VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point (article)

Victory Lane Magazine, June 2022: Volume 37, No.6

Summit Point Motorsports Park, Summit Point, WV – May 10 -15, 2022

Story by Terry Johnsen

It’s the middle of spring and the destination this week is beautiful West Virginia. The sun is peeking through the clouds, the trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the air is filled with the sounds of sports cars. Where else could this be but the comfortable and welcoming surroundings of Summit Point Motorsports Park. And like clockwork, Vintage Racer Group (VRG) has once again set-up shop for the annual Jefferson 500, their marquee event.

A full schedule lay in store for the VRG participants. Starting on Tuesday, May 10th, the week includes large rig load-in, registration, technical inspection, a driving school, practice sessions, and a detailed and instructive track walk. Qualifying and the first of the sprint races take place on Friday. The morning of Saturday, May 14th begins with the second set of sprint races, with the afternoon highlighted by seven group feature races. The Jefferson 500 weekend concludes on Sunday with three morning enduros and two afternoon “all-comers” sprints. If you’re a racer and want to find value for money and time well spent, this is the event for you.

In the days leading up to the event, advanced weather forecasts predicted a high percentage chance of rain throughout the weekend. This may have discouraged some racers from attending, but still a healthy field of over 230 entrants arrived for the Jefferson 500. Thankfully the forecast improved significantly, and rain gear was only needed sparingly. Vintage Racer Group set the line-up for competition with the following groups: Wyer Cup (Group 1) IMSA/SCCA 2.5 Class B Reunion Racers, Cunningham Cup (Group 2) Big Bore, Marlboro Cup (Group 3) Small Bore over 1.3L, Lola Cup (Group 4) Small Bore under 1.3L & Formula Vee, Donohue Cup (Group 5) Production & Special through ’60, Charlie Gibson Trophy (Group 6) Sports Racers & Non-FFCS Open Wheel, and the Phil Hill Cup (Group 7) Formula Ford Challenge Series.

Brian Walsh, Group 1/IMSA RS – 2.5 Challenge racer was selected as this year’s Jefferson 500 Grand Marshal. Brian told me that VRG wanted someone from within their racing fraternity to lead the festivities this year. He was honored to be asked and proud to represent “the common racer” for the VRG community. Brian said he started the IMSA RS – 2.5 Challenge Reunion Racers category about seven years ago, and it has quickly become a VRG event favorite. Brian’s father, Jerry Walsh, was a very successful driver in IMSA back in the 70’s when the RS Class first started, and Brian has continued the legacy of this very popular category.

Brian brought plenty of color and a distinctive 1960’s ‘flower power’ flair to his duties as Grand Marshal. It was very easy to spot him in the paddock because he was decked out in psychedelic tie-dye apparel from top to bottom. Brian wore tie-dyed pants, a flamboyant Jimi Hendrix Experience shirt, and a large Alice in Wonderland top hat with buttons and colorful ribbons. His enthusiasm for the honorary role of Grand Marshal showed no bounds. Brian said he enjoyed being part of VRG from the first event he participated in. He noted the VRG crew always have a smile on their face and are very approachable and helpful to anybody who asks for assistance. He likes the fact that there are no million-dollar cars. Brian noted everyone is on the same playing field, and they all hang out together at the end of the day, just like family. He said the atmosphere of the paddock reminds him a lot like what IMSA used to be when growing up with his dad.

The 2022 Jefferson 500 Feature Races took center stage on Saturday afternoon, running in reverse order, with the Group 7/Phil Hill Cup taking the grid just after the lunch break. A brief but heavy shower began to fall just as the cars started their formation lap. At the drop of the green flag a stream of rooster tails roared down the front straight. Miraculously the field of 24 starters made it through the first lap with no one going off course. At the mid-point of the race Eric Langbein (#41) driving a 1971 March 719 took the lead and held on for the win, with Mike Agnifilo and Joseph Griffin in close pursuit. Langbein continued his unstoppable charge, having won the two Group 7 sprint races as well.

Next to take the track were the Group 6 sports racers for the Charlie Gibson Trophy race. The last of the weekend’s precipitation fell in the early laps, but eventually the sun broke through the clouds which dried the track out quickly. John Thompson (#14) piloting his 1991 Lola T91/90 took advantage of the improving conditions and dominated the race, just as he had in the two weekend sprint races. Dave Handy finished in second with Nate Scigliano rounding out the podium. They put on a heated battle early in the race, swapping positions multiple times.

