SVRA: Mid-Ohio Rewind
The skies were clear and the SVRA racing stars shined brightly at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Grand Prix this past weekend. Veterans from professional racing and the automotive world joined perennial front-runners of vintage racing and all delivered. Among the pros were 1982 Le Mans 24 GTO class winner Doc Bundy, Indianapolis 500 veteran Dennis Firestone and Bob Leitzinger, the 1989 IMSA GTU champion. TV personality and “Car Coach” Lauren Fix was also in the thick of the competition. She and her husband, Trans Am star Paul Fix, shared their 2000 Jaguar XKR he drove to the 2013 SVRA Group 11 national championship at COTA. Together they finished fifth in the Sunday 90-minute historic GT-GTP enduro.
Among the top vintage racers were Cobra driver Andre Ahrle, last weekend’s “Indy Legends” Pro-Am winner with co-driver Robby Unser, and Peter Klutt, who won the same race two years ago with Al Unser Jr. Klutt is also the host of the Velocity channel TV show “Legendary Motor Car.” He and his 1969 Corvette bested Curt Vogt in his 1970 Mustang Boss 302 in Saturday’s Group 6 feature. Unfortunately, he lost a clutch in the process and was on the transporter headed home by Sunday morning.
Klutt’s departure opened the door for Ahrle, whose Cobra is prepared by the TV host’s Legendary Motor Car garage, in Sunday’s Group 6 sprint race. Again it was Vogt who provided the stiffest competition, and again he ended up second best, less than a second behind Ahrle in some pretty outstanding and clean racing. Vogt is also an “Indy Legends” Pro-Am veteran, finishing third at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Max Papis in 2015.
Vogt did have his way with Friday’s Shelby American contest, the feature race of that day. He led start-to-finish with fellow Mustang driver Scott Hackenson and Ahrle trailing.
Mustangs and Cobras were throughout the grounds as the Shelby American Automobile Convention (SAAC) held their annual gathering on Friday and Saturday. In addition to the Friday feature race, Mustangs and Cobras claimed the Mid-Ohio road course during the noon hour with Mustang Hall of Famer Steve Saleen leading some hot laps.
Doc Bundy was the clear Group 5 favorite headed into the weekend and appeared to have everything under control when he qualified his bright blue Regogo Racing Lotus 23B on the pole with a three-second advantage. That dominance disappeared in Saturday’s race as Graham Adelman in his Apex Vintage-prepared 1962 Lotus 23B refused to let Bundy shake him off. The two gapped the rest of the field while locked in a fierce nose-to-tail battle with the Le Mans veteran leading almost the entire distance until Adelman nipped him at the flag in a dramatic upset.
Bundy and Adelman were back for more of the same intensity on Sunday. Again they pulled away from the other racers and again they ran virtually on top of each other. Bundy held on this time, leading start to finish.
Joey Selmants, another top vintage racer – and at 23, one of the youngest – was the man to beat among a stout field of 24 Sports 2000 racers in Group 7. The recent Ohio State University graduate inevitably sets the pace when he goes racing with the Sports 2000 enthusiasts, and this weekend was no exception. He won the Sports 2000 races on both Saturday and Sunday.
Bruce Hamilton, one of the top SVRA open wheel racers, was at his winning ways again, leading start to finish in Saturday’s Group 2 contest in his 1970 Brabham BT-36. Another dominant force was Mark Sandridge, who swept all three International GT series contests of the weekend as the overall winner in his 2015 Porsche GT3. Two were sprint races and the third an 80-minute enduro where Sandridge split driving duties with Joe Varde.
Among the other former professional racers, Bob Leitzinger and Dennis Firestone gave a good accounting of their racing skills. Firestone, who won the 1979 USAC Mini-Indy Series championship, drove his 1977 Crossle Formula Ford to a podium perch with a third place in Sunday morning’s vintage/classic 60-minute enduro. Meanwhile, Leitzinger brought his 1965 Lotus Elan 26R home second on Saturday and was again the runner-up on Sunday in the Group 8 races.
Article & Photos by: Mark Dill
Published: June 27, 2016