RACE: National Runoffs: Race day one report

First Eight National Champions Crowned at SCCA Runoffs LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2004) -- The first eight of 24 National Champions were crowned Friday at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

First Eight National Champions Crowned at SCCA Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2004) -- The first eight of 24 National Champions were crowned Friday at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The day featured beautiful weather, some new National Champions and some former National Champions adding more medals to their mantles.

A recap of the day's action:

Race One, GT-5: Doug Peterson, of Rescue, Calif., captured his seventh National Championship Friday, taking the GT-5 CLASS win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Jimmy Burke, of Suwanee, Ga., and Kirk Olsen, of Lakewood, Colo., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 11 Seven Enterprises/Red Line Oil BLMI Mini Cooper, Peterson led every lap to repeat as GT-5 champion. On the opening lap, the start was waved off, as pole sitter Joe Huffaker pulled off-course with a broken rear axel. Getting the green flag on lap two, Peterson and Burke battled for the lead into turn seven, with Peterson holding the lead. Never truly challenged, Peterson captured his second consecutive GT-5 National Championship by 4.532-seconds and an average speed of 76.774 mph.

"It was a total surprise when Joe [Huffaker] pulled off at the start," said Peterson, who becomes the first five-time Runoffs winner in GT-5. "I pushed as hard as I could. I knew my tires would likely go away, so I drive as hard as I could. It was a great race."

Adam Malley, of Conyers, Ga., finished fourth, and Jack Baumgardner, of Mansfield, Ohio, completed the top-five.

Race Two, GT-2: David Finch, of Ann Arbor, Mich., captured his sixth National Championship Friday, taking the GT-2 class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Jim Goughary, of Houston, Texas, and Duane Davis, of Camas, Wash., completed the top three.

Driving the No. 66 Bosch/Red Line Oil Porsche 944, Finch started from the pole and led flag-to-flag for his first National Championship since 2000. Finch slowly pulled away from Goughary's Nissan from the middle of the race to the end, winning by 4.087 seconds and averaging 87.559 mph. Finch also set a new fast race lap record of 1:29.082 (91.251 mph).

"I missed a shift at the start and Jim [Goughary] got a little bit ahead," said Finch. "But, he was a gentleman and did not squeeze me. I was able to get back under him for first. We just went from there. Last year was very disappointing for a number of reasons. This certainly made up for it."

Gerry Mason, of Fishers, Ind., and Terry Gilles, of Avon Lake, Ohio, completed the top five.

Race Three, Showroom Stock B: Jim Leithauser, of Westminster, Colo., captured his first National Championship Friday, taking the Showroom Stock B class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Toby Grahovec, of Palos Park, Ill., and David Neilsen, of Galena, Ohio, Colo., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 74 Hoosier Tire/Bimmerhaus Performance 03 BMW Z4, Leithauser drove a comfortable race to capture his first career SCCA Runoffs win. Starting on pole, Leithauser fell back to second on the opening lap. Getting a good run out of the Keyhole turn, he retook the top spot in turn seven on lap two. Once out front, Leithauser steadily pulled out a lead of one second per lap, as second through fourth battled for position. At the checkered flag, Leithauser had captured the SSB National Championship by 12.480-seconds and an average speed of 74.767 mph.

"Last year [when the car was declared ineligible just before the start] was a heartbreaker," said Leithauser. "This year is so much better! I just focused on this year. I tried to forget what happened last year, just tried to win every race that I ran, and focused on this race. I got a good start, but Toby [Grahovic] outbraked me. I could have hit him but backed off and let him go. Then I got a great run down the straight and outbraked him going into turn seven. I can't tell you how happy I am!"

Chris Puskar, of Chesterland, Ohio., finished fourth, and Chad Gilsinger, of Marysville, Ohio, completed the top-five.

Race Four, H Production: Tom Feller, of Clarkston, Mich., won his first-ever National Championship Friday, taking the H Production class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dan Collishaw, of East Orleans, Mass., and Christopher Crisenbery, of Parma, Mich., completed the top three.

Driving the No. 71 WMI Imports/Brinks Mach/DJ Race Triumph Spitfire, Feller made a great start from his third position on the grid, diving inside polesitter Ron Bartell in the first corner to take the lead. Feller, Bartell and Collishaw ran nose-to-tail for several laps until Bartell spun at the beginning of the esses on lap three. Collishaw's Austin Healey Sprite dogged Feller for the remaining 20 laps, but could never make the pass. Feller won by 0.856-second, averaging 77.137 mph.

"At the start I had a good view of the green flag," said Feller, 23. "I didn't get much of a jump over the others, but we went three wide and I out-braked them into the turn. After that, I had to fight off Dan [Collishaw], who was in my mirrors all the time. I had a little more top end power than he did and he kept on trying to take me on the outside going down the straight but I was able to hold him off and out-brake him into the Esses."

Crisenbery held off a furious charge from John Salisbury, of Gurnee, Ill., to finish third. Behind Salisbury, Don Barrack, of Gerrardstown, W.V., completed the top five.

Race Five, Formula Atlantic: Robert Stallings, of Dallas, Texas, captured his first National Championship Friday, taking the Formula Atlantic class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Ashen Yelken, of Canfield, Ohio, and Keith Lively, of San Francisco, Calif., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 33 Blackhawk Motorsports/Gainsco Swift .014, Stallings captured the National Championship in his first-ever visit to the SCCA Runoffs. At the start of the race, Stallings fell back to third, while contact in esses brought out the full-course caution. Following a waved-off restart, racing resumed on lap six. Turning some of the fastest laps of the race, he began to close on the leader Dan Cobb. On lap 14 Stallings inherited the lead, when Cobb went off-course and retired. Once in the lead, Stallings pulled away from the field, taking the checkered flag by 19.410 seconds and an average speed of 78.256 mph.

