Building on a successful 1982 season, a new year dawned with the promise of further growth for SVRA. Now in its second year, the Spring Fling attracted 67 cars at Moroso and 100 cars at Sebring, setting new entry records for both events. In an effort to control the ever–increasing expense of vintage racing, SVRA reduced the cost of track rental at Moroso by sharing the weekend with Skip Barber’s driving school, an arrangement that would last through 1986.
The big change at Sebring was learning the revised and shortened course and discarding the bench marks set from previous years' lap times. Sebring also saw distribution of SVRA’s first printed set of rules and regulations, a two–page document addressing safety recommendations and car eligibility. The guest of honor at Sebring in 1983 was Donald Healey, making one of his last U.S. visits before passing away five years later.
Then it was on to Mid–Ohio in June where SVRA enjoyed its first exclusive vintage race at this venue. With 100 cars present and more expected in the near future, the number of race groups was expanded to promote safety and provide a further measure of performance parity. Brian Redman, now a keen vintage racing enthusiast, conducted SVRA’s first drivers’ school. The weekend's most scintillating contest was in the weekend’s final race with Redman in Don Marsh’s Porsche 908 emerging victorious in a closely fought battle with Steve Cohen’s Porsche 907 and Dick Leppla’s Can–Am McLaren M8F.
Ending the season a month earlier but in the same fashion as the year before, SVRA drew more than 120 cars to its September Road Atlanta event. In order to provide an opportunity for those who wanted to enjoy their cars at speed without the pressures of the more competitive race groups, an exhibition group was created. Formalizing what began at Mid–Ohio, there was now seven groups to better serve SVRA’s growing membership.
SVRA’s fourth full season began by breaking the 100–car mark at Moroso for the first time. The event’s Grand Marshal was “Gentleman Jim” Kimberly, a well–heeled sportsman who is remembered in this circle for his first–class Ferrari race cars during the 1950s. The star car at Moroso was appropriately a Ferrari, an awesome 4.9–liter 410 Sport owned and driven by Don Walker. Sebring completed the 1984 Spring Fling with another 100–car entry.
The main show at June’s Mid–Ohio event was the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Formula Junior. Officially titled “The Summer Meeting,” the impressive gathering of Formula Juniors was significantly enhanced by the presence of John Cooper and Frank Nichols, the father of Elva. It should also be mentioned that Mid–Ohio is the home track of Jim Jeager, another important early sponsor of SVRA with his Cincinnati–based Microwave’s Escort brand.
In September SVRA broke new ground by staging a vintage race at Watkins Glen. Called “The Timespell Grand Prix” after a local tourist attraction, the modest 47–car entry shared the track with the featured IMSA race. The best race of the weekend was the odd–coupled and expertly driven duel between Joel Finn’s Cooper T51 F1 and Peter Sach’s Ferrari GTO.
The season–closer at Road Atlanta set yet another record with 160 cars. SVRA’s new General Manger Roger Cope made his trackside debut in a Renault R8 Gordini and promptly engaged Andre Garnier’s Deutsch–Bonnet in a battle of French–blue backmarkers, the first of several such epic contests. Cope and Garnier were racing in what James “Judge” Parker would develop into the “small-bore” group in 1985 that would eventually define Group One.
The inaugural presentation of the Driver of the Year award also took place at Road Atlanta in 1984 as Porsche enthusiast and collector Miles Collier was chosen as the first recipient of SVRA’s most prestigious accolade. A Drivers’ Fund created by the monetary contributions from companies and individuals was equally distributed among those drivers who had participated in a minimum of five SVRA events without incident......Art Eastman
Next week, Part 4: “Name Change & Legends.”