Twenty-three Spec E30s took the green on Saturday March 15 at the combined Mid-South/Southeast/Texas/NOLA event near Birmingham, Ala. Barber Motorsports Park, home of one of the finest motorsports museums in the nation, is a technical track where every turn has elevation and camber changes. The track does not have many long straights where a small exit speed advantage can allow an easy pass. Therefore, a significantly better effort in a turn is required to produce a passing opportunity in the seconds after.
This was the largest field of Spec E30s ever assembled at Barber. By Sunday afternoon Sandro Espinosa would hold the new track record of 1:46.7.
Qualifying put Sandro Espinosa on pole, followed by Jared Stoops, Scott McKay and Ryan Whitinger for Saturday and Sunday. Race results both days were the same, with Espinosa winning, followed by McKay, Stoops, and Whitinger.
In Sunday’s action, the racing was very close. There were 15 cars running lap times within two seconds. Stoops took Turn 1 away from pole sitter Espinosa while McKay and Whitinger fought two-wide through half a lap. The four of them then provided a workshop on how to race hard and clean. Every lap had aggressive pass attempts and in every case, both drivers gave the other room to make it work. Espinosa spent half the race on Stoop’s bumper, but couldn’t put together a pass that would stick. McKay stayed in the fray with his superior technique on Turn 16 that leads to the front straight.
Halfway thru the race Espinosa cleverly set up a pick by going deep inside, while Stoops worked to get around a 944. McKay exploited Espinosa’s move to get by Stoops, too, but that proved to be only temporary as Stoops battled back to second. Then on lap 13, to the excitement of the crowd watching from Barber’s first class spectator facility, Stoops slid off the track as he entered the front stretch and struggled in the narrow grass strip to retain control at high speed. Slowing only a little as his mirror almost brushed the guard rail, Stoops moved back on to the track and slid neatly into third place right behind McKay.