The Group 5/Donohue Cup race proved to be a battle of the Lotus Super Seven’s. There were five lead changes in the final seven laps of this epic dual. It was incredible! Michael Kaleel (#126) and Adolph Battifarano (#2) battled tooth and nail, back and forth, crossing the start/finish line tied with four laps to go. Kaleel ultimately prevailed taking the checkered flag ahead of Battifarano, with Timothy Richie (#94) finishing with a solid third place in his Mazda Miata.

Peter Uzdavinis (#25) led every lap of the Group 4/Lola Cup race, driving his 1964 MG Midget. He drove comfortably out front and was never challenged. There were two black flags thrown during the race, one being for a “stray spectator on track”. You don’t hear that call often. Luckily the misguided fan was corralled quickly, and the race continued. Peter Carroll (#55) cruised to a second-place finish, while Steven Hirschtritt (#64) held off a persistent Jon Clerk (#1) for third position.

The Group 3/Marlboro Cup race was won by Henry Frye (#28) in his 1968 Triumph TR250. Frye completed the Group 3 sweep by winning the two sprint races as well. TW Herren (#29) hounded Frye and stayed close throughout the race for a well-deserved second place finish. Further back was a splendid contest between Mike Moore (#167), Scott Janzen (#63), and David Biegert (#1) with Moore leading the pack across the line for third position.

One of the most dominating performances of the weekend was put in by Jim Scott (#755), driving his 1973 Porsche 911. Scott easily won both Group 2 sprint races, and then sailed to a win in the Cunningham Cup race. Scott Kissinger (#202) looked poised for a solid second place finish but had to pull in for a late pit stop, dropping him out of contention. Todd Angel (#12) made it a Porsche 911 1-2 finish, with James Pettinato (#90) bringing home third in his BMW M3.

The Saturday feature races concluded with the running of the Group 1/Wyer Cup for the IMSA-SCCA 2.5 Class B Reunion Racers. Grand Marshal Brian Walsh threw the green flag, unleashing a field of 27 starters hurtling down towards turn 1. The race for the lead quickly became a Datsun vs. Fiat battle between Steve Byrne (#3) and John Baucom (#86). Baucom hounded Byrne lap after lap, until four laps from the end when he made his move and took the lead. Brian Walsh later told me that he heard Baucom’s engine missing as he passed the starters tower to begin the last lap. Walsh said it was only a matter of time before Bryne got him, and sure enough it was Steve Byrne who took the win in his 1970 Datsun 510. Despite finishing second, Baucom showed his speed by taking fastest lap of the race. David Porter (#58) finished third.

The Jefferson 500 weekend concluded with three Sunday morning enduros. Joseph Griffin (#23) drove his 1975 Van Diemen RF75 to win the Dan Gurney Enduro (Groups #6, #7 – open wheel only). Kenny Williamson (#27) piloted his sleek 1969 Nerus Silhouette for the win in the Bill Scott Enduro (Groups #3, #4, #5). The Brian Redman Enduro (Groups #1, #2, #6 – closed wheel only) was won by Dave Handy (#59) behind the wheel of his 1988 Swift DB2.

A final set of ‘all-comers’ sprints concluded the Jefferson 500 weekend. Frank Del Vecchio (#13) won the closed-wheel sprint in his 1981 Van Diemen RF81, while Gary Jebsen (#41x) took the weekend’s final checkered flag in his 1962 Volvo P1800 in the closed-wheel sprint.

As the cars pulled off into the paddock and the track went silent there was a familiar sense of calm in the air, like at the end of a family reunion. Throughout the week friendships were renewed, laughter and conversation eased the soul, and good racing satisfied the competitive spirit. VRG once again put on a first-class vintage racing event, amongst the beautiful surroundings of the Summit Point Motorsports Park. The Jefferson 500 is truly an experience not to be missed. Mark your calendars for 2023!

Terry Johnsen (2022)

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It’s 2022…finally back with the vintage racers!

It’s been too long since my last post. To be specific it was the US Vintage Grand Prix in September 2021. Time to get busy again! So, this past weekend I traveled to Summit Point (West Virginia) for Vintage Racer Group’s Jefferson 500.

I always start any race weekend with a walk around the paddock. There’s nothing like seeing the cars up-close-in-person. And it’s always fun to say hello to the drivers and crew along with the many friends I’ve developed over the years. 

Here’s just a few pictures from the paddock. The race review is coming soon. Enjoy!

