Steve Sargis of Frankfort, IL, earned his ninth SCCA National Championship at the Runoffs with a dominant win in the H Production during the first Hagerty Race Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sargis, representing the Blackhawk Valley Region, drove a 1975 Triumph Spitfire to an 8.1-second margin of victory over a 1986 Volkswagen Golf driven by Christopher Schaafsma of Wheaton, IL. Enrik Benazic of Farmingdale, NY, completed the podium in a 1986 Honda Civic Si.
Sargis, the Tire Rack Pole Award winner, immediately pulled away into a commanding lead, leaving the field behind by more than three seconds on the opening lap. But his seven-second advantage was eliminated in an incident involving Eric Vickerman and Vesa Silegren on lap three that caused the race to be black flagged. The pair were disputing second place when the incident occurred entering the back straight.
Racing resumed with just over six minutes remaining in what was transformed into a 40-minute timed race. Sargis was again in command for the final few laps, turning the fastest time of the race with a time nearly two seconds quicker than Schaafsma could manage.
Ralf Lindow of Bellevue, NE took fourth place, while fifth place was claimed in a photo finish by Jason LaManna over Bill Okell. Matthew Benazic was the race’s Sunoco Hard Charger, gaining 21 positions in his move from 30th place to ninth.
Sargis’ most recent triumph gives him a total of 20 podium finishes in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Runoffs in three different classes, including back-to-back H Production crowns.
“It turned out that getting pole was really important and I just wanted to get a good clean start,” Sargis related. “Once I got through Turn 1, it seemed everything was good, and I gapped out pretty quick. Unfortunately, we had the incident, but once I got restarted, it turned out to be okay after that.
“Last time I came to Indy, I was in GT-Lite and it was a rough week, to say the least,” he added. “It’s really good to have a smooth week, and I just feel bad that a lot of guys wrecked today.”
The winner’s only drama came at the end of the black flag stoppage when his car initially refused to fire. After obtaining a helping hand from a competing crew, he was able to finish off his latest Runoffs success.
“Nothing happened, and I had to get push-started,” Sargis said. “I think my boys were down at Turn 1, so we had to borrow some muscle. I guess I owe them a beer!”
While joking that 20 Runoffs podiums showed that he was old, Sargis said the best part of his long SCCA career is the family aspect.
“A lot of the family from when I started racing 45 years ago are gone, but there are new guys coming in and my boys are both racing SCCA now,” he reflected. “I share this car with my younger son; my older son has a spec Miata. They’re good kids, and to me it’s a family thing.”
Schaafsma repeated his second-place finish from the last time the Runoffs were staged in Indianapolis. “I like it because it’s the smoothest track we race on,” he commented. “There are no bumps or dips or other things to upset the car, so you can really just focus on driving.”
It was also the second podium finish at the Runoffs for Benazik. “I had a really good day,” he remarked. “I was hoping to finish fourth, fifth, or sixth. I tried to be as smart as I could, and the race went my way. I tried to drive what I could drive, in my car, and it was fast enough.”
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live along with an audio race call—supplied by the Super Tour Radio presented by Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team—and live timing and scoring for each National Championship race.
1, (1), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire, 9.
2, (5), Christopher Schaafsma, Wheaton, IL, Volkswagen Golf, 9.
3, (8), Enrik Benazic, Farmingdale, NY, Honda Civic Si, 9.
4, (6), Ralf Lindow, Bellevue, NE, Volkswagen Golf, 9.
5, (10), Jason LaManna, Rochester, NY, Volkswagen Rabbit, 9.
6, (11), Bill Okell, Victoria, BC, MG Midget, 9.
7, (13), Scott Hileman, Johnstown, OH, Volkswagen Rabbit, 9.
8, (20), Chris Albin, Maryland Hts, MO, Volkswagen Golf, 9.
9, (30), Matthew Benazic, Whitestone, NY, Honda Civic Si, 9.
10, (14), Robin Bank, Aliquippa, PA, Volkswagen Golf, 9.
11, (19), William Trainer, Lake in the Hills, IL, Volkswagen Scirocco, 9.
12, (18), Andrew Wright, Murfreesboro, TN, Triumph Spitfire, 9.
13, (22), Greg Gauper, Hubertus, WI, Honda Civic Si, 9.
14, (16), Brayden Connolly, Columbus, OH, Fiat X-1/9, 9.
15, (12), Matt Brannon, Columbus, OH, Fiat X-1/9, 9.
16, (25), Edward Werry, West Deptford, NJ, Honda Fit, 9.
17, (15), Jason Stine, Stow, OH, Austin-Healey Sprite, 9.
18, (21), Jerry Oleson, Aurora, CO, Austin-Healey Sprite, 9.
19, (9), Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids, MN, Mazda 2, 9.
20, (35), Leanna Wright, Murfreesboro, TN, Mini Cooper, 9.
21, (23), Vincent LaManna, Ontario, NY, Volkswagen Rabbit, 9.
22, (34), John Fine, Norcross, GA, Honda Civic Si, 9.
23, (31), Hayes Lewis, Alexandria, VA, Porsche 924, 9.
24, (27), Jack Schulz, Monett, MO, MG Midget, 9.
25, (26), Cory Markos, Riverside, CA, Honda CRX, 9.
26, (40), Darryl Saylor, Mount Juliet, TN, Honda CRX, 9.
27, (32), Greg Amy, Middletown, CT, Toyota MR-2, 9.
28, (37), David Oliveira, Moosup, CT, Mini Cooper, 9.
29, (33), Robert Bax, Cincinnati, OH, Mini Cooper, 9.
30, (39), Frank Schwartz, Ann Arbor, MI, Mini Cooper, 9.
31, (36), Charles Fullgraf, Philadelphia, TN, Honda Civic Si, 9.
32, (41), James Melady, Jefferson, TX, MG B, 9.
33, (28), Ron Copeland, Maumee, OH, Honda CRX, 9.
34, (42), John Faull, San Jose, CA, Austin-Healey Sprite, 9.
35, (7), Jack Banha, Blue Bell, PA, Volkswagen Rabbit, 7.
36, (4), Ben Valentine, Fullerton, CA, MG Midget, 7.
37, (17), Neil Verity, Grey Forest, TX, MG B, 6.
38, (38), Robert E. Horrell Jr, Memphis, TN, Honda CRX, 5.
DNF, (29), Martin Burk, Summit Point, WV, Honda CRX Si, 3.
DNF, (3), Vesa Silegren, Cleveland, TN, Honda CRX, 2.
DNF, (2), Eric Vickerman, Howell, MI, Austin-Healey Sprite, 2.
DNF, (24), Tom Broring, Derwood, MD, Triumph Spitfire, 1.
Length of Race: 9 laps (23 miles)
Overall Time of Race: 41:39.476 (avg. 33.599 mph)
Margin of Victory: 8.100 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: Sargis, 1:56.188 (80.311 mph)
Lap Leaders: Sargis 1-9
Sunoco Hard Charger: #8 Matthew Benazic