The Sports Car Club of America’s 1999 Runoffs was one of their strongest events to date. The published numbers indicated that there were 598-entries and 578-starters. But this year’s edition of the Runoffs will be remembered for the weather. Practice and qualifying took place in ideal conditions, but on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the racers faced overcast skies with the constant threat of rain. Most of the drivers were confronted with wet conditions, which resulted in some exciting races and unpredictable results.

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.

The first lap of the Showroom Stock C National Championship race through the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s ‘Carousel’ turn. Leading the twenty-five starters is the pole-sitter, Neal Sapp, in the No. 33 BFG Tires / Jackson Racing Honda Civic. Beside Sapp is the second-fastest qualifier, David Daughtery, driving the No. 00 Hoosier Tires / Red Line Oil Honda Civic. Behind the leaders are Kevin Adams, John Phillips and John Schmitt.
The Showroom Stock C pole-sitter, Neal Sapp, led the opening laps, but on the third circuit, it was the ninth-fastest qualifier Ken Payson who moved to the front. Payson won his first National Championship in 1982, driving a Fiat X1/9; this year, he was racing the No. 5 Nissan 200SER. Payson held the top spot for three laps before being passed by Sapp. Then he fell out of contention and finished in the fifth position.
In 1997, Neal Sapp won the Showroom Stock C National Championship driving a Dodge Neon. Last year, he finished third in a Nissan 200SX SER, but Sapp was competing in a Honda Civic this season. He captured the pole position and led the first two laps before surrendering first place to Ken Payson. On the ninth circuit, Sapp completed an outside move on Payson in the ‘Carousel’ and grabbed the victory.
C Sports Racing competitor Ben Beasley won his second consecutive National Championship. He put the No. 1 Mazda-powered Beasley B-2 on the pole by a margin of almost three seconds. Beasley led the first lap of the race but was passed by the fourth-fastest qualifier, Tom Nelson. Beasley moved into first on the next circuit. Nelson kept the pressure on until he spun on lap-5; from there, Beasley drove to his second title.
Richard Ciochon qualified second fastest for the American Sedan race. Ciochon drove the No. 15 McGee Motorsports prepared Chevrolet Camaro. He grabbed the lead at the start when the pole-sitter, Martin Shook, pulled off the course. He would hold down first place before being passed by Eric Curran. Ciochon would lose more positions, but the disqualification of Robin Burnett gave him a bronze medal.
Eric Curran won the rain-shortened American Sedan National Championship in his first attempt. Driving the No. 4 BHP / Goodyear Tires Chevrolet Camaro, Curran qualified fifth fastest. He was in third place before the end of lap one and passed the leader, Richard Ciochon, shortly after that. Despite pressure from the Ford Mustang, Curran held the top spot to win by the slim margin of 0.448-seconds.
The pole for the final race of the Runoffs was won by Jeff Ervin. Ervin competed in the No. 8 Mel Ervin Ford sponsored Ford Mustang. The race was contested on a drying track. He lost the lead on lap-2 to the Mustang of newcomer Juan Leroux, but two circuits later, he was in the top spot. Leroux and Ervin traded first place five-time during the event. Ervin was in second when the checkered flag was shown.
Juan Leroux won the GT1 National title in his first attempt. Leroux drove the No. 14 Hoerr Racing Products Ford Mustang and started in the third position. Some of his success could be attributed to the coaching he received from Trans Am veteran Irv Hoerr. Leroux’s Mustang was also unique. The car was powered by a V6; therefore lighter than the competition. He battled in damp conditions with Jeff Ervin for the victory.
Starting on the pole in Formula Atlantic was local racer, Larry Connor. His Ralt RT-41 used the pro setup, which used fuel injection. Although he was the fastest qualifier, he could not match the straight-line speed of eventual winner Brian French. The fuel-injection option had better drivability allowing Connor to keep within striking distance - at the checker, he was 1.49-seconds behind French.
Brian French qualified second in Formula Atlantic driving a Ralt RT-41. There were plenty of Ralts available in 1999 as the Pro Formula Atlantic series used the new Swift chassis. At the club level, Atlantic cars with carburetors were 50-lbs lighter than their pro counter-parts and competed without a rev limiter. French chose to go with the carburetor option. He jumped into the lead at the start and led flag-to-flag to score his first title.
