Spec Miata at Daytona

SCCA National Championship Runoffs Preview

SCCA’s championship Club Racing event returns to Daytona International Speedway for the first time in 46 years.

The 2015 SCCA National Championship Runoffs returns to Daytona International Speedway this week, visiting the storied track for the first time since 1969. While much has changed in the interim, the Runoffs is still the biggest club racing event in the country with nearly 600 racers competing in 28 classes.

Naturally, a large portion of those will be in Mazdas; more than 10 percent of the total entry is in Spec Miata alone, with 63 entrants. Mazdas, from RX-3s to RX-7s to Miatas of all eras and the Mazda2, will be represented in a number of other classes as well, such as E and F Production, B-Spec, Touring 4, GT-3, GT-Lite and Super Touring Under, plus others. In addition, Mazda engines will be powering all the Formula Mazdas and some of the Formula Atlantic, Prototype 1 and Prototype 2 cars as well. There will even be Mazdas pacing the field – look for the new ND MX-5 to provide pace car duties.

With all that, there are numerous Mazda storylines to follow. First will be Friday Night Lights Presented by Mazda. As the first track the Runoffs has visited that has lights – they come in handy during the Rolex 24 at Daytona – for the first time a Runoffs race will be held after dark. The Spec Miata race will start at 7 p.m. on Friday night, Sept. 25. As we noted above, with 63 entries, it should be a sight to see.

In that Spec Miata race, SportsCar magazine, the official publication of the Sports Car Club of America, predicted that the win would go to defending National Champion Erik Stearns. Each year the magazine attempts to predict the winners of the Runoffs. With no recent history at Daytona, this year’s winners will have been especially difficult to predict. SportsCar contributor Jeff Zurschmeide also says that Danny Steyn and Todd Lamb will fill out the podium.

In Formula Mazda, Tom Schultz named Northern Conference champ Joseph Burton-Harris as the likely winner, followed by Darryl Wills and Michael Ottis, although Ottis isn’t making the trip to Daytona from the West Coast. Defending National Champion Mike Anderson is, though, and is one to keep an eye on.

Other predicted winners in Mazdas include Rob Warkocki in his GT-3 RX-7 (Picked by Sydney Davis). In fact, RX-7s were picked to sweep the podium, with Mike Henderson and Bill McGavic also mentioned. Tom Wickersham was picked to win in Touring 4 in an RX-8 (picked by Jason Isley), Connor Kearby in his Mazda-powered Swift 016.a was named in Formula Atlantic (Tom Schultz) and, in Prototype 1, Jacek Mucha in a sports car-bodied Swift 016.a (Tom Schultz) was chosen as the likely winner.

There are some others worth noting as well. Charlie Campbell was named as a likely podium finisher in F Production, and Eric Prill is always fast. In E Production, it would be a mistake to count out Joe Moser (RX-8) and Aaron Downey – the Cal Club driver has been working on his EP RX-3 specifically to prepare for Daytona. Tim Myers has shown some good speed in his T4 RX-8. In Spec Miata, one not picked for the podium by SportsCar but who certainly knows his way around Daytona, is Andrew Carbonell. And, finally, keep an eye on Jim Downing and his Mazda-powered Peach Day in Prototype 1. The legendary racer who ran his first Runoffs in 1964, has won in IMSA Camel Lites and is a safety pioneer as inventor of the HANS device with Dr. Bob Hubbard, is always fast.

Mazda racers will be vying for significant contingency from Mazda Motorsports. National Champions can take home $5000 in contingency money, with $3000 and $1500 going to second- and third-place finishers. And, of course, winners will be eligible to try to earn a spot in the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout to compete for a spot in the 2016 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup.

You can check out entry lists, results, news, daily video wrap-ups and live timing and scoring at http://www.scca.com/runoffs. You can also watch the races live on SpeedCastTV.com.