Tim Lyons

Tim Lyons is well-known among SCCA racers in the Southeast for the roaring red-and-white Mustang he drives in GT1. He’s been a member of the SCCA for over 45 years, but he hasn’t always been a high-horsepower guy. Well, he has, but his cars haven’t. He started autocrossing in a ’64 TR4 while in the Army down in Ft. Hood, Texas. From there, he graduated to a ’69 Porsche 911T, and joined the SCCA in 1969. As a member of the Lone Star Region, he worked corners at tracks in Austin and Galveston and at a new track that had just opened up called Texas World Speedway. They hosted a Can-Am that Tim flagged, and perhaps that set the stage for everything to follow, because Tim raced big American iron seemingly ever since. Flagging in those days was very different than today; Tim recalls standing literally at the edge of the track while the Can-Am cars bore down on him going into the turn.

From Texas, Tim returned to his boyhood home in Wisconsin, where he hooked up with a buddy racing short-tracks while still working corners at tracks like Blackhawk Farms and Road America. Although money was tight while he was finishing college, he got a line on a bank-repossessed race car, a 1970 Boss 302, painted Grabber Orange (just like the famous one driven by Parnelli Jones). It even had a legal cage already in it. Anxious to get rid of the car, the bank let him have it for the princely sum of $1901 in 1972. In keeping with his tiny budget, he pulled additional parts off a friend’s wrecked Mustang and used other people’s cast offs to get the car in shape to race. In 1973, Tim went to driver’s school in it and ultimately won the regional A-Sedan championship in Central Division – similar to SEDIV’s SARRC. National racing beckoned, with a podium finish in the June Sprints in the mid-‘70s a high point. Tim clearly had found his niche—big bore race cars!

A job opportunity at work resulted in a transfer to Charlotte. As a member of CCR, he raced his Boss Mustang in the Southeast, winning with the SARRC GT-1 Championship in 1980. He also continued to flag and work other specialties at Charlotte Motor Speedway throughout the 1980s. Tim raced the Boss 302 until finally selling it in 1986. It changed hands a few times after that, but is now totally restored and running vintage races on the West Coast. Tim’s next car was a unique tube-framed, ex-TransAm Mustang that was the factory car in the 1981 season. Tom Gloy had won with it, but by the time Tim got it, it had a blown motor and need lots of TLC. It took him three years to get it running again. About that time, he moved a couple of times, first to Raleigh, then to Salisbury, and finally to Thomasville, where he currently lives. He began attending the old Region gatherings at Cooper’s Deli and changed his Region of Record to NCR. Tim updated the Mustang throughout the 1990s, racing in SARRC and a few Nationals. After a major punt at VIR that destroyed the bodywork, Tim put the original body back on it, restored it to its 1981 livery and sold it to a vintage racer in 2001.

He then began looking for a replacement and found a pair of Roush Mustangs for sale by a defunct TransAm team. Although he didn’t really have the money they were asking, he was able to negotiate a deal for one of the cars that was completely disassembled, although he says it put his marriage on rocky grounds for a while! It was literally a bare chassis and piles of parts. Putting it together was about a 6-month project that he likens to a 3-dimensional jig-saw puzzle. Later that year he was able to acquire the transmission, wing, and other bits and pieces. Tim raced that car until 2005, when he was offered a price he couldn’t refuse from a vintage guy who really wanted the car. There was money enough for his current ride, that Riley & Scott ex-TransAm car he drives today, as well as the enclosed trailer. This car had been a Tom Gloy team car, driven by the likes of Boris Said, Tom Gloy, Paul Newman, and Johnny O’Connell. So who knows? Maybe this one will follow all the others onto the vintage circuit. Tim has a knack for picking the right car. His success in SEDIV is well-known.

These days, when Tim isn’t racing, he’s part of the pace car team headed by Ed Wentz. Over the years, he’s worked F&C, registration, emergency services, T & S, and served as race chair, as well. That’s typical of Tim. He says he’s been very lucky with his “career” as a racer in the SCCA and he’s eager to help out the Club. So, if you get a chance to say “hi” in the paddock, do so. You’ll be glad you did.

 

At Road America in 1973                                                  Charlotte in 1986

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roebling Road in 1986…………                                                                     and in 1997

 

 

 

 

 

 

At VIR in 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Shepherd

Question: What do autocrosses, hill climbs, drag races, sprint car races, NASCAR races, SCCA and IMSA sports car races, and measured-mile speed events, all have in common besides cars? Answer: Stephen Shepherd as a major competitor, and sometimes, the victor.

