Report from the 2016 Runoffs

by Sam Fouse

In 2013, SCCA celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Runoffs at historic Road America, which in my opinion is the ultimate ‘bucket list’ road course in the United States, both for the driver and the spectator. That event also marked the end of the line for multi-year contracts for Runoffs venues. Starting in 2014 and going forward, the event began rotating around the country: east, west, and in the middle.  First up in 2014 was Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was the first western Runoffs since Riverside in 1968. In 2015, the Runoffs returned to Daytona, the site of some of the earliest championships (’65,’67,’69). Next year, we’ll be visiting Indy for the first time ever, then back out west in 2018, before returning east again in 2019. Sites for ’18 and ’19 as of this writing are still TBD. Heard lots of rumors, nothing solid.

For 2016, the Runoffs circus visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 2005, which at the time was the last year of a 12-year run at the historic track in NE Ohio. You may think of Mid-Ohio as an old line club road course, but it’s actually 5 years younger than VIR (‘62 vs. ‘57). It has a special place for me, as it is where I attended my first sports car race as a teenager in 1967 and was also the site of my one and only (to-date) Runoffs entry, in 1995. If you are interested in the history of the Runoffs and of SCCA National Championship racing in general, I highly recommend you visit www.scca.com/runoffs, go to the sidebar on the right, and scroll down to “Runoffs Media Guide and Record Book”. There you will find a well put together 68 page history in a downloadable pdf format.

As a track, Mid-Ohio offers an appropriate challenge with some off-camber, blind turns, and is best characterized as a mid-speed ‘stop-n-go’ track with only one significantly long straightaway, when compared to Daytona, Road America, or some of our other SEDIV tracks. In the bigger picture as a facility, since all of the paddock space lies outside the track surface, it offers almost unlimited paddock space, much of it paved, which seemingly stretches forever up the hill behind. That also leaves a terrific infield geared to just spectating, and there is abundant camping space. I have seen a lot of change at Mid-Ohio since my first visit in the 60’s, when the paddock was just a grass slope behind a block control tower at start/finish. Most of the change occurred during the Jim Trueman (Red Roof Inns)/CART era when the paddock was leveled and paved, with much of the fill being used to build the spectator hills. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the scenic village of Lexington nearby. Mid-Ohio is definitely worth a visit and it remains one of my favorites.

This year’s event enjoyed some of the most perfect weather I can ever remember during a Runoffs week, and I’ve attended about 30 of them in one capacity or another. At this point I’d like to thank Dennis Shaw for allowing me to ‘camp’ in his motor home for the week right along the fence just up from turn one and the trailer of Wayne and Jean Quick. We had a great spot to access just about everything.

Understand that a Runoffs effort, whether by driver, crew, or worker, is a major commitment of both time and money, far in excess of any other SCCA event. Expect ten days of lodging minimum for driver and crew, not including towing time at both ends. For drivers, add to that several sets of tires ($) and bringing all your best stuff ($$), not to mention weeks of prep work in advance.  With all that said, 8 NC Region racers participated this year: Eric Cruz in FE, Donnie Isley in FV, Bob Wheless in P1, Doug Piner and Bryan Yates in P2, Alex Phelps in STU, Kirk Knestis in STL, and our 6–time National Champion Don Knowles in T4. Although they didn’t bring home any hardware this year, they all raced well and finished respectably.

Our worker contingent included some of our best: Heather Clark, Ben Tyler, Megan Smith, Mark Biamonte, Anna Crissman, Heather Powers, Mo Overstreet, and of course Wayne Quick as a steward. I’m sure they represented us very well, and please forgive me if I’ve left someone out that I wasn’t aware of or didn’t see personally.

Clayton Condrey stayed busy all week crewing for Doug Piner while Dan Robson and Dennis Shaw supported Chad Bacon in GT3. I’m sure there were lots of other NCR members attending as crew also, but I have no source to reference them.

Overall, Runoffs participation in some classes was lighter than I’m sure SCCA had hoped for, and many races were shortened by incidents that unfortunately resulted in the clock running out early. To be fair, Mid-Ohio doesn’t have a lot of space to safely park cars during a race, so many incidents were worked ‘live’ that we might not have had to at VIR. However, there were still some close, hard-fought, full-length races. Overall, it was an excellent week for spectating and there’s no place that I’d rather be than at the Runoffs in the fall.

