Great Moments in Slow Car Fast: B-Spec at the 2021 SCCA Runoffs
Small cars, large moxie.
A few weeks back, I wrote about how the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Runoffs provide several days worth of must-watch racing that anyone who’s even remotely interested in motorsports should watch. What’s extra cool about the SCCA Runoffs is they’re the epitome of grassroots motorsports. Most of the competitors don’t get paid to race, and a lot of the classes are far cries from ultra-expensive pro-level racing, too. Nowhere is this more apparent than the ultimate in slow-car-fast, budget motorsports: B-Spec.
This year’s installment of the Runoffs saw one of, if not the, largest B-Spec car-counts ever recorded with 61 cars. Spectators witnessed 61 b-segment econoboxes, including Honda Fits, Mazda 2s, Mini Coopers, and Chevy Sonics, ripping around Indianapolis Motor Speedway with reckless abandon, and it made for some epic racing.
Besides common safety equipment, B-Spec cars have racing suspensions, slick tires, stronger brake pads, some very mild power-adders, and that’s about it. This simplistic setup is the beauty of this class.
Although the cars are slow, the drivers are anything but. B-Spec competitors have to do everything possible to maintain momentum, from cornering at the edge of grip, to braking as little as possible, to figuring out a line through the track that will gain you the most exit speed over the car in front of you. All of this happens quite up-close, too, because all of the cars are pretty evenly balanced performance-wise, and skill supersedes prep and horsepower.
Because B-Spec harnesses momentum driving in ultra-tight quarters, drivers who can master it and see the podium can wheel pretty much anything with skill. B-Spec drivers have gone on to higher touring car classes at the pro level, Trans Am racing, and even NASCAR. In fact, pro-level race teams have even utilized B-Spec cars to train their drivers.
I can blabber all day about B-Spec, in part because I own one of its most potent platforms in road-going spec, the Mazda 2. My 2 is somewhat near the same spec as these little beasts, with the exception of safety equipment, spec coilovers, and slicks. This year’s race featured a very large number of Mazda 2s, and it was especially cool seeing them wheeling around Indy at race pace. Not bad for a car that didn’t sell terribly well in the USA and was last seen as new on dealer lots all the way back in 2014.
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