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Encouraged by the growing interest in vintage racing and influenced by continual persuasive conversations with Bob Akin and friends, Ford Heacock held a meeting at the Sebring home of Mark and Jackie Andrews immediately following the 1980 12–hour race. The result of this meeting was the official formation of the Southeast Vintage Racing Association, an appellation that would soon outgrow its geographical implications.

Now officially organized with Ford Heacock as President, Mark Andrews as Chief Stewart, Bruce Clarke as Chief of Tech and Jackie Andrews in charge of membership and registration, SVRA took its show on the road. The first outing under SVRA sanction was at Road Atlanta in September 1980, as a supporting event for a Can–Am race. Seventeen vintage and historic cars attended with Jim Rogers' Ferrari 250TR and Howard Turner’s Lister–Jaguar being a precursor of SVRA’s future Group Four.

SVRA made its first official visit to Sebring in March, 1981 for the Kendall Vintage Grand Prix. It was at this point Alex Quattlebaum, Jr. stepped forward with much needed financial support and became Heacock’s partner in the ownership of SVRA.

Later that spring, a drivers’ school was conducted at Road Atlanta with Walter Hill’s Jaguar XKSS, Don Marsh’s Porsche 910 and Bob Rapp’s Ferrari 512S among the attendees. It was also in 1981 that the first attempt was made to spell out formal classifications for both vintage and historic cars. As previously outlined at Sebring, the cars built and raced through 1960 were classified as Vintage and those from the period 1961–1972 designated Historic.

The 1982 season began with SVRA’s inaugural event at West Palm Beach’s Moroso Motorsports Park the weekend before the now traditional vintage and historic races at Sebring's 12–hour race. Building on the groundwork laid by Gerry Sutterfield four years earlier, the back–to–back Moroso and Sebring vintage races became SVRA’s Spring Fling. Scheduling two consecutive events created an enticing incentive for northern enthusiasts to escape the lingering grasp of winter for Florida’s summer-like weather. The Spring Fling enjoyed immediate success and became a staple of SVRA’s menu for many years.

Although limited to two race groups at Sebring, SVRA began to divide its entry into more groups at Moroso. Cars such as MGs and Sprites were in Group One while Group Two contained formula cars and 1950s sports racers. Shelby GT350s, Cobras, Corvettes, Jaguar E–types and Porsche 904s were assigned Group Three while the faster Ford GT40s and Porsche 908s were in Group Four.

The 1982 Moroso event also saw the inclusion of a tag-team relay race, a variation of the Australian Pursuit where cars are flagged off at intervals determined by previous lap times. This was immensely popular with everybody and, in retrospect, Heacock considers this to be SVRA’s most entertaining on–track activity during his eight–year reign at the helm.

The following weekend at Sebring a record 80 cars were equally divided between Vintage and Historic. Charlie Gibson’s Lister-Corvette bested Bob Akin’s Cooper Monaco to claim Vintage honors while Steve Cohen's Porsche 907 beat Chuck Stoddard's Porsche 917K to the checker in Historic.

Sharing the weekend with the top–billed Can-Am race, 35 cars participated in the Mid-Ohio vintage race. It was at this event that SVRA formed its first Board of Governors with Don Marsh elected as its Chairman and ably assisted by fellow Board members Scott Flanders, Tony Roth and Gerry Sutterfield. Among the Board’s initial items to address were issues of safety and the incorporation of an auto–suspension rule for anyone found responsible for an incident resulting in damage. A Big Brother rookie program was also adopted to ensure the newcomers developed the appropriate vintage spirit along with honing their driving skills. As a grand finale to the weekend’s racing activity everyone reconvened in Dublin where Robert and Barbara Fergus and Don and Jackie Marsh hosted a party at their neighboring race car facilities.

The last event of the season at Road Atlanta in November saw a record entry of more than 120 cars and the first time vintage cars outnumbered historic. Brian Redman made his first SVRA appearance driving a Chevron B8, but the event’s main feature was the gathering of 18 Allards. Organized and hosted by Syd Silverman, E. Dean Butler and John Harden with honored guests Zora Arkus–Duntov and Tom Lush, this was the first of several Allard reunions to follow in the coming years. This event also marked the beginning of Silverman’s long’term financial support of SVRA via sponsorship by Variety and Variety Daily, the entertainment industry’s publication of record founded by his grandfather..... Art Eastman

Next week, Part 3: “Adjustment & Expansion.”