TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 14, 2006) – Thomas Schweitz, of Winchester, Va., crossed the finish line 7.348-seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, to win his fourth National Championship at the 2006 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. James Hakewill, of San Jose, Calif., and John Robinson, of St. Cloud, Fla., completed the podium.-30-
Starting on pole, Schwietz’s No. 72 Piper came under attack right away from the No. 88 ARC International Van Dieman RF00 of Hakewill, who pulled alongside Schweitz into Turn One and moved into the lead, while Schweitz fell back to third.
The tide turned on lap two, when a full course yellow came out, bunching up the pack. Schweitz jumped into the lead on the lap five restart. Hakewill tried to repeat the same Turn One move from earlier in the race, but Schweitz wasn’t about to let history repeat itself, and held the position. As a result of Hakewill’s attempted pass, Hakewill dropped to third, giving second to the No. 19 Swift DB6 of Robinson.
After setting fast lap of the race with a 1:44.624, Robinson began to stalk the back of Schweitz. His opportunity came on Lap 10, when he squeezed his way into the lead in Turn Two. The lead was brief, as Schweitz retook his postion through Turn One on the following lap and never looked back.
“Eighteen laps is a long time in a Formula Ford,” Schweitz said. “Everyone tries to win on the first lap but I tend not to try to throw it away at the start. I have been taken out in some first lap incidents, so I am patient and hopefully if our car is faster we will run them down. And, the car was faster today.”
Schweitz’s win today accompanies Runoffs victories in 2004 GT4, 1991 Formula Continental and 1994 Sports 2000, making him a four-time SCCA National Champion.
As Schweitz pulled away, Robinson fell into the clutches of Hakewill. After trading positions on lap 13 and 14, Robinson had to do everything he could to keep Hakewill at bay. On the penultimate lap, the pair went through Turns One and Two side-by-side with Hakewill coming out on top to take second.
No. 4 Cliff Johnson, of Leawood, Kan., came in fourth, driving a Piper. Gale Stokkers, of Centerport, N.Y., brought home fifth in the No. 05 Swift DB6, as well as Sunoco Hard Charger honors for advancing twelve positions in the race.
Now in its 43rd year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think annually crowns the best amateur road racers in North America as Champions. More than 750 competitors have gathered this year to battle for 25 class titles, with nine races on Friday and eight Saturday and Sunday. This marks the first year that the Runoffs is held at Heartland Park Topeka.
Celebrating its 62nd anniversary, Sports Car Club of America is a 55,000 member organization that sanctions and promotes grassroots and professional motorsports events in a variety of disciplines, including road racing, Solo, road rally and rallycross.