Tony Ave (#44A) 2012 Ave Riley AR7
Victory Lane Magazine, November 2017, Vol.32, No.11
Story and photos by Terry Johnsen
Virginia International Raceway, September 22-24, 2017
The SVRA Heacock Classic “Gold Cup” Historic Races proved to be three days of sun, fun, and heat…with plenty of great road racing thrown in. I truly had to check the calendar a few times because it sure didn’t feel like the traditional, late September weather I remember experiencing in southern Virginia. But don’t worry, no one was complaining.
This bit of good weather fortune ensured there would be plenty of track activity for the full schedule of racing slated for the Gold Cup. Virginia International Raceway was in fine form with its lush greenery and rolling countryside. As their slogan suggests, it surely is a “motorsport resort”.
The weekend race schedule provided wall-to-wall racing activity from all of the SVRA racing groups, to include the Mazda Miata Heritage Cup, International GT Series, and the thunderous Trans-Am Series. The Gold Cup weekend used the VIR full-course configuration, which measures 3.27 miles in length. An impressive list of participants arrived to test their skill against this 17-turn beauty. Plenty of road racing fans came too. They settled in and witnessed a great spectacle of vintage and historic sports car racing competition throughout the weekend.
Friday’s schedule was reserved for practice and qualifying. Saturday’s morning schedule completed the qualifying sessions, with the first feature races beginning after the lunch break. International GT and the Trans-Am TA2 feature races finished off the Saturday slate of racing activity. Sunday started with the Vintage/Classic Enduro and the Historic/GTP/GT Enduro races. The Gold Cup feature races, IGT, and Trans-Am then took the stage, providing an afternoon to remember.
The feature races for Groups 1, 3, 4, 5a provided a packed grid of 38 cars on Saturday and a field of 27 cars on Sunday. Owen Adelman (#58) was the class of the field in his sleek 1962 Lotus 23B. He took the win in both Saturday and Sunday races. The Gold Cup event saw him cross the finish line 58 seconds clear of his nearest competitor, Hervey Parke (#11) in his 1965 Ginetta G4. Adelman also captured the fastest lap in each race.
Owen’s father, Graham Adelman (#58), picked up where his son left off and captured Saturday’s feature race for Group 2 in his 1968 Brabham BT 23C. Personally, this was my favorite car of the weekend, for it’s clean classic lines and striking Martini livery. Adelman claimed fastest lap and was joined on the podium by Larry Wilson (#33) in second place and Robert Burnside (#8A) in third spot. Each of them drove 1969 Brabham BT29’s. Scott Fairchild (#20) won the Sunday Gold Cup race, along with capturing the fastest lap in his 1978 Zink Z10.
Jacek Mucha (#7) swept the races featuring Groups 5b, 7, 9, and 11. He dominated both feature races in his 2006 Swift JMS 016. Not only did he win both feature races, but also he claimed fastest lap in Sunday‘s Gold Cup. Marc Giroux (#30) and Travis Engen (#31) rounded out the podium for the Gold Cup event, driving evenly matched Lola T97/20’s. S2000 racers Jeff Wright (#116) and Peter Krause (#91) renewed a tight battle from Saturday’s race, with Wright getting the upper hand in the Gold Cup race due to a great start, holding on to edge Krause.
The races featuring Groups 6 and 12a were essentially a driving clinic put on by John Cloud (#23) in his bright blue 1970 Ford Boss 302. Cloud never waivered, winning both races, along with pealing off the fastest lap in each. Joining Cloud on the podium in each of the feature races was Simon Lane (#65) driving his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, and Peter Dolan (#76) in his 1966 Ford Mustang GT350. The close battles throughout this field of cars thoroughly entertained the crowd whenever they hit the track.