TJ…..2022

My favorite sports car of all-time. The Porsche 911. Its styling is timeless. This is a 1969 Porsche 911 (#153) driven by David Dean.
Here’s a bucket list item for me. I’ve always wanted a Vespa. This is a 1963 model. I can definitely see myself cruising around the paddock/track with one of these beauties.
The Formula Ford Challenge Series always puts on a great show at VRG events. Here’s a 1969 Macon MR7B (#116) driven by Matthew Barbour.
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2021 Watkins Glen Vintage Grand Prix 

Time for a look back at the Watkins Glen Vintage Grand Prix weekend (September 9-12, 2021). Here’s a few photos from the Grand Prix Festival in town on Friday and SVRA vintage event up at the track. Enjoy!

TJ….2021

Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1975 McLaren M23-9. Front and center at the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC). 
The legendary Brian Redman, Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival Grand Marshal, led the field around the original course in one of his former race cars…the beautiful 1972 Ferrari 312 PB.
Me and the boys from Rochester. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown it had been since the 2019 event that we could finally get together again. A good time was had by all! 😉
Two legends! Behold a 1933 Alfa Romeo 2600 Monza and 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C-35.
I came across this beauty during a late-night stroll through the Kendall Garage. 1971 Leda LT25 (Chassis 1).
A racing weekend at The Glen wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Seneca Lodge Restaurant and Tavern Room. Cheers!
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Montage of Speed

By Terry Johnsen

Victory Lane Magazine, October 2021: Volume 36, No. 10

The beautiful mural painted by Stephen Oosterling, inside the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.

The Village of Watkins Glen is set in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York. Located at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, this area offers so much enjoyment for visitors and vacationers alike, to include the breath-taking views and hiking trails of the state park, a wide selection of wineries and craft breweries, along with other activities such as boating and fishing. But to a race fan, the mention of Watkins Glen brings about fond memories of sports car grand prix racing through the streets during the late 1940’s and early 50’s, and then at its permanent home on the outskirts of town with the development of Watkins Glen International in 1956.

The best source of up-to-the-minute tourist information is of course the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, centrally located at 214 N. Franklin Street. It’s a beautiful facility. Enter and you will be met with a warm welcome from the friendly and knowledgeable staff. But then treat yourself and glance to your left, for you’ll see a magnificent mural. The colorful montage of speed perfectly captures the history and essence of competition at Watkins Glen International, depicted through five historic cars from various disciplines of motor racing.

I first became aware of this work of art in late 2015 while on a wine-tasting vacation with my wife. I made a mental note to find out more about it and how it was created. It took a little longer than I expected, but I was finally able to arrange an interview with artist Stephen Oosterling via FaceTime in the weeks leading up to this year’s Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival. Here’s a summary of our conversation.

Stephen grew up in Rochester (New York) and has fond memories of attending races at Watkins Glen. We discussed at length our favorite memories of going to races and our love of The Glen in particular. His first Formula One race was the 1976 US Grand Prix. Stephen was a big fan of the Tyrrell 6-wheeled car, and when he saw it roar by for the first time he said, “this is it!” He was hooked. Stephen said he misses the crisp early mornings at the track, drinking coffee, while watching the morning haze fade away with the rising sun.

Stephen started drawing stop signs at the age of three, which then evolved into anything mechanical to include cars, trains, and airplanes. He enjoyed cars the most, and said he just started drawing like crazy. Stephen added he would sometimes get in trouble at school, drawing cars when he should have been doing his class assignments. His parents supported his artistic passion, and always allowed him to express himself through art. Stephen said, “they didn’t care if I spent time drawing, as long as I got my schoolwork done on time.”

Stephen attended art school and then became involved with the printing industry, specializing in full color printing, and in particular the prepress functions. He noted, “I became very familiar with computers, and the more I used them the more I wanted to use my hands to paint and draw. Art was a good outlet.” Stephen recalled stopping by an artist’s tent during a 1994 vintage event at The Glen. He learned that many of the artists did freelance work for Road & Track magazine. He thought, “that would be kinda neat, so I had a long conversation with them and realized I could do that.” That led to Stephen working with Jack Webster and Classic Impressions, an auto art gallery, and assisting him at various vintage events.

