For the tenth consecutive year, the Sports Car Club of America’s Runoffs were held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This was the 41st year for this annual event. Twenty-four races - twenty-laps or forty-minutes in length, whichever came first, would determine the Sports Car Club of America's National Champions. This year’s event was presented by Kohler.

There were a total of 709-starters across the twenty-four classes. The Formula Vee group boasted the highest number of competitors, with forty-six drivers going for the gold. The closed wheel class with the best representation was American Sedan, with forty-three starters.

There are National Championships for twenty-four different classes. These classes 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 Mazda Miata, Mazda RX-7, 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, Honda Civic, etc.
  • 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 more significant number of modifications than the production category. For example, they may be constructed with a tube-frame chassis.
  • Touring Category – Two Touring categories, Touring 1 (T1) and Touring 2 (T2), were 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, Porsche 911, etc.
  • Showroom Stock Category – Late model production vehicles compete in the Showroom Stock category. Similar to the other groups, these cars are classified based on their performance potential. The only modifications allowed are - a roll cage and safety equipment.
  • 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 or GM engine, these cars are permitted to use modified suspensions and upgraded brake packages.
  • Sports Racer Category – These are purpose-built closed wheel race cars. There are four classes within this group – C Sports Racer (CSR), D Sports Racer (DSR), Spec Racer Ford (SRF) and Sports 2000 (S2000). C and D Sports Racer include a variety of chassis’ which may be constructed by the competitor or a race car manufacturer. There is also a wide range of engine options used by the teams. Vehicles in the Sports 2000 class tend to be built by race car companies. Unlike C and D Sports Racers, this class must use a 2.0-liter Ford engine with minimum preparation. SRF is a spec class that does not allow any modifications.
  • Formula Category – These are also purpose-built race cars. This is the largest category and includes six classes – Formula Atlantic (FA), Formula Continental (FC), Formula Mazda (FM), Formula 500 (F500), Formula Ford (FF) and Formula Vee (FV). There are a variety of rules that govern these open wheel cars.

The Runoffs were held during the last full week of September. Teams and fans enjoyed mostly overcast but comfortable temperatures during the event.

The GT2 field enters the ‘Esses’ for the first lap. Leading the way is the pole-sitter, David Finch, in the Bosch/Red Line Oil Porsche 944. Behind Finch is the Nissan 350Z of the second-fastest qualifier, James Goughary. It was a tight grid; Goughary was just 0.345-seconds slower than Finch. The fourth-place starter, Tom Patton, driving the No. 50 Sunbeam Tiger made a good start and has already moved into third place.
For the second consecutive year, David Finch put his Bosch/Red Line Oil sponsored Porsche 944 on the pole. Unlike last year, Finch avoided contact on the first lap which, eliminated him for the 2003 event and was able to score his sixth National GT2 championship. He led flag-to-flag and finished 4.087-seconds ahead of the second-fastest qualifier, James Goughary in No. 46 Nissan/Red Line Oil Nissan 350Z.
John Fergus made his Runoffs debut in 1980 at Road Atlanta and finished second. He vanished for several years but reappeared in 1998 and earned another runner-up result. The following year, Fergus scored his first S2000 title. He had three championships entering the 2004 edition of the Runoffs. Fergus was the second-fastest qualifier driving the No. 00 Carbir CS2 but took the lead on lap-1 and never looked back.
After three rounds of Formula A qualifying, Robert Stallings found himself gridded on the outside of the front row. At the start of the twenty-lap contest, Stallings lost a position to Dan Selznick. Now in third place, he chased Selznick and the pole-sitter, Dan Cobb. Before the mid-point of the race Selznick, spun out of contention and contact led to the retirement of Cobb. Stallings inherited the top spot and won the title by 19.41-seconds.
Last year, Mark Sandridge won the Touring 2 championship driving a Pontiac Firebird. In 2004, Sandridge was one of three drivers racing a new Cadillac CTS-V. Despite his intimate knowledge of Mid-Ohio, he could only manage the sixth quickest time in qualifying. The race involved a lot of contact which took some of the front runners out of contention. On lap-16, Sandridge made his move for first place and captured his second title.
