Back where they belong….

When I heard the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series added the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to its 2018 racing schedule (May 4-6, 2018), I knew I had to be there. For years there’s been a noticeable void in the Mid-Ohio schedule. The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) last raced at Mid-Ohio in 2012, and the Grand-Am Series last race there in 2013. When the two racing bodies merged for the 2014 season, Mid-Ohio was unfortunately the ‘odd-man-out’. Existing ALMS/Grand-Am contracts with various race tracks, the need to limit the first season schedule, and other considerations played a part in Mid-Ohio’s exclusion. But the fans made their views known, and it was only a matter of time. Finally, this was the year that top-level professional sports car racing made its return! The fans responded enthusiastically showing-up in huge numbers. It was the ultimate validation. “IMSA belongs at Mid-Ohio!”

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Joao Barbosa (helmet art), driver of the Mustang Sampling Racing – Cadillac DPi (#5).

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Pre-race conversation between Pipo Derani, driver of the Tequila Patron ESM – Nissan DPi (#22), and Fox Sports pit-reporter Justin Bell.

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Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C7.R (#3), driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonia Garcia.

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After a short hiatus, I’m back….

My 2018 racing season began in grand style. In February I found myself relaxing on a quiet beach near St. Augustine drinking coffee before going down to Daytona for my first ever Daytona 500. It was a weekend with family and friends, and strictly a spectator event for me. No cameras were taken, only the iPhone and a cooler full of beer. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the event. It had everything including a surprise finish with Austin Dillon taking the #3 back to Victory Lane…amazing! We’ve decided this will definitely be a yearly event… TJ

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TJ and cousin Don (right) ready for 500 miles. 

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This has to be the most peaceful and tranquil race day morning I’ve ever experienced. Sunrise in St. Augustine, Florida.

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MoMA Masterpiece

Our 2017 holiday trip to New York City was highlighted with a stop at my favorite museum…the Museum of Modern Art – MoMA. Along with visiting the masterworks of artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Monet, Pollack, and Warhol, I always make time to visit the exquisite design by John Barnard. (Formula 1 Racing Car (641/2) 1990 – Ferrari S.p.A., Maranello, Italy)

I’ve followed motor racing all my life. I don’t get caught up too much with the nuts and bolts aspect of racing. The draw for me since I was a kid has been the aesthetic beauty of the cars. The sound, the smell, the sport and skill of driving all play a part too. But it’s “the look” that is the main draw for me. It’s only fitting that this work of art is so proudly and prominently on display. It’s a Masterpiece!

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John Barnard’s masterpiece, Ferrari Formula 1 Racing Car 641/2 (1990), can be seen on the wall in the MoMA Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Lobby.

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SVRA Heacock Classic “Gold Cup” Historic Races @ VIR (article)

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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.

TJ 2017

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SVRA Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (article)

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Jeff Mitchell (#73) 1974 Porsche 911.

Victory Lane Magazine, October 2017, Vol.32, No.10

Story and photos by Terry Johnsen

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 23-25, 2017

The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course opened their spectator event season with the ever-popular SVRA Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, June 23-25, 2017. After two consecutive weekends at Indianapolis and an early June event at Sonoma, the SportsCar Vintage Racing Association brought their series to the heartland of Ohio, marking the 35th consecutive year that SVRA has held an event at Mid-Ohio. It’s only fitting that the premier vintage and historic racing series in America, holds an annual event at the track that epitomizes grassroots road racing, Mid-Ohio.

Throughout the weekend, fans were able to walk the paddock and get up close and personal with the cars and drivers. The Mid-Ohio garage facilities offer the unique perspective of walkways that allow fans to look down on the work being done on the cars. As fans strolled around the picturesque Mid-Ohio circuit, they were treated to the many car corrals and the vintage British car show being held in the infield section of the track. For a more hands-on thrill, fans had the opportunity to take part in the Jaguar Driving Experience autocross in the paddock, and the Land Rover motorcross over by the Mid-Ohio campgrounds.

