1998 was the thirty-fifth edition of the Runoffs and the fifth visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event boasted 614 entrants spread across twenty-four classes.

There are National Championships for twenty-four 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 – Two Showroom Stock categories, Showroom Stock B (SSB) and Showroom Stock C (SSC) was 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 are 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 Mazda (FM), Formula (F500) and Formula Vee (FV). There are a variety of rules that govern these open-wheel cars.
  • Touring – The Touring class was created to accommodate the new high-performance cars produced by the automakers. Touring 1 (T1) features vehicles such as Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang Cobra R, Chevrolet Corvette, Acura NSX and Ferrari F355. Touring 2 (T2) is the home to the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Ford Mustang and BMW M3.
  • 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.

Most practice and qualifying were conducted in cool and wet conditions, but the three days of racing were held under clear and sunny skies.

A field of thirty-eight Showroom Stock C competitors enters the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Esses for the first lap of the SCCA National Championships. The first three laps of the contest were led by the second-fastest qualifier and local favourite, David Daughtery. Daughtery was passed by the 1996 class champion, Paul Bonaccorsi, who would lead the remainder of the contest and collect his second gold medal.
The Sports 2000 category belonged to Ohio resident David Downey. The defending class champion piloted the No. 14 Lola T-89/90 that he used to secure last year’s title. In a repeat performance, Downey put the Lola on the pole almost a second faster than the second-place starter, John Fergus. He would lead laps one through nineteen, set the quickest lap of the race and win by a margin of 10.79-seconds.
The first lap of the F Production National Championship through the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Carousel turn. Leading the pack of twenty-four entrants is the No. 77 Huffaker Engineering prepared MG Midget of the pole-sitter, Joe Huffaker. Behind Huffaker is the third-fastest qualifier, Harold Flescher, driving an Austin-Healey Sprite. Trailing the leaders is Craig Chima, who qualified fourth fastest.
On lap-2 of the F Production race, the leader, Joe Huffaker, went wide in the Carousel. The No. 35 MG Midget of the second-place runner, Craig Chima, went under Huffaker. The two made contact, allowing the Austin-Healey Sprite of Harold Flescher to move into the top spot and dropped Huffaker down the running order. Chima lost two positions but was able to continue in third-place.
Joe Huffaker entered the 1998 SCCA Runoffs with two F Production titles to his credit. At this year’s National Championships, Huffaker put the No. 77 Huffaker Engineering / Red Line / Goodyear on the pole. He led the race until lap-2 when an error in the Carousel dropped him to the tenth position. Huffaker charged through the field and by the fourteenth circuit, he was back in first and captured the gold medal.
Lap one through the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Carousel turn for the 1998 GT1 National Championship race. Leading the field is the No. 89 Chevrolet Camaro of the pole-sitter William Gray. Immediately behind Gray is the second-fastest driver Jeff Ervin piloting the No. 36 Ford Mustang. Behind the leaders are the Chevrolet Camaro of Tom Wallace and John Halbing driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass.
William Gray made his Runoffs debut in 1992 at Road Atlanta and finished third in GT1. Before the 1998 SCCA National Championships, he collected two more rostrum results but was yet to find his way to the top of the podium. That changed this year and he did it in style. Gray put the No. 89 Chevrolet Camaro on the pole, set the fastest race lap and won the GT1 title by a margin of 27.96-seconds.
After starting in the second position, B.J. Zacharias left last year’s Runoffs with a gold medal in Formula Continental. In 1998, Zacharias moved to the SCCA’s fastest class, Formula Atlantic. Before the National Championship contest, he had competed and won all seven races entered. Zacharias’ perfect season continued at Mid-Ohio. He started on the pole, set the fastest race lap and led all nineteen circuits.
