2019 National Championship Runoffs
The long-awaited VIR Runoffs are now over. The 63 NER members that traveled south to compete and volunteer have returned home. It was a week filled with great racing action, an exciting course, many memories, and one National Championship title for our region.
Daily updates on the week were posted here on Pit Talk, where members can scroll through. But here is a recap of all the highlights and the finishing positions for all the drivers that competed in the 56th annual premiere amateur road racing event.
T4 National Champion
Many of our NER drivers turned in top-notch performances. We claimed 5 podium finishes and 17 Top 10 finishing positions. But we are extremely proud that our own Nick Leverone claimed his first National Championship title in T4. Congrats Nick!
T4 kicked off the 28 championship races as the first event Friday morning. After starting in P2, Nick fought hard to take that checkered flag and claim his title. The entire race was filled with NER drivers, and we definitely dominated in the class. Rounding out the podium in third place was Stephen Blethen. Then Raymond Blethen came in 7th and Tim Mullen 15th. Brian Reilly was the final NER driver in the class, but unfortunately his race was cut short and he did not finish.
More Podium Performances
While Nick is bringing back the only Championship title, he and Stephen were not the only drivers that got to taste the Winner’s Circle and spray the champagne. We had four other drivers finish in the Top 3.
There were two second place finishes, just missing for the title. Elivan Goulart snagged his 2nd place in STU. Tyler O’Connor was 2nd in Formula Ford (FF), after being the only NER driver to win the pole position after the three days of qualifying. Spencer Brockman also took to the podium as the 3rd place finisher in Formula Atlantic (FA), as well as Hugh Stewart in T1.
Just missing out on the winner’s circle celebrattion were two other drivers who claimed 4th place spots. These were Bob Beede in STL and Travis Washay, who did it twice in both T3 and B-Spec!
One Special Performance
Speaking of that Sunday morning B-Spec race, Travis Washay was sitting last on the grid for the start. And he had no intentions of staying there. By the end of the first lap, Travis has passed almost half the pack. For the next 14 laps, he slowly picked everyone off, one-by-one. By the time the race ended, that last-place/26th starting position car was crossing the finish line one position off the podium. Travis ended up 4th for B-Spec. Those who watched the race live said it was one of the best races. Congratulations Travis on one special Runoffs performance and your Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Other Hard Chargers
In addition to Travis’s Sunoco Hard Charger award, there were quite a few other NER drivers that turned in dynamic performances that moved them up significantly over the course of their races. Here are a few notable achievements and the number of positions gained from start to finish:
SM – Daniel Moen – 9 positions
STL – Hugh McHaffie – 8 positions
SM – Nick Leverone – 8 positions
GTL – Chris Kopley – 8 positions
T4 – Timothy Mullen – 7 positions
SRF3 – Steve Owens – 7 positions
FV – Andy Pastore – 7 positions
T1 – Zack Kelly – 6 positions
SRF3 – Thomas Kirchman – 5 positions
NER Paddock Party
Wednesday evening, NER partnered with the North Carolina Region (NCR), the Production drivers, Hagerty and SCCA Gear to host a paddock party for all Runoff participants. There was copious amounts of good food and plenty of cold beverages flowing as everyone gathered mid-week to blow off some steam after all the hard work of qualifying and prepare to celebrate the crowning of champions as the races began the next morning.
We want to thank everyone in our region that helped facilitate the event. Those that donated food and drinks, helped prepare and serve, set-up and take down, and just ensured everyone that walked through our space was having a good time. It was definitely a happening place to be Wednesday night and a testament to how the NER family can put on a great party!
During the Runoffs, the drivers get a lot of attention. But we cannot overlook the 24 NER members that spent the week down at VIR volunteering their time to make the Runoffs happen and run as smoothly as they did. These workers took time off of work and away from their families to support the club and the region. The Runoffs would not be possible without them!
One worker in particular, Dave Rodman, was taking tons of photos of drivers and workers throughout the week. Some of them he’s already shared through our Facebook pages and we have a couple here on this post. If you’re looking for photos, reach out to Dave as he has many!
Registration Worker of the Year
The general reaction to the announcement that Terry Roberts was named Worker of the Year for Registration was basically “About time!” Every year, the club recognizes a handful of workers for their dedication and commitment.
Award recipients have shown dedication throughout the season to their Specialty, events, Region, competitors, fellow workers and the SCCA; exhibited strong skills, good leadership, and a willingness to go above and beyond what is expected; and provide excellent customer service to everyone encountered.
Terry was surprised with the honor during the annual Worker of the Year party on Wednesday night at the Runoffs. We’re extremely proud that her 29-years of service to the club and our region was put on display for the rest of the membership.
Here’s what they had to say about Terry:
A 29-year SCCA member, New England Region’s Terry Roberts is the Registration Worker of the Year, an honor earned by being a wonderful ambassador to the SCCA at and away from the track in her years of service. At the track, Roberts has worked all over the East Coast in both Northeast and Southeast Divisions, and she has been a staple at the Runoffs® for more than a decade. Off track, Roberts’ can-do attitude has been flexed by coordinating annual meetings and serving as the Divisional Administrator.