Vintage Racer Group – 2015 Turkey Bowl

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Paige Hope, (#35) 1968 MG MGC GTS.

Victory Lane Magazine, February 2016, Vol.31, No.2

Story and photos by Terry Johnsen

Summit Point, West Virginia, November 27-29, 2015

Whenever I think of the term “Turkey Bowl”, I am reminded of the annual football game my friends and I would play every Thanksgiving morning when we were kids. This wasn’t going to be our last game of the season, but most likely the last with good weather. Our goal was to have fun and not to go home with any broken bones. The emphasis was on having fun.

The VRG Turkey Bowl at Summit Point is very similar. The goal is to have fun and provide the participants with one last race meeting before winter arrives. Event Chairman, Michael Oritt, stressed that this is a low-pressure event with no timing and scoring. The emphasis is to have a lot of fun with friends and end the season on a high note.

The event featured four run groups; Group 1 – Vintage Small Bore (<2 liter), Group 3 – Vintage Big Bore (>2 liter), Group 4 – Modern Sports/GT & Baby Grand, and Group 5 – Legends. Group 2 for open wheelers was not included this year, thus allowing additional track time for each of the four groups. The schedule for each day was split between practices in the morning and races for each group in the afternoon. Everyone had plenty of time behind the wheel.

Friday afternoon featured a presentation by VRG President, Mack McCormack, who presented and discussed the 2016 calendar. Seven race events are preceded by two early year activities. In total it is a nine-date calendar. 2016 begins on February 27th with the Winter Tech Seminar at Grato Garages in Clifton, New Jersey. Next is the Pittsburgh Racers Dinner on March 5th. The first race meeting is the VDCA “Wild Hare Run” at VIR on the weekend of April 8-10. The Jefferson 500 at Summit Point is on the weekend of May 12-15. The Third Annual Vintage Motorsports Festival at Thompson Motorsports Park, Connecticut, is slated for June 23-25. The calendar continues with the Whiskey Hill Classic, co-sanctioned with VSCCA in Palmer, Massachusetts on July 29-31. The New Jersey Historic Races in Millville, New Jersey takes place on September 16-18. The colorful fall leaves of upstate New York will be in bloom for the VRG @ The Glen on October 7-9. Finally, the 2016 season concludes with Turkey Bowl XX at Summit Point on November 25-27. It looks to be another action-packed year for VRG.

Back to 2015, the lunchtime break on Saturday featured charity rides supporting High Performance Heroes. HPH is a group committed to helping combat wounded veterans achieve their motorsports goals. To support their efforts, HPH not only offered the charity rides, but also had on display many race worn items from professional drivers that will be auctioned off to support their projects. Items such as gloves from endurance champion Scott Pruett and gloves and shoes from his teammate Joey Hand. There were also race worn gloves from IndyCar legend Al Unser, Jr. IMSA sports car drivers Christina Nielsen and Cooper MacNeil also offered race worn items. For a full list of available auction items and to learn more about how you can support HPH with their projects, please visit their website: www.hpheroes.org.

The 2015 Turkey Bowl enjoyed almost perfect race conditions. The favorable forecast leading up to the event allowed everyone to take a deep breath and relax. This then set the stage for everyone to have fun for one last time before packing up the cars and tools for the winter. Each group produced good clean competition. The racing was hard and fast with virtually no incidents. Of course a few cars were ultimately towed in from the far reaches of the track, and oil dry was used on a few occasions. Saturday afternoon saw the return of the Turkey Bowl relay race. It was just another one of the fun activities for everyone to enjoy. Teams consisted of a car from each of the four groups. Everyone was in it to win it!

Racing throughout the weekend was safe and competitive. Group 1 featured vintage small-bore vehicles such as Triumph Spitfire, Austin Healey Sprite, Volvo, MG, BMW, Mini Cooper, Alfa Romeo Berlina, and Fiat Abarth. Pete Carroll spoke on behalf of Group 1. He drove a (#55) 1963 Austin Healey Sprite. Pete praised VRG and the organization of their events. He added, “We race hard, keep it clean. The name of the game is to have fun.” Pete noted that VRG features great people, a good schedule, and there’s never a glitch.

Group 3 saw the appearance of big-bore cars such as the Ford Mustang, Alfa Romeo, Elva Courier, Datsun 240Z, Porsche 914, MGB, and Lotus Super Seven. Joe Stroh raced in Group 3 with his (#1) 1968 Ford Mustang. His red Shelby Mustang was stunning, and one of my personal favorites of the weekend. Joe said that Summit Point is his home track. He likes turn 10 most of all, calling it a “big-bore corner.” He went on to praise VRG and the Turkey Bowl event for its camaraderie amongst competitors.

Group 4 featured a fine array of modern sports/GT & baby grand makes such as VW, Porsche, Mazda, Nissan, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, BMW, and Chevrolet. Scott Luttrell participated in Group 4 with his (#121) Mini Cooper. Scott stated he really appreciated VRG for starting the modern class. Summit Point is his home track, and he relishes the ability to go home at night. He added, “I love the Turkey Bowl, it’s one of my favorites.”

Group 5 featured the Legends racers. This group was once again a welcome support series for VRG and the Turkey Bowl. They always put on a great show. Tyler Hughes drove the (#83) unmistakable bright yellow Legends racer. He said, “it’s a fun weekend, there’s no pressure.” He also pointed out that the Carousel portion of the track is his favorite….“I make up most of my time there.” That he did! Tyler was the class of the field.

All in all, the 2015 Turkey Bowl was a huge success. VRG finished the season on a high note. The goal for the event was simple…no-pressure, and everyone have a lot fun with friends. Mission accomplished! This is the perfect season ending event for any vintage racer.

TJ 2015——————————–

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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