Report and photos by Marshall Autry
Vintage racing returned to the Pacific Northwest over the weekend of May 14 -15, 2011, with the SOVREN Spring Sprints at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. Bright sunshine and clear skies greeted over 120 racers for the 2011 season opener. Along with the regular run groups, the weekend featured the Racecraft Touring Car Cup, a special race for the under 2-liter cars and the odd Porsche 911.
The morning was dedicated to practice – it’s been a few months, need to see if they’ve moved any of the corners- qualifying – good time to see if anybody’s gotten better with age, or maybe it’s the new motor they put in over the winter, and wandering the pits, catching up with friends and competitors.
Racing started in earnest after the lunch break with the Formula Cars, Sports Racers, and Exhibition Cars of Group 4. A special touch was the flag salute by the corner workers during the pace lap. SOVREN lost a number of racers and workers during 2010 and this was a wonderful way to honor their memory. Once the green flag dropped, Miles Jackson in his 1975 Chevron B29 (#39) was the fastest of the bunch, followed by the 1973 Brabham BT40 (#40) of Kevin Roggenbuck, and the 1964 Burnett MkII Can-Am (#64) car of Merrill Faulk (a car with significant local history – designed and built by Seattle racer Stan Burnett). The 1967 Porsche 910 (#30) of Thor Johnson turned some quick laps, and the rare 1968 F-5000 Crossle 15F (#26) of Tim Osborne was fast as well. The Formula Fords run in this group, and were well represented by the 1970 Titan Mk 6B (#80) of Bob Posner and the 1970 Caldwell D-9 (#78) of Charlie Lyford. An early accident led to a number of laps behind the pace car while the track workers removed the damaged race cars.
The Racecraft Touring Car Cup was up next, and the racing was close. The 1967 Datsun Bluebird (#52) of Jim Froula finished first, but had to work hard for the victory. The 1967 BMW 2002 (#88) of Jim Murray and the 1968 BMW 2002 (#34) – a true ex-Trans-Am veteran – of Jeff Gerken were right there at the end. The Porsche 911’s of Jim Loveall (#84), Walt Cox (#81), and Eric Smith (#65), had an exciting race as well – with Smith taking home the honors in this group.
The Big Bore cars of Group 3 were up next, and the 1965 AC Cobra (#04) of John McKenna had his hands full with the 1963 Corvette of Dave Edelstein (#72) and Bruce Leven’s 1967 Corvette (#86). The 1965 Falcon (#24) of Randy Dunphy and the 1969 Mustang of Tom Cantrell (#23) represented the Fords well, as did the 1966 GT40 (#17) of Doug Kirk. In a preview of the featured marquee for the July 4 weekend Historics, the 1964 Jaguar E-type (#38) of Gunter Pichler and the 1969 XKE (#56) of Mark Adams ran strong, too.
The weather was starting to change a bit – clouds beginning to gather – as the Vintage Sports Cars / Historic Small Bores and the Formula V’s took to the track. The split start gave us two groups of tight racing, with the V’s going off second. In the first group, the 1954 Victress (#42) of Jack Goffette pulling out to a quick lead, with the 1953 Porsche-Copper (#55) of Cam Healy close behind. Walt Cox – 1957 Lotus XI (#102) and Thor Johnson’s 1959 Lotus 17 (#99) had a nice battle, and it was great to see some new race cars join the group like Tom Nuxoll’s re-bodied 1961 Austin Healey Sprite (#65), and Dan Vargus with a sharp 1957 Corvette ( #03). The Formula V’s put on their usual great show, with tight racing all through the group. Fastest of the V’s was Brian Westmoreland in his 1965 Formcar (# 64), with the Zink’s of Jerry Hynes (#85) and Dan Abercrombie (#48) close behind.
Last group of the day was Group 2 – the Historic Small Bore cars. Greg Campbell in his 1964 Porsche 356C (# 141), but the 1961 Porsche S90 (#91) of Art Conner was first to the finish line. The 1963 Elva Courier (#58) of Gary Silcox was quick, as was Will Hart’s 1965 MGB (#41). There were new cars in this group as well, with the 1967 Lotus Europa (#49) of Greg Heacock, and the 1969 Alfa Romeo of Arash Nadershahi (#393) showing off its Gulf Oil colors.
Unfortunately, that was all the racing for the weekend. The clouds that had started arriving in mid afternoon, showed up in full force in the early evening. They proceeded to drop close to two inches of rain over the next few hours (a new record amount for a 24 hour period), leaving the track too wet for safe competition. Despite the best efforts of SOVREN and the track crew, the standing water and runoff flowing across the track forced the cancellation of Sunday’s racing.
Next up in the Pacific Northwest, everybody is heading east of the mountains to the newly reconfigured road course at Spokane County Raceway. SOVREN is the sanctioning group for the Spokane Festival of Speed, and a large turnout is expected for the first of what should become a great annual event. Following that, it’s across the border to Canada for the VRCBC (Vintage Racing Club of British Columbia) Historic Motor Races. Now if we can just get the weather to cooperate….
For more information, visit www.sovren.org.
SOVREN Spring Sprints 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marshall Autry]