Veteran broadcaster Bob Varsha has covered just about every form of professional motorsport, from Formula 1 to sports cars to NASCAR. And while this isn’t his first visit to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, remarkably, it is his first time calling the race for the livestream and the select races that will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network later.
“I’m delighted to be here,” says Varsha. “Obviously Ive been away from the track entirely — I’ve been dealing with cancer treatment, and of course we’ve all been dealing with the pandemic, so I haven’t worked a lot the last year. So I leapt at the opportunity to get back in the booth and do what Ive been doing for some 40 years, and it’s been great.”
Varsha has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, which he says seems to be going well, so he’s glad to be back at the track. He’s had a crash course in the current state of SCCA road racing over the last few days, acknowledging the help fo the rest of the broadcast team.
“I have to say, it hasn’t been error free. I’ve found rust I need to knock off,” he admitted. “But the event itself is great fun to cover. The variety, and the attitude of the club racers is fabulous. Everyone has been nice to me, because I’m the rookie the in the group. Ryan Myrehn has been doing it for some time, Tom O’Gorman, Larry McLeod and Heyward Wagner have been great fun to work with with. They obviously know this element of the sport backwards and forwards; I’m in great company, but it is humbling.”
Varsha praises the atmosphere of the Runoffs and the friendly nature of the racers off the track. As a veteran of calling professional races with cars prepared by the best crews in the business, though, he did express surprise at the amount of attrition at the Runoffs, noting that it ruined some good races such as GT-1, which he had been looking forward to. But he also noted the thrills of such a simple class as B-Spec: “We began Saturday morning with the B-Spec race, which is the other extreme, with small light cars that rely so heavily on drafting and proximity to another car, plus carefully calculated strategies and execution of critical moves along the way.”
Despite some rust and a few errors as he reacquaints himself with SCCA road racing, Varsha has absolutely enjoyed the experience and hopes for a return.
“Obviously coming to the Runoffs is something people do year in and year out. I know it’s the highlight of the season and a I know it’s a highlight of the careers of these really passionate racers who aren’t in it for the money. They’re in it for the friendship and the sportsmanship and the thrills of racing and the fun of going to a great destination and a great track like Road America, and seeing old friends and renewing relationships. I like that — I’m a sentimental guy in that way.”
It’s been a while since father and son stood on a Runoffs podium, but in 2020, it happened twice. On Friday afternoon, Mark Boden took his second National Championship of the day in Touring 2 (the first came in the day’s first race, Touring 1).
He was joined on the podium by his son Joe, who finished third in his first Runoffs. In Prototype 1, the roles were reversed. James French won, and his father, Brian, was third. The last time we can confirm a father and son appeared on a Runoffs podium together was 2011, when John Fergus won his seventh National Championship in Sports 2000 and his son Corey finished third. They also shared the podium in 2010 (Corey second, John third) and 2008 (John first, Corey third). Other father-son duos to share the podium include Mark and Jordan Sandridge in Touring 2 in 2002, and Al Beasley and Al Beasley Jr. in D Sports Racing (now Prototype 2) in 1992.
Speaking of fathers and sons racing together, Charlie Peter finished second in Friday’s Touring 2 race driving a BMW M235i. During post-race interviews, he was a tad distracted by the television monitors which were showing the Formula Atlantic race that started right after T2 finished. That’s because his father, Hans, is a Formula Atlantic racer. As it turns out, he also finished second in his race.
When we queried drivers about where they’d like to be starting the final lap, not one of them said seventh. But that’s where Preston Pardus was starting the final lap of the Spec Miata race. By the end of the lap he was first. There don’t appear to be any records on that particular statistic, so Pardus’s seventh-to-first might very well be the farthest a driver has come on the white flag lap to win.
The record for the number of Super Sweep winners is seven, and by halfway through Sunday’s races, that record had been tied. The SCCA Club Racing Super Sweep Award is the most difficult accomplishment a driver can achieve. To win the award, a driver must complete four tasks: win a Hoosier Super Tour race, win a divisional points championship, win the nationwide point standings and win the National Championship Runoffs all in a single class.
The 2020 Super Sweep winners are:
- Preston Pardus, Spec Miata
- Mark Boden, Touring 2
- Bobby Sak, Spec Racer Ford Gen3
- Jesse Prather, E Production
- Rob Allaer, Formula Continental
- Michael Borden, Touring 4
- Joe Moser, Super Touring Lite