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  1. #1
    SPG Aficionado YellowBird's Avatar
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    15 Feb 2014
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    86 SPG, 88 SPG, 91 SPG, 88 SiS, 89 900T, 96 900 SE CV, 96 Aero, 00 9-3 SE CV, 90 JetPack, 94 CE
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    SOC 2018 Opening Day SAAB Track Tour Event

    The 2018 SAAB Owners' Convention got underway with a bang. We had an Opening Day SAAB Track Tour Event at Dominion Raceway. Our Grand Marshal for the event was 6-time National Champion, Don Knowles, 1 of only 4 SAAB Cars USA Factory Sponsored Race Car Drivers, who competed in the very competitive Showroom Stock Class.

    Planning for this event got underway back in October 2017 and it would not have been possible without the great group at Dominion Raceway. Messiguy01 worked tirelessly to help promote this event on social media and even ran a contest to give away a free admission voucher.

    The fun actually started the night before the scheduled event. Don Knowles rolled into town Wednesday evening. For those of you not familiar with Don Knowles, he is a very accomplished SAAB race driver. He has won numerous racing titles, set 3 world land speed records, set 9 international speed records, has been featured in Sports Illustrated and he is still racing and instructing. Messiguy01 and his brother were also over by the track Wednesday evening, bringing in some of his SAABs. We all met up at the host hotel around 7:45 PM, along with some other SAAB enthusiasts and we went out for dinner. Mr. Knowles entertained us with many of his racing stories for the next hour or so.

    The next morning a few of us met with Mr. Knowles in the hotel dining area for breakfast. Once again, he was in typical SAAB racing instructor form, going over various racing techniques and tricks --- complete with hand drawn illustrations. When the clock struck 8:30 AM we all made our way out to the hotel parking lot, got in our SAABs and made the 1/2 mile trek over to Dominion Raceway for a day packed with fun and thrills.

    The Dominion Raceway team of Edwin Pardue(GM) and Steve Britt(Owner) really rolled out the red carpet for us. The track parking lot was already dotted with SAABs and the paddock was beautifully set up with several of Bill Jacobson's magnificent SAABs on display, from his amazing collection. His tent was already up and his transporter/trailer was open for us. As 9:00 AM approached, the parking lot was filling up and the anticipation and excitement was starting to stir.

    Everyone assembled in the upstairs 118 Bar and Grill, for a briefing and then it was back out to the parking lot to corral our SAABs. We all lined up on the grid for a group picture and what was supposed to be a simple "1-time around, to get familiar" lap. However, some of us failed to get the memo or simply got caught up in the excitement. On that "1-time around" lap there were so many SAABs out on the track that those of us in the back got separated from the group by turn 8. The majority of the group headed into the paddock area and onto the oval track after that 1 lap. However, about 6 SAABs never saw all of the others come off of the track and when we got back around to the start, confusion set in, followed by 7 minutes of all out bliss!!! For the next 3 laps it felt like Formula 1 at Silverstone!!! Fortunately, for me, I had asked my friend Patrick to pilot me around the road course in my SAAB, to start the day and give me a lesson in the correct racing lines. Patrick is not as well known as Ivan, on the local timed event circuit, but he is by far the fastest!! I had a former Indy Car Developmental Program Driver behind the wheel, while I was right seat and slightly nervous. They had to send out a Dominion Raceway vehicle to direct us off of the track and over to the NASCAR oval, but not before we had our moment of F1 fame.

    Once we were reunited with the SAAB herd, we filed into the infield of the oval track. We lined up for a group photo in the infield and then we were treated to a very informative speech by the 14 year old prodigy and driving sensation, Zach Lightfoot, who is a 2-time Champion, having won 40+ races. He spoke to our group, while flanking his #7 US Legends race car. Zach started out racing for Smithfield Racing, he now races for Zach Lightfoot Motorsports. One could not help but be impressed with Zach's; knowledge, humility, racing accomplishments and dedication. This young man had someone to turn into his race car and send him head 1st into the wall at 85mph. He suffered a broken fibula, tibula and a ruptured patella. Everyone thought his racing career was over, yet in 4 short months, Zach was back in the saddle!! Zach's racing instructor, Chris Johnson, also shared some of his knowledge with us. After the racecar seminar, it was back to our cars and off for 3 very slow Parade Laps on an absolutely packed 4/10 mile oval.

    As we were easing out of the oval and back over to the road course, the 2 open wheel SAAB race cars were able to stretch their legs on a now empty and inviting banked oval track. After our 3 Parade Laps on the road course, it was time for lunch, some live music and a wonderful message from our guest speaker and Grand Marshal, Don Knowles. The weather was clear but very hot, so everyone was happy to catch a break back in the glorious AC of the 118 Bar and Grill. Chef Tim and his staff served up a delicious lunch and Big Rob provided the live music from the stage, followed by our guest speaker.

    After Don Knowles concluded his speech, it was time a driver's meeting, for those that were going to participate in the 2 higher speed Track Attack sessions. Chris(pace car driver) and James(chase car driver) went over the track layout and session rules with us and then answered our questions. It was now time for all of the F1 dreamers to strap in and get back on the track. The Track Attack sessions were awesome. Ralph, in his mint condition white Sonett II and Chris in the Elite Motors 9-3 SS race car, absolutely stole the show out on the road course!! Messiguy01 was bestowed with the honor of piloting the Elite Motors race car for session 2. Overall we had a blast at Dominion Raceway!! The event went by way too fast!! It would have been nice to spend a full day at the track, however, the dash was now on to make the very scenic trek to the host site for SOC '18 --- the breathtaking venue of the Solomons Island Holiday Inn Marina and Convention Center.

    While the majority of the SAABs pulled right out at 3:00 PM, a few of us hung around to chat and close things down. Around 3:40 PM our quaint little SAAB Convoy of 7 took to the first, very twisty back roads and then arrow straight Rt. 301 over the 135 foot high, 1.7 mile long Harry Nice Bridge. This was followed up with us crossing the 140 foot high, 1.4 mile long Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge onto Solomons Island --- wow, what a drive!!!!

    A big thank you to everyone that made the SOC '18 Opening Day Track Tour Event possible and a huge success. A special "thank you" to the official event photographer, Seth Bengelsdorf --- this man was unbelievable and took some amazing pictures at the track and at Solomons Island, as well as Don Carpenter and Richmond Luster who also provided pictures and video clips for this video.

    SOC '18 was simply amazing. Please be sure to see the series of videos that AutoAutopsy put together. We are also proud to report that the Virginia SAAB Driving Club members won a whopping 12 award and as always the Klenes' absolutely stole the night at the SOC '18 Awards Banquet!!! Our club worked as volunteers alongside the wonderful group from the Maryland SAAB Club--- what a great group of enthusiasts!!! In closing the biggest "thank you", hands down, has to go to the Board Members of the SAAB Club of North America--- those ladies and gentlemen did a phenomenal job, they are all truly "SAAB Ambassadors"!!!!


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  2. #2
    Frank
    Administrator nordwulf's Avatar
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    30 Jul 2010
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    NW Michigan, USA
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    previous: 2006 9-3, 2001-06 9-5, 2011 9-4X
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    Thanks for sharing, I must have missed this post while I was on vacation. It sounds and looks like it was a lot of fun.

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