VIR and SVRA…a combination that’s hard to beat!

Time to take a break and reflect a bit…it has been two weeks since the SVRA Heacock Classic Gold Cup at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). In my opinion, one of the best vintage events I’ve ever attended…one of the hottest too. Since then I’ve been sorting my photographs and working on the race review. But first, here are some of the moments I captured, as I would walk through the paddock, one of my favorite things to do. The SVRA paddock is filled with a wonderful group of characters. They come to race, have fun, and pursue their passion. There will be more photos from the event coming up soon. But for now, enjoy these selections! TJ

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Dick Leehr (#35) in his beautiful Gold Leaf liveried 1969 Lotus 61.

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A stable of Protoform FV’s…and Mickey Mouse too!

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Tom Atlas (#14), getting ready to climb in his 1960 Lola Formula Junior and test the morning wet conditions.

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On the grid with David Nicholas (#76A, 1960 MG A).

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Joe Blacker (#29, 1969 Brabham BT29) discussing pre-race strategy.

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Harry McPherson (#6, 1968 Ford GT40 MK1) and a crewman hoping the rain will stay away.

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Another memorable weekend at Watkins Glen is now in the books…

Having just retired from the “9-to-5 job”, after 28 years, it was indeed a pleasure to attend the 2018 U.S. Vintage Grand Prix, strictly as a spectator. My son (Eric) and I made the most of our weekend together at my favorite track, Watkins Glen International. It’s located just outside the Village of Watkins Glen, situated up on a hill with a spectacular view of Seneca Lake. The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is simply beautiful. Here are a few photographs from our trip. iPhone pics only…I left the camera at home. Enjoy!

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This one caught my eye…one of the highlights from the track infield car show. 1930 Ford Speedster (IndyStyle).

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Watkins Glen Grand Prix – Driver Walk of Fame – Village of Watkins Glen, New York. Peter Revson was one of my favorite drivers from childhood.

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Here are two very significant cars from the original races through the streets of Watkins Glen, on display at the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC). The floor signs say: William C. Spear took the last checkered flag on the original Watkins Glen 6.6 mile road course in the Queen Catherine Cup on September 20, 1952, behind the wheel of this 1952 O.S.C.A MT-4 #1121 (on the left). “Poison Lil”, Maserati V8RI, #4504 built in 1936. Driven by George Weaver, led the first ever competitive lap at Watkins Glen in the 1948 “Junior Prix” (on the right).

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Watkins Glen State Park. Spectacular!

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A trip to Watkins Glen would never be complete without a stop (or two) at the famous Tavern Room in Seneca Lodge. The atmosphere is amazing. Quite a few racing greats have tipped a few here after their exploits on the track. Cheers!

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Vintage Cars at Vintage Mid-Ohio

The SportsCar Vintage Racing Association made their yearly stop in the heartland of Ohio for the SVRA Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, held on the weekend of June 22-24, 2018. Preparing for a weekend photo-shoot with weather conditions expected to range from soaking rain to sunny conditions is always challenging, so the easy decision was bring everything…from umbrella and rain gear to sunscreen and sunglasses. Thank goodness I did, because I needed it all.

SVRA put on a wonderful show, as always. Since returning from the track I’ve sorted the photos and now it’s time to knock out the race coverage article for the SVRA Quarterly. I’ll post that piece at a later date, but for now enjoy these selected photos. TJ 2018

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Bill Schwacke (1955 Chevrolet Corvette #55) with his fellow Group 1, 3, and 4 competitors in the Carousel.

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Frank Marcum/Jeff Rocco (1966 Ford GT350 #314)

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David Hale/Rex Gunning (1985 Lola T598 #30) and Jeff Mitchell (1974 Porsche 911 #73)

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David Zavetsky (1959 Devin-Healey 3000 Spl. #159) and John Schrecker (1964 Porsche 356 #777)

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Steven Lisa (1964 Ford Galaxie #21)

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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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