U.S. Vintage Grand Prix @ Watkins Glen

SVRA’s U.S. Vintage Grand Prix has become my favorite event that I attend each year. The list of positives far outweigh the other wonderful events I’ve attended, which includes: IMSA, NASCAR, and IndyCar. The extraordinary list of competitors, the variety of vintage and historic cars, and the inclusion of International GT and the Trans-Am series are just a start. Next, consider the downtown Grand Prix Festival, the opportunity to drive the original grand prix track layout, and the chance to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Seneca Lodge restaurant and bar. Seneca Lake and Village of Watkins Glen offer a beautiful backdrop for the weekend. Also, the International Motor Racing Research Center is a treasure for all racing enthusiasts. A trip to The Glen would not be complete without a stop to say hello to their wonderful staff. But, the best part of all is the Watkins Glen International race course itself. The history and iconic stature of The Glen is second to none in my book. It’s a special place for me, and the USVGP brings it all together. Here are a few shots from the September 8-10 weekend. There’s more to come….TJ.

Version 2

Dr. David Innes (#50) 1963 Lola Mk5a, David Watkins (#150) 1962 Elfin Formula Junior.

Version 2

Gordon Medenica (#69) 1975 March 75B.

Version 2

Dave Good (#137) 1959 MGA.

Post89d

Tony Parella (#56) 1958 Chevrolet Corvette.

Version 2

David Cannon (#81) 2006 Ferrari 430 Challenge.

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Photography, Sports Photography, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SVRA Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio

SportsCar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) visited the picturesque rolling countryside of Lexington, Ohio, and the famed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the weekend of June 23-25, 2017. It was an amazing weekend of automotive nostalgia and great wheel-to-wheel racing. The articles for Victory Lane Magazine and the SVRA Quarterly Magazine have been written and submitted. Here are a few photographs from the weekend. Enjoy! Next week I’ll be back at Mid-Ohio for the IndyCar and Pirelli World Challenge weekend, but that’s strictly for fun and as a fan…but I’ll have my cameras with me. Stay tuned…

Version 2

Bill Heifner (#88) 1993 Chevrolet Camaro IMSA.

Post88b

Andrew Nelson (#52) 1963 Austin Mini Cooper S.

Post88c

Lee Poseidon (#57) 1971 Alfa Romeo GTJr, Thomas Phelan (#13) 1967 Datsun SRL 311, Wil Painter (#36) 1966 Alfa Romeo GTV.

Version 2

Skott Burkland (#06) 1969 Porsche 911, Robert Colaizzi (#80) 1980 Alfa Romeo Spider.

Version 2

Dudley Cunningham (#2) 1973 Lola T332.

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point (article)

Version 2

Ray Morgan (#6) 1964 Merlyn Mk6.

Victory Lane Magazine, July 2017, Vol. 32, No. 7 – Story and Photos by Terry Johnsen

Summit Point Motorsports Park, May 19-21, 2017

The Jefferson 500 at Summit Point Motorsports Park is the marquee event for the Vintage Racer Group (VRG). The challenging Summit Point circuit, paired with the beautiful rolling countryside surroundings of West Virginia, makes for an enjoyable and memorable experience for the competitors and spectators. Events such as the Jefferson 500 are why I enjoy attending vintage and historic sports car races. There’s a level of excitement for this event that is brought about by the coming together of many favorable factors. First, the seasonal weather has now changed and is producing cool mornings and pleasant temps in the afternoon. Also, the month of May for the racing fan is filled with discussions about the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, and the road-racing classic, 24 Hours of Le Mans, is just around the corner too. Finally, Summit Point epitomizes the homegrown, grassroots type track that bleeds nostalgia.

VRG President and Co-Event Chairman Jim Karamanis stated 240 cars entered the 24th running of the Jefferson 500 event, adding that 47 cars were on hand from the Formula Ford community commemorating the 50th anniversary of Formula Ford on the east coast. Jim noted the Jefferson 500 has become a bucket-list event for the vintage sports car racing enthusiasts. He stated many competitors have commented to him that this event feels like what vintage racing did back in the 1980’s.

Just a glimpse at the weekend schedule will indicate the scope and magnitude of what the Jefferson 500 has become. Wednesday, May 17th featured the VRG Drivers School. Thursday continued with day two for the school and an open practice for all competitors. The day concluded with a Tech Talk by Peter Krause of Krause & Associates LLC, “Simple Tech Tools to Go Faster”.

