Title Image Map Area For September8th.com
PART 4
PAGE
1234


SERIES CHAPTERS
SVRA News

The 1985 season began with SVRA announcing a ban on Can–Am cars for their Sebring event. Although the primary reasoning behind this decision was sound by attempting to provide a performance safety margin in Sebring's ever–growing Historic Group, the general membership vociferously protested in number. SVRA recanted and the uprising was quelled.

Other issues addressed at this time included the banning of slicks in favor of treaded tires for cars such as the larger plastic Porsches and Can–Am sports racers. Henry Payne was assigned to research and implement this unsavory task, however, the eligibility list was soon expanded to include more cars originally fitted with slicks and this issue became moot. The production–based sports cars (today’s Group Six) began to receive closer scrutiny in an effort to legitimize the vast array of engine and chassis modifications being made to Corvettes, GT350s, Porsche 911s and the like; a difficult process that continues to the present day.

As now traditional, Part 1 of the Spring Fling began at Moroso where 126 cars reset the entry record for this event. A similar number of cars arrived at Sebring the following week and again the previous record was broken. A rare treat for everyone at Sebring was the appearance of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp along with the Chaparral 2, the first public outing for this car since its 1965 Sebring victory.

Roger Cope considers his role in procuring the Chaparral and its original drivers the single most gratifying accomplishment during his stint as SVRA’s General Manager. A significant enhancement of the occasion was the presence of Robert Williams’ Cunningham C–4R, the first all–America winning effort at Sebring’s 1953 12–hour race – discounting Crosley’s handicap–indexed win in Sebring’s first race, the 1950 Sam Collier Memorial 6–Hour Grand Prix of Endurance. Nearly lost in the limelight surrounding the Chaparral was John Gordon Benett’s reunion with Jim Rogers’ Maserati A6GCS, a car Benett had raced in the mid–1950s.

With SVRA’s membership and registration functions located in Sebring and the main office in Lakeland, a decision was made to consolidate the operations under one roof. In late–May SVRA moved into its new Lakeland office.

Then it was on to Mid–Ohio in June and another record with 150 cars. Frank Nichols returned for the second straight year and was the center of attention for an impressive gathering of Elva cars and enthusiasts thanks to the organizational efforts of Lee Brenneison. After Mid–Ohio it was decided the time had arrived to change SVRA’s name from “Southeast” to “Sportscar” Vintage Racing Association to replace the confining regional aspect of an organization that was clearly on the move.

In September SVRA returned to Watkins Glen, this time for an exclusive vintage racing weekend instead of playing second fiddle to a professional race. This was a full three–day affair, a new schedule adopted for all independent SVRA events.

One of the more important happenings at Watkins Glen was the establishment of the Collier Vintage Cup by vintage racing enthusiast Miles Collier. This race is exclusively for MGs and serves as a tribute to his father Miles and his uncle Sam Collier who died in an accident while racing Briggs Cunningham’s Ferrari at Watkins Glen in 1950. This special race also revives a similar race run at Watkins Glen during the 1950s. The inaugural winner of the Collier Vintage Cup, which is determined by several factors, was Bob Colaizzi whose on–track prowess in his TD is but one of those factors.

Syd Silverman and friends held another Allard reunion to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Erwin Goldschmidt’s win at the 1950 Watkins Glen International Grand Prix with an Allard J2. The 14–car gathering was further validated by the presence of Alan Tiley and Cyril Wick, two original Allard alumni making the trip from England for the occasion.

Despite the Allards and MGs, the car that stole the show at Watkins Glen was Joel Finn’s incredible 1939 Grand Prix Mercedes–Benz W154/M163. The car was making its first public appearance following an expert and painstaking restoration by John Rogers. Although remaining silent during the weekend, it would soon speak at Road Atlanta.

Before ending the season at Road Atlanta, SVRA was invited to stage an on-track demonstration of historic cars at the inaugural Columbus Ford Dealers 500 in October, an IMSA street race in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The stars of the show were the Porsche 917s of Collier and Sutterfield although the Ford dealers’ favorite cars were most likely the pair of GT40s.

November at Road Atlanta signaled the close of another season of growth for SVRA. Ending the year in style, Aston Martin aficionado Peter Livanos had several cars transported to Road Atlanta and to make the occasion truly noteworthy, reunited the 1959 Le Mans–winning team manager John Wyer with his drivers, Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby. Saturday evening’s awards banquet featured a hugely entertaining tale–telling session at the expense of the honored trio by Brian Redman who drove GT40s and 917s for Wyer. This would not be the last significant contribution to vintage racing by Livanos.

Redman's roasting of his former boss was a hard act to follow, but the show went on with the presentation of the year–end awards. Chief among these was the presentation of the Driver of the Year award to Robert Fergus, the only person to have competed in every SVRA race since its inception.

The final treat for 1985 was Joel Finn’s Grand Prix Mercedes–Benz. Those who were disappointed by not seeing (and hearing) the car run at Watkins Glen were more than rewarded at Road Atlanta. A large crowd gathered around the car to witness Finn and Rogers conduct the nearly two–hour warm–up drill. When the 3–liter, V12, 4 OHC, 4 VPC, two–stage supercharged 500 hp engine burst into life it was truly a vintage racing experience of the first magnitude......Art Eastman

Next week, Part 5: “Grand Bahama”

TOP of PAGE