2020 Season Standings

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2020 threw the world of motorsports a curve ball, and the NORRC Series was no exception.

After four consecutive years of NORRC Series tracking, compiling and providing season-long cumulative driver scoring of Open Road Racing events, the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 brought the world of racing to all but a virtual standstill.

First, Texas postponed their race, and later, had to outright cancel their event due to concerns about COVID-19. Then, Nevada followed suit by cancelling their May event, and shortly afterwards, also their September event.

In fact, the entire 2020 NORRC Series schedule looked like it may be a complete wash.

That is, until the fine folks in Nebraska decided to press forward and successfully host their 2020 Sandhills Open Road Challenge event weekend as planned. For that, we, along with all of the racers that attended, are eternally grateful!

Yet, as a Championship Series, we had another dilemma. Typically, one race alone does not a “championship season” make. So, like many other racing series around the globe, we were forced to rethink what normal looks like, and make some last-minute creative adjustments.

Fortunately, as the SORC weekend contains not one, but two ORR events, we decided to make a cumulative scoring contest out of 2020 by adding SORC’s Loup 2 Loup ORR along to the scoring results of the SORC, thus enabling us to still crown a cumulative, if not shortened 2020 Season NORRC Series Champion, and recognize a podium of top three finishers.

The Loup 2 Loup (aka L2L) event, hosted as a companion race during the SORC event weekend, is truly unlike any of the other four existing ORR events traditionally included on the NORRC Series schedule. The L2L is a very narrow, extremely twisty, super short two-leg race course laid out on a remote county farm road. There are no mile markers, few signs, and almost no visible landmarks to use for timing reference.

It’s not just that the L2L is tight, twisty, and over before most folks can properly calculate or adjust to their class speed target average. It’s also the inclusion of a nearly 90 degree final corner that few competitors can take much faster than 60 MPH, within less than one-quarter of a mile from the finish line that truly separates the L2L from any other ORR course format in existence.

At only 11.6 miles per race leg, the 23.2 mile long L2L is widely recognized among ORR drivers who have raced everywhere else as the most challenging Open Road Racing course in the world.

In fact, the L2L course is so much tougher to achieve a tight timing score on than other ORR courses that up until 2020, we had intentionally not added it to the NORRC Season schedule simply out of a sense of fairness and balance to those who compete in our widely popular Best 3 of 4 Title chase. Those who race at L2L would have traditionally been at a distinct cumulative scoring disadvantage versus those who race in three other events elsewhere. Yes, it’s that tough.

They say, necessity is the mother of invention. With the 2020 NORRC Season suddenly being down to the toughest two races of the year for all of the marbles, the intensity of the L2L and SORC  two-race weekend brought about some of the most exciting racing for a NORRC Championship title fight we’ve seen to date!

Two-time NORRC Series National Champion (2017, 2018) “Texas” Tom Sorrells dug deep into his backroad and road course racing prowess, showing both the L2L and SORC courses he was playing for keeps. Tom quickly shook off the rust of not racing for 11 months by climbing out of his 2010 Viper Laguna Seca Edition ACR and  back up onto the L2L podium with a 3rd place finish, turning in a very respectable for the Loup time variance of 0.650 in the 95 MPH Class.

Tom quickly backed that performance up with a far more characteristic time variance of 0.115 of a second to secure 2nd Place in the extremely tough 110 MPH Class in the marque SORC event.

With a combined cumulative total of 0.765 time variance over the two-race weekend, Texas Tom secured his place on yet another NORRC Series National Championship podium with an overall 3rd Place finish for the 2020 season.

Said Tom after the race, “It was a bit rough getting right back up to speed after nearly 11 months away from racing. Especially when we usually already have two race weekends under our belt before coming to Nebraska. That said, while I’m not entirely thrilled with my own performance, I am just happy to be out here racing again. I cannot say enough good things about the folks in the SORC organization and the people of Arnold for having the guts to push forward and hosting this event. This weekend made us all feel almost normal again!”