Qualifying on the E Production pole was Grayson Upchurch in the No. 6 Datsun 240Z. Upchurch jumped into the lead and pulled away from the field until there was a full-course caution on lap-4. When the race restarted, he felt some pressure. The ‘man on the move’ was Bob Endicott. With all the incidents during the contest, the event was shorted to ten laps. On the final circuit, Upchurch went wide and was passed by Endicott.
E Production competitor Bob Endicott was having a successful 1999. In September, the Honda employee won the G Stock Solo II National title in an Acura Integra Type R. At this year’s Runoffs, Endicott competed in the No. 67 Honda Prelude. He qualified ninth-fastest, but his car was suited for the wet conditions. On the final, lap Endicott passed the leader, Grayson Upchurch, for the lead and gold medal.
Qualifying on the Touring 2 pole was Tom Oates. Oates was driving the No. 99 Tom Oates Chevy sponsored Chevrolet Camaro. At the start of the race, he was passed by the other front-row starter Rob Hines. The two ran nose-to-tail with Oates moving to the top spot with an aggressive pass entering the ‘Esses.’ However, Hines would take first place when the two were lapping backmarkers. Oates finished second.
The No. 4 Red Line Oil Chevrolet Camaro of Rob Hines started on the outside of the front row. Hines made an excellent start and beat the pole-sitter, Tom Oates, to the first corner. He would lead laps-1 to 6. Oates made a daring pass into the ‘Esses’ for first place and was in front for ten circuits. However, lapped traffic worked to Hines advantage and he grabbed the lead. He would hold the position to the checkered flag.
In his fifteenth attempt, Tom Patton collected his first National GT2 championship. Patton’s record included four podium finishes, of which one was a runner-up result. He qualified second fastest in the No. 50 Michel Tire/Ellison Engines Sunbeam Tiger and grabbed the lead on the opening lap. The car ran flawlessly and Patton pulled away from the twenty-one competitors to win by a margin of 14.79-seconds.
Qualifying second in Formula Ford was the Citation FF of John LaRue. At the start, LaRue was able to pass pole-sitter Keith Nunes and lead the race for the first 12-laps. Unfortunately for LaRue, he selected a softer compound tire and his car did not handle as well as those of his competitors. He was able to hold on for second and also managed to record the fastest race lap.
Mark Jaremko drove the new STOHR FF99 in Formula Ford. The Runoffs was only the car’s fifth race and its ongoing development meant it could qualify no better than eleventh. But some steady driving by Jaremko and bad luck for his competitors resulted in a third-place finish and the bronze medal.
Keith Nunes entered the 1999 Runoffs with an impressive record – 1998 National Formula Ford Champion and winner of every National race he entered in 1999. He raced a Formula Continental Swift DB-6, which was converted to Formula Ford specs. As could be predicted, Nunes was the fastest qualifier but ran third for much of the race. By lap-13, he led the field and despite a late-race caution, Nunes would win.
The pole-sitter for the G Production contest was Kevin Allen, who piloted the No. 44 Triumph Spitfire with backing from Eagle Industries. Despite using slick tires on a wet track, Allen led the field for the first nine laps. However, on the next circuit, he was passed by Steve Sargis. Unable to retake the lead, Allen came under pressure from last year’s champion, Thomas Reichenbach, but he was able to claim a runner-up result.
On the opening lap of the G Production contest, the third-place starter, Steve Sargis, spun and fell to the twelfth position. Undeterred, the driver of the No. 18 SBS Batteries sponsored Triumph Spitfire started his charge forward. Sargis caught and passed the race leading Triumph Spitfire of Kevin Allen in corner twelve by the tenth circuit. He went unchallenged and earned his first gold medal by a margin of 3.217-seconds.
There was a lot of contact in this year’s S2000 National Championship race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. And, with so many incidents, several protests were filed and the final results were not posted until Sunday evening. When the dust settled, John Fergus, who crossed the finish line first, was declared the winner. Fergus, who qualified on the pole, drove from the back of the field after lap one contact.
