2013 VRG Jefferson 500 @ Summit Point (story)

Chris Meyers (#029) Alfa Romeo GTV, Kenneth Haas (#329) 1966 MG B Roadster.

Chris Meyers (#029) Alfa Romeo GTV, Kenneth Haas (#329) 1966 MG B Roadster.

Victory Lane Magazine: July 2013, Volume 28, No. 7

The 2013 Jefferson 500 vintage sports car event marked its 20th anniversary this year. A large field of over 260 entries visited the rolling splendor of the Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, the weekend of May 17-19th. The Grand Marshal for this year’s special anniversary was racing legend, Brian Redman. He and track founder, Bill Scott, established the Jefferson 500. It has long since become a favorite for vintage racing enthusiasts. In 2009, the Jefferson 500 became a regular event on the Vintage Racer Group (VRG) yearly calendar of race meetings.

The busy weekend agenda featured cars from all seven of the VRG racing groups. Friday’s schedule began with a round of qualifying for each of the groups, followed by the first round of sprint events. The winning drivers on Friday were: Group 1/Wyer Cup cars – Scott Bresnahan; Group 2/Cunningham Cup cars – Jim Scott; Group 3/Marlboro Cup cars – Denny Wilson; Group 4/Lola Cup cars – David Reid; Group 5/Donohue Cup cars – Rich Maloumian; Group 6/Charlie Gibson Trophy cars – Ben Sinnott; and Group 7/Phil Hill Cup cars – Bob Bruce. The first enduro events of the weekend took place on Friday afternoon. Ben Sinnott placed first in the Brian Redman Enduro (for Groups 1 & 2). Baxter Phillips placed first in the Bill Scott Enduro (for Groups 3, 4, 5, and closed wheel entrants in Group 6). Friday’s racing activities concluded with the ever popular IMSA RS/SCCA 2.5 Challenge Reunion Race. Ross Breamer (Atlantic Beach, FL) driving his (#163) 1968 Ford Escort MKI Twin took the checkered flag. He was followed across the finish line by Ed Wolff and Mike Blair who finished second and third respectively.

After the racing concluded on Friday, Grand Marshal Brian Redman treated the VRG drivers to a track-walk, discussing the driver’s approach to the Summit Point circuit. The main purpose for the evening walk around the track was to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior program. VRG and the Summit Point Motorsports Park were pleased to announce the activity raised over $1,000.

Saturday’s race schedule began with qualifying and the second round of VRG Group Sprint Races. In Group 1, Ed Wolff (Southampton, PA), driving his (#123) 1969 Datsun 510 stormed away into the distance. Finishing second was Erich Stahlman (Mount Wolf, PA) in his (#87) 1982 Alfa Romeo GTV6. The race for third place was the real show as it featured a battle between Larry Doll (Haddonfeld, NJ) in his (#124) 1969 Datsun 510 and Jim Netterstrom (Arnold, MD) in his (#88) 1961 Lotus Super 7. Doll climbed through the field and ultimately claimed third spot mid-way through the race, holding off the charge by Netterstorm in the final laps.

Group 2 featured an incredible duel between race winner Jim Scott (Woodbury, CT) piloting his dominant (#114) 1973 Porsche 911, and Richard Liebhaber (McLean, VA) driving the sleek and “very red” (#33) 2002 Ferrari 360 GT. Liebhaber had claimed pole for the event, but was overtaken by Scott mid-way through the race. The gap between first and second remained close until the final two laps when Scott and Liebhaber came upon lapped traffic. This enabled Scott to distance himself for the win. Third place was claimed by Kent Bain (Fairfield, CT) driving his (#20) 1972 Porsche 914/6.

The Group 3 Sprint race was a dominant exhibition, as the top three finishers separated themselves from the rest of the pack and finished as they had qualified. First place went to Denny Wilson (Washington, MO) in his (#7) 1962 Lotus Super 7. Second place was claimed by Michael Unger (Gloucester Point, VA) in his (#33) 1967 Datsun SRL311. Third place belonged to Scott Kissinger (Leesport, PA) driving a (#202) 1971 Datsun 240Z.

The Group 4 Sprint race was not kind to the top three qualifiers, as they finished 22nd, 24th, and 23rd respectively. The top spot was claimed by Peter Uzdavinis (Carrolton, VA), who had moved up from 5th starting position in his (#25) 1964 MG Midget. Second place went to Chuck Pitt (Furlong, PA), moving up two spots from 4th starting position in his (#198) 1967 MG Midget. Third place then went to Baxter Phillips (Manakin Sabot, VA) moving up from a 7th starting position while piloting his (#676) 1956 Lotus Eleven.

