The BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour continues this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, for the Oak Tree Double National hosted by the North Carolina Region.
The racing weekend consists of National races on Saturday, followed by Sunday's BFGoodrich Tires Super Tour races. Sunday's Super Tour races also count as one quarter of the qualification toward the coveted SCCA Club Racing Super Sweep award, the toughest feat a driver can accomplish during a racing season, including a Super Sweep race win, a Divisional point title, a National point title and a National Championship at the Runoffs.
How talented is the group of racers in the Southeast part of the country?
Talented enough that, of the near 250 drivers currently entered into the event, 29 have won at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs®. Those 29 drivers actually combine for 61 National Championships, with each race group this weekend featuring at least one champ.
Group 1 at VIR is the "wings and things" group, made up of the faster open-wheel and sports racing machines. Four drivers in the group are defending National Champions, including Scott Rettich in Formula Enterprises, Brandon Dixon in Formula 1000 and Lawrence Loshak in D Sports Racing. Patrick Gallagher is the defending Formula 500 champion, but is testing the talent this season in Formula Enterprises.
The depth of the field goes even further, however. Keith Grant is the 2003 GT-4 champion and is back this season in Formula Atlantic, where a National Championship was ripped from his grasp on the last corner of the race in 2010. Tom Schwietz, running Formula Continental, is a four-time champion - most recently in Formula F in 2006. Garry Crook won the D Sports Racing title in 2009 at the Runoffs, but will run CSR this weekend.
Group Two features the defending Spec Miata champion, Andrew Charbonneau, and a class of 34 cars that also includes 2009 winner Steve Gorriarian. They'll race together with Touring 3, where a pair of former National Champions in other classes are now residing - Rob Hines (the 1999 Touring 2 champion) and Mike Kramer (the 2003 Showroom Stock C champ).
Spec Racer Ford features a deep 42-car field at VIR to make up Group 3 on its own, and will be led by defending National Champion Brian Schofield. Schofield battled with Rettich (also the 2010 Pro Spec Racer Champion) at the Runoffs last season for his win. Add in Tray Ayres, who chased Rettich to the Pro title, along with the normal close racing that the class provides, and this race is as competitive as any on the weekend schedule.
Open-wheel cars again factor into Group 4, with four National Champions expected to be in the mix. Defending Formula Mazda champion Darryl Wills will get a battle from 2004 titlist Doug Peterson. Stevan Davis, the 1987 and 1992 National Champion in Formula Vee, leads that class, while 1997 Formula 500 National Champion Mike Brent leads the charge in his class.
The fenders go back on for Group 5, a race group featuring production-based racecars. Defending T2 Champion Mary Grand races this weekend in STU. Ron Bartell was the H Production National Champion back-to-back in 2000 and 2001. The last two National Champions are racing in Showroom Stock C, with 2009 winner Joel Lipperini hoping to wrestle the crown back from defending champion Mark McCaughey.
An astounding 34 National Championships are accounted for from drivers in this weekend's Group 6 race, which features a total of 42 cars racing.
That number is boosted by 11-time Champion John Heinricy, racing this weekend in American Sedan® and Touring 3. Heinricy's last four championships, with the most recent in 2006, have come in the A Sedan class. Heinricy is third in career SCCA National Championship Runoffs wins, but he'll be challenged this weekend by three-time AS Champion Jeff Werth, whose last title came in 1994.
Four-time total and defending GT-2 Champion Jim Goughary leads his deep class this weekend. The GT-2 class also features seven-time GT-3 Champion Pete Peterson and 1999 Champion Tom Patton. 1990 GT-4 Champion Richard Grant leads GT-1 this weekend, while 2009 Champion Ric Bushey does the same in GT-3 after also competing in Touring 2.
In the Touring Car field, 2007 Touring 1 Champion Andrew Aquilante is gunning for his first BFGoodrich Tires Super Tour win, as is five-time National Champion Don Knowles in Touring 2. Knowles last title came in 2009 in the class.
While the majority of this weekend's racers are naturally based in the Southeast, it's not just the SCCA's Southeast Division that is represented this weekend. Club Racers are traveling from across the Midwest and Texas, reaching up into New England to the North.
Formula Mazda's Beau Borders may earn the frequent flier award this weekend, leaving his home in Venice Beach, Calif., to visit the east coast to race. Austin Snader, of Brookshire, Texas, has competed in both previous Super Tour events, winning E Production at Texas World Speedway.
Coverage of this weekend's event will be available on SCCA.com, including live Timing & Scoring. Follow up-to-the minute updates on Twitter @SCCALive.