(Justin Hille - Spec Miata class winner during Saturday's race, pictured above.)

SCCA’s U.S. Majors Tour Wraps up for 2016

The SCCA’s U.S. Majors Tour wrapped up its 2016 season with its fifth and final Conference – the Northern Conference – this past weekend at Grattan Raceway in Belding, Michigan. All said and done, Mazda’s took home seven class wins.

BELDING, Michigan (August 13, 2016): Rain Can’t Dampen Majors Racing Saturday at Grattan

Pop-up showers may have dampened the track, but it couldn’t cool down the racing at the penultimate day of 2016 SCCA U.S. Majors Tour competition at Grattan Raceway.

After morning showers wet down qualifying for most of the seven race groups, the afternoon was met with mostly clear skies save for a couple of pop-up showers. That allowed the 25-minute timed races around Grattan’s 2.0-mile, 10-turn circuit to provide great racing throughout the day as drivers battle for the final Championship positions in the Northern Conference and Nationwide Point Standings.

The best battle of Group One was in Touring 4. After starting on the overall pole in his Advanced Autosports Mazda Miata, Voytek Burdzy, of Shiler Park, Illinois, saw Richard Dickey move to the front in his Mazda RX-8. A nose-to-tail battle between Dickey, Burdzy, Richard Mooney, James Ebben, Ryan Kowalewski and Jim Drago ensued for several laps. Drago was the first to find trouble, running off in Turn Three on lap six. One lap later, Kowalewski and Ebben’s Mazda MX-5s made contact in Turn Eight. In the end, Burdzy made his way back to the front, with Dickey and Mooney holding off a charging, albeit damaged, Ebben for what appeared to be the final spots on the podium. However, after the race, Burdzy was penalized three positions for a yellow flag violation, promoting Dickey, of Columbus, Indiana, to the win, and Mooney and Ebben to second and third, respectively.

In addition to the battle for a race win in Group Five for Spec Miata, this weekend has the Northern Conference Championship and the Nationwide Points title on the line. From the green flag, polesitter Justin Hille, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, got a clean jump and began to drive away, opening up a 3.5-second lead, which, in Spec Miata, is an eternity. The early race for second was a tussle, with Max Nufer, Jordan Smart, Michael Novak, Tyler Kicera, Voytek Burdzy and Jim Drago swapping positions and allowing Hille to gap the field. Kicera, Drago and Nufer each had to recover from off-course excursions and when the race hit the half-way point, Smart was firmly in second, but 3.3 seconds behind Hille. Smart, also of Ypsilanti, methodically turned fast lap after fast lap, resetting the track record numerous times to catch Hille with two laps to go. Smart had a run coming out of the final corner, but couldn’t make it around the outside of Hille in Turn One. That was his last good shot. Hille took his third Conference win of the season in the Hilltrux/Roush Mazda Miata, closing in on Burdzy for the title. Kicera finished third and clinched the Nationwide Points Championship in the process. (Congratulations Tyler Kicera for a great season!)

Chad Bacon got the early jump on polesitter, defending National Champion Joe Kristensen, to lead GT-3 in the early stages. Kristensen and Bacon traded the position several times before Kristensen got the spot for good in his Acura RSX. In the closing stages, Phil Lasco, who started last in his Mazda RX-7, was charging, nearly catching Kristensen by the checkered flag, and setting the overall fastest race lap on the 17th, and final, tour.

Sunday brings a second round of races to conclude the 2016 SCCA U.S. Majors Tour season.

Class winners from Saturday’s 25-minute timed Majors Tour races:
Formula Mazda: Jason Vinkemulder; Spring Lake, MI; STAR Formula Mazda.
Spec Miata: Justin Hille; Ypsilanti, MI; Mazda Miata.
Touring 4: Richard Dickey; Columbus, IN; Mazda RX-8.

BELDING, Michigan (Aug. 14, 2016) – SCCA’s U.S. Majors Tour completed its 2016 slate of events Sunday with the final seven races of the Northern Conference at Grattan Raceway. Twenty-three drivers took class wins, and finalized the remaining points Championships in the process.

In Touring 4, James Ebben, of Appleton, Wisconsin, was caught up in an incident on Saturday, damaging the right-front of his Lamers Racing Mazda MX-5 before ultimately finishing third. On Sunday, Ebben ran to a convincing 15-second victory.

After lowering the F Production class track record to a 1:25.461, John Walker, of Richland, Michigan, limped his Walker Racing Lotus Super Seven to his second win of the weekend to go six-for-six on the season. Walker ran second to overall polesitter Peter Morton early, but moved to the lead before receiving some attrition assistance from both Morton and David Bednarz to provide a cushion for his ailing car that had dropped a cylinder. Michael Sturm finished second in his Sturminator Design/Hoosier Mazda Miata to clinch the Northern Conference Championship.

Matt Machiko, of Wexford, Pennsylvania, needed to only go half distance in Formula Mazda to take the Northern Conference Championship, but he did that one better, going to the front at the start of the race and taking the win in his Frontier Dental Labs/CNC System entry.

Tyler Kicera, of Manheim, Pennsylvania, punctuated a season that included his second-consecutive Nationwide Points Championship and Northeast Conference Championship with a win in Spec Miata. Kicera had an early off and fell back to fifth, but stayed in the lead pack as 16-year old Max Nufer, of Glencoe, Missouri, led the way for 16 laps. On lap 18, Kicera helped Justin Hille move to the lead on the front straight, but Hille went wide in Turn One, allowing Kicera through to the front. From there, he held the lead for the next five laps, fending off Nufer’s final charge to take the win.

Phil Lasco, of N. Venice, Florida, led every lap to win GT-3 in his Lasco Ford Mazda RX-7.

Class winners from Sunday’s  Majors Tour finale:
Formula Mazda: Matt Machiko; Wexford, PA; Formula Mazda.
GT-3: Phil Lasco; North Venice, FL; Mazda RX-7.
Spec Miata: Tyler Kicera; Manheim, PA; Mazda Miata.
Touring 4: James Ebben; Appleton, WI; Mazda MX-5.
For a full listing of race results, please visit www.scca.com/grattanmajors.