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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 38: Top Pro Driver among SCCA Runoffs Veterans?

Today’s question: The SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the most prestigious amateur racing event in America, is taking place this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Who is the best professional race car driver who has participated in the SCCA Runoffs?

Curt Cavin: I have to with my guy Al Unser Jr., the King of Long Beach (six wins, including four in succession) and a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Thirty-four INDYCAR wins likely isn’t the most among SCCA products, but I’d take him in a match race against almost anyone in U.S. road racing history, in their prime, of course.

Zach Horrall: Same era, different name for me: I’m going Michael Andretti. Michael got his feet wet in SCCA in the early 1980s, appearing in the SCCA Runoffs in 1981, starting first and finishing third in the Formula Ford class at Road Atlanta. It was a catalyst for an incredible career in the form of 42 INDYCAR SERIES wins (fourth all-time) and the 1991 championship. I find this fascinating. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the SCCA Runoffs this weekend at IMS could be the place where someone’s career takes off. Who knows, maybe a driver we see on track this weekend will go on to be an INDYCAR race winner, champion and team owner, just like Michael.

Paul Kelly: Little Al and Michael are excellent choices. Tough to top. But it’s Bobby Rahal for me. Rahal was the 1975 SCCA Runoffs champion in the Formula B (soon to be renamed Formula Atlantic) class at age 22, also earning that year the President’s Cup presented annually to the driver demonstrating ability, competitiveness and success at the SCCA Runoffs. Rahal used SCCA club racing success to launch an illustrious pro driving career, probably a model that every young SCCA driver this weekend in the IMS paddock would love to emulate. As a pro, SCCA Hall of Fame member Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR SERIES championships in 1986, 1987 and 1992. Rahal also raced in Formula One, F2, F3, Can-Am, SCCA Trans-A and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he was a race winner in IMSA sports cars and the IROC all-star series.

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