In 2014, the Sports Car Club of America decided to move the premier event – The Runoffs – to a new venue each year. Prior to this, the club signed multi-year contracts with racetracks to host the annual event. In the first year of this new concept, the National Championships were held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which was followed by Daytona International Speedway, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 55th running of the event moved back to the west coast and was held at Sonoma Raceway.

The event took place during the third week of October and teams and fans enjoyed sunny conditions with warm temperatures.

There are National Championships for twenty-eight different classes. These race groups fall into one of eight different categories:

  • Production Category – There are three classes in the production category – E Production (EP), F Production (FP) and H Production (HP). These production-based vehicles are grouped according to their performance potential. Sports cars such as the Mazda Miata, Mazda RX-7, Mazda RX-8, Nissan 240Z, MG Midget, etc. are most often associated with this category. However, the rules also accommodate sedans such as the Honda Prelude, Datsun 510, Toyota Yaris, etc.
  • Grand Touring Category – Four classes, are identified as Grand Touring – they include Grand Touring (GT1), Grand Touring (GT2), Grand Touring (GT3) and Grand Touring-Lite (GTL). These vehicles are also grouped according to their performance potential. The quickest class, GT1 features car such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette while at the other end of the spectrum, GT-Lite includes the Mini Cooper and Honda Civic. These vehicles are allowed a larger number of modifications than the production category. For example, they made be constructed with a tube-frame chassis.
  • Touring Category – Four Touring categories, Touring 1 (T1), Touring 2 (T2), Touring 3 (T3) and Touring 4 (T4) was created by the SCCA to accommodate performance street cars with a minimum amount of modifications required to compete. Touring 1 includes the high powered and expensive vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Porsche 911, etc. Also included in this group, is B-Spec which is the club’s slowest class. Modifications to these economy vehicles - Honda Fit, Mini Cooper, Mazda 2 - are mainly for safety purposes.
  • Super Touring Category – The Super Touring Category allows competitors to make modifications (the addition of wings, engine swaps, etc.) to late-model production vehicles such as the Mazda 6, Acura RSX, Honda Civic, Mazda Miata, etc. Within this category, there are two classes – Super Touring Under (STU) and Super Touring Lite (STL) for cars with an engine displacement of less than 2-liters.
  • Sedan Category – There is only one group in the sedan category – American Sedan (AS). American Sedan includes the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang and Cadillac CTS-V. Powered by a Ford 302-cu.in. or GM 305-cu.in. engine these cars are permitted to utilize modified suspensions and upgraded brake packages.
  • Spec Miata – This very popular class is for the Mazda Miata (SM). Miatas produced from 1990 to 2005 compete in this group. Rules are implemented to equalize the competitive advantage of some of the later model years.
  • Prototype Category – These are purpose-built closed wheel race cars. There are three classes within this group – Prototype 1 (P1), Prototype 2 (P2) and Spec Racer Ford Generation 3 (SRF3). Prototype 1 and 2 include a variety of chassis’ which may be constructed by the competitor or a race car manufacturer. There also a wide range of engine options used by the teams. SRF3 is a spec class and teams are not allowed to make any modifications.
  • Formula Category – These are also purpose-built race cars. This is the largest category and includes nine classes – Formula Atlantic (FA), Formula Continental (FC), Formula Mazda (FM), Formula Enterprise (FE), Formula Enterprise 2 (FE2), Formula 1000 (FB), Formula 500 (F5), Formula F (FF) and Formula Vee (FV). There are a variety of rules that govern these open wheel cars.

Sonoma Raceway was the site for the 55th running of the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship Runoffs. The first event at the track was an SCCA weekend held in 1969. Since its opening, the track has hosted many different series (IndyCar, NASCAR, PWC, ALMS, etc.) and forms of motorsport (drag racing, drifting, etc.). There are many different track configurations but the Sports Car Club of America Officials selected the twelve-turn, 2.52-mile circuit.