It’s hard to know where to begin when telling the story of Stephen’s career in motorsports. He grew up around cars and machinery, and driving seemed to come naturally to a kid who drove a tractor on the family farm at age 6. His dad’s automotive shop west of Wilkesboro, in Wilkes County, North Carolina, turned out hot rods in the late thirties and forties. And yes, some of his customers were moonshiners, the same guys who helped found NASCAR. “It was like the movie, Thunder Road”, Stephen recalls. And then there were the unsanctioned street races that everybody knew about. Stephen was even granted a run in a ’49 Olds when he was just 13 years old. And Bill France, Sr. was a family friend. So you could have known racing was in his blood. But you couldn’t have predicted the direction it would take. Not to NASCAR, though he participated in that off and on. No, Stephens’s passion was for sports cars, especially small coupes and sedans. As he puts it, “I saw my first copy of Sports Cars Illustrated (the precursor to Car and Driver magazine) in 1957 and I was hooked.”

But before he could do any serious racing, Uncle Sam called Stephen to Germany, where, as luck would have it, he had a master sergeant who was into European amateur racing, specifically ice-racing in a prepared VW, and road racing in an OSCA, a small Italian sports car. “It rains in Germany, all the time,” Stephen recalled, “and so I learned to race in the rain. At one time they called me ‘der regenmeister’ (the rain master).” Judging by Stephen’s success in later years, this was an excellent way to learn the delicate art of road racing.

Returning to the US after his stint overseas, Stephen got involved in SCCA in a variety of ways and in NASCAR racing, when time permitted, and he raced a variety of cars, mostly small sedans, including a ’72 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, an Opel Kadett, a Ford Cortina and a Lotus Corina or two, as well as various Mustangs. He ran an ex-TransAm Cortina between 1968 and 1970, at SCCA events. He was B Sedan champion at CCR’s Chimney Rock Hillclimb in 1970. He raced at VIR in NCR races too. He has the silver-plated trophies from 1971 and 1972 to prove it. Check out the tow car for this Lotus Cortina! (above, right)

And these weren’t just in amateur events, though he did his share of rallies and autocrosses and hillclimbs. A friend and early supporter of John Bishop, he was there for the birth of IMSA. He ran a Cortina at Daytona in 1970 in the IMSA International Sedan GT race. He was at VIR for the inaugural IMSA GT Championship in 1971. He raced that Fiat 124 Sport Coupe at VIR in 1972 as well, competing against fellow Region members Dennis Shaw and Amos Johnson.

As time went on, he raced in The Champion Spark Plug Challenge, the Camel GT, the Renault Cup in both a Le Car and an Encore, the Firestone Firehawk, and other IMSA events including the 24 hours of Daytona. He ran a ‘69 AMX there in the late 70s, with a crew of friends. Stephen likes to say that he brought one of the first “big rigs” to the 24 hour race at Daytona (left). It was the tractor-trailer from his trucking business, and they never had time to build ramps to put the car into the trailer. So they towed it behind a pickup and used the big box trailer to work and sleep in! That summer he autocrossed another AMX as well.

But before all that, Stephen had to make a living, and he opened an auto repair business down near the coast, eventually getting married and settling in Castle Hayne, North Carolina, near Wilmington, where he got involved in autocrossing with the Cape Fear Chapter. You might not expect a pro-racer to be an avid autocrosser as well, but that’s Stephen in a nutshell – he’s an eager competitor in motorsports, easily mixing the professional aspects with the amateur ones. Always smiling, you might find him, wearing his sunglasses and big Panama hat, on a starting grid at any event in the Southeast.

What about NASCAR? Well, Stephen was a rookie at Darlington in 1976, only one of 11 rookies who passed the test, and was allowed to compete. But fate intervened and another team showed up, so he remained 1st alternate, but never got a ride. Still it was quite an experience learning to drive a stocker at Darlington. His instructors were some of the legends of NASCR…Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Elmo Langley, and Bennie Parsons. He ran other races and faced stiff competition to gain recognition. Other rookies that year included Janet Guthrie and Ricky Rudd! Guthrie had Rookie of the Year almost sewn up, but Bill France wanted to keep the competition alive to the end, so he put up a $15K prize, a scholarship if you will, for second place. Stephen saw his chance to win at the 1976 National 500 at Charlotte, but he blew the motor in qualifying. “No problem,” he thought, “we’ll rebuild it overnight.” But the next day, a hurricane came through and washed out the race.

