SCCA Runoffs: The Race!

The SCCA Runoffs is a single 20 lap race to crown the National Champion. We were looking forward to the challenge of our first Runoffs race. The competition was fierce and it was going to be longer than our usual 15 lap races. We had qualified 25 out of the 36 car field. The Spec Racer Ford Gen3 race was schedule on Sunday afternoon just after lunch. This gave us time to watch some of the other great SCCA races on the Friday and Saturday. With so many different classes competing it was actually fun to get some time to watch with friends and fellow competitors.

Sunday Race Day

Arriving early Sunday morning for the race most of the car preparation were already well out of the way. All that was needed was to change over my tires to the race set that had been kept out of the elements during the week. I had previously scrubbed these tires during the Monday test day. I had bought a new set of lighter cast wheels for the event and mounted my race tires to them. The lighter wheels meant I had to add some ballast to the car in form of additional fuel and weight plates to meet the minimum weight rule for our class. A quick drive over to the Tech scales to confirm the weight and the car was race ready.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Race Ready.JPG

With the car preparations out of the way we got the paddock prepared to welcome friends, fans and supporters. Throughout the week we had people come by to say hello and wish us well in the race. It was also fantastic to get a lot of messages of support on social media from people who couldn’t make the race.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Entertaining Fans.JPG

It was fantastic to see smiling race fans as they got the opportunity to sit in the race car, get a selfie, grab a sticker or two and enjoy our hospitality.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Battle Damage.JPG

On Sunday morning we had a full display out to promote Spec Racer Fords and Kanga Motorsports. Big thank you to our partners and sponsors for providing additional giveaways items for the fans and supporters.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Entertaining Fan Giveaways.JPG

We had candy, stickers, decals, bottle openers and even special event cupcakes. Big thank you to @JennaCakes408 who supplied the custom Kanga Motorsports cupcakes. JennaCakes408 makes fantastic custom cakes for special occasions including Birthdays, Weddings and even trackside treats. Follow her out on Instagram to see all her baking creations.

As the morning got later more spectators and race fans stopped by to talk about the racing and our race car. Friends and fans also showed up wearing Kanga Motorsports Hats and T-Shirts. Send us an email or direct message on social media to get your own Kanga Gear.

We were scheduled to head out just after lunch. Before the start of the race, I started up the car to warm up the motor and coolant system. After running for a few minutes, I smelt coolant. Removing the tail, I could see a small leak coming out of the expansion tank. Quickly tracing it down there was coolant seeping out of the welded fitting around the lower cap.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Fighting Kangaroo.JPG

With the help of Emmett and Steve we quickly put a bead of RTV around the fitting and base of the tank. The tank was hot from the recent warming of the motor and we hoped that would help cure the RTV in time.

I got dressed and ready to head out to the pre-grid. Sitting on grid I tried to put the coolant tank issue out of my head and focus on the race ahead. While waiting I ran laps over in my head. I thought about the drivers around me and their tendencies. I tried to plan out the race start.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 On Grid Pre Race.JPG

On the out lap, with a one cycle set of scrub tires, I focused on getting heat into the brakes and tires. We rounded the Turn 11 hair pin, my goal was to position my car well and avoid any first corner incidents.

Race highlights of the 2018 SCCA National Championship Runoffs - Spec Racer Ford Gen3.

As 36 Spec Racer Ford Gen3s thundered down the front straight the starter waved the green flag. The cars roared forward. Pedal to the floor, I moved outside up against the wall to avoid a few slower cars in front.

 Photo by Albert Liu

Photo by Albert Liu

I got a great start moving up a few spots heading into Turns 1 & 2.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

I had the inside line going into Turn 3A but could see cars ahead getting pinched under braking heading into Turn 4.

I moved to the outside hoping for a smoother run into Turn 5 and the inside line into the Turn 6 carousel. It didn’t work out as planned and I got held up by a slow moving #15 Blue/Red car of Tom Miserendino.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

I moved to the outside entering Turn 6, not the best position but if I could keep the car wide and get a good run down the straight I would be inside for the tight Turn 7.

Mid corner there was contact between the red/white/blue #88 car of Court Cardinal and the blue #38 car of David Dickerson. It spun Court around and Tom couldn’t avoid plowing into his side and then hitting me in rear quarter sending me spinning off into the dirt. By the time I grabbed a gear and got going again I had dropped to 32nd place.

It was going to be a tough race. I fought back chasing down the field of cars ahead. Heading into the esses I made back a position. With some good speed out of Turn 10, I made up more positions. Then passed more cars in the Turn 11 hair pin. By the end of the first lap I was back up to 28th place.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

Crossing start/finish I was chasing down the #77 orange/grey car of Charlie Pigeon. Moving outside into Turn 1, I was inside in the braking zone into Turn 2 and got the pass done heading up the hill.

 Photo by Albert Liu

Photo by Albert Liu

Next up was chasing down the red/white/blue #88 car of Court Cardinal. I could see him in the distance and started gaining on him with each turn. I got a good run coming out of the esses and into Turn 10. Slipping inside I got the pass done in the braking zone before Turn 11.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

Passing by start/finish after two laps I was now 26th. Heading into Turn 2, I unfortunately saw my friend Dave Ogburn of the #08 orange car parked off to the side. He suffered a punctured front radiator and couldn’t finish the race. Court just behind continued to chase me down, keeping me on my toes.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Turn 2 Sonoma Raceway.JPG

Throughout the next lap I could see a pack of cars in the distance just a corner ahead. Staying focused, I put in some quick segments. Coming around Turn 1 there was a dust cloud over the top of Turn 2 and a waving yellow flag.

