Mitch Pepper finished fifth Saturday and set the track record. By Sunday, Charlie Buzzetti had set another new track record.

New to the NASA SoCal schedule this season was a track that many drivers had only heard about: Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nev. Round four of the Spec E30 season would take place on this nearly three-mile road course!

After a morning warm-up fraught with confusion, a few drivers had just enough time on track to put together a lap quick enough to start them up front. In an unusual result, all drivers turned in their fastest lap on their first or second lap of the session. Robert Davis, having only driven his new car one time prior, claimed pole position on his first lap, but bested his time on his second lap, fending off Charlie Buzzetti by .3 seconds. Only .2 seconds behind Buzzetti was JoJo McKenzie with his best qualifying effort to date.

The cars lined up on the main straight for their standing start. As the green flag flew, Davis disappeared from the pack by some 15 car lengths. This left the battle for second place between Stepanian and McKenzie for most of the race as Buzzetti slowly fell to the back due to a fuel-starvation issue. In the middle of the pack was a great battle between Michael Mihld, Mitch Pepper, Andrew Clark and Matt Theimann, with Mihld leading that pack at the finish line. When the checkers flew, Davis took his first win in Spec E30! Stepanian took second, fending off McKenzie, who took third. Unfortunately, Davis was DQ’d for being under weight, giving Stepanian the win. Mckenzie and Mihld then claimed the first podium finishes of their Spec E30 careers by capturing the second- and third-place spots. Though he finished in fifth, Pepper established the first track record with a 2:35.713.

In Sunday’s qualifying, Davis posted a 2:33.018. Not to be outdone, Buzzetti reclaimed the top qualifying position with a 2:32.657. Clark claimed the third starting position. The entire field was covered by only 3 seconds, with everyone qualifying below the previous day’s record-setting time.

Right from the start, Buzzetti and Davis dropped the field and ran nose to tail until late in the race when Buzzetti’s fuel-starvation issue surfaced again, allowing Davis to get by him with a lap to go. Behind the leaders, Clark, Stepanian and Pepper fought for third. At the line, Davis won with Buzzetti and Clark flanking him on the podium. Buzzetti couldn’t hold onto the lead, but he did reset the track record by destroying the day old record by 3 full seconds, posting a 2:32.708!

From left: Michael Mihld finished third in Spec E30 on Saturday. Steve Stepanian finished first, tailed by JoJo McKenzie in second.
From left: Michael Mihld finished third in Spec E30 on Saturday. Steve Stepanian finished first, tailed by JoJo McKenzie in second.
Image courtesy of Ryan Flaherty

Join the Discussion