Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

Jeff Loewe

Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

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Formula Enterprises 2

There’s a lot of cross over between SRF3 and Formula Enterprises 2; both managed out of SCCA Enterprises. And one driver who will race in both classes is Scott Rettich, who is our choice to win FE2.

“Our team has had a great season and we have had multiple new drivers run FE2 with us this year,” Rettich says. “We have been more focused on our FE2 customers than my own personal program, but I have had the opportunity to run more events recently to get prepared for the Runoffs. I think we will be a serious contender for the win, but there are many drivers who have a great shot at the win this year.”

With six prior championships in the first Formula Enterprises class, and then eight more podium finishes to his credit, Rettich would be a leading driver in any estimation.

Another series contender includes Bailey Monette, who is not only leading the Hoosier Super Tour standings (as of press time), but he beat Rettich on Sunday at this year’s June Sprints. He’s also featured on this month’s cover of SportsCar. In fact, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if he won.

It’s truly a tossup between Rettich and Monette, and we foresee Max Grau sitting a car length behind, waiting to capitalize. Yet Grau won’t be the only one waiting to pounce. In the Northern Conference, Dean Opperman, Jason Pribyl, and James Libecco each have two Majors wins. In the Western Conference, Jeff Read is leading, and T.J. Acker has been on the podium at every race he has attended, including three wins. Three-time champion Darryl Wills leads the Mid-States Conference, while in the competitive Southeast Conference, Charles Russel Turner leads with five wins. Robert Vanman leads the Southern Conference. Any of these drivers could make a play at the front of the grid.

Formula Atlantic

The Formula Atlantic picture is complicated this year, and according to Hans Peter – our pick to win this year – “the older cars have an advantage, and people who own [Swift] 16s are not doing many SCCA races. I had to make sure that I had a competitive car, so Mirl Swan has prepared a special 014.a for me.”

Peter has won this class at the Runoffs in 2007 but has been largely absent ever since (although he did return to the Runoffs in 2020 to score a silver FA medal). But his skill combined with the preparation of multi-time champion Mirl Swan should be enough to see Peter notch the win.

The competition is mixed but should be led by the defending National Champion Spencer Brockman, who will also be in a Swift 014.a. Lee Alexander and Mirl Swan are also in 014.a cars and will be competitive.

Keith Grant will likely lead the Swift 016.a entrants – and he won the last time the Runoffs was at Indy. Meanwhile, 14-year-old phenom Austin Hill is driving a Pro Formula Mazda while Jim Booth has a Ligier JS53. The dark horse in this is P1 champ James French, who is piloting a 30-year-old Ralt RT-41.

Formula Continental

The Formula Continental class is awash with Van Diemens of various vintages with the occasional Citation thrown into the mix. The Citations appear to be the ticket at the moment, as our picks for the first two spots are both in that chassis. We like the chances of John LaRue, who last won Runoffs gold in 2016. His strongest challenger will be young Simon Sikes, who ran multiple classes at last year’s Runoffs and landed a first and a second for his efforts. He’s been very active in Club and pro series this season and is fully capable of upsetting our prediction.

Rob Allaer seems to have the fastest Van Diemen, and he’s won the Runoffs twice in the past. He will have his son Nolan to contend with in another Van Diemen – Nolan is not only fast on his own but has beaten the “old man” on occasion.

Also, look for Tim Minor in a Citation, and the Van Diemen mounted Michael Varacins, Bill Johnson, Chuck Moran, and Brian Tomasi to also be in the picture.

Formula X

Formula X is new class with a lot of variables. And, while this is the new home for ex-Formula Mazda cars, other chassis have proven to be potent. Foremost among these is the Elan DP-08, which is best known as being the former USF-2000 pro chassis. Our picks for the top two spots are driving Elans and, in our view, will be dominant.

In first place should be Austin Hill. Now hold on, you say, he’s just a kid. True, Hill is all of 14-years old, but he has displayed skill well beyond his years. He has been racing in FA and FX with SCCA, and he also competes in SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned FRP series. And he has been winning.

Hill is going in with his eyes open, saying that this is the biggest race of the year and that everyone will be bringing their A game. “I can’t make any mistakes,” Hill notes. “I have to qualify good to have a great start to the race. I want to approach this race as a normal race and try to remain relaxed yet focused.”

Robert Wright should be Hill’s strongest challenger, while Melvin Kemper should be keeping pace in a former Formula Mazda. The dark horse is James Goughary in a Ligier.

Regardless, everyone will be chasing the young Austin Hill.

Formula F

Last year’s Formula F Runoffs race was an instant classic, and that’s as good a place as any to start with this year’s prediction. Tim Kautz crossed the line first a year ago, but a pass under the yellow saw him moved in the final results. Simon Sykes was just behind, followed by Bob Perona. Jonathan Kotyk was in the mix for most of the race as well.

This year, we’re going to pick Sykes to repeat and take the checkered flag on the track. That comes with a twist, however – he’s having a fantastic season in USF2000 on the Road to Indy, but hasn’t spent time in the Formula F. Will that competition and success help his confidence, or will removing the wing for the first time all season throw him off his game? We’re betting on the former.

The experience of Kautz and Perona can’t be discounted, though, and we expect both to land on the podium for the second consecutive year. Kotyk will expect to be in the mix, and the last we saw Joe Colasacco, he was running second in Formula Continental at the Runoffs in 2019. In short, with long straightaways at Indy, it’s anybody’s race.

Formula Vee

Formula Vee is just as wide open. To start with, we can look at a couple of families – the Whitstons and the Abbotts. Andrew and Zach Whitston shared the podium two years ago, and Andrew Abbott joined them. Last year, Chris Jennerjahn broke through with a National Championship, slipping ahead of “the Andrews” – Whitston and Abbott, respectively, to take the win.

Image by Jeff Loewe

As always, the name of the game in Formula Vee will be avoiding the chaos. Jennerjahn, an Indy native, saw his race end in 2017 with a Turn 1 crash. The young guns, which include Hunter Phelps-Barron, Brian Farnham, and Alex Scaler, will keep the brothers Whitston, Abbott, and veterans Rick Shields, Roger Siebenaler, and Jonathon Weisheit busy.

This year, however, we think Andrew Whitston returns to the top step. He’s acknowledged that, in addition to talent and skill, it will also take a little bit of luck to be there. If that luck comes through, he’ll hold the gold medal.

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