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Savannah GA?


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#1 Psychoman

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Posted 07 October 2000 - 18:43

I was watching the US Grand Prixview a couple weeks back, and they said the first major GP in America in the beginning was in Savannah GA. Is there anywhere/one that has any info on this track/race?

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#2 Don Capps

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Posted 08 October 2000 - 00:35

P'man,

I am not at my desk, but I do have a bit of information on the US Grand Prize races held in Savannah. Indeed, one of the things I did when stationed at Fort Stewart -- which is just outside Savannah -- was to find as much of the old circuit(s) as possible.

#3 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 08 October 2000 - 01:06

The first race at the 25.13 mile Savannah Circuit was the American Grand Prize on 26 November 1908, won by Louis Wagner on FIAT. The second American GP in 1910 went to David Bruce-Brown driving a Benz GP. In 1911, two races were held on the Savannah Circuit, by then shortened to 17.14 mile length. The Vanderbilt Cup race on 27 November was won by Ralph Mulford on Lozier and three days later David Bruce-Brown won on a FIAT S74 the American GP.

This was the last race at the Savannah Circuit, but the American Grand Prize was held at various other locations thereafter, the last one 1916 in Santa Monica, Cal.

The Great Savannah Races by Julian K. Quattlebaum, M.D. gives a 132 pages, detailed description about these events.

#4 Psychoman

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Posted 08 October 2000 - 01:29

Great info Hans :)
Don--do ya know how many of the roads are still up (and more importantly, how many are paved)?

#5 Treeface

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Posted 08 October 2000 - 02:02

The particulars of the 1911 races can be found here.

#6 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 08 October 2000 - 22:32

Treeface,
Thank you for showing us this very interesting Website, which was unknown to me. I have "Real Road Racing, The Santa Monica Road Races by Phil Harms and Harold Osmer. This is a very well researched book about the races at that time with lots of statistics, pictures and illustrations. Anybody remotely interested about that time, should get one copy.

#7 tombe

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Posted 09 October 2000 - 16:11

Doug Nye's book "The United States Grand Prix and Grand Prize Races 1908-1977" covers the early races fairly well with maps and full results.

Tom

#8 HistoricMustang

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:19

May have found a source for more of these.

Henry

Savannah, Georgia on Victory Drive at Daffin Park 1911

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#9 HistoricMustang

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 21:37

http://www.americangrandprize.com/ :up:

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Terry, could you or another TNF'er compare with modern day Google Earth?

Thanks so much as I am in Savannah on a regular basis so perhaps photographs are due the membership. :wave:

Henry

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 22:15

I'l have another look at that tomorrow, but this doesn't inspire confidence ....

But when grand prix racing finally returned to America, it began anew in the South - at Sebring, Florida in 1956.

But I can recommend the book The Savannah Races by Frank T. Wheeler (Arcadia 1998), which is an excellent pictorial companion to Quattlebaum's book, drawn from the archives of the Georgia Historical Society.


#11 Terry Walker

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:35

I can't lay the old map over a modern sat photo because the map is not in correct proportion, but it looks like the both circuits are still driveable.

The start was on E Victory Drive (formerly Dale) near Abercorn. Turn left into Bull, which becomes White Bluff Rd; continue south, TL into E Montgomery Cross Road, left again into Waters, right into Eisenhower Dr (formerly Intermediate Cross Road) , right into Sallie Mood Dr, right into E Montgomery Cross Road, then left into Whitfield; follow Whitfield past Harry Truman Parkway to where it forks, keep left in Whitfield (used to be Montgomery, as shown on old map); down to probably Shipyard Rd in Burnside; TL, TL again into Ferguson.

North on Ferguson all the way to Bakers crossing, Turn Right onto Skidaway, bear left into Parkersburg Rd, (used to be Isle of Hope Road), follow along to La Roche. TL into La Roche, follow all the way to Skidaway Rd, turn Right into Skidaway, then north to Shell Rd on right; turn in, it becomes Thunderbolt Road; Turn left up Mechanics Ave, left again into E Victory Drive, back to start.


The light car circuit is a simple rectangle, E Victory, White Bluff, E Montgomery Cross, Waters, back to E Victory.