Three cars had come together and were in the dirt on the outside of the track. The #45 of Tom Burt had lost his tail on the exit curbing of Turn 2 and the #07 of David De Bolt was facing the wrong way. Unfortunately these two cars we not able to continue on very far and failed to finish the race.

The orange #101 car of John MacIntyre managed to keep going but was slow on the exit of Turn 3. I wasn’t sure if he had an issue or not but he pointed me by on the inside of Turn 4.

 Photo by Albert Liu

Photo by Albert Liu

Now up to 22nd place, I spent a lap and a half chasing down the red/white #166 car of Glenn Woloski. On lap 4 with John still right on my tail we caught Glenn on the exit of Turn 7 and made the pass on the outside of the fast Turn 9.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Ryan Lee 1.JPG

Now in 21st place, I pushed on chasing down the next car. John kept me honest close on my tail. The two of us working together to put in fast laps and make up for the time we had loss with our off track excursions.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

On lap 5 we caught up to the white #24 car of Greg Hoff. Greg put two wheels off on the exit of Turn 8A and lost momentum going into the fast Turn 9. With more speed and a great run out of Turn 10, I moved inside and made the pass heading into the brake zone of Turn 11.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Ryan Lee 2.JPG

Our group of three pushed on, myself in front, Greg and John swapping positions behind me. I was driving hard to catch the cars ahead. I needed to make as few mistakes as possible to keep John and Greg behind.

 Photo by Laura Shih

Photo by Laura Shih

At the start of Lap 7 we started catching lapped traffic. In Turn 2 friends and fans were cheering us on in the stands. Coming out of the Esses we caught the orange/black #76 car of Andre Perra. I had to be careful trying to make the pass without loosing the small gap I had made to John and Greg.

 Photo by Albert Liu

Photo by Albert Liu

Unfortunately, Andre wasn’t making it easy for me and the gap was eroded as I failed to make the pass into Turns 11 and then again into Turn 2. Greg went inside in Turn 6 and I had to do all I could to get to full throttle early and a good run down the back straight. Thankfully Greg had to check up to avoid Andre who was slow to exit. With a better run down the straight I made the pass on Andre going inside under braking into Turn 7.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

I was now up to 19th place. Greg and I battled back and forth for a large amount of the race.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

Putting in smooth clean laps and I would pull away making a small gap. Minor mistakes like having to get out of the throttle on corner exit were costly. Greg capitalized on my mistakes. The race was full of tough laps with Greg right on my butt.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

I was struggling heading into Turn 6. The white #24 of Greg Hoff would make up time into or out of Turn 6 every lap. Greg would either go inside or outside for several laps and I would just have to stick to my line and make sure to get to full throttle as soon as possible.

 Photo by Aaron Meyer

Photo by Aaron Meyer

On lap 17 Greg made a fantastic move inside on Turn 6 and there was nothing I could do as he was fast and had the inside line. All I could do is stay right on his tail as we thundered down the straight.

We spent the next couple of laps chasing down the #72 blue/white car of Vince Balch. We caught Vince and while Greg was trying to pass him, I was trying to pass Greg. On lap 19 we were so close running side by side down the front straight.

 Photo by Ryan Lee

Photo by Ryan Lee

On the last lap Vince was slow coming out of Turn 7, Greg got a good run and got along side heading into the Esses of 8/8A. Neither racer was going to give up ground and they played bumper cars going into Turn 8.

I backed out of the throttle knowing this was not going to end well. Greg lost the rear end on the outside of the left hander. I couldn’t avoid him and made contact on my right front with his nose. We both spun and ended up in the dirt.

Quickly grabbing a gear , I got going again. Unfortunately we had both lost ground to Vince and with only a few corners left there was nothing we could do.

At the checkered flag I had finished strong in 20th place. During the race I had put in some fast laps and made some great clean passes as I made my way back through the field. Although the Runoffs race didn’t go as planned it was still an amazing experience.

Ride along for the full race video as 36 Spec Racer Ford Gen3s compete for the 2018 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. We started 25th and started moving through the field before contact in Turn 6 dropped us to 32nd place.

Special thanks to all the supporters that messaged and stopped by to wish us well. Great to meet so many people in person and make some new friends. Truly humbling to see you all out there cheering us on.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Fighting Kangaroo & Helmet.JPG

The car was a little banged up from the incidents in the race. With the car sitting in the paddock the right front tire deflated, it had a deep cut in the side wall. Luckily it had lasted till the end of the race. There were also a few minor scrapes and scratches.

 Photo by Laura Shih

Photo by Laura Shih

The left hand side of the car however had more damage with a mangled rub rail and some body damage resulting from the hard hit in Turn 6 on the opening lap.

Kanga Motorsports SCCA Runoffs Spec Racer Ford Gen3 Entertaining Friends.jpg

After the race we met up with friends, fans and sponsors to talk about the race and get a few pictures with the car. People loved sitting in the race car and taking photos.

 Laura enjoyer her time sitting in the race car.

Laura enjoyer her time sitting in the race car.

Big thank you to all the SCCA Workers and Volunteers for a fantastic week of racing it was fantastic to get so many waves, smiles and handshakes throughout the week.

 Big thank you to Kit and Kyle of Red Line Oil for stopping by and providing their support.

Big thank you to Kit and Kyle of Red Line Oil for stopping by and providing their support.

Thank you to all our Sponsors and Partners for the fantastic support without them we would not have been able to compete in the event. Several even stopped by to wish us well and provide gifts to give out to other racers and fans.

Finishing well we left the track on a high note. A solid performance at the SCCA Runoffs and a good first year in the Gen3 car.

We are already looking forward to the 2019 season!


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James Chartres

San Jose, CA