Stephen said he was approached by Watkins Glen International in 2000 for a poster and program cover for the Bosch Octoberfest race. This was his first paying gig. That then led to additional artwork for the track over the next few years. Stephen noted that after a 2012 project he had a conversation with WGI President Michael Printrup, who asked him what he thought about doing a mural. He responded that he had never done a mural but was up for the challenge. Michael explained that WGI was part of the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce, and that a new visitors center location was being built downtown, and that they were seeking a 10’x15’ mural as a featured display. Stephen sought the advice of noted local artist Bob Gillespie, known for his large racing murals outside of Glen Mountain Market Bakery & Deli in Watkins Glen, about how to approach such a large project, figuring cost, time, paint, etc. Stephen said his proposal for the project was accepted, but the main question was whether it would be completed by Christmas time (2012). He assured Michael it would be.

Stephen said he and Michael came up with the basic layout and selection of cars. The previous year Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton had participated in the Mobil 1 NASCAR/F1 car swap at The Glen. So, the NASCAR Chevrolet Impala (#14) of Tony Stewart was selected. Next, they chose the Target Honda IndyCar (#9) of Scott Dixon, four-time winner at The Glen. The glory days of Formula 1 racing is represented by Francois Cevert in the Tyrrell Ford/Cosworth (#6). Cevert was a fan favorite, the winner of the 1971 US Grand Prix, and was tragically killed at The Glen in 1973. No racing imagery for The Glen would be complete without the iconic Brumos Porsche 911 (#59) of Hurley Haywood representing the legacy of sports car racing at the track. And lastly, the mural acknowledges the history of endurance racing by featuring the All-American Racers Toyota Eagle GTP (#99) of PJ Jones/Juan Fangio II. Stephen noted his original concept drawing included the Lowenbrau Porsche 962 of Al Holbert. But Michael pointed out the track was sponsored by Toyota. Stephen responded, “so I said that’s great we can use Dan Gurney’s GTP car instead.”

Stephen said the project was completed over the course of six weekends. His son Alex (15 years old at the time) assisted throughout the project, along with the wife of Stephen’s best friend, local artist Amanda Ebert, for one day. They worked all day on Saturday’s, sometimes on Sunday’s as well. He began the large project using a grid layout system, drawing the entire mural on separate sheets of paper, then assembling the artwork on the wall, finally transferring the image to a pencil outline. The wall designated as their canvas was originally painted with flat indoor latex. Acrylic paint was the medium of choice used for the mural. Stephen chose this medium because of the great range of colors and ease of clean-up. When they completed the project Stephen said that he and his son signed the painting in purple in the bottom left corner. This was a nod to Enzo Ferrari, who signed all his official documents and correspondence in that color. They finished on time in December 2012 as promised, just before New Year’s.

The mural is signed in purple as a nod to the late great Enzo Ferrari.

In retrospect he said,” It was a huge honor for me to be chosen by the Chamber of Commerce and WGI President Michael Printup to do this mural. I am very thankful for the opportunity! It was something out of my comfort zone since I had never done a mural prior to this. I am pleased to be a small part of the racing history of Watkins Glen. The Glen has always felt like a second home for me. I have so many great memories of the town and the track: my first Grand Prix on a sunny but very cold October 10th, the grand reopening in 1984, the International Motor Racing Research Center. What’s really important are the people: the businesses, the fans, and management of the track and its operations. I hope it will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Stephen’s mural is a magnificent tribute to the history and legacy of racing at Watkins Glen International. The artwork captures the speed and aesthetic beauty of the cars and brings the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center public space alive with excitement. I spoke briefly with Watkins Glen International President, Michael Printup, who said “Stephen did such a wonderful job…it tells a story”. He added that it has become a fixture at the Visitors Center, and that many people have said “they better never change it!”

Following the mural project, Stephen continued with his auto racing themed artwork projects and has now expanded his interests with wildlife art. His drawings include songbirds, owls, puffins, along with butterflies and flowers using color pencil as the medium of choice. The images jump with color and vibrancy, bringing to life the passion of his artwork. Examples of his fine work can be seen at: www.stephen-oosterling.pixels.com

Terry Johnsen – 2021

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2021 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Sights & Sounds)

My first video on the blog features the start of the Honda Indy 200 on July 4th at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with a 360 pan to show the large crowd overlooking the esses..aka “Madness”. Enjoy!

TJ 2021

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2021 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Boy oh boy, it sure felt great to be back at Mid-Ohio for a jam-packed 4th of July celebration, featuring the cars and stars of IndyCar, Saturday night fireworks, and a return to normalcy! I took my camera, but decided instead to just enjoy the weekend as a fan and soak it all in. Here are a few pictures taken with my iPhone 12. Enjoy!

ps…more to come!

