SCCA racers from across the country flock to the Pacific Northwest for a challenging round of racing
Portland International Raceway is in the midst of a renaissance. Without a major professional racing event for many years, the Northwest’s premier track is hosting two for 2018, the Pirelli World Challenge and Verizon IndyCar Series. As a result, there is a renewed interest in motorsports in the Pacific Northwest, and this weekend’s SCCA Hoosier Racing Tire Super Tour event at the 1.97-mile, 12-turn track in a city park should benefit from that resurgence.
Nearly 150 entries are on the books a week out from the event, with some of the bigger fields Spec Miata and Formula Atlantic has seen in the area for a while. The event is even attracting competitors from the East Coast, like Nick Leverone in Super Touring Lite.
“I think it will be the biggest field we’ve had for a Super Tour in the Northwest at least since the Laguna Runoffs,” says Spec Miata competitor Kyle Keenan, who hails from just across the river in Vancouver, Wash. “Some big names are coming in to run. We’ve got Tyler Kicera and a few other drivers coming from other areas of the country to run, so I think it’s going to be a really good show.”
Kicera will be coming to race Spec Miata with Leverone’s Flatout Motorsports. Two of Flatout’s customers are based in the Northwest, Whitfield Gregg and Amy Mills, and they’ll be joining in the Spec Miata fun as well. They will also compete in STU and STL, respectively. Aside from Leverone and Mills, several other Miata competitors are running STL, such as Californian Wilson Powell; Jim Gaffy from Vancouver, Wash.; and Canadian Sterling Land.
Early entries in E Production indicate an all-RX-7 field. John Mueller brings his first-generation RX-7 to renew his battle with Canadian Kale Swifts, who gets to enjoy a much shorter trip from his British Columbia home than the Southern California races he has contested in with his second-generation RX-7 so far this year. In GT-Lite, Tom O’Gorman will be coming from Ohio to drive a Mazda3.
Formula Atlantic has a sizable field, thanks in large part to WorldSpeed bringing its fleet of Pro Mazdas and Mazda-powered Formula Speed 2.0 cars. The 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs winner in Formula Mazda, Mel Kemper Jr., will have his second outing of the year, but he’ll have to contend with Bill Weaver, with whom he unsuccessfully battled at the Thunderhill Majors race last month.
Derrick Ambrose, who hails from nearby Washington, will have his first Majors outing of the year in his Touring 4 Mazda3 – he’s also bringing out his NA Spec Miata to join in the fun with Keenan. Will home track advantage play a role for this duo? “I think Portland is an easy track to drive, but it’s also very technical,” says Keenan. “I’m just hoping some of my momentum from club races earlier this year at Portland carry over to the Super Tour event. The Portland Super Tour is always my highlight race of the year based on the atmosphere and the quality of cars that come – not just in Spec Miata but in all of the other classes as well.”
This weekend’s Portland International Raceway round of the Hoosier Racing Tire Super Tour can be followed at scca.com/live, with live timing and announcing. Look for a full report on how Mazda racers performed on MazdaMotorsports.com.