Touring was expanded into two classes for the 1998 season – T1 and T2. At the front of the Touring 1 category at the Runoffs were the Dodge Vipers of the pole-sitter, Eric Heuschele and the second-fastest qualifier, Jeff Altenburg. Behind the leaders are the No. 8 Steeda Q of Joe Sulentic and Tom Murphy driving a Ferrari F355. This new division only attracted five entries, with four drivers receiving the checkered flag.
The second fastest qualifier in the new Touring 1 category was Jeff Altenburg. Altenburg was a successful Solo competitor but also had an impressive road racing record. At last year’s Runoffs, he swept the Showroom Stock A category in a BMW. At the start, Altenburg grabbed the Touring 1 lead, but his race came to a smokey end in the Carousel on lap-8.
Eric Heuschele won the Showroom Stock C National title in his first attempt driving a Plymouth Neon. The following year, he captured the final spot on the class podium. In 1998, Heuschele replaced the Neon with a Touring 1 Dodge Viper GTS. He would set the fastest time in qualifying but lose the lead of the race to Jeff Altenburg. Heuschele trailed Altenburg until Altenburg retired, allowing him to earn his second gold medal.
Another year and another National Championship for the Spec Racer Ford specialist, Warren Stilwell. Stilwell started his class domination in 1994 and racked up four consecutive Runoffs victories before 1998. As expected, he qualified ahead of the thirty-three starters by a margin of 0.586-seconds in a very competitive class. Stilwell jumped into the lead with the drop of the Starter’s flag and led all nineteen laps.
The 1998 GT3 National Championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course attracted thirty competitors. Exiting the Keyhole is pole-winning No. 24 Nissan 240SX of Ken Murillo. On the outside of Murillo is Michael Cyphert driving the No. 76 Toyota Paseo. The second row is occupied by the No. 21 Nissan 240SX of Fletcher Williams and Milton Grant in the No. 75 Toyota Paseo.
Ken Murillo entered his first SCCA National Championship event with a resume that included open-wheel titles in the Barber Saab Pro Series and Formula Super Vee. This season, Murillo was campaigning a Nissan 240SX in the GT3 category. He qualified on the pole by over 1.5-seconds. Murillo jumped into an early lead and built a comfortable margin while those behind him battled. He easily grabbed his first National title.
Another Runoffs veteran to add to his collection of National Championships was Dave Weitzenhof. Weitzenhof won his first National title in 1972 and stepped on the top step of the rostrum five more times. This season, he was driving the No. 67 Citation 98SF in the Formula Continental category. Weitzenhof qualified third but moved into first place by lap-3. He made it look easy, winning by a margin of 2.704-seconds.
Expecting to challenge for the Formula Continental crown was Mark Dismore, Jr, the son of the IRL competitor, Mark Dismore, the winner of the 1990 Toyota Pacific championship. Dismore started on the outside of the front row in the No. 3 Van Diemen RF98. At the start, he jumped into the lead and held the position until lap-3, when he was passed by the eventual winner, Dave Weitzenhof. He finished second.
The first lap into the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s Carousel turn for the Touring 2 competitors. Trading paint is the No. 44 Ford Mustang of the pole-sitter, Phil Lasco and the other front-row starter, Grant Carter, in the No. 37 Pontiac Formula. Behind the leaders are the BMW M3s of Paul Gargiulo and Douglas Gamble. In the fifth position is Rob Hines in a Firebird. Gargiulo would capture the championship.
1998 was Ben Beasley’s third visit to the Runoffs. His father, Al, had twenty-eight National Championship starts and finished on the podium eleven times, of which two were gold medals. Ben competed in the C Sports Racing class, driving the No. 47 Beasley B2 and qualified behind two-time class champion Jeff Miller. Beasley followed Miller until lap-3 when he made a pass for first and went on to clinch the crown.
Another veteran at this year’s Runoffs was C Sports Racing competitor Jeff Miller. Miller had two gold medals in C Sports Racing and four in D Sports Racing. This season he was driving the No. 0 Kohler sponsored Wynnfurst. Miller grabbed the pole by a margin of 0.701-seconds. He jumped into an early but was passed by Ben Beasley on lap-3. Miller’s brakes began to fade and he would finish in the third position.
