October 14th, 2016 by Jeff Jacobs
Nearly a dozen iRacing.com members won their respective classes at the 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The culmination of SCCA club racing’s season took place September 23 – 25, 2016 and featured 581 drivers competing in 28 classes. Several more iRacing.com members finished on the podium or otherwise could be spotted with iRacing.com decals on their cars competing for one of the most prestigious amateur motorsport titles in America.
Several of the iRacers who won championships have been long-time members and participate in simracing on a regular basis, while others appeared to use the service mostly in private test sessions – perhaps practicing on the popular Mid-Ohio track in days leading up to the real-life event.
In one of the most competitive races of the weekend, Justin Hille started from the pole of the Spec Miata class and never relinquished the lead over 45 other Mazda drivers. It was Hille’s first SCCA Runoffs Championship and only his second entry in the big event. On iRacing.com, he can be found frequently at the front of a pack of Global MX-5 Cup cars in official and league racing series. In fact, a group of iRacing members who frequently compete with Hille online traveled from across the U.S. to meet at Mid-Ohio and cheer him on to victory.
Also scoring an impressive victory in a large and competitive class was Michael Varacins who claimed his fifth SCCA Runoffs Championship over 38 other drivers in Formula Vee. Varacins made it back-to-back championships in his Speed Sport AM-5. In another open wheel class, Ryan Norman drove his Swift 016a Mazda in Formula Atlantic to the pole and his first national championship. In the process he set a new record for the fastest lap time of any SCCA class at Mid-Ohio at 1:14.920 – breaking the record time of 1:16.60 set in 2005 by Graham Rahal. Another iRacer, young Spencer Brockman, came home third in Formula Atlantic and won the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
Another Graham Rahal record was broken by Neil Verhagen, who at 15 years old became the youngest SCCA Runoffs Champion ever when we won Formula F. The young driver won the pole and the ensuing race in his Mygale SJ11 Honda. He will get to compete in the Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship Shootout against other series champions for a 2017 ride in USF2000.
Kevin Roggenbuck took the top spot in Formula 1000 after starting fourth in the grid in only his second ever entry at the Runoffs. Matt Reynolds2 drove his Mazda Miata to the E Production title after he also started fourth in the grid. This was Reynolds’ second championship. Defending H-Production champion Brian Linn drove his 1972 MG Midget to another victory.
Other iRacing members with notable achievements included Derek Kulach in his 2006 Nissan 350Z Nismo. Competing in Touring 3, Derek started third but took the lead on the opening lap and went on to claim the 100th victory for Datsun/Nissan in SCCA Runoffs history. Trent Hindman was under pressure all 22 laps of the GT2 race but took the win in his BMW M3 E46 to claim his first Runoffs championship. In Super Touring Lite, Kevin Boehm came in as the defending class champion in his Honda Civic Si and walked away with his second championship. Ford Mustang drivers Clifford Ebben won the GT1 from the pole after arriving at Mid-Ohio fresh from a TransAm race the same week at VIR.
Congratulations to all of the iRacing members who competed at the highest level of amateur road racing during the SCCA Runoffs.