RACE: Runoffs this week at Mid Ohio

As the Summer Olympics end in Australia, another event -- which has been called the "Olympics of amateur road racing" -- takes place this week (Oct. 2-8) at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It's the Valvoline Runoffs, the 37th edition of...

As the Summer Olympics end in Australia, another event -- which has been called the "Olympics of amateur road racing" -- takes place this week (Oct. 2-8) at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It's the Valvoline Runoffs, the 37th edition of the Sports Car Club of America's national championship for 24 racing classes, including showroom stock, production, GT, Formula and sports racer. Nearly 700 competitors, representing 40 states plus Canada, earned their way to the Valvoline Runoffs by placing in the top eight in their class in eight different SCCA divisions. Each of the title races will be 20 laps (48 miles) -- a one-lap increase over last year's distance -- or 40 minutes around the 2.4-mile, 15-turn road circuit. For the 16th consecutive year, Valvoline is sponsoring the Runoffs, offering more than $120,000 in contingency awards. Racers also can receive Valvoline motor oil, including the latest formula of Valvoline VR1 Racing Motor Oil, the best-selling racing oil of all time. In addition, racers can receive Valvoline SynPower products, Pyroil Automotive Chemicals and Eagle One car care products. Professional stars, including Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser -- even Paul Newman -- have competed in the Valvoline Runoffs. Speedvision will provide extensive TV coverage throughout the weekend, starting Friday (Oct. 6) at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern).

In Bo Derek's famed movie, "10" stood for the ultimate in perfection. SCCA GT-2 class racer Duane Davis already is a "10" -- but he thinks he can be better. Davis, of Camas, Wash., will be trying for his 11th SCCA championship in this weekend's Valvoline Runoffs at Mid-Ohio. Davis, 51, driver of the Valvoline Toyota Celica, leads all active participants with 10 crowns: five in GT-2 (1991-93; 1996-97), three in GT-5 (1985-87), and two in GT-4 (1987-88). Like almost all of the nearly 700 competitors at Mid-Ohio, Davis' professional life is outside of racing. He owns a construction company in the Portland/ Vancouver area that specializes in building dental clinics, with more than 50 completed thus far, but the Valvoline Runoffs is his No. 1 goal each year. "My entire racing season, and my mindset, is directed at that event only," he says. "A lot of people wear themselves out during the regular season, not only their energy, but their budgets and friends and crew. I consider the required qualifying races to be putting in my time and testing. The single goal is to go to the Valvoline Runoffs and do well there. A lot of people, because of that limited schedule, probably think I lack seat time, but I've been doing this for 25 years, so it's second-nature to me." Davis admits he gets caught up in the history of the Valvoline Runoffs, an event he's been going to since 1983, when it was staged at Road Atlanta. "There's a lot of tradition. It's an annual trek for me. If it were not for the Runoffs, I would be racing in some other organization. The thing that it (10 titles) has brought to me is recognition. I would bet half of the drivers in the Runoffs recognize me. They walk up to me, slap me on the back, call me by my first name, and say, 'Hi. How are you? Have a good time.' "There's also a sense of accomplishment. There's very few things in life that you can pinpoint as an accomplishment, and having 10 national championships is an accomplishment I'm proud of. I'm pretty motivated for No. 11 because it's been pretty hard to get the last couple of years. Our car has been fully developed and other people are catching up." Davis' GT-2 race is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m., event No. 21 of 24, and will be televised live by Speedvision.

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Series SCCA
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Duane Davis