We couldn’t agree more with Tom. Everyone here at the NORRC Series tips our helmets to everyone involved in making the 2020 SORC event weekend a reality for us all!

Always a man of few words, but often a threat to win in Texas and Nebraska, Mike Black showed up with R2D2 fully programmed and ready to assist as he piloted his 2015 Corvette Stingray towards victory, counting down to target one millisecond at a time. However, due to a rare reported missed shift in the last corner, Mike found himself losing time, settling for an uncharacteristic 0.717 of a second variance for 3rd Place in the 85 MPH Class of the L2L race.

Mike’s driving (and shifting) must have been spot on Saturday, as he and R2D2 turned in a more characteristic 0.012 of a second variance to win the tough 105 MPH Class in the SORC race.

With a total weekend cumulative time variance of 0.729 of a second for the shortened to two-race season, we congratulate Mike Black on securing the 2nd place spot on our NORRC Series National Championship podium for the 2020 season! We hope Mike enters one of the Nevada races in 2021. We’d love to see how he does in a full season championship battle!

Mike didn’t comment after the race, but we did manage to have a word with R2D2, who told us, “BEEP BEEP BOOP, BEEP BEEP BEEP BOOOOOOOP!” There was also something about using the Force, and a brief video saying something about Obi Wan being their only hope!

The big story of the 2020 NORRC Series season is the emergence of someone whom has been slowly, but steadily, working his tail off to improve his performances at every ORR event he has raced in over the past several years. Every season, this individual puts in some stellar drives in at least two races on the calendar. He has truly wanted to compete for a NORRC Series Best 3 of 4 Title since we formed the series, only to ultimately succumb to a grueling work schedule that always seems to knock him out of being able to compete in a third race weekend. With a suddenly shortened to two-race, one-weekend 2020 schedule, was it finally his time to shine?

To add to this story, we take you to the dusty little west Texas oil patch town known as Odessa. You may know it as the home to the storied Texas 5A Championship “Friday Night Lights” high school football franchise Permian. You may also know Odessa as home of the famed Chapparel race car program. You likely know it as home of the late, but always memorable Don Hoffman, who were he still alive, would no doubt fight his way into the championship mix every season.

Now, it appears Odessa, Texas has yet another Championship winner among its residents.

After scoring a strong 0.505 of a second time variance for 2nd Place in the 90 MPH Class of the L2L race, coupled with an impressive 0.140 of a second variance to win the always difficult 100 MPH Class in the SORC race in his 2002 Corvette Z06, totaling a season time variance of just 0.645 of a second off perfect, we are proud to announce that our 2020 NORRC Series National Champion is none other than Odessa, Texas own Tracy Clinkenbeard!

Said Tracy about his SORC weekend, “We really had a good couple of races this time out. My wife Kim usually navigates for me when we come to Nebraska, and we always have a great time up here in Arnold. This year, Kim had to stay at home. So, I brought my good friend Mike Bostik with me. It was kinda quiet not having Kim in the car, as she really enjoys letting out a lot of WOO HOOs over the humps and around the corners up here. Somehow though, even through all of the quiet, Mike got me to finally slow down just enough to win one of these deals!”

Tracy also said, “I’m so grateful the folks here in Arnold and the surrounding communities allowed the SORC to host this race. It’s been a long, weird year for all of us. It was nice to finally get to go out and do something normal for a change. Our hats are off to everyone who came out and put this deal on. Thanks to all y’all!”

When asked about winning the 2020 NORRC Series National Championship title, Tracy said, “Wow. I knew I had a good weekend going in Arnold, and turned in some hard-fought finishes with great times, but this is incredible! My good friend Tom Sorrells has won a couple of these deals. Now, I guess I have won one, too. I guess this puts me in some pretty good company!”