Wilson Wright’s previous three starts were in a Honda Civic and his best result was a ninth-place in GT4 at the 1995 Runoffs. During the off-season, Wright replaced the Honda with a Nissan 200SX. He was the fourth-fastest time after the qualifying sessions. At the start of the race, Pete Mumford moved from the second position to the first. On the penultimate lap, Wright passed Mumford for the lead and victory.
The second fastest qualifier in GT4, Pete Mumford, inherited the lead when the pole-winning Honda CRX of Steve Cook broke on the opening lap. However, Mumford was not without his own issues. The No. 55 Nissan 200SX developed a miss which was robbing him of power. Wilson Wright in the No. 9 Nissan 200SX caught Mumford and passed him with two circuits remaining. Mumford finished second.
The H Production National Championship was a battle among three drivers. Coming out on top was last year’s gold medalist Adam Malley. Malley qualified fifth fastest in the No. 7 Honda Civic. The race saw him exchange positions with Austin-Healey Sprites of the pole-sitter, Bob Weber and Steve Hussey. Malley grabbed the lead for the final time on lap-17 and claimed his second title by a margin of 5.693-seconds.
Bob Weber won the 1994 H Production Runoffs race. At this year’s event, Weber put the No. 85 Austin-Healey Sprite on the pole. Unfortunately, he fell to third place on the opening lap but charged back into the top spot on the twelfth circuit. Weber remained in first for two more laps before losing the position to Steve Hussey. Late in the contest, Weber was running second but an error resulted in a third-place finish.
Formula Ford competitor John Larue had three podium finishes in three Runoffs starts, one of which was a victory. Last year, he replaced his Swift DB-1 with a Citation and captured the gold. Larue returned in the No. 17 Citation and qualified second. At the start of the race, Larue and Keith Nunes passed the pole-sitter, Joe Parsons. Then on the eighth circuit, Nunes got by Larue. Unable to move back into first, Larue finished second.
Qualifying second fastest in Grand Touring 2 was James Goughary in the No. 46 Red Line Oil sponsored Nissan 300ZX. Goughary chased the pole-sitter, Tom Patton, driving the No. 50 Sunbeam Tiger for eight laps before passing Patton with an aggressive move in turn eleven. Patton kept the pressure on Goughary, but a spin allowed Goughary to pull away and win his first National title and the 75th for Nissan.
Tom Patton raced the crowd favourite No. 50 Sunbeam Tiger in the Grand Touring 2 category. 1998 would be his fourteenth Runoffs start and his best opportunity to win the National Championship when he qualified on the pole. Patton lost the lead to the eventual winner James Goughary on lap-8. He continued to challenge Goughary until the fourteenth circuit, when he spun. Patton would finish in the second position.
As expected, the final finishing order of the American Sedan National Championship was decided in the Tech shed. Ross Murray put the No. 74 Ford Mustang on the pole. Murray controlled all nineteen laps to secure his first title. Crossing the finishing line in second was the No. 19 Ford Mustang of Keith Mitchell, who failed the post-race technical inspection along with third-place finisher Bob Griffith.
After two consecutive runner-up Runoffs finishes in the Formula 500 category, Wesley Wilfong was ready for a victory. After three qualifying sessions, Wilfong was fifth fastest in the No. 4 Sidewinder. He wasted little time moving to the front and was in second before the end of lap-1. Wilfong was eventually passed by the eventual winner, Ron Vince, and would collect the final position on the podium.
Canadian Jamie Houseman won the 1996 and 1997 GT5 National Championships driving the No. 33 Houseman Autosport Honda CRX. Houseman planned to defend his title until he discovered that he hadn’t qualified. He offered the car to fellow CRX driver Kirk Olson. Olson put the car on the pole by over one second. During the race, he drove away from the field and won by a margin of 26.710-seconds.