Seven race groups define the Vintage Racer Group field of competitors: Group #1 (Wyer Cup) IMSA/SCCA 2.5 Class B Reunion Racers, Group #2 (Cunningham Cup) Big Bore, Group #3 (Marlboro Cup) Small Bore over 1.3L, Group #4 (Lola Cup) Small Bore under 1.3L, Group #5 (Donohue Cup) Production & Special through ’60 & Formula Vee, Group #6 (Charlie Gibson Trophy) Sports Racers & Non-FF Open Wheel, and Group #7 (Phil Hill Cup) Royale Formula Ford Challenge Series.

Friday the 19th began with a round of qualifying for all seven of the race groups, followed in the afternoon by the first of four weekend sprint races for the groups, which consisted of ten laps each. The last on-track racing activity of the day was reserved for the first of two Brian Redman Enduro races, 45 minutes in length, involving race groups 1-6 (closed wheel only). Once the engines quieted for the day, Peter Krause conducted one of his very detailed and enlightening track walks. The event helped raise funds and support for High Performance Heroes (www.HPHeroes.org). Finally, the day concluded with a coming together in the paddock with the Royale Formula Ford Challenge Series & J500 Volunteer Workers Paddock Party. It was an amazing expression of thanks to all the volunteers that make events like this happen.

Saturday’s calendar was filled with two sprint races for each group. The lunch break featured charity rides for the purpose of raising funds and awareness for High Performance Heroes (HPH). The day’s racing activity concluded with the second of the Brian Redman Enduro races. In the evening, the Jefferson 500 Dinner was held in the big white tent just off of turn 9. A wonderful evening of food and socializing was capped off by a keynote address from Jefferson 500 Grand Marshal, Brian Redman. He shared his many memories of the Jefferson 500 and it’s origins that he helped establish with the track’s late founder, Bill Scott. It was another fun and story-filled trip down memory lane. Over the years, Brian has been asked by his fans to write a book, capturing his many memorable stories and career highlights. He brought with him 80 copies of the highly anticipated new release, “Brian Redman: Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks”. It was sold out within 30 minutes!

One of the main staples of any Jefferson 500 weekend are the aforementioned Brian Redman Enduros, aptly named for the legendary racer and Grand Marshal, Brian Redman. Friday’s race consisted of 21 starters. Ben Sinnott (#5 – 1991 Lola T90/91) absolutely ran away and hid, winning the race with a dominating two-lap gap. Greg Miller (#4 – 1985 Swift DB2) finished in second place, with David Hughes (#25 – 1981 Tiga S2) a further one lap behind. Neither Sinnott nor Miller participated in the Saturday enduro, which saw a larger field of 29 starters. Nathan Scigliano (#79 – 2004 Carbir S2) finished in first place with a comfortable 28-second lead over Alex Heckert (#34 – 1966 Chevrolet Corvette). David Hughes (#25) completed the podium by claiming third position, 40 seconds back and still on the lead lap. Each of these contests brought to close a full day of competitive and clean racing.

Sunday’s schedule began with a whole host of feature races consisting of 12 laps each: Sports 2000, Porsche Feature, IMSA RS/SCCA 2.5, Historic Ford (HF), and Club/Formula Ford (CF/FF), followed by the fourth round of sprint races for the weekend. The Jefferson 500 schedule concluded with the Royale Formula Ford Challenge Series race, the Formula Ford 50th World Celebration.

The first of the Sunday feature races began with the Sports 2000 contest. Ben Sinnott (#5) was once again in a class of his own as he drove away from the field. By lap five his lead covered the entire front straight, and kept building to the finish. Brent Gernert (#70 – 1991 Swift DB5) finished in second place 36 seconds behind. The battle that defined the race was for third place, between Bryan Gernert (#77 – 1986 Swift DB-2) and Rodney Kendall (#83 – 1987 Lola T87-90). The final laps were closely contested and decided by less than a second at the checkered flag, with Bryan nosing out Rodney by a mere car length.

The Porsche Feature race was next on the schedule. A field of 14 cars took the green flag. The racing was intense and close in the early stages and then settled into a rhythm. Douglas Hagopian (#24 – 1968 Porsche 911) claimed victory with a ten second margin, along with capturing the fastest lap of the race. George James (#171 – 1974 Porsche 911) took second place and Daniel McChesney (#9 – 1970 Porsche 911) finished in third.

