The new Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) featuring legendary drivers from top levels of the sport garnered lots of attention at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta this weekend, but that was icing on a very big cake. Dubbed “Speed Tour” by Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and Trans Am owner Tony Parella, the paddock was packed with an array of over 200 race cars offering a diversity of design and engine sounds seldom seen in today’s racing.
Beyond the multitude of SVRA vintage racers, professional Trans Am Presented by Pirelli, International GT, Mazda Heritage Cup, and a Porsche Reunion brought speed, sights, and sounds worthy of the ‘Speed Tour’ brand. Hagerty Insurance presented its “Caffeine and Cars” collector car show, and dozens of vendors offering racing wares including tires, shocks, safety equipment, apparel, books and more fulfilled the festival concept.
“We’re making this business work and the Speed Tour brand is important,” said Parella. “We are filling a space in the motorsports market for fans who want to see a wide variety of car designs with a good mix of outstanding professional and amateur drivers at speed.
“I am very pleased with how big-brand sponsors are responding,” Parella continued. “For example, Avis recently came on board as our official rental car company.”
Fans and sponsors aren’t the only ones to discover the appeal of the integrated Speed Tour package. Beyond the VROC series, several champion professional racers have become regular entries in other SVRA classes, among them NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, Truck Series ace Mike Skinner, and Le Mans 24 Hours overall winner Geoff Brabham.
Elliott and Skinner compete regularly in the SVRA Group 10 class, Elliott bringing his 2007 NASCAR Dodge and Skinner his 2004 Toyota Tundra.
Elliott dominated Saturday’s Group 10 feature race as Skinner followed up his big win in the VROC Charity Pro-Am Presented by RACER Magazine by taking second place.
In third behind Elliott and Skinner was SVRA standout Sam LeComte in another NASCAR racer, a 2003 Monte Carlo. LeComte gave the Saturday VROC winner all he could handle as they settled runner-up honors on the final lap.
As for Brabham, he has been a terror in Group 2 since 2015, driving Ron Hornig’s 1971 Brabham BT35. He has amassed 14 victories, including two at SVRA’s annual Golden Bell Helmet U.S. Vintage National Championships at COTA.
Parella’s Speed Tour will hit full stride in the coming months as another 11 racing weekends are on the schedule. The synergies of SVRA, Trans Am, and International GT will come to life at the top road racing courses in America, including Watkins Glen, Road America, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, and Portland.
The VROC series will present its final two rounds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August, and VIR in September.