The wait is over! The 2018 SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at Sonoma Raceway has begun. After three days of testing, qualifying officially began Tuesday morning. Each of the 28 car classes has 20-minute qualifying sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to decide Tire Rack Pole Award winners. Audio-only coverage of qualifying is available at www.SCCA.com/live. Providing the commentary are longtime Runoffs pit reporter Heyward Wagner, Tom O’Gorman (pro driver), Gregg Ginsberg (Super Tour Radio), Andy Hollis and Larry MacLeod (SCCA Solo Nationals announcers) along with occasional special guests. Live timing and scoring can also be found at www.SCCA.com/live. Coverage can also be accessed through the SCCA Runoffs mobile app.
Mazda Shows the Way
Mazda Motorsports has long offered manufacturer support at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. That has included parts support, technical expertise, contingency and an annual dinner for its racers. For 2018, the support continues with a hospitality tent on site where racers, teams and families can relax and grab a snack, cold drink, and even lunch.
Also provided this year is guidance from pro racers Jonathan Bomarito, who races the Mazda RT24-P in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and Tom Long, who has raced everything form Spec Miata to the RT24-P. Sign-up sheets for coaching session can be found at the Mazda hospitality tent found at Sonoma Raceway’s Turn 7 paddock.
The Mazda annual banquet for Mazda racers and families will be held Wednesday evening in a tent at the track, on the hill on driver’s left between Turns 1 and 2. The banquet is always a celebration of Mazda racers’ accomplishments throughout the year, but will also have presentations on the strategy for the third-generation (NC) MX-5, where Mazda Motorsports intends to put resources behind boosting the car’s profile, and possibly an update on the Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata. Grab banquet tickets at the Mazda parts trailer. Festivities begin at 6 with the program scheduled for 6:45, dependent on how late on-track action runs.
As the roaming Runoffs move to a track just up the road from the Golden Gate, more than 180 drivers hail from the Golden State. Although there are drivers from as far away as Miami, Florida (3,131 Miles) and Walpole Massachusetts (3,172 Miles), a major benefit of moving the event around the country is how it gives opportunities to SCCA drivers who might not otherwise find the time to cross the country to participate.
“We may see some ups and downs for overall entries, but it does ensure that over the course of a few years that many SCCA racers have a great shot at experiencing the Runoffs,” said Eric Prill, SCCA’s Vice President and COO. “With such a large contingent of California drivers attending, it gives everyone a chance to see some new names mixing with the traditional Runoffs front-runners. Plus, it looks to be six absolutely gorgeous days for racing, so it’s great to be in Northern California at Sonoma Raceway.”
Photo: The sun rises over Sonoma Raceway Tuesday morning to start the 2018 SCCA Runoffs