#12 Cynic2

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:59

There is a Georgia Historical Marker on Waters Avenue at 46th Street. Titled "American Grand Prize Races, 1910 and '11 Vanderbilt Cup Races 1911", it reads (in part):

"On each side of Waters Avenue at this site stood two grandstands, built for the famous Savannah automobile races in 1910 and 1911. The starting and finishing line was located in front of the stands."

It goes on to describe how in 1910 David Bruce-Brown won the American Grand Prize Race of 415 miles in a Benz, and the Grand Prize Race in 1911 driving a Fiat, and that Ralph Mulford, driving a Lozier, won the 1911 Vanderbilt Cup Races (sic). According to the marker both races were run over a course of 17 miles.

There was also a Georgia Historical Marker erected on LaRoche Avenue (at Majestic Oaks) marking the site of the Mercer Auto Camp, the garage where the Mercers were prepared for the races.

.

#13 Terry Walker

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 07:53

Darren Galpin's motor racing circuit database shows at least 3 variations on the Savannah circuit. The historic markers match up nicely to the map he has for 1910.

#14 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:41

The circuit varied with each running as well as several of the support races.

And, yes, if one takes the time and effort, most of the circuits used can be driven today. I did exactly that when stationed at Ft Stewart just outside Savannah.

#15 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:52

Was there/is there a fixed circuit somewhere in the area too? I recall roughly 10 years ago a circuit was built and hosted all of about one IndyLights race as a warmup to see if it could host bigger classes.

#16 RA Historian

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 12:53

Ah, one of the forgotten events of racing history. I do not have the info here, would have to dig through old magazines to find it, but I am sure there are any number of posters who can fill in the info. But I do recall that there was an Indy Lights race held on a circuit built on an island at Savannah. Ran one time, as I recall. I suspect there were plans for future events, but as Howard Cosell would say, they did not "eventuate".

Any facts to offer, fellow TNFers?

#17 Darren Galpin

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 13:09

The Hutchinson Island Circuit - 1.965 miles long, based on access roads around the Westin Hotel, the golf course and Convention Center.

http://www.silhouet....s/savannah.html

#18 Cynic2

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 14:09

The original development plan for Hutchinson Island, a former industrial site in the Savannah River, includes hotels, a golf course, and a frontage road on the island which could be used for an Indy Car race once a year.

The first race did run when little but the road was in place (including no water). The Barber Dodge Pro Series was the opener, and Indy Lights the feature, to see if the track really was suitable for Indy Cars. (My recollection is than one Indy Car was tested, to check for speeds).

The first (and last) race was reasonably successful, but several things prevented another race: difficulty of access to the island; motorcyclists using the circuit for impromptu races and trials, resulting in several injuries; a change in Chatham County government to a group who preferred to support inner city development to racing in the suburbs; and the continuing development of the island.

Still, if you go to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa on Hutchinson Island, perhaps for a golfing weekend, you can almost trace the complete circuit. I think one part of the road is still blocked, to prevent illegal "lapping" -- a relic from the illegal motorcycle days.

#19 Terry Walker

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 14:53

This look like it:

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#20 Cynic2

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 15:14

Terry,

That looks like the circuit (from my recollection). I recall that there was a further loop at the bottom (rather than using Resort Drive) -- you can see part of where the road continued at Resort Drive on the left. I think that section was removed, and after the first race (and the recognition of the illegal motorcycle racing), barricades were placed across sections of the road to prevent a complete lap of the course.

Cynic

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#21 Lotus23

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 16:39

My wife and I attended that first/last Indy Lights race. Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were among the IndyLights pilotes who later went on to Bigger Things. Will dig out details later. There were 2 full-boogie Champcars on hand, and they both ran demo laps in the 60-second range. (Gil deFerran sticks in my mind...)

The island was somewhat difficult to access: one had to park elsewhere and take a shuttle bus to the track. And race day turned hot as the hinges of Hades with virtually no shade. But attendance was satisfactory, and it was deemed an artistic success, with lots of "next year" plans being bandied about.

istr some later whispers that "mismanagement" (i.e., money) was the primary cause of its demise.

