INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 1, 2017) – Small but mighty, a field of 38 Formula 500 (F5) racecars had their shot Sunday on the 15-turn, 2.592-mile road circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the SCCA® National Championship Runoffs®.
The F5 front row had a less than stellar start to their race. Polesitter Clint McMahan, of Covington, Georgia, spun on the pace lap and slotted in further back in the field. Steven Thompson, who was on the outside of the front row in the No. 37 TR Fabricating/Hoosier T&R Fab TR1 Stinger Rotax, also experienced problems.
“My start was less good than it should’ve been,” Thompson said. “I out-braked myself into turn one. Realistically, I got passed by a number of cars from behind me on the start.”
It was Barry Luterek, in the No. 127 Moon/Hoosier Novakar Blade Suzuki, who found himself in the lead after the first lap. But McMahan had already made up for his earlier mistake and was sitting in second place, followed by the No. 07 SabbathTruth.com/Hoosier Novakar Blade F600 Suzuki of Calvin Stewart, and Aaron Ellis in the No. 3 Ellis Motorsports/Hoosier/Hawk Ellis Motorsports AE13 Suzuki.
McMahan was lightning fast and back in the lead by the third lap. And Thompson had picked up his pace and a couple positions to start pressuring Luterek for second place. Then it was Stewart being hounded by No. 17 Sven de Vries in the No. 17 Satellite Racing Novakar J9 Suzuki.
Slowly, McMahan extended his lead and ultimately earned his first Runoffs victory in eight attempts.
“I’ve never, in my life, spun on the warmup lap. Of course, it is going to be on the biggest stage in America,” McMahan said afterwards. “I knew … it was going to be a do or die from there. I knew, going into turn one, I had to be right on.”
“I don’t really think we had exceptional speed over anybody,” McMahan continued. “I don’t think that the car came ‘in,’ I don’t think that the car went ‘away.’ I just think that once we got a gap, we went to risk management mode and took it from there.”
As McMahan focused on turning inch-perfect laps, things started to change back in the field. Stewart pulled off the track and de Vries, who started eleventh, was up to fourth. Then about halfway through the 19-lap race, Luterek and Thompson found themselves haunted by de Vries, which resulted in an exciting battle.
Working lap 14, de Vries managed to work his way by Thompson, the defending National Champion. A few corners later, Luterek bobbled and put his car up on to a curb, which allowed de Vries to grab second. In an attempt to reclaim the spot, Luterek looked as if he pushed a little too much and ended up in the grass, gifting Thompson the third position.
Driving hard, Thompson tried his best to pressure de Vries for second place. But it just couldn’t be done, so de Vries claimed his first Runoffs podium finish in his rookie outing. For de Vries, whose background is in simulation racing, this is an amazing American dream.
“I didn’t have a car to go to the Runoffs three weeks ago,” an elated and perhaps slightly dumbfounded de Vries said after the race. “I’ve been sim racing for a good seven years. I didn’t have the budget to race in real life. Two years ago, I was a fan behind the fence watching the races, only dreaming of ever being in a car. Now, I’m the guy in the car watching people behind the fence. I couldn’t have ever imagined this happening.”
Thompson claimed third, his second-ever podium at the Runoffs.
“We worked very, very hard to keep up with Sven,” Thompson said. “I tried to keep up on his bumper as much as I could. We did as much as we could. I’m actually surprised the car held together after hitting a lot of curbing. But it is what it is. You’ve got to push.”
Michael Mueller, in the No. 24 MJ Manufacturing/Fibeco/Msquared Red Devil Rotax, finished fourth. Fifth went to the No. 4 Diehm Dimensions Novablade F500 Rotax of Thomas Diehm.
The Sunoco Hard Charger award goes to the No. 110 Hoosier Scorpion S1 of Jeremy Morales who started last and made it all the way to the 19th spot by race’s end.
The 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Friday, September 29 through Sunday, Oct 1.
