TOPEKA, Kan. (Jan. 24, 2018) -- The Sports Car Club of America® has officially announced the 2019 SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® will be held October 8-13 at beautiful VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Virginia. This will be the very first time the Runoffs has been held at the sprawling venue located near the border of Virginia and North Carolina.
"We're thrilled to take amateur racing's most prestigious event to one of the most beautiful and challenging racetracks in the country, returning it to the Eastern United States for the first time since 2015," said Eric Prill, SCCA Vice President & COO. "The VIR visit continues SCCA's current practice of moving the Runoffs to different locations around the country each year. And with the amazing track, facility and backdrop VIR offers, we're sure the Runoffs will be a 'must-attend' for our entire membership and racing fans alike in 2019, and a fantastic way to cap SCCA's 75th anniversary year."
Recognized as one of Car and Driver magazine's top six road courses in the nation, VIR draws thousands of spectators each year for some of the best road racing in the country. Its uphill Esses and sharp elevation changes not only make it a fan and driver favorite, but VIR has also received international acclaim and rave reviews as one of the most exciting road courses in all of motorsports.
Connie Nyholm, VIR's Owner and CEO, noted that the track first opened in 1957 as one of the country's first permanent road racing circuits. Recognizing greatness, the 3.27-mile track -- which will be used for the Runoffs -- has remained exactly the same since, with the only change being widening some places to offer safer run-off room.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to welcome the best amateur drivers in the U.S. for the 56th edition of the Runoffs," Nyholm said. "SCCA sanctioned the very first race here, and again in March 2000 when Harvey Siegel and I re-opened the resurrected VIR. Having the 2019 Runoffs will be an important part of VIR's history."
The first official event at VIR was an SCCA race that attracted stars like Carroll Shelby, Carl Haas, Bob Holbert, Augie Pabst, Don Yenko, Dr. Dick Thompson and Walt Hansgen. The track became a fixture in SCCA racing and a favorite among racers due to its high-speed straights, challenging turns and dramatic elevation changes. Today, the venue plays host to the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge.
While racing is the heart of VIR, the expansive 1,300-acre property is so much more. America's first true "motorsport resort," it's an entire vacation destination with a number of onsite hotel and lodging options. Within the property's rolling hills and miles of lush forest, guests can enjoy unique amenities such as the exclusive Driver's Club, dining options, spa, karting, skid pad, and even shooting sports. Located near Danville and South Boston, Virginia, the circuit is within 45 minutes of 1,500 hotel rooms and 100 restaurants. Contact VIR at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 822-7700 x101 for lodging assistance.
The Runoffs, which caps the Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing program each year, has evolved into what is now commonly agreed to be the pinnacle of American motorsports. Since 1964, the SCCA has crowned National Champions at the winner-take-all, single race Runoffs format through dozens of separate races over three days. In 2019, there will be three days of qualifying, followed by three days of racing. VIR joins Riverside (1964, 1966, 1968), Daytona International Speedway (1965, 1967, 1969, 2015), Road Atlanta (1970-1993), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (1994-2005, 2016), Heartland Motorsports Park (2006-2008), Road America (2009-2013), Laguna Seca (2014), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2017) and Sonoma Raceway (2018) as Runoffs hosts.
While the SCCA looks forward to the 56th Runoffs at VIR in 2019, racers are currently qualifying for the 2018 Runoffs being held October 16-21 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. The traditional 12-turn, 2.52-mile course layout will be used for that event.
The Kimberly Cup Award was donated in 1954 by James H. Kimberly of Chicago. Kimberly was a former President and Governor of SCCA and was a Champion car owner and driver.
The Kimberly Cup is awarded to the SCCA driver who has shown the greatest improvement in the past year. The winner is selected by the Club Racing Board. This year’s recipient is Northwest Region’s Mel Kemper of Toledo, Washington. Kemper delivered a solid drive at the 2017 Runoffs to win the Formula Mazda championship.
“I have to say that I am very surprised,” Kemper said. “Even with some success, you don’t often get recognized for all your effort.”
