In 2012 I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be a contributing writer/photographer for Victory Lane Magazine. I covered three events in total and the following posts will feature each of them, beginning with the VRG Jefferson 500 at Summit Point. The article appeared in the July 2012 issue. Volume 27, No. 7
2012 Jefferson 500 – Summit Point Motorsports Park, WV May 17-20, 2012
Story and photographs by Terry Johnsen
Picture perfect weather and a healthy field of cars and drivers set the stage for a fantastic weekend of racing in the Vintage Racer Group’s presentation of the Jefferson 500 at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Legendary American Sports Car Designer, Peter Brock, was on hand as this year’s Grand Marshal. Brock noted that this was his first visit to the Summit Point track, and described it as “a real treasure.” Throughout the weekend, Brock wowed the crowd as he piloted an exquisite Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX-2612 (continuation series) as the featured pace car for many of the races. The owner of the iconic blue and white striped car, Charles Stringfellow, drove this masterpiece all the way from Vienna, Virginia. And yes, he said it turned a few heads along the way.
A full slate of track activities packed the schedule for the weekend, beginning Wednesday and Thursday with a two-day VRG Drivers School and a Thursday Open Test Day. Friday and Saturday’s schedule began with qualifying sessions for all seven groups, leading into the hotly contested sprint races that stretched well into the afternoon. On track activities Friday and Saturday concluded with the Brian Redman Enduro and the Bill Scott Enduro. Sunday’s schedule included feature races, such as the Eifel (Porsche) race, an Open Wheel feature, a Big Bore race (over 2.5L), a Small Bore race (under 2.5L), and was headlined by the IMSA SCCA 2.5 Reunion Race. One very special event occurred at the end of Friday’s schedule. VRG competitor Peter Krause led a Track Walk benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project, raising over $1,500 for this great and noble cause.
Saturday evening’s main event, the Jefferson 500 Dinner, featured guest speaker and Grand Marshal, Peter Brock. Accompanied to the microphone by his wife Gayle, the legendary designer answered questions that had been compiled from members of the audience. For more than one hour, Peter Brock discussed highlights of his career beginning with his hiring into the GM Styling Department at age 19; his work in the Research Division at GM; his move to California which resulted in becoming Carroll Shelby’s first paid employee; the design of the Shelby Daytona Coupe and winning the World GT Championship in 1965; to his formation of BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) that won multiple National Championships with Driver John Morton; to his current role with his wife (Gayle) as a motor sport journalist. VRG Event Chairman, Cal Trumbo, described the weekend as fabulous, and the evening with Peter Brock as a history lesson in race car design and evolution.
Did I mention the weather was perfect all weekend? The racing was too, beginning with the Group 1 Friday Sprint race that was won by Marc Evans (Huntington, CT), driving his (#144) 1970 Mallock Mk XI B. 14.588 seconds behind in second place was Jim Netterstrom (Arnold, MD), in his (#88) 1961 Lotus Super 7-S. Taking the third spot was John Deford (Owings Mills, MD) piloting his (#57) 1970 Porsche 914/6. The Saturday Sprint Race was won by Jim Netterstrom (Arnold, MD), moving one step up the podium to take first place. A mere 4.405 seconds behind in second place was John Deford (Owings Mills, MD). Rounding out the top three was Kent Bain (Fairfield, CT), 44.677 behind in his (#20) 1972 Porsche 914/6.
Group 2 did not disappoint with both sprints decided by only seconds. The Friday Sprint race was won by Larry Neviaser (Easton, MD), driving his (#22) 1968 Ginetta G16. Right on his heals was Jim Scott (Woodbury, CT), just 2.053 seconds behind in his (#14) 1973 Porsche 911. Taking the third spot was Hal McCarty (Marshall, VA) in his thunderous (#70) 1966 Ford Shelby GT 350. The Saturday Sprint Race was won by Jim Freeman (New York, NY), driving his beautiful (#17) 1967 Matich SR3. Again, in second place, a mere 5.595 seconds behind was Jim Scott (Woodbury, CT). Completing the top three was Michael Zappa (Pittsburgh, PA), in his distinctive black and gold trimmed (#12) 1964 Ford GT40.
Tom Benjamin (Boulder, CO) was a top finisher in both sprint races for Group 3, claiming second place Friday and taking the win on Saturday in his (#35) 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV. The Group 3 Friday Sprint race was won by Lee Talbot (McLean, VA), driving his lovely red (#62) 1967 Ginetta G-4. Second place went to Tom Benjamin, and third spot belonging to Gary Jebsen (Leesburg, VA) in his (#41) 1962 Volvo P1800. The Saturday Sprint Race was very close indeed. Tom Benjamin crossed the finish line by a whisker, 0.715 of a second ahead of second place finisher Robert Mocas (Hudson, OH) in his (#81) 1967 Alfa Romeo GTV. Third place belonged to local resident Bruce Shelton (Charles Town, WV) driving his (#11) 1979 Ford Pinto.
