The SRF3 Championship race at the 54th SCCA Runoffs was hyped as THE race to watch among the 28 national classes. And it did not disappoint. As the clock ticked down towards the 11:45 am Green Flag time on Saturday, September 30th, drivers, crews, workers and fans all stopped what they were doing and made their way to the spectator areas throughout the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take in what everyone expected to be an epic showdown. At the same time, fans across the country took a break from work and chores, logged in online, and leaned into their screens to watch the race unfold via the LIVE video broadcast.
With more than 101 cars entered into the race, setting a record as the largest field in SCCA Runoffs history, only 72 drivers (due to track maximum capacity limits) slowly exited the grid and began their warm-up around the 15-turn, 2.592-mile road course. The top 60 grid placements were determined during the four qualifying sessions held earlier in the week, and the last 12 spots were earned during the Last Chance Race held Thursday night among the remaining 42 cars.
Steve Introne, and the #12 SRF3, secured the 38th position on the grid following Thursday's final qualifying session. He would sit on the outside as the cars lined up to come around the final turn of the pace lap and onto the Indy front straight to take the Green flag. Given that the Last Chance Race, as well as the SRF2 Race on Friday, both resulted in major crashes and multiple cars left stranded as the pack attempted to take the tight and narrow Turn 1 after the start, everyone's nerves were high that this race would prove more of the same.
The swarm of cars was mesmerizing. It was a sight to behold. And to their credit, all 72 drivers successfully navigated Turn 1. And Turn 2. But not so much Turn 3. Multiple cars collided, leaving some broke and disabled, resulting in a Full Course Caution as the pace car had to re-enter and slow the pack in order for the emergency crews to clean up.
The Introne Racing team settled in for the next 18 laps as Steve had successfully navigated those first turns and picked up 10 positions during the start. He was sitting in 28th as the collective breath across the track was held once again for the re-start. Back racing, the fierce competition throughout the field was evident as drivers battled for every position.
For 19 laps, and almost the entire 40-minute race maximum, Steve and the rest of the SRF3 field fought, passed, gained, and lost positions. When the Checkered Flag finally flew, Steve crossed those infamous bricks in the 29th position. 9 positions higher than where he started the race.
It was a race and event that will last forever in our memories. The entire Introne Racing team is extremely proud of how hard Steve raced, and how well he performed. In a field that boasted almost a dozen prior National Champions, this race was by far the most competitive and difficult of the week.
But the team isn't finished just yet. Back home, they are headed to Thompson Speedway this weekend in an attempt to secure the New England Road Racing Championship. With that in hand, 2017 will go down in history as one of the most successful and rewarding race years for Steve, his team, and his family.
In the coming weeks, SCCA will upload and make available online full versions of the entire SRF3 Runoffs race, with commentary. The race is also currently slotted to be aired by the CBS Sports Network in December. The final race results can be seen here.
As we close out the 2017 season, Introne Racing wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to all of our friends, family, and sponsors that made this season so exciting and successful. Without Black Hog Brewing, Inline Plastics Corp., Quality Auto Body, and Introne Communications, this would have been a very different year. THANK YOU ALL!