ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Already nervous, Joe Moser estimated he got two hours of sleep Saturday night.
A newly installed motor in his orange No. 36 1991 Honda CRX SI for the Super Touring Light class at the 57th running of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America was the least of his problems.
There was, in the words of fellow STL competitor Danny Steyn, who stayed in the same condo complex as Moser, a “rowdy bunch of ladies up until about midnight last night. It was interesting.”
“We heard these ladies partying until 1 or 2 a.m. and I’m thinking, ‘I can hear them and they’re directly over Danny,'” Moser said.
Moser, from Wilmette, Ill., fought through a rowdy party, as well as nerves and anxiety of an unproven motor, to take the checkered flag in Sunday’s Runoffs in the STL class.
The victory capped an incredible season for Moser, which culminated with an SCCA Super Sweep award. To win the award, a driver must complete four tasks, win one of nine key National races, win a divisional points championship, top the nationwide point standings and win the National Championship Runoffs all in a single class.
“It means a lot,” Moser said. “They said it’s one of the hardest things to do in club racing.”
Coming in second place was Steyn, the 2018 and 2019 champion, and Greg Maloy rounded out the podium.
For Maloy, it was a bit of throwback weekend, mostly for his father, Joe. In the 1980s, Joe Maloy raced a Datsun and competed at Road America.
“He ran the (June) Sprints (at Road America) once in the 1980s and he ran the Runoffs in ’82 and ’83 when it was at Road Atlanta,” Greg Maloy said.
“He loved it,” Maloy said when asked if he could tell if his dad was excited to be back at Road America. “He remembered a lot of stuff around here. He was like, ‘The track looks the same. It’s been like 40 years.’ This is such an awesome track.”
It is Moser’s second national championship, adding to his 2016 accomplishment in Super Touring Under (STU). He was also the 2017 U.S. Major Tour points champion.
But it was his first without one of his biggest fans: his dad.
Moser’s dad died during the offseason. When he thought about his dad’s influence and support, Moser struggled to fight back his emotions.
“He was always … is always with me at the track. I grew up at the race track,” Moser said. “He got me into kart racing at 14. When I was 16, he gave my first hand-me-down CRX and he built a new one. He beat me always for a long time.
“Then he started getting older and I don’t know if he decided I needed an ego boost or something but he started let me winning up a little bit. He cared more about me winning than anything.”
Moser said his car has been flawless all season, but during the first qualifying session Tuesday during the Runoffs, Moser said he felt the engine struggling. It came back to life and his session finished without another hitch. Then, during the second qualifying session Wednesday, the engine stopped running.
Thankfully, the engine builder was less than two hours away at King Motorsports.
“It was a long week,” Moser said. “We had to rebuild the engine entirely.”
Moser and his team got the car back to Road America on Friday afternoon, just in time to do one test lap, or, as he put it, “a hardship lap.”
“You start going through your head every possible thing that could break,” Moser said. “We double-checked, triple-checked everything.”
After winning Super Touring Light National Championship at the Runoffs, Moser was confident he’d get a good night of sleep Sunday night.