2023 TOM ELLIS TRIBUTE HIGHLIGHTS
The Tom Ellis Tribute at the RMVR 40th Anniversary Spring Sprints – that’s a whole lotta words! The theme of the weekend’s event was to recognize and honor Tom Ellis, one of RMVR’s founders and a contributor to several of vintage racing’s important institutions. And as the title of the event indicates, the club was also celebrating its 40th anniversary year as a vintage racing organization.
Kelly and I spent months striving to make the Tom Ellis Tribute a “perfect event”, but Mother Nature was determined to put a fly in our ointment. A gloomy weekend forecast kept some away but couldn’t dampen the vintage spirit for those who did come out to enjoy good racing and off-track socializing over the course of the weekend.
Leaving for HPR Friday morning, racecar in tow, the first song on my radio was the Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. A sign of things to come maybe? Alas, Friday morning’s open lapping was cancelled due to the rain and few willing participants; however, the afternoon saw quite a few out on track preparing for the weekend’s races. For many, it was the first time on track since last Fall and an opportunity for drivers to shake off the winter rust and shake down their cars.
Despite the cool temps and overcast skies, Saturday turned out to be a great day with practice & qualifying sessions in the morning and a pair of races in the afternoon. Control, T&S, grid, and our awesome corner marshals kept everyone on schedule throughout the day. Some of that credit must go to the drivers too, as there were no contact incidents! Chad Wight was a happy camper.
There was a Saturday evening Social in the pavilion offering a taco bar, cake and libations. Tom Ellis was recognized for his accomplishments and contributions and presented with an etched glass plaque. Long-time member Eloise McIlree gave Tom an amazing hand-made quilt that could have been an historical record of the club, showcasing event patches going back decades. Stories were told by and about Tom. I think he was truly touched by the accolades and recognition. It is certainly well deserved.
Sunday dawned overcast, cool, and rainy once again. The car count in the paddock had thinned noticeably overnight. And with the forecast calling for heavier rain in the afternoon, a decision was made to scrub all afternoon sessions. Our great volunteers unanimously offered to return to their stations if the drivers chose to race in the morning. Chad Wight then held a short drivers’ meeting to gauge the level of interest in racing in the rain. Fourteen intrepid drivers raised their hands and with that, two separate groups (one open wheel & one production) took to the track for the final races of the weekend.
Many thanks to all who helped make this event happen and to those who participated.
Kelly Nichols & Jon Whiteley
Tom Ellis Tribute Event Chairs