After twelve-years, the Sports Car Club of America’s Runoffs moved from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to Heartland Park Topeka. Since 1970 the Runoffs were conducted on the East Coast. It was felt that a central location would attract more competitors from the western states.

Twenty-five races - nineteen-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 Kansas, As big as you think.

There were over 700-entrants across the twenty-five classes. The new Spec Miata group boasted the highest number of entrants, with sixty-one drivers going for the gold. The open-wheel group with the best representation was Formula Vee, with thirty-eight starters.

There are National Championships for twenty-five 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 – Three Touring categories, Touring 1 (T1), Touring 2 (T2) and Touring 3 (T3), 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 second week of October. The first two days of racing were held under sunny skies but cool temperatures. Sunday was overcast and damp.

The 2006 SCCA National Championship Runoffs closed with a very wet Formula Atlantic contest. On the pole was the Swift .014a of Keith Grant. As the field enter the first corner on lap-1, Grand slid off course. Local resident, Mirl Swan, also driving a Swift inherited the lead. Swan opened a gap on the field only to have it shrink during the caution periods. He was able to control the race and captured his first National title.
The C Sports Racer group was the first contest of the 2006 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. The pole-sitter for the class was Hans Peter driving a converted Formula Atlantic Swift .014. Peter had three previous Runoffs starts, but they were in Sports 2000. At the start of the race, Peter lost positions to Wade Carter and Mark Jaremko. By lap-4, he had regained the top-sport and won by a margin of 1.826-seconds.
The fastest car in H Production was the limited prep MG Midget of two-time National Champion, Craig Chima. With the drop of the Starter’s flag, Chima pulled away from the field only to spin on lap-4. He would work his way back to the front only to spin on two more occasions. Chima’s errors gave first place to Tom Feller, driving a Triumph Spitfire. Feller led the final fourteen laps to claim his third class championship.
Canadian, Collin Jackson, was making his second Runoffs start. Jackson’s Runoffs debut was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2003, where he captured the pole position and GT3 crown. It was a similar performance at Heartland Park Topeka. Jackson was the fastest qualifier in the Specialty Engineering built Nissan 240SX. In the race, he went flag-to-flag and won his second championship by a margin of 16.675-seconds.
An exciting, Formula 500 race saw five lead changes among three drivers. Early leader, Brian Novak in the Rakavon spun after contact with the Invader QC1 of Clint McMahan. McMahan took the top spot but was passed by the eighth-fastest qualifier, Bryan Golay driving a QRE Invader. Golay lost power and fell to fifth. Whatever was wrong with the car corrected itself and Golay moved back to the front and captured his first title.
Twenty-six Touring 2 cars prepare to enter Heartland Park’s turn eleven. On the pole is Nissan 350Z of Robert Schader. Sharing the front row is Dave Schotz driving a Pontiac Formula. Immediately behind the leaders is the third-place starter and former SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge driver, Will Turner. Next to Turner is another ex-World Challenge competitor, Chuck Hemmingston, piloting a Subaru WRX Sti.
The Chevrolet Corvette captured five consecutive Touring 1 National Championships at Mid-Ohio. But Heartland Park was a different track which appeared to favour the Dodge Viper. The pole-sitter, Scotty B. White, drove a Viper. White led the first three laps until suffering a flat tire. Cindi Lux also in a Viper took the top spot, but on lap-17, the eighth fast qualifier, Lance Knupp, took the lead and victory driving a Corvette.
Thomas Schwietz won his first National Crown in 1984, driving a GT4 Volkswagen Rabbit. Since then, Schwietz had captured championships in Sports 2000 and Formula Continental. This year, he was driving a Piper in the Formula Ford category. Schwietz qualified on the pole but shared the lead of the race with James Hakewill and John Robinson II before securing first place for the final seven laps.