The Spec Racer Ford field prepares to exit the ‘Keyhole’ in anticipation of the Starter’s flag. On the pole is Connecticut’s, Joseph Colasacco driving the No. 30 Spec Racer Ford. Sharing the front row with Colasacco is Richard Spicer, who was 0.254-seconds slower than pole-sitter in qualifying. Behind the fastest qualifiers are Mike Davies and Jeff Beck. A total of thirty-three drivers started the twenty-lap event, with only one failing to finish.
Mike Davies won his first National title in 1987, driving in the Sports Renault class. Since then, he has earned six championships. Davies started this year’s Spec Racer Ford event in third place but moved into first on the second lap. On the twelfth circuit, Davies lost the position to the pole-sitter, Joseph Colasacco but one lap later, he was back out front. With two laps remaining, Colasacco spun off the course giving Davies the victory.
Ron Bartell had two National H Production titles, both earned at Mid-Ohio in 2000 and 2001. This year Bartell put the Valvoline / Hoosier Tire sponsored MG Midget on the pole – 0.414-seconds quicker than Dan Collishaw. At the start of the race, he lost the lead to the third-fastest qualifier, Tom Feller. Bartell hounded Feller until lap-3 when he spun off course. Bartell fell to twentieth but regrouped and charged back to finish seventh.
This would be the third visit to the Runoffs for the driver of the No. 71 Triumph Spitfire, Tom Feller. Last season, Feller finished second on track but was later disqualified for a technical irregularity with his intake manifold. 2004 would be an opportunity for Feller to redeem himself and he did just that. He qualified third but led the first lap and despite pressure from Ron Bartell and Dan Collishaw, Feller won his first H Production title.
South Pacific division driver, Scott Rarick, had three previous Runoffs’ starts in Formula Ford. His best results were a pair of fifth-place finishes in 2002 and 2003. This year the driver of the No. 34 Swift DB6 started on the outside of the front row. Rarick chased the pole-sitter, Chris Winkler, until lap-15 when a sticking throttle caused Winkler to spin in the ‘Carousel.’ Rarick led the remaining laps to win his first championship by 4.139-seconds.
The first lap through the ‘Carousel’ for the American Sedan competitors. Leading the field of forty-three starters is the pole-sitter, Kyle Watkins, in the Sensible Automotive Ford Mustang. Immediately behind Watkins is the Mustang of the fourth-place starter, Kristian Smith. Trailing Smith is last year’s American Sedan Champion, John Heinricy driving a Pontiac Firebird and the Chevrolet Camaro of Brian Wallace.
The defending American Sedan champion, John Heinricy, won last year’s title, driving a Chevrolet Camaro. This season, he was campaigning a Pontiac Firebird. The five-time National Champion qualified second quickest. At the start of the race, Heinricy lost a position to Kristian Smith but retook second place on lap-5. He chased down the leader, Kyle Watkins and passed him on the thirteenth circuit for another title.
Pratt Cole won his first National E Production title in 1997 and scored another in 2001. This year, the Salt Lake City resident topped the timesheets in every qualifying session. Cole had an excellent start and pulled away from the field while second through fifth raced in a tight pack. A number of incidents took the front runners out of contention and made it that much easier for Cole to secure his third National Championship.
C Sports Racer was shaping up to be a duel between the veteran, Jacek Mucha and the newcomer, Tony Loniewski. Loniewski grabbed the pole by 0.614-seconds driving the Swift Viking with backing from Loyning Engine Service. During the race, he battled with Mucha and lost the lead for five laps. An aggressive maneuver gave Loniewski the top spot and when Mucha encountered transmission problems it was an easy victory.
Multi-time National champion, Steve Sargis is at the head of the field as the F Production group enters the ‘Carousel’ on the first lap. Not far behind Sargis are the MG Midgets of the second and third fastest qualifiers, John Saurino and Craig Chima. Trailing these two is the fourth place starter also in a Midget, Harold Flescher. Five of the thirty-three starters would not be classified as finishers – which included Flescher.
The F Production race began with the pole-sitter, Steve Sargis, driving the SBS Batteries Triumph Spitfire jumping into the lead. Trailing Sargis was the second-fastest qualifier, John Saurino, in the No. 57 MG Midget. The pair gapped the field and traded the top spot. But it all came to an end for Sargis on lap-13 when the Spitfire had an overheating problem. Saurino was challenged by Craig Chima but held on for his first National title.
