FROM THE ARCHIVES
102 DECEMBER 2019 scca.com
FROM THE EDITOR
• After 24 years at Road
Atlanta, the Runoffs visited
Mid-Ohio for the first time.
• It was announced that
the Solo Nationals was
heading to Topeka, Kan., after
having spent the previous
12 years in Salina, Kan.
• For only the sixth time in
the 46-year history of the
Runoffs, the event visited a new
track with 596 competitors
taking on Road America.
• We tested the waters in
Street Touring Xtreme with
our Mazda RX- 8 project car.
• 351 drivers took the green
flag as the American Road Race
of Champions graced Daytona
• SCCA member and FV racer
Charles “Pete” Conrad was
setting off on the Apollo 12
mission to the moon.
The 2017 National Championship Runoffs was like no other, and to commit editorial hyperbole, the excitement amongst racers in the paddock that
year was palpable. It was, after all, Indy. The location was ripe with history, and
nary a soul in the SCCA was unfamiliar with what had taken place amid those
hallowed grounds over the previous 100 years. Granted, my Runoffs attendance
as a spectator and on-and-off-again driver only dates back to 2005, but the
buzz during the 2017 Runoffs was unlike any I’d experienced. Until this year.
I’m not about to suggest that VIRginia International Raceway is as significant
to motorsports as Indianapolis Motor Speedway – but I won’t say it isn’t. The
Oak Tree bend that begins the run down into Rollercoaster is one of the most
recognizable in American motorsports (albeit admittedly a little less visually
stimulating now that the actual oak tree is no more), and VIR’s Esses are known
for both their beauty and treachery. Indeed, Indy was “Indy,” but from blind turns
to full-commitment corners, VIR’s challenges represent the finest in road racing.
If I had to name other North America road
racing circuits that house features as well-
known as VIR’s Esses and Oak Tree, the list
would be remarkably short. The Corkscrew at
Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca is an obvious
selection, as are Road America’s Turns 5 and
the Kink. And Mid-Ohio’s Madness sits near the top of the list, as does Michelin
Raceway Road Atlanta’s Esses. There’s more – but not much more.
Back to VIR and the 2019 Runoffs (coverage of which is in this issue). Since I wasn’t
competing at this year’s National Championship event at VIR, I had ample time to
stroll the paddock and speak with rookie and veteran SCCA racers alike, and every
one of them was in awe of the 18-turn circuit that sits amidst the rolling Virginia
countryside. The long straights enabled the cars to stretch their legs, they said, while
the technical segments of NASCAR Bend, Rollercoaster, and Hog Pen tested car
setup and driver skill. Overall, some noted, the circuit equalized the strengths of each
vehicle, allowing horsepower cars to race alongside those attuned for handling.
The Runoffs races backed up this analysis. This year saw an inordinate amount of
extraordinary finishes, with one class coming down to a photo finish and others being
decided by a tenth-of-a-second or less. And race after race, I noticed, the battle for
the checker came down to the racer’s best placement into the Esses and the final
pass through the Oak Tree complex. Turns out, these are iconic corners for a reason.
Of the 15 Runoffs I’ve attended in one capacity or another, it’s obvious to
me that this year truly represented racing at its best, coming courtesy of an
extraordinary racing circuit, incredible driving talent, and meticulous vehicle
prep. That’s not to discount what has come in the past or what the future holds
for the Runoffs. What it is, however, is yet another resetting of the bar.
RESETTING THE BAR
EDITOR, SPORTSCAR MAGAZINE
50 YEARS AGO...
25 YEARS AGO...
10 YEARS AGO...
“ To commit editorial hyperbole, the
excitement amongst racers in the
paddock this year was palpable”