As usual, there was a large contingent of Formula Vee competitors. Qualifying on the pole was a local competitor, Skip Streets. Sharing the front row with Streets and just 0.680-seconds slower was the six-time class champion, Michael Varacins driving the Speed Sport AM-5 with backing from Speed Sport Engineering. In the race, Vacacins and Streets traded the lead four times with Vacacins taking the title by a mere 0.099-seconds.
In 2017 there were a large number of entries in the STU category but at this year’s Runoffs, there were only ten starters. Leading the way was Kevin Boehm in the HPD, Acuity Instruments and Carbotech sponsored Honda Civic. Boehm who won the class title topped the qualifying sheets in two of the three sessions and started from the pole. Despite an incident on the first lap, he led flag-to-flag.
Formula Mazda competitor, Bryce Cornet dominated the three qualifying sessions and saved the best for the last – recording a time of 1.37:598. Starting from the pole Cornet jumped into the lead. A full-course caution allowed the field to bunch up and get another shot at him but he led the entire twenty-laps and won by a margin of 18.840-seconds. This was Cornet’s first National Championship in his first attempt.
Another driver to earn his first SCCA National title was Spencer Trenery. Trenery was racing in the GT2 class driving a Chevrolet Camaro. Taking advantage of his local track knowledge, he started on the pole. Trenery lost the race lead on the first lap to the Ford Mustang of Andrew Aquilante but retook the top spot for the final time on lap-7 when Aquilante retired. The victory was just the much sweeter as it occurred on his birthday.
A couple of heavy hitters were on the front row for the American Sedan event – Andy McDermid (eight-National titles) and John Heinricy (thirteen-National championships). McDermid driving the WeatherTech Ford Mustang led the first five-laps until he lost a wheel. Then third place starter, Drew Cattell inherited first place but lost the top position to the eventual winner, Heinricy on lap-15 in turn-eleven.
Another flag-to-flag winner was Tim Day in the Prototype 2 category. With support from Mere Mortal, GDRE and Summit, Day’s Stohr WF1 powered Suzuki was quickest in two of the qualifying sessions – he did not participate in the second round of qualifying. It was almost a perfect race for Day – he led flag-to-flag and won by a margin of 7.852-seconds but the fastest race lap was set by second-place finisher, Jeff Shafer.
The F Production race provided some redemption for Joe Huffaker. Huffaker was favoured to win the GT Lite contest held the day before but retired after completing only one-lap. In Saturday’s F Production event, he started on the pole – 1.503-seconds quicker than the second fastest qualifier, Brian Linn. On the way to his tenth title, Huffaker ran a perfect race – led all laps, set the fastest race lap and took the victory by 34.284-seconds.
The Touring 2 group enters Sonoma Raceway’s corner two on the first lap. Leading the way are the Fall-Line Motorsports teammates, John Kachadurian and Mark Boden. Kachadurian in the silver Porsche 911/996 was the pole-sitter and captured the gold medal. Boden driving the blue Porsche chased Kachadurian to the finish line. Twenty-eight Touring 2 drivers started the contest and five entrants failed to finish.
The B-Spec category was dominated by Oscar Jackson. Jackson was driving the No. 46 Ford Fiesta topped the time charts during each of the qualifying sessions. He took control of the contest early but a late race charge by Jake Pipal in a Mazda 2 threatened his chances of winning a second National title. Jackson prevailed and captured the championship. Of note: nine drivers were faster than the existing track record.
Derek Kulach driving a Nissan 350Z won the 2016 and 2017 Touring 3 National championship. However, the prognosticators at ‘SportCar’ magazine did not choose Kulach to capture those two titles. A message on the door on his Nissan reminded the experts of their error and predicted the outcome for the 2018 Touring 3 race. Unfortunately for Kulach, he did not deliver on this year’s promise.
Jason Isley made it two in a row. The 2017 winner of the H Production National Championship earned his second consecutive title at Sonoma Raceway. The Toyota Yaris driver qualified second and shared the front row with the 2015 and 2016 class champion, Brian Linn. Isley took the lead on the first lap but was under pressure from Linn until the eleventh circuit when Linn spun – from there it was ‘clear sailing’ for Isley.
