Spec3 racers from NASA Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast converged on this 2.2-mile strip of asphalt tucked into the West Virginia countryside about an hour outside Washington, D.C., in April. Fresh off the heels of two competitive weekends of Spec3 racing at VIR and Roebling Road, the field for this event looked to be tight and competitive. Beyond that, a rookie, Ross Shull, was driving a fresh new car sporting an iconic Mark Martin Valvoline livery and taking on competition school.

Race one saw Charles Ford, Jon McAvoy and Joey Thomas jump to the front with the rest of the field jostling tightly behind. After a couple of laps, Thomas lost connection with the two front runners as they battled and became the target of Andy Schmidt, Taylor Johnson, and Alex Rubenstein. Like a Bavarian serpent, the line of Spec3 BMWs weaved and diced through the elevation changes and switchbacks of the Chute and Carousel turns as they fought for the final podium position.

Final results were McAvoy with the win, followed by Ford, Schmidt, Johnson, Thomas, Rubenstein and Thiewes.



Race two took place early Sunday morning and introduced the rookie, Ross Shull, to the Spec3 racing grid after completing competition school the day before. As the green flag dropped, the field jumped off the line … mostly. A slow start and a missed shift put Taylor Johnson back several positions from his P3 starting spot. As Turn 3 approached, Johnson found himself in the middle of a three-wide Spec3 sandwich with Jake Thiewes and the rookie Ross Shull. Thanks to courteous and skilled driving, all three racers navigated the fast left hander with only a single door donut as evidence, and Johnson fell to last, having ground to make up.

As the race continued, the racers found their grooves and shaved tenths off their lap times as they battled. Johnson found his way back to the midpack amid a three-car BMW conga line reminiscent of the day before. As Rubenstein pushed wide in the hairpin left-hand Turn 5, Thomas and Schmidt slipped by. A few turns later, Schmidt made it past Thomas, allowing Rubenstein to execute an over-under on Thomas in Turn 1 and drag race down into Turn 3. The wide line Thomas took also allowed Johnson to slip by in the draft of Rubenstein.

Up front, amid the battle for first, Jon McAvoy encountered a spin on track, which landed him in third place as Rubenstein and Johnson rocketed through Turn 10. Rubenstein was able to sneak past McAvoy with a controlled slide through the turn while Johnson nipped at the heels of McAvoy down the straight into Turn 1 with Thomas close behind. The field received the white flag and tightened their grip on their wheels. As the pack rounded the Carousel one last time, the rest of the field was able to get past McAvoy during another over-rotation and cross the line. The finishing order was Ford in first, followed by Schmidt, Rubenstein, Johnson, Thomas, Thiewes, Shull, McAvoy.


Race three ended with one of the closest 1-2 finishes in Spec3 history. McAvoy and Rubenstein had to leave the track early to get home and did not participate in this race. After the first few laps, Schmidt, Ford, and Johnson were battling for the lead until Schmidt’s car developed a misfire in Turn 1, which allowed Ford and Johnson to make the pass. The two swapped positions and spent many turns in many laps side by side. As the white flag flew, Ford and Johnson found themselves side by side in Turn 1 — with Johnson’s left mirror being folded in by the tight racing — as they approached two Spec Miatas in the middle of their own battle going into Turn 3. The two Spec3s checked up for Turn 3 and then dropped to the inside of the first Miata going through the perilous Chute into Turn 5. The two Spec3 BMWs tailed the second Miata through the Carousel and narrowly squeaked by on the straight between turns 9 and 10. Johnson, not being sure how far clear of the Spec Miata he was, took a middle track entry into Turn 10 and failed to downshift to compensate for the slower entry speed. Ford was able to capitalize with an excellent run through the turn to pull ahead by 0.004 seconds at the line and secure the victory.

Miata drivers Firas Barzinji and John Ayre are to be commended for their excellent driving and traffic management to get the cars battling for the lead in another class through despite their own race being tight. An excellent example of multi-class racing.

The finishing order was Ford with the win, followed by Johnson, Schmidt, Thomas, Shull and Thiewes.



Join the Discussion