The sights, sounds, smells, and most importantly, the people, are why we all attend. Along those lines, of course there were the usual parties and banquets during the week. I attended the Richland County Chamber of Commerce feast in Mansfield on Monday, as did many NCR members, followed by the Mazda banquet on Wednesday, and the SCCA tent party on Thursday evening. And since none of our guys were racing on Friday, three of us snuck away to visit the Air Force Museum in Dayton on Friday. That is a visit I highly recommend. Should be right on the way to or from Indy next year.

Speaking of Indy, I expect the turnout for next year’s Runoffs will easily exceed this year by quite a bit for two reasons: 1. It’s Indy (bucket list), and 2. SCCA has now lowered the bar to qualify. Look for the NCR contingent to grow next year also. As they say, all it takes is time and money.

A Few New Things

by Heather Clark

This year held quite a few firsts for me as an NCR-SCCA member. I became a Member-at-Large on the Board of Directors, attended the Runoffs held at Mid-Ohio and decided to become one of the three “wise guys” of F&C for the 2017 race season, which also means I’ll be a member of the Competition (Comp) Board.

I must have bumped my head or I am just a glutton for punishment, right?

As a Member-at-Large I’ve learned quite a bit about the operations of the region from planning, to making changes that have bettered the club as a whole, to carrying out/reviewing events. It takes time: emails – lots of emails; meetings – better attended in person than via teleconference as it’s much easier to hear and the food and beer at Piper’s Deli is amazing (to all those I text so you can understand what you’re hearing you’re welcome); and patience. Lots and lots of patience. I have another year to go in my stint as a Member-at-Large but have already gained much experience to add to my resume that I would never have obtained at my job. I very much look forward to the workings of the Board in 2017. Whether you choose to become a Board Member yourself, attend meetings, or submit feedback (positive feedback is needed as much as negative feedback), I highly suggest you do so.

Next: The Runoffs. I had never flagged the Runoffs in my 10 years as a flagger and the 2016 Runoffs were being held at Mid-Ohio which I was trying to get back to play at.

Quick background: went to Mid-O for the first time with Ben Tyler (his home track) for the 2013 Grand-Am event. This is the one during which Gustave Yacaman lit up the #6 Shank Ford. If you look this up on YouTube you’ll see two q-tips. Yes, that’s Ben and me. Since then I’ve been wanting to get back up there as I had a blast! This was my chance to do both. As it worked out, Ben and I went up for the Majors this past June during which time Mid-O threw everything it could think of at all of us at T-5 that Sunday…

Anyway, the Runoffs. Not to disappoint, I had a blast! There were many track family members there that I already knew, flaggers, drivers, crew members and EV alike, but I met many, many more. I would not say that the Runoffs were like Club events on crack, more like on steroids, but so much fun! Laughing trackside, giggling long into the night way up the hill, beer, trees on fire, some great racing…This particular visit I had yet another new experience. I was part of the team at T2 (the Keyhole) that helped tip the Mini Cooper back onto its wheels. I am yet again working on which events I’ll be able to get back to Mid-O for in 2017. I am also working on making it to the 2017 Runoffs at Indy as I’ve yet to go there.

Certainly not last, but last on this list: taking on being one of the Flag Chiefs for the region for 2017. Some of you may not know the following: Brian “Axle” Eldredge, Ben Tyler and I are relieving the three former wise guys (Eric Danielsen, Mark Biamonte and David Turner) of their Chief-like duties. They’ve done it a while and it’s time they got to go back and play trackside to brush up on their skills. The three of us have been to many tracks for events under various sanctioning bodies. We have experienced ways of performing F&C duties that may or may not work for our region. As Flag Chiefs we can affect positive changes within NCR’s F&C crew and ultimately helping strengthen the region as a whole. Plus, they said there’s beer? Or maybe it was that it will take much beer to make it as a Flag Chief. Hmmmmm.

Meet the Candidates

The ballots have all been mailed out. If you haven’t received yours already, you will be receiving it soon. Please take the time to fill it out and mail it back. There’s only one office that’s being contested this year…Treasurer.

Last year, we only had one candidate for each opening, so there was no need to send out ballots. We saved the money we would have spent on stamps and everything else and used it elsewhere. This year we have a choice to make.

Be sure to get your ballot in the mail so we’ll have it by December 31st.

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Candidate for Assistant Regional Executive

Duties (per NCR Bylaws):

“In the absence of the Regional Executive, the duties of that office shall be assumed by the Assistant Regional Executive…” The Assistant RE also serves as Chairman of the Competition Board which has the duty to “1) oversee the operation and conduct of all competitive events sponsored by the organization, in accordance with established SCCA rules and procedures; 2) enforce the rules and regulations of such events.”

