2021 SVRA Sonoma Speed Tour
April 26th, 2021
4/24 & 25 at Sonoma Raceway 1970 Titan Mk.6 Formula Ford & 1986 Swift DB2 Sports 2000
Motorsports Market Racing Team Summary:
Art Hebert & the 1970 Titan Mk.6 Formula Ford:
Saturday, Feature Race #1 – 1st in Historic Formula Ford / 2nd Overall
Sunday, Feature Race #2 – 1st Overall
Art Hebert & the 1986 Swift DB2 Sports 2000:
Sunday, Feature Race #2 – 1st in Historic Sports 2000 / 2nd Overall in the Sports Car Prototype Class
Art’s Recap of the Weekend:
The SVRA Sonoma Speed Tour, a combination vintage racing and modern Trans-Am racing event, began for us on Thursday, April 22nd.
Bruce Ritchie, of Performance Shock, Inc. at Sonoma Raceway, just finished putting some shocks and springs together for our 1970 Titan Mk.6 Formula Ford on Thursday afternoon. Gunnar then drove the Titan from the PSI shop into garage 19 in the Sonoma Raceway paddock. Geir Ramleth graciously invited us to share his garage space for the weekend, so we had a quality space in which to assemble the new suspension onto the Titan. As the sun began to set, Tom Fallon, of Throttle Therapy Garage, and I set the corner weights for the car, and we called it a day.
Friday morning Gunnar and I left in the dark to have time to prep our new-to-us 1986 Swift DB2 Sports 2000, and the Titan, to go out in the Friday morning practice. The Titan went remarkably well, considering the lack of set up, trying Hoosier tires for the first time, and checking out our cooling system changes. The Swift was wonderful, right out of the box. Jeff O’Callaghan, the prior owner, did an amazing job setting the car up, and having it truly “race-ready” when he sold it to us last fall. The only downside is that we got no lap times as the transponder did not work.
Friday afternoon qualifying put us first in the Historic Formula Ford class, and second overall in the combined Formula Ford and Formula B grid. Erich Joyner’s beautiful Swift DB1 Formula Ford, restored and driven by Ethan Shippert, claimed the pole. Our Swift SB2 Sports 2000, now with a back up transponder, qualified 1st in Historic Sports 2000, and was 4th quickest of the sports racers, right behind the GTP/LMP cars.
On Friday night Adobe Road Winery in Petaluma opened their doors for an exclusive wine tasting for the racing teams. Adobe Road owners, Kevin and Debra Buckler, are also founders of The Racers Group racing team. Kevin and The Racers Group have won races and championships across the globe, including The 24 Hours of Daytona, and The 24 Hours of Le Mans. So we were treated to fabulous reds and whites, surrounded by championship winning Porsches, Aston Martins, and other great cars. It gave us all a chance to reconnect with friends that we have missed because of the pandemic, and a chance to make new friends who arrived from all over the country for this event.
On Saturday, Feature Race #1 saw Ethan pull away in Joiner’s Swift, but the battle for top Historic and Club Ford honors was on between our Titan, the Titan Mk.6 of Todd Strong, and the Crossle 35 F of Eric Inkrott. In the early laps sometimes only inches existed between the cars. Then, as Eric and Todd battled side-by-side, I was able to pull out a gap. The finish was Ethan 1st overall in Post-Club Ford, our Titan 1st in Historic Formula Ford, and Eric first in Club Ford. Todd came second in Historic Formula Ford, with Oliver Ramleth bringing his Titan Mk.6 home for an excellent third place finish in Historic Formula Ford. Kim Madrid climbed the podium for the first time with a fantastic second place Club Ford finish!
Unfortunately our Swift DB2 race was not nearly so good. It got off to a wild start with LeMans prototypes, Formula Atlantics, Formula 1, Formula Mazda, and 2 liter sports racers all piling into turn 1. Emerging from the fray at the front was Stuart Crow in his original Formula Atlantic car that he raced in the pro series in the 1990’s. He was never headed after that. The prototypes, however, did not fare as well as the formula cars. Spencer Trenery, on pole for the prototype class, pulled into the pits on the pace lap in his Riley Daytona Prototype. Two laps later our Swift suffered a right front tire puncture in the carousel. I managed to keep the car from sliding off and hitting the embankment. However, I was unable to keep it from sliding across the exit rumble strips, which created a shower of sparks behind the car. I was able to limp the car back to the pits on the remaining three wheels, but the race was over for the Swift.
Sunday dawned with threatening skies. Rain was forecast starting mid-morning, and lasting most of the day. It was misting on the grid as the Formula Fords lined up. Erich Joiner pulled his car from the grid to protect it from the mayhem that could ensue in a rain soaked Formula Ford race. Our Titan was now on pole, but we had our own problems. The car was stuck in reverse. As the minutes counted down I frantically tried to dislodge the gear lever to find a forward gear. When it came time to move, I finally found third gear and limped the Titan onto the track. Once rolling on course, the gear lever snapped free and I was then able to access the other gears. Whew! When the green flag flew, I was able to pull out a gap of a few car lengths. Again, Eric and Todd battled for second spot. This time Todd got past Eric. However, by then the damage had been done. Their battle had allowed me to increase the gap and deny Todd any drafting advantage. We finished 1-2-3- overall, with Eric picking up the Club Ford win and Bob Hatle picking up the win in Post-Club Ford.
The second race with our Swift was much better than the first. Spencer Trenery had a much better run as well. Spencer dominated the race on the damp track, beating all comers, from formula cars to prototypes . Our Swift kept all four tires full of air this time, and ran very well until about mid-race. At just over halfway, the Swift lost a cylinder. The gauges still read okay, so figuring it was an electrical problem, I pressed on with the remaining three cylinders in an attempt to stay ahead of the Elan DP02 car that had spun off earlier in the race. The Elan closed quickly in the remaining laps. Coming out of turn 11 on the final lap the Elan was within striking distance of the Swift. But the Swift was not to be denied, and crossed the line 8/100’s ahead of the Elan. That put the Swift 1st in Historic Sports 2000, and 2nd overall in the sports car prototype class.
Whilst we were having our on-track drama, garage mate Geir Ramleth had some of his own in his 1963 Lotus 23B sports racer. As qualifying drew to a close, Geir came into the pits, sitting
comfortably on the pole. However on the last lap, a V8 powered Cooper Monaco snatched the pole from Geir. Come race day, Geir brought his “A Game.” As the flagger twitched to throw the green flag, Geir jumped on the throttle of his little 1600 c.c. twin cam. The lithe little Lotus surged ahead before the V8 monster could inhale all the air it needed to explode in acceleration. Geir got ahead into turn 1, and used the Lotus’ prowess in the next series of corners to build enough distance that the Cooper could not catch him on the straights. Geir crossed the finish line first overall in one of the largest fields of the weekend. Congratulations on a well deserved win!
The two days of vintage racing were capped off by the modern Trans-Am by Pirelli race. Chris Dyson dominated in his Mustang. Our Formula Ford friend, Erich Joiner, finished 2nd in the XGT class in his Good Boy Bob Coffee Roaster Porsche 991 GT3 R.
We all headed home Sunday afternoon with the sun breaking through the clouds, shining on the Sonoma Valley grapevines. A great vintage race weekend in the books, and some great vintage wines in the making.