Thursday SCCA Runoffs notebook

Images by Jeff Zurschmeide

Thursday SCCA Runoffs notebook

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Thursday SCCA Runoffs notebook

The 2018 SCCA Runoffs are underway at Sonoma Raceway. Follow the action live by clicking here.

Here’s what’s happening:

Joe Huffaker Jr. aims for the record books

One of the most familiar faces at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs is Joe Huffaker Jr. of San Francisco Region.

“I’ve been going to the Runoffs since about 1974, crewing for my dad,” he says.

Huffaker’s gloss-black No. 77 MG Midget is almost as famous as he is. It’s the foundation of Huffaker’s winning team.

“This car was completed in 1991, and I was on the pole that year at the Runoffs,” Huffaker recounts. “I slid backwards from the pole into third place, but the next year I won.”

Huffaker took a year off after his first championship, but came back when the Runoffs moved to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“I won seven times in twelve years at Ohio,” he recalls. “Then I took ten years off from 2004 to 2013. I came back when they announced the Runoffs coming to Laguna. I won in my Mini there, and was second in the Midget.”

That adds up to nine championships for Huffaker, and this year, he’s ready to make it an even 10. He almost got the job done in 2015 at Daytona, but a cut tire took him out of the lead in that race.

“I think my car’s been really good this year, and I’m ready for this,” he says. “Plus, Sonoma is my home track, which is a little bit of an advantage. I’m on the pole in F Production and in GT-Lite, which is great.”

Here’s an interesting piece of Runoffs trivia: Huffaker’s MG Midget also has won nine championships — eight with Huffaker and one with a different driver. If Huffaker wins the FP championship on Saturday, his Midget will have more Runoffs victory stickers than any other Production category car in SCCA history.

You can watch Joe Huffaker and his MG compete in GT Lite at 1:40 p.m. ET/10:40 a.m. PT on Friday, and in F Production at 6:40 p.m. ET/3:40 p.m. PT on Saturday. All races will be webcast live at SCCA.com.

Larry Cooper lives his dreams in a Datsun 240Z

One of the assumptions in modern motorsports is that vintage racing and SCCA National Championship racing don’t mix well, but Larry Cooper of Spanish Springs, Nevada, is challenging that notion. He towed his No. 7 E Production Datsun 240Z across America this year to race at Road Atlanta, then he took it to Monterey, and now he’s racing the same car in the Runoffs.

“I always wanted to go to the Mitty at Road Atlanta,” he says, “and this year Datsun and Nissan were the featured marques, and then the Runoffs were coming here to Sonoma. So I decided to do both.”

After the Mitty, Cooper was invited to bring his car to race in the Monterey Pre-Reunion and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Weathertech Raceway.

“I did really well at Atlanta with two wins,” Cooper states. “I got to share the podium with John Morton and Greg Ira, which was an incredible honor. Then I learned that Nissan and Datsun were being featured for the first time at Monterey. So I went and raced and had a blast.”

To race in the Reunion, cars not only have to be well-prepared, they have to be authentic to the preparation standards in place when they were first raced. Cooper’s car manages to be both vintage-authentic and still competitive in SCCA Road Racing.

“I had enough qualifying points to race in the Runoffs,” Cooper says. “These were the three events I always wanted to race in, and I got to do all three in one year. It’s like my own personal triple crown.”

Cooper qualified in 11th position, and will compete in the E Production race at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:35 a.m. PT on Sunday. You can watch live at SCCA.com.

Double-take – Teen drivers Liam and Mark Snyder lead in FE2, FE

Liam and Mark Snyder are more than brothers; they’re twins. The two drivers from South Lake, Texas, began racing together on their 11th birthday, and they’ve stayed side by side as they moved up the competition ladder. This year, they’re 15 years old and ready to race for separate championships. Liam is currently sitting in first position in Formula Enterprises 2 and Mark holds the provisional pole in Formula Enterprises.

“At Indy last year, I was running third in Formula Mazda and both me and the second place car spun on oil,” Liam says. “So I ended up fifth. But I would have been the youngest driver to make a podium at Indy.”

This year, both brothers are focused on winning their classes.

“My goal for qualifying today is to run a 1m36,” Mark says. “Yesterday I got a 1m37.5s, which was almost a second and a half faster than second place. I’m not really worried, but I’d like to see how much I can get out of the car.”

As brothers often do, Liam and Mark tend to finish each other’s ideas and bounce a conversation back and forth. Ask the brothers which one is fastest, and you’ll get a good story.

“We don’t know who’s faster,” Mark says. Then Liam takes over: “We haven’t raced together in a year and a half.”

To which Mark responds: “The last time we raced together in Spec Racer Ford, we turned identical lap times, and we crossed the finish line together.”

You can watch Liam and Mark Snyder race on Friday at 7:45 p.m. ET/4:45 p.m. PT on SCCA.com.

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