The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is a 60,000-member motorsports organization that incorporates all facets of autocross, rally, and road racing at both club and professional levels. It annually sanctions over 2,000 events through its 114 regions and professional subsidiary. Fifty years after the first edition at Riverside in 1964, and long after its last visit in 1968, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs returns to the west coast in a big way with an event at the iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. National champions will be crowned in 27 runoffs-eligible classes in this winner-take-all motorsports classic. The SCCA National Championship Runoffs will take place October 6th through the 12th.
Sports Car magazine has picked John Heinricy to win the Championship this year in the Matick Chevy Sonic and place second in his Firebird. Mr. Heinricy is looking good as the champion, winning all six races that he entered in the Matick Chevy Sonic this season. We had a chance to talk with “The Heinrocket” about the upcoming runoffs and hear some of his thoughts.
• How many cars will be participating in this year’s National Championship?
Right now there are 536 entries for the SCCA National Championship races scheduled for October 6th through the 12th at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA. There will be 26 separate classes of cars competing. Each entrant will have qualified for the championship races by accumulating points during the 2014 season at SCCA races held on dozens of tracks across the US. I competed at Mid Ohio, Watkins Glen, NY and Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI.
• How many Corvettes will be racing in this year’s SCCA Runoffs?
There are 22 Corvettes entered. I have won the Championship 6 times driving a Corvette. Five of those were driving for Phoenix Performance owned by Joe Aquilante. This year, Joe’s team has 4 entries and I expect they will have championship results.
• What is your tie-in with the Corvette community?
My tie-in with the Corvette community started almost simultaneously while working for Chevrolet Engineering as the Development Manager for the Corvette in 1983 and starting to race Corvette professionally in 1984. I quickly found out how passionate Corvette owners are about their own Corvettes as well as racing Corvette. I spent about a dozen years engineering the Corvette and close to 20 years racing them so far, with more to come I hope. I have also spent many hours with Corvette clubs all across the U.S. and some in Europe, competing as well as at various club events.
• What is your role in this year’s event?
My role at the SCCA Championships this year is primarily as the driver in the Firebird and the Matick Chevy Sonic with the goal of winning the championship in both classes. I will also be the primary mechanic on the Sonic doing most of the work on the car while there. Tom Aquilante Racing will provide a crew for the Firebird, but I expect to help out as well. I will need to provide a lot of feedback to the team after each qualifying session so that the car will be improved for each session as well as for the race.
• What class are you racing in?
I will compete in two classes. The first is called A Sedan and consists mostly of Chevrolet Camaros, Pontiac Firebirds, and Ford Mustangs. I will be racing a Pontiac Firebird prepared by Tom Aquilante Racing of Phoenixville, PA. I have won this class 5 times driving for the same team, once in a Camaro and 4 times in the Firebird. The cars are powered by “old school” carbureted V8s that put on quite a show. This race will be held on Friday, October 10th at 2:30 PM. I have been picked to come in 2nd for this race behind a Ford Mustang by Sports Car magazine.
The second class I will race in is called B Spec. It is a class for “B” segment cars like the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Mini, etc. I will race the Matick Chevy Sonic on Sunday, October 12th at 8:30 AM. I have been picked to win this race by Sports Car magazine.
• What will the competition be like?
Since the entrants are the top points winners from all over the U.S., I expect the competition will be fierce. Everyone racing is capable of winning the championship. There will be 3 days of qualifying sessions, which will determine the order of the racecars at the start, with the driver with the fastest lap time starting at the front, called the pole position. Each race is a maximum of 45 minutes. Besides having the advantage of starting in the front for the race, there are prizes and awards for qualifying position so everyone is trying their hardest to achieve the best possible time. Then, everything is on the line for the 45-minute race.
• What do you like or dislike about this track?
The Mazda Speedway is a major road-racing racetrack located in Monterey, CA. It has a long history of racing and is considered one of the top circuits in the U.S. The location is spectacular in that it is close to the ocean and Pebble Beach with great weather, usually. The track itself is very challenging with the most famous turn being the “corkscrew”, a very challenging downhill portion. Everything about the course is top-notch. Everyone’s racecar prep will be the best so I am expecting the competition to be very close. The only negative to this race is the long travel time to get to California!
• What do you think your biggest challenge will be?
The biggest challenge for me will be getting up to speed on the racetrack, as I haven’t been there for a few years. Not damaging the car during the week will also be a challenge. This will allow us to focus on making the car and myself faster rather than spending time making repairs.
We wish Mr. Heinricy the best of luck next week in Monterey! Those who cannot make the trip west to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs this October can watch all of the action from wherever they may be on SpeedCastTV.com.