Though it’s been nearly two months, the East Series of the Spec MX-5 Challenge returns to action this weekend at Virginia International Raceway. If that feels like déjà vu, well, the Series opened the 10-race regular season in March with rounds one and two.
The conditions are not nearly the same, however. On opening weekend, temperatures were frigid with highs in the 40s, though the snow held off until Monday. This weekend, the air temperature will stretch into the 90s, adding another dimension to the challenge.
Mobile Mazdas: Though it’s been two months since the East Series drivers have seen action, the fleet of cars have had a shorter rest period. In fact, they’ve run four races with the Central Series.
The fleet left VIR in March and traveled to NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and last weekend the Central Series raced at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It’s been a busy week for the fleet as they moved back across the country to get to VIR in time for Friday’s test day.
It’s a Dry Heat: Unlike the opening round, this weekend should provide a pair of dry races to sort out the point standings. Peter Ensor enters his second home track race with the point lead after a runner-up and a win in March. Zach Month, just three points behind, also grabbed a pair of podium finishes last time out.
This weekend’s doubleheader will place the field just shy of the midway point for the regular season points, which in turn helps set the grid for the Championship weekend at Road Atlanta during the ARRC.
That late-season adventure will bring together the best from the East and the Central to decide who earns the $100,000 scholarship for the 2019 racing season.
Spring Vacation: How long has it been since the opening weekend? John Allen, sixth in points, has broken his hand, gone through rehab, and felt it heal up in time for this weekend.
Soon after the opening round at VIR, Allen broke his hand in a Spec Miata race. Allen took his social media followers along for the ride to physical therapy and is thankfully healed in time for round three and four.
Target Practice: If anyone has a target on their back at this point in the season, it might just be Peter Ensor. While many of the East Series drivers have experience at VIR, Ensor has been there four times this year alone.
Not only is he the point leader following the first two rounds, including a win in the rain, but he was at VIR for the SCCA Super Tour and the NASA Teen Mazda Challenge. The Super Tour ended quickly, with just three laps before mechanical gremlins struck, but the NASA weekend was much more successful. Will the fourth time be a charm?
Streaming Video: While there is no television production for Spec MX-5 Cup, a handful of cars will be carrying in-car videos during Saturday and Sunday’s race. Those are available through Facebook Live on the Series’ Facebook page here.