The IMSA RS/SCCA 2.5 feature race was charged with excitement beginning with the drop of the green flag. 22 cars charged down the front straight towards turn 1, and the intensity level never abated. This was the type of contest that should have gone longer than the scheduled 12 laps, because it was that good. David Lebrun (#67 – 1967 Alfa Romeo GTV) crossed the finish line 4.3 seconds ahead of train of five cars that were covered by less than four seconds. In the end, Steve Lebrun (#91 – 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV) finished second with Brian Walsh (#93 – 1971 Ford Pinto) taking third place.

Next on the agenda was the Historic Ford (HF) feature race. Through the initial stages of the contest the top three cars were seemingly glued together in battle. On lap 10, Doug Voss (#74 – 1971 Merlyn Mk20) worked his way up from third starting position to take the lead. He held on for the win over Christian Morici (#169 – 1971 Lotus 69) who had claimed pole position for the race. David Porter (#69 – 1971 Lotus 69 FF) finished third.

The Club/Formula Ford (CF/FF) feature continued the pattern of highly competitive races. In an odd twist, the top three starters did not get anywhere near a podium finish by the end of the race. Pole sitter Scott Fairchild (#20 – 1978 Zink Z-10) and third position starter Joseph Griffin (#23 – 1981 Crossle 45F) had a coming together on the first lap, which dropped them down the order, but both were able to finish on the lead lap. Tyler Pappas (#101 – 1980 Hawk DL15) inherited the lead and held that position until lap 9. Doug Meis (#27 – 1974 Lola T340) worked his way forward, taking advantage of the incidents in front of him and took the lead on lap 10. He finished 27 seconds ahead of a close battle for second position. Ultimately, Michael Hummel (#11 – 1979 Crossle 35F) crossed the start/finish line a tenth of a second ahead of Dennis Austin (#5 – 1976 Zink C5-A).

After the first five Sunday feature races, the fourth and final series of sprint races for the groups took center stage. First up was the Group 6 contest. Ben Sinnott (#5) once again showed his dominance and claimed victory 37 seconds ahead of second place finisher, Brent Gernert (#70). Ben and Brent finished 1 – 2 respectively in each of the group’s four sprint races.

The Group 5 sprint race saw Joey Bojalad (#70 – 1960 Elva Mk VI) pace the field with a 13 second victory over Hervey Parke (#11 – 1965 Ginetta G4). Roger Cassin (#256 – 1964 Elva Mk 7S) completed the podium just six seconds back. Roger claimed victory in the first three sprint races for Group 5, while Joey took second in each of those races.

Ray Morgan (#6 – 1964 Merlyn Mk 6) was the class of the field in Group 4. He claimed victory in each of the four sprints races during the weekend. In the Sunday sprint race, Mack McCormack (#109 – 1966 Morris Mini Cooper) raced to the second place finish, while Andy Russell (#16 – 1972 MG Midget) secured third spot in a field of 20 starters.

Group 3 presented the closest battle for the win in the Sunday sprint races. Chris De Minco (#90 – 1971 Mallock 11B) battled with Lee Talbot (#162 – 1967 Ginetta G4) and crossed the finish line just 4.2 seconds in the clear. Denny Wilson (#7 – 1962 Lotus Super 7) secured third place. Thomas Grudovich (#94 – 1966 Ginetta G4) won the first of the three sprint races for Group 3. Lee (#162) raced to second place in both of the Saturday sprints, while Chris (#90) claimed second on Friday.

Group 2 presented close, hard fought races throughout the weekend. Alex Heckert (#34) took three of the four sprint races in his Corvette, including the Sunday contest. Robert Korzen (#63 – 1966 Ford Mustang) claimed second place on Sunday, with Alan Friedman (#23 – 1973 Porsche 911 RSR) winning a tight battle for third place over George Wright (#38 – 1972 Datsun 240Z). Robert Korzen (#63) and Alex Heckert (#34) swapped first and second places for Saturday’s second sprint race.