In the offseason, there was a restructuring of GT4 and GT5. These two groups were combined to create the new Grand Touring Lite (GTL) class. Twenty-three drivers were entered in GTL and twenty-one started the race. Race morning was cold and it had rained overnight, which meant anyone leaving the racing surface risked being able to return to the track. Brad Lewis challenged that belief and finished sixth.
James Dentici won his first National Champion in his first attempt. In 1981, Dentici won the GT4 race at Road Atlanta driving a Honda Civic. Following this success, he captured the GT3 title in 1989 and 1993, racing a Honda CRX. After a thirteen-year absence, Dentici returned to the Runoffs and competed in the new GTL class driving a CRX. Proving he hadn’t lost his touch, Dentici qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag.
Veteran Showroom Stock racer, Don Knowles, drove a Pontiac Solstice in the SSB class. Knowles Runoffs’ resume included five podium finishes, of which two were wins. Both his titles were in SSB racing a Saab 99. At this year’s event, Knowles qualified second. By the third turn of the race, he was in the lead. While the competitors behind him fought for position, Knowles was able to build a commanding lead and won by 27.381-seconds.
In his first three attempts at winning the SSC class, Pete Taylor raced a Dodge Neon. His best result is a sixth-place finish in 2003 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In 2005, Taylor replaced the Neon with a Mini Cooper S. Evidently, it was an excellent decision as he won his first Runoffs. This year, Taylor qualified on the pole and avoided the first lap turn one incident to lead the eighteen lap event flag-to-flag.
The defending Formula Continental champion, Niki Coello, drove the No. 81 Van Diemen RF01. Coello was the fastest qualifier and pulled away from the competition at the start of the race. A full-course caution on lap-4 bunched the field and allowed Cole Morgan driving a Swift DB6 to challenge Coello. Morgan made contact and damaged his Swift, which let Coello pull away for his second consecutive title.
The race strategy for Touring 3 teammates, Rick Gilhart and Tom Shelton, was to move into first and second place before the end of lap-1. Gilhart’s part was made easier when he put the Manheim Actions sponsored Mazda RX-8 on the pole. It was a little more difficult for Shelton as he qualified third quickest. Their plan came together with Gilhart leading flag-to-flag and the pair finishing first and second.
The very popular SCCA regional class, Spec Miata, was granted national status in 2006. The inaugural Runoffs event attracted sixty-one entries. Capturing the pole-position was Blake Clements and next to him was 18-year-old Andrew Caddell. The weather forecast for the event was rain, but the two fastest qualifiers went with a dry setup. Caddell won the drag race to corner one and was never challenged.
Driving the No. 34 F Production prepared Prather Racing Mazda Miata was Jesse Prather – son of the six-time National Champion, Kent Prather. Prather was the second-fastest qualifier but surrounded by drivers with multiple National titles. When the pole-sitter, John Saurino, retired from the race, Prather battled with the Triumph Spitfire of Steve Sargis. The pair swapped the lead three-times before Prather prevailed.
GT1 competitor and Trans Am veteran, Max Lagod, had a tough week. During qualifying, his Chevrolet Corvette lost two motors. Deciding it was not his year, Lagod and the crew packed up and went back to Illinois. When they got home, the team realized that they could enter Lagod’s old Trans Am Camaro. Lagod was gridded twenty-third for the start and charged through the field to finish in the runner-up position.
There were forty-eight starters in the Spec Racer Ford event, but the title would be decided between just two drivers, Mike Miserendino and John Black. Black qualified on the pole, but it was Miserendino who led the field into the first turn. Black would pass Miserendino on lap-6 and maintain the top spot for ten-circuits. With two laps left in the contest, Miserendino moved back in front and held on for the victory.
Going flag-to-flag for a second consecutive Touring 2 championship was Chuck Hemmingston. He qualified fourth in the No. 95 Subaru WRX Sti. With the drop of the green, Hemmingston followed second place starter, Dave Schotz and passed the pole-sitter, Robert Schader. When Schotz slid wide, he grabbed another spot. A mistake by Will Turner allowed Hemmingston to secure the lead before the end of the first lap.
