PAUL PFANNER, President/CEO/Executive Publisher of RACER magazine, has returned to what he says is his first love – SCCA’s monthly publication, SPORTSCAR magazine, one of the oldest racing magazines in the world. Pfanner is again the magazine editor for the largest racing club in the United States – Sports Car Club of America. Thursday at the annual Performance Racing Industry trade show, Pfanner unveiled the new look of the magazine. Although the publication is also available digitally, he said the majority of the readers prefer a print version.
The January 2013 issue reviews the 2012 SCCA Pro Racing season, with one of the two All-American championship-winning muscle cars – the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac, raced by American driver JOHNNY O’CONNELL. American Corvette driver, SIMON GREGG, won the Trans-Am championship
Pfanner said some of the original staff will be part of the new, smaller but very effective staff, including RICHARD JAMES and MARK WEBER.
Also part of the SCCA presentation Thursday was the announcing of the 2013 Majors Tour. This is a new program, revamping the current SCCA National Race Series, which culminate in the Runoffs – sometimes called the Olympics of American racing. The United States has been divided into four geographical conferences, each with its own schedule of four-six double-header Major Tour race weekends. The lone exception will be Chicago Region’s June Sprints, which has a long storied history. which will remain a single event, which has drawn upwards of 500 cars.
A series within a series will be the BFGoodrich Tires Super Tour: six premiere races at Auto Club Speedway, Circuit of The Americas, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sebring International Raceway, VIRginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
The 2013 SCCA Runoffs will be its fiftieth, cause for celebration.
One driver who is particularly looking forward to the Fiftieth Anniversary Runoffs is JIM DOWNING, long-time club racer and more recently known as the HANS device originator/inventor/purveyor. At the first-ever SCCA National Runoffs at Riverside Raceway in Southern California, Downing was on pole in his Formula Vee, in the first of the many racing classes that weekend. Now he wants to bookend his SCCA career with a run in what could be his last club racing season before retiring from competition.
Intertwined with Downing’s club racing was professional racing with IMSA (International Motor Sports Association), winning five championships.
Recently Downing performed a sudden, unexpected, and unintended road test of his HANS device. During SCCA practice at Mid-Ohio in June, Downing had a mechanical failure causing a spin and crash, ending in an 200-foot long upside down slide- his first upside down in thirty years of racing. He suffered two compressed back fractures, resulting in wearing a back brace for a week. But, otherwise he was fine, for which he credits his HANS device.
Downing and crew cobbled the car together for this year’s Runoffs, and over the winter it will be rebuilt for next year.
Downing and his brother-in-law, DR. BOB HUBBARD, conceived and built the first HANS device in 1988. It was a long, slow process for the idea of head and neck restraints to be used. Despite Formula One and other major American-based racing series requiring them years ago, it wasn’t until the fatal crash of DALE EARNHARDT that there was a huge spotlight on the head and neck safety issue, and eventually NASCAR required such restraints.
Downing has always worn a HANS device.
SCCA Club Racing only mandated the use of head and neck restraints effective January 1, 2012.
Last year Downing bought out Hubbard, and then this year Downing gave in to long-time offers from Simpson Performance Products, and sold HANS.