Western Conference Preview

SCCA Majors Tour gets its West Coast start at Sonoma Raceway this weekend

The 2019 Western Conference Majors season begins where, for many of the players, it ended in 2018. Sonoma Raceway hosts an early Majors race this weekend, three months after the 2018 National Championship Runoffs were held at the Northern California track on the edge of Wine Country. San Francisco Region events will bookend the season, as the final Majors Tour race in the conference will be at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in June.

The Western Conference has traditionally started at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.; this year, that track will host the second round two weeks after Sonoma. There are some challenges to that revised schedule, however, including the fact that the first two Majors races are in pretty close proximity time-wise, and there are potential weather issues.

Whether those issues or something else has kept early pre-event entries low is unknown, but West Coast competitors aren’t always big on pre-registering when events are unlikely to fill up. Still, there are some key names familiar to Mazda competitors on the entry lists a week and a half before the event.

Last season’s Western Conference champion Bill Weaver and 2017 national champion Melvin David Kemper Jr. will duke it out in Formula Mazda again. Weaver’s home-track knowledge at Sonoma makes him an early favorite, though. 

Taz Harvey won a pair of conference titles in 2018 in GT-3 and GT-Lite. The Bay-area car dealer will be back to defend both titles in his GT-3 third-generation RX-7 and his GT-Lite Miata.

The big names are missing from the early Spec Miata entry list, which could be a result of the Sonoma event not including a pre-event test, so drivers may be a bit leery of going straight into the racing weekend without nailing the setup on their new Penske shocks. Still, the entry list should fill out before the weekend.

After Sonoma and Auto Club Speedway, the Western Conference Majors will stay in the Southern part of the conference for a while, visiting Willow Springs in March and Buttonwillow Raceway Park in April for a Hoosier Super Tour. Then it heads north for back-to-back May weekends in the Pacific Northwest at Portland International Raceway for a Hoosier Super Tour and Pacific Raceways in Washington before concluding at Laguna Seca in June.