Last season, Lew Larimer earned the silver medal in GT1 and this year, he was looking to improve one more position. Larimer posted the quickest time in the final qualifying session, driving the American Port Welding / Red Line Oil / Goodyear sponsored Oldsmobile Cutlass. In the race, he went unchallenged, set a new lap record and led all twenty-laps to earn his first National Championship.
It is the first lap into the ‘Esses’ for the Showroom Stock B competitors – a total of thirty-eight starters, which was one of the largest groups at the 2004 Runoffs. Leading the pack is the No. 74 pole-winning BMW Z4 driven by Jim Leithauser with backing from Hoosier Tire and Bimmerhaus Performance. Beside Leithauser is the second-fastest qualifier, Toby Grahovec driving the Hoosier Tire / Red Line Oil / King Motorsports Acura Integra.
Last season BMW Z4 owners were deemed ineligible to participate in the Runoffs, which led to their disqualification. One of the drivers impacted by the Stewards decision was Jim Leithauser. In 2004, Leithauser and his BMW could take part in the Runoffs. He was fastest in qualifying and the only driver to break into the 1:44s. Early in the race, Leithauser was challenged by Toby Grahovec put pulled away and won his first title.
Another driver leading flag-to-flag was the new Formula Continental National Champion, Brian Tomasi. Tomasi captured the pole after setting his quickest time during the first day of qualifying. Driving the Hoosier Tire / NOVA / Subway sponsored Van Diemen RF01, he went unchallenged until late in the race. The second-place driver, Chas Shaffer, closed the gap but spun out of contention, trying to catch Tomasi.
It was a wild start for the Showroom Stock C competitors. Heading into the ‘Esses’ on the first lap, the Honda Civic of Bill Hagerty went wide and drove across the grass. Hagerty rejoined the field mid-pack and made contact with the Mazda of Joseph McClughan. With McClughan perpendicular to the track, there was more contact. McClughan retired with the Mazda of Ali Naimi, also being involved in the incident but able to continue.
As the Showroom Stock C contest came to a conclusion, the battle for the Gold was between Ryan Ciechanski leading in a Honda and the Mazda of Jim Daniels. On lap-18, an aggressive pass by Daniels knocked Ciechanski into the gravel trap at the ‘Keyhole.’ Daniels continued and was the first driver to receive the checkered flag. His poor judgment resulted in a one-position penalty. The win was awarded to Joel Lipperini.
John Heinricy scored his fourth consecutive Touring 1 National Championship. Heinricy started the week with a newly prepared Chevrolet Corvette from Phoenix Performance. The Corvette was immediately on the pace and he qualified on the pole – 0.578-seconds faster than the second-place starter, Freddy Baker. Heinricy would lead flag-to-flag and win by a margin of 12.3-seconds. In the process, he set a new lap record.
The first lap of the 2004 National GT3 Championship and the leaders enter the ‘Carousel.’ Pacing the field is the pole-sitter, Mike Henderson, in the M2 Motorsports Mazda RX-7. Within striking distance and in their qualifying order are the Toyota Paseo of Wolfgang Maike and Craig Allen driving another RX-7. The fifth-place starter, John Saurino in a Nissan 240SX, has already slipped by local resident, Michael Cyphert racing a Toyota Celica.
Four-time GT3 National Champion, Pete Peterson qualified sixth driving the No. 98 Toyota Motorsports / Valvoline Oil Toyota Celica. Peterson was 1.642-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Mike Henderson but that was of little consequence. He was able to move through the field and grabbed two positions early in the race. On lap-12, Peterson had contact with the race leader, Henderson and went on to win and title.
D Sports Racer was a two-horse race between John Hill and Steven Ott. Hill qualified on the pole driving a Stohr DSR and was just 0.043-seconds quicker than the Speads RS04 of Ott. During the race, the pair left the field behind with Hill in the top spot. On lap-7, Ott attempted a pass in the ‘Esses’ which resulted in him spinning. He continued but was too far back to catch Hill. Hill won his first National Championship by 7.132-seconds.
This would be the last GT5 race as the class would be combined with GT4 to form GT Lite. After the three qualifying sessions, the quickest driver was Joe Huffaker in the Huffaker Engineering Mini Cooper. Sharing the front row would be another fast Mini raced by Doug Peterson. This promised to be an exciting race but it ended when Huffaker retired before the start with broken pinion. Peterson scored his seventh National title.
