1996 was the thirty-third edition of the Runoffs and the third visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event boasted ten hours of TV coverage on Speedvision from Saturday and Sunday’s events.

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

  • Production Category – There are four classes in the production category – E Production (EP), F Production (FP), G Production (GP) and H Production (HP). These production-based vehicles are grouped according to their performance potential. Sports cars such as the MGB, Porsche 914, Alfa Romeo Spider, MG Midget, etc., are most often associated with this category.
  • Grand Touring Category – Five classes are identified as Grand Touring – they include Grand Touring 1 (GT1), Grand Touring 2 (GT2), Grand Touring 3 (GT3), Grand Touring 4 (GT4) and Grand Touring 5 (GT5). These vehicles are also grouped according to their performance potential. The quickest class, GT1 features cars such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette, while at the other end of the spectrum, GT5 includes the Mini Cooper and Honda Civic. These vehicles are allowed a larger number of modifications than the production category.
  • Showroom Stock – Three Showroom Stock categories, Showroom Stock A (SSA), Showroom Stock B (SSB), and Showroom Stock C (SSC), were created by the SCCA to accommodate performance street cars with a minimum amount of modifications required to race. Changes to these vehicles are for safety purposes.
  • Sports Racers – These are purpose-built closed-wheel race cars. There are four classes within this group – C Sports Racer (CSR), D Sports Racer (DSR), Sports 2000 (S2) and Spec Racer Ford (SRF). Sports Racers include a variety of chassis’ which may be constructed by the competitor or a race car manufacturer. Several chassis available to Sports 2000 teams; however, they must use a 2.0-liter Ford engine. Spec Racer Ford is tightly controlled, with all drivers competing with the same chassis/engine combination.
  • Formula Category – These are also purpose-built race cars. This category includes five classes – Formula Atlantic (FA), Formula Continental (FC), Formula Ford (FF), Formula (F440) and Formula Vee (FV). There are a variety of rules that govern these open-wheel cars.
  • American Sedan - This division is comprised of Chevrolet Camaros, Pontiac Firebirds and Ford Mustangs. They use the production-based chassis with modifications to the suspension and brakes.
  • Touring 1 – The newest class is Touring 1, which includes the former Showroom Stock GT vehicles and the quicker Showroom Stock A cars. Showroom Stock A competitors are allowed performance enhancements to ensure parity.

Practice and qualifying were conducted in mixed conditions, but the three days of racing were held under clear and sunny skies.

