Bill Okell took the GT-Lite Western Conference Championship by a single point. Photo Credit: John Burchardt
TOPEKA, Kan. (August 23, 2017) – The 2017 Western Conference SCCA U.S. Majors Tour® is in the books. Nearly 400 drivers competed in the Western Conference's 12-round season that took place at six venues covering 1,100 miles from Southern California to Seattle. The reward: a Western Conference Championship.
A few championships were claimed by the smallest of margins. The GT-Lite conference championship was decided by a single point and went to Bill Okell, driving an Austin Healey Sprite, over John Bower in his Nissan Sentra. In E Production, Glen McCready, driving a Mazda MX-5, earned the top spot by only two points over Aaron Downey in an RX-3 Mazda. Downey had more wins during the season, but a DNS Saturday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park likely cost him the EP Western Conference Championship.
The Formula Enterprises conference championship went to Brandon Aleckson who managed to gather up four more points than Allan Svela. Aleckson took Saturday and Sunday wins at both Auto Club Speedway and Willow Springs International Raceway, whereas Svela finished second or third at those events. Four points was also the margin of victory for Larry Mason over Mike Anderson in Formula Mazda. Anderson had more wins, but a DNS Saturday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park again proved to be a deciding factor.
In Touring 2, Christopher Qualls, piloting a Chevrolet Corvette, secured the conference championship by six points over Lynne Griffiths' Ford Mustang GT based on a four-win streak that developed early in the season. It was eight points that made the difference in Super Touring® Lite where Thomas Lepper, driving a Honda Civic, got the top spot over Robert Strohmeyer and his Mazda Miata. Strohmeyer was also riding a four-win streak early in the season, but Lepper kept at it with solid finishes the rest of the year.
Just as they did on track during the season, Formula F competitors Rick Payne and Skip Streets had a tight battle for the Western Conference Championship this year. The duo split wins over the weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway and Buttonwillow Raceway Park. However, Payne's Van Diemen Honda scooped up two additional wins at Portland International Raceway, and that was enough for a 10-point gap back to the Piper DF05 of Streets. Ten points was also the spread Spec Racer Ford Gen3 ace John Black had over Jack Willes at the end of the season, giving Black another SRF3 Western Conference Championship.
The Western Conference began its 12-round schedule in January with Round One and Round Two east of Los Angeles at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. In February, Round Three and Round Four took place north of Los Angeles at Willow Springs International Racewayin an event that was part of the 2017 Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA® Super Tour. April saw two events, the first being Round Five and Round Six at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California, followed by a second Hoosier SCCA Super Tour weekend at California's Buttonwillow Raceway Park. The Western Conference then headed north for a third Hoosier Super Tour challenge at Portland International Raceway in Oregon before wrapping up the season in June with Round Eleven and Round Twelve at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington.
Conference points are awarded to the top 20 finishers in each class. Winners earn 25 points, and 21 points go to second. Points are then doled out to others starting with 18 and descending to a single point for the 20th finisher. Only the best eight races count towards a driver's point total. Below are Western Conference Champions with Class: Name, Hometown and Car.
-American Sedan®: Kevin Smith; Hillsboro, OR; Pontiac Firebird
-B-Spec: Cherie Storms; Langley, BC; Mazda 2
-E Production: Glen McCready; Redwood City, CA; Mazda MX-5
-F Production: Ray Meister; Oakland, CA; MG Midget
-H Production: Jason Isley; Coto de Caza, CA; Toyota Yaris
-Formula 1000: Gary Hickman; Santee, CA; Phoenix F1000
-Formula Atlantic: Edward Lever; Bakersfield, CA; Swift 014a
-Formula Continental®: Robert Armington; El Dorado Hills, CA; Van Diemen RF00
-Formula 500: Jeff Jorgenson; San Francisco, CA; Maverick MV002
-Formula Enterprises: Brandon Aleckson; Campbell, CA; Van Diemen FE Mazda
-Formula F: Rick Payne; Mission, BC; Van Diemen/ Honda
-Formula Mazda: Larry Mason; Burbank, CA; Star Mazda
-Formula Vee®: Charles Turner; Mission Viejo, CA; Vortech 01
-GT-1: Tim Adolphson; Gig Harbor, WA; Chevrolet Impala SS
-GT-2: Taz Harvey; Danville, CA; Mazda RX-8
-GT-3: Collin Jackson; Langley, BC; Nissan 240SX
-GT-Lite: Bill Okell; Victoria, BC; Austin Healey Sprite
-Prototype 1: Jim Devenport; Modesto, CA; Norma M20FC
-Prototype 2: Tim Day Jr.; Scottsdale, AZ; Stohr WF1
-Spec Miata: Tristan Littlehale; Saratoga, CA; Mazda Miata
-Spec Racer Ford: Douglas Stewart; Northridge, CA; Spec Racer Ford
-Spec Racer Ford 3: John Black; Olympic Valley, CA; Spec Racer Ford Gen3
-Super Touring® Lite: Thomas Lepper; Benicia, CA; Honda Civic
-Super Touring® Under: Ian Barberi; Pleasanton, CA; BMW M3
-Touring 1: Marc Hoover; Shingle Springs, CA; Mazda Miata MX5
-Touring 2: Christopher Qualls; West Los Angeles, CA; Chevrolet Corvette
-Touring 3: Andrew Newell; Bellevue, WA; BMW 330CI
-Touring 4: Derrick Ambrose; Brush Prairie, WA; Mazda 3
The U.S. Majors Tour is one pathway to the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® being held September 25 through October 1 on a road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. U.S. Majors Tour drivers qualify for the Runoffs by participating in three U.S. Majors Tour weekends and starting at least three U.S. Majors Tour races in the same car class over the course of the season.