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VRG PVGP Historic Races 2007
at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex
2007 VRG PVGP Historic Races

As soon as we came up the drive, we were greeted by the smiles and handshakes of friends and acquaintances. Familiar smells wafted in the air, the sun shone brightly as everyone were involved/playing/doing some activity. No, this was not our 4th of July picnic, but the BeaveRun racetrack outside of Pittsburgh. It was a wonderful weekend, where the weather cooperated the entire time and everyone had a smile to offer. Special thanks need to go to the people who spend all the time and energy to make sure we can all get out and play, both on the VRG and PVGP staff. As usual, friendships and memories were forged hand in hand.

The lunch breaks, usually a well deserved downtime for the drivers and many times scouting expeditions for crew to find needed parts from fellow racers, were anything but quiet as cars took to the track for charity laps. Almost every car not receiving urgent care made it out to the grid to delight spectators with the experience of seeing the track from the front seat. Robert Andersson’s Cobra was a crowd favorite and took the honor of raising the most money from the rides.

The Spridget–Powered reunion race on Sunday brought plenty of British noise to the track. Paul Bova in his green Turner MK1 started at the front, and only gave it up towards the end to Derek Chima who charged his red Midget from a mid–pack start to take the checkered in the end.

The Group 5 race offered the spectators a very eclectic group of cars to watch. From Bill Kushner’s beautifully prepared white Volvo Amazon to the deep blue Ford Pinto of John Ziegler to the Porsche 914 of Michael Dube the group offered excitement from the front row to the back row.

The cars of Group 1 put on an exciting show, with the top eight cars turning in best times within 2 seconds of each other during the Sunday race. At the end, however, the Lynx B proved to be the strongest of the bunch. The top three spots were all Lynx B’s with Gordon Drysdale, Mike Kitzmiller, and Frank Newton taking the top honors respectively. The Group 6 race brought similarly close results, with Tom Grudovich taking top honors in his Elva Mk7.

Group 3 filled the track with beautiful and noteworthy machines. The wonderful Ginetta G15 of John Sambrook taking the checkered in front of Les Roub’s Porsche 356A followed by John Faulkner’s MGA. Sharing the track were Len Schrader’s bright yellow Saab 96 with body work that would make a Formula 1 car jealous, Dan Leonard’s exceptional Speedwell GT, and Hervey Park’s blue/silver Elva Courier Mk1. Always the crowd pleaser, the Group 2 race did not disappoint with the roaring V8s. Tivvy Shenton in his Jaguar XK140 put on a valiant effort as he was surrounded by bigger, louder engines. While yellow flags brought the race to parade lap speeds for several laps, the last few laps saw a good battle between Hal MacCarty’s race winning Shelby GT350, Robert Andersson’s 427 Cobra and Frank Grimaldi’s Camaro Z–28, who finished in this order.

Almost as enjoyable as the race days, was the Saturday night luau dinner. Everyone was in great spirits, and many almost walked away blind after the sea of colors from everyone’s Hawaii shirts. The drink was good, the food great, and the company the best. Nothing reminds us more clearly as to why we all congregate at the track countless weekends than seeing those that make it all worth it......Ted Andersson

BeaveRun Formula Vees

Part of the two weeks of traditional Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix festivities that range from black tie receptions to a downtown concours to celebrity appearances in and around Pittsburgh, the 4th Annual PVGP Historic Races organized and directed by VRG allow more modern cars to compete on the BeaveRun racing circuit the weekend before the famous Schenley Park street race. Both races benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. Once again this year, both VSCDA and VDCA designated the Historics as part of their respective 2007 championship points series.

The first Vintage all–Vee Series was started in 1999 as an outgrowth of the Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association (VSCDA). A small group of enthusiastic Vee racers in the upper Midwest had the suspicion that there were lots of old, venerable Formula Vees sitting silent and gathering dust in various garages and barns throughout the Midwest. To generate enthusiasm among drivers who owned Vees, and those who were interested in them, and to get those Vees back out on the racing circuit, long time Vintage Formula Vee competitor and VSCDA Board member Phil Cull inaugurated an “all Vintage Vee” series at several VSCDA events in 1999. The success of that inaugural year led to an enhanced four–race schedule in 2000.

