Seventeen Spec E30s gathered in April at Roebling Road in Savannah, Ga. The track’s combination of fast turns and significant run-off rewards the fearless driver who can dance longest on the edge of the traction budget.
Scott McKay qualified Saturday on pole, setting a new track record. He was followed by Sandro Espinosa, Ryan Whitinger and Jay Stoops. The entire field was within 2 seconds of one another. Sunday’s qualifying was cut short when a Thunder Roadster caught fire.
On Sunday the SpecE30 drivers voted for a standing start. At the drop of the green flag and to the delight of the spectators, the Spec E30s roared past Start/Finish — except for fourth-place starter, Steve “I’m sure second gear is here somewhere” Lako, who lost several positions.
Espinosa and Whitinger went into the first turns side by side, but Espinosa, on the outside, couldn’t hang on and slid off the track. This set the stage for some of the finest Spec E30 racing we’ll see this year. Whitinger, McKay, and Stoops spent half the race battling at close quarters for 1-2-3, with positions changing frequently. It was all filmed by Scott Gress, who nipped at their heels.
Gress said, “I had a ringside seat for a hell of a show. Turn after turn, I watched one of them get beside another, but ultimately have to back out. Somehow they backed out with no loss of speed, so the trailing car inches back had nothing to exploit. I watched the show, thinking ‘Wow, that was great’ a dozen times.”
As the lead four left the rest of the battling SpecE30s behind, Espinosa was back there somewhere charging through the field to catch up.
On lap 10, Stoops got sideways in the dicey Turn 9 while trying to get by traffic. McKay, inches behind, decided “If Stoops is to crash this day, let him crash without me,” and breathed off the throttle. This allowed Gress to pass McKay and take over third. In seven years of racing SpecE30, Gress had never been in third before and had no explanation for the sudden burst of mojo.
In the laps that followed, Espinosa worked his way through the lead group, taking the lead on lap 13. To the chagrin of the leaders, Espinosa had made it look easy. On lap 14, Gress’s mojo exceeded his talent. He slid off of Turn 2, got sideways in the grass, dug in a bit and almost rolled. Someone else termed it “almost spilled your coffee,” but it was Gress’ story to tell.
At the checkers, it was Sandro Espinosa, Scott McKay and Jay Stoops.