You could sum up this year’s Super Touring® Lite (STL) race at the 60th running of the SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at VIRginia International Raceway by saying Joe Moser earned the gold medal driving his No. 36 Hoosier/King Motorsports/Carbotech Honda CRX Si, but that wouldn’t even begin to capture the spectacular nose-to-tail, flag-to-flag battle that went into the accomplishment.
This race began in qualifying, where Danny Steyn put his No. 9 Ocean Machinery/OPM/Nelson/G-Loc Mazda MX-5 on the Tire Rack Pole. Steyn, a three-time STL Runoffs gold medalist, set an untouchable qualifying time of 2:05.779. Second-place qualifier (and now five-time Runoffs Champ) Joe Moser laid down a qualifying time 1.436sec slower than Steyn’s. Mike Taylor (sporting his best Runoffs qualifying position ever), past Runoffs Champ Max Gee, and Chuck Hines made up the top five on the grid.
Into Turn 1 at the green on the second of three Hagerty Race Days on Sept. 30, 2023, Moser went deep on the outside, passing Steyn for the lead, with Taylor tucking in behind. Steyn poked a nose in through South Bend, but Moser held the point. Steyn wasn’t one to stay in line, though, showing a fender into Roller Coaster, then rocketing out of Hog Pen and running side-by-side with Moser through Turns 1-4. Steyn locked in the pass by VIR’s Snake section that leads to the Climbing Esses.
By lap three, Steyn and Moser controlled the race, with Taylor an increasingly distant 1.6sec back. Hines was sitting fourth, with sixth-place qualifier Jose Osiris Pena looking strong in fifth. This was also the same lap where Moser pushed the braking into Roller Coaster to regain the lead. Steyn then fired back into Turn 1, regaining the top spot by Turn 2.
It was a lap-by-lap rinse and repeat for the top two, with Moser often grabbing the lead into Roller Coaster, then Steyn countering with a pass in the opening corners of VIR’s 3.27-mile, 18-turn full course.
Meanwhile, Taylor was feeling the pressure in third from Pena, with those two embroiled in their own tight battle.
“My [crew] guy told me I was a second faster [than Taylor], and I told him, don’t tell me nothing on the radio,” Pena said. “But I knew I was faster than [Taylor] because when I was fighting Max Gee, I saw [Taylor] locking up the tires. And I said, I’m coming for him.”
On the penultimate lap, Pena made the move that put him and his No. 199 Mas Race Team Honda CRX on the third step of the podium. “I committed to that lap,” Pena said. “I didn’t go to the inside in Turn 1, I went to the outside and I had a better run going into Turn 3. Yeah, that was super fun – super fun.”
The white flag flew with Moser leading Steyn by mere tenths. Steyn pushed hard through the Snake section, kicking dust as he eked out speed. Then Moser dropped tires at Oak Tree, setting the stage for a drag race finish.
“The problem is, Joe [Moser] knew my plan,” said a very happy Steyn. “The only way I can win is to break his back in the first few laps before the front-wheel-drive rear tires come in, and he just put his car exactly where he had to. He held me off for two laps, and his tires came in, and then I was hanging on for dear life. My tires went off very early, as they would with a [several hundred pound] difference in weight. So then I was just in his draft trying to hang on, hoping I could force him into an error.”
Moser did appear to go deep into Roller Coaster on the final lap, but whatever mistakes might have been made, they weren’t enough, and Moser claimed the checker 0.130sec ahead of Steyn.
“Danny Steyn is one of the best in the business,” Moser said moments after collecting his fifth Runoffs title (his second in STL), right before heading to victory circle to spray Mazza Sparkling Wine. “Anytime you beat him, that’s a hell of a race. And I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be sitting here right now … and racing against a guy like that just makes it all worth it. That’s what you come to the Runoffs for.”
Taylor crossed the line in fourth, followed by Max Gee. Starting 20th and finishing 16th, Brad Williams earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
The 60th running of SCCA’s National Championship Runoffs®, the Pinnacle of American Amateur Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at VIRginia International Raceway — in Alton, VA — during Hagerty Race Days, Friday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 1.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live, and at SCCA’s official YouTube and Facebook social media channels. Live timing and scoring for each race is also available at SCCA.com.
Below are official results for Saturday's Super Touring Lite race at the 2023 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, and laps completed.
1, (2), Joe Moser, Dallas, TX, Honda CRX Si, 15.
2, (1), Danny Steyn, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Mazda MX-5, 15.
3, (6), Jose Osiris Pena, Miami, FL, Honda CRX, 15.
4, (3), Mike Taylor, Cumming, GA, Acura Integra, 15.
5, (4), Max Gee, Bellville, OH, Honda Prelude, 15.
6, (5), Chuck Hines, Cameron, NC, Mazda MX-5, 15.
7, (9), Jon Sewell, Tallahassee, FL, Acura Integra Type R, 15.
8, (11), Zsolt Ferenczy, Alpharetta, GA, Acura Integra GSR, 15.
9, (10), Nathan Pring, Pittsboro, NC, Ford Mustang, 15.
10, (8), Amy Mills, Manson, WA, Mazda Miata, 15.
11, (14), Brian Hooper, Greensboro, NC, Honda Civic Si, 15.
12, (13), Theodore Cahall, Christiansburg, VA, Mazda Miata, 15.
13, (12), Austin Hilliard, Greenville, SC, Honda S2000, 14.
14, (16), Robert McManus, Monroe, NC, Mazda RX-8, 14.
15, (18), Neil Gueldner, Charlotte, NC, Mazda RX-7, 14.
16, (20), Brad Williams, Harrisonburg, VA, Mazda Miata, 14.
17, (21), Dan Harding, Dover, OH, Mazda Miata, 14.
18, (22), Whitfield Gregg, Manson, WA, Mazda Miata, 14.
19, (17), Steve Hunt, King George, VA, Mazda Miata, 8.
DNF, (7), David Palfenier, Miami, FL, Mazda MX-5, 1.
DNS, (15), Michael Sperber, Asheboro, NC, Ford Focus zx3, .
DNS, (19), Chris Clarke, Fort Myers, FL, Mazda MX-5, .
Length of Race: 49.05 miles
Overall Time of Race: 31.55.016 (avg. 92.208 mph)
Margin of Victory: 0.130 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: #36 Joe Moser, 2:06.682 (92.926mph)
Lap Leaders: #9 laps 1-2, 4, 7; #36 laps 3, 5-6, 8-15
Sunoco Hard Charger: #71 Brad Williams
Photo caption: Joe Moser earned his fifth Runoffs title, his second in STL.
Photo by Rick Corwine