DRIVER HISTORIES

In February of 1982, SCCA member #35400 sent in his application to have his national racing license renewed. The member hand wrote four races into the section reciting the prior year’s events which satisfied the minimum participation requirements. He first listed a second place finish in the September 1981 CanAm race at Mosport. Next, he listed a fourth place finish in the November 1981 CanAm race at Las Vegas. The fourth entry on the list was a fifth place finish in the July 1981 Six-Hours of Watkins Glen. An impressive enough list, but the third entry modestly tucked in between the others was most notable: “1/81  Daytona 24 Hrs., Porsche 935, 1st.”

Prior to ever winning his first IndyCar race, like every other SCCA member in the country Bobby Rahal dutifully filled out by hand his competition license renewal.  One might think that winning the 24 Hours of Daytona might be the first – and perhaps the only necessary – qualifying race one would put on their license renewal form. Rahal had co-driven the number 9 Garretson Racing/Style Auto Porsche 935 K3 with Bob Garretson and Brian Redman to victory at Daytona that year.

Rahal’s license renewal application is preserved in the SCCA Archives at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen along with more than 400 cubic feet of drivers’ files with applications for regional and national licenses and renewals for thousands of drivers. The archive encompasses files for many well-known drivers such as Chip Ganassi and Butch Leitzinger. Even NFL great Walter Payton’s June 1988 racing license application is among the collection. It also documents the careers of SCCA Hall of Famers like Janet Guthrie and Bob Henderson.

But primarily the collection contains numerous files of amateur club drivers who made up the core of SCCA’s membership over time. Browsing through the records, one would find the 1971 renewal application of Lou Pavesi, an airline captain from San Francisco who planned that year to race a McLaren/Chevrolet in the L&M Championship. Or a 1973 license renewal application from Fred Keyser, a Navy helicopter pilot stationed in Key West, FL, who had previously scored a 1st place finish in EP in the 1965 Southeast Championship in his 1958 Porsche Speedster.

The Archive records frequently include a novice permit and log book with a photograph of the driver, a list races in which the driver participated, and information about the completion of drivers’ schools. Even more interesting, the SCCA requested that drivers fill out a “driver profile” for use for publicity and media inquiries. Those profiles contain additional information on a driver’s racing record, sponsors, car models and classes, profession, hobbies, and other details. Occasionally, the files contain photographs of racecars.

Drivers also were required to submit “physical examination forms” to provide proof of their fitness for the rigorous physical demands of racing. All medical records in the archive are restricted to ensure confidentiality and compliance with HIPAA protections. Only the drivers themselves, with proof of identification, can access or copy medical information in the files.

The SCCA Archives document the careers of thousands of SCCA drivers from occasional club racers to those who went on to professional careers. The collection tells the story of an amazing diversity of drivers who have participated in SCCA regional and national racing from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Thanks to the great work of Archivist Jenny Ambrose along with SCCA Archives technicians Joe Cali and Rick Hughey, the collection is now arranged and shelved alphabetically by the drivers’ surname. Thousands of drivers’ files survived the relocations of SCCA’s national offices or purges of office files to become an important part of the permanent archives.