SCCA Runoffs Invades Sonoma Raceway in 2018 — Be There!

Next week, one of the most celebrated weeks of amateur racing will take place — for the first time ever — at Sonoma Raceway. As host of the 55th SCCA Runoffs, Sonoma Raceway becomes only the third California track to host the prestigious event, joining Riverside International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The SCCA Runoffs is a special event for those scrabbling to make a name for themselves — whether they be in a Miata, a Corvette, or a Formula Ford — as it has helped bring gifted amateurs into the spotlight and often onto the stage of professional racing. Don’t forget that household names like Danica Patrick, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, Al Unser Jr., and Rick Mears all found their start in SCCA.

A conga line of Miatas at this year’s SCCA US Majors Tour. Photo credit: Richard S. James

Due to the heritage, as well as the challenging format, the SCCA Runoffs has evolved into what is now commonly agreed to be the pinnacle of American amateur motorsports. Often referred to as the “Olympics” of amateur road racing since1964, the SCCA has crowned Road Racing National Champions through the winner-take-all, single-race format. With previous National Champions including the likes of Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Graham Rahal, and Paul Newman, few amateur road racing events have quite the pressure and importance — rivaling that of professional motorsport.

From October 16-21, more than 500 racers from across the United States and Canada will converge on the beautiful, 12-turn, 2.52-mile circuit located just north of San Francisco to decide National Champions over three days of qualifying, followed by three days of racing to decide who is the best across 28 different car classes.

Spec Racer Fords crest Sonoma’s Turn 2 at the SCCA US Majors Tour from earlier this year. Photo credit: Richard S. James

Additionally, the Tire Rack Pole Award will be given to quickest in qualifying for each car class. Races are then scheduled Oct. 19-21 from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with each race lasting either 20 laps or 40 minutes. Spectators are welcome at qualifying and race days, with tickets starting at $15 per day for the qualifying dates, $25 per day for race dates, or $60 for multi-day passes. Tickets are on sale now and can be found here.

From Porsches to prototypes, and Miatas to Mustangs; the variety of racing cars appeals to anyone with a single drop of motor oil in their veins. However, far from a car show, the collection of competitive people from all walks of life breathes a special sort of energy into the paddock. “There are business owners and teachers, retirees and high school students,” SCCA President/CEO Mike Cobb said. “But, what they all share is a dedication to the sport, incredible skills, a will to win, and a passion for having fun with cars. Truly, the Runoffs is one of the most intense U.S. motorsport events of the year and an absolutely amazing three days of racing.”

“As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary throughout the 2019 season, we are very proud to host the Runoffs, the premier event in amateur road racing, as part of that celebration,” said Steve Page, President and General Manager of Sonoma Raceway. “This is the first time the Runoffs has been back on the West Coast since 2014, and we look forward to welcoming the SCCA community and the nation’s best racers to beautiful Sonoma Valley for some fantastic racing.”

Live timing and audio is available all week at scca.com/live, and a live webcast will be at the same location for the races. Select races will be broadcasted at a later date on CBS Sports — hence the importance of the event.

Below is the schedule for what is on tap for this week, when you go to the LIVE page.

Tuesday:

Qualifying Day 2

Live Timing

Wednesday:                           
Qualifying Day 3

Audio commentary, Live timing, & Static video

Thursday:

Tire Rack Pole Day & Last Chance Qualifying races for SM and SRF3

Live webcast & Timing

Friday:

Race Day 1 – GT1, FC, GTL, FV, HP, FM, AS, FE/FE2

Live webcast brought to you by Mazda, Timing, & Victory circle stream

Saturday:

Race Day 2 – STU, P2, GT2, FF/F5, SM, T1, FP, T4/BSpec

Live webcast brought to you by Mazda, Timing, & Victory circle stream

Sunday:

Race Day 3 – T3, EP, P1, STL, SRF3, T2, GT3, FA/FB

Live webcast brought to you by Mazda, Timing, & Victory circle stream

Here is a quick explanation from the SCCA of the eight different categories and the classes under each:

Production – Series produced cars which are allowed a range of performance modifications while retaining their original design, structure and drive layout. There is no age limit, so Production includes cars as old as 50 years and as new as current body styles. The three performance potential based classes include: E Production (EP), F Production (FP) and H Production (HP). EP is the fastest of the Production classes with HP running the slowest in the category. Several cars in the Production classes can be run in more than one class just by changing the engine between races. Cars included in Production classes come from a diverse group ranging from the Datsun 510, MGs , Fiat X1/9, Alfa Romeo Spyder, Lotus Super 7 and Austin Healey Sprite, to the BMW 325, Mazda Miata, RX-7 and RX-8, Nissan 240, Honda Prelude, Suzuki Swift GTI and Toyota MR-2.

