RACE: Mid-Ohio Native Buckeyes hope to bring home gold at Runoffs

DUBLIN, Ohio (September 18, 2000) - Over 600 of North America's top amateur road racers will converge on the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) Valvoline Runoffs, October...

DUBLIN, Ohio (September 18, 2000) - Over 600 of North America's top amateur road racers will converge on the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) Valvoline Runoffs, October 2-8. Of the more than 600 entries, 81 drivers will represent Ohio in the SCCA National Championship event.

During the Valvoline Runoffs, 24 SCCA Club Racing National Championships are on the line in 20-lap races. To qualify for the season-ending event, drivers from 109 total SCCA Club Racing divisions encompassing all 50 states and Canada battle over a nine-month period to accumulate points and earn an invitation to compete in the "Olympics of Motorsports."

In this year's "Olympics," Ohio will be one of the top medal favorites, as nearly 13 percent of the huge field is from the Buckeye state. This represents two percent (10 drivers) more than the next most well represented state, California. The Ohio drivers want nothing more than to leave the Valvoline Runoffs as an SCCA National Champion in their home state.

Ohio has several favorites to claim gold at this year's Valvoline Runoffs. Veteran driver Warren Stilwell, of Hartville, has dominated the Valvoline Runoffs since 1994, when the event moved to Mid-Ohio from Road Atlanta. Since claiming the 1994 SCCA National Championship in Spec Racer Ford, Stilwell has won six titles in a row. During that streak, he has also won all four SCCA Pro Spec Racer events held at Mid-Ohio. Stilwell's dominant tenure is now at 10 victories in his last 10 races at the track. A win at this year's Valvoline Runoff would move him into sole possession of second place all time for the number of consecutive SCCA National Championships in the same class.

Another veteran, Dave Weitzenhof of Bath, has won seven SCCA national titles in the Formula category. He is third on the all-time list and second among active drivers for most championships overall. Also, with a win this year, Weitzenhof would become the only driver to win an SCCA National Championship in four different decades. His first win came in the Formula Vee class in 1972. He will be driving for gold this year in the Formula Continental class, where he won titles in 1992 and 1998.

"There is pressure in winning the Valvoline Runoffs because you always want to prove yourself," Weitzenhof said. "You always want to be the best in the country. If you've won a title before, you feel tremendous pressure to keep it going."

John Fergus, of Powell, has perhaps the best chance to claim victory when he returns this year to defend his Sports 2000 SCCA National Championship. When Fergus isn't racing in SCCA national events to earn points for the Valvoline Runoffs, he competes in the American City Racing League (ACRL). The ACRL came to Mid-Ohio twice for three total races this season, and Fergus won two of the battles. If practice makes perfect, Fergus could notch his third win of the season at Mid-Ohio, and his second consecutive SCCA Club Racing National Championship in the Sports 2000 class.

"The Valvoline Runoffs are unique," Fergus said. "Most championships, with the exception of the Olympics, rely upon a series of events to determine the winner. At this event, it's a one shot deal - just like the Olympics."

Other notable Ohio drivers include Tom Patton of Hamilton, last year's GT-2 champ, and Justin Pritchard of Pickerington, a 1996 Formula Continental champ now racing in Formula Ford. Al Beasley Sr., from Willoughby, has a D Sports Racer championship to his credit.

The Valvoline Runoffs has been part of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course season schedule since 1994, when the SCCA National Championship event came to the historic course after 24 years at Road Atlanta. Mid-Ohio has the second longest tenure as host of the event. The permanent road course will play home to the event through at least 2002.

Practice for the Runoffs begins Monday, October 2. Qualifying gets underway Tuesday, October 3, and runs through Thursday, October 5. The 20-lap championship races happen Friday, October 6, through Sunday, October 8. Daily, weekend and weeklong general admission passes are available. Call 1-800-MID-OHIO or (419) 884-4000, or visit the track's web site at www.midohio.com <http://www.midohio.com> for ticket information.

