Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame Catcher Johnny Bench to Serve as Grand Marshal
Southlake, TX (February 27, 2020) – Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) announced today that Johnny Bench, a member of Major League Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame, will serve as grand marshal for their Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta Grand Prix weekend, March 26 – 29. Joining him will be a host of auto racing hall-of-fame athletes led by Al Unser, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Ron Hornaday, and Geoff Brabham. The drivers have filed entries for SVRA’s popular Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am at Road Atlanta. The VROC Series has expanded this year to four weekends with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) joining Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and VIRginia International Raceway as host tracks.
“All of us at SVRA are honored to have a sports icon like Johnny Bench join us for our SpeedTour Road Atlanta Grand Prix weekend,” said SVRA President and CEO and majority owner of the Trans Am Company, Tony Parella. “As for hall-of-fame athletes, it’s amazing to walk among so many. Virtually all our professional drivers are members of a hall-of-fame somewhere.”
Bench, who played catcher for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983, was selected as an All-Star player 14 times. He was also named National League Most Valuable Player twice. During his time with the Reds, the team won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series championships.
Unser, a two-time Indy car champion (1990 and 1994) and the winner of 34 Indy car races including the 1992 and ’94 Indianapolis 500s, is a member of both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall-of-Fame and the Motorsports Hall-of-Fame of America. Labonte, the first driver to win both the NASCAR Cup Championship (2000), and the Busch Series Championship (1991), was inducted into the NASCAR Hall-of-Fame this year. He is also a member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. Hornaday is in the NASCAR Hall-of-Fame as well. His 51 race wins ties him with Kyle Busch as the all-time leader in NASCAR Truck series history, a championship he won four times. Geoff Brabham, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in 1993, is a member of both the Motorsports Hall-of-Fame of America and the Australian Hall of Fame. He won that country’s much-revered Bathurst 1000 in 1997.
The Road Atlanta Charity Pro-Am will support Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance to combat-wounded service members, their families, and families of those killed in action. The organization focuses on those involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and their families.
The VROC Charity Pro-Am cars are primarily 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs of SVRA “Group 6” A and B Production. The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers. Amateurs will start the race and be required to drive a maximum of seven laps. In addition to the Pro-Am, the Speed Tour Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta weekend is a festival of other activities, including professional Trans Am by Pirelli series races on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend also presents the Hagerty Insurance “cars & caffeine” car corral, and 300+ vintage racers ranging over 100 years of automotive history racing in SVRA Groups 1 through 12.
Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (“SVRA”) is the premier vintage racing organization in the United States. Founded in 1978, SVRA has grown steadily to 2,500 active members with a database of over 11,000 race cars. It will sanction 14 events in 2020 at some of the finest racing venues in the United States, including: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, Sebring Raceway, Road America, Watkins Glen International, Road Atlanta, Auto Club Speedway, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Portland International Raceway and Virginia International Raceway (VIR). In 2013, SVRA hosted the first U.S. Vintage Racing National Championships at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas—a tradition it continues today. SVRA operates the Vintage Race of Champions (VROC), featuring legendary professional drivers such as Bobby Labonte, Geoff Brabham, Al Unser Jr., and Mike Skinner in a four-race series. Willy T. Ribbs, Davy Jones and Wally Dallenbach Jr. were the VROC class champions in 2019. Further information on SVRA, a complete annual schedule, and entry lists can be found on the SVRA website. Be sure to check our Facebook page and YouTube channel, which currently boast a library of over 300 action-packed event videos, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.