RUNOFFS RECORD WITHIN REACH FOR WEBER TOPEKA, Kansas (Oct. 8, 2007) -- If anyone understands the spirit of the Sports Car Club of America's 2007 National Championship Runoffs presented by AT&T, that person is...
RUNOFFS RECORD WITHIN REACH FOR WEBER
TOPEKA, Kansas (Oct. 8, 2007) -- If anyone understands the spirit of the Sports Car Club of America's 2007 National Championship Runoffs presented by AT&T, that person is St. Louis resident Mark Weber.
Weber has qualified for and competed at every Runoffs since 1982. He has raced in four different classes through the years, mostly in production class cars, and before he started racing at the Runoffs he photographed the event for 11 years.
If all goes according to plan, Weber will establish a new mark for Runoffs participation later this month by starting his 41st Runoffs race before the conclusion of the three-day event at Heartland Park Topeka. The record, 40, is held by Randy Canfield. Canfield is still an active driver, but has not entered the 2007 event. Weber has started 39 Runoffs races and has qualified in two classes this year.
"I didn't set out to do that," Weber said of the record. "But I'll be darned, here we are."
Every one of Weber's Runoffs starts has come on Goodyear tires.
Goodyear is far and away the most successful tiremaker in Runoffs history and has never failed to win the most races in the event.
The SCCA recently commissioned a study of the Runoffs in order to determine a number of facts. The information brought to light Weber's chance to break the record.
Weber has entered the 2007 event in both F Production and H Production. He'll drive the same car in each race, an Austin Healy Sprite. In order to use the same car in both classes, Weber will have to change the engine and meet various weight requirements.
But he will not have to change his selection of Goodyear tires, since the tires Weber expects to use work equally with either of Weber's racing applications.
Weber, 54, said he started with Goodyear when he began racing. He said his loyalty to the Akron, Ohio-based company was logical.
"I've always thought that (Goodyear's) product was competitive," Weber said. "If (Goodyear) thought their tires needed improving, they had the resources to make it better."
Weber's argument makes sense. Last year, Tom Feller captured the H Production championship while racing on Goodyear tires and John Saurino won the F Production title on Goodyears.
Weber has used a lot of Goodyear rubber through the years. He has competed in F Production since 1994 and this will be his third year racing in H Production. He drove G Production cars from 1982 through 2005 and raced an open wheel Formula Ford in 2002. Last season, Weber qualified for the Runoffs in three classes: F Production, H Production and E Production. He elected to leave his E Production racer at home and concentrated on the other two classes.
"Randy Canfield has raced in the same class and the same car since the 1960s," said SCCA spokesman Eric Prill. Canfield is a five-time national champion.
Weber is an 11-time champ in the SCCA's Mid Western Division, with eight titles in G Production and three more in F Production. He won the F Production race in the prestigious SCCA Chicago Region June Sprints at Road America in 1995.
The information gleaned from the SCCA study revealed that more than 7,000 drivers have made at least one start at the Runoffs since the first event at the now-defunct Riverside International Raceway in California in 1964. The Runoffs has also been held at Florida's Daytona International Speedway, Road Atlanta in Georgia, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and, now, at Heartland Park Topeka. The event is the Olympics of amateur sports car racing.
Despite his success elsewhere, Weber has not been a winner at the Runoffs. Not yet, anyway. His best finish at the Runoffs came in G Production when soggy weather made his Goodyear rain tires an advantage in 1995.
"I had brand new rain tires and they were awesome," Weber recalled. "I started 16th and finished fifth. I had a great time."
Weber's car presents a slightly different application variant for its tires because the steering wheel is on the right side.
"I remember talking to (Goodyear's) Larry Robinson and he would always give me grief because my car is a right hand drive," Weber laughed.
Weber said other tiremakers have invited him to switch, but he has resisted.
"I've had opportunities," he said. "I thought I would always stick with Goodyear and they have stuck with me."
Whether he is capturing images for his company, Exclusive Sports Car Photography, or racing after that elusive first Runoffs victory, Mark Weber is a big part of the Runoffs and Goodyear is a big part of his story.
-credit: goodyear racing