Collin Jackson and the Specialty Engineering Nissan 240SX are four-time SCCA Runoff winners. Take a look inside the record setting car, and get to know its driver.
For amateur road racers across America, the annual SCCA Runoffs championship is the Super Bowl. Originally known as the American Road Race of Champions, for more than half a century the Runoffs have been held at the close of each race season to bring together the top drivers from each of the SCCA’s nine divisions to battle it out for top honors.
With thousands of active racers within the SCCA – the vast majority of whom are self-funded – the competition is intense, and the Runoffs take that competitive spirit to another level. So, when a racer wins his or her class in the Runoffs, it is a genuinely noteworthy accomplishment as a driver and wheel-to-wheel competitor. Collin Jackson of Langley, British Columbia, accomplished that feat in this year in the GT3 class piloting the Specialty Engineering Nissan 240SX, and that alone would be the crown jewel in any amateur racer’s career.
But it’s not the first time Jackson has taken home the Runoff's GT3 championship. Nor is it the second. No, 2017 marks the fourth time Jackson has secured victory at the Runoffs, making him the first driver in the SCCA’s history to enter the championship four times and win each one. Jackson’s fourth Runoffs victory puts him ahead of Skip Barber and David Vegher, who both had entered the Runoffs three times and subsequently won their class at all three events.
“2017 was a fantastic year,” Jackson told us. “Winning at Indianapolis was truly a highlight in my racing career.” While he’s been racing in the GT3 class since 1995 (the 240SX was originally built to run in the Pro NASPORT Series), his affinity for Datsun/Nissan sports car racing goes back much further. “I’ve always been a fan of Datsuns – I started racing in a Datsun 510 in the GT4 class back in 1980,” he said. “And the 240SX is just a great looking car.”
But as you might expect, there’s a lot more that goes into a successful showing at the Runoffs than simply being skilled behind the wheel – car setup and reliability are crucial factors as well. “For 2017 I desperately wanted to be ready to qualify for the SCCA Runoffs at the historic Indy track,” Jackson recalled. “I started early with an engineering project to optimize our rear wing and aero balance as well as our shock setup. I tested extensively to ensure we had our setup options well established before we headed off to Indy.” After completing the regular season in July, Jackson and the racing gurus at Specialty Engineering completely disassembled and rebuilt the 240SX prior to the big event at Indianapolis, rebuilding the the 2.4-liter KA 12 valve motor with a set of custom-designed and forged JE pistons.
“Specialty Engineering has been building my engines since the '80s,” Jackson told us. “I have always used JE Pistons in my race & street cars. I would like to thank JE Pistons for their awesome product that allowed us to run almost 1400 degree temperatures reliably in our highly restricted racing engine. Specialty Engineering is well known for a reliable engine program, and JE is a part of that.”
So what’s next for this record-breaking SCCA Runoffs racer? There’s strong evidence that Jackson might accomplish the same feat again in the upcoming season. “Next year the SCCA National Runoffs are at Sonoma,” he said. “And I am currently the lap record holder at that track!”