The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced that hall of fame sports car legend Bob Tullius will serve as grand marshal for its March 3-5 race weekend at the historic airport circuit. SVRA will share the venue with the TransAm Series as it marks its 50th anniversary in 2016. Sebring hosted the very first Trans-Am race in March 1966 and Tullius brought his Dodge Dart sedan home a winner.
“Bob Tullius’ contributions to auto racing extend well beyond his hundreds of victories as a driver and team owner on tracks around the world,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “Bob set the standard for presenting motorsport as a business platform for sponsors. His cars were always immaculately prepared and he helped usher in the modern era of branding through association with race teams.”
In a career spanning three decades Tullius and his team, Group 44, amassed an amazing record of more than 300 victories including three Trans-Am championships, 21 Trans-Am race wins, 14 SCCA national titles, 11 IMSA victories and picked off a GTP class win for Jaguar at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1985. Tullius founded Group 44 in 1965 with associates Brian Fuerstenau and Dick Gilmartin racing British Leyland cars. Eventually, this led to a long association with Jaguar and sponsor Quaker State Motor Oil.
With cars, transporters, uniforms and everything associated with the team outfitted in the oil firm’s white and green trim livery, the brand impact was apparent. The team extended this into sales dealerships near the tracks they visited by hosting sales seminars and driving clinics. They were masters of auto racing marketing and promotion.
Tullius, a Sebring resident, will be highly visible to fans and competitors alike during a host of ceremonial duties that will include public speaking and autograph opportunities. While the SCCA and Sebring hall-of-fame driver retired from racing in 1990, he remains active, turning his attention to aviation. He has several vintage airplanes in his local hangar and logs dozens of hours of flight time each month.
In addition to Tullius’ participation, the SVRA show at Sebring will present the ultimate salute to the iconic Trans-Am series from its classic era to the contemporary series. SVRA will share the venue with the TransAm Series as it will on three other occasions later in the year. The Historic Trans-Am Association will also bring their show to the weekend. These authentic Trans-Am machines will stage their own competition contest. Icons like Parnelli Jones, Mark Donohue, George Follmer and Sam Posey drove many of these same cars during the sport’s classic era.
The SVRA is planning additional Trans-Am themed special events and will host other personalities legendary to the sport. Those features will be announced soon.
“As vintage racers we naturally have a great reverence for the sport’s history,” said Parella. “I am confident race fans will be very pleased with how we will pay homage to this very special anniversary.”
Note: Press release courtesy of SVRA.