RACE: National Runoffs ready to take off at Mid-Ohio

Next Racing Superstar To Follow in Footsteps of Rahal, Penske Runoffs Championship Provides Springboard To Pro Career DUBLIN, Ohio (September 17, 2004) - When over 750 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) amateur racers battle for positioning on...

Next Racing Superstar To Follow in Footsteps of Rahal, Penske
Runoffs Championship Provides Springboard To Pro Career

DUBLIN, Ohio (September 17, 2004) - When over 750 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) amateur racers battle for positioning on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the week long SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler, September 20-26, spectators may want to make a mental note of the 24 National Champions' names.

Although the identities of the best amateur racers in the United States may not yet be household names, the talent level displayed during this fall motorsports classic is unsurpassed. For years, racers have used SCCA Club Racing and a national championship to springboard toward professional careers. Among those advancing their driving careers include racing superstars Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Roger Penske and Elliot Forbes-Robinson.

More than just these long-time racing legends have made the jump to a very successful professional career. During the 2004 season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, six former national champions climbed aboard the podium in a variety of classes during the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio (held June 25-27) and EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic (August 6-8).

Included in that count is the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT race, which was undoubtedly one of the top races of the 2004 season. When the dust settled, 5-time SCCA National Champion Michael Galati (1989, 1990, 1993 and 1994, in Showroom Stock C; 1997, in Showroom Stock B) found himself on top of the podium. Finishing just behind Galati was teammate and 2-time Runoffs winner, Randy Pobst (1992 in Showroom Stock C; 1995 in Showroom Stock A), with John Heinricy finishing third. All crossed the finish line less than a second apart.

Heinricy captured the American Sedan and Touring-1 SCCA National Championship titles in 2003, and returns to defend his dual titles during the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler. Unlike drivers that have stepped from an amateur career to a long pro career, the Holland, Michigan resident has worked the other way.

"I was lucky enough to get into pro racing really quick," said Heinricy, the Director of High Performance Vehicles at General Motors. "I've gone back to the club format because it fits my lifestyle, and my job."

With over 250 professional races under his belt, Heinricy knows how much talent an event like the SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler holds. Even as the defending champion in two classes, there are no guarantees for a repeat performance.

"In the races that I've been running (Touring-1 and American Sedan), the depth is really high. There are at least a half-dozen racers in each class that could do well professionally right now, and at least that many more that could easily build up to a good pro career. That's really pretty impressive to have a field that is that deep."

Also included among the former champions that finished on the podium during a 2004 pro race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is Bob Endicott (1999, E Production), who co-drove his Acura RSX Type-S to a third place finish in the ST class during the Grand-Am Cup 250 at Mid-Ohio. In the same race, three-time national champ and road racing hot shoe Boris Said (1989-1991 in Showroom Stock GT) helped to pilot his team to a third place spot on the GS class podium. Andrew Prendeville, the 2002 Formula Continental champion, captured a win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Formula Ford Zetec Championship during the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio weekend and finished the season championship in second place.

The SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler begin with practice sessions for each of the 24 classes on Monday, September 20th. Tuesday through Thursday consists of qualifying for the weekend's main events. The first of 24 SCCA National Champions will be crowned Friday morning; from that point through Sunday afternoon, the Mid-Ohio racing surface will be bustling as eight races are run daily.

For tickets or more information on the SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler, contact Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course at 1-800-MID-OHIO or www.midohio.com.

The SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually contributes a $7 million economic impact to the Mansfield area. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is a 60,000 member organization that sanctions over 2,000 amateur and professional motorsports events each year, including Pro Racing, Club Racing and Rally/Solo events. The SCCA celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2004. In addition to over 700 competitors, 800 other SCCA members from across the country will volunteer their time to assist in various duties, from corner workers and pit marshals to duties in timing and scoring.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.4-mile, 15-turn permanent road racing circuit in Lexington, Ohio. Located 60 miles north of Columbus and 75 miles south of Cleveland near Mansfield, the track has been called the most competitive in the U.S. and annually hosts a diversity of locally, regionally and nationally sanctioned racing events for amateur, club and professional riders and drivers. Mid-Ohio's 2004 schedule features seven spectator events, including the SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler (September 20-26).

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, TrueSports, Inc. is a privately held motorsports entertainment enterprise. The company owns and operates Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School, and promotes a wide variety of motor racing, driver instruction, corporate, and family entertainment events throughout the year.

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Boris Said , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , John Heinricy , Randy Pobst , Michael Galati , Andrew Prendeville , Bob Endicott , Roger Penske