Whirlwind of Winners at 2021 RallyCross Nationals

After a soggy start, the 2021 SCCA RallyCross National Championships concluded this past Sunday — with 10 new National Champions crowned — under sunny skies and dry course conditions at the Ross County Fairgrounds in Chillicothe, Ohio.

The total times from Saturday’s six runs and Sunday’s four were combined to set each driver’s score and determine who would take the title of National Champion in each of the event’s 10 classes. In addition to the combined times, each cone hit added two seconds to the driver’s time, while missing a gate resulted in a 10-second penalty.

Below is the full rundown from all the action at the 15th annual SCCA RallyCross National Championship.

Stock Front

At the start of day one, Chang Ho Kim found himself in unfamiliar territory. The wet and wild conditions Saturday nearly sent him for a spin in the final turn of the second course, which helped Jason Meyer keep his scant 0.181-second lead in his Honda Civic. Also looking up at Jason in the standings was Josh Armantrout in a Mini Cooper S. Meyer put down quick times on day two, but Chang and Armantrout began to claw their way past him with each passing run. When the dust settled, it was Chang who emerged victorious to claim his third National Championship in his Acura Integra Type R.

“I’m relieved!” Kim said afterward. “I thought for sure I’d hit a cone or spin out like I did yesterday.” Chang attributed the drying course conditions to helping him make his comeback drive. “I figured it would dry out a bit. The gearing was working well. There was lots of shifting yesterday, but today the gearing was working well, so I figured I was in the mix.” Kim took home the SF crown by just 0.3 second over Armantrout, who made a strong push on his last two runs. Meyer would fall to third — an impressive drive for the Nationals rookie. Hal Denham and Philip Bunker rounded out the remaining trophy positions in Stock Front.

Stock Rear

Stock Rear was the Sean Grogan show from start to finish. The multi-time National Champion from Detroit Region pulled out an early lead and never looked back, setting new fast times on each run in his Porsche Boxster. Grogan was the defending National Champion in SR, but brought home the win last year in a borrowed car after the Boxster’s clutch failed. This year, the car ran flawlessly both days and helped him claim the Championship by an impressive double-digit margin.

“It was great to have the car work the whole way,” said Grogan. “Last year I almost packed up and went home when the clutch exploded, but a couple different people convinced me to stay, and John Voegeli let me jump in his car. I was worried the courses were going to be real slow and tight because some people complained after last year, but they were all a lot of fun and very challenging.”

Coming home second in SR was Mark Macoubrie in a Porsche 911. He was able to stay ahead of last year’s runner-up John Voegeli, who tagged a cone on Saturday afternoon and couldn’t recover. Logan Altyer came back from a large deficit on day one to claim the fourth and final trophy spot.

Stock All

This year’s Stock All winner seemingly came out of nowhere in a car not many would have picked to win. Brad Legris put in an impressive drive to claim his first National Championship in his first attempt at the title. Legris’ car of choice — an all-wheel drive Lexus RC 350 — has been a regular at Detroit Region events for the past two years, and has proven quite capable in the right hands.   

“It feels good,” said Legris after bringing home the win. “A few people have definitely commented that they’re surprised about the car’s speed and that it's a sleeper car. I’ve raced pretty much every local event for the last two years getting ready for this event. So, it feels very rewarding to do well here. Even with a tornado and having my tent collapse in on me in the middle of the night on Friday!” Legris also pointed out the significance of his car’s number. “I lost my dad to cancer a few years back. He was a firefighter, and truck number was 53. So, after he passed away, I started running that number to honor him.”

Sean Heinrich was the next fastest finisher in SA, followed closely by Noah Quick in third. Timothy Thompson and Jan Gerber rounded out the SA trophy positions.

Prepared Front

PF was full of former National Champions once again this year, along with a few fast drivers looking to claim their first win. With all manner of machines in the grid, this class was tough to predict. Leon Drake held a .642-second lead after day one, knowing the rest of the pack would be charging hard behind him. Despite their best efforts, Drake held on to take the win in his Honda “C R/X.”

