Elsewhere, Phoenix track plans 25th anniversary celebration of Mario Andretti’s final victory, British set vintage race dates
After winning their class last month in the Classic 24 at Daytona, Team Mean/KMW Motorsports put its Chevron B23/36 into Kevin Wheeler’s hands for the final laps of the decisive round Sunday of the Group B competition at the Classic 12 Hour at Sebring vintage races.
Wheeler and co-driver Ryan Harrold went into that final round trailing Altfrid Heger’s 1976 Porsche 935/K1 by 12 seconds. Wheeler had closed the gap to 8 seconds as the white flag flew to signal the last lap, and he took the lead when Heger’s brakes faded and the Porsche spun in Turn 10. Heger recovered quickly enough to finish second, but more than 3 seconds after Wheeler took the checkered flag.
That finish was the most dramatic of the Sebring weekend in the vintage races staged by Historic Sportscar Racing group. This was the second year for the event which is designed as a tribute to the famed Twelve Hours of Sebring sports car races, which will staged for the 66th time in March 2018.
Rather than put vintage racing cars through 12 consecutive hours of punishment, the HSR format breaks them into four groups with each group getting four 42-minute sessions on the track in the course of the weekend. Add it up and the racing action spans 12 hours.
In other results, Andrew Beaumont and Nigel Greensall won Group A in a 1966 McLaren M1B, Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger won Group C in the 2007 Pesacarolo Judd LMP1 that also won last month at Daytona, and Rich Thomas won Group D in his Radical SR3/RSX, just edging out a pair of Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars.
In addition to the racing action on the historic Sebring airport circuit, the weekend featured a display of vintage aircraft in homage to Sebring’s history.
Phoenix to celebrate Mario’s last Indy-car victory
Mario Andretti’s final victory in an Indy car race was recorded in 1993 at Phoenix Raceway. In April, 2018, the 25-year anniversary of that event will be celebrated as part of the Phoenix Grand Prix, a weekend that will include an IndyCar series race as well as a vintage Indy racing reunion, the track has announced.
“There’s no more important name in motorsports than Mario Andretti,” Phoenix track president Bryan Sperber said in a news release. “He is also a cultural icon and his name resonates around the world with fans and non-fans alike.
“To be in a position to host the anniversary celebration of his final open-wheel victory at Phoenix Raceway is truly special. I can’t wait to welcome back the drivers and race cars that created history here 25 years ago.”
Andretti won 111 Indy car races in his career, including four at Phoenix, the last one coming when he was 53 years old and making him the only person to win Indy-type racing events in five consecutive decades. He was the 1969 Indy 500 winner and also the World Driving (Grand Prix) Champion and is the only driver to have won races in Formula One, Indy cars and in NASCAR stock cars.
A special feature in a vintage racing car corral will be a display of cars that participated in that 1993 race, along with many of the drivers who raced them, the track said.
Vintage Sports-Car Club plans special 80th anniversary event
Recently honored as the Octane club of the year, Britain’s Vintage Sports-Car Club will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its first stand-alone event when it stages a Formula Vintage Historic Festival at Donington Park on June 24, 2018.
The club’s first race meeting was held at Donington Park on April 23, 1938.
Management of the historic track has been taken over by MotorSport Vision, a company headed by former British racer and physician Jonathan Palmer, which also operates the Brands Hatch circuit.
Goodwood schedules 76th Members’ Meeting
Goodwood Motor Circuit has announced March 17-18, 2018, as the dates for its 76th Members’ Meeting racing weekend, which will include 12 races for vintage vehicles, including the Hailwood Trophy race for motorcycles.
New for 2018 will be the Gurney Cup, a class designed to honor the diversity of Dan Gurney’s racing career and including a group of cars he did or could have raced, from Elva and Lotus to Ford GT40s and early McLaren M1A.
Other classes include 1963-66 sports and GT cars; “touring” cars, a category that ranges from Golf GTis to Chevrolet Camaros; pre-1958 front-engine Grand Prix cars, 1964-70 Formula 3 racers, British specials from the pre- and post-WW2 era; cars of the Mille Miglia; closed-cockpit GT cars from the early 1960s; traditional British touring cars; and 1955-60 Worlds Sports Car championship cars.