The weekend race schedule was highlighted by continuous on-track action from all of the SVRA racing groups, to include the new Mazda Miata Heritage Cup, Formula Junior, and the International GT Series. SVRA utilized the 2.4 track configuration, which added the chicane feature leading into the keyhole turn. Extremely hard rains literally washed out all on-track activity on Friday, except for some early morning practice sessions. This set the stage for a packed Saturday and Sunday of racing excitement.

The feature races for Groups 1, 3, and 4 saw a healthy field of over 25 cars navigate the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Vic Skirmants (1961 Porsche 356B #70) had a wonderful weekend with a second place finish in race 1 and then did one better by taking the win in race 2. Jonathan DeGaynor (1959 Devin JM Mk1 Special #11) claimed the top spot in race 1. Robert Hieb (1964 Porsche 356C Coupe #54) also had a consistent weekend taking a third place finish in race 1 and a second place finish in race 2.

Todd Strong (1974 Titan Mk9 #16) was the class of the field in Group 2. He won both races in convincing fashion while also claiming the fastest lap in each race. Bob Hatle (1989 Swift DB3 #8) cruised to second place finishes in each of the contests. Tom Linton (1969 Winkelman WD F1 #71) finished third in race 1, while Dennis Firestone (1976 Crossle FF #10) claimed third position in race 2.

Mark Coombs (1990 Lola T90/90 #77) dominated the two feature races for Groups 5 and 7a. Mark took both wins and fastest race laps. Rob Sherwood (2002 Carbir CS2 #05) held his own by finishing a strong third place in race 1 and then doing one better and claiming second place in race 2. Brent Gernert (1991 Swift DB5 #70) finished second in race 1, while Henry Payne IV (1990 Lola T88/90 #13) rounded out the podium in race 2 with a third place finish.

There was never any doubt when Groups 6 and 12 made their way out on to the track for their races. They’re fast, competitive, and thunderous! Christopher Stillwell (1968 Ford Mustang #6) paced the field and took two close wins over Don Soenen (1994 Ford Mustang Cobra #47), who stayed right on Christopher’s heals, finishing in second for each of the two races. Jeff Mitchell (1974 Porsche 911 #73) and Mark Rife (1969 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster #17) were the third place finishers respectively for the Saturday and Sunday feature races.

The Group 7b, 9, and 11 feature races were crowd favorites as real speed took center stage. Jacek Mucha (2006 Swift JMS 016 CP #07) laid down the gauntlet and posted the fastest race laps of the weekend. Jacek stormed off to a dominating win in race 1, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Robert Gewirtz (2003 Riley MKXI #31). Craig Bennett (1975 Shadow DN6 #0) held off Casey Putsch (1996 March Bennett MKII #40) for a narrow win in race 2. Craig also finished third in race 1, while Robert claimed third spot in race 2.

Group 8 competitors produced carbon copy finishes for their two feature races. Thomas Grudovich (1966 Ginetta G4 #94) won both contests by a comfortable distance. His margin of victory in race 1 was 29 seconds, and then extended that margin out to 48 seconds in race 2. He also claimed fastest lap for both races. It was a clean sweep. Tom Briest (1970 Porsche 914/6 #71) and Chris DeMinco (1979 Mazda RX7 #11) finished second and third respectively in each of the races.

The Group 10 feature races belonged to Don Soenen (1995 Ford Mustang TA #74). Don captured the fastest lap for each race and also secured the wins with margins of victory of 13 seconds and 20 seconds. Joining Don on the podium for race 1 was Jon Cloud (2000 Ford Mustang Cobra #44) in second place and Bob Briggs (1988 Chevrolet Camaro #60) in third place. For the second feature race, William Foster (2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo #30) claimed second position while John Wolff (1997 Chevrolet Corvette T/A #38) finished in third.

The Formula Junior feature races gave the crowd a thrilling glimpse of open-wheel racing from days gone by. The competitors in this group produced close, clean, wheel-to-wheel competition all the way to the checkered flag. Gregory Thornton (1961 Lotus 22 #181) battled Martin Bullock (1963 Lotus 27 #127) for the win in race 1, while Christopher Drake (1961 Elva 300 #55) hustled to the third place finish. Joseph Colasacco (1962 Stanguellini Delfino FJR #30) rebounded from suspension issues that kept him out of Saturday’s race, and claimed the win on Sunday. He also captured the fastest lap of the race. Gregory settled for second place while Martin took a step down on the podium to third spot.