#22 Nick-Beach

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 18:22

And FWIW, there is also Roebling Road, a 2.02 mile track just a few miles west of Savannah - home to SCCA and other club racing since 1959.
http://www.roeblingroad.com/
cheers,
Nick
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#23 Cynic2

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 18:26

L23,

"Mismanagement" -- very possible, but I really think the change in government was the major factor. Under the existing administration the City and County were involved in the funding and development, seeing the race as a tourist attraction. Then the Republican Mayor (I wish I remembered her name) lost the next election, and as I mentioned earlier, the new majority and Mayor had little interest in funding a race. Their constituents and interests were elsewhere.

Nick -- true, and it's a nice course, but there cannot be any sort of major professional race there, for many reasons. Every time I go to Roebling Road the suburbs have crept closer, and I wonder how long the track can remain.

#24 HistoricMustang

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 21:21

Originally posted by Lotus23

istr some later whispers that "mismanagement" (i.e., money) was the primary cause of its demise.


Joel, being involved with the SCCA at that time in Savannah I actually had an offer to work this event but declined because of what you are saying.

Checking later, most of the support personel were never rewarded. I made a good decision.

And yes, it was hot! :mad:

Henry

#25 HistoricMustang

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 21:25

Originally posted by Cynic2
L23,
Nick -- true, and it's a nice course, but there cannot be any sort of major professional race there, for many reasons. Every time I go to Roebling Road the suburbs have crept closer, and I wonder how long the track can remain.


Awh, Roebling Road.............the key in the old Mustang was to short shift before the straight. And, you had better bring plenty of tires!

But, the oysters and beer were always worth the 30 minute drive from my former home.

Had a lot of fun events there working with the SCCA.............most enjoyable were HSR and SVRA coming into town.

Henry

#26 Lotus23

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 01:48

Dug out a wad of stuff from the back of the closet: Sunday, 18 May 97.

There were actually 3 support races:

--FF2000 (Sam Hornish, Buddy Rice, Greg LeMond et al).

--Super Touring (small sedans, mostly Beemers, Mazdas, Hondas) (Desire Wilson, Dominic Dobson, David Donohue and friends).

--Barber Dodge Pro Series (Tony Renna, Derek Hill). DH won.

The feature race was Indy Lights: 50 laps, 98.2 miles. Helio Castro Neves (sic) took pole @ 1:04.791 and went on to take the checker. Sergio Paese 2nd, Lee Bentham 3rd. Others in the Lights field were Cristiano Da Matta, Tony Kanaan, Casey Mears, Jacques Lazier and Robby Unser.

The two CART cars were from PacWest (Reynard/Mercedes) driven by Mo Gugelmin (not Gil DeFerran!) and Mark Blundell; they lapped in "under 60 seconds" per Autoweek. Said Blundell, "It's definitely suitable for a PPG-CART World Series race."

Announced attendance was just over 34,500 for the weekend (roughly 4800 Fri; 10,700 Sat; 19,100 Sun) and everyone concerned seemed pleased with those numbers.

The closing line of Autoweek's May 26 report was that Indy Lights "will play in Savannah for at least the next two years."

#27 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 07:25

Historical note is that in 1997 he was Helio Castro Neves. I think at some point he may have gone Castro-Neves, but at some point early in his CART/Champ Car career he changed it, I think legally, to Castroneves.

#28 Lotus23

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 11:23

Yup, Ross, that's why I added the (sic).

My understanding is that he's legally changed it; I'm guessing to anglicize it a bit.

#29 RA Historian

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 23:51

As I remember it, to eliminate the confusion caused by the "Castro" being dropped in race reports, newspapers, etc., with his name coming out Helio Neves.

#30 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 00:59

Originally posted by Lotus23
Dug out a wad of stuff from the back of the closet: Sunday, 18 May 97.

There were actually 3 support races:

--Super Touring (small sedans, mostly Beemers, Mazdas, Hondas) (Desire Wilson, Dominic Dobson, David Donohue and friends).


That was the North American Touring Car Championship (NATCC), which ran two seasons, 1997-1998.

I don't recall any Mazda. Dodge had ostensibly a "works" team. There were a bunch of BMWs.

I caught these races on espn2. The first race that I was able to watch when the cable company finally added espn2 was one of the Savannah races.

Interesting circuit. One turn even had some banking.