While the live broadcast of all 28 National Championships is available at SCCA.com and Motor Trend OnDemand, each race will be on demand in the coming weeks.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Provisional results for Sunday’s Formula 500 race at the 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Wiley Clinton McMahan, Covington, GA, Scorpion S1 Suzuki, 19.
2, (11), Sven de Vries, Amsterdam, NL, Novakar J9 Suzuki, 19.
3, (2), Steven Thompson, Royal Oak, MI, T&R Fab TR1 Stinger Rotax, 19.
4, (5), Michael Mueller, Waukesha, WI, Red Devil Rotax, 19.
5, (6), Thomas Diehm, Milford, MI, Novablade F500 Rotax, 19.
6, (12), Steven Jondal, Rushford, MN, Red Devil Rotax, 19.
7, (9), Aaron Ellis, Farmington, MN, Ellis Motorsports AE13 Suzuki, 19.
8, (4), Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, CA, Novakar J9 Rotax, 19.
9, (8), Brian Brothers, Lake Orion, MI, T&R Fab TR1 Stinger Rotax, 19.
10, (15), Hunter Brayton, Coldwater, MI, Wildcat DB-4 Suzuki, 19.
11, (19), John Annunziata, White Plains, NY, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 19.
12, (22), Jason Annunziata, White Plains, NY, KBS MK-8 Rotax, 19.
13, (14), H. Cory McLeod, Charlotte, NC, Red Devil Rotax, 19.
14, (17), F.Russell Strate Jr., Alden, NY, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 18.
15, (18), Jeremy Swank, Mansfield, OH, Novakar J10 Rotax, 18.
16, (24), Darrel Greening, Fond du Lac, WI, Red Devil Rotax, 18.
17, (23), Timothy Friest, Leavenworth, KS, KBS MKV Rotax 593, 18.
18, (21), Lance Spiering, Beaverton, OR, KBS MK VII Rotax, 18.
19, (38), Jeremy Morales, Indianapolis, IN, Scorpion S1 Suzuki, 18.
20, (25), Don Napier, Greenwood, IN, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 18.
21, (28), Robert Gray, Yorktown Heights, NY, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 18.
22, (20), Brian Heun, Linwood, NJ, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 18.
23, (26), Joseph Palmer, Coppell, TX, Novakar J9 Suzuki, 18.
24, (30), Jack Walbran, Saint Louis, MO, Scorpion S1 Rotax 593, 18.
25, (33), Richard LoDuca, Blue Point, NY, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 17.
26, (34), Jeff Delong, Covington, GA, McMahan FDS 001 Suzuki, 17.
27, (35), Glen Smeal, San Marcos, TX, Novakar J7/9 Rotax 494, 17.
28, (3), Barry Luterek, Waterloo, IA, Novakar Blade Suzuki, 14.
29, (13), David Lapham, Irvington, NY, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 13.
30, (7), Calvin Stewart, Novi, MI, Novakar Blade F600 Suzuki, 11.
31, (29), John Pickle, Fortson, GA, Novakar Novakbs-01 Suzuki, 8.
32, (36), Chris Hodde, McKinney, TX, Invader QC1, 8.
33, (31), Zachary Morvik, Union, KY, FDS 004 Suzuki, 8.
34, (32), Carl Maier, Grand Prairie, TX, Red Devil Suzuki, 5.
35, (16), Eric McRee, Waterford, MI, M3 Motorsports F600 Honda, 4.
36, (27), David Vincent, Leavenworth, KS, KBS MKV Rotax, 4.
37, (37), Chuck McAbee, Sykesville, MD, Quadrini Racing Invader QC1 Rotax, 4.
38, (10), James Weida, West Lafayette, IN, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 0.
Length of Race: 49 miles
Overall Time of Race: 33:08.729
Average Speed: 89.149 mph
Margin of Victory: 1.196 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: No. 34 McMahan 1:42.860 (90.717 mph)
Lap Leaders: No. 127, lap 1; No. 34, laps 2-19
Sunoco Hard Charger: No. 110 Jeremy Morales
Image: McMahan made a comeback Sunday at the Runoffs to win Formula 500
Credit: Shaun Lumley