Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Report from 2009 SCCA Runoffs

2009 Runoff Report

by Don Knowles

The SCCA’s 46th running of the National Championship Runoffs moved to Road America this year.

Our first year at Road America was exciting, with over 600 competitors. In the showroom stock and touring classes, it seems like we had a record number of big time crashes, with several competitors going to the ICU and a number of cars totaled.

In several other classes, where drafting is important, it appears that the racers have not all determined the best way to proceed, with many attacks very early, making it possible for the leader to get away. Additionally, brakes are more important here than at recent Runoff tracks. Drivers will need new strategies put in place by next year if they want to contend for the win. The track has several much faster turns than the two prior last Runoff tracks (Mid Ohio and Heartland Park Topeka) and I expect all competitors will adjust to the new track by next year.

RRDC Members Competing:

The following members competed in the races this year:

Jim Dentici—GTL-1st
Nicki Coello—FC-1st
Don Knowles—T2-1st
Justin Pritchard-FC-2nd
Jim Goughary-GT2-3rd
Tom Schweitz-FF-3rd
Jim Downing-CSR-5th
Kent Prather-GTL-11th
John Fergus-S2-12th
Pete Peterson-GT3-DNF
Carl Jensen-GT1-DNF
Dave Weitzenhof-FC-DNF

Under the heading of proud parents, John Fergus’s son Corey started on the pole in S2 and finished 2nd, and Kent Prather’s son Jesse started 2nd in EP and finished 6th.

RRDC Member Dinner:

Tom Dehn, with his son Frank, Frank’s fiancée Kimberly Benson and her mom Susie, and with Jim and Toni Haynes, organized, orchestrated, and provided a wonderful dinner for us on Tuesday night. We had about 60 attendees and enjoyed the live music, festive decorations, open bar, and the finest Runoffs dinner ever held at the event. Tom persuaded a friend to fly in from California to roast seasoned chickens on a spectacular, hand made, open “twister”. Simply fantastic.

The event was held in the Briggs and Stratton Motorplex, which is centrally located in the infield and gives us a nice and weather proof place to socialize. We invited the SCCA board of directors, the SCCA national staff and the Road America staff to join us. RRDC member Jim Haynes, former Road America track owner and manager, recounted some history for us, as he celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of his early wins. The current track manager, George Bruggenthies, was also present and said a few words. The dinner was followed by 2 large cheesecakes for dessert, one topped with a great RRDC logo in icing. Our team truck driver, Bob Gorman, who is 79, said it was the first time since his wife died 17 years ago that he had found any cheesecake good enough to eat.

PRDA Awards:

RRDC member Oscar Koveleski was an original founder of the Polish Racing Drivers of America, back in 1970. This year, he created “Pole Awards” for RRDC members to present to the pole winners in their respective classes. The awards were designed to look like Academy Awards (“Oscars”). Many members followed through and the pictures will be posted on the PRDA website.

Mark Donohue Award:

For the 39th time, the RRDC has selected a recipient for the Mark Donohue Award. The award is given to “one driver in the annual SCCA National Championship Runoffs who RRDC members feel has stood head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of personal spirit and performance behind the wheel.”

For a number of years, the award has consisted of a glass table top to go on a wheel donated by a club member, the wheel having come from a significant race car and event from the prior year. We had the 2009 Mark Donohue Award on display at the member dinner. The wheel was donated by member Duncan Dayton, and had been driven by Scott Sharp and David Brabham on their Patron sponsored LMP 1 winning Acura during the 2008 race win at Lime Rock, the first overall race win for Patron Highcroft Racing and the first Acura win in ALMS. As is also a tradition, the wheel came complete with a little race incurred battle damage, which adds to the presentation and the significance of the wheel.

The award was won by Michael Varacins, who won the FV race by over 25 seconds, the largest margin of victory in FV since Dave Weitzenhof’s victory by 63.8 seconds in 1972. He was selected “not only because of his outstanding performance in dominating his race, but because of his determination, sportsmanship, competitiveness and humility, the traits which best exemplify the spirit of the multi-talented champion and road-racing legend for whom the award is named. Michael builds his own cars, working with his father and family, and also builds parts for other FV competitors. He may join us at the RRDC dinner at Daytona on the Wednesday night before the 24 Hours of Daytona. The award will be presented at the SCCA convention in Las Vegas in late January 2010.

Members in attendance:

John Fergus
Don Knowles
Jim Goughary
Nicki Coello
Dave Weitzenhof
Carl Jenson
Pete Peterson
Tommy Schweitz
Fred Clark
Tom Dehn
Jim Dentici
Jim Downing
Jim Haynes
John Heinricy

Upcoming events:

The RRDC will present a symposium at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, FL on Friday, December 12, from 9 am to noon aimed at helping drivers get off on the right foot in racing.

Here is a link to further information for the symposium:

The Club is also planning its annual dinner in conjunction with the 24 Hours of Daytona. The dinner will be held Wednesday night, January 27, 2010. More information will be forthcoming.

Looking forward to seeing you at one of our future events.


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