#31 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 01:04

Originally posted by RA Historian
As I remember it, to eliminate the confusion caused by the "Castro" being dropped in race reports, newspapers, etc., with his name coming out Helio Neves.

It made no difference as I heard sportscasters routinely called him everything from Costronovas to Controvenis. The last part ranging from Nuh-vez to Neeves.

Much like Gil Villaneuva and Giles Villanova.

With Helio winning "Dancing With The Stars", now...now, they seem able get the name right :rolleyes:

#32 Lotus23

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Posted 19 April 2008 - 20:18

Jim, you're right: Helio's success on DWTS seems to have vaulted him into the consciousness of a lot of folks who had no inkling of his existence beforehand.

Recently, I've had several co-workers (most of whom wouldn't know the IRL from the NFL) mention his name.

#33 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 21:26

Another "track" from Savannah's rich racing heritage, Hunter Army Airfield.

Believe the SCCA visited a number of times at the "national" level, including Briggs Cunningham and gang.

http://www.rowdy.com...rofile/blog/138

Henry

1971
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#34 Terry Walker

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 02:10

Not a lot of change. Looks deserted - empty carpark.

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#35 fines

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 06:54

Photographed on a Sunday, perhaps? Anyway, looks remarkably the same over almost 40 years...

#36 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 11:45

Originally posted by Terry Walker
Not a lot of change. Looks deserted - empty carpark.


Hunter AAF is the home of the 1st Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, along with all its support units, plus a slice of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. It is scarcely empty or deserted.

#37 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 14:06

Roebling Road was named after the man who financed it: Robert Roebling. Robert's great-grandfather was John Roebling, the German founder of a Pennsylvania-based wire cable business. He designed and built a number of suspension bridges, including Brooklyn Bridge. The family owned the Mercer Automobile Company around the turn of the century. When Robert took over the business, his company was also involved in the construction of the George Washington and Golden Gate Bridges. An aborted kidnapping of the Roebling children -- the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping took place only a few miles away -- motivated the family to move from Princeton to Modena Plantation, a hunting preserve on Skidaway Island near Savannah. There Robert raised Black Angus cattle while living on the Black Douglas, his three-masted schooner moored at the island. After WW II Roebling became a lifelong SCCA supporter, serving as one of its regional officers.
The track was built after various studying various English tracks. John Rueter, another well-known SCCA supporter, created its layout with the help of Ed Rahal, who offered him an office in his Savannah dealership. Because of all his work, the SCCA awarded Rueter the Wolf Barnato Trophy in 1958.
Two SCCA events were held from 1960 on, with the following overall winners up to 1963:
Jun 11-12, 1960 Inaugural, Joe Sheppard [Porsche RSK, Brumos]
Nov 5-6, 1960 Geechee Prix, Joe Sheppard [Porsche RSK, Brumos]
May 13-14, 1961 Geechee Prix, Art Huttinger [Lister/Chevy]
Nov 4-5, 1961 Unknown
May 19-20, 1962 Geechee Prix, Hap Sharp [Cooper Monaco/Climax]
Nov 17-18, 1962 Geechee Prix, Charlie Kolb [Maserati 300S, Keymo Motors]
May 18-19, 1963 Rueter Memorial, Charlie Kolb [Ferrari Dino 196S --or 246S??]
Nov 23-24, 1963 3 Hours, Don Johnson [Lotus 23/Ford, Frank Harrison]
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#38 Hugewally

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 16:51

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
a slice of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. It is scarcely empty or deserted.

They're just a little busy elsewhere right now...

#39 HistoricMustang

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 18:09

Well, lets add this to the Savannah tracks.

A late Google Earth photograph could provide current status of track?

Believe location is near Collins, Georgia.

Henry

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http://www.beststuff...ctory-lane.html

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#40 Cynic2

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 00:35

Victory Lane is off Ga 57/121, near Cobbtown (and Collins). The track was graded last November, and it was scheduled for paving beginning early this year. (I've been involved with other things and haven't kept up with progress, but I'll ask the people involved when I get a chance.)

Strictly speaking, it's not a race track, as no racing is planned. The only way a race would be held is if the homeowners association votes to have one.

#41 Terry Walker

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 02:28

The Google earth photo is too old to show any development except possibly some site clearing. The location is at the junction of route 152 and CR 104.

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