Undaunted, Stephen went back to sports car racing. He got his ’69 AMX out of storage to run the June sprint races at Road Atlanta in 1977. And he prepared a ‘79 AMC Concorde for joint duty in SCCA’s GT3 and IMSA’s Champion Spark Plug Challenge (right), easily “changing hats” from amateur to pro wherever time and resources permitted.

And he continued his motorsports career in other venues, notably autocrosses and SCCA hillclimbs at Chimney Rock. He was CSP Solo II champion in a joint season with NCR and Tarheel Sports Car Club in 1982 and 1984, and he went on to be Solo I champion in SEDIV in 1985 in four different Renault Encores, two of them borrowed. He was such an affable ambassador for the SCCA that the Region gave him the second-ever Ellis Roach award (left) in 1982 (the first recipient was Phil Hennrich, by the way). Stephen was “an active racer, autocrosser, rally worker, and occasional race worker – and he did all of the above efficiently, quietly, and with a smile on his face” wrote Bulletin editor John Davison at the time.

That got Stephen even more interested in Club affairs. He went on to become Chief of Driver Licensing, a school instructor, Assistant RE in 1984, and RE in 1985, but still found time to race professionally. He ran in the IMSA Renault Cup race at Road Atlanta in 1982, even as he was the Region’s Solo II C-Street Prepared champion in a series we ran jointly with the Tarheel Sports Car Club.

For a lot of guys, that might have been enough, but Stephen had one secret desire he wanted to fulfill. As a young man he’d seen sports cars barreling up North Carolina’s other famous peak, Grandfather Mountain, back when the roads on it were just dirt. These were NCR’s inaugural racing events, though they had gone away with the advent of VIR. But Stephen had always wanted to run the hill, even though the roads were now paved. So he became Regional Executive of NCR in 1985, with the express purpose of resuming the hillclimb at Grandfather Mountain.

Like before, NCR sanctioned that event, and Stephen ran it, taking second place in ITC in a Renault Cup Encore (right) he shared with fellow IMSA racer, Mark Hughes, the car’s owner. Stephen still has that car. He ran across it years later, totally by accident, after it was retired from professional competition and sold for street use. Stephen acquired it and restored it to “as raced” condition. It’s the only remaining Renault Cup Encore S, with all the factory-supplied racing goodies, still in existence and it’s in storage behind his house in Castle Hayne.

Stephen went on to become Solo I champion in ITC that year, after a first-in-class finish at the Chimney Rock Hillclimb, put on by CCR. But the SCCA National Office deemed the Grandfather Mountain Hillclimb too dangerous and shut it down for 1986, and Stephen turned RE duties back to Ken Payne. Still, the Region’s Solo I program earned a silver trophy from the Southeast Region for being the best in the division.

1985 saw Stephen running the IMSA Firehawk Series, first in an Encore and later in a 5-liter Mustang in 1986 (left). He was on the Ford team in an SVO Mustang along with famous racer Wayne Lockhart. During 1989-90, he was an instructor and mechanic with Skip Barber, wokring for the Barber Saab series for them. But he still found the time to be in the NC Region Solo II program running G-Stock in 1990.

Stephen was H Stock Solo II Champion in 2002 in a 1990 Jetta (right), and then took second in 2003, and a 3rd with Tarheel Sports Car Club. Later, in 2005 and 2006, he held a land speed record (118+ mph) in his class (G) with that same VW Jetta over the measured mile at the Maxton airport with the East Coast Timing Association. He also  ran a  Fiat X1-9 occasionally, in a car that had previously run in the SCCA Nationals 1985. His last outing in 2005, in a Renault Encore, earned him an FSP Solo II title.

Now retired, Stephen hasn’t been very active in the last few years because of his health, but he says he still has the desire to compete in autocrossing and he’d like to get back out there again. He smiles when you ask him about his motorsports career and all the different kinds of cars and events, both pro and amateur, he competed in. “I’m a wheelman,” he says. “I can drive anything and whatever I drive, I drive it just as fast as I can.” He still owns many of the race cars he competed with, carefully tucked away at his place in Castle Hayne, so you may see him on course once again. Good luck, Stephen!

