Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be the site of the 2014 Sports Car Club of America National Runoffs. SCCA President & CEO JEFF DAHNERT made the announcement via live streaming broadcast Wednesday noon from the noted Northern California race track.
Also present for the announcement were GILL CAMPBELL, President/CEO of SCRAMP-Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula; and DEAN CASE of Mazda Motorsports.
SCCA is moving to an annual and geographic Runoffs rotation. For 2015, the Runoffs will be at Daytona International Speedway on the road course, and back at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016. Mid-Ohio hosted twelve Runoffs, from 1994-2005.
“The future of the Runoffs has been a topic of discussion amongst the SCCA Board of Directors and the National Staff for well over a year,” Dahnert said. “We had two goals for the event moving forward – to move the event around the country geographically, and to continue to visit the country’s top tracks. We’ve accomplished both.”
Dahnert acknowledged the hard work of SCCA Vice President Club Racing, TERRY OZMENT, who has labored for the past year on the selection process.
This is the first time since 1968 that the event has been on the West Coast. In 1964, the now long-gone Riverside International Raceway hosted the Inaugural Event. For six years back in the day, the Runoffs rotated back and forth between Riverside and Daytona International Speedway.
SCCA, founded in 1944, is the premiere club racing organization in the United States, with more than 60,000 members divided among 115 regions in the 50 states. The National-licensed drivers are the most experienced in club racing, and there are 28 National classes competing in this year’s Runoffs at Road America.
No specific 2014 dates have yet been announced, only that the Runoffs will be held during the ‘usual time’ which means mid-September to mid-October. Campbell said it is hoped that all the pieces in the Rubik’s cube puzzle of scheduling will be in place by August or September of this year.
Campbell and BO BERESIWSKY, SCRAMP Vice President of Facilities and Event Operations, have been trying for eight years to host this event. This is truly the sports car enthusiasts’ heaven. Campbell likened the Runoffs to the Super Bowl or the Olympics of amateur racing. Dahnert compared and contrasted club racing with professional racing – like NCCA to NBA.
Campbell said the Runoffs will have a huge economic impact on the Monterey Peninsula. Among other things, that means 7500 hotel room nights, plus all the business for the locals who cater to visitors and people in town for a week. MRLS will be promoting spectators for the three-day back to back weekend days of racing.
As MRLS is the furthest West drivers have had to tow in the past 45 years, it is somewhat of an unknown how the car count will go. One the one hand is the long tow for the Easterners – a tow the West Coast drivers have had to make for years. On the other hand, there is the pent-up demand by the Left Coast drivers wanting a race closer to home. But, even using a low-end number, Dahnert estimated there would be a pretty significant number of entrants. Ozment said there will be a Tow Fund, and details are being worked even as we speak.
This year’s Process to Runoffs includes running the new Majors series within one of the four US areas, or qualifying the traditional way by running local National races.
Laguna Seca will be just the seventh Runoffs venue. Other circuits hosting the Runoffs were Road Atlanta for 24 years, Mid-Ohio-12, Road America-five including 2013, Topeka-five, and three each for Daytona and Riverside.
“The SCCA Runoffs embodies the true essence of sports car racing,” Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO & General Manager Gill Campbell said. “This is a great platform for amateur road racers and we are proud to be a part of the crowning of a National Champion.”
The 2014 event will hold special synergy for Mazda, as Mazda serves as both the track’s title sponsor of Laguna Seca, and as the official car of the SCCA. Mazda also has more cars/engines at the Runoffs (25 percent) than any other manufacturer.
“Club Racing is the heart and soul of Mazda Motorsports,” Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan said. “We are proud to help bring the biggest club racing event in the country to our home track for 2014.