Report and photos by Marshall Autry
Vintage racing returned to the Pacific Northwest over the weekend of May 5-6, 2012. Moved back one week from its normal date (after all, NOBODY races on Mother’s Day), the season opener for the Society Of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts (SOVREN) was held under sunny skies at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington.
Pacific Raceways is a track with a long history – from the USRRC races in the early ’60s, the Trans Am battles later that decade into the ’70s, even a USAC Champ Car race held over a weekend in 1969, Pacific Raceways (nee Seattle International Raceway) has seen its share of world class drivers and cars. Donahue, Revson, Foyt, Andretti, Parnelli Jones – just some of those who have raced on the 2.25 mile, 10-turn natural road course.
The feature group for the 2012 SOVREN Spring Sprints was Group 5 – the Racecraft Touring Car Cup – and they put on the best show of the weekend. The under 2-liter cars – BMW 2002s, Porsche 911s, a Datsun 510 and a Bluebird, and several Alfa Romeos, brought back memories of the Trans Am U2 cars of days gone by. Among the quickest of this group was the 1967 Datsun Bluebird of Jim Froula (#52), the 1968 BMW 2002 of Terry Forland and the Porsches of Mike Reischl (#92 – ‘67 911S) and the ’69 911 (#84) of Jim Loveall.
By car count Group 4 – Formula Cars and Sports Racers – was the largest class with 33 cars registered for the event. Miles Jackson had the field covered in his 1975 Chevron B29, while the 1983 Ralt RT4 of Tim Osborne, the 1967 Titan Mk3 of Mike Jackson,and the 1973 Brabham BT40 of Kevin Roggenbuck all gave chase. The ’65 Porsche 904-06 of Cam Healy and the ’67 Porsche 910 of Thor Johnson upheld the honor of the closed-fendered cars. The 1964 BRP F1 (ex-Innes Ireland) of Kurt DelBene was back out on track as well. The car had a thorough rebuild after a season-ending accident last year.
The 1969 Mustang of Tom Cantrell was one of the fastest in Group 3 – Historic Large Bore – with the 1988 IMSA Beretta of Nick DeVitis sharing time at the front of the field. The ’65 Falcon of Randy Dunphy was quick as usual and the Ford GT40s – Doug Kirk’s blue # 17 and the beautiful new black #2 of Walt Cox ran well (unfortunately, the #2 had to retire from the weekend early with engine related issues. He should be back fairly soon). Also showing well was the 1964 Studebaker Daytona of Jeff Taylor – not a make that you’d expect to see at a vintage race.
In Group 2 – Historic Small Bore – three-times IMSA Light and 24 Hours of Daytona winner Parker Johnstone was a guest driver in the 1967 MG Midget (# 149). He, along with the rest of a diverse field of cars had highly competitive racing all weekend. Greg Campbell (#141) and Art Conner (#91) were the fastest of the Porsche 356s and the aptly named Jeff Quick’s Triumph TR4-A (#51) was near the front of the pack in all the heats. Miles Winbigler in his Lotus 7 America and the ’65 Alfa Romeo Giulia (#18) of Brian Williams was in the mix as well.
Group 1 – Vintage, Formula V, selected Small Bore – is a combined class, with the Vees taking the green second in their now traditional split field start. Up front, the Lotus 17 of Thor Johnson (#99), the Lotus 11 of Walt Cox (#102), and the 1960 Lola Mk1s of Stephen Clark (#84) and Kurt DelBene (#41) were quick, along with the ’57 Devin Triumph of Bill Hart. Denny Akers and Cam Healy were fast in their Porsche-Coopers as well. Fastest among the Vees was the #18 driven by Bruce Hunt, along with Jerry Hynes ’68 Zink. A nice addition to the field was the 1961 BMW 700S of Steve Walker.
Nice weather, a good car count, a minimum of accidents and off track excursions…some cars and drivers were in mid-season form, some were knocking off the rust – but that’s what the first race is all about. Next up is the Spokane Festival of Speed over the weekend of June 2-3, 2012. The inaugural race last year was a big success, and a year to tweak the recently re-opened facility can only make it better.
SOVREN Spring Sprints 2012 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marshall Autry]