In 2012, Larry Fraser earned his “crown” at NASA’s premiere “California Crown” event, which pitted drivers from NorCal against those from SoCal in a hard-fought Spec E30 race at Buttonwillow Raceway. In 2013, he came back with a vengeance, leading from flag to flag in a massive 37-car Spec E30 field at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
After winning both big races back to back, there was no question in the Spec E30 field that Fraser was “the man.” The only real question was, “How did he do it so handily?” Post-race impound indicated he did it with a legal car. That leaves driver talent, or maybe some good driver coaching? Or maybe both? While talking with Larry Fraser after his win, I noticed a gentlemen wearing a Bimmerworld hat and polo shirt. He wasn’t just some BMW fan sporting race swag, it was actually Grand-Am Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge Team Bimmerworld driver Gregory Liefooghe.
Liefooghe was working with Larry Fraser as a for-hire professional coach for the race. Liefooghe and Fraser actually had been working together before the California Crown race at Buttonwillow in 2012.
“Buttonwillow was a great track to coach at, because it has so many configurations. If there was a corner we wanted to work on specifically, we would just cut through the course and attack that corner specifically until we got it right,” Liefooghe said. “The trick to driver coaching isn’t just what you tell the driver, it is based on building a relationship. I have worked with Larry a lot and I spot for him during the race.”
The results are clear. With Liefooghe as the coach, Fraser has been successful moving up from go-karts to Spec E30. Leifooghe’s Grand-Am schedule determines when he has time to coach. Luckily for Fraser, Grand-Am had a weekend off the same time NASA descended upon Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, so Leifooghe was available to coach him through the weekend. That coaching worked great, earning Fraser a flag-to-flag win on Saturday.
In second place on Saturday was the No. 2 BTM Motorwerks car of Mike Shawhan. Shawhan spent Saturday night trying to figure out the best way to beat Fraser when he realized, “I need to get out in front during qualifying and keep Fraser behind me.”
On Sunday morning that is exactly what Shawhan did, set the pole for the 38-car field and then got out in front early during the race. The Spec E30 race was filled with excitement on Sunday with numerous collisions and two separate restarts. One restart included a crazy multicar spin in Turn 1 at Laguna, which is rare for car racing. Many a Spec E30 was spinning and sliding up the gravel hillsides in Monterey. But it didn’t matter how many times they restarted the race, Mike Shawhan stayed ahead of Fraser and earned the win on Sunday with Fraser taking home second.