After more than a 40-year hiatus, the Sports Car Club of America has brought its crown jewel of club racing, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, back to Daytona International Speedway. With nearly 600 amateur racers taking to the high banks and infield road course, the Runoffs is the best-of-the-best, winner-takes-all championship road race for SCCA.
Jason Isley, Associate Editor of RACER‘s sister publication SportsCar magazine, is among the participants, competing in the No. 99 H Production RACER.com/Hoosier/TRD Toyota Yaris.
“Visiting Daytona for the first time as a racer is pretty awesome,” says Isley. “For the first time in years I was nervous going out for my first session – not because I was worried, but because it’s hard not to be in awe of this place. It’s breathtaking when you see it from the perspective of a driver for the first time. However, that changes quickly once you’ve turned a lap, and the laps click off so quickly you wonder if you shortcut the track. It’s a really awesome track to experience.”
In preparation for the Runoffs at Daytona, the SportsCar team made very specific changes to its already proven H Production Yaris formula that netted a second-place finish at the 2014 Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“We worked with CP-Carrillo and engine builder Jesse Prather to assemble an engine that could withstand extended high rpm intervals,” Isley explains. “We also worked on the chassis a good bit, using alignment recommendations from the Hoosier tire engineers. We also had OS Giken retune the limited slip differential to get us off the tight infield hairpins.
“Fortunately, the 2015 Yaris is already aerodynamically slicker than our previous 2007 Yaris racecar, but Toyota’s Allen Vaught worked with the Toyota engineers to help us reduce aero drag even further. And it’s all working better than expected.”
After two qualifying sessions the hard work is paying off, as Isley had the 2015 Toyota Yaris at the top of the H Production leader board in both sessions, posting a best lap of 2:18.006, well under the lap record.
There are still two more qualifying sessions to go before the championship race at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 25. Visit http://www.scca.com for live timing and scoring, as well as broadcast coverage of the championship races.