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Mike Spencer

First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to read candidate bios! Knowledgeable members voting for their Board of Directors leads to a better Board, to better race weekends, and to a better North Carolina Region.

My name is Mike Spencer, and I am your Assistant Regional Executive. As the name implies, this role assists the Regional Executive. However, there is another very important responsibility. The Assistant RE also runs the Competition Board, which is made up of all the various specialty chiefs. The Comp Board meets at different times during the year to plan for upcoming NC Region race and to discuss events shortly after they are run. The lessons we learned from 2016 and earlier are used to make the 2017 events even better.

I first joined SCCA in the early 80s and participated in AutoCross for several years. Once my kids came along, my wife and I agreed that my hobby would get shelved “for the time being”.

The re-opening of VIR in 2000 and the timely encouragement of a good friend convinced me to get involved again. Since I only had AutoCross experience at that time, I started as a Flagger. Not too long after that I obtained my Competition License. Since then I have also worked on Grid, Pit Road, and driven the Safety Car. My family is involved, too. My daughter, Ericka, has been a Safety Car Communicator since (I believe) the first 13-hour race. She also has experience in the Start stand. My son, Paul, was at that first 8-hour endurance race that became the 13-hour “Charge of the Headlight Brigade” the following year. He has been crewing for me and got his Competition license in 2015.

I believe that someone who regularly “plays on both sides of the Armco” is in an excellent position to address issues from both a driver’s perspective and a worker’s perspective. All of us in NC Region are very fortunate to have such a wonderful playground in VIR. I will do everything I can to ensure that our race weekends continue to be safe and fun activities for everyone involved!

In this post, you may click on any of the candidates’ names as links to our email addresses. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have or offer any suggestions.

Enjoy the off-season. I hope to see you at the track in 2017!

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Candidates for Treasurer

Duties (per NCR Bylaws):

“The Treasurer shall, subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be made by the Board of Directors, have custody of all monies, debts, and obligations belonging to the organization. The Treasurer shall receive all monies and deposit same to the North Carolina Region, SCCA, Inc. account. The Treasurer, and the Regional Executive, shall have control over and supervision of all payment of true debts and obligations, and shall maintain such records as are in accordance with accepted accounting procedure. The Treasurer shall be bonded at the expense of the organization, and will perform the duties of the office in the manner described in the Operations Manual.”

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Steve Keadle

  • Joined SCCA in 2003 and worked F&C.
  • Accepted into SIT program in 2005.
  • Completed training and promoted to Divisional Chief Steward 2007.
  • When new Steward grades were established in 2008, promoted to National Steward.
  • Awarded NCR’s E. Gordon Warren Steward of the Year in 2008.
  • Volunteered to procure NCR worker gifts 2009 to present.
  • Current Regional licenses in F&C, Grid and Registration.
  • Current Divisional licenses as Time Trial Chief & Safety Steward and Course Inspector.
  • NCR Treasurer and Board member 2009 to present.
  • 2nd place 2012 NCR Solo Novice Class.
  • Speaker at 2014 & 2015 SCCA National conventions in Charlotte, NC.
  • 29 years as a Tax Accountant.

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Heather Powers

Hello to my fellow NC Region members!

My name is Heather Powers and I am running for Treasurer on your Board of Directors. If elected, I promise to work with our Event Administrators and Specialty Chiefs to look for opportunities to save money and to develop a budget to help us stay aligned with our financial goals. I will work with our Solo Group so that we can develop additional reporting and communication to allow us to share more information between the BOD and the Solo Team. They are running a great program and I would like to provide the BOD with better visibility to that.

If you would like to keep up with what is going on “behind the scenes” in the Region, you can view the Board Meeting minutes here. Additionally, if you have any questions for me or want to share your ideas about the Treasurer position or as your Driver Representative on the Competition Board, please feel free to contact me at 336-707-1344 or hpowers15@yahoo.com.

