The Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs is the winner-take-all title fight for SCCA Road Racing glory. For 2019, this on-track battle has wound its way to the northeast, where it will pit racers against one of the best racetracks around: VIRginia International Raceway. Who will rise to the top and claim Runoffs gold? We’ll find out for sure when the green flags fly on Oct. 11-13; for now, though, all we can do is guess. As it turns out, guessing is a specialty here at SportsCar magazine – and we will be sharing those guesses with you here throughout the week.
After previewing the quickest of the Formula classes in Part 7 of Who Will Win the Runoffs, we now look at the Production category, which has long been a staple of SCCA road racing.
Oh, and pro tip: Log on to scca.com/runoffs on Oct. 11-13 for live timing, plus a video stream of all the racing action as it happens!
When given the choice between himself, Jesse Prather, Kip Van Steenburg, John Hainsworth, and Greg Ira as to who will win EP this year, reigning Champ Matt Reynolds tells us, “All five could end up on any step of the podium.” He raced with Hainsworth at VIR, and Hainsworth is very quick in his rotary Mazda. “Kip and Greg will be at the front, as usual, and they will have the fastest cars at the start,” Reynolds predicts. “I know Jesse will have a strong showing this year and will make it tough on everybody. He may have just the right driver and car combo for this track.
“There are two others who I believe could be contenders this year: Rick Kavitski and Joe Moser,” Reynolds adds. “Both can be very fast. I know Joe has a lot of laps at VIR and will be up to speed quickly.” Moser, it should be noted, will not be piloting his usual orange Prelude, instead opting for the NC Miata Prather built and campaigned several years back.
Our podium prediction alone constitutes seven National Championship titles, so we are forced to agree with Reynolds’ assessment of anyone can win. And if it rains? Reynolds once again sums it up best: “All bets are off.”
There are so many SCCA National Championship titles among this group, this will truly be a nail biter. Kevin Ruck, our pick to win FP this year, ran the numbers on the drivers who were registered for the event at the time we spoke to him in late July: This grid includes seven past champions, 47 podium finishes, and a total of 21 gold medals.
“I honestly believe that we could have as many as 10 cars competing for a podium,” Ruck says. In particular, “Joe Huffaker is a legendary driver and car combo, and Eric Prill’s consistent podium contention over the last 10-plus years has been unparalleled.”
Huffaker is also the reigning champion in FP, mopping the floor with the field at the Sonoma Runoffs in 2018. Additionally, Ruck notes, “Craig Chima and Steven Hussey are proven drivers in quick cars, so there’s no doubt their Lotus 7s will be up front too.”
Others Ruck sees as wild cards are Chuck Mathis, Rob Garrison (the current VIR track record holder), and John Baucom, another past champion, if he brings his fast Fiat.
But we think they’ll all have their hands full trying to beat Ruck to the checkered flag.
Will Perry won HP at VIR earlier this year, and he’s our pick to win the Runoffs this year, but any of a number of drivers could be spoilers. The nearly 30 drivers entered in the class include several past class champions, including Greg Gauper and Ron Bartell, with Gauper bringing a completely re-tubbed Honda to the party in the hopes of repeating his 2011 Runoffs win.
While we know racers like Eric Vickerman will be gunning for the front, we foresee Vesa Silegren and Chris Schaafsma rounding out the podium, as they’ve been showing significant speed in recent years. H Prod entries for the race at VIR is up considerably from last year, so there may still be a few surprises in store for everyone.