Five-time National Champion David Daughtery added another Showroom Stock B title to his racing resume. Daughtery qualified behind the pole-winning Mazda Miata of Eric Morehouse but grabbed the lead on the first lap. Wet conditions resulted in many caution periods and the contest shortened to eight laps. Morehouse never got a chance to redeem himself and Daughtery held the top spot for the gold medal.
John Black put last year’s championship winning GT3 Nissan 240SX on the pole. During the race, Black battled with the second-fastest qualifier, Michael Cyphert, in the No. 76 Toyota Paseo. Cyphert moved into the lead on lap-7; contact between the two forced Black to retire. With two laps remaining, Cyphert spun in corner eleven. Last year’s runner-up would retire and be classified with a seventeenth-place finish.
Paul Young, Jr. entered the No. 79 Ford Probe in this year’s GT3 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In Young’s previous four visits to the Runoffs, his best result was an eighth-place in 1996. His best qualifying time put him eighth on the starting grid. Young would be a beneficiary of his competition’s misfortune during the race. At the checkered flag, he was third but inherited second when Stacy Wilson was disqualified.
Two-time National GT3 champion, Peter Peterson, struggled with various issues for most of the week but managed to qualify in the fourth position. Early in the race, he chased John Black, Mike Cyphert and Wolf Maike. However, as the faster cars encountered problems and Peterson moved up the race order. Maike retired on lap-7, followed later by Black and Cyphert. He captured his third title by a margin of 0.69-seconds.
Qualifying second in F500 was 1997 National Champion Michael Brent driving an Invader QC-1. Brent ran second for much of the race finishing behind eventual winner Jeff Auberger. Brent and Auberger set a torrid pace – by lap-12 of the 19 lap race, these two drivers had lapped four cars and were 5-seconds clear of the group contesting third place.
Driving the No. 19 KBS MK-8 was Fred Edwards Jr. Edwards was part of a successful team that included Thomas Edwards and 1999 F500 National Champion Jeff Auberger. Edwards Jr. started fourth but fell to eighth early in the race. He finished sixth but set a new lap record for F500, which was 0.303-seconds quicker than the fastest Formula Ford race lap.
Starting on the pole for the F500 race was Aaron Ellis driving a Red Devil T-29. He was able to lead the first lap but fell down the order quickly and retired after completing only 3-laps – he was classified in twenty-ninth. Ellis would get redemption in 2000 – winning his first National Championship by 11.94-seconds.
Jeff Auberger started third in F500 but made an excellent start leading the field through the Esses. But he was passed before the end of the first lap by pole-sitter Aaron Ellis in a Red Devil T-29. Auberger put his KBS MK-8.5 back out front on lap-2 to lead the remaining laps. His margin of victory was 1.225-seconds over Mike Brent in an Invader QC-1.
Bob Weber won the H Production pole position early in the week, but an accident in a later session forced the team to play catch-up. Starting on the outside of the front was Ron Bartell driving the No. 4 MG Midget. With Weber’s Austin Healey Sprite still not fully sorted, Bartell jumped into the lead. He held first place until lap-14, when there was contact with the hard-charging Adam Malley. Bartell retired and finished eighteenth.
Adam Malley was gridded in the third position for the nineteen lap H Production contest. Unfortunately, Malley spun entering the ‘Esses’ at the start of the race and fell to tenth-place. The Honda driver regrouped and began a charge through the field. He was aided by a caution period which allowed him to catch the leader, Ron Bartell. There was contact between the two allowing Malley to grab first and the win.
Touring 1 was introduced last year and only attracted five entries; this season the field doubled. In 1998, Jeff Altenburg was leading the class when his race came to a smokey end on lap-8. Altenburg exchanged his Dodge Viper for a Chevrolet Corvette prepared by Phoenix America Motorsports. He captured the pole by a margin of 1.543-seconds. Altenburg would lead flag-to-flag for his second gold medal.
Last season Warren Stilwell went flag-to-flag to collect his fifth National Spec Racer Ford National Championship, which was not the case this year. Stilwell’s first challenger was Tom Van Camp, who had earned titles in Showroom Stock C and Spec Racer. Van Camp, driving the No. 42 Spec Racer Ford, qualified fourth and grabbed the lead on lap-4. Unfortunately, a spin late in the event and took him out of contention.