Twenty-seven G Production competitors head for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Esses for lap one of the National Championship race. Leading the field is the pole-sitter, Vic Skirmants, in the No. 78 356 Enterprises Porsche 356A. Immediately behind Skirmants is the third-place starter Dean Johnson driving the No. 35 Triumph Spitfire. Beside Johnson is the No. 26 MGA of Kent Prather, who qualified second.
The top three G Production finishers in last year’s national championship event were at the front of the grid in 1996. On the pole was Vic Skirmants, followed by the defending class title holder, Kent Prather and Dean Johnson. Skirmants would lead the first three laps before giving way to Prather. Johnson moved to the lead on the eleventh circuit. Skirmants and Prather battled while Johnson won by a margin of 10.7-seconds.
Mission accomplished for David Kaiser at the 1996 Runoffs. Kaiser, who won the D Sports Racing title the last two years was in a position to tie the record for three consecutive championships former class competitors Paul Decker and Travis Duder. He began by putting the No. 25 LeGrand Mk25D on the pole. At the start of the race, Kaiser moved into the lead and increased his gap with each lap to take the title.
The first lap into the ‘Esses’ for the GT5 competitors and the pole-sitter, Jamie Houseman, in the No. 33 Houseman Autosport Honda CRX has broken away from the twenty-two car field. Behind Houseman, the No. 46 Pace Trailers / Draw Tite Nissan 210 of the outside front starter, Jim Rauck and the third-fastest qualifier, Kirk Olson, in the No. 9 Performance Machine Works Honda CRX battle for position.
Canadian Jamie Houseman made his first visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the GT5 Invitational at the Buckeye National weekend. Driving the No. 33 Honda CRX, he finished second to local racer Jim Rauck. It appears that just one visit to Mid-Ohio was all Houseman needed to succeed at the Runoffs. He qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag despite coming under pressure from Rauck late in the contest.
In 1996, Dave Weitzenhof’s entered his twenty-seventh Runoffs. Since 1971 Weitzenhof has collected ten medals, of which six were gold. This season, he was competing in the Formula Continental category driving the No. 67 Citation 95SF. Weitzenhof qualified ninth and during the race, he moved forward. By the final lap, Weitzenhof had caught the leader, Justin Pritchard. Unfortunately for him, the event ended under yellow.
It was predicted that there would be an epic battle in E Production for the gold medal, but it never materialized. Dave Headley put his MGB on the pole but retired on the first lap. The second fastest qualifier Sam Halkias moved his Triumph TR6 into the top spot. However, Halkias lost a rocker arm on the fifth circuit allowing the No. 36 Fiat Spider of John Baucom to take the lead. Baucom won by a margin of 17.27-seconds.
Michael Lewis’ Mazda RX-7 sits in parc ferme displaying the battle scars of a hard-fought victory for the GT3 National Championship. Lewis qualified on the pole. During the race, he was challenged by the No. 98 Toyota Paseo of the third-fastest qualifier of Pete Peterson. On lap 14, there was contact between the two drivers allowing Peterson to cross the finish line first. However, he was disqualified and Lewis was awarded the win.
Leading the field of American Sedan entries through the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Carousel turn for the first lap is the second-fastest qualifier, Scott Olsen, in the No. 31 Ford Mustang. Behind Olsen is the Chevrolet Camaro of the ninth-place starter Steve Kelso. On the fifteenth circuit, there was contact between the two. Kelso grabbed the lead and would take the victory. Olson would spin but recover to finish seventh.
The first lap into the ‘Esses’ and the ‘fireworks’ has already begun for the Formula Atlantic competitors. The pole-sitter, Robert Sollenskog, was hit by the Ralt RT-4 of the third-fastest qualifier, Kevin Firlein. Sollenskog would recover and charge from the back of the field to finish in the sixth position. Firlein and three others would retire. Capitalizing on the incident was Steve Forrer, who grabbed the win.
The GT2 race was a contest between Duane Davis in the No. 0 Toyota Celica and the Porsche 944 of David Finch. Davis’ racing resume included seven National titles while Finch has four championships. Finch qualified on the pole and Davis started beside him. Finch led the first fourteen laps, but it was apparent that Davis had the quicker car. On the fifteenth circuit, Davis took the lead and earned his eighth gold medal.
The pace lap through Mid-Ohio’s Carousel turn for the Formula Ford National Championship event. On the pole is the No. 75 Tru-Bore sponsored Van Diemen RF92 of Jon Horgas. On the outside of Horgas is Dan Rinehart driving a Swift DB-1. The second row is occupied by the Swift DB-1 of Bruce May and Dennis Hoinig. Twenty-five drivers started the contest, with all but three completing the full nineteen laps.
In a sea of Swift DB-1, Jon Horgas put his Van Diemen RF92 on the Formula Ford pole. The next quickest Van Diemen entry started in the fifteenth position and was driven by Jason Byers. Horgas led the first thirteen laps of the race but spun in the Carousel in an effort to keep the competition from passing him. He would finish in the fourth position with the Swift BD-1 of Bruce May, earning the National title.
Jack Baumgardner made his first Runoffs start in 1969 and had his best result the following year when he finished seventh in C Sedan. It is easy to identify Baumgardner as he has always campaigned a red Mini Cooper S with a checkered roof. However, earlier in the season, he debuted a new rear-wheel-drive Mini. The car fitted with an MG Midget motor and Nissan transmission finished sixteenth at this year’s event.
The pole-sitter and defending GT4 champion, Russ Theus in the No. 37 Toyota Tercel, leads the field of twenty-four competitors on the pace lap through the Carousel turn at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Sharing the outside of the front row is the No. 18 Mazda GLC of Steven Lisa. Behind the leaders are the No. 61 Opel GT of the third-fastest qualifier, Thomas Drake and Rusty Bell driving the No. 89 Toyota Tercel.
It was no surprise that the reigning GT4 National Champion, Russ Theus, was the fastest qualifier in the No. 37 Dunn Welding / Toyota Motorsport sponsored Toyota Tercel. He was also favoured to repeat his 1995 performance. However, during the morning warm-up, Theus had a mechanical failure and his motor had to be replaced. Unfortunately, the backup engine overheated during the race and he retired on lap-12.
After a two-year absence, Warren Montague entered his second Runoffs. The driver of the No. 32 Toyota Corolla qualified seventh fastest. He was on the move early and by lap-5 Montague, was in the second position. With the leader, Russ Theus, retiring, Montague inherited the top spot. However, he was now under pressure for the Datsun 510 of John Olsen. Able to defend his position, he captured the GT4 title.
The first lap through the ‘Esses’ for the new Touring 1 category. Leading the field of eighteen starters is the Pontiac Formula of the pole-sitter, Grant Carter. Making a trip through the grass is the Chevrolet Camaro of Mike Pettiford. Touring 1 was not without its controversy. After the race, the top four finishers failed to make it through the tech shed. The gold medal went to last year’s A Sedan champion, Kerry Alexander.