David Gussack (Armonk, NY) also proved to be very competitive on the weekend taking first and third place finishes in the Group 4 Sprints. The Friday race win belonged to weekend stand out Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) driving a (#09) 1964 Beach MK4B-Abarth. Following him across the line in second place was Rich Maloumian (Fort Washington, PA) in his (#347) 1956 Austin Healey 100-4. David Gussack brought home third position driving his (#88) 1963 Triumph Spitfire. David improved on his Friday performance by taking the win in the Saturday Sprint Race. Second place went to Steven Groh (Edgewater, MD) in his (#393) 1963 Triumph Spitfire. Third place was claimed by Chuck Pitt (Warminster, PA), who was at the wheel of a (#198) 1968 MG fSpridget.
The Group 5 Friday Sprint race was dominated by Bob Houston (Vienna, VA) driving a (#4) 1968 Zink Z-8. Building upon his steady pace, Bob crossed the finish line 26.141 seconds ahead of second place finisher Chris Meyers (Burlington, CT) in his (#029) 1957 MG MGA. Third place was claimed by Storm Field (Irvington, NY) driving his (#330) 1960 MG A Coupe. The Group 5 Saturday Sprint race was won by Mark Gobble (Salem, VA), driving his (#150) 1959 Elva Courier. In second place was Hugh Tompkins (Bethesda, MD), at the wheel of his (#10) 1963 Bobsy SR2. Bringing home third place was Bob O’Connor (Vienna, VA) with his (#14) 1968 Zink Z-8.
Group 6 featured one of the most impressive performances of the weekend. That distinction goes to Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) driving his (#15) 1991 Lola T90/91. Ben took the wins in the Friday and Saturday sprint races, both times finishing ahead of Peter Krause (Durham, NC) in his (#91) 1984 Tiga SC84. Starting in fifth position for the Saturday race, Ben took advantage of a great start and soon took the lead. Once he found his stride he was able to lower his lap times into the 1:15’s. Ben stated that he viewed “the chute” (the combination of turns 3, 4, and 5) as one of the most important parts of the track. He noted that getting it right was critical when faced with such a strong field as is in Group 6. Friday’s third place finisher was Ralph Manaker (Marshall, VA), driving his beautiful yellow (#3) 1969 Chevron B-16. Saturday’s third place finisher was Larry Rossi (Woodbury, VT), in his (#99) 1985 Lola T598.
The honors for claiming the closest and most competitive race of the weekend went to Bob Bruce (Falmouth, ME) in the Group 7 Sprit race on Saturday. Driving his (#0) 1980 Crossle 40F, Bob took the lead for good at the beginning of the last lap and brought home the win. He lead a tightly bunched group of his fellow competitors across the line with a winning margin of 0.841 of a second covering the top four spots. The lead changed hands multiple times throughout the 12 lap race. At one point Bob had dropped to third before ultimately reclaiming the lead. Saturday’s second place finisher was Christian Morici (Chicopee, MA) driving a (#169) 1969 Lotus 69. Third place was taken by Kyle Kaulback (Bethel, PA) in his (#33) 1970 Lotus Type 61 MX. Bob Bruce took a convincing win in the Group 7 Sprint race on Friday. When asked about his impressions of the circuit, Bob noted that Summit Point features a great combination of fast turns and technical turns creating a great flow for the driver. Taking second place was Christian Morici, and third place went to Scott Fairchild (Powhatan, VA) in his (#20) 1978 Zink Z-10.
The weekend’s Enduro Race final results were each 1 lap advantage victories for the winning drivers. The Brian Redman Enduro was won by Jim Freeman (New York, NY), in his (#17) 1967 Matich SR3 with 69 total laps. One lap down in second place was Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) in his (#15) 1991 Lola T90/91. In third place was Richard Kresch (New York, NY), completing 64 laps in his (#777) 1987 Lola S2000. The Bill Scott Enduro was won by Robert Mocas (Hudson, OH), driving his (#81) 1967 Alfa Romeo GTV, for a total of 58 laps. One lap behind in second place was Tom Benjamin (Boulder, CO) in his (#35) Alfa Romeo GTV. Coming in third place was Bob Houston (Vienna, VA), at the wheel of his (#14) 1968 Zink Z-8.
Top honors in Sunday’s Special Event races went to Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) in the S2 Race; Kent Bain (Fairfield, CT) in the Eifel Race; Brian Rechtiene (Southbury, CT) in the Open Wheel Race; Hal McCarty (Marshall, VA) in the Big Bore (over 2.5 L); and Bruce Shelton (Charles Town, WV) in the featured IMSA SCCA 2.5 Reunion Race.
VRG Event Registrar, Jim Karamanis, summarized the Jefferson 500 weekend as being terrific, citing the excellent weather, a full field of cars and drivers, and the honor of having Peter Brock as Grand Marshal. He explained that the success and strength of VRG begins with the common thread of camaraderie amongst its members. Peter Brock echoed those thoughts by adding that VRG and the Jefferson 500 event offers a very friendly and open environment, and that he admires their love of the sport.
(Note: This article also included selected photographs by Bill Stoller.)