A year ago, Jason Ott drove through the remnants of Hurricane Ian to claim his first SCCA® National Championship ahead of younger brother Steve Ott in the Touring 3 class. On Saturday at the 60th running of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, the younger brother flipped the tables and took his turn on the top of the podium.
The Brothers Ott closed out the second of three Hagerty Race Days at VIRginia International Raceway by leading the Touring 3 field from the front row, with Steve on the Tire Rack pole and Jason on the outside of the front row. Driving nearly identical Hoosier/Alpine Motorsports BMW Z4s (Steve’s No. 26 in yellow, Jason’s No. 09 in blue), the pair lined up nose-to-tail and attempted to race ahead of the rest of the field.
That proved easier said than done, as Jason found his mirrors filled by the No. 5 fabtek Nissan 370Z driven by Chris Hart. While the Otts were still concentrating on moving forward, Hart was charging forward and turned the fastest lap of the race while trying to run them down.
That meant two things – that neither of the two leading BMWs could afford a mistake, and Jason had to be careful not to challenge Steve too forcefully, lest Hart slip past both of them.
But Hart’s challenge was keeping pace with the Otts, and when he slid off course in Oak Tree on lap 12 to bring out a full course caution, it both ended Hart’s day early and cemented an Ott brother’s one-two finish for the second year in a row.
The win was the first for Steve Ott in his 12th attempt, following three previous podium finishes.
“The plan was just to get out in front of the guys and then we could race a little bit,” the newly crowned National Champion said. “But Chris kept us honest the whole race. It was more just staying alive and keeping it out there. Jason got a good run on me one time and luckily pushed me down the straightaway instead of going around me, and that kept us out there.
“It’s so nice,” he continued. “I’ve been doing this off and on for 20-plus years now. There’s been some bad breaks over the years, but that’s the Runoffs. It all comes down to those 15 laps, and that’s what makes it special and frustrating at the same time. But to be here with my brother, one-two last year and one-two this year, I’m very happy.”
Jason Ott earned his seventh podium finish in 21 attempts, and his fourth silver medal.
“I’ve raced with Chris a couple of times, and he’s a great racer and a great shoe,” Jason said of the pressure behind him. “He’ll race you really hard and clean and he was so fast from Turn 4 through Turn 6 or 7. But we were getting out of Oak Tree better than he was.”
Though well back of the lead before the race-shortening full course caution, bronze medalist Travis Washay had a spectacular run of his own. Starting ninth on the grid, Washay worked his way through the field to earn his second career podium, and first in a decade since finishing second at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 2014. That run also clinched the Sunoco Hard Charger award in his No. 30 Indian Summer Racing/Da Gubment Volkswagen GTI.
“The biggest thing you have to work with when you’re running with such an amazing, vast group of drivers is that you have to be careful, consistent, and heads up,” Washay said. “You can’t let the adrenaline get you. You’re always working, you’re always thinking. I’ve been instructing for years, and I always teach my drivers to keep the emotion out of it, consistency is what does it.”
Jim Leithauser, a teammate of the Otts and a former National Champion himself, crossed the finish line in fourth. Shaoyi Che finished fifth in his Toyota 86.
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 Touring 3 race at the 2023 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, and laps completed.
1, (1), Steve Ott, Houston, TX, BMW Z4 M, 14.
2, (2), Jason Ott, Seminole, FL, BMW Z4 M, 14.
3, (9), Travis Washay, Milford, CT, Volkswagen GTI, 14.
4, (5), James Leithauser, Louisville, CO, BMW Z4 M, 14.
5, (6), Shaoyi Che, Washington, DC, Toyota 86, 14.
6, (4), Rob Hines, Arlington, VA, Nissan 350Z Nismo, 14.
7, (7), Francis Selldorff, Boston, MA, BMW M3, 14.
8, (8), Simon Asselin, Sammamish, WA, BMW SpecE46, 14.
9, (10), Jared Lendrum, Queensbury, NY, Subaru WRX STI, 14.
10, (12), Anthony Piselli, Maurertown, VA, subaru WRX STI, 14.
11, (14), Steve Smyczek, New Berlin, WI, Nissan 370Z Track, 14.
12, (11), J David Orem, Mercer Island, WA, BMW SpecE46, 14.
13, (13), Ben Slechta, Middletown, DE, Nissan 350Z Nismo, 14.
14, (15), Edward Karabec, Scarborough, ME, BMW SpecE46, 14.
15, (17), Randy Johnson, Tacoma, WA, Ford Mustang V6, 14.
16, (16), Frank Selldorff, Boston, MA, BMW 330i/ci, 14.
17, (18), Allen Briere, Columbia, CT, Volkswagen GTI, 14.
18, (3), Chris Hart, Yakima, WA, Nissan 370Z Nismo, 11.
Length of Race: 45.78 miles
Overall Time of Race: 32:31.526 (84.451 mph)
Margin of Victory: 0.333 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 2:05.854 (93.537 mph)
Lap Leaders: #26, Laps 1-14
Sunoco Hard Charger: #30 Travis Washay
Photo caption: Steve Ott, Jason Ott and Chris Hart ran most of the T3 race in a line.
Photo by: Rick Corwine