Drake was overjoyed to claim the National Championship. “It's awesome!” he said after. “Just incredible that we still get to do this, and even at my age you can still do this and win! We had wonderful competition in the class and even after the weather we had on Saturday, the grip out there was unbelievable.” Drake was also pleased with repairs he made to his Honda after last season. “It doesn’t smoke anymore!” he exclaimed. It used to be a freight train now it's definitely running like it's supposed to do. The car is nimble and does exactly what I want.

Jake Bucknam did a great job of keeping Leon honest all weekend, but settled for second ahead of Christian Retterer. Last year’s defending champ Jim Rowland claimed a fourth-place finish in his Nissan Sentra SE-R, while Josh Remetter snagged the final PF trophy.

Prepared Rear

Prepared Rear was once again a two-horse race between Shawn Roberts and Gonzalo San Miguel. The pair of Miata drivers have been duking it out for National Championships across the country for years and always put on a great show. After claiming his first championship last year, Roberts repeated the feat this year and made it two in a row.

“It was pretty much what it was like last year,” said Roberts. “We blew the engine up in the car in Tennessee earlier in the season, so I let the car sit and think about what it did for a while. Then the last local event before Nationals, I decided to put one of the spare motors we had sitting around the garage in and got it running for our last local event before we came here.”

Robert’s win wasn’t without drama, his co-driver Katie de-beaded a tire on one of her runs. “I heard them announce that she de-beaded and I said “oh (censored).” Luckily I had brought an extra tire just in case and we got it changed.”

Gonzalo San Miguel put in a valiant effort, but fell short of chasing down Roberts this year. He was the only other trophy recipient in the relatively small PR field this year. Lothrop Withington IV was the third-place finisher.   

Prepared All

Mark Hill is no stranger to Nationals, but this one had a decidedly different feel — he was the hunted rather than the hunter. Hill set the pace early on day one, but Clifton Kangas was close enough to apply pressure after the second course. On day two, however, Hill put his head down and drove away from the pack to claim his third RallyCross National Championship.

“It's a big deal,” Hill said about his win. “When you’re chasing someone, it's a totally different feeling than when you’ve got people chasing you.” Hill had some major mechanical trouble on Saturday afternoon when important hardware went missing from his Mitsubishi’s front caliper. “My hands were shaking enough that I couldn’t thread the hole,” Hill said. “Warren Elliot gave me reassurance to calm down and concentrate. So, I just took a breath and got it back together.”

Hill enjoyed the competition in PA over the weekend. “When you’ve got people who are really good it keeps me going and pushes me,” he said. Clifton Kangas was the runner-up in PA in another Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, followed by Tom Klonowski in his Subaru Impreza, who claimed his first Nationals trophy.

Modified Front

After putting on a clinic last year, the smart money would have been on ZB Lorenc to claim another National Championship in his own backyard. However, after day one, it was Andy Thomas who led the way in his Toyota Celica — by just over three seconds. Andy continued to improve his lead throughout day two, and finished a full 12 seconds ahead of last year’s champ on his home turf.

“After almost dying of COVID last year, I was just happy to be able to race again,” said Thomas who had to have one of his adrenal glands removed from the complications. “I love that Nationals was in Ohio this year because I had a lot of my friends here. For the third event in the car this year, I’m very happy.”

Thomas’s Celica had a very unusual journey to becoming a MF National Champion. “I bought this as a daily driver/autocross car in 2012 and on a whim, I decided to take it to Solo Nationals that year,” Thomas said. “I ended up in third place in G Stock and afterwards I ran it competitively for a few years. My co-driver Mark Moran won a National Championship in 2013. Then we tried Pro Soloing too much and kept blowing up transmissions, so I put a 6-speed out of a GTS in it and it was no longer autocross friendly so I started RallyCrossing it and it just morphed from there.” Thomas’s Celica is registered in Maryland and still passes emissions, so he drove it to and from Ohio for the Championship event.