Formula – The formula classes are all single-seat, open-wheel racecars. They are built to detailed specifications for weight, size and engine displacement. There are incredible power to weight ratios in each class. The classes are: Formula Atlantic (FA), Formula Continental (FC), Formula Mazda (FM), Formula F (FF), Formula 500 (F500), Formula Vee (FV), Formula Enterprises (FE), Formula Enterprises 2 (FE2) and Formula 1000 (FB). Many of the winged FA and FC cars, along with several of the non-winged FF cars are produced by companies such as Lola, Van Diemen and Reynard. FA cars have motors that generate as much as 240hp. FB cars use motorcycle power. The FC runs a stock 2-liter engine with about 150hp while the FF motors make around 120hp. FM utilizes a sealed Mazda rotary engine, and the FE cars also use sealed Mazda motors. FV includes many home-built cars, as well as cars built by proven manufacturers, and is one of the most competitive and popular classes in SCCA. FV entries all run 1200cc stock VW engines. F500s run small displacement, two-stroke engines like snowmobiles and 600cc 4-stroke motorcycle engines, and are one of the least expensive classes to run in SCCA.

Prototype – There are four classes of purpose-built road racing cars with full composite bodies. Underneath, these cars are pure racing machines. The power plants in these cars vary from home-built “pieces and parts” engines and motorcycle engines to sealed identical motors. Prototype 1 (P1) and Prototype 2 (P2) evolved from the old C Sports Racing, D Sports Racing and S2000 classes. The P1 and P2 classes feature a variety of chassis including home-built, innovative designs and manufacturer produced cars. P1 cars are faster, with more aerodynamic aids allowed, while P2 cars are flat-bottom machines. The Spec Racer Ford Gen3 (SRF3) is a one-design, single seat car utilizing a sealed Ford engine. It is SCCA’s largest class and continues to provide cost-effective racing for more than 800 competitors. By limiting the modifications and preparation costs, this class emphasizes driver ability over spending.

Sedan – American Sedan (AS), comprised of Chevrolet Camaros, Pontiac Firebirds and GTOs, and Ford Mustangs, are production-based chassis with modified suspensions and brakes. Engines are primarily carbureted 302 and 305 CID V-8s that have been balanced and blueprinted, but recently fuel injection has also been permitted.

Touring – In response to the ever-increasing performance of today’s street cars and to expand participation by various manufacturers, SCCA developed a category for those high performance cars which, because of their performance potential, required some changes to their wheel/tires and suspension components. Touring 1 (T1) features the Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 and Ferrari 360. Front runners in T2 are the Camaro/ Firebird, Mustang GT, BMW M3, Pontiac Solstice GXP, Cadillac CTS-V, Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru STi. In T3 you’ll find such models as the Mazda RX-8, Audi TT and Chevrolet Cobalt. T4 is the smallest of the classes, with Ford Mustang, Honda Civic Si, BMW Z4, and Acura RSX Type S just a few of the cars that you can find there. B-Spec is a close cousin of the Touring category, featuring cars like the Mazda2, Honda Fit and Mini Cooper.

Grand Touring – GT cars are purpose-built, highly-modified “silhouette” replicas of series-produced sports sedans. GT cars are permitted tube-frame chassis with performance being equalized by allowing cars with smaller engines to compete at a lighter weight. GT-1 cars are the fastest of the category, and many cars have run in the Trans Am series. GT-2, GT-3 and GT-Lite cars get progressively lighter and less powerful. Cars include Toyota Celicas, Mazda RX-7s, Nissan 200SXs, Honda CRXs and Austin Mini Coopers, just to name a few.

Super Touring – Super Touring was designed to allow late-model production-based cars, like those found in Touring, more extensive modifications, including wings, to, in some instances, engine swaps. Super Touring Under (STU) is where you’ll find Mazda Proteges and 6s, Acura RSX and TSXs and Audi A4s. Super Touring Lite (STL) predominantly features cars with two liter and under engines.

Spec Miata – Making its debut in 2006, the Spec Miata (SM) class is intended to provide the opportunity to compete in low cost, production-based cars with limited modifications, suitable for racing competition. The rules were intentionally designed to be more open than the then-Showroom Stock class but more restricted than the Improved Touring class. Five generations of Mazda Miatas are approved for competition, including those built from 1990-93, 1994-97, 1999-2000, and 2001-2005, each model with its own set of restrictions to level the playing field.

 

Good luck and safe racing to all of the amateur racers at the Runoffs in Sonoma this weekend from TURNology!

 

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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