Skip Streets first visit to the Runoffs was in 1986 at Road Atlanta. In 1991, he won his only National Formula Vee Championship. Streets was favoured to take his second title as the race was being contested on his home track. And, there was a reason for him to be optimistic as he captured the pole. Streets led the first eight laps of the race but could not hold off eventual winner, Michael Varacins and finished second.
John Heinricy won his fourteenth National title on Friday in the American Sedan class. The following day, Heinricy was entered in the Touring 4 category driving the No. 35 Toyota 86. He was gridded second for the start but got by the pole-sitter, Gresham Wagner on the second lap. Wagner pressured Heinricy for the remainder the race but Heinricy held on for the victory and another gold medal.
The opening lap of the Formula Continental contest eliminated four competitors. Contact in turn two between front row starters, Timothy de Silva and Robert Armington also led to the retirement of Tom Hope and Paul Rodler. Mitch Egner, Paul Marino and Jason Reichert all took turns leading the race but it was Reichert driving the No. 32 Van Diemen RF03 who led the final four laps and won the title in his first attempt.
Touring 2 was a battle between the Fall-Line teammates, John Kachadurian and Mark Boden. Kachadurian captured the pole and just 0.266-seconds behind him was Boden. At the start, the two Porsche drivers distanced themselves from the remainder of the field. Boden pressured Kachadurian for twenty-laps but could not find a way by – this was Kachadurian’s second National Championship.
Rubbing is racin’. At the start of the E Production race the pole-sitter, Glen McCready in a Mazda MX-5 was passed by the eventual winner, Matt Reynolds and the Mazda RX-3 of Aaron Downey. Contesting second place, McCready and Downey went through the ‘Esses’ side-by-side making contact numerous times. McCready lost the battle and finished fourth while Downey was third at the checkered flag.
Mirl Swan collected his third National Championship at Sonoma Raceway. Competing in the Formula Atlantic class, he drove a Swift 016 powered by a Mazda engine with backing from Swan Motorsports and Hoosier tires. Starting on the pole, Swan jumped into the lead and despite two restarts he was never challenged and won by a margin of 7.685-seconds.
The front row for the Prototype 1 category was set on the opening day of qualifying. Taking the pole was Todd Slusher in a Mazda powered Elan DP02. Sharing the front row with Slusher was Jim Davenport in the No. 23 Norma Auto Concept M20. Slusher was the first retiree and sixth place starter Perry Richardson took control of the race until lap-17 when he was passed by a hard-charging Davenport for the gold medal.
The Spec Racer Ford Gen3 race was a battle between Robson Clay Russell and the five-time National Champion, Mike Miserendino. The pair started on the front row with Russell capturing the pole by 0.002-seconds. During the contest, they swapped the lead numerous times with Miserendino out front for five laps. Russell grabbed first place for good on the seventh circuit and despite pressure from Miserendino won his first gold medal.
In his four Runoff appearances GT3 competitor, Collin Jackson has been victorious four times. Each of the Canadian’s championship has been relatively easy, until this year. The driver of the No. 53 Speciality Engineering/Goodyear sponsored Nissan 240SX would be challenged by nine-time gold medal winner, Michael Lewis. Lewis qualified on the pole but Jackson slipped by on the first lap and led flag-to-flag.
Any hope for a National title looked bleak for GT-Lite favourite, Troy Ermish after his Datsun 510 suffered severe damage during the first day of qualifying. The team took the car back to their shop and had it ready for the final session. Their effort paid off as Ermish started on the pole. In the race, his main threat, Joe Huffaker retired on the first lap – unchallenged, Ermish won by over half a minute.
The Formula 500 class was poorly subscribed - only five entries took the Starter’s green flag. Jeff Jorgenson started on the pole and traded first place many times with David Lapham. Jorgenson’s day ended on lap-15 when he made contact with a Formula F car. Lapham was first to the checkered flag but his Suzuki motor failed post-race tech. As a result, Lance Spiering inherited the win and National Championship.
Many drivers were looking for redemption based on their results at previous Runoff events. One such entrant was Formula F competitor, Jonathon Kotyk who ran with the lead pack at Indianapolis in 2017 but finished fourth. Kotyk came prepared and he demonstrated it by topping the time sheets in the three qualifying sessions. On the way to his first National title, he led the entire race and set the fastest lap.