One of two drivers to threaten Warren Stilwell’s dominance of the Spec Racer Ford category was Jack Willes. Willes was gridded in the third position. He moved the No. 49 Spec Racer Ford into second place on lap-4 when Stilwell spun. At that point, Willes put pressure on the leader Tom Van Camp and when Van Camp spun, he took the lead. However, Stilwell caught and passed Willes on lap-18, leaving him to finish second.
Warren Stilwell claimed his sixth Spec Racer Ford National Championship at this year’s Runoffs, but it was a lot more difficult to earn than last year’s title. Stilwell started on the pole but spun on lap-3 and fell to third place. As he chased the leaders, he spun a second time with nine laps remaining. Again, Stilwell chased down the frontrunners and passed the leader, Jack Willes, on the eighteenth circuit for the victory.
Early in the GT5 race, it appeared that a Mini Cooper would garner the National title. Joe Huffaker led lap-1 in the Huffaker Engineering Mini but was displaced by the Fortech Mini of Doug Peterson. Peterson led the field until being passed by the No. 44 Mini Cooper of local favourite, Jack Baumgardner. Unfortunately, transmission problems ended Baumgardner’s hopes for the victory and he was classified in fifteenth place.
Daniel Minkler qualified fifth fastest in GT5, driving the No. 26 Fluorolast sponsored Nissan 200SX. In the slick conditions, it appeared that the Mini Cooper S competitors had a distinct advantage and that was the case early in the contest. As the Mini drivers fell by the wayside, Minkler was there to capitalize on their misfortune. He moved into the lead with three laps remaining and won by a margin of 38.89-seconds.
The Formula Continental race was held on a damp track which made for a very exciting race. The fourth-place qualifier was Guy Cosmo in a Van Diemen RF-97. Until the final lap, Cosmo found himself in a race-long battle for third with Scott Rubenzer driving a Carbir DS399. B ut a late race full course caution resulted in a number of changes and Cosmo inherited a second-place finish.
Starting on the pole for Formula Continental was Mike Andersen. He recorded a lap of 1:25.565 driving a Van Diemen RF-97. But it was the second-fastest qualifier James Hanson who held the lead for the first 18-laps. But after a restart on the last lap, Hanson spun on an increasingly slick track allowing Andersen to get by and take the National Championship.
Lutrell Harms put the No.74 Harms LH-2 on the D Sports Racing pole. At the drop of the Starter’s flag, Harms jumped into the lead, but it quickly became evident that this would be a three-horse race. The other combatants were Al Beasley, Jr and Bruce Sunseri. Harms led a total of thirteen laps before a yellow flag and backmarker caused him to lose first place to Sunseri. Unable to regain the lead, he finished second.
In two of his previous visits to the Runoffs, Bruce Sunseri collected second and third-place finishes. This year, he would find his way to the top step of the podium. Sunseri was the third fastest-qualifier in the D Sports Racing category. Early in the event, he chased Lutrell Harms and Al Beasley, Jr. After moving into second, he battled with Harms. With two laps to go, a yellow flag worked in Sunseri’s favour and he took the victory.
At last year’s Runoffs, Kirk Olson drove Jamie Houseman’s Honda CRX to the National GT5 championship. This season, Olson was back in the familiar GT4 No. 93 Performance Machine Honda CRX and was gridded fourth for the start of the race. Under challenging conditions, he led laps -2-4 and 8-15. Olson was passed by the eventual winner, Wilson Wright, Jr., on the sixteenth circuit and would finish second.
In his first attempt to secure the GT4 National championship, John Olsen finished second. His odds improved this year when he put the No. 3 Red Line / Rebello Nissan 200SX on the pole. Olsen led the first lap, but the yellow flag was displayed immediately. On the restart, he was passed by Kirk Olson but retook the lead three circuits later. Olsen would eventually lose positions to Olson and Wilson Wright to finish third.
Wilson Wright, Jr. won his second consecutive National GT4 title at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wright started the nineteen-lap contest on the outside of the front row in the No. 7 Village Autoworks Nissan 200SX. He chased the early leaders, Kirk Olson and John Olsen, until the sixteenth circuit. After moving into the top spot, Wright pulled away from the competition and won by a margin of 19.09-seconds.
