The 56th running of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs is underway. For the first time in its history, the Runoffs are being held at Virginia International Raceway, nestled in a pine forest on the Virginia/North Carolina border.
VIR is a versatile track with several different optional layouts. The Runoffs will use the “Full Course” of 18 turns spread over 3.27 miles.
VIR has a rich history dating back to 1955, when a group of North Carolina car enthusiasts decided to build a race course. The track held its first races in August of 1957. VIR’s first official event was an SCCA race. Carroll Shelby won the first feature race in a Maserati 450S. “One lap at VIR is like a hundred at Watkins Glen,” Shelby said.
Over the years, VIR has hosted the SCCA Trans-Am series and IMSA GT as well as amateur races. The track closed in 1974, a victim of the energy crisis, and was left in decay until it was reopened under new ownership in 2000. The track has had huge success over the past 20 years. As Paul Newman once said, “If there’s a heaven on Earth, it’s VIR.”
Drivers to watch – Chris Haldeman could go for Triple Gold
SCCA racer Chris Haldeman is planning to enter Super Touring Under, Super Touring Lite, and Spec Miata at this year’s Runoffs. His goal is to win three championships in the same year.
“I don’t know if anybody has ever won three,” Haldeman said. “I know two in the same event have been done, but I don’t know if anybody’s ever won three.”
In fact, Jerry Hansen won three championships at the 1972 Runoffs, but no one has done it since then. Hansen remains the all-time king of SCCA’s Runoffs with 27 championships to his credit.
Haldeman is confident in the Super Touring classes, but less so in the hyper-competitive Spec Miata class.
“My Spec Miata plans are 50/50,” he said. “I would list me as the dark horse.”
Over 600 drivers entered for the Runoffs
This year’s Runoffs are set to include 606 entries, which is a healthy turnout for the first visit to VIR. The largest class, as usual, is Spec Miata with 62 entries, followed by Spec Racer Ford 3 with 55.
Other well-subscribed classes include Super Touring Lite with 38 entries, E Production with 30, H Production with 29, and B-Spec with 27. Formula Vee, GT-2, and Touring 4 each have 26 entries, while Super Touring Under has 25 cars.
The smallest classes at this year’s Runoffs are Formula 1000 with 1 entry, which is added to the nine entries in Formula Atlantic. Eight drivers entered Formula Mazda, while nine drivers entered Formula Enterprises and 10 entered Formula Continental.
Participation numbers always change a bit throughout the week, but most classes at this year’s Runoffs will start between 15 and 30 cars. Championship racing begins Friday morning and runs through Sunday afternoon.