In the very competitive Spec Miata class local driver, Mark Drennan started second in a field of forty-eight entries – the largest group at this year’s Runoffs. Drennan passed the pole-sitter, Ken Sutherland on the first lap in corner two. From there, he drove a perfect race and gapped the field in his No Wife No Kids/ TFB Performance / WRR Miata. Drennan won his first National Championship by a margin of 9.625-seconds.
Another driver to deliver a dominant performance was Super Touring Lite competitor, Danny Steyn. The Floridian drove the No. 9 Mazda Miata with backing from Ocean Machinery, OPM and G-Loc. Steyn captured the pole position by 0.922-seconds. On the way to his first gold medal, he led start-to-finish, set a new track record for the class and won by a margin of 13.644-seconds.
Only fifteen-years-old but Mark Snyder was making his second Runoffs appearance. School commitments prevented, Snyder from participating in practice and the first qualifying session. That seemed to be of little consequence as he put the Snyder Brothers Racing SCCA Mazda FE on the pole. Delivering a dominant performance, Snyder led all twenty-laps of the FE race and won by a comfortable 16.379-second margin.
The Formula 1000 contest was anything but a routine race. The pole-sitter, J.R. Osborne led the race until he retired on lap-7. Then Rod Rice who spun on the pace lap was in first place. Rice spun again and lost the position but was back out front at the checkered flag. Unfortunately for Rice, he was penalized three spots after the event. Gary Hickman driving a Phoenix F1K.12 inherited the win and National Championship.
Spec Racer Ford Gen3 competitor, Mike Miserendino had five Spec Racer Ford National titles to his credit – in fact, he a string of them from 2006 to 2009. At this year’s Runoffs, Miserendino used his local track knowledge to qualify second. He led five laps during the race but could not match the pace of the pole-sitter, Robeson Clay Russell and was in the runner-up position at the checkered flag.
The 2018 SCCA Runoffs at Sonoma Raceway kicked off with the GT1 group. The favourite to win the gold medal was the Trans Am veteran, Michael Lewis. Entering the event, Lewis had eight National titles, five of these championships were earned in GT1. He started from the pole and pulled away from the field. However, Lewis’ lead shrunk during the final laps but held to win another title in his Jaguar XKR.
History was due to repeat itself in the case of Matt Reynolds. Reynolds was victorious in the E Production class at the 2014 and 2016 Runoffs. So it should follow that he would win in 2018 and that’s what he did. Driving the No. 71 Mazda Miata with support from Reynolds Brothers Racing and Hoosier tires, he qualified on the outside of the front row. Reynolds jumped into the lead at the start and won by 23.006-seconds.
The first lap for the 2018 Spec Miata National Championship race at Sonoma Raceway. The second fastest qualifier, Mark Drennan in the blue No. 10 Mazda Miata has gotten the better of the pole-sitter, Ken Sutherland and led the field into corner two. Drennan would maintain first place for the duration of the event – Sutherland would finish ninth. There were a total of forty-eight starters - the largest race group at the Runoffs.
Formula Enterprises 2 was one of three race groups that competed with more than one class. Their event also included the Formula Enterprise category – the same chassis but different engines. Flinn Lazier, son of Buddy Lazier who won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and 2000 IRL Championship, earned the pole on the final day of qualifying. Lazier took control of the contest at the drop of the green flag and won his first gold medal.
Marshall Mast captured the Touring 3 pole position in a Ford Mustang GT prepared by Phoenix Performance. Starting on the outside of the first row was the new Spec Miata champion, Mark Drennan. Mast led the first eleven-laps before being passed by Drennan for a single circuit. Mast moved back into the lead but could not shake Drennan. However, he was able to hold him off and secure the Touring 3 title.
Eight-time SCCA National Champion, Andrew Aquilante won the Touring 1 pole driving the Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Corvette. But Aquilante would not add another National title to his racing resume in 2018. Stealing the spotlight would be the second fastest qualifier, Kristofer Olson. Olson driving an Acura NSX Turbo prepared to World Challenge specifications took the lead on lap one and ‘never looked back.’
