Nolan Allaer doubled up on his weekend with National Championships in two of the Sports Car Club of America’s traditional open wheel classes, and brought a Ford motor back to the Formula F SCCA National Championship Runoffs® winner’s circle for the first time since 2011.
Allaer’s second of two gold medals at the 2023 SCCA® Runoffs came on the final Hagerty Race Day on Oct. 1 in a race-long battle with Jonathan Kotyk and William Ferguson.
The 15-lap race featured six official lead changes between Tire Rack Pole Award winner Allaer and Kotyk’s Honda-powered No. 08 Mygale SJ14, but official lead changes are only measured at the start finish line. In reality, the leader of the race changed no fewer than 14 times, with all three front runners sharing the point of the race.
With each driver taking the time to size up the competition, it was clear to everyone – the announcers on the broadcast call, and certainly the drivers on course – that the best placement on the final lap would be running second. Running third meant too much ground to cover, and being out front left the driver susceptible to the draft. Armed with that knowledge, the 19-year-old Ferguson made the move in advance of the final run through the Climbing Esses, but just barely miscalculated and slid off the track.
That left Kotyk and Allaer’s Ford-powered No. 11 Martini/Chandon/Evan Williams Van Diemen RF00 to settle the score, with both well aware that they were approaching a lapped car that could help or hurt depending on placement.
In an effort to keep Allaer behind, Kotyk slowed the pace slightly down the hill and behind the lapped car until both had cleared Hog Pen and were on the front straight. The pair ran down the front stretch side by side, with Allaer’s run getting the front half of his car past Kotyk at the stripe for a 0.051sec win.
“The entire race was back and forth, trying every outcome, and trying to figure out where the best place to be on the final lap was going to be,” Allaer said. “Going up into the last lap I see lapped traffic, and that threw a wrench in everyone’s plans. Chasing Jonathan, I knew he was going to try to use him as a pick, I just didn’t know where or when. I thought it would have come on the back straight, but then he held off. He was smart and tried to use him on the Roller Coaster, too, and made that big lunge on the outside. Then it was the same thing, using him all the way to the line and it ended up being the lapped car’s draft that got me to pull in front of him at the line.”
Allaer’s win represented the first for Ford in the class since 2011, with Honda taking the previous 11. Before the 21-year-old, three-time champion did it this year, the last to accomplish the feat was Lewis Cooper III – who happens to be Allaer’s uncle and did it in the exact same race car.
“It’s the same car that he won with in 2011. He’s been a big motivation of mine, and he’s been really helping me get into this position and make this possible. He was pushing me forward, and wanted to do it with a Ford, so it’s a big honor to be able to do it with that Kent engine.”
Kotyk had won four of the previous five Formula F Runoffs races and walks away with his sixth podium in seven attempts.
“I got a good run out of Oak Tree, and Nolan was able to out tow me using that big top end,” Kotyk said. “He passed me into the brake zone, but I outbraked him into the Roller Coaster and soft pedaled it into Hog Pen because I saw the lapped car. I didn’t want him to interfere with our race, and I didn’t want obviously to catch him and have to brake. I tried to stay in the draft with that lapped car, and was thinking about trying to box Nolan in, which was going to work, but it didn’t matter. That car was going to go by.”
With Ferguson’s spin, Bob Perona earned the final podium position. It was the third career podium for Perona, who faced a challenging weekend mixing his personal racing with his day job – even if his day job involves work with professional racing teams. Perona started sixth and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for his effort.
“This was a tough week,” Perona said. “I had to miss the Tuesday session because I was coaching in Road Atlanta, and Wednesday it rained, and Thursday was a great session, I just screwed up. I think the car has a bit more pace, I just didn’t put it in the right position at the start and you have to battle through. I’m really happy with this, honestly. I’ll take it and try again next year.”
Calvin Kautz finished fourth, just ahead of Ferguson – who recovered to earn a top-five finish.
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 Sunday's Formula F race at the 2023 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, and laps completed.
1, (1), Nolan Allaer, Grosse Pointe, MI, Van Diemen RF00 Ford, 15.
2, (2), Jonathan Kotyk, Atlantic Beach, FL, Mygale SJ14 Honda, 15.
3, (6), Robert Perona, Indianapolis, IN, Piper DF3D Honda, 15.
4, (5), Calvin Kautz, Geneva, IL, Piper DF3D Honda, 15.
5, (3), William Ferguson, Pacifica, CA, Piper DL7 Honda, 15.
6, (4), Zachary Rivard, Macomb, MI, Van Diemen RF99 Honda, 15.
7, (7), Matt Boian, Lumberton, TX, Piper DF2C Honda, 15.
8, (8), Robert Gross, Washington Twp, MI, Piper DL7 Honda, 14.
Length of Race: 49.05 miles
Overall Time of Race: 30:23.216 (96.851 mph)
Margin of Victory: 0.051 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 2:00.583 (97.626 mph)
Lap Leaders: #11, Laps 1-9, 11, 13, 15; #08, Laps 10, 12, 14
Sunoco Hard Charger: #73 Robert Perona
Photo caption: Nolan Allaer celebrates his win
Photo by: Jay Bonvouloir