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PART 12
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SERIES CHAPTERS
SVRA News

The 1999 season began with another change as April’s Savannah race became SVRA’s first event of the year. Ironically, with Moroso, Sebring and now Homestead missing from the schedule, SVRA suddenly had no races in Florida, it's seminal ground. Addressing this situation, a late October race at Moroso called the “Halloween Spookfest” was added. Much like the two previous Winter Flings, the new event failed to draw a sufficient number of cars and became a one–time event.

At Savannah Peter McLaughlin surprised everyone by introducing Claire Schueler as SVRA’s new President. Schueler came to SVRA directly from a nine–year stint as Road Course Manager at Mososo Motorsports Park.

Between Savannah and Moroso, the schedule was a duplicate of 1998 with October’s traditional Atlanta Vintage GP now permanently deleted. Although not an SVRA event in the normal sense, Chief of Tech Bob Williams secured a sanction from SVRA to stage a vintage race at Virginia Beach’s Naval Air Station Oceana in April. The “Race at the Base” was co–produced by Williams and Bill Thumel and was made possible by the full and enthusiastic cooperation of the Navy.

Mid–Ohio featured a Trans–Am Reunion, a 40th Anniversary Formula Junior race, an MG–Triumph Challenge and a separate race for Stock Cars. Watkins Glen’s feature races included Formula Juniors, Stock Cars, a “Porsche Clash” for the 911 and its variants and a special race for IMSA GTP and GTPLs. The normally festive atmosphere of this event was marred by a serious multi–car pileup during Friday morning’s PaineWebber Vintage Grand Prix Enduro.

SVRA’s season ended at Summit Point with Kent Bain being honored as the Driver of the Year. Although the 1999 season was not bereft of notable highlights, the increasing appearance of more modern cars was changing the character of SVRA. For members staunchly in favor of maintaining tradition, this was an unsettling time. And knowing Peter McLaughlin was openly seeking a buyer for SVRA did little to instill confidence among the general membership.

Before the 2000 season began at Savannah, it was officially announced SVRA and HSR had formed an alliance. Semantics aside, this arrangement meant HSR now controlled SVRA’s future. For some it was blasphemy, a worst–case scenario, but with HSR’s principals promising to preserve the integrity of SVRA, most people were willing to accept the alliance with optimism. It was also announced Carl Jensen would return to SVRA in the role of Competition Director. In July the SVRA office was moved from New Hampshire to HSR’s Atlanta office facilities and Kim Harmon was hired for administrative and registration duties.

Normally Road America followed Savannah on the schedule, but was canceled due to its marginal entry in recent years. In its place a rather strange agreement with Brian Redman resulted in SVRA becoming the sanctioning body for Redman’s Jefferson 500 at Summit Point in May.

Pocono was also dropped from the schedule in 2000 with June's Mid–Ohio now followed by Watkins Glen. Although Watkins Glen has and continues to host a variety of major races, it is widely regarded as the spiritual home of America’s Formula One races. Thanks to the influence, organization and support of Steve Earle, more than 40 F1 cars made SVRA’s Watkins Glen event one to remember.

This year the season extended beyond Summit Point’s Blue–Gray Challenge when SVRA paid its first visit to the recently resurrected Virginia International Raceway. At the traditional year–end banquet, Bob Hebert was named Driver of the Year. There was also an announcement the former practice of group representatives would be reinstated, having been eliminated a few years before.

During the 2000 season there were few noticeable changes effected by SVRA’s new management. Although the waters had calmed and a tidal wave of change failed to materialize, a certain degree of apprehension regarding SVRA’s future still remained......Art Eastman

Next week, Part 13: “Amalgamation”

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