In 2006, Will Turner was competing at both the amateur and professional levels of motorsport. Turner drove one three Turner Motorsport BMWs entered in the Grand Am Cup series. He also raced a BMW M3 prepared for the Touring 2 class in the SCCA’s Northeast division. Turner qualified for the Runoffs and started third, he led the race briefly, but after a fierce battle with Kristian Skavnes, Turner grabbed the final spot on the podium.
G Production was the second last race of the 2006 Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Rain was predicted for late in the day, but most teams chose a dry set-up. On the pole was Andy Deatherage driving a Suzuki Swift GT. Deatherage led until lap-6 when he was passed by the Volkswagen Rabbit of fourth place starter, Chuck Mathis. By now, the rain had started and Mathis pulled away to win by a margin of 14.032-seconds.
Between Spec Racer Ford and Formula Mazda, James Goughary, Jr. had scored four Runoffs podiums but a victory had escaped him. On the other hand, his father, James, Sr. had two championships in the GT2 category. At Heartland Park Topeka, Goughary, Jr. grabbed the pole in Formula Mazda. He jumped into an early lead and pulled away from the field despite a caution period. Goughary would finally secure his first gold medal.
Randy Canfield’s first Runoffs was in 1965 – always in H Production and always in an Austin Healey Sprite. Canfield missed a few events early in his amateur career, but since 1971, he entered every year. Over that time, Canfield has earned nineteen podiums finishes, of which five were victories. This would be his last year for the Runoffs, Canfield qualified twelfth fastest and was in tenth place at the checkered flag.
Every year there are disqualifications at the Runoffs. Sometimes the irregularity is discovered during qualifying and the issue can be resolved before the race. On other occasions, it may be for on-track behavior. Most common is when a vehicle fails the post-race inspection. The latter happened to Michael Lavigne. He crossed the A Sedan finish line first, but unfortunately, he was excluded for a carburetor modification.
After all the dust settled in the American Sedan event, John Heinricy was declared the winner. This would be Heinricy’s tenth National Championship. He started in the tenth position driving the No. 58 Pontiac Firebird. Heinricy moved up the race order and by lap-14 of 18, he was in second place. He was unable to catch the leader, Michael Lavigne. In post-race tech, Lavigne was disqualified, giving the victory to Heinricy.
The battle for the GT2 championship would be a ‘two-horse race.’ The main combatants were the pole-sitter, Michael Muren in a Porsche 944S and Wayland Joe, the second-fastest qualifier, driving a Porsche GT3 Cup. With the drop of the green flag, Joe was first to corner one and Muren followed him until lap-7. Muren was the leader for two circuits, but could not hold-off Joe, who went on to claim his first National Championship.
One of the larger grids at the Runoffs was the always competitive E Production class. Unfortunately, big fields often lead to caution periods. Just two-laps into the contest, an incident eliminated seven competitors. When the race resumed, the pole-sitter, Tom Thrash, was in the lead. Challenging Thrash for the top spot were Bob Neal and Lawrence Loshak. Loshak would move into first place on lap-13 and win his first title.
In six Sports 2000 Runoffs starts, Mark Mercer had two podium finishes but no victories - this would be Mercer’s year. At the completion of the qualifying, he was second fastest driving the Hoosier Tires sponsored Lola 91/90. The pole-sitter, Matthew DiRenzo and Mercer, traded the top spot early in the contest. But with DiRenzo’s tires losing grip, Mercer passed him for good on lap-16 to score his first Gold Medal.
A week before the Runoffs, Philip Simms took delivery of a Rocketsports prepared Jaguar XKR. Simms captured the pole, proving the Jaguar was ‘worth every penny.’ But, qualifying second was the four-time National Champion, Michael Lewis. The two left the field behind at the start of the race. Lewis moved into first place when Simms made an error on lap-6. Lewis spun ten-circuits later and Simms got his first Runoffs win.
