Historic racing’s Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) announced on Thursday that beginning at the U. S. Vintage Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, September 6-8 of this year, its Group 7 race will now be named in honor of longtime racer, SVRA participant, and author, Joel Finn.
According to SVRA, Groups 7A and 7B cars are described as follows: “7A = Sports 2000 race cars built from 1984 to 2007; 7B = Can-Am cars as raced after 1967, World Championship sports cars raced after 1970 and under 2.0 liter sports cars raced after 1972.”
In making the announcement, President and CEO of SVRA, Tony Parella, commented:
“Joel’s involvement in Vintage Racing at Watkins Glen, which dates to a Vintage race that preceded the 1974 United States Grand Prix, makes naming our group 7 race in his honor a fitting tribute to Joel’s many contributions to our sport. We are pleased that Joel and his wife, Ann, will be on hand to present the Joel Finn trophies to the top three finishers in this race.”
Mr. Parella pointed out: “The 2013 Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix also marks the 57th consecutive year that Joel has participated in a race event at Watkins Glen, which truly speaks to his passion and dedication to motorsports.”
Mr. Finn is an example of how strongly — and for how much of one’s life — motor sports can grab hold of those who are passionate about the sport. According to SVRA, Finn has deep roots in the upstate NY area. He was born in Carthage, grew up in Syracuse, and lived in Elmira while working for IBM. His participation in the sport began by attending a SCCA driving school at Watkins Glen in 1954. Finn began organizing historic racing events in the mid-1970s. Besides organizing and competing in events, Finn often entered up to six or seven of his own cars in the early events. Finn was a regular competitor in the early SVRA events held at Sebring in the late 1970s and was “unbeatable,” according to SVRA, in his Cooper Formula 1 car.
In the 1980s Finn regularly competed at historic racing events held at Sebring, Long Beach, Mid-Ohio, Road America, Laguna Seca, and Watkins Glen as well as international events at Silverstone, Donnington, Nurburgring, Monaco, and Mosport. Historically significant cars that he has owned and competed in include: a 1938 Mercedes W154; a Maserati 8CTF; several Ferraris; a McLaren Mk4 and McLaren M8F; various Coopers (including Sir Jack Brabham’s 1959 Formula One, World Championship car); a Lotus 79 F1 car; and most recently, a Chevron B23 group 7 sports racer.
According to SVRA, Finn’s most memorable races include winning the 1994 Zippo sponsored historic race at Watkins Glen in his Lotus 79 Formula 1 car and finishing second overall at the 1998 Zippo event in his Chevron. He was also selected SVRA Driver of the Year in 1987.
In addition to being a racer on the historic circuit, Mr. Finn is an author of several books about motor sports history. These include: “American Road Racing, the 1930s,” “American Road Racing 1948-50,” “Bridgehampton: From the Streets to the Bridge,” and “Sunshine, Speed, and a Surprise.” His book “Caribbean Capers: the Cuban Grand Prix Races of 1957,1958 and 1960” won the Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award from the Society of Automotive Historians as their Outstanding Book of 2010.
The Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix presented by Welliver takes place at Watkins Glen International from Sept. 6-8 where 11 groups of cars are slated to compete under the organization of SVRA. The weekend’s activities includes the annual Grand Prix Festival at Watkins Glen downtown all day on Friday (9/6) where the yearly road race tribute takes place, which includes specially selected SVRA vehicles.
CONNIE ANN KIRK is the author of several books and is currently working on a new book about motor sports with an Irish historic racer. Check out her blog about the sport at Motor Sport Muse.