Seven Mazda drivers in each SCCA conference claim titles
The final two conferences to wrap up their SCCA U.S. Majors Tour season have tabulated the points, and 14 Mazda drivers were at the top of their respective classes.
The Northern Conference concluded with a race at Grattan Raceway, although most titles had been wrapped up prior to that weekend. Eliot Finlayson had a tough contest with Dean Opperman. The pair swapped victories at the June Sprints, but Finlayson had enough victories during his 10-race season that he could drop the only two races he didn’t win. Formula Mazda was a small field in SCCA’s Northern Conference, and Jason Vinkemulder needed only to compete in enough races to qualify for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs to also secure the conference title.
Spec Miata, of course, was a different story. One hundred seventeen different drivers scored points in the conference, but two drivers hogged most of the wins. Danny Bender squeaked out a 13-point margin over Voytek Burdzy to take the Northern Conference Spec Miata championship. He did that with four wins, including one at the June Sprints. Burdzy had three wins, two of which were beating Bender at Blackhawk Farms.
F Production was a battle of Miata drivers, with David Bednarz coming out on top of Michael Froh. Bednarz opened the season with a pair of victories at Blackhawk Farms. He finished most of the remainder of his races on the podium to claim the title.
It was in the near-stock classes that Mazda had its most success in the Northern Conference. Paul Kwiecinski took the Touring 3 championship in a Global MX-5 Cup car. Kwiecinski had three victories in his title run. And it was a three-way NC MX-5 fight in Touring 4, with Thomas Bernacki coming out on top thanks to five wins during the season. James Ebben was only 24 points behind thanks to a couple of key victories, including a double at the June Sprints. Jon Yanca was the third MX-5 driver at the top of the points. Finally, Tom Coury won the B-Spec championship.
The Mid-States Conference concluded its season with the final U.S. Majors Tour race of the year at High Plains Raceway east of Denver. Seven Mazda drivers ended up with championships in the conference.
The Production classes were especially good to Mazda drivers. Bill Miller had two victories in his 1979 RX-7 to finish 24 points ahead of Rick Harris and his 1999 Miata. In F Production, the top six in the class were in NA Miatas, with Samuel Henry coming out on top of Paul Jensen. Henry won all but one of the races he entered, finishing second in the one he didn’t win.
Mazda drivers took two championships in the GT category as well. In GT-Lite, Jonathan Goodale won seven of eight races to claim the title in his 2009 MX-5. Brian Haupt used six wins to take the GT-3 championship in a 1983 RX-7 over Chris Stevens, also in an RX-7.
Kansas City’s Larry Howard managed to pull off a unique double, taking both the Formula Atlantic and Formula Mazda titles with the same car. He had to run 12 races to do it, seven in Atlantic and five in FM.
Max Nufer had an excellent season in Spec Miata, winning six races in 10 starts to claim the championship.
Northern Conference U.S. Majors Tour
Mazda Class Champions
F Production: David Bednarz, Miata
Formula Enterprise: Elliot Finlayson
Formula Mazda: Jason Vinkemulder
Spec Miata: Daniel Bender
Touring 3: Paul Kwiecinski, MX-5
Touring 4: Thomas Bernacki, MX-5
B-Spec: Tom Coury, Mazda2
Mid-States Conference U.S. Majors Tour
Mazda Class Champions
E Production: Bill Miller, RX-7
Formula Atlantic: Larry Howard
Formula Mazda: Larry Howard
F Production: Samuel Henry, Miata
GT3: Brian Haupt, RX-7
GTL: Jonathan Goodale, Miata
Spec Miata: Max Nufer