TJ 2021

Getting the band back-together!
The race winning car of Josef Newgarden being fueled up prior to Friday’s practice session.
Local hero Graham Rahal being interviewed in the paddock by Mike Joachim (of PITLANE PARLEY).
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course offers the fans a unique glimpse into the garages of the teams. In this photo the crew for Conor Daly’s car take a much deserved lunch break before practice and qualifying.

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2021 VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point (revisited)

It was so nice to be back at a racetrack after so many months away due to the pandemic. The sights, the sounds, and of course the people make the experience so fulfilling. I’m now looking forward to my next event, the Honda Indy 200 @ Mid-Ohio, July 2-4. Until then here are a few more pics from the Jefferson 500. Enjoy! (TJ 2021)

Possibly my favorite car of the weekend. Jeff Lehmann’s (#123) 1960 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite.
Matthew Barbour (#16D, 1969 Macon MR7B) streaks past Brian Kulig (#911, 1985 Crossle 60F) into turn 10.
On the grid with Hobart Buppert (#82, 1968 Lola T70 MK3B).
In turn 7 of the Carousel with Gary Barnes (#55, 1970 Ford Boss 302 Mustang), Shawn Bullard (#4, 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV), and Scott Kissinger (#202, 1971 Datsun 240Z.

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2021 VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point (article)

Summit Point Motorsports Park, Summit Point, WV – May 13 -16, 2021

Victory Lane Magazine, Story by Terry Johnsen

John Delane (#8), 1972 Chevron B21

The Jefferson 500 at Summit Point Motorsports Park is the marquee event for Vintage Racer Group (VRG). With 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, and COVID restrictions being eased throughout the country, everyone was ready to get back to the business of having fun! As a result, VRG celebrated a record turnout for this year’s event. Everyone had a newfound spring in their step, heightened by the opportunity to get back behind the wheel, and to renew old friendships. You could feel the energy and excitement in the air. To top it off the weather cooperated with beautiful sunny skies and warm temps. After the long lay-off, the cars looked well prepared, polished, and ready to go!

While speaking with Jim Karamanis (Jefferson 500 co-chair) on Friday, he shared with me a few event details from earlier in the week. Wednesday and Thursday featured the VRG Driving School, under the direction of Denny Austin (Chief Instructor). Karamanis noted how encouraging it was to see so many younger drivers in the school, many of whom are 2nd and 3rd generation in the VRG family of racers. This year’s graduating class of 32 drivers was their largest ever. Thursday also featured practice sessions for all of the VRG race groups. The day concluded with a track walk directed by Peter Krause (VRG Driving Instructor). The participation fee involved a contribution of beer for the track workers. I’d say that was suds well spent!

To highlight the excitement and enthusiasm of a new racing season VRG launched their new logo/branding in April. I spoke with John Wood (VRG Vice President), and Krisjan Berzins (in charge of VRG “Merch”) about the concept and evolution of the new look. Wood noted that they were lucky to run a few events in 2020 (Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, and the Turkey Bowl at Summit Point), and while at Lime Rock they started to have the discussion of rebranding, which lead to the conversation, “what are we all about?” Berzins stated the brainstorming process was a very spontaneous and collaborative effort. 

John Wood noted that he, like all VRG members, got involved with vintage racing because of cars, “it starts with cool cars.” He added the club puts an emphasis on driver orientation, teaching car control on the track, wheel to wheel discipline, and respecting each other. Wood explained, “we’re here to have fun with an emphasis on safe racing”. Finally, he said that the VRG community offers the opportunity to foster meaningful relationships and make “great friends”. Adding, “VRG’s identity says it all in six words: Cool Cars/Safe Racing/Great Friends”.

Krisjan Berzins led the effort to improve the VRG branded clothing line, and as a result was put in charge of “Merch”, previously known as their regalia. Berzins noted he took the lessons learned from running his landscape business to appreciate the value of a neat and clean uniform look. VRG workers now have bright green, high visibility shirts, which aids recognizability in their availability and support to members. The new logo is a natural progression and evolution of the VRG letters, accentuated by the bright green highlights. Berzins noted that VRG will always have their original logo for future use as a heritage theme.

The new VRG logo and branding was on full display! “Cool Cars, Safe Racing, Great Friends” says it perfectly. This photo is from the paddock location for Krisjan Berzins (#10), 1987 BMW M3.

