This week, the Sports Car Club of America’s premier winner-take-all road race, the National Championship Runoffs, kicked into high gear at Road America. There, some 600 drivers will battle in 26 classes in the hopes of becoming one of the select few who can call themselves an SCCA National Champion. Most will fall short. However, thanks to SportsCar magazine, SCCA’s official publication, and its annual Runoffs predictions, it’s possible to get some insight into who to watch in each class when the races take the green this weekend, running from Friday, Oct. 9, to Sunday, Oct. 11.
The Runoffs event schedule can be found here, and SCCA will stream all 26 races live on SCCA.com.
In this installment of our multi-part Runoffs preview, we take an inside look at SCCA’s Prototype 1 and 2 classes to see who could become SCCA’s next national champions.
P1 cars are fast, and we expect the fastest laps at this year’s Runoffs to come in this class. The fastest of the fast at the June Sprints was the fendered Swift 014.a of James French. French has thousands of miles at Road America, has won numerous races at the track, and should bring his Carl Liebich-engineered Swift home in first if he can shed the mechanical issues he suffered at the Sprints.
French tells us that having lots of laps is an advantage, but the sprint nature of SCCA races is king. “We have a few things planned and hopefully it will be enough,” he says. “I have a terrible history of getting third at this event and would love to finally find victory.”
When French’s car failed him in June, Chip Romer took Sunday’s win. Romer is fast and consistent and will certainly be in the mix.
But there’s another driver who possibly has even more miles at Road America than French. Jason Miller lives but a shout away and has raced here for more years than he cares to remember. He has numerous wins at the track, but though he has raced at the Runoffs since 1996, he has never snagged the gold.
Others in the mix include Daryl Shoff and Todd Vanacore, plus two-time winner Jim Devenport. Also, let us not forget James French’s father, Brian French, who has clocked even more miles here in a variety of cars, and who won FA at the Runoffs 20 years ago.
In P2, things look Tim Day’s way. He says that Elkhart “is a driver’s track, and the high-speed corners are a good fit for the Stohr and my driving style.”
Barring mechanical gremlins, he is ready. “The setup is fine-tuned, the car is balanced and running flawlessly and that is a confidence booster,” he reveals.
His strongest competition will be Robert Iversen, Greg Gyann, and Mike Reupert, but one more to watch is Tray Ayres, who has added P2 to his SRF driving and won the class at last year’s Runoffs.