The defending National G Production Champion, Kent Prather, exited this year’s event at the mid-point of the race. Prather, who was driving the No. 26 Prather Racing / Victoria British MG A, qualified on the pole. He dropped to third place at the start of the contest and battled with Andy Deatherage for the position. The two made contact on lap-5 – Deatherage retired on the spot and Prather continued for another five circuits.
Brothers, Mark and Kevin Dennis, share the Nissan / Goodyear / CDA Machining Nissan 510. This year it was Mark’s turn to compete at the Runoffs. He started on the outside of the front row and won the drag race to the ‘Esses.’ A terrific battle ensued behind Dennis, which allowed him to gap the field. At the checkered flag, he had a comfortable margin of 24.67-seconds and recorded the fastest race lap.
The three-time GT4 National Champion, Wilson Wright, only participated in one of the three qualifying sessions but that was enough to earn the pole. However, his Runoffs week was anything but easy. Wright dropped a valve on the test day, lost a head gasket after his qualifying effort and blew another head gasket during the morning warm-up. He led the race for three laps before dropping another valve.
Someone would have the distinction of winning the final GT4 National Championship as the class would be merged with GT5 in 2005. Wilson Wright only needed one qualifying session to grab the pole position. But engine problems during the week would follow him into the race. After just three laps, the new race leader was the second-fastest qualifier, Michael Mazziotti. After Wright’s retirement, it was an easy victory for Mazziotti.

GT1Lew Larimer / Olds CutlassCliff Ebben / CorvetteScott Murphy / Corvette
GT2David Finch / Porsche 944 James Goughary / Nissan 350ZDuane Davis / Toyota Celica
GT3Pete Peterson / Toyota CelicaMichael Cyphert / Toyota CelicaDavid Rugh / VW Corrado
GT4Michael Mazziotti / Honda CRXJoe Kristensen / Honda CRXKirk Olson / Honda CRX
GT5Doug Peterson / Mini CooperJimmy Burke / Nissan 200SXKirk Olson / Honda CRX
E ProductionPratt Cole / Mazda MiataTony Rivera / Mazda RX-7John Schmitt / Honda Prelude
F ProductionJohn Saurino / MG MidgetCraig Chima / MG MidgetMason Workman / Mazda Miata
G ProductionMark Dennis / Nissan 510Mark McAllister / Triumph SpitfireBill Wessel / Datsun SPL311
H ProductionTom Feller / Triumph SpitfireDan Collishaw / A H SpriteChris Crisenbery / Triumph Spitfire
Formula AtlanticRobert Stallings / Swift 014Keith Lively / Ralt RT41Ahsen Yelkin / Swift .008
Formula ContinentalBrian Tomasi / Van Diemen RF01Dave Weitzenhof / Citation 95SFMark Defer / Van Diemen RF99
Formula MazdaDouglas Peterson / Star MazdaErnest Bocchino / Star MazdaRobin Nicholas / Star Mazda
Formula FordScott Rarick / Swift DB6Chuck Brewer / Citation FU2Chris Winkler / Van Diemen RF99
Formula 500Jonathan Dick / Invader QC1AAaron Ellis / Red Devil AE03Jason Morales / Invader
Formula VeeJeff Loughead / Vortech 04CBrad Stout / VortechStevan Davis / Racers Wage
C Sport RacerTony Loniewski / Swift VikingJacek Mucha / Ralt JMSJohn Hill / Stohr DSR
D Sport RacerJohn Hill / Stohr DSRSteven Ott / Speads RS04Al Beasley / Maloy DSR1
Sports 2000John Fergus / Carbir CS2Steve Johnson / JRE SR 71Mark Mercer / Lola 91/90
Spec Racer FordMike Davies / Spec Racer FordJohn Black / Spec Racer FordT J Acker / Spec Racer Ford
American SedanJohn Heinricy / Pontiac FirebirdMatthew Roberts / Ford MustangKristian Smith / Ford Mustang
Showroom Stock BJim Leithauser / BMW Z4Toby Grahovec / Acura IntegraDavid Nielsen / BMW Z4
Showroom Stock CJoel Lipperini / Honda CivicJim Daniels / Mazda 3Roger Schroer / Honda Civic
Touring 1John Heinricy / Chevy CorvetteFreddy Baker / Porsche GT3Philip Croyle / Chevy Corvette
Touring 2Mark Sandridge / Cadillac CTSRobert Hines / Chevy CamaroFreddy Baker / Porsche Boxster

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