"We had a Cinderella week," said Stallings. "This is my first time here and my second year in the car. My car was absolutely perfect all week. I was fastest in every session but final qualifying. My objective at the start was to get through turn one okay. That worked well, and I missed the crashed cars. I was reeling Cobb in and then he must have lost concentration because all of a sudden he went off. All in all, I had a terrific two weeks."

Randall Cook, of Palo Alto, Calif., finished fourth, and Mirl Swan, of Platte City, Mo., completed the top-five.

Race Six: Touring 1: John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., won his record fourth-straight National Championship in Touring 1, dominating the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. 2000 Champion Freddy Baker, of Bedford, Ohio, and Philip Croyle, of Boca Raton, Fla., completed the top three.

Driving the No. 35 Goodyear/Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Corvette, Heinricy led every session of the week. He even won the random draw to send him out in the opening qualifying session first among his 31 other competitors. At the start, Baker's Porsche looked as if it might edge into the lead going into the first corner, but Heinricy held the line in his Corvette, driving away from the competition to score a 12.3-second victory, averaging 81.033 mph.

The win was the fourth-straight flag-to-flag for Heinricy in Touring 1, making him just the sixth driver in the 41-year history of the Runoffs to win four or more in any class.

"I was asleep at the start," said Heinricy. "Baker got a nose ahead of me, but I worked my brakes hard. I got alongside Freddy [Baker] through the Esses, and then got going full bore and picked up the lead. I was able to drive to a reasonable lead and then to save tires. If Freddy had gotten ahead of me at the start he would have been difficult to pass. This was a brand new car this weekend; it never raced before."

Croyle moved up from his eighth starting position to score a career-best third place finish. Scotty B. White, of Puyallup, Wash., and Chris Ingle, of Newnan, Ga., completed the top five.

Race Seven, F Production: John Saurino, of Tulsa, Okla., captured his first-ever National Championship after a wild F Production race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Former Champion Craig Chima, of Akron, Ohio, and Mason Workman, of Columbus, Ohio, completed the top three.

Driving the No. 57 Red Line Oil/Goodyear MG Midget, Saurino battled polesitter Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., for the first 12 laps, swapping the lead numerous times until Sargis' Triumph Spitfire began running hot and he retired to the pits. After a full-course caution period to remove a car from the gravel trap, Saurino's gap over Chima evaporated, and on the last lap, Chima made his move as the two exited the keyhole turn.

Chima took the advantage, but it was short-lived, as Saurino dive-bombed the similar MG at the end of the back straight to take the lead. Chima, who had his gear shift come off and stick the car in third gear, attempted to carry too much speed over the Esses, and spun the car. Saurino sped away to a 12.35-second win, averaging 76.326 mph.

"Once Steve [Sargis] went off [to the pits], I asked 'Where's Craig, and what kind of times is he turning?'" said Saurino. "My crew said that he was five or six seconds back, and that he was running the same lap times. The yellow was the last thing I wanted to see because it puts a guy like Craig right behind you. Sure enough, he came by. In the Esses, I dove it in hard and heavy to get by. It's awesome. It was fun."

Workman had a steady race in his Mazda Miata to finish third, followed by Jerry Lamb, of Oswego, Ill., and Peter Morton, of Royal Oak, Mich.

Race Eight, Formula Mazda: Douglas Peterson, of Bonita Springs, Fla., captured his first National Championship Friday, taking the Formula Mazda class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Ernest Bocchino, of Delray Beach, Fla., and James Goughary, of Jupiter, Fla., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 78 3 Dimensional Services/Urgent Design & Manufacturing Formula Mazda, Peterson drove to his first SCCA Runoffs win following a 12th place finish at the Petit Le Mans STAR Mazda race earlier in the day in Braselton, Ga. Starting on the pole, Peterson was passed by Robin Nicholas and Bocchino at the start. Entering the esses on lap three, the leaders went three-wide, with Peterson retaking the lead under breaking. Running with a clear track in front of him, Peterson posted the fasted lap of the race, setting a new lap record of 1:26.803 (93.647 mph). At the checkered flag, he had captured the National Championship by 8.631 seconds and an average speed of 90.589 mph.

"I was following the leaders and they went left, so I went right," said Peterson about his pass for the lead. "It was dirty on the inside but we were able to get around the second place car. Then I braked very late and got past the leader for first. After that I just had to concentrate on doing my job and maintaining the pace."

Nicolas, of Haymarket, Va., finished fourth, and Chris Schanzle, of Damascus, Md., completed the top-five.

Now in its 41st year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crown the best amateur road racers in North America Champions. More than 700 competitors have gathered this year to battle for 24 class titles this year, with eight races being run each day from Friday through Sunday.

Celebrating its 60th Anniversary, Sports Car Club of America is a 60,000 member motorsports organization that sanctions and promotes grassroots and professional motorsports events of a variety of disciplines, including road racing, autocrossing, road rally and performance rally.

-scca pro racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Douglas Peterson , Duane Davis , David Finch , Joe Huffaker , James Goughary , Craig Chima , Terry Gilles , Jim Leithauser , Philip Croyle , Chris Schanzle , Jim Goughary , Tom Feller , Steve Sargis , Ron Bartell , Dan Collishaw , Christopher Crisenbery , Toby Grahovec , Chad Gilsinger , Randall Cook , Dan Cobb , Scotty B. White , Mirl Swan , Doug Peterson , Chris Ingle , Chris Puskar