. Buzzetti held onto his second-place position until late in the shortened race when Hauser passed Buzzetti prior to the checkers.
In Sunday’s race, Stepanian and Hauser worked together to break away from the field, than throw off the gloves and battled to the wire. Meanwhile, Pearson and Buzzetti challenged each other at every turn with Buzzetti coming out ahead. On lap nine, Mitch Pepper passed Pearson for the fourth spot. Back at the front, Stepanian took the win at the line, with Hauser placing second and Buzzetti grabbing third.
Post race inspections put Stepanian’s and Hauser’s cars on the dyno. Stepanian’s car tested within allowable horsepower, but it showed an abnormally high rev limit of 6,750, rather than the factory setting of 6,250. An aftermarket chip was found to be the cause, so the chip and ECU were confiscated. The car was recently purchased from another competitor who raced in a different series. The chip was never disclosed to the new owner, but it is the responsibility of all car owner/drivers to bring a legal car to the track.
Hauser’s engine just exceeded the maximum horsepower allowed by the rules. The car was later dyno’d at another facility. After which, the engine was removed from the car at Midnight Oil Motors. While the car did repeat its numbers on the subsequent dyno pulls, the engine was thoroughly torn down (including cc’ing the head), and was found to be completely within specs on all aspects of the engine build.
Buzzetti submitted a dyno sheet and upon its review, it was discovered that it also had a modified rev-limiter setting. The driver was contacted and he inspected the ECU and confirmed there was a chip inside. As with Stepanian’s car, Buzzetti also had recently purchased his, but from another region. Consequently, Stepanian and Hauser were DQ’d for the Sunday race, as per the race director. However, in a great display of sportsmanship, both drivers requested to be DQ’d from all of their races for the weekend without being asked to. Upon discovering that there was a chip in his ECU, Buzzetti voluntarily requested that his races also be DQ’d from the weekend.