GT1Max Lagod / Chevrolet CamaroMichael Lewis / Ford MustangDon Meluzio / Chevrolet Camaro
GT2Duane Davis / Toyota CelicaDavid Finch / Porsche 944Tom Patton / Sunbeam Tiger
GT3Michael Lewis / Mazda RX-7Gary Bockman / Mazda RX-3Stacy Wilson / Mazda RX-7
GT4Warren Montague / Toyota CorollaJohn Olsen / Datsun 510Juan Montalvo Jr / Nissan B210
GT5Jamie Houseman / Honda CRXJim Rauck / Nissan 210Bill Gilcrease / Mini Cooper S
E ProductionJohn Baucom / Fiat SpiderBob Boig / Mazda MiataVictor Skirmants / Porsche 356B
F ProductionJim Saurino / MG MidgetHarold Flescher / A-H MidgetBobby Wolf / MG Midget
G ProductionDean Johnson / Triumph SpitfireVictor Skirmants / Porsche 356Kent Prather / MGA
H ProductionMichael Feavel / A-H SpriteBrian Linn / A-H SpriteChester Niemczycki / A-H Sprite
Formula AtlanticSteve Forrer / Ralt RT-40Paul LeCain / Swift DB-4Ahsen Yelkin / Ralt RT-41
FormulaContinentalJustin Pritchard / Van DiemanDavid Weitzenhof / Citation 95SFAndy Lally / Van Diemen
Formula FordBruce May / Swift DB-1Joe Parsons / Swift DB-1John LaRue / Swift DB-1
Formula 440Jack Bennett / Zink Z19Wesley Wilfong / SidewinderHowell Jones / Reflex KBS
Formula VeeJacques Lazier / Mysterian M2Bill Wallschlaeger / Laser MKIIJim Kearney / Protoform
C Sports RacerJeff Miller / WynnFurst LolaTom Foster / Tracer TR-2Al Beasley Jr. / Beasley B2
D Sports RacerDavid Kaiser / LeGrand MK25DGlen Wild / FoxNancy James / A-Mac Tj
Spec RacerJohn Hollansworth/Spec RacerTom Van Camp / Spec RacerRichard Kennedy / Spec Racer
Spec Racer FordWarren Stilwell / SRFJames Goughary / SRFKeith Scharf / SRF
Shelby Can AmJeffrey Tyler / SCATom Kraft / SCAEd Rawles / SCA
Sports 2000Andrea Kasiewicz / Lola 88/90David Downey / Lola 90Owen Trinkler / Shannon 93SP
Touring 1Kerry Alexander / Chevrolet CamaroThomas Oates / Chevrolet CamaroBrian Kelm / Pontiac Trans Am
Showroom Stock AMark Youngquist / VW CorradoTerry Coates / VW CorradoBill Fenton / Honda Prelude
Showroom Stock BDavid Daughtery / Nissan 240SXJeff Altenburg / Mazda MiataHarry Manning / Mazda Miata
Showroom Stock CPaul Bonaccorsi / Plymouth NeonKevin Adams / Honda CivicEric Heuschele / Plymouth Neon
American SedanSteve Kelso / Chevrolet CamaroJay Morris / Chevrolet CamaroSteve Tollefson / Chevrolet Camaro

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