————————————

 

 

 

 

 

1969 – Lotus Cortina (above) and AMX (right)

(below)  1971 – Fiat SC1

 

 

 

 

 

 

(below and right)  1972 – IMSA Baby Grand at VIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

(right) 1979 AMC Concorde

(below, left)
Renault LeCar from the 80s

(below, right)
Fiat X1-9 NCAC, circa 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerry Pell

In 2009 NCR presented Jerry Pell with a Lifetime Achievement award for his services to the Club. That’s rather amazing considering that prior to 1990 he’d never been a member, let alone raced a car. In fact, prior to 1990, Jerry’s only connection to sports cars was that he once owned a pretty little ‘57 MGA. It wasn’t even his daily driver, Jerry said. Rather, he called it his “go for ice cream” car – something fun to drive on a warm summer evening. But sometime in the late 1980’s, Jerry met Keith Church, who was racing a Toyota Corolla in ITC and needed some help at the track. So Jerry volunteered to crew for him. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Jerry got bit by the competition bug pretty hard and pretty fast. He saw how much fun Keith was having and decided to build his own car, an IT7 Mazda RX-7, with great help from his friend Buddy Matthews. Jerry bid on a junk RX-7 at the Greensboro city auction sale and got one for the princely sum of $99. As luck would have it, a family member with a much nicer and newer RX-7 got into an accident with his. No one was hurt, but the car was totaled. Jerry and Buddy began the process of pulling parts off the newer car and putting them on the old chassis, including the much-sought after factory limited slip differential. But Jerry ran out of time to complete the car before his first school, so he rented Heather Powers’ IT7 for his first school at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah. He thereafter finished his own IT7 car and prepared for his second school at Daytona. There were clutch issues, but he completed the school and was in good spirits going into the final session of the day, the short “fun” race that always caps off a driver’s school. Only his brakes failed as he went into turn one on the first lap, and as others were slowing, he had no choice but to drive through them and around them. Miraculously, he didn’t hit anyone. And he ended up leading the race after turn one. That impressed his instructor, he said with a smile, noting that his instructor had no idea why his driving suddenly became so competitive. Way to go, Jerry!

Jerry campaigned the RX-7 for a year and learned to drive a really tail-happy car in the process, but he began to notice that his RX-7 was a LOT more tail-happy than his fellow competitors. It seems that the newer car from which he pulled parts from had rear disc brakes, while his chassis originally came with rear drums. When he switched to rear discs, he didn’t realize that the factory proportioning valve for a car with rear disc brakes was completely different internally, though it looked the same as the old one on the outside, and every time Jerry braked hard, he’d lock up the rears. As a result, he mastered staying in control of a car that had a mind of its own. Eventually, he put on the proper proportioning valve and got even faster. Then he spied a car that really captured his fancy, so with the brake problem solved, he sold the RX-7 to Wayne Quick. He moved on to a Spec Miata, one of the first Spec Miatas in the NCR, and Jerry has run his ever since. His is so old (make that “so well-raced”) that it now has two logs books!

OK, so that explains how Jerry became a racer. How did he earn his Lifetime Achievement award? By providing his professional services as an attorney, on behalf of the Region and its members, pro bono. Shortly after he joined and started racing, Kaye Fairer, as RE, discovered that the Region’s Charter of incorporation with the State of North Carolina had expired and we would have to be reinstated as a non-profit corporation in order to continue to operate. She asked Jerry to handle that and he did, without charge. According to the registered agent papers on the file with the NC Secretary of State’s office, the official registered agent’s address and the registered agent for the North Carolina Region is Jerry Pell, at his law office in Greensboro.

Kaye called on Jerry again shortly after VIR re-opened in 2000. It became evident that we would need a Scale Room in addition to the use of the Tech Shed at VIR, but the management under Harvey Segal and Connie Nyholm weren’t going to have any spare cash to build something like that for years to come. So, Jerry negotiated with Harvey a deal whereby NCR would build that Scale Room addition and maintain the Scale Room portion of the building in exchange for having the exclusive use of it, without any ground rent or other payment to VIR. To this day, that agreement remains in force and other racing clubs must rent the scales from us, not from VIR.

Kaye called on Jerry again, in 2004, after her husband and our Region’s Secretary, Al Fairer, passed away, to accept an appointment to fill Al’s position as Secretary on the NCR Board of Directors. Jerry was thereafter elected to that position for the next ten years. He was a voice of reason on the Board, and he freely gave the benefit of his legal expertise by writing official letters, as legal counsel for the Region, to wayward competitors and some others. Steve Rose took over as Secretary after Jerry retired, but he freely admits that Jerry taught him how to do the job.

