VWs Racing in the Rain: Sunless fun at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs

Ernest Hemingway once said, “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs qualify as a sport, but with multiple classes of lightning-fast cars racing for days on end, the Runoffs are definitely not a game. The 2011 event took place September 19th to 26th in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, where the weather quickly went from overcast during qualifying events to torrential downpours on race days. The drivers would’ve made Hemingway proud, too, as they showed no fear in the face of wet conditions.

Since 1944, the Runoffs have given some of pro racing’s biggest stars their first racetrack experience. Club racing is technically an amateur motorsport, but only in the sense that the drivers involved are not paid by a team owner. In fact, the drivers usually are the team owners, proof of the degree of passion involved in the sport. Volkswagen has been an official sponsor of the SCCA since 2006. This year alone, VW has contributed nearly $300,000 in prize money throughout the year for the top VW drivers across various classes.

All sports cars are organized into classes based on age, power, weight, vehicle type and other factors with drivers race everything from tube-frame, silhouette-bodied V8 supercars to lightweight open wheel, air-cooled Volkswagen-powered single seaters known as “Formula Vee” cars. Newer model GTIs and Jettas are eligible for the T3 class, and older models like the Scirocco, Golf and Rabbit race in the H Production and Improved Touring classes. This year, Volkswagen supplied the SCCA with course vehicles for the Runoff as well as a custom Jetta pace car. Volkswagen was on the scene with 2012 models of the Golf R, Jetta GLI and Touareg TDI for race fans to check out up close, and those who stopped by booth were treated to exclusive VW gear and commemorative Runoffs posters.

Weather aside, the SCCA Runoffs have a very bright future. With motorsports increasing in popularity stateside, the event shows no signs of slowing down (literally), which is great news for those of us who want to play a Hemingway-approved sport but would rather not climb a mountain or fight a bull.

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