The SVRA Collier Cup Weekend
September 12-14, 2004 - by George Goeppner
The Sports Vintage Racing Association marked the 50th anniversary of the Collier Brothers Memorial MG Trophy Race at Watkins Glen on Sept. 12 -14. This event began in 1954 when the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) decided to honor the memory of Sam and Miles Collier, American sports car pioneers and MG racing enthusiasts. There were over 550 vintage racing cars at The Glen over the weekend, with over 150 MG's racing. The cars raced on the 3.4 mile Grand Prix course having 11 turns. I drove to Watkins Glen on Thursday and caught up with Jeff Powell, Dave Bralich, Scott Fohrman, and Rey Navarro, who were there to race.
The variety of MG's present was amazing. Many pre-war cars had entered, including a K3 Magnette, NA's, NB's, an 18-80, and many MG specials including several Lester MG's. There was, of course, a wide assortment of TC's, TD's, MGA's, MGB's, and a few MGC's. I was very impressed with the two ex-works Sebring MGA's, in superb restored condition. A very significant MG that was on display and did not race was "Leonidis".
This car was one of 3 MGPA's entered in the 1935 Le Mans race by Capt. George Eyston. The 3 MG's were driven by teams of women drivers. In 1937, Miles Collier acquired one of these cars and had it rebodied into a streamlined special, giving it the name Leonidis. In 1939, he raced this special at Le Mans, the first U.S. entry at that venue since 1921. It was at Watkins Glen, also in superb condition.
The weekend's events included two laps by the racers around the original 6.6 mile circuit thru the town of Watkins Glen and surrounding countryside. The first race was held on this circuit in 1948. Over 100 of the vintage race cars were given a police escort from the track into town, and parked on the closed off main street for spectator "ogling" on Friday evening. Crowd control was a problem, but the tour laps went off ok. I was told that there were people along the entire 6.6 miles!
Friday and Saturday were practice and qualifying days, the racing took place on Sunday. There were two Collier Cup races held in order to accommodate the large number of MG entries. There were 65 starters in the Collier Cup 1 event, including Jeff and Rey. This race was between TC's, TD's, some of the pre-war cars including the K3, and the MG specials. Collier Cup 2 had 67 starters, including Dave and Scott. This race included the MGA's, MGB's, MGC's, an MG 1300 Sport Sedan, and one of the Sebring coupes. Our guys did quite well, but I'll let them tell their own stories! There was also a race for pre-war cars and MG T-types not entered in the Collier Cup event. This group included Morgan 3-wheelers and several '30's era Ford racing specials.
I can't resist saying something about the other cars I enjoyed watching. There was a Ford GT-40, Mark IV variant. And the Group 6 cars were simply awesome. These included Shelby 350GT Mustangs, Corvettes, XKE Jaguars, and Cobras, real '60's horsepower. Three abreast down the main straight and into turn one! The weather was perfect, the track was impressive, the machinery and the people were wonderful. It just doesn't get any better than thatů.