After leading on Saturday morning, ZB Lorenc fell back to second and stayed there on day two. Daniel Hutchinson finished behind Lorenc for the third and final trophy in MF.

Modified Rear

MR had some unexpected twists and turns throughout the weekend. Defending champ Brianne Corn was leading the charge over John England and Michael Golden, but a missed gate on her final Saturday run handed the lead over to England. Corn threw everything she had at the course on day two, but couldn’t recover from the gate penalty, which allowed England to claim his second National Championship.

“It's awesome!” said England after getting the win. “I was really hoping to finally get a repeat. I won in 2016, but kept chasing it every year after. So, I was wondering if I could get it again, especially in that car. We also just had a baby two weeks ago, so it's been hectic at home. For my second event this year, I’m really happy.” England was also happy about getting to pilot one of the Sierra RX3 cars for the Race of Champions.” The National Championship is cool, but I’m really excited to get in the Sierra car!”

Modified All

Modified All was the largest class in attendance with 28 drivers, and was a battle royale up and down the order. 2020’s MA champ Austin Dowda led the way after Saturday morning, but started clipping cones in the afternoon. Those cones opened the door for Jess Moeding who took the day one lead by 2.8 seconds. When the dust finally settled after a flurry of fast final runs on day two, it was Jess Moeding who claimed his first National Championship.

“It's my first win in four attempts,” said Moeding. “I just tried to drive my own race and not worry about anybody else. The car didn’t break, I didn’t do anything terribly stupid and I made a better tire selection this year.” Moeding also stayed clean for the second year in a row, which proved to be the difference between him and Dowda who fell to third. Jeff Denmeade laid down a flyer on his final run, which was fast enough to slot him into second place.

Former champ Scott Banes returned to the MA grid this year and was the fastest Subaru, earning him a fourth-place finish. Todd Kean also had an impressive drive and finished fifth in his Impreza. Michael Julian bested Warren Elliot by less than a tenth to earn the sixth-place trophy. Chris Endres, who finished with twenty second of cone penalties, drove his GMC Typhoon to a hard charging eighth place finish to claim the final MA trophy — and the fastest time of the class on Sunday.

Constructors 2

The C2 class only featured one type of vehicle this year, but everybody loved watching. Sierra Cars filled out the grid with a pair of their RX3s. The RX3 is a purpose-built tube frame machine powered by a Suzuki Hayabusa engine connected to a sequential transmission. With 200 horsepower on tap and weighing in at only 925 lbs., the RX3s were fun to watch on course.

“One of my greatest pleasures is driving race cars,” Powelson said. “My second greatest pleasure is sharing that race car experience with other people. I’ve put about 500 different people in these cars over the years and I’ve had as much fun driving as I’ve had sharing them. So, to be able to get the Constructors class Championship this weekend is just unbelievable.”

Powelson was very happy to have the RX3 be eligible for SCCA competition. “It feels great to have these cars be a part of this series. The recent rule changes allowed us to compete, and we’ve run some regional events, but we really wanted to come to Nationals and share the experience with the Champions. Hopefully word gets out that people can drive these cars and build their own. We sell parts and pieces so at-home constructors can build the cars themselves. We also provide turnkey race cars and arrive and drive programs. So being able to introduce RallyCross to people with an exciting new platform is definitely the goal.”

Race of Champions

The 2021 SCCA RallyCross National Championships also featured a Race of Champions featuring each newly crowned National Champ from the nine classes competing for bragging rights behind the wheel of the Sierra RX3s. C2 Champion Cole Powelson bowed out of the ROC and let Chief Steward Ed Trudeau try his hand behind the wheel. Each National Champion was given one acclimation run on a shortened version of the Sunday course. They were then timed over two runs, which were scored cumulatively to determine the Champ of Champs.

Vaughan Micciche laid down a bogey time, which was quickly eclipsed by Stock All champ Brad Legris. Legris’s best time was only bested by John England, but he tagged a cone on his first timed run, which meant that Legris would win not only SA, but also the 2021 Race of Champions, along with Rookie of the Year honors.