RACE: National Runoffs: GM Racing preview

GM Looks to Extend Consecutive SCCA National Championship Win Streak to 51 Years WARREN, Mich. -- When the 43rd Annual Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Club Racing National Championship Runoffs debut at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas next...

GM Looks to Extend Consecutive SCCA National Championship Win Streak to 51 Years

WARREN, Mich. -- When the 43rd Annual Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Club Racing National Championship Runoffs debut at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas next week on Oct. 9-15, GM-powered vehicles will attempt to make it

51 straight years of winning at least one SCCA National Championship.

In 1956, Dr. Richard Thompson drove a 265 cu. in. V8 Chevrolet Corvette to the first SCCA National Championship win for a GM vehicle. Since then, club racers in GM-powered cars have won 125 National Championships, using almost every engine configuration the company has developed -- a multitude of big- and small-block V8s, opposed-six cylinders, V6 and four-cylinder engines.

Through the efforts of GM Performance Division, GM brand vehicles are now classed in every SCCA Touring and Showroom Stock class, including the Chevrolet Corvette in Touring 1 (T1), Cadillac CTS-V, Pontiac GTO, Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird in Touring 2 (T2), Chevy Cobalt SS Supercharged and Saturn ION Red Line in Touring 3 (T3), Pontiac Solstice, Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird in Showroom Stock B (SSB) and the naturally-aspirated Chevy Cobalt SS in Showroom Stock C (SSC).

GM Performance Division also provides engineering technical support for GM vehicles competing in all the Touring and Showroom Stock classes, and will be on-hand at the Runoffs with a cadre of engineers who will support GM racers and source any needed parts through Superior Chevrolet's on-site parts truck.

"With the CTS-V, Cobalt SS, ION Red Line and Solstice all classed for competition, club racers now have a wealth of current GM product options to choose from when they get involved in SCCA racing," said GM Performance Division executive John Heinricy. "Plus, vehicles such as the Chevy Corvette, Pontiac GTO, Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird are always strong contenders."

"We're very confident GM's consecutive win streak will stay intact, especially when you consider roughly 10-15 percent of the more than 700 vehicles racing next week will be GM products."

The T1 class has been dominated this decade by Heinricy and his Corvettes, which are race-prepared by Phoenix Performance and owner Joe Aquilante.

Through 2005, Heinricy has won five straight SCCA T1 National Championships in his Corvettes and has nine total championships in three classes, the most wins by any active SCCA driver. He also set two new track records this year at Sebring in both T1 and SSC en route to his Runoffs invitation.

The thunderous T1 race will again be a crowd-pleaser for Runoffs fans of mega-horsepower. In this year's race, a fleet of Chevrolet Corvette Z06 drivers, including other strong entries from Phil Croyle, Chris Ingle and Lance Knupp, will go wheel-to-wheel with drivers of the Dodge Viper SRT-10 and Ferrari 360 Challenge.

"The Corvette Z06 against the Viper is the present generation's version of the late 1960s Runoffs battles their fathers watched, between the 427 Corvettes and the 427 Cobras," added Heinricy.

Aquilante was also instrumental in introducing the Pontiac Solstice into SCCA racing for 2006 in cooperation with GM Performance Division, and currently supports two entries, a Solstice driven by his son Andrew and another driven by Don Knowles. His shop also helped build two more Solstices, one owned by retired GM executive Stan Czacki and one owned by his brother Tom Aquilante.

Powered by a 177 hp, 2.4-liter Ecotec engine, the Pontiac Solstice is the newest star of SCCA, with a Club Racing SSB Division Championship in the Northeast by Andrew Aquilante and two Solo National Championships in C Stock Open and C Stock Ladies autocross competition, all firsts for the car.

All SCCA Club Racing Solstices and most Solo entries are equipped with the Z0K Club Sport regular production order option package, which is designed for the weekend racer and currently available to order through any Pontiac dealership.

Developed by GM Performance Division, the Club Sport package features the standard five-speed manual transmission along with antilock brakes (ABS), a limited-slip differential and FE3 suspension. The FE3 suspension is standard on the 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP.

In addition to the two Solstices supported by Phoenix, the Solstices owned by Czacki, Tom Aquilante and GM quality engineer Alan Yankielun will compete at the Runoffs. Yankielun won the Oak Tree National at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 13.

"The Pontiac Solstice became very formidable as the 2006 season unfolded and has a legitimate shot at a National Championship in its first year,"

said Heinricy. "It debuted with a podium finish, and then went on to win six races and finish on the podium four more times setting three track records for fastest lap along the way."

The same naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter Ecotec engine powering the Solstice also makes its SSC Runoffs debut in the Chevy Cobalt SS. The Cobalt SS was newly classed for SSC in 2006 and won its first two national outings, setting a new track record at Sebring this past January in its first race.

For the season, a Cobalt SS finished on the SSC podium six times, including a third win at Grattan Raceway in Belding, Mich. on May 14.

Making up the other Touring classes are a Pontiac GTO driven by Chris Brannon and a Cadillac CTS-V driven by GM design engineer John Buttermore in T2, and strong Chevy Cobalt SS Supercharged and Saturn ION Red Line entries driven by Joe Aquilante, Stan Wilson, and Mike Kramer (ION) in T3.

Brannon had five national wins this year, and the Cobalt SS Supercharged totaled 11 wins on the season with seven additional podium finishes.

To reward drivers of GM products for doing well in their races, GM Performance Division will award every podium finish and pole qualification by a GM vehicle during the week -- $5,000 for a National Championship, $3,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $1,000 for qualifying on the pole.

With more than 75 anticipated GM race vehicles between all the classes as well as the technical support and financial incentive from GM Performance Division, GM's consecutive SCCA National Championship win streak is almost certain to reach the 51-year milestone this year.

The Runoffs will be broadcast on SPEED TV throughout the winter. Check local listings for dates and times.

GM Performance Division develops compelling, low volume, high-performance production and specialty vehicles, including the 205 hp Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged, 395 hp Chevy Trailblazer SS and 400hp Chevy SSR; the 400 hp CTS-V, 469 hp STS-V and 443 hp XLR-V from the Cadillac V-Series; and the 205 hp Saturn ION Red Line.

-credit: gm racing

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Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Stan Czacki , Stan Wilson , Joe Aquilante , Don Knowles , Mike Kramer , John Buttermore , Andrew Aquilante , Chris Ingle