The weekend’s schedule promised non-stop on-track activity with a record 258 entrees descending upon Summit Point for another VRG classic! The 2021 Jefferson 500 race groups were set as follows: (Group 7) Phil Hill Cup/Formula Ford Challenge Series, (Group 6) Charlie Gibson Trophy/Sports Racers & Non-FFCS Open Wheel, (Group 5) Donohue Cup/Production & Special through ‘60, (Group 4) Lola Cup/Small Bore under 1.3L & Formula Vee, (Group 3) Marlboro Cup/Small Bore over 1.3L, (Group 2) Cunningham Cup/Big Bore, (Group 1) Wyer Cup/IMSA-SCCA 2.5 Class B Reunion Racers. 

The sprint races began Friday afternoon with Group 7 taking to the track, eager to get things started on a beautiful day for racing. Thomas Gaffney (#6) started on pole and took the early lead. The race was black flagged on lap 3 due to multiple cars off course in turn 3. Upon the restart it was Scott Fairchild (#120) in his Zink Z-10 that took command of the race, with Doug Meis (#27) and Gaffney rounding out the podium. The Saturday sprint for Group 7 was dominated by Gaffney (#6) in his Lola T-342. The fight for second place was a pitched battle between Wayne Nicolette (#2) and Doug Meis (#27). Meis briefly held second place on the penultimate lap, only to have it snatched back by Nicolette at the checkered flag. 

Group 6 witnessed a tour-de-force performance by Justin Frick (#09) in Friday’s sprint race. Piloting his Indy Lights Lola T97/20, Frick’s commanding pace left his competitors far behind in his mirrors. Impressive as it was, he did not last till the finish. Ultimately it was Colin Thompson (#11) who grabbed the win in his Lola T88/90. Rob Sherwood (#05) and Jeremy Treadway (#12) followed closely behind and rounded out the top finishers. Saturday’s sprint featured a heated family battle between the red Lolas of John Thompson (#14) and his son Colin Thompson (#11), with John holding the lead in the early laps. Colin passed his father on lap five and held on for the win. Rob Sherwood (#05) had another strong showing and claimed third spot.

The Group 5 sprint races offered fierce competition between front-runners Michael Oritt (82) in a Ginetta G-4 and Ralph Salomon (#88) in a Bobsy SR2. Friday’s race saw Oritt setting the pace for the first four laps. Salomon then overtook for the lead and held his position till lap nine when he had to pull into the pits with an issue. With the pressure off Oritt easily cruised to the win, with J. Richard Schnabel (#284) and John Styduhar (#9) taking second and third respectively. The Oritt/Salomon battle resumed on Saturday with an entertaining battle that featured multiple lead changes between these drivers. Salomon grabbed the lead once more on the final lap and held on for a thrilling win. Vic Schuster (#57) held on firmly to third position throughout the race.

Each of the Group 4 sprint races were shortened due to multiple cars having off road excursions and the time it took for the safety and support crews to clear the track. But, while there was action, it was David Gussack (#88) who took both wins in a Triumph Spitfire. In Friday’s race a close battle for second place was won by Peter Carroll (#55) who had a spirited dice with Tom Brown (#18). Gussack’s win on Saturday was made interesting in the closing stages from a charging Kent Bain (#69). Peter Uzdavinis (#25) claimed third spot in a close battle with Carroll (#55).

Friday’s sprint for Group 3 delivered an inspired drive by race winner Chris De Minco (#48) in a Mallock Mk 11B. Having started on pole position, De Minco fell back to fifth place at the end of the first lap. He then charged through the field taking fourth position on lap 2, third position on lap 3, second position on lap 5, and ultimately the lead on lap 8 of the ten-lap event. Henry Frye (#29) who held the early lead finished second, while William Bartlett (#37) finished in third position. Frye and Bartlett renewed their podium battle for the Saturday sprint race. This time it was William Bartlett (#37) driving a Lotus Super 7 who lead from start to finish, with Frye (#29) breathing down his neck lap after lap. Erich Stahlman (#87) was the best of the rest and brought home a strong third place finish.

Group 2 presented an impressive display of power and speed. Two cars in particular were in a league of their own. Hobart Buppert (#82) unleashed his beautiful Lola T70 Mk3B and stormed away from the field winning both sprint races. Not to be outdone, Phil Meaney (#81) matched Buppert lap for lap in his sleek Gropa/Chevron CMC 11, capturing second place in both races. Christopher Zappa (#29) placed third on Friday while John Delane (#8) took honors on Saturday.

