After nearly a year of intense planning, June 23, 2012, would go down in Spec E30 history as the day the California Crown presented by Midnight Oil Motors had finally arrived! Thirty-five teams from all over the West Coast would battle it out at Buttonwillow Raceway Park for the chance to be crowned King of California in Spec E30.

For the first time in SoCal history, a cash prize was awarded to finishers back to eighth place! A host of sponsors came aboard for this event to be a part of history in Spec E30 racing, including the title sponsor Midnight Oil Motors,,, Royal Purple, Mothers, Sampson Racing Communications, AiM Sports, PointSix Racing Fabrication, AIM Tire, North Bay Bavarian, TriStar Motorsports and the Stepco Insurance Agency. All totaled, racers took home nearly $6,000 in cash and prizes.

Slightly warm temperatures and a lack of grip set the stage for a weekend of racing, and that required crews to make some adjustments. Some drivers took chances and guessed right while others struggled with their setups and how to compensate for the conditions.

Drivers were struggling to find grip in the heat of Southern California’s Central Valley.
Drivers were struggling to find grip in the heat of Southern California’s Central Valley.

Charlie Hayes issued a warning to all in qualifying by running a blazing lap time of 2:14.822, a full half second faster than the closest driver, Larry Fraser who piloted the Team A-1 Autoworks car to the No. 2 starting position with a 2:15.471. 2011 NorCal regional champion Brad McClure of Team BTM Motorwerks qualified third with a 2:15.685. The top SoCal qualifier was current reigning series champion Allan Hauser, who started fifth, which was only 0.436 seconds off Fraser’s time. We knew we were in for something special when the top 12 qualifiers all posted times that were faster than the previous track record.

What is believed to be the largest field in the history of Spec E30 lined up on the grid for the traditional standing start. The large field took a bit of time to grid up with E30s filling the entire front straightaway almost back to the Sunrise turn. At the drop of the green flag, Fraser and McClure got the jump on pole-sitter Hayes, with Fraser beating McClure into Turn 1. The largest jumps in the field off the start came from Steve Stepanian, Matt Theimann and Steffen Thompson, who all gained four positions by the exit of turn 1. Despite a missed shift by Allan Hauser, which almost caused a stack-up on the start, the field got away cleanly and made it through Turn 1 without incident.

At the completion of the first lap, Fraser led the field, followed closely by McClure, Hayes, Steve Ferrario, Kevin Nichols, David Reed and Steve Stepanian. Fraser, McClure and Hayes began to gap the field and battled intensely for the entire race. Hayes worked his way by McClure, then charged on Fraser passing him in the Grapevine turn. Fraser held onto second and managed a pass on Hayes going into the quirky Off-Ramp hairpin a few laps later. Fraser held the lead for the rest of the race with Hayes and McClure in hot pursuit.

Fraser finished a mere .9 seconds ahead of Hayes and just 2.8 seconds ahead of McClure. The rest of the top 10 out of 35 starters were Steve Ferrario (P4), Kevin Nichols (P5), Steve Stepanian (P6), Derek Welch (P7), Allan Hauser (P8), Gary Rieger (P9) and Steffen Thompson (P10).

From left: Charlie Hayes took second place, with Larry Fraser in first and Brad McClure in third.
From left: Charlie Hayes took second place, with Larry Fraser in first and Brad McClure in third.

While McClure might have been the last driver to podium, he set the new track record in the race with a blistering 2:15.128! Gary Reiger won the Sampson Racing Communications Hard Charger award by moving up eight positions and was presented with a beautiful Sampson carbon fiber radio headset. He also collected a cool $100 bill from North Bay Bavarian for his Hard Charger finish.

Fraser walked away with a winner’s purse of $500 cash from and $500 cash from Royal Purple. Hayes won an AiM Solo track data logger and $300 cash from Royal Purple. McClure picked up a $150 credit card to use at and $150 cash from Royal Purple. Royal Purple also awarded fourth through eighth-place finishers each a crisp “Ben Franklin” for their efforts. In all, racers earned, $2,150 in Toyo Bucks over the weekend, and the top three finishers were given beautiful custom trophies designed specifically for this event and provided by PointSix Racing Fabrication. AIM Tire gave away a $100 award to 10th place finisher Steffen Thompson.

For complete coverage of the California Crown Spec E30 race, visit the Speed News Youtube Channel

Image courtesy of Brett Becker

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