2009 MGVR Focus Event - VIR

2009 Gold Cup Historic Races
at Virginia International Raceway

By Chris Meyers

The MGVR Focus Event at VIR was a great event by any standards. There was plenty of hot racing action as 66 MGs took to the track for this years event, even sharing track time with almost a dozen Morgans for the MG/Morgan Challenge Race. Weather Thursday and Friday morning was unsettled (we missed our MG/Morgan Thursday warm up session) but cleared out Friday afternoon and was beautiful for the balance of the event. Saturdays MG/Morgan Race was won by Les Gonda (BGT V-8) followed by Kent Prather (MGA) with Harry Gentry (Midget)  placing third.

Saturday race action was followed by our MGVR Banquet, this year held trackside at the Pagoda Room.  Free beer, free wine (courtesy Rob Orander and John Targett) as well as a buffet of prime rib of beef and roast chicken among other goodies. Many thanks to Larry and Charlyn Smith for their tireless efforts to arrange this fantastic gathering. The MGVR Banquet usually presents a fine opportunity for the editor to announce future focus event plans. I am proud to announce that next years focus event will be at Mosport in June with our VARAC friends. More on that as plans develop. Our banquet is also when we recognize a few MG vintage racers --Congratulations go to this years Bill Parish Master of Speed Deception Award -Manley Ford. Manley becomes the 6th recipient of this annual award. The Big Copper Bucket, also known as the MGVR Spirit Award, is awarded by a vote of MGVR peers to the racer who best represents the MG Vintage Racing Spirit. This years winner is Jack Cassingham.  Congratulations Jack!

The race action continued Sunday with warm ups, group races and the All MG race. Beginning this year, the winner of the All MG Race takes home a MG V-8 trophy to keep for one year and defend at the next years All MG race. Congratulations go to Les Gonda, who finished first, followed closely by Butch McKenzie in his MGB roadster, with Kent Prather finishing third. Many thanks to Jerry Richards for conceiving of and commissioning the MG V-8 Trophy. Many thanks to all who participated in the 2009 MGVR Focus Event with SVRA at the Gold Cup Historics at VIR.


“As the Dust Settles”
Some Feedback Comments from SVRA’s Gold Cup
At VIR – MGVR Focus Event 2009

  Here are just a few of the feedback comments MGVR received from its recent “Focus Event 2009” at VIR this June.  Thank you to all who replied.  Overall (except for rain on Friday), a great event!  The next MGVR Newsletter will have more feedback and coverage.  If you’d like to see some photos from the event, go to “SVRA.com” and then click on:  Heacock Classic Gold Cup, then Race Photos.

Hope to see you at the 25th running of the Collier Cup this September at Watkins Glen!

“..we few, we happy few, we band of brothers..”

Greg Prehodka, MGVR Publicity
July 19, 2009


   I am not fast.  My car is fast… It will make up for a multitude of errors. Butch McKenzie is fast (MGB). With a 100 less horses he finished the race less than 1.5 seconds behind me and Kent Prather. Best lap time in a MGA was less than half a second slower than my best. These guys have talent!  Jerry Richards and I have been talking to anyone who would listen, about the MGB-GT V8’ for years. It is a great car. Fast, dependable, fun to race and best of all, it beats Porsches. Les Gonda, MGB-GT V8 (winner of the MGVR “MG V-8 Challenge Trophy”)

  The entire SVRA staff is always happy to see the MG racers come to one of our events.  They are the best organized and most well run large organization that we deal with.  A great group of well driven cars that put on a great show… Carl Jensen, Race Director, SVRA

   I was once more amazed at the great driving of the T series crowd who seemed to have no trouble staying with anyone!  It was an honor to share the track with someone like Kent Prather who seemed to be enjoying this as much, if not more, than his SCCA championships. Storm Field, MGB-GT V8

  Mike Lewis (MGTD) was the second MGVR person I met after my family moved South in 1983. He was racing his beautiful red TF 1500 then, and our kids were of similar ages and we had a lot of fun. 26 years later, we are still having FUN! Mike had not been to VIR before, but he sure learns fast! He won the qualifier (in our group race) by a nose, then let me take the Pre-War feature by a fender. This was the real thing! George Pardee, MGTF

