RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: Heinricy dominates T1 again

Touring 1 is the fastest of the Sports Car Club of America's nearly-stock race classes, featuring the American muscle of Chevrolet Corvettes and Dodge Vipers, this year joined by a lone Pontiac Firebird. The T1 National Championship race last year was a walkaway for Corvette engineer, John Heinricy, and at this year's SCCA Valvoline Runoffs® it was just the same. Last year's win was a total domination, with Heinricy winning by nearly a lap in the pouring rain. The weather today was sunny and his lead wasn't as large, but there was no doubt about the outcome.

John Heinricy.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Heinricy set a new lap record in qualifying and took the lead from the start. Behind him, Bobby Archer pulled his Viper even with second qualifier Robert Schader's Corvette and they went side-by-side through the first three turns before Archer got the position. By the time they had settled that, Heinricy was gone.

James Rathmann got the best start, coming from eighth on the grid to sixth at the end of lap one. He headed a tight six-car pack that had some of the best action of the race. Rathmann was just ahead of Thomas Oates, Nathan Chesmore, Henry Gilbert, Pete Looby, and Deborah Loth. Loth was driving a Viper, but the rest of the group was driving Corvettes. Looby passed Gilbert under braking for the esses on the fifth lap, and tried to get past Chesmore as well. Looby and Chesmore went side by side through the esses, but Looby spun his car at the bottom of the hill.

Later in that lap, Rathmann spun in the Carousel and caused a panic behind him. Fortunately, the whole group missed his spinning car. Kevin Mixon and Dan Knox caught and joined this pack when they slowed, and Rathmann rejoined the race behind them. Mixon and Knox both passed Loth when she had to drive into the pit entrance to miss Rathmann.

James Rathmann spins.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Mixon and Knox were having a great scrap, and quickly got around Gilbert to move into eighth and ninth, and Loth started pressuring Gilbert for tenth place. A couple of laps later, Chesmore took sixth place from Oates and Loth finally got around Gilbert. Chesmore would spin into the tire wall at the exit of turn 1 on lap 15, and was out of the race. Oates finished sixth, leading Mixon, Knox and Loth across the line.

With a huge lead, Heinricy was taking it easy and kept a comfortable cushion over Archer. Scotty White followed Schader closely for a while in the middle laps of the race, but fell back at the end to settle for 4th. Tom Lyons had an uneventful drive to fifth.