G Production championship contender Steve Sargis won two consecutive National titles at Road Atlanta. Since the Runoffs moved to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sargis had collected a pair of runner-up results. He started the 1998 race on the pole. During the nineteen-lap contest, Sargis battled with the Fiat X1/9 of Thomas Reichenbach. With his rear tires used up, he had to settle for another second-place result.
Entering this year’s Runoffs, Bob Boig had one F Production and two G Production gold medals. In 1998, Boig would collect the E Production crown. His previous championships were obtained driving a Fiat X1/9, but he switched to the No. 13 Mazda Miata four years ago. Boig started on the outside of the front row but was in the lead before the end of lap-1. He remained in first-place and won by a margin of 6.464-seconds.

GT1Bill Gray / Chevrolet CamaroKerry Alexander / CamaroDick Greer / Chevrolet Corvette
GT2James Goughary, Sr. / Nissa 300ZXTom Patton / Sunbeam TigerBill Reid / Toyota Celica
GT3Ken Murillo / Nissan 240SXMichael Cyphert / Toyota PaseoFletcher Williams / Nissan 240SX
GT4Wilson Wright / Nissan 200SXPeter Mumford / Nissan 200SXMark Brannon / Mazda GLC
GT5Kirk Olson / Honda CRXJoe Huffaker / Mini Cooper SJim Rauck / Nissan 200SX
E ProductionBob Boig / Mazda MiataGrayson Upchurch / Datsun 240ZRodger Cook / Mazda Miata
F ProductionJoe Huffaker / MG MidgetJim Saurino / MG MidgetGary Johnson / MG Midget
G ProductionTom Reichenbach / Fiat X1/9Steve Sargis / Triumph SpitfireGeorge Bauchman / MG Midget
H ProductionAdam Malley / Honda CivicChester Niemczycki / A-H SpriteBob Weber / A-H Sprite
Formula AtlanticB.J. Zacharias / Ralt RT-41Mark Rodrigues / Ralt RT-41Jason Gregg / Ralt RT-40
FormulaContinentalDavid Weitzenhof / Citation 98SFMark Dismore / Van Diemen RF98Mike Andersen / Van Diemen RF97
Formula FordKeith Nunes / Swift DB-6John LaRue / CitationTodd Bardwell / Swift DB-1
Formula 500Ron Vince / Ramble Bee MK7David Lapham / Invader QC-1Wesley Wilfong / Sidewinder
Formula VeeBrad Stout / ProtoformBill Noble / Caracal DBill Wallschlaeger / Laser MKII
Formula MazdaTony BuffomanteMicky GilbertKevin Roberts
C Sports RacerBen Beasley / Beasley B2John Cahill / Beasley B2Jeff Miller / WynnFurst Lola
D Sports RacerTravis Duder / Cheetah SR-1Al Beasley Jr. / Beasley B2Michael Rupert / Lola AMW
Spec Racer FordWarren Stilwell / SRFBarney Moen / SRFRobert Sak / SRF
Sports 2000David Downey / Lola T-89/90John Fergus / CarbirAlexander Smith / Miller RM-2
Touring 1Eric Heuschele / Dodge ViperJoe Sulentic / Steeda QTom Murphy / Ferrari F355
Touring 2Paul Gargiulo / BMW M3Steve Alexander / Chevrolet CamaroBrian Kelm / Ford Mustang
Showroom Stock BDavid Daughtery / Mazda MiataDavid Roush / Mazda MiataRobert Schrader / Mazda Miata
Showroom Stock CPaul Bonaccorsi / Mazda ProtegeKen Payson / Nissan 200SXNeal Sapp / Nissan 200SX
American SedanRoss Murray / Ford MustangGlenn Boros / Ford MustangJerry Post / Chevrolet Camaro

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