So, if you see Jerry at the track, he might be running his well-maintained red-over-silver Spec Miata, or he might just be there hanging out with friends while working in tech, something he’s done for many years. Thanks for your help, Jerry! We’re glad to count you among our members and friends.

Phil Hennrich

November 11, 1949 – August 20, 2013

According to the National Office, Phil Hennrich joined the North Carolina Region on April 1, 1974, and from all accounts he volunteered to make it a success right from the get-go. Sam Fouse and Dan Robson, who joined about 18 months later, have said that Phil was the first member they ever met. He was setting up an autocross course in Raleigh, and introduced himself to them when they showed up as newbies, eager to learn the ropes. Within six months of Phil’s joining, he became the guy who towed the autocross trailer to events in Raleigh. Between events, that trailer, with all the cones and timing equipment, lived with him at his mother’s house. Later it would be joined by a race car or two, and all the Region’s radios for use at races.

How long was Phil our radio guy? There’s no record of when he actually started in that position, but he was already ensconced in it when the Region raced at Rockingham in 1978. He was often called “Radio Phil” by new workers and folks from out-of-region. To NCR members he was just “Phil”. There was only one. Everyone knew who you meant when you said “Phil.” You’d see him arrive at a race, at Rockingham, or Roebling Road, and finally at VIR, in his light brown van, packed to the roof with communication gear, radios and headsets, that he lovingly maintained and repaired between events. He’d pass out the gear to waiting volunteers. During events you could count on him to be there to fix any communication problem that arose. He very early earned a National license in Flagging and Communications. And eventually he got one as radio tech, too; once the National Office came to realize that they should recognize that position separately, because it required special skills and dedication. But Phil had already been doing that job for years before they gave him a license for it. And he held the job until he could no longer do it, about the 2010 season or so.

Somewhere along the way, Phil was elected Treasurer, a position he held for nearly as long as he was the radio guy. He started keeping the books and writing the checks well before computerization, and he took the first stab at that too, on his home PC, when they were a rarity. Phil was a hardware tester at IBM so he had one of the first commercial IBM PC’s at home. In the end, though, he couldn’t keep up with the software revolution, and ceded the job to Sara Snyder, who along with office manager Ginny Condrey, got us on to Quick Books.

Somehow, Phil also found the time to compete. At first in autocross, and then on track, originally in some production class Spridget and then in a Pinto in GT3, both painted that awful shade of light brown that matched his van. That color was horrible for a race car. At its best, it had the look of that dull sand color the Army uses for desert camouflage. Corner workers used to amuse themselves by coming up with humorous names for that color, most of them unprintable. There was even a running joke that he had bought the paint at an Army-Navy surplus store and painted both his van and race car alike because he need to save money for tires. But everyone knew Phil’s race car, just as they knew Phil’s van. And though he seldom did very well, he kept plugging away, running a couple of races every year. He even managed to get the grand course record in GT3 at VIR. He was the only entry in GT3 the one time we ran that configuration!

But even when he was racing, Phil was our go-to guy. His good friend and our former flag chief, Chuck Stanley, recounts that the first time he met Phil was at Rockingham in 1989, and Phil drafted him into helping rebuild tire walls and reset Armco posts even before Registration had opened. And only when the course was ready, did Phil ask Chuck to help him get some tires mounted on his race car! That was the Phil we all remember. It was more important to him to help others than to do well on course himself. James Shanks says that he, too, remembers Phil at Rockingham, skipping lunch to help repair a guardrail post so we could start again on time. He should have been working on his race car, because later that same afternoon, he DNF’d. Was he angry about that? Not Phil. He just smiled philosophically and said, “Moving right along.” That was his well-known catch phrase, and he would utter it whenever discussing or confronting a problem. So as usual, he put the car back on the trailer for the tow home, expecting to do better the next time. Phil also worked tirelessly at VIR when the Region presented that facility with its gazebo corner stations in 2002, helping to transport them and set them up. The staff there nicknamed him “Gazebo Phil.” Always ready to pitch in and help, whatever the project. That was Phil.

NCR gave Phil more than a few awards over the years. He was the first recipient of the Ellis Roach award for service to other drivers, back around 1976 or 1977. Eventually we gave him a Lifetime Achievement award a few years back, in 2005, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll miss you, Phil. The Region lost one of its great souls when you finally said, “Moving right along,” for the last time and left us. Thanks for your service, old friend.

 

Below: Phil’s Pinto racer. Get those blue flags ready boys!

