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PART 10
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SERIES CHAPTERS
SVRA News

Except for a couple of date changes, the 1993 season was a duplicate of the previous year. The Spring Fling was back to two consecutive weekends as the Savannah event had been rescheduled for mid–April. At both Moroso and Sebring the story was the same, rain, with a particularly severe storm sweeping through Moroso Motorsports Park before daybreak on Saturday. Several tents and awnings were ravaged, but only one car was seriously damaged, SVRA’s brand-new Mazda RX–7 pace car which had yet to pace its first race. Moroso was also the scene of the newly–organized Historic Stock Car Racing Group’s first appearance at an SVRA event.

In May SVRA paid its third annual visit to Road America for an event now called the Victoria British Vintage Grand Prix. Mid–Ohio’s traditional June date was changed to the second weekend in July with Corvette as the featured marque. September’s Watkins Glen event was now sponsored by Zippo and again featured Formula One, a natural choice as Watkins Glen had hosted the United States Grand Prix from 1961 through 1980.

The month of October was again bracketed by Summit Point and the season’s final event at Road Atlanta. Highlights at Atlanta included an all–Lotus race and the appearance of two Indy Streamliners. J.D. Evans was honored as SVRA’s 1993 Driver of the Year and Sue Henning, the owner and driver of an MGA named “Bubba,” received the Harry Gaunt Award.

SVRA's 1994 season began under a dark cloud when 52–year–old Allard enthusiast Jack McGregor was killed in a single–car accident at Moroso. This was SVRA’s first fatality. The following week at Sebring Ernst Schuster was presented with SVRA’s inaugural René Dreyfus Memorial Trophy for his 1970 Porsche 908/02 Long–tail Spyder, the only survivor of three built. Awarded to the car having the most significant Sebring history, the trophy was presented by Ford Heacock, Sr., the father of SVRA’s founder.

In April it was back to Savannah to enjoy a low–key event that featured Saturday evening’s now–traditional “Pig Pickin’ and Oyster Roast.” Originated and orchestrated by Alex Quattlebaum, this year's feed was sponsored by Phelon Motorsports. The following month Road America drew nearly 200 cars including a special race group for prewar and MG T–series cars.

At Mid–Ohio persistent rain reduced the entry to 240 cars and drastically affected the spectator turnout. MG was the featured marque. Seeking an event within the two–month break between Mid–Ohio and Watkins Glen, SVRA held its inaugural race at Pocono International Raceway in mid–August. Adding to its support of other SVRA events, Quaker Securities climbed aboard as the title sponsor.

The big story at Watkins Glen was the amazing turnout of MGs in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the original Collier Cup races. Sponsored by Moss Motors, an incredible 65 MGs entered with 56 eventually taking the green flag for their race. Then it was on to Summit Point where the event was renamed The Blue–Gray Challenge, beginning the event's hallmark North versus South competition on and off the track.

The Atlanta Vintage Grand Prix featured the second Lister reunion, again starring Brian Lister and special races celebrated the 35th Anniversary of Formula Junior and the 30th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. John Muller was named Driver of the Year and the Harry Gaunt Award was presented to Sue Waddle.

Although Atlanta normally capped the season, SVRA came up with a bonus activity in November. Called “The Great Savannah Races” as a tribute to the 1908, 1910 and 1911 races of the same name, this event was primarily created for prewar race cars. The unique event drew a number of cars and featured a parade along many of the roads used for the 1911 Vanderbilt Cup race.

The schedule remained the same for 1995 with the Moroso–Sebring Spring Fling followed by Savannah, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Summit Point, Road Atlanta and back to Savannah in November for the second edition of The Great Savannah Races.

New title sponsors joined SVRA’s road show at Sebring (Starcraft) and Atlanta (Merrill Lynch) and PaineWebber renewed its support of the season’s endurance championship races.

Highlights of 1995 included Sebring’s presentation of the René Dreyfus Memorial Trophy to Bob Jordan for his 1969 Porsche 908 that finished second overall at Sebring in 1970 with drivers Steve McQueen and Peter Revson. This trophy was jointly presented by SVRA and Vintage Motorsport magazine.

Mid–Ohio featured Porsches with practically every model from the 356 to 917 represented in the All–Porsche race. The inclusion of a 962 (race winner) caused a few furrowed brows, but its presence was a glimpse of the future.

SVRA’s most spectacular show of the 1995 season came at Watkins Glen where no less than 53 genuine Trans–Am cars from the original series (1966–’74) were on hand. This impressive gathering was in large part due to the efforts of David and Nancy Tom and their Glory Days Historic Trans–Am Tour. Significantly, the group included several cars from the series’ U–2 (Under Two–liter) and Two–Five Challenge class. SVRA member Pat Ryan won the Trans–Am race in his ex–Penske/Donohue 1967 Camaro. Perhaps fittingly, Pat Ryan was named Driver of the Year at SVRA’s Atlanta awards banquet.

Because of a small entry at The Great Savannah Races in 1995, SVRA decided to eliminate this event the following year. Otherwise, the 1996 schedule remained unchanged from the previous season.

Highlights of the 1996 season included Jaguar as the featured marque at Mid–Ohio with cars in the All–Jaguar race ranging from a prewar SS100 to a XJR–15. Lowlights included the death of Douglas Campbell at Mid–Ohio who suffered a fatal heart attack while preparing to join the grid for the All–Jaguar race. And the normally splendid Watkins Glen event was comprehensively dampened by the remnants of Hurricane Fran. At October’s banquet at Road Atlanta Tom Yeager was named SVRA’s Driver of the Year. Two weeks later SVRA staged its first concours event, the Hilton Head Concours d’ Competition at South Carolina’s upscale resort island.

Attempting to recapture the tropical allure of SVRA’s prior Grand Bahama events, a year–long promotion was undertaken for a vintage race on the island of Jamaica. Called “Race Jamaica” it was to be held at Dover Raceway in early December and entrants were to race Legends cars (scaled–down versions of old stock cars) imported for the occasion. The event did go off as planned, but, with only a handful of participants, it was an effort not worth repeating.

While 1996 may not have been one of SVRA’s most spectacular seasons, it was, nevertheless, a good year. However, much like the weather at Watkins Glen, there were dark clouds gathering on SVRA’s horizon......Art Eastman

Next week, Part 11: “Tubulence”

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