Michael Shawhan tried six times for a championship but never got the opportunity to stand on the top step of the podium. His luck finally changed at the Western States Championships when he drove his BMW 330Ci to victory.
It was the second time on Sunday that the Los Gatos, Calif., resident got to crack open a champagne bottle after he took second place in Spec E30 earlier in the day. But this time the champagne tasted a little sweeter.
“It’s my sixth effort at a championship, and I finally got one,” Shawhan said. “I’m really pumped about that.”
Shawhan got a good start and took the lead into the first corner and from there he knew the race was his to lose. Just three other Spec E46 cars stood between him and checkered flag.
“The car got a little loose in the first turn because of the dust, but I never looked back,” he said. “I held the hammer down and kept the lead.”
A strong start is important, especially in a Spec class where the cars are running similar times. But because of the strong winds and dust, second-place finisher Steve Ferrario took a more cautious approach.
“The first two laps were really, really being able to find your marks with the tailwind going,” said Ferrario, whose team had to replace a blown clutch after the last session. “You can’t see your braking zone and it was dark from the dust. It was a little bit scary so I backed off a little bit.”
Ferrario’s determined pace set up a fun battle with Dee Jay Riley, who had to swap engines after he blew a motor during a test session. Ferrario and Riley had a tight race for several laps before Ferrario closed it out by passing Riley.
“Mike (Shawhan) and I have run nose-to-tail quite a bit, so I was hoping to catch up to him,” Riley said. “Since I was starting behind him, I was hoping to follow him through the pack but it didn’t quite work out that way. My car wasn’t working quite like I wanted it to and his was working a little better.”