Over the winter, we began following JB Swan and Steve Introne as they set out to build new B-Spec cars for the 2021 road racing season.

Both were seasoned drivers. JB with years of experience racing in production and IT7 cars, and Steve in the SRF and SRF3 vehicles. However, 2021 would put them into the seats of an entirely new class, with new cars they were building from the ground up.

JB’s 2021 ride is a Chevy Sonic and Steve took a Mini Cooper as his choice for B-Spec competition. In our first two articles, we followed why they each found this up-and-coming new class so desirable that they would make the move, to how they chose their donor vehicle, and the initial build process – stripping the cars down, fabricating roll cages, selecting seats, etc.

So You Want to Build a B-Spec: Part 1

Building a B-Spec: Part 2

Steve and JB top the podium at the Pocono Majors going 1st and 2nd.

Fine Tuning and Race Prep

Our last check-in had both vehicles with cages, seats and engines. That left the fine tuning for turning a street vehicle into a race prepared vehicle. This included upgrading and changing out the suspension, brakes, steering wheel, wheels/tires, exhaust, muffler, etc. and making sure all the appropriate safety gear was installed as well – fire extinguisher, tow straps, transponder, padding and the sort.

Plus the cars needed to look pretty. All the decals, numbers, class and contingency graphics and tech stickers also needed to be purchased and applied.

For Steve, he kept a running list of all the parts, down to the smallest item, to track exactly what this build cost. See the attached graphic for a breakdown. It took him 2-3 weekends to swap out the stock parts for performance versions, and then another couple weekends dialing in the set up to find the ideal camber/tow/corner balancing settings, placement of ballast, and making sure everything fit comfortably with belts and mirrors.

JB ordered his suspension kit from GM Performance. “There were no surprises with putting anything in. It was all pretty straightforward.”

In the end, the final totals came to about $17,800 for Steve and $20,000 for JB. “Starting from scratch is always a bit more money because everything is being bought,” JB explained. “I was willing to spend $15K to buy a car ready to go.  So I do not think the difference is that bad.”

Steve price-shopped all of his parts, and was able to save some money by trailering his car down to NC for the cage installation. But future B-Spec builders can plan and budget to build a very competitive B-Spec, with new parts, for under $20k.

Both cars getting their final race prep done.

Test and Tune

Once the cars were fully built, it was time to put them on a track and see if all their hard work resulted in a car that could perform and handle on a road course.

JB took his Sonic down to Summit Point for the first Majors in March with Anthony Ruddy and Fred White. “We tested the car that weekend, and all went well. We did not find any issues. But my first session out at Summit Point was a total surprise.  Being my first time in front wheel drive, I had no idea what to expect.  Going from rear wheel to front wheel took some getting used to.  I actually spun out in the carousal part of the track because I did what you are not supposed to do in a front wheel drive car! I learned, when the car feels like it is going to spin, lift and brake.”

Steve participated in the MassTuning Track Day in early April, where he had seven sessions at Palmer Motorsports Park to finally drive his new racecar on something besides the street in front of his house. “The track day at Palmer was perfect. And the Mini was awesome! Car ran great all day and was really fun to drive. Those of you building, get them done.”

After those first weekends testing and tuning their cars, both JB and Steve headed to Thompson at the end of April to serve as instructors for the Driver’s School. While helping other new racers learn the track, it was one more opportunity to test out their B-Specs on a different course to see if they were ready for the first real event of the season.

Green Flag – Time to Race

The first New England Road Racing Championship (NERRC) event for 2021 was Opening Weekend back at Palmer on May 1-2. Both drivers were there with the cars for real wheel-to-wheel action. Paired with the SM cars in a group, there were plenty of cars to compete against, besides just themselves. The inaugural race went smoothly, with Steve ultimately taking home the win for each race, and even setting a new track record. JB finished 2nd.

Up next was the second NERRC event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, May 11-12. Steve sat this weekend out, spending his time wearing whites and flagging at Turn 11, but cheered JB on to his own win in the class. JB also took his turn setting a new track records at NHMS for B-Spec.

With both drivers feeling confident and happy – their sights turned to the first relatively local Major of the year. Memorial Day weekend had both B-Specs trailering down to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono Majors.

JB sets a new track record in B-Spec at NHMS.

Pocono Majors

The Pocono Majors gave both guys a chance to pit themselves against some stiffer competition. And they proved they are both ready for the big leagues with their new cars. In fact, they went 1-2 on the Sunday main race, giving NER the top two podium spots in B-Spec.

“At this point I had 4 race weekends under my belt and am pretty comfortable in the car,” JB explained. “I’m still learning what the car likes and doesn’t like, but it is going well. The Sunday race at the Pocono Majors gave me my best Majors finish, with a 2nd place.”

While JB ran clean in Pocono, Steve spent the weekend learning how to come from the back of the back. It was a cold and wet set of days, as everyone in the northeast endured four days of cold temps and constant rain over the holiday weekend. On Saturday, Steve spun on the opening lap, putting him last and having to fight his way back to the front. Then on Sunday, since his transponder failed to record any lap times during his Saturday race win, that meant he was gridded last for the start of Sunday’s race. Another opportunity to practice passing and driving in traffic, Steve finished that race with a win, setting the fastest laps for the day.

Watkins Glen Super Tour

Most recently, this B-Spec duo headed out to Watkins Glen for the Super Tour. Another highly successful weekend, Steve’s performance in the class is starting to garner national attention. He took the pole for the Saturday race, and ended up winning both Saturday and Sunday, keeping in front of 10-time national champion David Daughtery to do so.

JB’s performance was excellent as well, rounding out the weekend with a 5th place finish at the Super Tour himself.

Steve takes home wins on both Saturday and Sunday at the Watkins Glen Super Tour.

On to the Runoffs

Qualifying and competing at the Runoffs has been the ultimate goal for both drivers since this build project began.  At this point, JB has secured his qualification to compete at Indianapolis.  Steve will meet the criteria after the Thompson Majors. “For the runoffs, my goal is to finish in the top half of the class,” explained JB. “I think that is a good goal for my first year in B-Spec.” Steve is setting his sights a little higher, hoping for a top 10 finish if the car continues to run as clean and smooth as it has in the last few events. “The competition will be tough, but I think I have a chance.”

Both drivers plan to be at the NER Thompson Majors in July, and New Hampshire in August for the RAL event. Then it will be prepping and preparing for the Runoffs run.

It’s been exciting to watch these cars go from donor vehicles to National Championship competitors in a single season. There’s still plenty of racing to come in the second half of the year, so let’s keep our eyes on these guys and cheer them on!

Still Room for More

If these builds have proved anything, it’s that the B-Spec community is extremely welcoming to new competitors. Both JB and Steve received a lot of advice and support from more experienced car builders and drivers, and they’re ready and willing to share it with anyone else that wants to come join in the fun of this rapidly growing and competitive class. The barriers to entry are few, as is easily evidenced by how quickly the numbers are increasing at events around the country.

If you’re considering buying or building a car, take a look at B-Spec. And if you have any questions – reach out.