A field to thirty-nine Spec Racer Ford Gen3 competitors heads for corner two on the first lap of their National Championship race. Leading the way is the second fastest qualifier and five-time Spec Racer Ford National titlist, Mike Miserendino. Tucking in behind Miserendino is the pole-sitter, Roberson Clay Russell. The pair swapped the lead many times but Russell was in first place at the checkered flag.

CLASSGOLDSILVERBRONZE
GT1Michael Lewis / Jaguar XKRPreston Calvert / Porsche GT3Michele Abbate / Chevrolet SS
GT2R. Spencer Trenery / CamaroBrad McAllister / Ford MustangPreston Calvert / Corvette
GT3Collin Jackson / Nissan 240SXMichael Lewis / Mazda RX-7Taz Harvey / Mazda RX-7
GTLTroy Ermish / Datsun 510Joe Harlan / Nissan 240SXJonathan Goodale / Mazda MX-5
E ProductionMatt Reynolds / Mazda MiataJoe Moser / Honda PreludeAaron Downey / Mazda RX-3
F ProductionJoe Huffaker - MG MidgetBob Bradfield / Volvo P1800Charlie Campbell / Mazda Miata
H ProductionJason Isley / Toyota YarisBrian Linn / MG MidgetBen Valentine / MG Midget
Formula AtlanticMirl Swan / Swift 016aAntony Opheim / Ralt RT-41Graham Rankin / Swift 014
Formula 1000Gary Hickman / Phoenix F1K.12James Michael / Stohr F1000Mark Nixon / Stohr F1000
Formula ContinentalJason Reichert / Van DiemenRobert Negron / Van DiemenG Scott Vreeland / Van Diemen
Formula EMark Snyder / Van Diemen FEJustin Huffman / Van Diemen FEJohn Yeatman / Van Diemen FE
Formula E2Flinn Lazier / Van Diemen FE2Liam Snyder / Van Diemen FE2Scott Rettich / Van Diemen FE2
Formula MazdaBryce Cornet / Formula MazdaMike Anderson / Formula MazdaJarret Voorhies / Formula Mazda
Formula FJonathon Kotyk / MygaleTim Kautz / Piper DF3DChuck Horn / Swift
Formula 500Lance Spiering / KBS MK VIIF Russell Strate, Jr. / Scorpion S-1John W. Walbran / Scorpion 2006
Formula VeeMichael Varacins / Speed SportSkip Streets / Mysterian M4Alex Scaler / Mysterian CM2
Prototype 1Jim Devenport / Norma M20FCPerry Richardson / Stohr WF-1Tim Day Jr / Stohr WF-1
Prototype 2Tim Day Jr / Stohr WF-1Jeff Shafer / Radical SR3Perry Richardson / Stohr
Spec Racer Ford3Robeson Clay Russell / SRF3Mike Miserendino / Spec Racer3Bobby Sak / SRF3
American SedanJohn Heinricy / CamaroDrew Cattell / Cadillac CTS-VDaniel Richardson / Camaro
B-SpecOscar Jackson / Ford FiestaJake Pipal / Mazda 2Brandon Vivian / Chevrolet Sonic
Spec MiataMark Drennan / Mazda MiataTristan Littlehale / Mazda MiataChris Haldeman / Mazda Miata
Super Touring LiteDanny Steyn / Mazda MX-5Craig McHaffie / Mazda MX-5Cliff Ira / Acura Integra GSR
Super Touring UnderKevin Boehm / Honda CivicIan Barberi / BMW M3Nicolai Elghanayan / Lotus Exige
Touring 1Kristofer Olson / Acura NSXAndrew Aquilante / CorvetteDarrell Anderson / Ford Mustang GT
Touring 2John Kachadurian / PorscheMark Boden / Porsche 997Kurt Rezzetano / Corvette
Touring 3Marshall Mast / MustangMark Drennan / BMW Spec E46Eddie Nakato / BMW 330Ci
Touring 4John Heinricy / Toyota 86Gresham Wagner / Mazda MX-5Ross Murray / Mazda RX-8

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