The Friday sprint race for Group 1 was a hard charging affair, even though race positions never changed throughout. John Baucom (#86) took a commanding victory behind the wheel of his Fiat 124 Coupe. David Lebrun (#67) and Dave Nicholas (#60) rounded out the podium with strong performances. Baucom (#86) also won the Saturday sprint, followed by Lebrun (#67), in a race that was stopped briefly for cars off track. Once the track was cleared and returned to green Vince Vaccaro (#199) held off a train of cars to claim third position.  

The 2021 Jefferson 500 Feature Races took place on Saturday afternoon, and if the sprint races were any measure, these contests promised to be classics. A field of 38 cars took the green flag for the Group 7/Phil Hill Cup Feature Race. Thomas Gaffney (#6) led from start to finish in his Lola T-342. In the early stages of the race Gaffney held off the charge of Stefan Vapaa (#97). Doug Voss (#46) climbed through the field and began challenging Vapaa for second place at the mid-way point of the race. With two laps to go Voss captured second place and held on till the checkered flag. The top eight finishers crossed the finish line within 5 seconds of each other. A great start to the afternoon!

Next up on the schedule came the Group 6/Charlie Gibson Trophy race. This pitted teammates versus one another, and also within the family. Colin Thompson (#11) and his father John Thompson (#14) were stuck like glue together for 12 thrilling laps. Colin started from pole position in his Lola T88/90 but gave up the lead on the first lap. He hounded John relentlessly, then finally on lap 8 grabbed the lead and held on for the victory. David Gussack (#5) rounded out the podium with a strong third place finish, three seconds back.

The Group 5/Donohue Cup provided edge-of-the-seat racing with a thrilling pass for the lead at the checkered flag. Ralph Salomon (#88) started the race in fourth position in his Bobsy SR2, and by the end of the first lap he was battling Michael Oritt (#82) for the lead. Just as their battle was heating up the race was stopped on lap 3 due to multiple cars stranded off track and in an unsafe position. Once the track was cleared the race resumed, along with its intensity. Salomon and Oritt exchanged the lead multiple times, with Oritt in the lead heading towards the checkered flag. Salomon pulled off a daring pass for the win right at the line, and with .0001 of a second to spare. Amazing! Harvey Parke (#92) rounded out the podium finishing in third place.

The Group 4/Lola Cup race was seemingly over as soon as it started. Which is too bad because each of the sprint races for Group 4 were also shortened affairs due to cars being off track. But in this case the stoppage on lap four was because of a significant amount of oil put down in turn 9 which required significant time to clean-up. For what it’s worth the early laps of the race were setting the stage for an entertaining battle. Ultimately, David Gussack (#88) was declared the winner in his Triumph Spitfire. Peter Uzdavinis (#25) and Andrew Moore (#79) claimed second and third places respectively.

After a lengthy clean-up process the Group 3/Marlboro Cup race rekindled the intensity and excitement that had been on display all weekend. 37 cars took the green flag with William Bartlett (#37) leading the way. Bartlett held a comfortable lead through the first four laps, but then started getting pressure from Henry Frye (#29) in his Triumph TR250. For two laps Bartlett held Frye at bay, until lap seven when Frye seized the lead. Bartlett retook the lead and held for laps eight and nine. Frye used the final lap to set-up the pass for the win and took the checkered flag, edging Bartlett by a nose. Kenny Williamson (#27) had a quiet but strong race as he worked his way up from seventh starting position to finish in third place. 

Next up it was the Group 2/Cunningham Cup racers that took to the track, and it was Hobart Buppert (#82) in his Lola T70 Mk3B that stormed away at the drop of the green flag and never looked back. He crossed the finish line eleven laps later and 12 seconds clear of second place finisher Phil Meany (#81). The power of Buppert’s Lola was impressive, and his smooth driving style never put a wheel wrong. John Delane (#8) rounded out the podium in third position.

The packed Saturday schedule concluded with the Group 1/Wyer Cup race. An early-stage battle for the lead between John Baucom (#86) and Andre Henke (#6) came to its unfortunate conclusion on lap three when both cars went off track. The race was stopped at that point until the cars were safely removed by the safety crew. The race resumed and we were treated to a green/white/checkered finish. David Lebrun (#67) driving his Alfa Romeo GTV crossed the line 1.6 seconds clear of Thaddeus Pace (#3). Raymond Nichols (#44) led a group of close pursuers across the finish line for a strong third place finish.