<pre> VALVOLINE RUNOFFS OHIO DRIVERS ENTRY LIST

Entry List as of 9/18/00 Alphabetical by Drivers' Last Names

NAME CITY CAR NO. RACE CLASS

Phil Alspach Columbus 10 D Sports Racer Jason Bach Sylvania 63 Formula Continental Freddy Baker Bedford 02 Touring One George Bauchman Maumee 14 G Production Juergen Baumann Hilliard 28 Showroom Stock B Jack Baumgardner Mansfield 44 GT-5 Al Beasley Jr. Windham 47 C Sports Racer (racing in two classes) 45 D Sports Racer Al Beasley Sr. Willoughby 44 D Sports Racer Rusty Bell Galena 89 GT-4 Bill Braucksick Cincinnati 69 Sports 2000 Chuck Brewer Loveland 13 Formula Ford Mark Buckles Lyndhurst 57 F Production Bob Chapman Plain City 49 Spec Racer Ford Larry Connor Centerville 17 Formula Atlantic Ron Copeland Maumee 17 GT-4 Tim Cowen Ashland 75 GT-1 Emmanuel Crouvisier Waite Hill 10 Touring One Michael Cyphert Chagrin Falls 76 GT-3 Mark Defer Streetsboro 8 Formula Continental Ralph Denney Groveport 7 G Production Scott Dick Cincinnati 27 Formula Continental Mike Dougherty Navarre 20 Touring Two Tim Dunn Chesterland 19 Formula Ford Lee Feineigle Van Buren 04 F Production Greg Feller Maumee 46 H Production John Fergus Powell 00 Sports 2000 Norman Fox Maluern 33 Formula Atlantic Larry Frey Westerville 7 Showroom Stock C Larry Funk Oberlin 22 E Production Larry Gallagher Thornville 50 GT-3 Rob Giorgi Rocky River 68 GT-1 Dick Grieser Holland 2 Showroom Stock B Sam Halkias Westerville 83 E Production Mark Hardymon Delaware 54 Sports 2000 Rick Haynes Columbus 81 F Production Joe Horvath Mentor 08 Spec Racer Ford Keith Jones Lorain 61 GT-2 David Kienlen Middletown 68 Showroom Stock B T.C. Kline Hilliard 12 Showroom Stock B John Lechner North Olmsted 80 Showroom Stock C Kathy Lyle Novelty 2 Touring Two Gary Martz Canton 09 E Production Kenneth McVicker Worthington 83 American Sedan=09 Steve Miller Kettering 76 F Production Don Mills Mansfield 85 Touring Two John Mills Wayne 52 GT-4 Earl Myers Fostoria 65 GT-2 Bill Niemeyer Jr. Loveland 65 F Production Tom Patton Hamilton 1 GT-2 Barney Powers Lebanon 63 D Sports Racer Justin Pritchard Pickerington 10 Formula Ford Jim Rauck Grove City 00 GT-5 Lori Reinacher Hilliard 29 Showroom Stock B David Roush Shelby 13 Showroom Stock B John Ruhlin Dublin 11 Showroom Stock C Sue Rupp Fredericktown 5 G Production Doug Ruth Amanda 14 GT-4 Mark Sandridge Westfield Center 49 Touring Two Sandy Satullo Chagrin Falls 07 Spec Racer Ford John Schmitt Sunbury 62 E Production Brian Shanfeld Hilliard 17 Showroom Stock B Martin Shook Beachwood 47 American Sedan=09 Ken Simonson Strongsville 86 Showroom Stock B Ben Smith Thompson 27 D Sports Racer David Smith Novelty 14 American Sedan Jack Smith Galloway 21 Formula 500 Noah Smith Spring Valley 71 Formula Vee David Stefke Cincinnati 76 Sports 2000 Warren Stilwell Hartville 28 Spec Racer Ford Ron Thomas Galena 91 Formula Continental Boris Tirpack Enon 18 GT-1 David Toler Hamilton 91 F Production (racing in two classes) 34 GT-2 Chuck Turner Columbus 2 H Production Kumar Viswalingam Cincinnati 9 Touring Two Jim Wade Canal Fulton 36 Touring Two Brent Waltz Avon Lake 22 Spec Racer Ford Dave Weitzenhof Bath 67 Formula Continental Randy Wiseman Columbus 50 Formula Mazda Bill Whitehouse Cincinnati 32 Sports 2000

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Series SCCA
Drivers Tim Dunn , David Roush , Don Mills , Brian Shanfeld , Juergen Baumann , Bill Niemeyer , Brent Waltz , Larry Connor , John Fergus , Tim Cowen , John Schmitt , Sam Halkias , Gary Martz , Tom Patton , Earl Myers , David Stefke , Mark Hardymon , Bill Braucksick , Al Beasley Jr. , Phil Alspach , Boris Tirpack , Rob Giorgi , Michael Cyphert , Mark Defer , Scott Dick , Jim Rauck , Bob Chapman , Justin Pritchard , George Bauchman , Ken Simonson , Lee Feineigle , Doug Ruth , Rusty Bell , Ron Copeland , Mark Sandridge , Kumar Viswalingam , T.C. Kline , Noah Smith , Chuck Turner , David Smith , Steve Miller , Jack Smith