RACE: National Runoffs: Mazda drivers race notes

MAZDA IDENTIFIES NEW STARS IN KANSAS -- Five Racers Qualify for Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout -- October 16, 2007 (IRVINE, Calif.) -- The state motto of Kansas is Ad astra per aspera, or "To the stars through difficulties." After three days of ...

-- Five Racers Qualify for Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout --

October 16, 2007 (IRVINE, Calif.) -- The state motto of Kansas is Ad astra per aspera, or "To the stars through difficulties." After three days of difficult competition, five more Mazda racers are eligible to win a Mazda MX-5 to race professionally in 2008. The biggest prize at the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by AT&T, but only available to Mazda racers, is an opportunity to compete in the post-season Mazda-hosted MX-5 Cup shootout. Every Mazda-powered runoff champion is eligible to win a brand-new Mazda MX-5 and the MAZDASPEED parts required to build an MX-5 Cup car to compete in the 2008 pro series. This is the single largest prize in club racing and is valued in excess of $50,000.

128 Mazda racers took place in a total of 13 races at the Heartland Park Topeka racetrack. They scored five wins, a total of 14 podium finishes and earned $41,250 in contingency prize money from Mazda. This was more podiums and more contingency money than any other car company competing at the 2007 Runoffs. Mazda tied Ford for the most race wins. This raises the total number of Mazda Runoff championships to 51.

Race by race notes:

Spec Miata (SM) -- 37 cars took the green flag for a wild race that ended with the majority of cars with at least a little dirt and grass marks from off-road excursions. The top two was a reversal of the 2006 results, with Brad Rampelberg of San Jose, Calif, winning over Andrew Caddell of Graham, Wash. Third place was Steven Ott of Missouri City, Tex. Rampelberg is now qualified to compete in the post-season MX-5 Cup shootout.

Formula Mazda (FM) -- Formula Mazda, the club level stepping stone to the professional Star Mazda, has been an SCCA Runoffs class since 1998. This year saw 19 identical Mazda rotary power cars take the green flag. After 18 laps of competition, Jim Goughary Jr. completed a perfect race: pole position, fastest lap, and a flag-to-flag win. Goughary was also the only winner of the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown ® for winning his divisional championship, the June Sprints, and the Runoff.

Touring 3 (T3) -- Robert Huffmaster of Rochester Hills, Mich. led a Mazda RX-8 one-two finish in a very wet race. A severe thunderstorm delayed the race by almost two hours. Chasing Huffmaster across the line was 2006 T3 champion Rick Gilhart. The leading piston-engine competitor was black-flagged for excessive noise.

E Production (EP) -- Rotary power ruled in a large 38 car E Production field with an RX clean sweep of positions one through five -- four RX-7s and an RX-3. Add in a few Miatas and Mazda took 15 of the top 16 places. Thomas Thrash Jr of Houston, Texas, won over Tony Rivera of Missouri City, Texas, and Bob Neal of Harbor City, Calif. It was very much a battle amongst good friends with Thrash, Rivera, and Neal celebrating each other's accomplishments in victory circle and in the post-race interview.

F Production (FP) -- The most exciting race of the weekend with at least a dozen lead changes. This was a battle of the roadsters with seven Miatas against a variety of Lotus and MGs. 2006 FP Champion Jesse Prather of Topeka, Kansas won the pole in his Miata and repeated as champion.

Showroom Stock C (SSC) - MAZDA3 racer Joe McClughan, of New Braunfels, Texas scored the first Mazda podium finish of the weekend with a third place on Friday morning, while MAZDA3 racer John Saucier, of Oklahoma City, Okla., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions during the race.

Showroom Stock B (SSB) -- Five Mazdas among 28 entries. Top Mazda finisher was Kristina Etherington, of Sammamish, Wash., who drove her "Mom & Dad"-sponsored 1999 Miata to a 16th place finish.

C Sports Racing (CSR) -- Doug Schumacher of Cedar Rapids, Iowa was the highest-placed Mazda-powered car. He drove his Star Mazda MSR to a seventh-place finish after starting 11th.

Grand Touring 1 (GT1) -- In a field of five-liter V-8s Glen Jung, in his 1.3-Liter RX-7, was once again the David among the Goliaths. Jung, the lone Mazda in the class, qualified seventh, and finished seventh in his #77 RX-7.

Grand Touring 2 (GT2) -- Three RX-7s among a field of 19. Top Mazda finisher was Evan Gardner of South Barrington, Illinois, who started 12th and finished sixth.

Grand Touring 3 (GT3) -- Thomas Thrash Jr., of Houston, Texas drove his Mazda RX-7 to third place from a fifth place starting position.

Grand Touring LITE (GTL) -- The loan Mazda in the field, driven by Howard Gerstein of Lancaster, Penn. was a DNF.

Formula Atlantic (FA) -- Another David among Goliaths story with Mark Felsen of Denver, Colo., racing his Star Mazda among a field of more powerful Formula Atlantic cars. Felsen qualified 16th and finished tenth.

-credit: mazda

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Rick Gilhart , Glen Jung , Jim Goughary , Brad Rampelberg , Howard Gerstein , Steve Ott