  The turnout of MGB-GT’s (of all types) was unprecedented at this event and allowed us to test our cars against very similarly turned out and prepared GT’s. In most of the sessions, only seven seconds and a few inches seemed to separate the 5 or 6 GTs. We didn’t beat our personal best at VIR, but it didn’t matter given the FUN FACTOR! Jim Allen, MGB-GT

   The most amazing thing in the MG-Morgan Challenge Race was getting passed (lapped) by Les Gonda on the back straight. I saw a green and white dot in my mirror as he acme out of Oak Tree turn (I was one-third of the way down the straight) and, at what appeared to be “warp speed”, he was coming by me! Even more amazing was that Kent Prather was right behind him in his MGA! I pointed Kent by just before the Roller Coaster, ducked in behind him and followed him into Roller Coaster past a couple of guys I was trying to get by for a couple of laps. PURE JOY! Butch O’Connor, MGB

  It was great to be out there in MG land with so many of my MG friends, new and old. Bob Watkin, Bob Schoeplein and I all started vintage racing in the late ‘80’s, helping each other get our racing licenses, encouraging each other when the going got tough and having a great time making memories. Bob started with an MGA and has remained true to the marque (and the same MG) over the past 20 years. Bob Watkin started with a Spitfire but now races an MGA Twin Cam coupe. Bob has always been an MG Coupe guy and it’s great to see him with his true love now. I started vintage racing with a 1966 Mini Cooper S and now have an MGA 1500 roadster, my first love. Bob Vitrikas, MGA

  The organization at the event was first class. As a voluntary organization MGVR should be proud of its achievements! I look forward to the day when we have enough V8 MGs to challenge the Porsches! That day is coming! All who participate should encourage their friends and families to participate in this organization before we all get to old and MG racing goes the way of so many other makes. Jerry Richards, MGB-GT V8

   Kurt Byrnes delivered my TD from Pittsburgh Pa. To VIR for me. Overall it was a pleasant last minute surprise to be able to be at VIR and participate in this special gathering.  Most people look at me with faintly disguised wonderment that I would travel across the country to do such foolish things – they haven’t had the MG group experience!! Mike Barstow, MGTD (California)

   My daughter Rachel was racing my MGTD this weekend (a joy to crew for her), which has Michelin tires on it that are becoming vintage themselves. Saturday morning, George Pardee came over and said “Greg, I have an extra set of mounted  Dunlop vintage racing tires with me, do you think Rachel would like to try them out?” I replied “You bet Ya – thanks George”. Then his son came over and put them on my TD for the weekend.  Rachel loved them! Rachel now want me to buy a set for the car! Now that’s a true friend(I’ve know George since the early 80 when we both raced T’s then)! Greg Prehodka, MGTD

(On receiving the Bill Parish Award from MGVR)  “I was truly surprised and honored to receive the award! Bill will always be remembered by those who knew him. I am proud to add my name to this award as a fellow MASTER OF SPEED DECEPTION and will do my best to live up to the spirit of its honoree and those who have previously been recognized for demonstrating that joyous spirit in their approach to vintage racing.” Manley Ford, MGTD

“I race for the fun of racing and especially enjoy racing with the MG gang. I have learned a lot and I take a lot of goodies to the track with me, so if ever I can help any of you out with your MGs, please come by and see me, because that’s what Vintage Racing is all about.” Jack Cassingham, MG Midget (winner of MGVR’s 2009 Spirit Award)


  These are just a few of the feedback comments from VIR.  This weekend (July18-19) is the PVGP where there is a good turnout of MGs competing.  Hopefully some MG racer will give us a report on how that turned out.

   And in a few weeks, it will be the 25th running of the all MG Collier Cup race at Watkins Glen in September.  If you want to get the Early Bird discount of $75, be sure to get your entry in by August 1st.  It will be a really special event this year.

    Looking ahead, the MGVR Focus Event for 2010 will be in June at Mosport with VARAC.

The Past Racing Into The Future




MGVR Editor: Chris Meyers
Online Editor: Christopher Kintner
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