The 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs got off to a damp start at Road America, as the first round of qualifying commenced under gray skies Tuesday.
Though rain threatened all morning, it did not hit the 14-turn, four-mile road course until shortly before the lunch break. Only the first seven groups had the opportunity to enter qualifying laps at speed.
One class that made it out before the rain came was Formula Vee, which has 43 cars entered this week. Leading the pack was Wisconsin driver Michael Varacins, who posted a 2:43.779 (87.923 mph) in his No. 65 Speed Sport Engines/Hoosier/Vortech Speed Sport AM-5. Varacins is taking part in his ninth Runoffs with his sights set on his first win.
Another extra large class, Spec Racer Ford, was able to get a dry qualifying session in as well. Southeast Division Champion and SRF National point leader Brian Schofield, from Lakeland, Fla., topped the time sheets with a 2:37.921 (91.185 mph).
Two local drivers demonstrated their superb track knowledge in a soggy Formula 500 qualifying session. Robert Giesen, of Sherwood, Wis., led Michael Mueller, of Plymouth, Wis., with a lap of 2:56.729 (81.481 mph) in his No. 0 Subway Sandwiches/Hoosier Tires Red Devil LD 04 Rotax. Giesen's lap was more than eight seconds quicker than Miller, who turned a 3:04.969 (77.851 mph) in the No. 24 MJ Manufacturing Inc./Fibeco Red Devil 2004 Rotax.
A similar discrepancy in wet qualifying times could be found in D Sports Racing, as Jon Staudacher, of Kawkawlin, Mich., led Bob Garner, of Newark, Del., by more than eight seconds. Staudacher's fast lap in the No. 12 Staudacher S08 Suzuki was a 2:56.549 (81.564 mph), while Gardner entered a 3:04.371 (78.103 mph) in his No. 4 Taggart Performance Engines Stohr WF1 Yamaha.
More disappointing than the weather, was the news that an SCCA Club Racing driver was transported to Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee for injuries sustained in an on-track incident. Touring 1 driver Michael P. Tracy Jr., of Morton Grove, Ill., made contact with the wall in Turn Three, driving his No. 69 disrestoration.com Chevrolet Corvette C6. More information regarding Tracy's condition will be released as it becomes available.
The second round of qualifying begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. (CDT). Live timing is available all week at www.scca.com/runoffs
. Racing will commence on Friday, Sept. 25.