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Technically, SVRA’s 2001 season began at the Sebring 12–Hour as any member was invited to run with HSR with the official sanctioning of the event carrying the name of both entities. Curiously, this invitation to return to its seminal ground was a gesture in recognition of SVRA’s 25th Anniversary! A T–shirt on which 1976 was boldly emblazoned as the founding year proclaimed the milestone. SVRA was actually founded in March 1980.

The first exclusive SVRA race came two weeks later at Savannah. Surprisingly, Road America was back on the schedule, this time with the proviso the event was open to all HSR participants in an effort to bolster the previous years’ marginal entry.

Mid–Ohio was next on the schedule and featured Porsche. This event also played host to the first appearance of an HSR guest group, the fifth round of the ThunderSports Cup Series. Two weeks after Mid–Ohio SVRA was called upon to sanction a Historic Stock Car race at Watkins Glen, a support race for the NASCAR Busch Series.

Another alliance of sorts found SVRA at Lime Rock in September. The former Vintage Fall Festival now called the Lime Rock Historic Races was a co–production of SVRA and New England’s venerable Vintage Sports Car Club of America. Then it was straight on to Watkins Glen where Cobras, GT350s and GT40s were highlighted with the gathering enhanced by the presence of Dan Gurney.

Summit Point was followed by SVRA’s season–closer at VIR, the event drawing a solid entry of nearly 300 cars. Longtime Allard enthusiast and current Lister driver John Harden became SVRA’s most recent Driver of the Year. In November cars from SVRA’s Group 4 were invited to HSR’s Brumos Daytona Continental Historic Races as a guest group.

SVRA members were again invited to join HSR at the 2002 Sebring 12–Hour which was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. SVRA’s 2002 schedule was primarily the same as last season’s with the exception of the Lime Rock Historic Races that would now be sanctioned by Steve Earle’s General Racing.

Following Savannah and the frigid climate encountered at Road America, Mid–Ohio featured Triumph, highlighted by the attendence of eight cars from England that included three TR8s. With Pocono no longer on the schedule, Watkins Glen was next on 2002’s agenda. Because of the village’s enthusiastic support in the form of Friday’s Grand Prix Festival on its downtown steets, Watkins Glen is considered by many to be SVRA’s finest event. However, one serious drawback of a huge entry is the potential for a spate of on–track incidents. Unfortunately this potential was realized in 2002 with sevral race groups running more laps under the yellow than green. On Saturday afternoon there was a bizarre occurrence involving a novice driver’s Porsche 911 running into the back of an ambulance that was stationary at the scene of a prior incident.

The next event offered a change of pace at the smaller gathering at Summit Point’s Blue–Gray Challenge. VIR again hosted the season finale where formula cars were featured and an elated Ross Bremer was named Driver of the Year.

And thus concluded the third year under the HSR/SVRA alliance. The feared wholesale changes had largely failed to materialize with the increasing number of guest HSR group appearances the most pronounced outward effect of the alliance. As SVRA approached its 25th anniversary, its flavor and content were changing and the front office was more focused on business, a transition already underway before the intervention of HSR. The relative carefree days of the early 1980s were bygone memories. For the good or bad, vintage racing had grown up..... Art Eastman

Next week, Part 14: “Homestretch”