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SERIES CHAPTERS
SVRA News

Soon after Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s founder and president Ford Heacock’s decision to sell his interest in SVRA to partner Alex Quattlebaum, the office was moved from Lakeland, Florida, to Summerville, South Carolina. In January, 1988, incumbent staff members Joe Pendergast and Susan Wright joined newly appointed President Frank Rupp at the new office. An early SVRA participant with his Toyota 2000GT, Rupp’s most recent involvement in vintage racing had been managing Joe Marchetti’s Chicago Historic Races, a major event held at Road America each July.

Rupp’s first official act as president was representing SVRA at the second conference of vintage racing clubs in Chicago. Moderated by Victory Lane magazine’s founder and publisher Dewey Dellinger and attended by representatives from nearly all of North America’s vintage racing clubs, the most important accomplishment at this conference was the formation of the Vintage Motorsports Council. Although empowered with little more than advisory influence, the VMC was, nevertheless, a major step in establishing a coalition of members with the common goal of developing a consistency of rules and regulations within the burgeoning sport of vintage racing.

As SVRA’s 1988 season unfolded, there appeared little if any change despite the recent transfer of ownership and the installation of a new president. The season began as it had for several years with March’s traditional back–to–back Spring Fling events at West Palm Beach and Sebring. Continuing the momentum of expansion, SVRA traveled to Tennessee in May for its inaugural River City Vintage Grand Prix at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Then it was on to Mid–Ohio in June for SVRA’s Summer Meeting that was officially titled the Chase Bank Vintage Grand Prix. Jaguar was the featured marque, the gathering dedicated to the memory of Andrew Whyte, the leading Jaguar historian and author who had recently passed away. Jaguar aficionado Walter Hill brought several cars and Miles Collier brought the Briggs Cunningham E–type that had finished fourth at Le Mans in 1962 in the hands of Cunningham and Roy Salvadori.

SVRA’s next event was the Heishman Porsche + Audi Vintage Grand Prix at Summit Point and despite the hopes of scheduling it later in the year, it was again held in the heat of August. The Serengeti Drivers Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen followed with Jacky Ickx making a rare stateside appearance. Ickx was paired with Brian Redman in Peter Livanos' Ford GT40 Mk II; a preview of much larger things to come in 1989. Jim Freeman with co–driver Murray Smith won the second running of the Aston Martin–sponsored enduro in Freeman’s Aston Martin–powered Lola T70, one victory of several for this combination. And of historical significance, Miles Collier paced the fourth edition of the resurrected Collier Cup race for MGs in his father’s 1935 MG PA/PB. Incidentally, 1988 was the last year Watkins Glen’s vintage event preceded Lime Rock Park’s Vintage Fall Festival.

Two events remained in SVRA’s 1988 season, October’s Brumos Porsche Vintage Grand Prix at Road Atlanta and an invitational supporting race at Tampa’s IMSA World Series Sports Car Challenge in November. This invitational race was a cooperative effort shared with Classic Automobile Racing Enthusiasts (CARE), a Florida vintage racing group sponsored by the Carteret Savings Bank.

Although the Grand Bahama Vintage Grand Prix had served as the season’s final event the previous two years, SVRA decided to reschedule the week–long marathon of festivities after the holidays. The third SVRA Bahama event was held January 8–15, 1989, making it an early season–opener. Regardless of the calendar, the fancy–dress banquet at the close of the GBVGP was used to disperse the 1988 season’s awards. SVRA’s Driver of the Year award went to Fred Lieb, the fifth member of the elite club.

Two months later SVRA’s traditional season began with its double–header Spring Fling. The highlight at Moroso was the reunion of Stirling Moss with the Briggs Cunningham OSCA he shared with Bill Lloyd to score a stunning upset victory at Sebring in 1954 – the diminutive 1.5–liter sports racer outlasting the big guns of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar and Lancia. It was Moss’ first race on American soil.

After the Moroso–Sebring Spring Fling there was another two–month break in SVRA’s schedule before paying a second visit to Memphis in May. At Mid–Ohio Miles Collier again supplied historically significant machinery, this time in the form of a 1958 Vanwall Formula 1 and a 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa, the first Ferrari to arrive in the United States. The Vanwall brought glory to England by winning the 1958 World Manufacturers’ Championship. Briggs Cunningham imported the Ferrari 166 and this is the car in which Sam Collier (Miles’ uncle) was killed at Watkins Glen in September, 1950.

September’s Watkins Glen event was the scene of an incredible 25th Anniversary celebration of the Ford GT40. Hosted by SVRA and organized by Peter Livanos of Aston Martin Vintage Racing, the Shelby American Automobile Club and Ford itself, an amazing gathering of 42 GT40s made this event a truly momentous occasion. Several people who were instrumental in making the GT40 successful were also present including Bob Bondurant, Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman. Livanos even brought Shelby American’s former team manager Carroll Smith to add another element of period authenticity to the proceedings.

Finally escaping the heat and humidity of August, SVRA’s Summit Point event was run in early October and three weeks later it was on to Road Atlanta for the last large event of the season. The final race of 1989 was a new December event at Moroso called the Winter Fling. Despite the attraction of a low–key event, the Winter Fling failed to draw the expected entry and its days were numbered.....Art Eastman

Next week, Part 8: “Changes”

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