Over the six years since then, the average turnout of Vintage Vees at VSCDA events has increased from five or six, to twenty or thirty, and sometimes more. As more and more “retired” Vees have found their way onto the track, more and more experienced drivers and drivers completely new to vintage racing have discovered just how much fun these little formula cars can be––and just how challenging. Since the cars are prepared to a narrowly proscribed formula, first established in the early 1960’s, and must meet the Monoposto requirements for periodcorrect restoration, the emphasis is not so much on engine or car prep advantage, although, as in all racing, that is important. The Vees must run 1200cc Volkswagen engines, VW generators and fan belts, treaded racing tires and stock VW front suspensions. This formula puts the edge in driving skill and strategy. Far from flashy, the class has always seemed to attract the “thinking man:” engineers, inventors, scientists, mechanics.

The class is rapidly gaining popularity in the Southeast too as the Vintage Drivers Club of America [VDCA] has established its own Vintage Vee Championship Series named in honor of Grant Reynolds, long time SCCA Vee driver and official in the DC Region. Eight Vees ran at VDCA’s April race at VIR. Not yet generating enough numbers to deserve their own group, they run with the small bore cars, usually with a split start at the green flag. Many Vee drivers belong to both clubs, and BeaveRun is on the VDCA schedule as well.

This July the BeaveRun Historics attracted Vintage Vee drivers from throughout the Midwest, Northeast, Mid– Atlantic and Southeast. Coming to the event to test their driving skills against drivers they get to race only rarely, this year they numbered fourteen and made up the overwhelming majority of Group 1. These hot shoes provided exciting racing all weekend. No groups out shine the Vees for really close racing, tight drafting, and multiple breathtaking passes, and this hammer–and–tong racing occurs throughout the field, not just at the front of the pack.

Three drivers threatened to dominate the racing for the weekend, finishing 1,2,3, in Saturday morning’s Sprint race. Garrett Van Camp, former SCCA National Vee Champion from Detroit, drives the same Lynx today he drove to the championships in the ’70’s. Mike Jackson out of south Florida pilots Harvey Templeton’s revolutionary Shadowfax, the first Formula Vee to pioneer zero–roll suspension in 1969. Frank Newton, also from Michigan, drives a Lynx he meticulously restored himself a few years ago as well as a Formula Ford. Unfortunately, an incident in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying race put Van Camp out of contention for mechanical reasons, and forced Jackson and Newton to start toward the back of the grid for Sunday’s Feature race. The incident threw open the field and enabled Gordon Drysdale out of Florida to capture Sunday’s pole, followed closely by Mike Kitzmiller, Ricky Del Rosario and Jeff Janus, all VSCDA regulars. Meanwhile, back in the pack, Paul Meis, Bob Hann, and John White were enjoying some tight racing of their own.

On Sunday, after making a brilliant start, Gordon Drysdale led all 15 laps of the Feature Race. No one could get near him. Jackson, who was forced to start ninth, had managed to claw his way through traffic to third place by Lap three, followed by Newton who had started tenth. Tightly contesting the second place spot, Mike Kitzmiller of Ohio put on a thrilling show holding them both off. Jackson put himself out of contention in lap 9 when his brakes failed and he steered off track to avoid contact. Kitzmiller finished second behind Drysdale, with Newton taking third place. Ricky Del Rosario took a close fourth, Jeff Janus, a very consistent fifth, and Eric Copppock, sixth. Paul Meis, after battling mechanical problems all day Saturday, bested both John White and Bob Hann. As the winners of Group 1, Drysdale, Kitzmiller and Newton were the first to be presented with trophies and Crown Royale.

There are still two races to go in VSCDA’s Vintage Vee Series for 2007: Grattan (Grand Rapids, MI) in August and Mid–Ohio in October. Information about the series and can be found at the VSCDA website: www.vintagevees.com . Three races also remain in VDCA’s schedule for its Vee championship: Roebling Road (GA) in Sept., Moroso (FL) in November, and Roebling Road again in December. Information about their events can be found at VDCA’s website: vintagedrive.com.

Coming up in 2008, VDCA is already a key organizer of the Formula Vee Birthday Party, a race which will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the formation of the class. The event will be held at Roebling Road the first weekend of April, 2008. This 3–day weekend will be strictly for VW powered race cars and will also include race groups for current FVs, non–Monoposoto–compliant FVs, VW powered sports racers, and more. In addition, a Noble FV engine will be given away to some lucky entrant –– no raffle tickets to buy! Monoposto–compliant FV cars from throughout the nation will enjoy a spectacular racing opportunity.

And, of course, everyone is looking forward to coming back next year to the VRG organized PVGP Historics at BeaveRun for another showdown......Sandy Jackson, VDCA