Usually 100-or-so horsepower doesn’t amount to anything epic, except in B-Spec.
- Cars: B-Spec Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris
- Location: Buttonwillow Raceway Park, California
- Photog: Peter Nelson (IG + Twitter: @16vPete)
- Camera: Canon 5D Mark II, EF zoom lens
B-Spec is a class in SCCA club racing that’s occupied by the Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, Chevy Sonic, Honda Fit, Mini Cooper (non-S), Nissan Versa, Fiat 500, and Kia Rio. Actually, I’m not sure if anyone’s ever B-spec’d a Versa… anyway, class rules specify that they all must have basic racing safety gear, slick tires, mildly modified suspension, a dashboard, a slow-car power-to-weight ratio, and that’s about all. It’s a multi-make spec class, which is rather rare; usually, spec classes are one-make, one-model, like Spec Miata.
I argue it’s currently the cheapest and most reliable way to get into club-level (meaning, amateur) wheel-to-wheel racing. It’s also immensely useful for building driver skills, both for getting comfortable with momentum driving, as well as door-to-door-in-corners race craft. It’s so useful that NASCAR teams use B-Spec cars to train drivers.
B-Spec creates some really cool battles, like the above photo. I took it along the front straightaway at Buttonwillow Raceway Park at an SCCA race weekend a few years back. The Mazda and Toyota are rolling up the front straight neck-and-neck, about to brake and enter Turn 1, which is a fast, yet kind of tricky, corner for slow momentum cars. B-Spec cars don’t have to brake much for this corner, but going door-to-door, two-wide into it is quite challenging. Also, there’s the question of who will brake first; do you brake early and then carry momentum, or brake late and trail brake at the edge of grip? Well, actually both are done at the edge of grip, it all comes down to what’s the best way to get past your opponent who’s literally right next to you with their foot to the floor.
I actually wrote a little guide to B-Spec at my previous gig, it’s a summary of what it’s all about and why it’s such a value in racing. Also, our fearless leader Patrick George wrote a great piece on B-Spec some years ago while at Jalopnik.
Ask anyone at an SCCA race weekend, or even some folks at much higher level racing in the USA, like during SRO GT4, IMSA TCR/GS, or even NASCAR; B-Spec is such a solid way to become a fast driver, really quickly.