The Group 1 sprint represented the penultimate contest for the Jefferson 500 weekend. Dave Edsinger (#18 – 1966 Yenko Stinger) powered home the win ahead of Shawn Bullard (#29 – 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV). Brad Karol (#56 – 1968 BMW 1600-2) drove to a third place finish, the last car on the lead lap.

The final feature race was the Royale Formula Ford Challenge Series event. 26 starters took the green flag in what was a fitting end to the Jefferson 500 weekend. This contest was a testament to Vintage Racer Group and their commitment to clean, fair competition. The top three finishers crossed the finish line with less than a second covering them. Lap after lap the battle maintained a frenetic pace. Scott Fairchild (#20) held off Joseph Griffin (#23) for the win. Doug Meis (#27) finished in third position.

The Jefferson 500 once again placed its claim as being the marquee event for the Vintage Racer Group (VRG). Their presentation and administration of the event was extraordinary. Summit Point Motorsports Park once again served as the perfect venue and host for this wonderful yearly event. The Jefferson 500 is why I began attending vintage and historic sports car races, and why I’ll keep coming back. Bravo to all that were responsible for presenting the event, which of course includes the corner workers, safety crews and volunteers. And finally, hearty congratulations to the competitors for giving us all quite a show!

—–TJ 2017

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Future History – IMSA @ VIR 2016 (article)

Better late than never. Finally got this one into the magazine. Enjoy….

Post86a

It was a clean sweep of pole position and the race win for the #3 Corvette C7.R driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia for Corvette Racing.

Victory Lane Magazine, May 2017, Vol. 32, No. 5 – Story and Photos by Terry Johnsen

Virginia International Raceway, August 26-28, 2016

The weekend of August 26-28 (2016) proved to be a sports car lovers dream, with a total of five top-notch series battling it out on the rolling hills of Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Along with the headlining IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, the weekend agenda featured the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series, and The Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series. This was a showcase of the best sports car racing in North America.

Connie Nyholm (CEO/Owner of VIR) and the VIR staff provided the perfect venue, set in the beautiful and picturesque landscape of southern Virginia. This was the first event held at VIR on the newly laid track surface. The track and driving conditions met with rave reviews by the drivers and the teams.

IMSA Radio provided their unique blend of race reporting and commentary. Their coverage provides a running soundtrack for the fans that is unmatched in any form of motorsports. Their knowledge, expertise, and story-telling talents add so much to the fans race viewing experience. The weekend would seem incomplete without them.

In the main event, the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class was going for the overall win. Corvette Racing came into the weekend with a two-race winning streak, and with the #4 car of Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner holding a small points lead in the championship. The GT Daytona (GTD) field was strong as well, but was down two Porsche entries due to a balance-of-performance (BOP) dispute. Regardless, the Michelin GT Challenge saw a field of 21 cars take the green flag on a beautiful, hot and sunny day.

Since the GT cars were going for the overall win, they were free to run unencumbered without concern of prototype traffic. It was very reminiscent of the early IMSA Camel GT days. This was setting up to be a classic showdown between Corvette and the Ford GTs… and oh by the way, Porsche, Ferrari, and BMW too.

Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette C7.R secured pole position. He and his teammate Antonio Garcia were vying for a third win in a row for Corvette Racing. The #4 sister car of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner locked out the front row. The #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Muller started in third spot, while the #62 Ferrari 488 GTE of Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella rounded out the second row.

Magnussen and Garcia set a blistering pace throughout the race while the #66 Ford GT kept them within striking distance. Due to an unexpected heavy rain on Saturday, the grass was particularly slick and loose. Going offline meant heavy pickup of mud and grass, leading to an unscheduled visit to the pits to clear out the debris. Up and down the order, cars experienced this fate throughout the day. What made this trip to the pits more costly was that there were no full-course caution periods throughout the race. That is until there were five minutes to go in the two hour and forty minute endurance race, when Oliver Gavin went off track in his #4 Corvette. This caution period bunched up the field for one last dash to the checkered flag.

Antonio Garcia led the field back to the line for one last lap and was never headed. He and Jan Magussen took the win for Corvette Racing, securing a three-race winning streak in the process. The #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Muller took second spot on the podium for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. A final lap trading of paint helped the #912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Frederick Makowiecki secure third spot for Porsche North America. The incident with the #62 Ferrari took it off course momentarily, but enough to drop it down the order to finish in seventh spot. Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow finished ninth overall and first in the GTD class in their #48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Paul Miller Racing.

