Sunday SCCA Runoffs notebook

Image by Jeff Zurschmeide

Sunday SCCA Runoffs notebook

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Sunday SCCA Runoffs notebook

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

Here’s what’s happening:

Racing simulation builds champions

Several drivers have cited extensive practice using racing simulators as factors in their achievements at the SCCA Runoffs. Because this is the first time the Runoffs have come to Sonoma, many out-of-area drivers lacked real-world experience on the course. Local drivers such as Spec Miata champion and T3 second-place finisher Mark Drennan of San Jose, California (pictured above and below) also cited simulator practice as a significant benefit to their performance.

Mark Drennan (Image by Jeff Zurschmeide)

“I’ve been racing probably fifteen years, but it really started out with sim,” Drennan said. “I used to race on the predecessor to iRacing called Grand Prix Legends. I put in countless hours, thousands of hours, onto the sim. Every step of the way has helped me prepare to be successful in that next level.”

Frank Schwartz of Ann Arbor, Michigan finished third in B-Spec, and he also credited simulator work with his ability to be competitive at a new track.

“I use the iRacing simulator at home,” Schwartz said after his race. “My whole goal was to run 20 laps in a row within half a second of each other on the simulator. Getting into that kind of rhythm was more important than outright flying a lap because I knew I was here on a budget.”

Image by Jay Bonvouloir

Deep field in Touring 4

Looking through the Runoffs archives, the Touring 4 field included some of the most experienced drivers at the event. Touring 4 drivers collectively held 25 Runoffs wins spread over nearly 40 years.

Six-time champion Don Knowles, who started in eighth place and finished ninth, holds the SCCA record for longest period between two Runoffs wins, with a 27-year gap between his 1989 and 2006 wins.

John Heinricy came into the race with 14 championships; more than any other active SCCA racer and second in all-time wins. 1982 SSA champion Luis Sanchez and his brother, 1983 SSGT champion Izzy Sanchez, plus 1986 SSB champion Lance Stewart were all in the race.

Provisionally, Heinricy won his 15th championship in Touring 4 Saturday, though SCCA has not finalized the results at press time.

Images by John Burchardt

Runoffs Foot Race raises money for charity

Mitch Egner won the Runoffs 5K foot race, held Saturday evening at Sonoma Raceway. Egner ran the track in 20m38s, averaging 6m38s per mile. Philippe Thebeau came in second just one second behind Egner, and Michael Rist finished third.

Kelly Eisele won among women, finishing in 23m31s at a pace of 7m34s per mile. Jennifer Clarke finished second, and Samantha Raniere was third.

The Runoffs 5K raised several hundred dollars in donations for a local pediatric cancer charity.

Next year in Virginia

SCCA will celebrate its 75th year as a racing club by holding the 2019 National Championship Runoffs at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia. The event will be held October 8-13, 2019. This will be the first time the Runoffs has been held at this track.

VIR was established in 1957 and sits in a beautiful park-like setting of 1,300 acres, with classic Southern buildings and stunning views from anywhere in the facility. The track is acknowledged as one of America’s best, with up to 4.20 miles of racing course and up to 28 turns, depending on the configuration chosen for the Runoffs.

The venue for the 2020 Runoffs has also been announced as Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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