2014 SCCA Runoffs-Laguna Seca

2014 SCCA RUNOFFS-LAGUNA SECA
3 DAYS OF WINNER-TAKE-ALL RACING

These are the National Championship Runoffs, and the last event of the year for 27 Runoff-eligible classes in this winner-take-all motorsports event that would award National Championships in all classes. It's been 50 years since the first SCCA Runoff in 1964, but the last time it was held in California was in 1968. This year, it was held at the iconic Mazda Raceway-Laguna Seca in Monterey CA, and ran from Friday through Sunday, October 10-12, 2014. The weather was perfect, the racing was incredible, and everyone had a great time.
2014 SCCA RUNOFFS-LAGUNA SECA
NON-STOP RACING ACTION

These were 40-minute races, or 20 laps, whichever happened first. And first place meant the National Championship in their class. So, these guys and gals were racing their hearts out, and the action was just about non-stop. ABOVE is the official race schedule for the 2014 SCCA Runoffs at Laguna Seca. As you can see it wasn't quite 'non-stop', they did break for lunch.
ABOVE: American-Muscle-Car.net Contributing Editor, Matt Connolly has been working at, and driving pace cars around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for many years. He invited me out for some Hot Laps in a hopped-up Mazda Pace Car. I brought my brother-in-law, Bob, along. Matt met us when we arrived, showed us around, then informed us that we were on the VIP list to go on a few hot laps around the track at 12:45. He would be one of the drivers. More on this later. Matt wrote a page for this site about, and took pictures of, Monterey Car Week 2014, including the vintage races at Laguna Seca. Check it out.

BELOW: This heavily modified 4th-gen Mustang tears around the track in Sunday's Grand Touring 1-class for big-bore Trans Am-series cars.
ABOVE: The world-famous "Corkscrew" drops 120 feet vertically in a series of rapid-fire turns that make you feel like you're on a roller coaster. I know, I did it sitting shotgun in a Pace Car. This is the Spec Racer Ford, with identical cars (spec), and thus, in theory, more a test of the driver.

BELOW: Action on and off the track. Here, a wicked C6 Corvette gets manhandled into place.
ABOVE: A sweet assortment of classic British iron. Most ran in the H Production class for small, production-based cars. MG Midgets, Bugeye Sprites, Mini Coopers, and the like blasted through the turns.

BELOW: Did I say small? Looks like he washed it and it shrank. But these small cars are a blast to drive, and truly test the skills of the driver. Without copious horsepower to rely on, they have to become adept at carrying speed through the corners, not as easy as it sounds.
ABOVE: This C4 Corvette is a prime example of the kind of race cars I was speaking of above. Functional, no frills, fast, but not millions of dollars. I met the owner/driver, nice guy.

BELOW: It looks like a Apollo 11 inside, with all the added instrumentation.
2014 SCCA RUNOFFS-LAGUNA SECA
GRASS ROOTS RACING

These events seem to attract more of the working-class racers, rather than the mega-buck teams with big sponsors. It makes the racing, and the racers, somehow more accessible, and more real to normal people like us. When I see these guys in the pits, with their 5th-wheels, a canopy, their tools spread around, as they work on their own car, the one they're going to drive themselves in the next race, my heart goes out to them. Team owner? Heck, he is the team. Team owner, driver and mechanic. But what a weekend of racing.
ABOVE: A very expedient way to move a race car.

BELOW: A team effort readying the black Formula 1000-class car. These are small, ultra-light open-wheel racers use 1000cc 4-cylinder motorcycle engines that absolutely scream! The red & white one in the foreground is a Formula Vee car, which are powered by Volkswagen air-cooled boxer 4 cylinders.
MAZDA RACEWAY-LAGUNA SECA: A REALLY NICE PLACE
The setting at Laguna Seca is amongst the rolling foothills just inland from the Monterey Peninsula. The track has lots of challenging changes in elevation, the extreme of which being the legendary "Corkscrew" with its 12-story drop off a tight left bender. The pit area and all the public areas are nicely laid out and very picturesque.
ABOVE: The view from Corkscrew Hill.

BELOW: From The Tower, looking across the pits you can see the Corkscrew in the distance.

Time for some HOT LAPS!

ABOVE: Contributing Editor, Pace Car Driver and all-around good guy Matt Connolly, is locked and loaded in this red-hot Mazda RX-8. My brother-in-law got to ride with him. I was in a souped-up Mazda 3 with a driver who knew no fear. And I loved it! Good thing they gave us helmets!
BELOW: We prepare to pull out onto the track. In front is an MX-5 Miata, followed by Matt and Bob in the RX-8. I'm working on the video I took from the passenger seat, and will have it on this page very soon.
ABOVE: I'm riding shotgun in this Mazda 3, about to take one of the rides of my life. I'll have in-car video of the ride on this page very soon.
BELOW: After a long day at the track, Bob and I opted for the shuttle back to the car. As we bid a fond farewell to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, we can't stop talking about what a great time we had, and all the things we saw and did. A great day indeed. Special thanks go out to Matt Connolly for making it all possible.

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