Huffmaster Is Chip Off The Old Block

Rob Huffmaster won the Super Touring Lite national championship Sunday at Road America. (Shaun Lumley/SCCA photo)
Rob Huffmaster won the Super Touring Lite national championship Sunday at Road America. (Shaun Lumley/SCCA photo)
Rob Huffmaster won the Super Touring Lite national championship Sunday at Road America. (Shaun Lumley/SCCA photo)

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Rob Huffmaster watched his father win the Super Touring Lite race a year ago. At the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the younger Huffmaster drove away to win the class title in the same car.

Chad Gilsinger and Jim Drago finished second and third, respectively, to earn their second medals of the weekend.

Huffmaster started the No. 11 Huffmaster Security/Hoosier/Mazda Mazda RX-8 on the SafeRacer pole and drove away from the field at the green flag to a 5.198-second win. He averaged 93.362 mph over the 13-lap, 52-mile race and turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap in a race-record 2:33.125 (94.041 mph).

The championship-winning car was the same one that Ray Huffmaster drove to the win a year ago, complete with some cosmetic body damage on the front fender. The elder Huffmaster’s win did not count as a National Championship, as the class only had supplemental status in 2013.

“It was cool that he won the race last year, keeping it in the family for STL,” Huffmaster said. “He’s actually a little frustrated that it’s a national championship class this year. But yeah, the damage on the car is still from last year. We haven’t done much with the car because we’ve been running Trans-Am, but we came out for all the test days for this race, and did everything we could to get what we could out of it.

“It was actually pretty much the same as it was a year ago. We took it out to a local track — Waterford race track — and blew the motor. So, we had to get a new motor in and stuff, so we weren’t sure how that was going to work or stack up. From last year, we had to move down a tire size and had smaller brakes for the car.”

The title is the third in four tries for the 27-year-old, who adds to his 2007 Touring 3 and the 2012 Super Touring Under title.

“It’s really special to win three of four, because it’s not that easy,” the three-time Champion said. “The first one in ’07 was a rain race, and got a couple breaks that went my way. Last year, the same thing – we had a great car, had a brake problem, then struggled for it. And then this year, I know Jim [Drago] and Chad [Gilsinger] are really good drivers so I knew they were going to give me something. I was just hoping I was going to be able to get a little gap and break them out of the draft and hold that steady for the rest of the race. Three of four – it sounds easy on paper, I guess, but it’s not.”

Drago’s No. 2 East Street Racing Mazda Miata and Gilsinger’s No. 64 BFGoodrich Tires/HPD/H&R Honda Civic Si stayed in a line early to try to keep pace with Huffmaster, but eventually fell into a battle with each other to decide the second position.

Gilsinger moved to the silver medal position going into turn five on lap six, and never relinquished the spot. Gilsinger also earned the Touring 3 national championship earlier Sunday morning.

“This was my first time running the car all year, so I didn’t know what I was going to do in the car or what these guys were going to do,” Gilsinger said. “(Drago) and I fell behind Rob, which gave Rob breathing room. I was content to just stay behind [Drago], but then I noticed that the tires were going off a little bit and he was drifting wide a lot at some of the exits. I was kind of planning for a few laps of how I was going to take advantage of that. I got a good run coming out of (turn) three, and just tucked up behind him and made the move coming into (turn) five. He was great to run with; he gave me plenty of room, and I got by him. He stayed with me as we were trying to catch up with Rob, but he had it in cruise mode. I was just trying to not to make a mistake and fall out of second.”