2019 SVBCC Jefferson 500 Report

Mark Harris

Summit Point Raceway hosted its annual Jefferson 500 races May 15-19.

The track is a look back to an older era when amateur racers drove their sports cars to the track, raced, and (hopefully) drove them home. The weather cooperated: fans encountered light drizzle, cloudy skies, and modest temperatures for most of the long weekend. The race field was divided into 7 classes– each of which ran 1/2 hour qualifying heats Thursday-Saturday mornings & afternoons before heading into the final Sunday races. British turnout was excellent: lots of MGA’s and B’s, Caterhams, a few minis, MG Midgets & Sprites, the odd Peerless, a Lister Jag, XKE’s, several Turners etc…. Competition was spirited and enjoyable.

Local long time vintage racer Les Gonda competed in his well known white-green MGB GT V8 (see this writeup). Les has probably collected more wins in Collier Cup competition than any other MG in the US. His alloy 3.5 liter motor is topped by multiple Weber carburetors and puts out prodigious power. This year’s class competition included many formidable challengers (including the Porsche 914-6’s) and his V8 ended in the middle of the pack.

Three minis (two white and one orange) were spirited stand outs (although not winners) in the under 1.3 liter class. It’s always enjoyable watching these tiny front wheel boxes take the curves at speed.

The oldest car competing was a LHD North American export 1953 MGTD owned for 30 years by an individual from New Jersey. The car is very original and came with a special order Marshall-Nordec supercharger that was apparently fitted at the factory. Its early history in the US is foggy but in current tune, the engine produces just over 90 bhp with 4 psi boost from the blower. The owner has just begun vintage racing with the car and this was his first time at Summit Point Raceway.

I have a special affinity with the car because my own 1953 MGTD came off the assembly line a few hundred vehicles earlier and mine has run with a Judson supercharger for many decades. The Judson Manufacturing Company was located just outside of Philadelphia and produced a variety of vane type superchargers for industrial and automotive applications. (36 bhp VW bug, MGA, MB 190 SL, etc ) The model 26 Judson–which I own–was sold throughout the the 1950 and 60’s and promised a 40% horsepower increase with no added modifications. My supercharger currently puts out about 1 psi for each 1000 of engine rpm–reaching around 6 psi at the red line of 6000.

I briefly saw SVBCC member and MGB racer Bob Lasater in the pits but never caught up with him and don’t know if he drove or crewed for someone.

The 500 was an enjoyable spectacle and I can safely assure everyone that the fastest competitors won.