The Portland Vintage Racing Festival 2017 was staged July 27-30 at Portland International Raceway in Oregon. The event offered three full days of racing for all Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) race groups on the flat, yet challenging, 12-turn, 1.967 mile track.
Portland International Raceway (PIR) is built on the former location of Vanport, Oregon, which was destroyed in 1948, when a dike on the Columbia River broke and flooded the city. After the flood, all that remained were the paved streets and concrete foundations of destroyed buildings. In 1960, a time of growing interest in sports car and drag racing, the Portland Jaycees saw that the abandoned roads of Vanport had the potential to become a road race course. In 1961 the first Rose Cup auto race was held, won by Jerry Grant in a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (0704TR). The track would go on to host Champ Car, IMSA, ALMS and more.
Willy T. Ribbs served as grand marshal for the Portland Vintage Racing Festival 2017. The road course was the setting for Ribbs’ first victory in 1983 during the halcyon days of the Trans-Am series. The PIR triumph kicked off a streak of 19 career wins, making Ribbs the most prolific Trans-Am winner of the mid-1980’s.
“Willy is a true friend to the SVRA and shares our vision of vintage racing as a mainstream category of motorsports,” said SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “His active participation as a driver in our Brickyard Invitational Indy Legends Pro-Am since 2014 and appearances at other events on our nationwide schedule is a genuine asset to the growth we have experienced.”
Notable and interesting entrants at the 2017 SVRA Portland Vintage Racing Festival included Nick Colonna’s 1958 Devin SS and 1970 McLaren M8C; Thor Johnson’s 1959 Lotus 17, 1974 Schnitzer BMW 3.5 CSL and 1981 Porsche 924 GTR; Kurt Del Bene’s 1998 Benetton B198 and 1960 Lola Mk I; John Long’s 1963 Porsche Special; Greg Heacock’s 1967 Costin Nathan GT; Jean Pierre Molerus’ 1954 Nichols Special; John Hill’s 1972 Lola 292; Pieter Baljet’s 2006 Saleen S7R; Chandler Briscoe’s 1973 BMW CSL; Cameron Healy’s 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 and Don Crawford’s 1955 Lotus Mk IX; among others.
Similar to 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2017 Portland Historics, with Dennis Gray offering the following selection of 170 captioned images from Portland International Raceway.
Portland Vintage Racing Festival 2017 – Photo Gallery (photos: Dennis Gray)
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