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PART 6
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SERIES CHAPTERS
SVRA News

Based on its past accomplishments, SVRA entered the 1987 season confident of another great year. Beginning with a drivers’ school at Roebling Road in February , the year’s first full event at Moroso the following month drew a record 142 cars. It was at this event Robert Fergus dialed–in his Lotus 15 and marked the beginning of more than a decade of close competition with Brian MacEachern’s Lotus 11 Le Mans at the front of Group Four.

At Sebring the big news was the reconfiguration of the circuit. Its length reduced by more than a mile to 4.11 miles, the new layout eliminated a large portion of the old circuit’s rough concrete runways and foreboding concrete walls now lined a new turn one. While the FAA was pleased to regain the use of the airport runways, the more seasoned SVRA competitors openly lamented the loss of the old Sebring.

Mid–Ohio’s event, now called the Chase Bank Vintage Grand Prix reflecting a change of sponsorship, was huge, the entry ballooning from the previous year’s 200 to an impressive 280 cars for 1987. This event had rapidly become the crown jewel of SVRA’s schedule, and with joint promotion from the track, would retain this distinction for years to come. As testament to the event’s growing popularity, Kruse held an auction during the weekend.

Frank Nichols was back for his fourth consecutive visit to Mid–Ohio, obviously enamored by the adoration shown by his U.S. Elva fans. The Formula Juniors were out in number as Mid–Ohio was the first stop on Monoposto Register’s new nine–race schedule, a series that would conclude at SVRA’s Road Atlanta event in November. This was the first organized group of vintage racers to self–police their own cars for period authenticity and proper preparation.

On the social side, Mid–Ohio was the scene of a North–South Cookoff with Susan Wright in charge of the southern effort and Charlie Shields her northern counterpart. Complete with several women gracing the proceedings dressed as southern belles, this culinary competition would eventually find a home as a regular feature of SVRA’s Summit Point event. This form of competition actually began years before at Sebring and has since been a popular feature at selected SVRA races.

In August SVRA held its inaugural event at Summit Point and almost immediately decided to move next year’s date into September to avoid the wilting summer heat. Summit Point was the first event for Bob Williams who had been recruited by Ralph Whaley to assist with tech inspection. Williams’ internship was short–lived as he would stand–in as Chief of Tech for an absent Whaley the following month at Watkins Glen.

Watkins Glen drew 250 cars, a new record for this event, placing the 1987 Serengeti Drivers Cup second only to Mid–Ohio in size. The major point of interest at Watkins Glen was the running of SVRA’s first enduro. Persuasively suggested by SVRA sponsor Peter Livanos, the two-hour Aston Martin Challenge was for sports, GT and FIA cars with two mandatory 10–minute pit stops, each with a driver change. Forty cars took the green and two hours later it was Dan Dubrovich’s McLaren M1B with co–driver Bob Akin taking the checker.

It was also at Watkins Glen that SVRA’s Board of Governors dealt with its most serious challenge to date. Following private conversations between Ford Heacock and Steve Earle, a proposal of a merger of SVRA and HMSA was presented to the Board for its consideration. SVRA was now solidly established and with its membership at 1500 and growing, the Board saw no reason to compromise independence and rejected the proposal.

Road Atlanta was the third 1987 race to exceed 200 cars with 225 attending SVRA’s penultimate event of the season. Then it was on to Bahamas where 107 cars participated in the club’s second Grand Bahama Vintage Grand Prix. Highlights included a Formula Vee reunion organized by Dewey Dellinger, founder and publisher of Victory Lane magazine. At the final evening’s banquet Jim Williams was presented SVRA’s Driver of the Year award, Richard Kraus won the Prime Minister’s Cup and the Drivers’ Fund was distributed to 38 drivers, each receiving a plague and a check for $558.63.

The banquet also marked the end of an era when Ford Heacock announced the sale of his share of SVRA to sole partner Alex Quattlebaum – the needs of a young family and growing business responsibilities precluding any further involvement with vintage racing. A standing ovation followed the announcement as a demonstration of unanimous appreciation for Heacock’s major role in taking SVRA from concept to reality and beyond by building America’s largest and most influential vintage racing organization. SVRA's future was now in the hands of others......Art Eastman

Next week, Part 7: “Onward & Upward”

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