Thursday
Jul152010

2010 Mid-Ohio Vintage Grand Prix

Click image to see Chris’s gallery from the event.Nearly 200 vintage race cars of all makes, models, shapes and sizes descended en-masse this June on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.  The weekend schedule overflowed with on-track action.  In addition to the SVRA’s standard menu of group races, there were several enduros on the schedule - the Buckeye 100 for slower cars, and the Jim Trueman 100 for the faster machines.  The weekend also included the Small-Bore Enduro presented by Classic Motorsports Magazine while peaking Sunday afternoon with the Datsun/Nissan Feature race. Legendary BRE/Datsun racer John Morton was on hand to serve as Grand Marshall.

Over the course of the last 10 years the paddock of the Vintage GP has undergone a transformation.  Gone are the historically significant Porsche 917s,  Ferrari TestaRossas, ex-F1 racers, and IMSA GTP machines,  replaced by MGs, Triumphs, Alfa Romeos, Datsuns, Porsche 356s and D & C Sports Racers.  Many of which have only recently been converted to race trim - and have no real ‘vintage’ race history to speak of.  Also this year there were a few replicas on track running next to the real thing, which in my opinion diminishes the event a little.  Despite these few imposters there were still quite a few real gems scattered about the paddock.

Mid-Ohio Vintage GP regulars will recognize John Higgins 1966 Porsche 910.  This year he also brought along his 1986 Fabcar-Porsche GTP-L - which failed to see any track time - and his 1959 Porsche 718 RSK.  The RSK was an evolution of the famous 550 Spyder.  Higginsí RSK, chassis no. 718-007, was one of only two factory-built center-seat RSKs and saw action at Le Mans, Goodwood, Rheims, the Nurburgring, Spa, and the legendary Targa Florio.  Rarely will you see a car this historically significant in the flesh, let alone out on track being driven in anger.  This is exactly what vintage racing is about - it was worth the price of admission alone.

Fortunately the RSK wasn’t the only stunner on hand.  Pat Ryan took to the track in a 1967 Camaro Z28 sporting the familiar Sunoco livery.  The car was formerly campaigned by legendary Team Penske in the Trans-Am series, and was piloted by the late Mark Donohue.  In a race group filled with recently built  ‘vintage’ racecars, the #15 Sunoco Camaro was truly an authentic standout.  Equally impressive was Herb Wetanson’s racing stable which included a ‘51 Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica, a ‘61 Lotus Super 7, and a ‘59 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, which was polished to a mirror finish.  The race groups were filled with Porsches of all different flavors, Triumph Spitfires, TR3s, MGs - including two pristine MG-TDs - and various models of Austin Healey, Alfa Romeo and this years featured marque - Datsun.  The open wheeled ranks included examples from legendary constructors like Lola, Swift, and Brabham.

While the hardware on track was impressive, the infield parking lot had just as many gorgeous vintage machines.  Mid-Ohio traditionally has a British Car Showdown on Saturday for British cars of all makes, models and eras.  Among the standard fare of MGBs, TR4s, Spitfires, and Minis, there are typically a handful of real standouts.  This year was no different with not one, but two mint condition Jaguar XK-120 roadsters, an original-owner completely un-restored 1959 MGA, and a handful of Morgans.  By far the clear standout of the weekend’s concours d’elegance was a very early pre-war MG T-Series.  Stunning.

With all the activity both on and off the track, the Mid-Ohio Vintage Grand Prix provides a little something for everyone.  While it might not boast the car counts or car quality of an event at Goodwood or Monterey, there are certainly  enough historically important machines on hand to justify the price of admission.  If you love modern sports car racing, I’d urge you to check out your nearest vintage event.  You wont be disappointed.

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