  • Member of BOD for 20 out of 26 years as a SCCA member
    • Member at Large
    • Assistant RE
  • Driver Representative on Competition Board for 5+ years
  • Volunteered in almost all Specialties
  • Been a member of the Annual Awards Committee
    • Worked with Trophy supplier to select the trophies to give out
    • Created and designed the Crew Member Award
  • I have received several Outstanding Service awards, a Worker of the Year, and a Member of the Year
  • I have held a completion license for 25 years.
    • I got my start in Solo Racing
    • I have raced in many classes including various IT classes, SM, FP, and STO
    • Instructor for PDX
    • Instructor for Club Racing Driver Schools
    • Won a Tarheel Cup Championship
    • In 2015 finished 2nd in IT7 in SARRC

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Candidates for Member-at-Large

Duties (per NCR Bylaws):

“The Members-at-Large are responsible for providing additional input for decision-making, and will endeavor to represent all viewpoints of the membership at meetings of the Board of Directors.”

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Blair Deffenbaugh

Hi, my name is Blair Deffenbaugh. At 25 years old I am a 25 year member of SCCA. I have been active in the club from the time I could walk and talk. I started out in timing and scoring, gaining a divisional license with eligibility for a national license. As soon as I reached the age, I went out and started corner working and not long after that I earned my competition license. I remain active in timing, on the corner and on the track.

Having been an active member for so long I know and am very close to the club and its problems. The key to the club’s success is having active participants on the board. In the last year we have had more club participants on the board than ever before and we have worked better than ever before. Volunteers know what volunteers want and drivers know what drivers want. I have served one term as Member-at-Large and look forward to serving again.

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Anna Crissman

Hello, my name is Anna Crissman, on record I have been a member of North Carolina Region since 2001. I have been involved in SCCA or some form of racing since I was a young child.  Once VIR reopened in 2000, I became reengaged with SCCA and became very involved in Timing and Scoring. As a worker and the Area 12 DA of Timing and Scoring I understand that there are many intricacies that you experience behind the scenes that are hard to understand if you don’t get involved. I also have crewed and been involved with helping drivers in various capacities. There are many things that impact the drivers experience within our organization that many people who volunteer may not be aware of.

I feel like I can see both sides of the equation and am willing to help make our events and Club terrific for all involved.Often we develop an “us vs. them” mentality because we haven’t experienced an event from the other side of the track. We need to do everything we can to make it so that all groups feel represented and engaged in our process.

I want to be involved in streamlining our procedures to make them more user friendly. I also want to be involved in upgrading our technology where possible and broadening our training so that we can be even better than we have ever been. I enjoy the friendships and families that I have made at the racetrack, they keep me laughing/giggling most of the time. Racing should be fun for everyone!

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NCR Has Two New 2016 Solo National Champions

A record setting 1306 competitors took to the Lincoln Air Park September 6th – 9th for the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB, and 23 of them traveled all the way to Nebraska from the North Carolina Region!

2016 saw NCR drivers bringing home 8 trophies, including National Championships for Maria Mayorga in G Street Ladies, and Andrew Pallotta in G Street! (That’s Maria at the wheel in the photo above. Photo: Jeff Eng)

Congratulations to all that experienced Nationals, to those who won trophies and to Maria and Andrew on their championships!

2016 North Carolina Region Drivers

B Street Justin Barbry
Mike Jones
Justin Arnette
6th  (Trophy)
27th
46th
BS Ladies Abby Smith
Nikki Edwards
Tara Arnette
6th
11th
12th
C Street Matt McGrain 19th
CS Ladies Jennifer Vance 3rd  (Trophy)
E Street Eric Peterson
Mark Miller
13th  (Trophy)
45th
ES Ladies Jennifer Bedell
Chris Peterson
2nd  (Trophy)
3rd  (Trophy
F Street Michael Feeney
Dick Rasmussen
19th
30th
G Street Andrew Pallotta National Champion
GS Ladies Maria Mayorga National Champion
H Street David Spratte 14th
HS Ladies Gwen Habenicht 2nd  (Trophy)
STX Aaron Buckley 30th
CSP Adrian Willis
Bryce Willis
13th
19th
SMF Ladies Shelby Turbeville 4th

Below: New National Champions Andrew Pallotta & Maria Mayorga

Additionally, some NCR drivers went out to Lincoln extra early for the 2016 Tire Rack ProSolo Finale, September 2-4.  Congratulations to all that participated and those who took home trophies!

B Street Justin Barbry 2nd  (Trophy)
E Street Eric Peterson 2nd  (Trophy)
F Street Michael Feeney
Dick Rasmussen
8th
12th
H Street David Spratte 3rd
Ladies 2 Jennifer Bedell
Gwen Habenicht
5th  (Trophy)
15th

 

The following is an account from Team .:RAWRRR, about their experience competing in BS/BSL driving a 2016 VW Golf R at the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB.