The weekend slate of support series brought tons of non-stop action and entertainment for the fans. Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race in their #33 Porsche Cayman. It was the first win for CJ Wilson Racing in the GS (Grand Sport) class. Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger secured first position in the ST (Street Tuner) class in the #93 Honda Civic Si for the HART racing team. Shinya Michimi won both of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series races for Prestige Performance. Jesse Lazare won both of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series races overall for the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team. He raced in the Platinum class. Sebastian Landy won both races in the Gold class, driving for the TPC Racing team. Finally, Dean Copeland piloted his Copeland Motorsports Mazda to win The Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series race on Saturday. Nathanial Sparks won the Sunday morning race for Sick Sideways Racing in a very close finish.

Did I mention the weekend was hot? It was very hot, humid, and sticky, and it even included a cloudburst of unexpected proportions on Saturday. Still, it was a sports car lovers dream. With the five series on display, there was something for everyone. The weather was hot and track action sizzled. This was indeed a showcase of the best sports car racing in North America.

…………TJ 2016

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point

The Jefferson 500 at Summit Point Motorsports Park presented by Vintage Racer Group (VRG) took place on May 17-21, 2017. It was wonderful to get back to Summit Point and be with the fantastic people of VRG. The story has been written and submitted (with photos), and should in Victory Lane magazine in a few months. Until then, here are a few shots from the weekend. Enjoy….TJ.

Version 2

Michael Allen (#47) 1969 MG C-GT, Robert Lasater (#98) 1970 MG MGB GT.

Version 2

Doug Meis (#27) 1974 Lola T340.

Version 2

Harry Sroka (#25) 1967 Autodynamics Formula Vee, on the grid with Group 4.

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2017 racing season is here!

I arrived for the Rolex 24 @ Daytona weekend on Friday (27 Jan). Note to self: next year make sure to get there for Thursday practice, qualifying, and most importantly the Rolex 24 night practice. You can never get enough of seeing racing at night…it’s spectacular! Friday’s schedule featured the third practice session for the 24 hour competitors and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race (BMW Endurance Challenge)…and oh my, how the Continental Tire series has changed! The introduction of the McLarens has really renewed my interest in the series. Another notable change was that the length of the race increased to four hours. It was a win/win in my book. The race was ultra competitive from start to finish and very entertaining. Here are a few photos from Friday. Enjoy.

post84a

The Daytona International Speedway is an amazing facility. I was totally overwhelmed by the track and the IMSA Rolex 24 @ Daytona weekend.

Version 2

Early morning pre-race preparations for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race. This was probably my favorite car of the weekend…the C360 Racing, #77 McLaren 570S GT4. Sweet!

Version 2

More pre-race prep, this time with the #69 MIA/Pfaff/GARAGA race team. Another sleek McLaren 570S GT4, with a driver line-up of Chris Green and Jesse Lazare.

Version 2

On the grid walk before the BMW Endurance Challenge race. Max Bladon standing with his #99 Automatic Racing, Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

Version 2

Opening laps of the  four hour BMW Endurance Challenge (IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge).

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First 24…Amazing!

Version 2

After the final practice. Craziness in the paddock. #5 Mustang Sampling Racing, Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Tick one off the bucket list. The 2017 Rolex 24 @ Daytona was amazing! Going to a 24 hour endurance race has always been a goal, but for some reason it hadn’t happened until now. I went to the race strictly as a fan. There were no lingering pressures to cover the event and write about it afterwards. This was purely for the enjoyment of witnessing around-the-clock endurance racing…to take it all in. Not even chilly temps and some rain could dampen the thrill of being there.

I didn’t photograph as much as I anticipated. I found myself in the mindset of just scouting it out for the next time…and there will be a next time! Here are few photos that I’ve sorted through so far. Enjoy! TJ

Version 2

Final practice session. #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT.

Version 2

The starting grid just before the green flag for the 2017 Rolex 24 @ Daytona.

Version 2

Lap 1, turn 1, of the 2017 Rolex 24 @ Daytona.

Version 2

Dusk settles in. #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Version 2

This is what endurance racing is all about! #90, Visit Florida Racing, Multimatic/Riley Mk30.

Posted in Auto Racing, Historic Auto Racing, Sports Photography, Uncategorized, Vintage Auto Racing, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment