RACE: Portland Rose Cup race notes

History is New Again at the 47th SCCA Rose Cup PORTLAND, Ore. (June 5, 2007) -- When it comes to SCCA Oregon Region's Rose Cup races, history isn't a bunch of dusty statistics -- it's a living tradition. No event on the west coast has been ...

History is New Again at the 47th SCCA Rose Cup

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 5, 2007) -- When it comes to SCCA Oregon Region's Rose Cup races, history isn't a bunch of dusty statistics -- it's a living tradition. No event on the west coast has been around longer or draws more attention than the Rose Cup. This year marked the 47th time that club racers have gathered in Portland to race for the cup. It was a time for reflection on the history of the event, and for carrying some grand traditions into the future.

The first Rose Cup race happened in 1961 -- a year before Oregon Region was chartered with Sports Car Club of America -- and has been run every June since then. The format of the race has changed several times over the years, but for the last few decades, the race has featured Super Production and big-bore GT cars. In the mid-1990s, the Portland Rose Festival added an additional feature race to the weekend, called the Festival Trophy. This feature rotates between the 8 regional run groups, giving every class a chance at the spotlight.

The actual Rose Cup trophy is a medium-sized silver bowl -- and the winner gets to hold it only for a few hours. At the end of race day, it goes back into safe storage with the Portland Rose Festival Association. Yet drivers go to incredible lengths to have their name engraved on the trophy because of the history and stature of the race.

This year, Rose Cup history was front and center as a new generation of drivers made their best efforts to earn a spot on the podium. In 1961 the first Rose Cup was won by Jerry Grant, driving a Ferrari Testa Rossa owned by Dick Hahn. This year, Hahn's daughter Cindi Lux brought her SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Dodge Viper to try for the win. In 1972, Portland auto dealer Monte Shelton took his first Rose Cup victory, and he took his seventh win in 2005. This year, his son Neil Shelton arrived with the winning car from 2005, looking to add his name to the trophy.

Todd Harris, owner of PIR's ProDrive Driving School, turned up with a DerHaag Trans-Am Corvette, 35 years after his father won the G Production race at the 1972 Rose Cup. The dark horse contestant was famed Trans-Am driver Greg Pickett, who arrived from California with a Trans-Am Jaguar, ready to race for the win.

After qualifying Shelton sat on the pole, but his joy was short-lived. Shelton's Porsche 962 has been a controversial car since its introduction and decisive victory at the 2005 race. The question of whether a Le Mans prototype could be a legal Super Production car had vexed officials and this year the SOM declared the car was not compliant with the event rules and could not compete.

The decision left Harris in the pole position, with Pickett's Jaguar on the outside. The second row included Cal Club's Loren Beggs in a Porsche 911 and Northwest Region's Rich Sloma in a Corvette. Fifth and sixth place belonged to Lux and her teammate Scotty White in their Vipers. Last on the grid in 36th position was the GT-3 Nissan 200SX of Marshall Atherton, who raced in the first Rose Cup and in most of the intervening years.

After the tremendous buildup before the green flag, the race itself was the picture of a smooth-running regional. Harris narrowly beat Pickett into turn 1, and retained the lead throughout the 30-minute race. His extensive experience at PIR paid off as he navigated lap traffic smoothly, while at times Pickett seemed to struggle to find places to pass. Sloma stayed steady in third place. Apart from a handful of local yellow flags for single car incidents, the race was clean and in the end, Harris made his father the proudest man at the track.

On the podium, Harris' sponsor and teammate Nick Fluge presented cash gifts to the Portland Rose Festival Assocation, a local school organization, and the Friends of PIR. Fluge had already won the Festival Trophy race on Saturday, driving his ITE class Z06 Corvette to a hard-fought victory.

Looking ahead to next year's Rose Cup, drivers and officials expect the trend towards Trans-Am machinery to grow. In the 1970s, the Rose Cup was a sanctioned Trans-Am race, and that bit of history may be getting ready for a repeat performance. The second generation of Rose Cup winners are all likely to be back, and Marshall Atherton says his goal is to race in the 50th Rose Cup in 2010.

By Jeff Zurschmeide/scca

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Series SCCA
Drivers Greg Pickett , Cindi Lux , Todd Harris