The schedule was altered slightly and Group 7 took to the track next. This may have been one of the most hotly contested races of the weekend. These VRG competitors really put on a show. Lap after lap the crowd witnessed top quality wheel to wheel racing. Bob Bruce (Falmouth, MA) moved up from his third starting position to claim the win in his distinctively orange (#0) 1980 Crossle 40F. The top six finishers appeared to be in a league of their own as they went nose-to-tail for 12 laps. Second place was claimed by Christian Morici (Chicopee, MA) in the sleek (#69) 1969 Lotus 69. Joseph Griffin (Doylestown, PA) brought home third place in his yellow (#23) 1981 Crossle 45F.

Next on the agenda was the Sprint race for Group 6. Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) behind the wheel of his sinister black (#5) 1991 Lola T90/91, led from start to finish in a dominant performance. Mid-way through the race, the battle for second place was between Brent Gernert (Phoenixville, PA) driving a (#77) 1986 Swift DB2 and John Tancredi (Ambler, PA) in a (#76) 1992 Doran S2. After a hard fought race that saw these two drivers swap places on multiple occasions, second place ultimately was claimed by Gernert.

The Sprint races concluded with the Group 5 contest. Mark Gobble (Salem, VA) took the win in his (#50) 1959 Elva Courier. Taking second place was Hank Griffin (Norfolk, VA) piloting a (#43) 1959 Elva Courier. Following in third place was Jordan Bell (Glenside, PA) in his (#17) 1957 Porsche 356A Coupe.

The Porsche Feature Race was dominated by Jim Scott (Woodbury, CT) driving the all conquering (#114) 1973 Porsche 911. He was never challenged. Second place went to Scott Bresnahan (Purcellville, VA) in the striking blue/gold/white liveried (#09) 2002 Porsche 911. Following closely behind in third place was Alan Friedman (Vienna, VA) in the blue & green psychedelic (#23) 1973 Porsche 911 RSR. It appears the race for style points was just as fierce.

Next on the schedule was the Formula Ford Feature Race, and it was another crowd pleaser. Straight off their exciting performance from earlier in the day in Group 7, Bob Bruce, Christian Morici, and Joseph Griffin finished one, two, and three in another tremendous multi-car duel. Bruce and Morici swapped the lead numerous times, leading a strong field across the line. Another fantastic finish!

The Formula Vee Feature race saw Mike Jackson (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) take the victory in his (#09) 1969 Shadowfax FV. Paul Buttrose (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) drove a strong race and finished second driving his (#28) 1968 Zink Formula Vee. Third place was claimed by Edward Impink (Falls Church,VA) who was behind the wheel of his (#39) 1968 Zink Z-5.

The MGVR Feature Race #1 featured early-model MG’s. This was a tremendous race that saw multiple changes of lead from start to finish. If only it could have lasted longer! Ultimately, Chris Meyers (Burlington, CT) driving his (#029) 1957 MG MGA claimed victory. Coming home in a truly respectable second place was Mark Palmer (Nazareth, PA) behind the wheel of his (#185) 1957 MG MGA. Placing third for the race was William Bartlett (Niantic, CT) in his (#348) 1960 MG MGA Coupe.

Last on the agenda for Saturday was the MGVR Feature Race #2. This event featured later-model MG’s. Les Gonda (Keswick, VA) driving a (#702) 1973 MG B GT V8 came across the line in first position. Donald Dickey (Marissa, IL) placed second in a (#10) 1965 MG B Roadster. Claiming third position was Michael Zappa (Pittsburgh, PA) piloting the beautiful black & gold (#128) 1962 MG B.

Saturday evening featured the Jefferson 500 Dinner. A large crowd gathered for an enjoyable evening of friendship and a reflective look back on 20 years of the Jefferson 500 event. After dinner had been served, VRG President Bill Hollingsworth began the evening with a few remarks. He reflected on the history of the Jefferson 500 and the significance of the partnership between Summit Point and VRG in recent years. The evening also featured remarks from VRG/Jefferson 500 Co-Chairman, CalTrumbo. Cal noted that VRG has worked over the years to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Program. So far this year, VRG has been able to raise over $4,000. At this year’s track walk with Brian Redman the effort was able to raise over $1,000. He also auctioned off a special event poster, signed by Brian Redman and all the competitors. The winning bid was $500. Barbara Scott, owner of Bill Scott Racing and Summit Point Motorsports Park, then matched the bid for the charitable cause. Writer/competitor Burt Levy was also in attendance for the event and dinner. The final speaker of the evening was Brian Redman; serving as the Grand Marshal of the Jefferson 500, a true racing legend, and friend of VRG and the Summit Point Motorsport Park family. He entertained the audience with a humorous trip down memory lane. In particular, he focused on the one big prize he was never able to win, that being the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sixteen times he competed at the famed race. Though he was able to lead the race on a number of occasions, something always stood in the way for the victory. What makes his storytelling so enjoyable is that there is no bitterness in having been so close, only to come up short. He took the disappointment in stride. He had conquered other tracks, other races, other championships. This one left him with fond and many times funny memories. A lesson for us all.