The Mazda Miata Heritage Cup presented two close and competitive races, fielding over 20 cars for each contest. This was the third in a five race series featuring first generation 1.6-liter Miatas. The Mazda Miata Heritage Cup offers a new and exciting entry point into vintage racing. Marc Cefalo (1997 Mazda Miata #00) won both races in impressive fashion, and also raced his way to the fastest lap in each event. In race 1, Brian Murdick (1990 Mazda Miata #17) finished second, while Joey Selmants (1990 Mazda Miata #59) followed behind in third place. The two competitors swapped positions for race 2.

The International GT Series complemented the wide array of SVRA events by featuring two sprint races on Saturday and an endurance race on Sunday. Thomas Pank (2010 Porsche GT3 Cup #42) set the pace in the first sprint race, taking the win ahead of Steven Hill (2015 Ferrari 458 Challenge #33). Mark Sandridge (2015 Porsche GT Cup #25) finished in third position. The second sprint race saw Steven and Mark take a step up on the podium, with Steven crossing the finish line first. Thomas finished in third position. Steven Hill repeated his winning form by taking the endurance event on Sunday. Thomas Pank finished on the lead lap in second place. The driving pair of Mark Sandridge and Joe Varde finished in third position for the 90-minute enduro.

Sunday’s schedule featured the two SVRA endurance events. The first race began as the sun was still rising above the treetops in the carousel. 27 cars took the green flag for the Hawk Performance Endurance Series, Vintage/Classic Endurance Race. Graham Adelman (1962 Lotus 23B #58) took the win in the 60-minute event, finishing 32 seconds ahead of Christopher Stillwell (1968 Ford Mustang #6). John Cloud (1970 Ford Boss 302 #23) rounded out the podium in third place.

Just after the Sunday lunch break, the Hawk Performance Endurance Series, Historic GT/GTP Endurance Race took place. The driving pair of Peter McLaughlin and Justin Frick (1980 March 822 #05) won the 90-minute event by a margin of two laps. John Higgins and Charles Monk (1985 Porsche Fabcar #42) claimed second place one lap clear of John Cloud (2000 Ford Mustang Cobra #44).

Reflecting back on the weekend, SVRA had yet again kicked-off another spectator season at Mid-Ohio in spectacular fashion. The response of the fans and competitors alike was overwhelming. SVRA’s slogan is “Some people collect art, we race it”. The combination of the iconic Mid-Ohio natural road course and the wide array of nostalgic SVRA vintage and historic racecars provided the canvas and artistry for another masterpiece of lasting racing memories.

TJ 2017

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SVRA Heacock Classic “Gold Cup” Historic Races @ VIR

The SVRA Heacock Classic “Gold Cup” Historic Races at Virginia International Raceway, September 22-24, had everything…sun, fun, and heat…with plenty of great road racing thrown in. I 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. Trust me, no one was complaining. Everyone assumed this was the last blast of great weather before fall and winter roll in. The racers took full advantage.

The articles for Victory Lane Magazine and the SVRA Quarterly Magazine have been written and submitted. October has been an extremely busy month, so I’m just getting to post a few pictures. My favorite place to hang out at VIR is at Oak Tree, turn 12. Here are a few pictures from that location. Enjoy….TJ

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Robert Korzen (#63) 1966 Ford Mustang

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Owen Adelman (#58) 1962 Lotus 23B

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Rick Ortman (#26) 1988 Chevrolet Corvette

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Hervey Parke (#11) 1965 Ginetta G4

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Andrew McLean (#13A) 1959 Austin Healey Sprite

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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.

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

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Gordon Medenica (#69) 1975 March 75B.

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Dave Good (#137) 1959 MGA.

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Tony Parella (#56) 1958 Chevrolet Corvette.

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David Cannon (#81) 2006 Ferrari 430 Challenge.

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