TOPEKA, Kan. (Jan. 6, 2005) – Sports Car Club of America, Inc. (SCCA®) announced today the results of a December vote by its Board of Directors to move the largest event of its kind in the world, the annual National Championship Runoffs®, to Heartland Park Topeka (Topeka, Kan.) beginning in 2006. Heartland Park becomes just the fifth host in the event’s history, dating back to 1964.-30-
Considered the signature event put on by SCCA, the National Championship Runoffs have been hosted by Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Lexington, Ohio) since 1994. Mid-Ohio enjoyed four-consecutive three-year contracts for the event, running through the 2005 season, and the event experienced tremendous growth throughout its tenure. Heartland Park looks to continue the growth beginning with a three-year contract (2006-2008) for the event naming the SCCA Club Racing National Champions.
“The SCCA Board of Directors believes that the event is due for a change, and, while there were a number of great bids, Heartland Park Topeka put together a proposal that earned the next contract of the Runoffs,” SCCA President and CEO Steve Johnson. “The track and the city of Topeka have big shoes to fill after a wonderful run at Mid-Ohio, but we believe they are up to the task to provide a great setting for the next chapter in Runoffs’ history.”
“Heartland Park Topeka is proud to be the new host for the next era of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs,” Heartland Park Topeka Owner Raymond Irwin said. “We believe that the Topeka community and Heartland Park will present not only a world class championship event, but also will provide our SCCA competitors and fans a hometown friendly atmosphere second to none.”
The first-ever “Interdivisional Championship,” later referred to as the “Runoffs,” was held at Riverside Raceway (Riverside, Calif.) in 1964, and alternated coasts with Daytona International Raceway (Daytona Beach, Fla.) through 1969. In 1970, the event began a 24-year run at Road Atlanta (Braselton, Ga.), before moving to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1994.
The event has grown in both size and stature over the years, with more than 700 drivers from across the country making the annual trek for the event that spans an entire week, preceded by an additional week of optional testing. The sheer number of competitors makes the Runoffs the largest annual amateur road racing event in the world, and results in an average local economic impact of over $10 million each year.
The Runoffs annually crown the National Champions of SCCA Club Racing’s National level classes (currently 23). Drivers from across North America race locally to earn points, with the top-10 qualifying drivers from the eight SCCA Divisions in each class earning an invitation to compete in the event. The list of past Runoffs Champions is a who’s who in road racing history that includes Skip Barber, Michael Galati, Paul Newman, Bobby Rahal, Greg Ray, Boris Said and Scott Sharp. The 2004 event broke the all-time record for drivers shooting for gold in what’s referred to as the “Olympics” of motorsports, with 732 drivers competing in 24 classes.
Heartland Park becomes the first venue west of the Mississippi River to host the event since 1968, and moves what “Car and Driver” magazine called one of the “10 Best Motorsports Events” to the most centrally-located road course facility in the contiguous 48 states.
“The Board of Directors reached a consensus after weighing the options and bids, and selected Heartland Park Topeka as the location best meeting the criteria of creating a positive experience for all participants,” Johnson added. “By 2006, Heartland Park will feature a large, level, paved Runoffs paddock and grid area, a Runoffs-specific track configuration and room for growth. The Board is also impressed with the great selection of accommodations, restaurants and services that the city of Topeka has to offer, as well as the community support for Heartland Park and motorsports in general from both a private sector and governmental standpoint on a city and state level.”
Heartland Park Topeka was constructed in the capital city of Kansas at a cost of nearly $22 million and opened in 1989. In its first ten race seasons, Heartland Park hosted major events for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), SCCA Pro Racing and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. NHRA drag racing has remained a consistent part of the Heartland Park Topeka schedule, but high-profile road racing at the facility has lagged since the late 1990’s.
Already the owner of the Blackhawk Farms road racing facility, in Rockton, Ill., Irwin purchased Heartland Park Topeka in 2003 and received a $5 million commitment from the city of Topeka in 2004 for road course facility upgrades. Improvements scheduled prior to the 2006 National Championship Runoffs include new road course garages, a road course control tower and timing facility, showers, additional concessions, spectator viewing areas, an expansion of the current paddock to accommodate 1,000 participants, new camping and parking areas and a complete repaving of the circuit as well as a number of changes to the track layout.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs contract runs for three-year periods. During the second year of each contract, SCCA extends a Request for Proposal for the next contract. Upon reviewing the returned bids, the Board of Directors votes on the new contract prior to the final year on the existing contract. Key points to proposals include the racing facility, pre-event testing, hospitality, event support, local infrastructure, community involvement, media services, ticket pricing, sponsorship and deliverables revenue, and sanction and promoter fees.
The date for the 2006 Runoffs has not yet been announced. The 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler will be held Sept. 19-25 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
For additional information about Sports Car Club of America, please visit www.scca.com.
For additional information about Heartland Park Topeka, please visit www.hpt.com.
Contact: Eric Prill, SCCA, email@example.com
, (800) 770-2055
Jamie Overocker, Heartland Park Topeka, firstname.lastname@example.org
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