Despite qualifying second in D Sports Racer, Mark Jaremko still had to be the ‘odds-on favourite’ to win. Jaremko’s Runoffs record included five podium finishes, of which three were victories in the class. At the drop of the green flag, the pole-sitter, J.R. Osborne, jumped into the lead, but Jaremko claimed first place before the end of lap-1. Osborne retired on the second lap and the driver of the No. 2 Stohr WF1 captured another championship.
The second fastest Formula Vee qualifier, Bob Neumeister, was the first competitor across the finish line after eighteen-laps of racing. Unfortunately, Neumeister failed to negotiate the nineteenth-lap through the tech shed. The cylinder heads on his motor were illegal, leading to his disqualification. The victory was awarded to Stephen Oseth, the driver of the No. 72 Vortech. Oseth battled with Brad Stout before earning his second title.

GT1Philip Simms / Jaguar XKRMax Lagod / CamaroGlen Jung / Mazda RX-7
GT2Wayland Joe / Porsche GT3 CupMichael Muren / Porsche 944STom Patton / Sunbeam Tiger
GT3Collin Jackson / Nissan 240SXJohn Saurino / Nissan 240SXDave Humphrey / Nissan 240SX
GTLJames Dentici / Honda CRXBill Gilcrease / Mini CooperDouglas Ruthroff / Honda CRX
E ProductionLawrence Loshak / Honda PreludeThomas Thrash / Mazda RX-7Bob Neal / Mazda RX-7
F ProductionJesse Prather / Mazda MiataSteve Sargis / Triumph SpitfireHarold Flescher / A-H Sprite
G ProductionChuck Mathis / VW RabbitAndy Deatherage / Suzuki SwiftChris Albin / VW Golf
H ProductionTom Feller / Triumph SpitfireCraig Chima / MG MidgetDon Barrack / VW Scirocco
Formula AtlanticMirl Swan / SwiftDavid Grant / Swift .014aKeith Grant / Swift .014a
Formula ContinentalNiki Coello / Van DiemenCole Morgan / Swift DB6Justin Pritchard / Piper
Formula MazdaJames Goughary / Star MazdaMike Anderson / Star MazdaScott Rettich / Star Mazda
Formula FordThomas Schwietz / PiperJames Hakewill / Van DiemenJohn Robinson / Swift DB6
Formula 500Bryan Golay / QRE InvaderDavid Cox / ScorpionSteve Jondal / Red Devil
Formula VeeStephen Oseth / VortechMichael Varacins / Speed SporNelson Mason / RTJ 2
C Sport RacerHans Peter / Swift VikingMark Jaremko / Stohr WF1Wade Carter / Swift Viking
D Sport RacerMark Jaremko / Stohr WF1John Bender / West WR 1000Dorian Foyil / Stohr WF1
Sports 2000Mark Mercer / Lola 91/90John Fergus / Carbir CS2M. Bart Wolf / Carbir CS2.5
Spec Racer FordMike Miserendino / SRFJohn Black / SRFTodd Harris / SRF
American SedanJohn Heinricy / Pontiac FirebirdEd Hosni / Ford MustangJason Von Kluge / Ford Mustang
Showroom Stock BDon Knowles / Pontiac SolsticeChad Gilsinger / Honda CivicToby Grahovec / BMW Z4
Showroom Stock CPete Taylor / Mini Cooper SJohn Saucier / Mazda 3Ralph Porter / Mini Cooper S
Touring 1Lance Knupp / Chevy CorvetteCindi Lux / Dodge ViperJeffrey Robbins / Dodge Viper
Touring 2Chuck Hemmingson / Subaru WRXKristian Skavnes / Subaru WRXWill Turner / BMW M3
Touring 3Rick Gilhart / Mazda RX-8Scott Shelton / Mazda RX-8Joel Lipperini / Mazda MX5

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