Bill Glavin (#3) was the class of the Group 8 & 12b field in his 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL. The traditional BMW striped livery turned a lot of heads and was a crowd favorite. Glavin’s location in the paddock, near the podium, also drew plenty of visitors for photographs. He won both feature races of the weekend by a considerable margin, plus achieved the fastest lap for each race. Charles Guest (#211) claimed second place in the Gold Cup race on Sunday behind the wheel of his 1981 Mazda RX7, the top Group 8 finisher. Paul Stinson (#7B) rounded out the Gold Cup podium in his 1963 Lotus Super 7.
There were identical podium finishes in the Group 10 feature races, but that by no means should imply that it was simply a procession of lapping cars. The racing was intense, with Jack Finch (#22) taking the win in each race, piloting his 2002 Caterpillar (CAT) liveried Dodge Charger. Finch claimed fastest lap in Sunday’s Gold Cup race. Aaron Dudley (#49) in his 2006 Dodge Charger, and Tim Rubright (#6) in his 1997 Ford Thunderbird rounded out the feature race podiums. Rubright snatched fastest lap in the Saturday feature race.
The SVRA Heacock Classic Gold Cup Sunday schedule kicked off with the two Hawk Performance Endurance Series races. First on track was the one-hour Classic/Vintage enduro, featuring a field of 19 cars. Travis Enden (#1) took the checkered flag in his 1962 Lotus 23B. Peter and James Dolan (#76) shared driving responsibilities and finished in second place in their 1966 Ford Mustang GT350. Peter McLaughlin and Dave Handy (#15) finished in third place, also on the lead lap, in their 1962 Lotus 23B.
Next up was the 90-minute Hawk Performance Endurance Series, Historic/GTP/GT enduro. The race only fielded seven cars, even though there were more entries listed to compete. The speculation on the false grid was that some competitors were busy preparing their cars for the group races later in the day. Even with the reduced grid, the racing was fast and furious. Tony Ave (#44A) stormed to an early lead in his brilliantly red colored 2012 Ave Riley AR7. He also set the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:44.600. But it was Steven Davison (#2A) that paced the field and won the race by three whole laps in his 2009 Aston Martin GT4.
The Mazda Miata Heritage Cup series has been a wonderful addition to the SVRA events in 2017, presenting two extremely close and competitive races at the 2017 SVRA Gold Cup event. Each race saw a field of 18 cars take the green flag. Anthony Fornetti (#83) won the Saturday feature race in his 1990 Mazda Miata, just edging out Brian Cates (#22) who finished in second place. Bailey Sigler (#59) rounded out the podium in third place. Sunday’s race featured the same podium with Sigler in third, but Fornetti and Cates literally took it down to the wire, with Cates nipping Fornetti at the line by .016 of a second in his 1989 Mazda Miata. It was Mazda-mazing!
The International GT Series and Tony Parella’s newly acquired Trans-Am Series rounded out the schedule of races for the SVRA Heacock Classic Gold Cup weekend at VIR. In IGT, Thomas Pank (#42) won the Saturday sprint race in his 2010 Porsche GT3 Cup car. The Sunday enduro went to Steve Hill and co-driver Jason Hart (#33) in their ultra fast 2015 Ferrari 458 Challenge car. In Trans-Am, Ernie Francis Jr. (#98) continued his amazing year in the TA class by winning Sunday’s feature race in his Ford Mustang, extending his season series points lead. The race featured 19 cars (TA/TA3/TA4), with Cindi Lux (#45) finishing 9th overall and first in the TA3 class, while Steven Davison (#2) was 14th overall and first in TA4. Gar Robinson (#74) won Saturday’s TA2 race in his Chevrolet Camaro.
The SVRA Heacock Classic “Gold Cup” Historic Races were indeed three days of sun and fun. Forget the heat, it couldn’t match the heat of the on-track racing. As SVRA winds down their 2017 calendar, and reflects back on the year, the Gold Cup weekend at VIR will stand out as a highlight. Virginia International Raceway once again proved to be an excellent host and tremendous venue for such an action-packed event. Sure the weather was hot, but no one was complaining. They were too busy having fun, and lots of it.