Henry Frye (#29) and his 1968 Triumph TR250 lead a parade of cars during the Bill Scott Enduro.

The Jefferson 500 weekend concluded with three morning enduros: Dan Gurney Enduro (Groups #6, #7 – open wheel only), Bill Scott Enduro (Groups #3, #4, #5), Brian Redman Enduro (Groups #1, #2, #6 – closed wheel only). The decision by VRG to wrap-up track activity by noon was applauded by its members and resulted in healthy grid numbers for the three endurance races. In summary, Wayne Nicolette (#2) drove his Lola T-340 to victory in Dan Gurney Enduro; Tom Upshur (#83) took the checkered flag in the Bill Scott Enduro piloting his Lotus Europa; and David Gussack (#5) closed out the racing activity with the win in the Brian Redman Enduro behind the wheel of his Lola T91/90.

And just like that the 2021 Vintage Racer Group (VRG) Jefferson 500 was in the books. The electric and upbeat atmosphere surrounding the event was real and contagious. The cars looked great, everyone enjoyed being back on track, and most importantly reuniting and spending time with old friends. Driving home Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think that John Wood (VRG VP), nailed it when he said, “VRG’s identity says it all in six words: Cool Cars/Safe Racing/Great Friends”. See you in 2022!

Terry Johnsen (2021)

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 12

DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962

By Jesse Alexander, Forward by Stirling Moss; Publish Date: 2000; Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, Hardcover, 144 pages

The twelfth and final book review of the year captures the spectacle and spirit of Formula 1 and sports car racing through the lens of an expert photographer. DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962 covers a golden age of auto racing. Jesse Alexander’s personal connection with the racing community, his love of the cars, the people, and the thrilling atmosphere is masterfully presented through his masterful photography.

The book covers a particularly dangerous era of racing, and the images effectively convey the triumph and tragedy associated with risking it all. Portraits of Jim Clark, Louis Chiron, Piero Taruffi, Wolfgang von Trips, Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, etc. capture the toil and sweat of grueling competition. Photographs from historic tracks such as Monaco, Reims, Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Monza, Le Mans, etc. illustrate the unique variety of racetracks, each with their own character and potential deadly hazards. Photographs of on-track competition present a period of transition from rear engine Formula 1 cars to the current rear engine configuration. Safety features for that period were lacking by today’s standards, fueling the admiration of bravery and risk taken by the drivers.

DRIVEN: The Racing Photography of Jesse Alexander 1954-1962 is filled with impressively lush black and white photographs. The design layout is neat and simple and presents the photographs chronologically by year. The images stand-alone without text which allows the viewer to absorb and concentrate on the subject matter. The book concludes with a review section of thumbnail prints with an image-by-image description statement by Alexander, detailing the circumstances involved with each photograph.

I came across this book at an antique shop. It seemed out of place up on the dusty bookshelf, and I’m not sure the storekeeper knew exactly what he had because it was priced ridiculously low. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was in perfect condition, and I couldn’t pay for it fast enough. Sometimes the stars align, and you discover what I like to call ‘a diamond in the rough’! I like it when that happens! Let’s hope 2021 brings us all some good fortune, good health, and a positive step back towards normalcy. Happy New Year everyone!

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 11

Car Badges of the World

By Tim Nicholson, illustrations by John (A.J.) Stokes; Publish Date: 1970; Publisher: American Heritage Press (New York), Hardcover, 137 pages

The eleventh book in my review series is one that could very well be categorized in the graphic art section of your local bookstore. Car Badges of the World is a neatly presented overview of worldwide car manufacturing logos, badges, and crests. The book was written by Tim Nicholson and beautifully illustrated by John (A.J.) Stokes.

The book is organized alphabetically by country, and then alphabetically by manufacturer within each country. Each double-page spread displays two car manufacturer graphic identities on the right with the corresponding descriptions on the left. Each description provides a brief historical perspective on the manufacturer with added insight into the concept and development of the graphic identity.

I marvel at the unique direction each manufacturer took to develop their look. The designs from this 1970 collection look much different from what we see on the road today. In the fifty years since Car Badges of the World was released, car manufacturer graphic identity badges have become more refined and, in many ways, rather abstract. Yet, for car brands such as Porsche, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari, the evolution has been much more subtle, keeping their iconic brand identity intact.

I am so glad that I came across this book. One brief glance through the pages told me that it was meant for my collection. I love it when that happens!

TJ ….2020

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