We are in the third and final day of qualifying from VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) during the 60th running of SCCA’s National Championship Runoffs® taking place Sept. 23-Oct. 1, 2023, along the central border of Virginia and North Carolina.
VIR’s 18-turn, 3.27-mile circuit in Alton, VA, is the challenge again this year. Qualifying can be followed live, online at the Runoffs Live Timing/Scoring webpage where you’ll see an audio-only qualifying broadcast, as well as current and archived Timing/Scoring data from all on-track sessions.
Results, an event schedule, facility map, and much more can be found at the VIR Runoffs Event webpage button linked below.
Decisive Tire Rack Pole Day
The last day of Runoffs qualifying each year is today: Tire Rack Pole Day. By day’s end, we’ll know starting grids for the three upcoming Hagerty Race Days, and we’ll know the 24 Tire Rack Pole Award winners, each of which gets $500 to spend at Tire Rack, as well as some prestigious swag.
Starting on pole can have both a competitive and psychological advantage as racers take to the track for their 15-lap or 40-minute contests that decide SCCA National Champions for the year. 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.
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.
Bringing a Cadillac to a Gunfight
It’s not really “knife to a gunfight” territory, but John Heinricy’s run to a 17th National Championship comes with more question marks than his past efforts.
While Touring 2 is full of proven monsters – the 996 and 997 generations Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the power of the Dodge Viper, the BMW M2, the Ford Mustang, and the C5 Corvette, to name a few – Heinricy is bringing a Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing that was released as a street car for the first time in 2022. And it’s in a class loaded with names that could start a Who’s Who discussion of SCCA road racers – Mark Boden, Kurt Rezzetano, and Scotty B. White are all annual contenders for the podium.
So can the Cadillac, sporting a bevy of stock parts, compete? If anyone can make it happen, it’s Heinricy. Though the 75-year-old veteran would become the second-oldest to claim a crown if he won this year, he’s just two years removed from his last title. And as one of the engineers on the team that launched Cadillac’s V-Series line in the early 2000s, he knows his way around the car. We’re not going to count the “Heinrocket” out yet.
“Inside the SCCA” Live Video Podcast Back at Runoffs
Brian Bielanski and Gregg Ginsberg are joined by young SCCA racer Laurin Brallier in 2023 for a return of the Runoffs “Inside the SCCA" video podcast presented by Goodyear. They’ll be chatting with various personalities in attendance at VIR, and preview some upcoming battles.
Each Hagerty Race Day, the trio will get things cranking with a live “Breakfast at the Runoffs” video presentation starting around 7 a.m. Eastern Time before cars head on course. Their coverage picks up again during daily lunch breaks with the “Halftime Show.”
The Runoffs “Inside the SCCA" live video podcast will be part of SCCA’s free Runoffs coverage package found online at SCCA.com, the SCCA Inc. Facebook page, and the SCCA Official YouTube channel. The podcast archive will be located at The Racing Network YouTube page.
The Time is Now to Attend the Runoffs
The entire Runoffs coverage package online has gotten outstanding, and the whole shebang is free. There’s the Runoffs Live Timing/Scoring webpage where you’ll find current and archived Timing/Scoring data from all on-track sessions – which includes Hagerty Race Days. Then there’s the real time race coverage at SCCA.com, the SCCA Inc. Facebook page, and the SCCA Official YouTube channel. Of course, you also have the Runoffs “Inside the SCCA" live video podcast noted above.
Still, there’s nothing like being at the Runoffs. The sounds are invigorating, the colors even more vibrant, the smells help tell a story, and you can actually feel the ground rumble as race cars scream by.
It’s not too late to enjoy the SCCA National Championship in person. An all-event pass – good through Sunday, Oct. 1 – is only $70 at the entry gate, and includes parking and paddock access. Or if you’re an SCCA member, go to your Member Account Portal (MAP) at my.scca.com and purchase an all-event pass online through member benefits that includes a 20-percent discount.
Hagerty Race Day tickets start at $35 per day, and military veterans receive a 50-percent discount. Active members of the military will receive free entry with valid documentation, and children 12 years old or younger are also admitted free with a paying adult.
Learn more at the VIR Runoffs ticket webpage, and don’t make the mistake of missing out.
Photo: John Heinricy’s No. 35 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is competing in Touring 2 during the ’23 Runoffs at VIRginia International Raceway.
Photo by Jay Bonvouloir