Concluding another successful season, SVRA members traversed to the Peach State and Road Atlanta (RA) for its Season’s Finale, Award Presentations & 30th Anniversary Celebration this past October 14-17. For most, the trip was probably their one last time to enjoy plenty of track time, party a little, and conclude what has been another wonderful year of “Safe, Fair and Fun” SVRA vintage auto racing.
With ideal fall weather bathing the RA Arena, practice and qualifying sessionsfollowed protocol warming the blacktop all day long with the structured array of Optima Battery Sprint series groups. Smartly, several compatible race groups were combined to race together, too. Additionally, changing things a little, the first of two Michael Stot|UBS endurance races concluded Friday’s asphalt action with a wide variety of over 30 racecars (restricted to those wearing fenders) taking the green. No surprise here as Travis Engen’s silvery Audi R8 rocket ship cruised not only to the overall win after the two hours, but led the entire 77 laps in the process. Followed was the driving duo of Ralph Thomas and Bob Woodman in the ex-IMSA Light Championship Argo JM19c, and team Steve Cohen/R.Snowdon wheeling the ’91 Aurora for third. The “hot” time in Road Atlanta continued into the night with a Gala Mexican Fiesta presented by Juan Gonzales of Car Amigo and Mission Foods. Saturday, the blacktop assault continued with qualifying sessions and the second planned prolonged skirmish, the Michael Stott|UBS endurance challenge for open-wheel chariots in the morning. In the lengthy 75-minute shootout, the podium was an exclusive Lola-only party with Mark Brannon, Shelby Mershon and Marc Giroux each piloting the obvious weapon of choice, a 1997 Lola T97/20 racecar.
The afternoon began with what we think is generally some of the best racing over any vintage weekend, always very heated and competitive qualifying races. The combo Groups 1, 3 and 4 were first at bat following lunch, and trailed by another joint effort, Group 5 and 6 gangs playing nice together. Of course, the remainder of Optima Battery sprint contests concluded yet another day.
Once again, another party, this time, the Annual Awards dinner took center stage with a wonderful and entertaining mix of camaraderie, food & spirit, a few “short” (yeah) speeches, and the grand show finale, the award ceremony. As usual, the
dynamic comedic duo of MC Bob Williams and his sidekick, Jack Woehrle brought their “A-game,” choreographing the distribution of various Optima Battery Sprint and Michael Stott|UBS Enduro overall and individual group honors.
Additionally, numerous special accolades were awarded as followed:
Driver of the Year: Dr. Lee Talbot
Most Improved Driver(s): Bill & Todd Treffert
Amateur Mechanic of the Year: Rick Rose
Professional Mechanic of the Year: Cecil Boyd & Apex, Inc.
Bubba Award: Bob Williams and his entire Tech Team
Charlie Gibson Award: SVRA’s own, Peter McLaughlin
Handy Cup: Dennis Olthoff
Vintage Racing Stewardship Award: Jack Woehrle, Carl Jensen and Bob Williams
Several sponsors were recipients of awards of appreciation as well: Bruce Baker from Cool Shirt, Mike Koehler from TrueChoice and Glenn Stephens from Traqmate.
With another sunny Atlanta day in store for Sunday, racing commenced after a full morning of just warm-up sessions and the RA mandatory two-hour quiet time between 10:00am and 12pm. During the engine-free hours, SVRA welcomed everyone to an informal look back at SVRA’s start at RA 30 years ago. SVRA’s previous track photog, Bob Harrington, compiled several binders full of articles, photos and clippings from SVRA’s humble beginnings, while several SVRA members (some still active), Ralph Thomas, Ed Conway, Ralph Whaley and Bill MacEachern spoke of the good ol’ days and fielded questions.
Taking the green, Asa Candler and John Kramer both exploded to the front of the pack, exchanging leads several times, before Asa rode his Swift DB2 across the finish line to victory in the special feature S2000 race. And while the long season continued to further reduce the grids in the closing hours of the long race season, it obviously didn’t seem to diminish the fierce blacktop action throughout the afternoon, producing many memorable moments to keep us warm during the off season, and have us counting the days when “Safe, Fair and Fun” vintage auto racing will return in 2011. Happy 30th Birthday SVRA!