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As we enter the fifth year of the new millennium, automotive history buffs will be reminded that 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Citroen’s startling DS19 and Chuck Berry’s first chart–topper, Maybelline. Chevrolet’s ubiquitous small–block V8 was introduced in the 1955 model year as was Ford’s two–seater Thunderbird, the MGA and the Chrysler 300, America’s first Muscle Car. On a more somber note, 50 years ago James Dean was killed in a Porsche 550 Spyder and the Le Mans 24–Hour race was the scene of the most horrendous tragedy in motorsports’ history.

Twenty–five years ago, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt won the first of seven Winston Cup Championships and actor–racer Steve McQueen joined Dean in the afterlife. In the year of Mt. St. Helens’ cataclysmic eruption, the Blues Brothers entertained moviegoers and hockey fans were rendered spellbound by the underdog USA team’s victory over the Russians for Olympic Gold.

In 1980, vintage racing stood on the threshold of achieving recognition as one of the most popular forms of motorsport. Chief among the sport’s proponents was the Southeast Vintage Racing Association. Founded in 1980, this year is SVRA’s Silver Anniversary.

Not that anyone would notice.

Sadly, it’s becoming apparent SVRA’s current management has no intention of acknowledging this important milestone, let alone making any plans to celebrate the occasion. It’s absurd that an organization founded on the premise of enjoying the artifacts of motorsport history fails to recognize and honor its own history.

In the case of SVRA, values have changed with the transfer of ownership and the passage of time. Once a club of like–minded individuals, SVRA is now strictly run as a business with little or no respect for the historical side of vintage racing. While business acumen may be thought of as ensuring a present and future of black ink, no one seems to care about the health of the golden goose.

This total lack of any official mention of SVRA’s 25th Anniversary may be, in part, the result of confusion. A few years ago a T–shirt appeared declaring 1976 as the founding year of SVRA. Further reinforcement of this fallacy was provided by SVRA’s in–house scribe Bob Harrington when he wrote SVRA’s 25th Anniversary was marked by returning to Sebring as a co-sanctioning body (with Historic Sportscar Racing) for the historic races at the 2001 12–Hour. Even if you were to accept this blunder as the truth, a T–shirt and an invitation to run with HSR is hardly a fitting silver anniversary tribute for the most influential vintage racing organization during the 1980s. And now that we’re into the actual year of SVRA’s 25th Anniversary, everything’s gone quiet.

In an effort to dispel such misconception, I compiled and wrote a comprehensive history of SVRA three years ago. This article was published in Vintage Motorsport magazine during the first half of 2002. No less a critic than Gerry Sutterfield–a driving force during the period leading to the founding of SVRA–was pleased an accurate history had finally been written. Apparently, SVRA’s current management did not read it.

Considering the apathetic silence that continues to fan the flames of delusion and the significance of this year, it seems only fitting to provide a photo–enhanced history of SVRA on this Web site. And so, for the people who prefer and appreciate historical accuracy, we will present the History of SVRA in weekly installments......Art Eastman

Next week: The History of SVRA Part 1 “Gestation”–The Foundation Years

Illustration: Original SVRA logo by artist Bill Melvin

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