LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 20, 2001) -- Joe Huffaker owns five Gold Medals, emblematic SCCA Valvoline Runoff class championships, and is the defending champion in the GT5 category. Every one of those championships has come on Goodyear tires. The ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 20, 2001) -- Joe Huffaker owns five Gold Medals, emblematic SCCA Valvoline Runoff class championships, and is the defending champion in the GT5 category. Every one of those championships has come on Goodyear tires.
The 45-year-old Huffaker is a second-generation racer from Petaluma, Calif. His father also spent his career on Goodyear tires.
"My record is pretty clear," Huffaker said during a break from preparations for his title defense. "My Dad and I have been Goodyear people all our lives. I just think that you work with a company like Goodyear and, over the years, you progress with them."
While Huffaker was growing up, he was sometimes called Little Joe, as his father's name is also named Joe. But the younger Huffaker didn't stop growing until he reached 6-foot-5. That doesn't mean much until you realize he drives a Mini Cooper in the GT5 class and an MG Midget in the F Production class. Small cars for a big guy, but the combination has worked.
Huffaker, 45, uses the same Goodyear tire, the D-0805, on both cars. The cars have several things in common, including the fact that neither generates much downforce on the suspension. That makes the tires tremendously important.
"We get together with Goodyear prior to the event," Huffaker said. "Then we go scrub a set of tires in, start leaning on them in sessions. By the time you do that, you've probably gotten the best time out of that set, but you've also scrubbed them for a race set. Occasionally we've been caught out and I've had to race on a brand-new set and I've had pretty good luck with that as well."
You can't argue with Huffaker's success. He won the F Production titles in 1992 and 1997-1999 and won the GT-5 title in 2000. He is one of only 26 drivers with five or more Runoff titles. That puts him ahead of such notables as Roger Penske, Paul Newman and Elliott Forbes-Robinson.
Huffaker and his wife Leslie have three children, Joe, Rebecca and Holly.