 

Below: Phil receiving Lifetime Achievement Award from then RE, Kaye Fairer in 2005.

Fred McKinney

It was almost 50 years ago that Fred McKinney joined the NC Region, but he was involved even before then, autocrossing and working races at VIR, Roebling Road, Upper Marlboro, MD, and anywhere else he could manage. Always a busy guy, he joined the Club in 1966, the same year he graduated from NC State, and he got inducted into the Navy for a tour in Vietnam. But before going overseas, he worked as a paddock marshal at VIR (a member of the “goon squad” whose job it was to keep drunk college kids from getting out on the track) and as a corner worker.

It was a very different time. Fred says that the “flags” at VIR were really painted pieces of plywood and that a “waving yellow” was very tiring! And the communications system was an old military com wire with surplus US Navy headsets. If a car spun through the station, the communicator had to rip off the head set and “run like hell”. There were no barriers to protect the workers in those days. And there was absolutely no barrier between the track and pit road. The Starter back then was Tommy Edwards. He had no start stand, but stood beside the track with no protection at all. “He was interesting”, Fred recalled, “because he jumped a little when he waved the checker.”

Fred said candidly, “I am proud that we all lived through the events in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s; some of the things we did were, well, dangerous!” But he also had a great time with many cool memories. Fred recalls that he was on station 4 when “NASCAR Bend” (turn 3) got its name because none of the big-bore racers could negotiate it without spinning off!

But the best story he has from those early days is the one about his autocross victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which was host to an NCR Region event, around Thanksgiving in 1966. Fred raced a “special”, a stripped-down, body-less VW bug, belonging to his good friend in the Region, Lewis Gunter. The special was fast with Fred at the wheel. He was first in class and second overall. But the trophies were late and Fred was already serving in Vietnam when they finally arrived. So in the true spirit of SCCA competition, Lewis, Roger Blanchard, and Fred’s other buddies in the Club, made sure he was able to see them. They got his parents to send him a picture of them!

Before shipping out, Fred found himself stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he joined the local sports car club, the Gulf Area Sports Car Association, so he could autocross there. After Vietnam, he found himself back in Gulfport, and he purchased his first “real” sports car, a 1968 Austin Healy Sprite. He and his buddy Rex Franklin from the nearby Air Force base at Biloxi, removed the rear bumper so they could attach a trailer hitch. Then they used his Sprite as a tow vehicle for the Rex’s Lotus Super 7 and went to autocrosses together, campaigning both cars from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. Rex, by the way, is still autocrossing with the Club in upstate New York .

Fred continued volunteering at big races in those days as well s autocrossing. He worked as a pit steward for the 24 Hours of Daytona for several years as well as for the 12 hours of Sebring. Of course he met many famous drivers back then, such as Roger Penske, Sam Posey, Bob Tulius, and the popular Jim Fitzgerald. Separated from the military in 1969, Fred returned to North Carolina and continued working races at VIR and Roebling through the early 70’s. He was even grid worker of the year a time or two before VIR closed down in 1974. But then, the requirements of his job became too burdensome to travel to races out of state, and Fred’s participation dwindled. But he always knew he’d be back as soon as he could, when his career would permit it, so he kept his SCCA membership active all the way up to 2000, when VIR finally re-opened.

Now he’s back in it again. A familiar fixture on the grid for the last 15 years, Fred has been our Chief there for several years, until back problems forced him to step down. So he’s picked up being a Pace Car Communicator. He still works Grid when he can, and this year alone (2015) he has worked on either on the Grid or as the Pace Car Communicator: all over the Southeast, at VIR, Roebling Road, Kershaw, Charlotte, Barber, Sebring, and Daytona.  

Here’s Fred (above, left) splitting the field as the cars roll off the grid at Charlotte.

Thanks for your service, Fred! We’re proud to have you as a member!

—————————————–

Below: Fred Mckinney driving Lewis Gunter’s “special” at an autocross at VIR in 1966. Note that the fuel tank on the special was a metal gas tank duct taped to the chassis! He has a lap belt, but there is no provision for a shoulder belt. And he’s not even wearing socks! 

