UPDATE: Lance Spiering, of Beaverton, Oregon, inherited the Formula 500 National Championship on Saturday evening after finishing second place on track when David Lapham was found to have a non-compliant car in post-race technical inspection. More
Though the field was small, the Formula 500 field put on a thrilling show that ended in heartbreak for one driver and a first career SCCA National Championship Runoffs win for David Lapham, of Irvington, New York.
The Formula 500 class was designed as cost-efficient class, with either a two-stroke, Rotax engine or a four-stroke, 600cc motorcycle engine. With the highest concentration of cars on the East Coast, few were able to make the trip to Sonoma Raceway.
What was missed in quantity, however, was made up in quality.
Lapham kept his No. 2 Hoosier Novakar J10/Suzuki on the rear of Tire Rack polesitter Jeff Jorgenson’s No. 64 CTD Motorsports Novakar J10/Rotax in the opening laps, running nose to tail and catching the rear of the Formula F field in the combined-class race on lap six. Lapham took the lead at the start of lap seven and surrendered it back to Jorgenson in Turn 12 on lap nine.
That lead swapped two more times in the following lap, and the pair weaved through traffic together for the next four laps.
Lapham used the Formula F traffic to his advantage on lap 15, making the pass for the lead coming down the hill through Turn 11 and heading for the Turn 12 hairpin. The first-time champion timed the traffic perfectly, and it became the pass for the win when Jorgenson contacted a Formula F machine in the hairpin, prematurely ending his day.
With no challenger in sight, Lapham cruised to victory of more than one lap with the Suzuki engine, picking up the Sonoco Hard Charger Award along the way after a recent switch away from the two-stroke. It was worth the wait for the long-time Formula 500 competitor.
“It’s great,” Lapham said. “That’s what I’ve been coming to the Runoffs for, and I’m always out to win. Jeff was my competition this weekend, and he could have just as easily been up here. My car had an advantage in a couple of spots. It’s only my second race with the car, so I’ve been on a learning curve this weekend.”
Chasing the pair but never in range was Lance Spiering, who was well back of the lead duel but comfortably in front of anyone else to land his first career SCCA podium in the No. 29 Quadrini Racing Invader QC1/Rotax.
“It’s only my third podium, so it was enjoyable,” Spiering said. “I knew I wouldn’t have the pace to keep up with Jeff and Dave, and as soon as the tires came in those guys took off. There was no way I could keep up with them, so it was a matter of keeping it on track and putting my head down.”
Russell Strate earned his highest career Runoffs finish with a third-place in the No. 9 Hoosier/Mitchell Racing Services Scorpion S1/Rotax, using an appropriate saying he learned 43 years ago from SCCA Hall of Famer Bob Bondurant.
“I have to admit, I kind of blew my start,” Strate said. “David, Jeff and Lance got away and my race was trying to keep up with them. It was ‘SCCA’ – smooth, consistent, concentrate and alert. That’s what got me to here.”
The 55th SCCA National Championship Runoffs crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Sonoma Raceway in California Friday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Oct 21.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live. An audio race call, supplied by the Super Tour Radio broadcast team, is also available, as well as live timing and scoring for each National Championship race.
Provisional results for Saturday’s Formula 500 race at the 55th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Sonoma Raceway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.
1, (2), David Lapham, Irvington, NY, Novakar J10 Suzuki, 20.
2, (3), Lance Spiering, Beaverton, OR, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 19.
3, (4), F Russell Strate Jr., Alden, NY, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 19.
4, (5), John W Walbran, Saint Louis, MO, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 18.
5, (1), Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, CA, Novakar J10 Rotax, 15.
Length of Race: 50 Miles
Overall Time of Race: 35:29.732 (avg. 85.194 mph)
Margin of Victory: 1 lap
Fastest Race Lap: 1:42.491 (88.515 mph)
Lap Leaders: #64 laps 1-5, 9, 11-14; #2 laps 6-8, 10, 15-20
Sunoco Hard Charger: #2 David Lapham