SVRA On Track For Revival

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Sonoma CA, May 30-31, 2015 - Of all the breeds of car loving human beings, vintage car racers might just have it all over the rest. Old race cars on tracks are the polar opposite of Concours trailer queens – but crazily near as perfect. To own one of these beast of former glory, you need to know a lot more than about which wax to suggest for the help and which hat to wear to the parade.

Vintage Race Car tune-up at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

The vintage part of vintage racing provides for an extreme range of craft and personalities that pilot them. If you want the ultra-rare chance to race your car, you’d better know how to turn a wrench, set up multiple carbies and get your gal to the starting lane in time.

Vintage Racing at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

Oh – don’t forget this is a paintless passion, as in don’t leave your colors on another upon passing. It takes a steely nerve to take one of a few kind of masterpieces out of the pits and lap around at full throttle. You have to be damn good to be a good sport and driver in the same seat. You can’t really play in the space without one, but it seems everyone leaves their egos at home. Weekends at the track are aggressive fun with friends and families. 

1976 Porsche 935 K3 historic race car at Sonoma Raceway

1976 Porsche 935 K3

There are not many far flung places to take your vintage racing mettle. In California, the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival swarms Sonoma Raceway each year with hundreds of vintage craft plying the 2.5-mile road course curves. Events like this have survived because of the perseverance and dedication of small groups or individuals like Steve Earle. For the first time, Sonoma Raceway has partnered with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) – a long standing organization in vintage racing and the only one with a national presence.

Vintage Racing at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

The SVRA has added Sonoma to the big old hitter list of tracks such as Watkins Glen, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The Circuit of the Americas, and Portland International Raceway. President-CEO Tony Parella hopes to bring SVRA up to the prominence of other national car organizations such as NASCAR and NHRA. Well on the way with events, SVRA has also steadily improved its media output. Pam Shatraw is the editor of Vintage Racing Quarterly – a well-produced assembly of great stories and long lens photos. We’ve heard there may be a vintage racing television show in the works. The initial name value leads to significant sponsorship from the likes of Jaguar (and what better old brand than that?).

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 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2015: Qualifying Races

Given the small community and footprint of vintage racing, not many Americans have been exposed to the phenomenon on mint condition show cars blazing around at top speed. It’s an absolute hoot to see these beauties doing what they were made for – even better to stand within inches away from them back in the pit, row after row. SVRA seems well poised to grow the market with their focused activities and consolidation, piling history onto history in the process.

Next race June 2-5 2016. For more information on SVRA events, visit www.svra.com.

1967 Mercury Cougar

1967 Mercury Cougar

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1959 Witton/Chevrolet Special - Leonard Fredrick Hugh Witton built Canada Class and Formula Juniors of the small bore variety, this special was the only Chevrolet powered roadster Witton built and became his pride and joy. Working in the basement of his house, much racing technology from the “old school” went into the project by using chicken wire and plaster to form the body and chalk lines on the floor for suspension design.

Because Len could not afford a test track, the streets of Montreal were often echoing with the roar of his race cars, which also gave him notoriety. Most of the Witton specials were not front runners; usually due to breakage and lack of horsepower. Very few of the 1950’s specials competed as built into the mid-60’s, being completely out-classed by the mid-engined big budget Lola’s, McLarens, and Chaparrals. In 1999 this car was found deteriorated in a garage south of Montreal. The car is now resident in the U.S., with several years of restoration applied.

1968 Bizzarrini Strada GT

1968 Bizzarrini Strada GT

1970 Boss 302 Mustang Historic Racecar No 78 at Sonoma Raceway

1970 Boss 302 Mustang Historic Racecar No 78

1962 Austin Mini Cooper historic race car no 11 at Sonoma Raceway

 1962 Austin Mini Cooper

Pictured below: 1971 AMC Javelin - 1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am Cars Group; 1960 Kieft Formula Junior; and 1916 Auburn-Sturtevant

by Randy Berg

1971 AMC Javelin - 1966-1972 Historic Trans-Am Cars Group at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2015
1960 Kieft Formula Junior at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2015
1916 Auburn-Sturtevant at Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival 2015

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