Some numbers are just special; ten, twenty five, fifty... are all cool and often used to mark significant events or anniversaries. 100 though... might just be the coolest of them all.
The next race on the calendar, the Le Mans 2.4 will be the 100th Race in Majors Series history. At just fourteen races per year it takes a while to get to 100, but in the middle of our 8th season... here we are.
2014 was our first full season and the Daytona 2.4 kicked us off (shocker, I know!) and while that first season was reserved exclusively for members of the Northwest Club it was a success. Over the years we have allowed more people to join, but we have always stuck with the same basic formula... A community of like minded, competitors and friends contesting the world's most iconic and prestigious races.
Along the way 1,378 different drivers have made 11,675 starts, 137 different drivers have taken home at least one race win and 13 different drivers have been crowned champion.
All of that, in 100 races.
Of those 1,378 drivers, THREE are likely to hit their own 100th Majors race this season! A seriously impressive achievement as each has raced in over 90% of the races these last eight years.
Steven Paulissen has been with us since before the beginning. In 2012 we started a Northwest club league, and Steven was there for the first race! When we started the Monday Night Road Series, Steven was there. When we rallied the troops in hopes of World Cup glory, Steven was there too.
So it should have been no surprise that Steven joined the Majors Series as well. Steven is a dedicated, class act of a driver that we can all look up to. When you think of drama you NEVER think of Steven. In the last 8 years there has virtually never been a protest levied against him and I can not recollect him ever submitting one. I have never heard him raise his voice or speak ill of a competitor. If I could bottle up all of his qualities and give the potion to new members...easy done, I would.
Here are some of Steven's thoughts his journey...
"My sim racing started with my son liking racing games. As his interests changed I became hooked on sim racing. Eventually found iRacing as I wanted to race an Indy 500. I never stuck well to one type of racing and just did a little of everything. The Northwest Club had weekly races and I found your Northwest Majors series. Right up my alley to race different cars and disciplines. The early days we had a congenial group and everyone helped me improve at racing. I think that early group all tried to not miss races to keep full fields. I guess that trained me well to keep showing up! I also like the every 3 to 4 week Majors schedule so I am able to find time to be prepared for each race. I have never had great pace but always seem to be in a good race in the Majors series. With the full length races I have been able to be in contention and make a podium here and there. I remember a Bathurst 500 where consistency got me ahead of the fast ones and I had to go lap after lap at my 100 percent to barely hold them off for a podium. I remember having a pathway to claim a Southern 500 but finally followed the fast guys examples of how to overdo the Darlington stripe.
The Majors has grown and changed through the years but the challenge of tackling different disciplines and camaraderie remain. Thanks to you and all who help keep this going. One of these days maybe I can beat Wayne and Bryan Barns fair and square!"
If Steven makes every race the rest of the year he will hit 100 at the season finale at Motegi.
Everyone knows Wayne Hutchison, he is like our Norm from Cheers, he is the longest serving member of the competition committee and with all due respect to the other guys, he is the hardest working on the crew as well. Wayne is a transplanted canuck, that ended up in Vancouver, WA which just so happens to be the same town I live in. We didn't know each other before the Majors Series, but we have worked on the series so long together that he likes to say that Vancouver, WA is the Majors Headquarters... and he's right.
Wayne's contributions to the series are so immense that they can overshadow his racing, which is a crime.
He is incredibly solid in everything he jumps into, even if he has his specialties. Wayne was the driving force to bringing the Silver Crown races into the series starting with the Copper Classic in 2018 (one of the most successful oval events in our history).
With all of his accomplishments and contributions you might be surprised that his tenure in the Majors got off on the very wrong foot. The 2014 Indy 500 was his first race in the series and unfortunately there was a crash before the start / finish line on lap one, normally that will wreak havoc on the iRacing Race Control and this was no exception. As Chris Beck and I were manually trying to get the field sorted out (while racing) we were giving instructions to the field. Wayne, following the automated Race Control would lap the field under caution and try as we may to contact him in the sim, he wouldn't respond and we couldn't get the field put back together. After many voice and text attempts to talk to him we had to DQ him.
Just a couple laps into his first race and DQ'd... ouch! I figured, "that's the last time we'll see Wayne".
We would find out later that Wayne kept in sim coms muted because he was a regular in the official Indycar series and things could get a little... well, toxic. Luckily for us, Wayne has very thick skin and a very high tolerance for pain as he came right back and has been here ever since. He has FIVE Iron Man Awards and has the longest active streak of races made in the series, as he hasn't missed a race since 2016!
Should he keep going he will start race 100 at the penultimate race of the season, the SCCA Runoffs in Round 13.
Bryan Barns has not only been here since the beginning, but he is also our very first champion.
Like Steven, Bryan has been with me since well before the Majors. Bryan was an early and often winner in our NW Truck Series, the Monday Night Road Series and was a huge reason that the Northwest Club had so much success in the World Cup of iRacing. Bryan is also a big reason that so many Western States drivers joined the series over the years, guys like Bob Beltrami and Rob Gall who have all been running together for 20+ years!
That first season of the Majors, Bryan was locked in a dog fight with Toby Butler. Toby dominated the ovals, winning four races, but Bryan was good at everything and snagged a win at the Southern 500. His consistency won him that championship and given what our series tries to be... rightfully so. The first year we weren't fighting for the Mario yet, we were fighting for the Bigfoot trophy (pictured above) and to be honest is one of the coolest (and biggest and heaviest) things I've ever sent as an award.
Amazingly, Bryan would compete in the first 66 races of the Series (5 years!) before missing his first start. Bryan lets his racing and race craft do the talking since he doesn't do a lot of... well, you know... talking. Most of you know know Bryan as the; fast, consistent and fair driver who runs the blue #4. What many of you don't know is that he used to race off road IRL and has competed in the Baja 1000, hence his nickname "Baja".
We put the Crandon World Cup on the schedule this year in large part to honor Bryan's 100th start in ther series, which is all goes well, will happen at the 2.4 hours of Spa.
ONE HUNDRED RACES, wow.
The below 36 drivers have made at least 50 starts in the series, I wonder how many will make it to 100?