Sunday’s racing activities began with warm-ups and the conclusion of the two enduro events. The weather for the weekend had predicted precipitation on Saturday, and on Sunday in particular. Though the weather held for the most part, it did influence the decision of some competitors on whether or not to stay for Sunday afternoon. Those who stayed never experienced a level of rain and wet track that was expected. First on the agenda was the second stage of the Bill Scott Enduro. Taking the overall victory for the weekend was Douglas Hagopain (Wilbraham, MA), covering 41 total laps in his (#24) 1966 Porsche 911. He finished fourth in Friday’s first enduro. Second place was awarded to Thomas Leavy (Oceanport, NJ) piloting his (#32) 1962 MG MGB. Coming in third place was Don Wannagat (New Kensington, PA), in a (#74) 1973 Alfa Romeo GTV.

Next on the agenda was the conclusion of the Brian Redman Enduro. The race ended with the same top three finishers as was in the Friday enduro. Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT) kept up a pace that couldn’t be matched, covering a total of 43 laps in his (#5) 1991 Lola T90/91. Second place belonged to Richard Liebhaber (McLean, VA) in his impressive (#33) 2002 Ferrari 360 GT. Scott Bresnaham (Purcellville, VA) brought home third place in his (#09) 2002 Porsche 911.

A series of Special Events comprised the rest of the race meeting agenda. First up was the Formula Cars race. Joseph Griffin (Doylestown, PA) won the hotly contested event behind the wheel of his (#23) 1981 Crossle 45F. Lurking just behind was Scott Nettleship (Wake Forest, NC) in his blue and gold (#63) 1981 Crossle 45F. Further back in third position and one lap down was Oliver Scigliano (Allison Park, PA) driving a (#97) 1972 Lynx Formula Vee.

The S2000 Race was won by Ben Sinnott (Fairfield, CT). It was a dominant performance, as he had built a 40 second lead by the mid-way mark of the 18 lap race. By the end of the race he had lapped all but the second and third finishers. The battle for second and third was won by Brent Gernert (Phoenixville, PA) in his (#77) 1986 Swift DB2.  Third place was awarded to Simon Green (Oxford, CT) driving a (#90) 1985 Shrike P15. Halfway through the race, Green snatched up second place and held it for two laps. Gernert ultimately recaptured the second place spot and held on for the finish.

The first of the All-Comers Races was held for Groups 1, 2, and 3. It was a close and tidy race until the final stages. Lapped traffic allowed for Denny Wilson (Washington, MO) in his (#7) 1962 Lotus Super 7 to hold on to first place over Todd Reid (Elkton, MD) in his (#1) 1967 Lotus Super Seven. Third place was contested between a gaggle of cars, with Michael Unger (Gloucester Point, VA) finally taking the final podium spot in his (#33) 1967 Datsun SRL311.

The final event for the 2013 Jefferson 500 was the second of the All-Comers Races. This one featured cars from Groups 4 & 5. As a fitting conclusion to a wonderful weekend the race was decided on the last lap. Peter Uzdavinis (Carrollton, VA) driving a (#25) 1964 MG Midget, held off the strong challenge by Hank Griffin (Norfolk, VA) in his (#43) 1959 Elva Courier. Multiple lead changes throughout the race kept the final outcome in doubt until the finish. Peter Carroll (Monkton, MD) secured third spot in his (#55) 1963 Austin-Healey Sprite.

The 20th Anniversary of the Jefferson 500 was indeed a weekend to remember. It offered a beautiful array of cars from the wide spectrum of vintage racing. More importantly it offered good, safe competition, and fostered the camaraderie of competitors who are here to enjoy their love of racing. Well done VRG and Summit Point Motorsports Park.

————————————————–   TJ2013

About terryjohnsen

Writer/photographer of vintage/historic sports car racing. See you at the track! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terry Johnsen and terryjohnsen.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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