Said Tom, “I’ve known Tracy for many decades. From scuba diving to flying gliders to racing cars, he’s definitely got the high performance bug. Everything he does in life, he digs deep, works hard at, and stays at it until he figures out how to master it. You know, he started out as my navigator in 2011 down in Texas. In 2012, we got our first podium finish together. Shortly after that, he put together a C5 Z06 and started focusing on driving in ORR events once or twice a year. I know he’s been working hard to figure out how to consistently win these type of races. It looks like he’s finally got this ORR deal figured out! I seriously couldn’t be happier for him!”

Two-time NORRC Series National Champion (2016, 2019) Berry Lowman commented, “I’m so happy to see Tracy Clinkenbeard win the 2020 title and join the National Champion Club! Tracy is one of the nicest, hardest-working drivers in the sport. I’ve been watching him just get better and better at this game of clock racing each time out. It was truly only a matter of time before he got it done. Congratulations on a well-deserved Championship, Tracy!”

Berry added, “Both Tracy and Tom are true champions in every sense of the word, and are fantastic representatives of the sport of Open Road Racing. The fact they are best of friends just makes both of them having won NORRC titles all the more fantastic. I always look forward to competing with both of them, and am proud to call both fellow Texans my very good friends. ”

Berry also added, “The SORC quickly became one of my favorite places to race after first coming up here back in 2016. I’ve often said the people of Arnold are among the nicest, most hospitable folks on the planet. The fact they let a bunch of us out of towners still come in to race during the pandemic is something all of us in attendance will never forget. Y’all truly gave us a much-needed week of normalcy in the midst of a year that has been anything but normal. We cannot wait to return to Arnold again in 2021, and every year afterwards. Long live the SORC!”

As we look back on the 2020 NORRC Series season, however brief, we also reflect on many of the new lessons we all learned. Spending time with our friends and competitors means more than ever before, especially once we didn’t get to do it as often as before.

While fewer races can make a Championship tougher to win than usual, it also brings more people into the Championship mix, which makes it more competitive for everyone.

Also, while the L2L course is more than worthy of a spot on the regular season scoring schedule, it is also worthy of being in a scoring class all its own. Things we’re contemplating around here as we all look forward to hopefully getting back to something approaching normalcy in 2021.

Here’s hoping all of the races are able to get back up and running at full capacity sooner versus later.

As we all look forward to the future, we also pose this question – Will 2021 be the year someone outside of Texas finally wins the NORRC Series National Championship title? Stay tuned to find out!

2020 National Open Road Racing Championship – Season Standings

 

L2L

SORC

Season Total

Rank

National Champion*

       

Tracy Clinkenbeard

0.505

0.14

0.645

1st

Mike Black

0.717

0.012

0.729

2nd

Tom Sorrells

0.65

0.115

0.765

3rd

Eric Schmidt

0.374

0.402

0.776

4th

Clare Kurz

0.863

0.186

1.049

5th

Scott Mann

0.356

1.045

1.401

6th

Dave Smith

0.891

0.777

1.668

7th

John Shuta

0.473

1.227

1.7

8th

Jeffrey Bernard

0.706

1.225

1.931

9th

Kevin Capener

0.388

1.716

2.104

10th

Chad Christensen

2.109

0.099

2.208

11th

Blue Offutt

2.071

0.286

2.357

12th

Aaron Anderson

2.342

0.661

3.003

13th

Michael Schultz

3.408

0.049

3.457

14th

Rob Walton

0.599

3.141

3.74

15th

Matt Dinsdale

3.455

0.385

3.84

16th

Jason Walsh

0.348

3.495

3.843

17th

Jim Miller

2.482

1.46

3.942

18th

Joe Wolf

1.255

3.123

4.378

19th

Daniel Manis

0.578

3.966

4.544

20th

Ken Hodges

0.8

4.32

5.12

21st

Ted Hughes

5.65

0.116

5.766

22nd

Berry Lowman

5.469

0.297

5.766

22nd

Jessica Morton

5.469

0.297

5.766

22nd

Jason Rader

1.305

4.595

5.9

25th

Grid Key

*= L2L & SORC ONLY Due to COVID-19

DNS = Did Not Start

DNF = Did Not Finish

DQ = Disqualified

DND = Did Not Drive