RACE: Ohio drivers race for gold at runoffs

DUBLIN, Ohio (September 15, 2004) - Over the course of American history, Ohio has played a long and distinguished role. The Buckeye State has an equal footing in the motorsports industry, producing such racing stars as Bobby Rahal, Roger Penske,...

DUBLIN, Ohio (September 15, 2004) - Over the course of American history, Ohio has played a long and distinguished role. The Buckeye State has an equal footing in the motorsports industry, producing such racing stars as Bobby Rahal, Roger Penske, and the 2004 24 Hour of Le Mans champion in the P2 class, Clint Field.

The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® presented by Kohler, September 20-26 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, showcases a new breed of Ohio-grown talent that may not be as familiar to the casual observer, but are no less respected in the motorsports community.

Eighty-four Ohio drivers are among the 750 competitors entered into the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® presented by Kohler. The Buckeye contingent is geared to duplicate the success of the 2003 class. During last year's event, three Ohio residents left the weekend as newly crowned national champions, with five Ohio drivers finishing as runner-up and four more capturing bronze medals. The race weekend was set-up by a successful qualifying week, as three Buckeyes found themselves perched securely on pole position at Mid-Ohio.

Jonathon Dick (of Columbus; competing in Formula 500), Justin Pritchard (Granville, Formula Ford) and Mark Sandridge (Westfield Center; Touring 2) all took home gold medals, leaving a number of Ohio drivers eager for improvement in the 2004 fall motorsports classic.

Among the near-misses is Bath, Ohio resident Dave Weitzenhof. Weitzenhof, a seven-time SCCA National Champion, finished second a year ago. Searching for an eighth championship and with defending race winner Mike Andersen not entered in this year's event, many consider Weitzenhof the favorite. The experienced veteran doesn't think this puts any more pressure on him than any other event.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to live up to the standards I've set, but I don't think of myself particularly as a 'target'," said Weitzenhof.

Like many other Ohio drivers, Weitzenhof is happy that the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® presented by Kohler is a "home game", and is especially happy that the setting is the historic 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

"The hometown aspect is mostly good. I can commute instead of staying in a motel, and I'll have a few more fans in my corner. I spend a huge amount of time working on the car myself. I think it's good that Mid-Ohio is a driver's track and emphasizes driver and car set-up ability."

Whether a target or not, Weitzenhof has been predicted to win an eighth Formula Continental National Championship by SportsCar magazine. The official publication of the SCCA annually publishes a "Who Will Win" preview of the National Championship. Also predicted to hoist a first-place trophy is Jordan Sandridge of Westfield Center in the Touring-2 class. Sandridge sat on the pole a year ago, but watched his father, Mark, earn the crown. Three-time Sports 2000 National Champion John Fergus, from Powell, Ohio, gets SportsCar's nod to capture a fourth this year.

Overall, the publication has selected nine Ohio drivers to finish on the podium at Mid-Ohio, with many more capable of sneaking into a top-three finish with a good weekend of racing.

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 Bobby Rahal , Jordan Sandridge , John Fergus , Clint Field , Justin Pritchard , Mark Sandridge , Roger Penske