The large truck in the picture was a dump truck that belonged to Lewis and they were using the battery to power the PA system. In the distance is a large white building called “the Pagoda” which was  the control tower.  
 
photo courtesy of Fred McKinney

Below: This photo was taken at VIR from an area where the new Start stand would be behind the photographer, looking down pit road and counter-race down the track. The autocross start was in the VIR pit, where one had to negotiate some traffic cones, and then abruptly turn around and go counter-race on the front straight, past station 17, and on up the hill, still counter-race to the finish line at the end of the back straight past staion 14. To get back to the Start area, drivers continued counter-race all around the rest of the track back to where the start stand is now. And nobody obeyed any speed limit!

photo courtesy of Fred McKinney

Hayden Beatty

Hayden Beatty is one of North Carolina Region’s founding fathers. In 1955, 16 members of the Sports Car Club of North Carolina petitioned the SCCA to become the North Carolina Region and Hayden was one of those. Perhaps his member number, 932, would be the give-away for his long involvement in the Club, but it wouldn’t begin to hint at his long and varied involvement in sports car racing in North Carolina.

Hayden graduated from UNC in 1952. But he’d already been tooling around campus in a 1930 Austin America coupe, a car so tiny he got in trouble with the campus cops for driving it on the sidewalk! About the time he graduated, he obtained a 1948 MG TC and joined the Sports Car Club of North Carolina, which was based in Burlington. That local club was pretty active, with rallies and hill climbs at Pilot Mountain, where Hayden served as a Starter as well as a competitor. His TC gave way to a TD, and then to a ’57 TR3. He even had a shop in Haw River in the late 50’s and early 60’s which specialized in truing and repairing wire wheels.

The North Carolina Sports Car Club continued as a separate entity for awhile, even after the North Carolina Region was formed. And Hayden was in the thick of them both. He served as RE of North Carolina Region in 1964-65, when there were about 250 members, and he worked Pit and Grid at the races at VIR and Spartanburg. He raced a 1960 Hillman with a roll-bar there, on recapped tires! Eventually he became an SCCA National Chief Steward.

Sadly, family and career obligations caused him to retire from the Club for awhile, many years in fact. But then he re-upped again about 2007 or so and started coming out to the races at VIR. Not one to sit on the side-lines, Hayden saw that we were in dire need of help in the paddock, especially before our Double National Races (now the VIR Spring Sprints Majors), so he volunteered to come out to the track a few days early and help lay out paddock spaces, especially for the big rigs, and then direct competitors to them. That earned him an Outstanding Service award as Paddock Marshall in 2009. And when we finally realized that this was the same Hayden Beatty who helped start the North Carolina Region, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, our highest honor, in 2010. You’ll usually find him in the paddock on any race weekend, helping out, just as he did as Chief of Pit and Grid back in the 60’s. Some guys are just like that. Thanks Hayden!

The photo below appears on page 73 of Images of America: Virginia International Raceway, by Chris Holaday with Nick England and Phil Allen, Arcadia Publishing, 2002. The caption reads: “Hayden Beatty, head of pit and grid, talks with unidentified drivers before a race in the late 1960’s (Ed Cabaniss photograph courtesy of Phil Allen)”.

Bobby (Roberta) Champlin

Celebrating her 45th anniversary with the SCCA, Bobby (Roberta) Champlin, SCCA member #2741, has been an active participant. She’s been a volunteer at many a race track, but local folks will remember her best for her smiling face on the Grid, or helping out at Registration and with hospitality duties at the Louella Cook Memorial SEDIV Double National or Double SARRC at Roebling Road. That’s no surprise since Louella was one of Bobby’s best friends and an active Club member when Bobby first joined up, back in the day.

How did she get here? Bobby, now 83 years young, joined the Club in 1970 down in Florida, after she and her husband Fred raced their Fiat Abarth in local time trials events with a club called “Equipe Rapide”. Unfortunately Fred passed away in 1972, but the friends Bobby made in the Club kept her coming back to help put on our events. Bobby volunteered at the RunOffs 23 years in a row. She holds a Senior Level license in Race Control, and a National in Race Administration, as well as a Regional license in Registration. Now retired to Haysville, North Carolina, out in the westernmost part of the state, along with her long-time friend, Bruce Carlson, Bobby sends a special hello to her old friends in our Region, Sara Snider and Buddy Matthews, and to Sue Roethel of Georgia, who’s still a member of DC Region. Hey, y’all! By the way, Bruce too is a member of Central Carolinas Region and an active volunteer in hospitality after retiring from Grid duties. Bobby’s message to everyone is “”Don’t be ‘chintzy’ with your volunteers. Keep them happy and they will keep coming back. Disrespect them by not having some rewards, then you can expect their numbers to dwindle”.

