SVRA: COTA Rewind - Helmet races

SVRA: COTA Rewind - Helmet races

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

SVRA: COTA Rewind - Helmet races


Above: John DeLane, 1971 Tyrrell Formula 1 racer, drives to a class win.

The gray ceiling that blanketed Circuit of The Americas since Thursday practice began for the SVRA Bell Racing U.S. vintage national championship race meet finally delivered its payload Sunday afternoon. Once the skies let go, the deluge was relentless, canceling the final four events. Even so, eight of 13 races were completed, so there was still plenty of action on the track. Groups 5, 6 and 7 were the events affected by weather. SVRA officials awarded the classy Bell Helmet trophies for the affected run groups to the winners of Saturday’s feature races.

Bell Racing had 22 gold-with-black-trim helmet trophies up for grabs this weekend. The helmets were earmarked for the overall winners of Groups 1 through 11 with additional helmets awarded to class winners in Groups 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8. Two helmets were slated for most of the groups, with the exception of Group 1 with three helmets and Group 6 with four. Helmets were also awarded in the Vintage/Classic Enduro and the Historic GT/GTP Enduro, both 60 minutes in duration.

Sunday’s action was a mix of the predictable with a dash of surprise. The big twist came in Group 2 when 1993 Le Mans 24 champion Geoff Brabham was disqualified after he passed a competitor who was nearly a lap down during a yellow flag caution. Brabham was leading at the time, a continuation of having everything his own way during practice, qualifying and a dominant win in the Saturday Group 2 feature.

All was not lost for his team, however, as Ron Hornig, who owns the two identical 1971 Brabham BT 35 Formula B racecars they were racing, won overall in a field of 31 to pick up a Bell Helmet. Other helmet trophies went to Dan Cowdrey for coming home first among the Formula Ford class in his 1970 Titan Mk6 and Glenn Bilawsky for his PCF Formula Ford class win with a Swift DB-1

Two other drivers who have held the paddock’s attention throughout the weekend, Theo Bean and Boris Said, followed through to earn helmets in Groups 10 and 11. Bean, the 23-year-old with tons of potential and professional aspirations, had an easy time of it, leading the eight-lap Group 11 race from start to finish. His ex-Geoff Brabham 1988 IMSA championship-winning Nissan GTP exhibited raw speed on COTA’s long straightaways and put daylight between him and the field. Bean also won the helmet trophy in Group 11 last year.

Bean’s closest competition this time around was Randy Johnson with his 2007 Pescarolo 01 Le Mans prototype. Patrick Bean, the winner’s younger brother, drove a spirited race in his 1990 Chevrolet Intrepid to recover from a first lap, first-turn spin. He dropped back several positions after that miscue but worked his way back to where he started.

Said, whose professional résumé puts him among the most respected drivers of the past quarter century, was the Group 10 standout throughout the weekend. He set the pace through practice, qualifying and dominated Saturday’s feature race. Sunday was no different as he outpaced the field yet again to earn a helmet trophy with his Joe Huffaker-prepared 1999 Corvette GT4.

The story behind Said’s appearance at the SVRA show at COTA says even more about the man than his victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and several NASCAR races. Pat Lind of Lind Brothers Racing, the owner of the Corvette, purchased the car from Bud Thurston shortly before Bud died of cancer. Huffaker called on his old friend to offer him a chance to drive at COTA. Said, who has raced with SVRA before, was up for the adventure. In a touching move, he autographed his medal and the red SVRA hat reserved for race winners to commemorate the victory to Bud Thurston. The team will present the mementoes to Thurston’s wife this week.

Another standout this weekend was Mark Brannon in Group 9 “Wings and Slicks” open-wheel formula car competition. Brannon wheels a 1997 Lola T97/20 Indy Lights racer and dominated the field as he did on Saturday. The other helmet winner was John Delane, who drove one of the most important cars on the grounds this weekend to an SVRA class win. That car is the 1971 Tyrrell formerly driven by Jackie Stewart and his protégé, Francois Cevert. Delane reports his car was the one Cevert used to record his only Formula 1 victory, the 1971 United States Grand Prix.

Erickson Shirley drove another outstanding and rare car to pick up the sole helmet trophy for his overall Group 4 victory. Shirley’s machine was his eye-catching 1959 Lister Chevrolet Costin. Thor Johnson, profiled Friday on, finished second in his British racing green with yellow trim 1959 Lotus 17.

Sunday’s other helmet winners are as follows:

  • Group 1b: Robert Hoemke Cooper T59 Formula Junior 1; Chrlie Hearn, 1969 Lynx Formula Vee; Nathan Bauldaff, 1969 Beach 5C Formula Vee and John Breidenbach, Lotus 18 Formula Junior.
  • Group 1a: Greg Wold, 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S C Sedan.
  • Group 3: Joseph Colasacco, 1963 Alfa Romeo GTZ and Dave Foreman, 1971 Porsche 914 for D Production class.
  • Group 8: Thomas Grudovich, who won overall with his 1966 Ginetta G4 and Jim Kelleher C Production class with his 1962 Lotus Super Seven.
  • Historic Enduro: Bruce Hamilton/Tonis Kasemets, 2008 Dallara Infiniti.

The Saturday feature races for the classes affected by Sunday’s weather, reported earlier on, were ruled helmet races. These winners were:

  • Group 5: Dan Cowdrey, Lola T70 MkII.
  • Group6: Ed Sevadjian won overall in Group 6 with his 1969 A Produciton Corvette. Class winners for that run group included Curt Vogt, 1970 Mustang Boss 302 and Jack Busch, 1967 Jaguar XKE
  • Group 7: helmet winners were Scot Morton, 1986 Ralt RT4 and Mark Brannon with his 1990 Swift DBS for the Sports 2000 class.
  • Group 12: Frank Beck, 1972 Porsche 914.

Also on Saturday Ed Sevadjian and Tony Parella teamed to win helmet trophies in the 60-minute Vintage Enduro.

Click on the images below for larger images.

{igallery id=558|cid=577|pid=5|type=category|children=0|addlinks=0|tags=|limit=0}