Steffen Thompson came to the last event with a seemingly comfortable lead, headed to his first SoCal Spec E30 Championship title. However, 13 other teams showed up to Buttonwillow ready to put up a fight.
Ken Pearson claimed the pole for the first race of the weekend. Steve Stepanian was .2 seconds behind Pearson with Allan Hauser only .2 seconds behind Stepanian. The top 11 cars were within 2 seconds of one another!
Stepanian, Pearson and Hauser circled the track nose to tail for the first four laps. Unfortunately, Pearson got into the back of Stepanian early on, shooting Stepanian into a lapped-traffic car and then off track. The other car spun and collected Pearson, ending his race. Hauser then assumed the lead. Somehow, Stepanian got back on track and not only reeled in Hauser, but passed him for the lead. At the checkers, Hauser passed Stepanian to take the win in a photo finish in what had to be one of the most dramatic finishes SoCal has had to date. Nick Steel grabbed the third podium spot.. This was Steel’s first podium finish in Spec E30 in only his second season.
The top six finishers were inverted on the starting grid for the qualifying race Sunday, placing Erick Strong on pole with Thompson in P2. Entering Turn 1, Strong, Thompson and Mitch Pepper ran three wide. Pepper was in the middle and tried to stay off of Thompson but collected him in the door causing Thompson to drop back to 13th as the entire field drove past him.
Through Turn 1 of the final race of the season, Stepanian held the lead and Thompson had already made up three spots. However, three laps into the race, Thompson’s throttle cable broke. Ironically, Stepanian was passed by Hauser for the lead, then Pearson for second. To make matters worse, Stepanian then was forced off track in the sweeper by another vehicle and lost two more positions to Strong and Steel putting him back to fifth. Nobody knew at the time that Stepanian would need to finish fifth to tie with Thompson or fourth to win the Championship!
Hauser and Pearson gapped the field and stay bumper to bumper for the remainder of the race. Strong, Steel and Stepanian engaged one another for five laps until Stepanian got past Steel in the bus stop turn to move into fourth place. The final race of the 2013 season ended with Hauser taking his second win of the weekend and Pearson claiming second. Erick Strong battled with Stepanian for the last two laps and squeaked out the last podium position. Stepanian held off Steel for fourth place, clinching his first Spec E30 Championship by a mere five points!