The surprise in Formula Vee was 18-year-old Dustin Hodges driving a Caracal D. The relative unknown qualified fastest in a group that included many past champions. Hodges led the first lap, but his inexperience in wet conditions caused him to slide off the track. He fell to nineteenth but came back to finish twelfth.
Roger Siebenaler was chosen as the favourite by SportsCar magazine to win the Formula Vee title – he did not disappoint. Siebenaler qualified second in his Mysterian M2 and captured his first National Championship by 12.29-seconds. Twenty-first place starter Howard Landon had a great race finishing second in a Mysterian M2.
Joe Huffaker succeeded in becoming the first F Production driver to win three consecutive National Championships. Huffaker put the No. 77 Huffaker Engineering / Rid Line Oil sponsored MG Midget on the pole. Winning the gold medal would be no easy task as he was surrounded by former titleholders, including Craig Chima, Harold Flescher and Rick Haynes. However, Huffaker made it look easy and led flag-to-flag.
Matthew Beardsley was the second- fastest qualifier in Formula Mazda. He turned the fastest race lap and led laps four through six, but Beardsley was no match for pole-sitter Keith Roberts. Roberts would win the 1999 Formula Mazda National Championship and Beardsley would earn the silver medal.

GT1Juan Leroux / Ford MustangJeff Ervin / Ford MustangBill Gray / Camaro
GT2Tom Patton / Sunbeam TigerBill Reid / Toyota CelicaJim Blackwell / Porsche 914
GT3Pete Peterson / Toyota PaseoPaul Young, Jr. / Ford ProbeMike Pinegar / Mazda RX-3
GT4Wilson Wright / Nissan 200SXKirk Olson / Honda CRXJohn Olsen / Nissan 200SX
GT5Daniel Minkler / Nissan 200SXDaniel Robson / Mazda MX-3Jim Rauck / Nissan 200SX
E ProductionBob Endicott / Honda PreludeGrayson Upchurch / Datsun 240ZBob Boig / Mazda Miata
F ProductionJoe Huffaker / MG MidgetHarold Flescher / A-H SpriteCraig Chima / Lotus 7
G ProductionSteve Sargis / Triumph SpitfireKevin Allen / Triumph SpitfireTom Reichenbach / Fiat X1/9
H ProductionAdam Malley / Honda CivicBob Weber / A-H SpriteChester Niemczycki / A-H Sprite
Formula AtlanticBrian French / Ralt RT-41Larry Connor / Ralt RT-41Cemal Yelkin / Ralt RT-41
FormulaContinentalMike Andersen / Van DiemenGuy Cosmo / Van DiemenMarty Hahnfeld / Van Diemen
Formula FordKeith Nunes / Swift DB-6John LaRue / CitationMark Jaremko / STOHR FF99
Formula 500Jeff Auberger / KBS MK8.5Michael Brent / Invader QC-1Dave Mitsch / Red Devil T-27
Formula VeeRoger Siebenaler / Mysterian M2Howard Landon / Mysterian M2Stevan Davis / Racers Wage
Formula MazdaKeith Roberts / Star MazdaMatthew Beardsley / Star MazdaMicky Gilbert / Star Mazda
C Sports RacerBen Beasley / Beasley B-2Jeff Miller / WynnFurst CSRMatias Bonnier / Beasley B-2
D Sports RacerBruce Sunseri / Cheetah SR-1Lutrell Harms / Harms LH-2Al Beasley Jr / Beasley B-2
Spec Racer FordWarren Stilwell / SRFJack Willes / SRFJohn Black / SRF
Sports 2000John Fergus / CarbirJason Engel / LolaJames Bandy / Lola SR71
Touring 1Jeff Altenburg / Chevrolet CorvetteSteve Valentinetti / Porsche 996Scotty White / Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2Rob Hines / Chevrolet CamaroTom Oates / Chevrolet CamaroPhillip Lasco / Ford Mustang
Showroom Stock BDavid Daughtery / Mazda MiataEric Morehouse / Mazda MiataRobert Schader / Mazda Miata
Showroom Stock CNeal Sapp / Honda CivicJohn Phillips / Honda CivicKevin Adams / Honda Civic
American SedanEric Curran / Chevrolet CamaroCraig Weidner / Ford MustangRichard Ciochon / Chevrolet Camaro

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