The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
12/1/19 8:00 a.m.

 

Story By James Heine • Photos As Credited

Like many things in motorsports, the genesis of Sports 2000, a now venerable class familiar to most road racers and fans, was a response to a money problem, or more specifically, a lack-of-money problem.

Step back for a moment to some 40-plus years ago and the mid-1970s. Here in the U.S., the economy drifted in and out of the doldrums, with inflation, interest rates, and unemployment all high. Money was tight not only here, but nearly everywhere, including the UK and Europe.

Thanks to the lackluster economy, road racing saw increased costs and tight budgets. Fields–especially in the small-displacement prototype classes–were, well, thin.

In England, John Webb, motorsports impresario extraordinaire and owner of the Brands Hatch racing circuit, responded to the dwindling numbers in the small-displacement sports-racing classes by creating Sports 2000 in 1976. This was a class, and a series, for two-seat prototype race cars that allowed few modifications and used as its powerplant what we know as the durable Ford SOHC two-liter “Pinto” engine with, again, strictly limited modifications.

The series’ first year was 1977, and although initial reaction to it was, at least in some quarters, doubtful, by year’s end the overall response was positive. At the end of 20 rounds, there was just one point separating eventual series winner John Cooper from runner-up Divina Galica. (Both, by the way, drove Lola T490s, as did third-place finisher Chris Alford. John Brindley, who finished fourth in that first championship, piloted a Tiga 77SC.)

Over here, we–or at least motorsports legend and Lola importer Carl Haas–took note. In 1978, he imported a handful of S2000 cars for his customers, and the rest, as they say, is history. S2000 went on to become an immensely popular SCCA Club Racing class, featuring a variety of constructors and even branching out into pro events, with Steve Glassey (1980) serving as the SCCA’s first national S2000 champion and Corey Fergus (2012) as the last.

“That’s one of the attractions of the car. It handles very, very well.”

Today, in vintage and historic circles the torch for S2000 is carried principally by Vintage Sports 2000 North America (VS2NA), a volunteer organization of S2 racers whose objective is to “promote the preservation and enjoyment” of Sports2000.

The organization has a roster of about 100 members and serves as an advocacy and advisory group for the class. VS2NA is not a sanctioning body, explains President Jim Hanna, but rather works with groups such as SVRA, VSCDA, VRG, and the SCCA to organize and promote S2 events.

Hanna, a Philadelphia-area Audi dealer, became involved in S2000 in 2010. Previously he had raced production cars, but as he explains, he took “five or six years off for house and college tuitions and all that stuff.

“In 2010, I got the bug again,” he says, “and I wanted to race again. I thought I wanted to get
a Formula Ford or Formula Continental, but a lot of my friends said, ‘No, you need to look at Sports 2000. They’re real race cars, and they’re safer than a formula car.’ So, I wound up buying a Sports 2000.”

Hanna says he has no regrets about buying that 1985 Swift DB2. “The first weekend I ran the
car at Roebling Road,” he recalls, “it was quite a revelation. It sticks like glue. It goes through the corners, and you don’t slow down a whole lot in the corners. That’s one of the attractions of the car. It handles very, very well. Again, it’s a real race car. As you tune it–shocks and springs and weight distribution and corner weights and things like that–you’re doing the same things you would do in any real racing car.”

Plus, Hanna adds, the cars are durable and not as expensive to run “as B sports racers, or Lolas and Chevrons, those kinds of cars.”

Seven-time SCCA Sports 2000 Champion and four-time ProSports 2000 Champion John Fergus agrees. “I started in 1980 with S2, and I liked the class for a number of reasons,” Fergus explains. “One, everybody had the same engine and the same tires and whatnot, so it was, as they say, a driver’s class. It’s an affordable class. It’s no more expensive than Formula Ford–now Formula F–because the engines are quite durable. Plus, it’s a proper race car, and it’s easy to maintain.”

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

Photography Credit: James Heine

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