NASA Southeast hosted a 3-day test and race weekend at Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP) in February. I had convinced Carlos to drive up from Florida since our first Gridlife event of the season is at CMP in April. The plan was to test and develop our GLTC cars and improve our skills at the track. Unfortunately, my GLTC E90 has been on jackstands since December due to having the forbidden glitter.

My backup plan was to run my E30 in TT6. Carlos proposed another option: race his Spec E9X car. As the class's founder and promoter, Carlos wanted the car to race and boost the field in its second-largest region.

I wanted to run TT6 because of the deep field (13 entries), and I wanted to defend my track record, but racing Spec E9X was appealing because 1) it would give me more time to continue working on my E90 and 2) I would get more wheel to wheel racing experience under my belt.

Plus, I had to beat Roy Parsons – he already has way too many Spec E9X trophies.

CMP Test Weekend

The Good

We had a lot of track time during the Friday test day. I got re-acquainted with Carlos's Spec E9X, and I got to participate in the mock races at the end of the day alongside the graduating class of Competition School participants, which was good practice for me.

During the race weekend, I qualified first in a class of three and won the first race. In race two, I fell behind Roy at the start, and while I chased him close the entirety of the race, I never got by him again and had to settle for second. Roy sat out in race three, and it was uneventful for me.

That's me in the #114, trying to hang with Roy as we move through some Spec E46 traffic.

Carlos had plenty of time to develop the setup for his new GLTC car. I consulted on tweaks that ranged from damper clicks and nitrogen pressures to aero changes to ride height and rake adjustments. Ultimately, Carlos chipped away at his time all weekend, achieving his best lap time on Sunday. The car felt better than ever by the end of the weekend.

Shoutout to Nick who lent me his Spec E9X at Roebling Road in January. He went faster and faster all weekend, handily beating my lap times by two seconds or more in TT5. This guy will be a ringer in Spec E9X racing later this year.

A new catering company took over the trackside concession stand, and the food was amazing. Track food has no business being that good. The brisket sandwich was t h i c c.

Nick was absolutely charging in his #333 Spec E9X.

The Bad

I can't tell if my pace has hit a major plateau or if it's just because I've been driving borrowed cars this year. I was much slower than I wanted to be. On the flip side, I felt confident, and my skills felt sharp. iRacing has definitely helped me stay practiced in between events.

Carlos experienced minor oil pressure drops in the same corner I did in November. Thankfully, they were not as severe as mine. After the event, he removed his oil pan and found his rubber baffles had also hardened. We'll see if the new baffles help with his oil pressure going forward.

The food was so good that they got backed up during lunch and turned people away. My poor rumbling tummy didn't like that.

Carlos made a lot of progress on the setup of his GLTC car.

The Ugly

It was frigid all weekend, with near-freezing temps in the morning and overcast skies preventing it from warming up throughout the day.

There is nothing near the track in Kershaw, SC. The only nearby town with anything worthwhile is a good 35 minutes away.

Two of the comp school participants were out of their element. One of them had multiple reports of erratic driving during school on Friday, and I believe they did not grant him a license. The other was a slow (considering the vehicle) prototype driver who loved to race out of class. A Spec E9X should never be able to hang with an NP01-EVO. Move out of the way, dude.

Getting it done in style: on TE37s that came with my E90.

Coming Up Next

Once my E90 is back together and I complete a few extra upgrades and fixes, I want to take it to a shakedown day at CMP.

After that, we are onward to the South Carolina Festival with Gridlife on April 12-14. I encourage you to attend the event at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC. I wrote about my experience there last year if you want to learn more.

Special thanks to Condor Speed Shop for making this weekend possible for me and to HRE Wheels for supporting our GLTC race program in 2024.