Runoffs Report: Thursday Midday

It’s the third and final day of qualifying for the 2018 SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California. Each of the 28 different car classes has one, final qualifying sessions today to decide who becomes Tire Rack Pole Award winners. There was a power outage in the region around the track this morning, which delayed on-track activities.  Because of the delay, qualifying sessions today have been shortened to 15 minutes.

Audio-only coverage of Thursday qualifying is available at Providing the commentary is the Super Tour Radio presented by Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team consisting of Mike Wolfe, Bob Steele and Gregg Ginsberg.  Along with the audio feed, will have live timing and scoring for each qualifying group. Coverage can also be accessed through the SCCA Runoffs mobile app.

Getting ‘er Done
As Race Chair for the 2018 SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at Sonoma Raceway, it’s Marina Kraft’s job to get things done -- and getting things done is what Kraft does so well.  A member of the Des Moines Valley Region, Kraft has been part of the SCCA since 1988 and involved in the Runoffs nearly as long.  Her connection to the Runoffs began in the 1980s at Road Atlanta as she crewed for her husband, and continued into the 1990s at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

In 2005, Kraft took on another role -- that of Race Chair for the 2005 Runoffs at what is now Heartland Motorsports Park.  It’s a job she loves doing.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Kraft said about working the Runoffs over the years. “I’ve been extremely blessed to meet a lot of people. Everyone is a team player and wants to make the Runoffs a success. This is a Club that works through challenges as a team.”

Working as a team is what makes nearly 2,000 SCCA events possible each year. Tonight at the Runoffs, the annual All Participant Party & Dinner will take place. It is there that Worker of the Year awards are handed out.  Check back to this evening to see which workers were honored this year for their dedication to the Sports Car Club of America.

The More the Merrier
More than 40 SCCA National Championship drivers have put the “S” in #funwithcars and enhanced their 2018 Runoffs experience by entering more than one class, with five drivers entering three different classes.

Some of the drivers are using the same car to double-up, and some are in similar classes with cars that may share parts. Still others don’t venture far from the basic DNA by running multiple formula cars or by running combinations of formula cars and prototypes, or a formula car and Spec Racer Ford Gen3 (SRF3).

It may be harder to find a bigger difference in cars than that of Tim Gray who is running Spec Racer Ford Gen3 and a 2016 Ford Mustang in the GT-2 class. Gray’s Mustang is a tube-frame, ground-pounding Trans Am® car weighing in at 2,800 lbs. and pushing 450 horsepower. Meanwhile, his SRF3 is 1,500 lbs. and has a quarter of the power, making the differences in driving styles substantial.

The obvious differences are in braking distances and power application, and Gray says the biggest difference is in visibility -- especially with the blind corners and elevation changes at Sonoma.

“(The SRF) is a lot easier to drive because the visibility is a lot better,” Gray said, and pointed out that in the GT-2 car there are places he can’t see the road at all. “I’m looking at light poles.”

And who are our ambitious three-class drivers? Those honors go to Preston Calvert (GT1/GT2/T2), Perry Richardson (P1/P2/SRF3), Cole Pratt (T1/T2/AS), Scotty B. White (T2/T3/T4) and Christopher Qualls (AS/T2/GT2).

Best of luck, gentlemen.

Photo: Marina Kraft begins her day at Sonoma Raceway as Race Chair of the 2018 SCCA Runoffs