Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vintage Race Laps Fernandina's Airport This Weekend

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vintage Race Laps Fernandina's Airport This Weekend

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

Spinning wheels join whirling propellers this weekend as automobile racing returns to Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport for the second annual SVRA Amelia Island Vintage Gran Prix.

The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association race Friday through Sunday ends a kind of Amelia speedweek that began with last weekend's 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance 3 miles away.

With 110 classic race cars and 30 vintage motorcycles registered and crowd estimates at 15,000 people for the weekend, association President Tony Parella predicted sunny weather and the airport race course should make it "a pretty good show."

"The weather will play in our favor since this year there's no chance for rain," Parella said. "And it being the second year, people know about it, we are just more established and the fact they can bring in kids and active military for free should create a buzz as well."

A number of Jacksonville drivers who tackled the race last year are coming back. But there are new ones, like Jim Faulkner and his son Jason in their 1973 Porsche 911, at a race that recreates one held here a half century ago.

"I worked this track in the late 1960s when the SCCA [Sports Car Club of America] was here, so I knew a little bit about it," the elder Faulkner said. "We didn't know if we wanted to run it last year. Then someone who did said it was a good event. So the car is doing well and we said, let's pack it up and try it on the airport. We are looking forward to it."

Amelia Island resident and Sportscar Vintage Racing Association member Ralph Thomas first suggested the race to revive the Gold Crown Prix held there from 1961 to 1974. The association secured City Commission and Federal Aviation Administration approvals in mid-2016 since the racers use a 2.1-mile road course on two runways, leaving a third open for air traffic. The track has seven main turns, hay bale chicanes and even a slight jump as cars cross the main runway. …

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