Sam and Mo Overstreet

The “Os”, an Ode

Just as the title infers, Mo and Sam Overstreet were and are classic. My personal F&C life was enhanced in 1990 when I worked my first NC Region race at Rockingham, just after moving from the S. Florida area. That first race for me welcomed and made many new friends, which top of the list have become “The O’s”.

In the years the NCR called Rockingham our home, turns 3 and 7 developed into a single oiled machine from a worker perspective. Sam would captain 3, I would captain 7, and two turns worked as one. Then I would captain 3 and Sam 7, and the same.  We each look back on those days with great fondness. And what was Mo doing during all this? He was playing SIT, or some such thing as they were called back then, and so for the most part he stayed out of our hair… (LOL).

Sam and Mo were truly inseparable, and to this day remain as such. VIR as we all reopened together would never have worked as well without these two, who also brought us the Dingles and Grays. Together these 6 are the class acts of F&C nationwide, no matter where they decide to play, no matter the type of event. Finding a station large enough to house all 6 at once was always a challenge, one which a Chief welcomes rather than dreads.

Mo is most honored for his knowledge and willingness to “Enforce” it. I can’t quite think of anyone I have met who has more in his mush melon relative to F&C and worldly comparisons.  And Sam is and has always been the most respected, easy to get along with, trustworthy F&C person one could ever have the privilege to know and work alongside.  I knew from the first moment I was blessed to work with Sam we had something special, and that the source was her.

From club events, Runoffs, Pro and even schools, “The O’s” represent the best in what we do, what we share, and what we depend on for protecting each other. Their presence trackside will be dearly missed and I personally wish them every bit of success in their future.  You two are always welcome aboard my fishing vessel; there is always a welcome mat on deck.

Sam – December 14, 1946 – March 20, 2015

Sincere Respect,
Chuck Stanley

Diane Wall Hughes

September 1, 1957 – January 1, 1997

The consummate SCCA club member, Dianne started as corner worker which sparked her love for all things SCCA. Throughout her many years in the club she became involved in everything from Solo, Rally, SARRC regionals and nationals, to Regional Executive and race control. She even jumped into a Formula 440 for a driver’s school at Roebling Road. She was embarking into the stewards program when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Everyone who new Dianne loved her for her heart, bravery, and compassion; but her greatest quality of never having met a stranger made her the best ambassador SCCA could ever have. She was always smiling, welcoming you to SCCA with a handshake, hug and kiss. She made sure everyone knew where the social was on Saturday evening. I had a front row seat to this true phenomenon known as Dianne Hughes, as I had the honor of being her husband. Her message from heaven to everyone would be to get involved, greet a stranger and always welcome everyone to SCCA.

William “Billy” Hughes

Al Fairer at VIR

Alfred Whitmer Fairer III

November 29, 1930 – May 5th, 2004

DANVILLE, VA. – Alfred Whitmer Fairer III peacefully passed away at his residence in Danville, VA on May 5th, 2004 with family and friends by his side. Born November 29, 1930 in Charleston, West Virginia and grew up in Danville, VA; he was the son of Alfred W. Fairer Jr. and Mozelle Myers Fairer. Al graduated from Woodberry Forest School in 1948 and Cornell University in 1953 with honors. While at Cornell, he was a member of the ROTC and Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. After graduation, Al served in the Army Signal Corp during the Korean War. He lived in Charlotte, NC for 10 years and Rutherfordton, NC for 20 years; after retiring from Elmore Corporation he moved to Danville, VA.

Mr. Fairer is lovingly remembered by his wife, Kaye; children, Whit Fairer of Charlotte, NC, Rebecca Fairer Melton and her husband Rick of Rutherfordton, NC, Martha Fairer of Myrtle Beach, SC, Michelle King and her husband Russell of Virginia Beach, VA; grandchildren, Grace and Caroline Melton; brother, George Fairer of Boulder, CO. Al was widowed by Dorsey Cosby Fairer in October 1989.

Al was an active member of the VFW Post 14000, American Legion Post 325, Virginia-Carolina Scottish Society, and NC Region of the Sports Car Club of America, serving on the Board as Member-At-Large and, most recently, Secretary. As a member of the SCCA, he traveled all over the country participating in sports car races as a Divisional Administrator of Starters and National Chief Steward. Al was actively involved in the revitalization of Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, VA.

A family memorial service will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the SCCA Foundation, P.O. Box 299, Topeka KS 66619.

Published in the Danville Register & Bee on 5/7/2004.