Area 13 Director Jim Weidenbaum said, “Your performance, as impressive as it was, was only matched by your enthusiasm!”
The Cup will be presented to Kemper at a special ceremony during the Hoosier Super Tour Majors event at PIR in May. Kemper is quick to recognize the help he got on his way to the championship and the cup.
“We worked really hard on every detail leading up to Indy, and a big thanks to Eric Purcell, who rebuilt the car to perfection and also coached me and made the right calls on set up at Indy,” Kemper said. "It was the best FM I have ever driven. It was the tool I needed. The car, my focus and driving, the breaks on race day, all of it - just all came together, and improved at the right time! And to get to do all this
at Indy was just the best!”
Kemper also expressed his gratitude to Moses Smith, John Doonan, Daryl Drummond, Jim Doughty, Ross Bentley, crew chief Mark Barney, and to his wife Sheryl.
“Thanks for their effort and support to make all this possible. And thanks to SCCA and all the workers, Indy was the best,” Kemper said.
Past Kimberley Cup recipients include notable racers such as Mark Donohue, Roger Penske, and Peter Revson.
“Looking at the list of those who have won this before, many were really racing heroes of mine, and well - this means a lot and I am just humbled,” Kemper said. “I have been racing since 1970 and it is truly my passion. So to be recognized alongside them is just an honor. And, to show some success at 69 years old is great! Kind of a late bloomer I guess!”
Recent winners of the Kimberly Cup include:
1999 - Lisa Noble
2000 - J. Randy Saucier
2001 - Jeff Winters
2002 - Keith Grant
2003 - Jonathan Goodale
2004 - Kyle Watkins
2005 - Mark Coffin
2006 - Bryan Golay
2007 - Christopher Bovis
2008 - Greg Ira
2009 - Tom Ellis
2010 - Richard Shields
2011 - Lee Alexander
2012 - Ed Hosni
2013 - Jeff Bartz
2014 - Danny Bender
2015 - Calvin Stewart
2016 - Hans Saurino
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Jan. 21, 2018) -- First presented in 1954 by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President's Cup is awarded to the SCCA® driver demonstrating ability, competitiveness and success at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs®. The winner is selected by the Stewards of the Meeting and the Chief Steward of the National Championship Runoffs. The 2017 recipient is Formula F driver Matthew Cowley, of the Central Florida Region.
Previously awarded to drivers such as Roger Penske, Skip Barber, Bobby Rahal, Jim Hall and Paul Newman, Cowley adds his name to the list due to his exciting performance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. There, Cowley started third, but the driver out of Tampa, Florida, outlasted a gaggle of other young competitors for a Formula F National Championship.
Only 19 years old at the time, Cowley in the No. 80 Team Pelfrey/Gap Guard Mygale FF/Honda crossed the stripe just 0.659-second in front of the second-place driver, averaging 79.905 mph over the 19-lap race. It was Cowley's first-ever Runoffs appearance.
The draft was a key component of the race, where the trailing two drivers behind the leader got a pull down the front straight, across the Yard of Bricks, and into Turn One, where lap after lap the young combatants fanned out and swapped positions. Each of the top-three competitors spent time at the front. An exciting last couple laps left Cowley in the lead through Turn One on the final lap. He held off other race-long challengers and took the checkered flag.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to be crowned a champion," Cowley said after his Runoffs victory. "It just feels amazing. There's not really a typical lap, it's just pack racing and anything can happen at any time."
After receiving the President's Cup trophy during the SCCA Hall of Fame and Awards banquet that closed the 2018 SCCA National Convention in Las Vegas, Cowley said, "I'm really honored and humbled to receive such a prestigious award. Thank you to the SCCA for giving people like me a road to follow their dreams."
Winning the President's Cup puts Cowley in an elite class. Every name on the President's Cup tells a story of tremendous achievement, and his is certainly worthy of inclusion. The entire SCCA community congratulates Cowley on his accomplishments. His name now resides in the company of legends.