It’s the third and final day of qualifying for the 59th SCCA National Championship Runoffs taking place Sept. 24-Oct. 2, 2022, at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). Each of the 26 car classes competing at the Runoffs will have one last 20-minute session on VIR’s 3.27-mile, 18-turn circuit today. For those looking to improve their starting position Friday, Saturday, or Sunday during Hagerty Race Days, Thursday is their last chance to do so.
Follow the qualifying action online at SCCA.com/live. It’s there where you’ll discover live timing/scoring and an audio broadcast featuring commentary from longtime Runoffs announcers Tom O’Gorman, Larry “Lefty” MacLeod, Gregg Ginsberg, and special guests.
Additional information – including qualifying/race results, event schedule, and facility map – can be accessed online through the VIR Runoffs Event Guide.
Tire Rack Pole Day!
The final day of Runoffs qualifying each year is Tire Rack Pole Day. Before the sun slips below trees just beyond VIR’s famed Roller Coaster plunge, Tire Rack Pole Award winners will be named in each of the 26 classes competing this year in Alton, VA, at the Runoffs.
Why is pole important? Well, there are plenty of good-sized fields again at this year’s National Championship event, and history shows things can sometimes get “interesting” through the first couple turns during race starts at VIR. When the green flag flies, drivers on pole may have a cleaner run through those opening corners, and that can make all the difference in each of the 15-lap or 40-minute races.
Starting on pole can have both a competitive and psychological advantage. What is also pretty cool is the fact that Tire Rack Pole Award recipients get $500 to spend at Tire Rack, as well as some pretty prestigious swag.
Tire Rack, the Official Tire Retailer of SCCA since 1995, was established more than 40 years ago by an SCCA member with a passion to find the right tires, wheels, and now brakes and suspension products for racers and enthusiasts. Along with the Runoffs Pole Award, Tire Rack also supports SCCA’s National Solo program, Time Trials Nationals and National Tour, and Track Night in America.
Tire Rack Pole Award winners will be celebrated at the end of the day in victory circle. First, however, all the SCCA volunteers making the Runoffs happen behind the scenes will be treated to lunch Thursday thanks to Tire Rack.
Sights, Sounds, and Smells of #funwithcars
Evening parties at the Runoffs kind of rival Olympic opening ceremonies, albeit on a smaller scale.
Monday night’s All Participant Kick-Off Party had a packed house, with SCCA members reconnecting. Stories were shared, drinks were had, laughing was plentiful, and everyone grooved to live entertainment provided by the C.C. Coates Band.
Wednesday night’s Block Party, conducted throughout VIR’s paddocks, had no airborne fireworks – since those are not allowed at the Runoffs – but there was plenty of “fire work” as grillmasters prepped food for countless people. The smell of delectable, grilled meats wafted everywhere. No surprise, there was a lot of great stuff found at Hagerty’s party spot, and just so much fantastic food to be had everywhere.
A Shift in the Weather
There have been three absolutely beautiful days of qualifying at VIR. The skies have been mostly sunny, temperatures very comfortable, breezes manageable, and sunsets amazing. Thanks to hurricane Ian, however, the upcoming three Hagerty Race Days over the Sept. 30-Oct 2 weekend look to be very different.
Remnants of Ian are predicted to keep moving north and are headed toward the Runoffs. Weather forecasts show more than a 60 percent chance of rain Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But a little wet weather won’t slow down the National Championship Runoffs since SCCA road races keep going in wet weather. Torrential rain, however, could cause a pause depending on severity, and lightning will bring things to a halt for a bit.
In motorsports, wet weather is often referred to as “the great equalizer.” But is that actually true? Certainly, a slippery track can neutralize horsepower advantages. Then again, some drivers seem to shine brighter when liquid falls from the heavens.
Take, for example, Danny Steyn, a multi-time SCCA National Champion who is competing this year in Spec Miata and Super Touring Lite. There’s no denying that Steyn has proven himself fast in the dry, but the Florida Region driver is also kind of known for being an ace in the wet, too.
“I love rain driving,” Steyn said. “Rain is a mental game. You must always attack when everyone else is feeling under pressure, and rain makes most people want to back it off. So, that’s when I go harder.”
While Steyn’s mindset is certainly aggressive, what does it actually mean to attack when driving in the wet?
“I always initiate the slide, either at the front or back of the car, so I’m ahead of the situation. I do it intentionally so I’m not reacting, which is ‘catching’ the slide – which is being reactive and means you’re behind the situation,” Steyn continued. “That’s my approach to rain driving.”
“Inside the SCCA” Goes Inside the Runoffs
The independently-produced “Inside the SCCA” podcast is going live – with video – from the SCCA National Championship at VIR with nine shows produced over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during Hagerty Race Days at the Runoffs.
Inside the SCCA Presented by Goodyear Racing Tires and Vintage Racers for Rescues will kick off each race day with “Breakfast at the Runoffs” at 7 a.m. EDT. The coverage picks up again during the lunch break with the “Halftime Show,” and wraps up each evening right after the final checkered flag with “Runoffs After Dark.”
The shows, hosted by Gregg Ginsberg and Brian Bielanski, will have driver and race worker interviews, recaps of race action, and a preview of the upcoming battles.
Stop Stalling: Get Here and Join the Party!
Consider this your last warning. If you don’t already have plans to be at the Runoffs for Hagerty Race Days, change your plans. Be here to watch the great racing with other fans, and be around to take part in victory podium celebrations where the top-three finishers spray Mazza sparkling wine, Mazza being the “Official Sparkling Wine” of the Runoffs.
Single-day admission for spectators starts at only $20, and you can learn more here. Those who are SCCA members get a 20-percent discount on tickets by logging in to their membership account portal at SCCA.com. And Hagerty Drivers Club members can get 20 percent off admission by snatching up tickets here.
Those who simply can’t make it to VIR can catch the racing action live online via free video race coverage on SCCA.com.
Photo: SCCA volunteers watching over a corner at VIRginia International Raceway during the Runoffs.
Photo by Andy Howe/SCCA Staff