The 1985 edition of Sports Car Club of America's Runoffs attracted over 600 competitors contending for twenty-two National titles. One of the most significant changes for the 1985 edition of the Runoffs was the departure of Champion Spark Plugs as the title sponsor. The Sports Car Club of America was able to replace them with Valvoline Oil. The construction of tube-frame GT cars continued at a slow but steady place. Initial concerns that tub cars would become obsolete did not materialize as three of these types of cars won National titles.

Qualifying on the pole and winning the GT4 National Championship was Doug Peterson. In the '80s, it was difficult to bet against Peterson. During this period, he won five National Championships in two different classes using three different makes of car. The Honda CRX he raced in 1985 was a sharp contrast to the Renault he drove in 1984. The Renault was constructed as a tube-frame car but the CRX retained the original tub platform.
John Hogdal had a number of runner-up finishes at the Runoffs but in 1985 he would capture his first and only National Championship. Hogdal's new GT2 tube-frame Mazda RX-7 proved to be very controversial. Competitors viewed the fuel cell enclosure as an aerodynamic device - officials agreed and changes were made. Despite this setback he qualified third but moved up to first by the third lap where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
The Bob Sharp Racing team included the driving duo of Paul Newman and Jim Fitzgerald raced Nissan 300ZX Turbos. Not only did this pair compete in National races but they also entered Trans Am events. Newman made eight starts winning the Road America round. Fitzgerald drove the No. 38 at the Runoffs - qualifying and finishing second. Paul Newman won the 1985 GT1 title his third of four National Championships.
John Kelly used a tub prepared Toyota Corolla GTS to qualify for the Runoffs. But for the National Championship, he appeared in a new beautifully prepared tube-frame GTS. The multi-time champion qualified fourth in GT3 but captured the final position on the podium. With a season in the new GTS under his belt would win the 1986 GT3 crown.
Duane Davis entered the 1985 Runoffs in a Renault LeCar. This car was originally built in 1982 by Comptech and earned Doug Peterson the 1982 GT4 National Championship and the GT5 title in 1985. Davis had the perfect week - fastest qualifier, led every lap, a new lap record for GT5 and the National title. This was his first of thirteen National Championships.
This Renault Encore was built in the Comptech shop by business partners - Doug Peterson and Don Erb. It debuted in 1984 and was one of the first small bore cars built to the new tube-frame rules. At the 1984 Runoffs Peterson qualified the car on the pole and finished second to Tom Schwietz in a Volkswagen. Erb raced the car in 1985 starting and finishing second.
The 1985 Runoffs must have been a disappointment for Bruce Short. He qualified his GT3 Mazda RX-3 third but moved into the lead at the drop of the green flag. He led the first 16-laps but with 2-laps to go, he lost the lead when lapping a slower car to eventual race winner Tom Brennan. Short entered four Runoffs always finishing on the podium but never earning a National Championship.
The lead trio of Paul Newman, Jim Fitzgerald and J. Marshall Robbins set a blistering pace during the 1985 GT1 National Championship race. They lapped all but one car and that was the No. 66 Ford Mustang of Jerry Clinton. Clinton started fifth but quickly fell to seventh, however, he was able to rebound and capture the fourth spot in GT1.
Another early adopter of the new tube-frame rules was Jack Beck. Beck took part in twenty-three Runoffs always in an Alfa Romeo. He qualified this beautiful GT5 Alfa Romeo GTV Junior in tenth. At the start of the race he was making good progress until he spun and dropped to fifteenth. Beck was able to rebound and finished ninth one lap behind the leaders.
Starting third in GT4, behind the two Comptech prepared cars, was Derek McKesson in a Datsun 510. McKesson ran in this position for the first 13-laps. After completing 14-laps he retired and was classified as finishing sixteenth.
In 1984 GT2 Datsun competitor Morris Clement had things all his way - started and finished first. But in 1985 the competition brought their 'A Game' and he only managed a fifth starting position. By the ninth lap he had moved to second place but the there was no catching John Hogdal's Mazda RX-7. Clement finished in the runner-up position almost 10-seconds behind Hogdal.
1974 A Production National Champion, J. Marshall Robbins, returned to competition in 1985. Robbins qualified his Mustang in the third spot but was no match for the Nissan 300ZX Turbo duo of Paul Newman and Jim Fitzgerald. He finished third in GT1 almost 15-seconds behind Fitzgerald.
It was a difficult Runoff event for former GT2 National Champion Robert Reed. The dentist from California was gridded fourth in his Mazda RX-7. Reed retired after just 3-laps and was classified a non-finisher.

CLASSGOLDSILVERBRONZE
GT1Paul Newman / Nissan 300ZX TurboJim Fitzgerald / Nissan 300ZX TurboMarshall Robbins / Ford Mustang
GT2John Hogdal / Mazda RX-7Morris Clement / Datsun 280ZXClark Crawford / Datsun 280ZX
GT3Tom Brennan / Porsche 924Bruce Short / Mazda RX-3John Kelly / Toyota Corolla GTS
GT4Doug Peterson / Honda CRXDon Erb, Jr. / Renault EncoreSam Jones / Datsun B210
GT5Duane Davis / Renault LeCarDavid Walsh / Datsun 210Van McDonald / Datsun 1200


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