For several years SVRA held a pre–season drivers’ school at Savannah’s Roebling Road. In 1991 this became an official vintage race and joined Moroso and Sebring in expanding SVRA’s Spring Fling to three back–to–back weekends.
Before the next event, SVRA’s General Manager Mike Rand was replaced by Frank Rupp who was returning to duty after a managing stint with California’s Palm Springs Vintage Races. Later in the year the SVRA office was moved from Tampa to Charleston, South Carolina, almost an exact repeat of the move four years earlier.
In mid–May SVRA visited Road America for the first time. Taking its title from Paul Zimmermann’s motorsport emporium in Downers Grove, Illinois, the Motorsport Collector Vintage Grand Prix attracted approximately 150 cars. Though subjected to the fickle climate of a typical Wisconsin spring, the event was declared a success and would become an annual fixture on SVRA’s calendar.
Then it was on to Topeka’s Heartland Park to again face the challenge of RMVR members. This time an all–ladies race firmly established the RMVR women as accomplished and competitive drivers in any company. Next, Mid–Ohio’s United Telephone Vintage Grand Prix revealed a change of title sponsor. It was the track’s 30th Anniversary and the entry again topped the 300 mark. Morgan was the featured marque and more than 100 cars were present with an impressive 31 of those prepared to race. A special award was presented to Brian Redman in recognition of his contributions to SVRA and to vintage racing in general.
The following weekend SVRA broke new ground by traveling north for the Canadian–American Vintage Classic at Mosport, organized by SVRA, VARAC (Vintage Auto Racing Association of Canada) and track owner Harvey Hudes. Although it was hoped the occasion would become an annual fixture, the modest turnout did not justify further involvement by SVRA.
Excellent weather greeted SVRA for September’s Watkins Glen Vintage Cup races where a gathering of Formula One cars celebrated the track’s 30th Anniversary of its first F1 race. Though he had failed to win a real F1 race, Brian Redman finally scored a victory with Stephen Yanoshik’s 1975 Surtees TS16.
In October Bill Scott’s Summit Point Raceway hosted the President Cup, a smaller affair but in several ways one of SVRA’s most enjoyable events. A Saturday evening lobster dinner in Scott’s apple orchard and a wacky tractor race separate this event from the mainstream vintage event.
Ferrari was the featured marque with Phil Hill as the Grand Marshall at the Atlanta Vintage Grand Prix. Can–Am cars also shared top billing with a reunion masterminded by one of the original series' most colorful characters, Oscar Kolveleski. The traditional yearend awards were dispensed at Saturday evening’s banquet with David Kopf becoming SVRA’s eighth Driver of the Year and Ann Narde receiving the popular Harry Gaunt Award.
The 1992 season began with the trio of Spring Fling events at Savannah, Moroso and Sebring, this year having a two–week break between Savannah and Moroso. Road America came next followed by the season’s first big event at Mid–Ohio. Aggressively promoted by the track, Mid–Ohio’s vintage race had developed into a major event attracting impressive numbers of spectators. The featured marque for 1992 was Triumph and legions of cars were on hand for the occasion. The all–Triumph race, paced by Bob Tullius and John Kelly in Group 44 TR8s, featured Ralph Thomas’ pair of Vitesse Trans–Am cars and Bill Warner’s Group 44 TR6.
Another record entry was set at Watkins Glen when 362 cars passed through tech. The disappointing turnout of F1 cars for the advertised feature race was offset by the appearance of the late Graham Hill’s wife Bette who served as the event’s Grand Marshall. Syd Silverman hosted a Lister reunion and imported Brian Lister for the occasion. The social highlight of the weekend was Friday evening’s Italian–flavored party at Don and Ann Narde’s warehouse cum auto museum in downtown Watkins Glen.
SVRA completed its season in October with Summit Point and the Atlanta Vintage Grand Prix. Awards were handed out at Atlanta with Harry Gaunt named Driver of the Year who, in turn, presented his own award to J.L. Foster.
Although SVRA enjoyed a good season in 1992, it was also a year that saw its schedule of events stabilize. The previous year’s borderline events had been eliminated and, for the first time in several seasons, there were no new events. While the smaller events such as Savannah and Summit Point provided SVRA members with more track time in a low-key atmosphere, it was the Mid–Ohio and Watkins Glen events that paid the bills. Vintage racing was becoming commercially focused and, with Historic Sportscar Racing beginning to stretch its legs, competitive......Art Eastman
Next week, Part 10: “Fatality”