40 Hours of Driving for 6 Minutes of Racing

Attending the Solo Nationals for the first time was an amazing experience, one which is difficult to even put into words.  The largest event most of us have ever been a part of up to this point was one-tenth as large as Nationals.  There were a record 1306 competitors at the 2016 Solo Nationals, or in other words, Team .:RAWRRR and 1302 other racers.

Tara Arnette, Abby Smith, Justin Arnette and Mike Jones worked throughout the year toward their goal of attending the 2016 Tire Rack Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB.  These four friends and competitors became Team .:RAWRRR, based on their car, a 2016 Volkswagen Golf R.  Team .:RAWRRR knew they would be an underdog in the BS/BSL class but felt that if there was rain their chances would improve, though the primary goal was to simply experience Solo Nationals and all that it had to offer.

Team .:RAWRRR arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska from eastern North Carolina on Sunday, September 4th after spending the previous 2 days on the road towing for approximately 20 hours.  Along the way Team .:RAWRRR played “Snap Crap,” a game conceived to help make the, often, long haul to Lincoln a little more entertaining.  Competitors from around the country are given a list of items to find and take photos of on their way both to and from Lincoln.  The list is open to interpretation which makes it quite fun and a good way to help pass time during the long tow to Lincoln, Nebraska from North Carolina.

Once on site, Team .:RAWRRR established base camp along with several other competitors from the NCR and neighboring regions such as SCR, CCR, etc.  The paddock area is where most shenanigans take place and is a great place to spend time.  Not only do you see plenty of car prep, but also “site improvements” such as tents, couches purchased from Craigslist, large inflatable rubber duckies, etc., and plenty of competitors who are friends that only get to see one another one or twice a year getting reacquainted.  NCR’s site at Cherry Point is one of the larger sites on the east coast, yet the paddock area alone at the Lincoln Air Park is larger than all of the Cherry Point site.  As such, it is hard describe what it looks like as 1300 autocrossers showed up and slowly filled the space in their own unique way.

Once settled, Team .:RAWRRR got registered and passed tech and then spent some time watching the Pro Solo Finale.  Monday was spent recovering from the two day tow, making car prep changes and completing several course walks on both the East and West course.  Team .:RAWRRR was scheduled to run the East Course Thursday and West Course Friday.  Tuesday and Wednesday were spent watching other competitors run and getting in additional course walks as often as possible between run groups.  Plus, Team .:RAWRRR had two time slots scheduled on the test course, which was used for final tuning and scrubbing in a new set of tires.

Thursday.  Race day.  After an early arrival for one last course walk on the East Course, Justin and Mike worked the first run group followed by Abby and Tara working the second.   The guys ran in Group 3 and the ladies in Group 5.  All four members of Team .:RAWRRR laid down their best runs of the day on their very first run.  All team members thought they had underperformed for the day and looked forward to day two, as rain was in the forecast and the all-wheel drive of the Golf R looked promising against a horde of Corvettes and S2000s.

Friday.  Race day, take 2.  Groups 1 and 2 saw cool and windy conditions, and just as Group 2 was finishing the sun came out and temperatures quickly increased.  There would be no rain to help Justin and Mike in Group 3.  The guys laid down solid runs that they deemed, “pretty good, but not great,” and concluded that in the dry the Golf R is simply outclassed in BS by the Corvette and S2000.  After lunch the ladies ran in Group 5, as the clouds quickly rolled in.  A push was made to get in dry runs before the rain came, but only the first drivers got in dry runs.  After a 2 hour delay due to lightning, racing resumed in the rain.  Finally, the Golf R and Team .:RAWRRR lived up to its potential as Abby and Tara drove very well, with Abby even laying down BSL’s fastest time of the day in the wet and Tara the fourth fastest.  After Group 5 finished and Team .:RAWRRR’s Nationals were complete, a protest arose in the run group regarding whether the dry runs were to count, or not.  Team .:RAWRRR concluded that either way the protest went they would unfortunately not be leaving Lincoln with a trophy so they decided to pack up and begin the long haul back to North Carolina.

Team .:RAWRRR worked together to make it to this event and would not have made it to Lincoln individually and certainly would not have had such an amazing experience.  Team .:RAWRRR recommends that EVERY autocrosser make it to Nationals at least once; to find some true friends and go as a team.  Tara concluded, “I didn’t walk away with a jacket, I wasn’t even close, but the experience and energy of being around 1,300 other racers was worth the 40 hour drive.”  On the way home Team .:RAWRRR even began discussing next year….