2014 Season Recap

Season Highlights

* 2014 Improved Touring ‘A’ Regional Champion (Final Points)
* Debut USTCC Race, Finished 4th (Blog | Mazda Motorsports Article)
* Debut American Road Race of Champions Formula F1600 Race, Finished 3rd (Blog)

2014 would prove to be a season filled with a wide variety of challenges, both on and off track for Geri Amani. Persistence and steadfast team support led a very determined woman to a top spot in season points, and officially became the Improved Touring ‘A’ regional champion.

After a successful 2013, Amani charged ahead within the SCCA San Francisco Region Improved Touring championship (ITA), maintaining a firm lead on points for the majority of the 2014 season. Running the #39 Redlign AutoSports / ROARR Motorsports Miata, Amani had been consistently finishing in the top-3.


US Touring Car Debut in SanDisk / TNI Racing Mazdaspeed3


During a brief summer recess, Amani was invited to drive in the US Touring Car Championship running the TNI Racing / SanDisk Mazdaspeed3. In this unfamiliar front wheel drive platform, her debut was nothing short of success. With her first time in the car and the series, she ran a close chase for 3rd place, but ultimately finished 4th.

 


Two Poles and Double Wins at Sonoma

Continuing the season, Amani jumped back into the #39 Redlign AutoSports / ROARR Motorsports Miata for the Sonoma Sprints Double Regional at Sonoma Raceway. At arguably one of the most challenging race tracks in the country, the weekend proved to be an enormous success for Amani, securing two poles and two wins for the weekend. In addition to her first double-win event, on average Amani maintained a 2-3 second lead ahead of her closest competitor, who was also her challenger in points for the Improved Touring Championship.

 

Competitor Conflict Leading to Rule Changes

Amani maintained a firm lead on championship points just past the mid-way point in the season, when one of her competitors took on-course frustrations and began to express them in the paddock. The large stir between Amani and her competitor led to a series of protests, which were in part resolved by SCCA officials, but not without some political debate. 

By this time Amani’s championship lead was narrowed down to only two points. In the instances where off-track bullying was directed at Amani between races, she took her complaint to the top of SCCA National where it was immediately addressed.

Amani’s complaints regarding competitor behavior were quickly brought to the attention to the SCCA San Francisco regional board, as she urgently suggested a change in the GCR (General Competition Rules), asking for further definition in the single sentence GCR 2.1.7 “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” rule, and that officials actively police competitor behavior in question. In principle, the GCR rules are designed to be somewhat vague so they can be universally applied. Amani argued that the single statement “Acting in an unsportsmanlike manner” was too vague, passively worded, and does not proactively protect competitors from bullying or harassment.

“It’s unfair for any competitor to be bullied at the track, especially because of your gender.” stated Amani. “I realize that women in this sport are still a minority, but after what happened this season between myself and my competitor, I made it my mission to help make this sport better for everyone who wants to race. Too many women leave because they are made to feel uncomfortable or inferior. I don’t believe unsportsmanlike behavior has a place in any kind of racing. Everyone who wants to race should feel safe and welcome at all times. If a rule is designed to protect competitors, but fails to do so, then it needs to be rewritten so it does what was intended.”

Amani was able to gather enough support for the regional board to approve a supplemental rule change that will be applied in 2015. This rule change will, in effect, more openly prohibit competitor bullying and harassment, and aims to improve the fairness for competitors regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, age, or disability.

Before the end of the season, Amani expressed her frustration with how the year had unfolded. “This season had been a huge stress for both me and my family. We wanted to quit several times, but knew we had to stick this out.” explained Amani. “I can honestly say that whether or not I win this championship, at least I feel like I’ve done something to help make this organization grow in accordance with social norms. The face of motorsport is changing and SCCA needs to keep up. I hope the whole of the SCCA adopts these supplemental rules.”

 

Formula F1600 Debut at Road Atlanta

Only a week prior to Amani’s final Improved Touring event, she traveled to Road Atlanta to test and race in the American Road Race of Champions event running the Honda powered Jay Motorsports / Hoosier / G-Speed Formula F1600. This would be Amani’s first time racing Road Atlanta and her first time in the F1600 platform. As explained in her article ‘World without Doors’, Amani performed well while adapting to the realm of formula car racing. Given that her background has largely been focused in sports cars, testing prior to the race allowed Amani to be quickly acquainted with the requirements of the F1600.



“Anyone looking to get into formula car racing will find the Honda powered F1600 a delight to drive.” says Amani. ” It’s simple for a driver to jump into a car and drive, but it’s a whole other matter to be tenacious in your pursuit of learning. You have to want success from your core.”

Amani ultimately finished third in class, and 6th overall (out of a 30+ car field).

 

Season Finale Leads to Championship

The last Improved Touring races of the year would take place at Thunderhill Raceway. With a narrow margin of championship points, Amani would need to finish successfully ahead of her nearest challenger. An unfortunate transmission failure discovered during testing brought Amani’s efforts to a grinding halt.

“This transmission was so tired,” Amani explained. “It was the same box that’s been in the car since the previous owner. With him and I combined, there’s probably five racing seasons on those gears!”

With no spare transmission on hand, Amani had to return to Sonoma to retrieve one in storage, totaling over 270-miles and 6-hours of driving through Friday bay area traffic.

Amani continued, “The transmission came from my old race car, which had been sitting for years. We installed it overnight and it ran perfectly the following day—I couldn’t have been any luckier that things worked out so well! “

During the first race, an out of class competitor made wheel-to-fender contact while overtaking Amani’s car, which compromised her pace in the final laps of the race. Amani was able to continue, finishing solidly in P2. Starting on pole for the second race, Amani capitalized on a gap following several minutes of full-course caution, finishing the final race of the season in P1.


 

Looking into the 2015 Season

Moving forward, Amani plans to move out of the Miata and into a faster, purpose-built racing platform.

“I’ve spent so many years in these little cars (Miata). I love them, but it’s certainly time for a change.” Amani explained. “The test and the race went really well at Road Atlanta. The formula car was a pure joy to drive, I certainly can’t wait to race it again.”

Amani is said to run the Honda Powered F1600 in the 2015 SCCA Majors Tour, the Runoff’s at Daytona International Raceway, and select F1600 Pro events.


Additional Information:

G-Speed Race Management: www.facebook.com/pages/G-Speed-Race-Management
Hoosier Racing Tires: www.hoosiertire.com
Jay Motorsports: www.jaymotorsports.com
Honda Performance Development: http://www.hpd.honda.com

Posted on 11/14

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