All-American Muscle on Display at 2013 USVTA Southern Nationals!

All-American Muscle on Display at 2013 USVTA Southern Nationals!

There are plenty of local races for all vehicle types held across the country, but the Vintage Trans-Am movement is definitely picking up steam as the racing season heads indoors for the winter, as racers looking for inexpensive competition between scale-looking model cars have flocked to the budding class.  Just a few weeks ago the United States Vintage Trans-Am R/C Racing Series (or USVTA) held its Southern Nationals down in Nashville, TN and one of the racers sent me this excellent race report!

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Words: Scott Black
Photos: Scott Black, Will Sheffield, Robert Dirla and Myron Kinnard

The 2013 USVTA Southern Nationals took place on September 21st, 2013. The anticipation for this exceptional event had been building with racers ever since they began seeing pictures and hearing stories of the 2012 event via several Internet forums. Held at Thunder RC Raceway in Nashville, Tennessee, the 2013 USVTA Southern Nationals had almost achieved a truly mystical status for many due to reports of how incredible it was in 2012. Pumped racers came from all over the United States and descended on Nashville for a great weekend of Vintage Trans Am R/C racing!

Fish Eye view of Thunder RC Raceway

Fish Eye view of Thunder RC Raceway

Thunder RC Raceway track owner and operator Robert Dirla, in combination with well-known VTA racer (and master promoter) Myron Kinnard, took the success of the 2012 and 2011 events and parlayed them into what many consider to be the pinnacle event for Vintage Trans Am R/C racing in the United States. Are there other big USVTA racing events? Sure. Are there other well-attended on-road carpet races? Of course. But the USVTA Southern Nationals in Nashville, well, it has become the premiere event that lovers of miniature muscle cars want to attend. The USVTA 2013 Southern Nationals was three days of non-stop pinion gear changing, tire cleaning, car setup tweaking fun!

When you first pull up to Thunder RC Raceway in Nashville (, what you see is an older warehousing type facility set in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Could the coolest USVTA event in the country really be inside? Indeed! When I arrived to Thunder RC for the first time last year, I knew I was in the right place because of the dozens of cars were parked all around the building and huge amounts of R/C equipment being unloaded and hauled inside. I was surprised to find that the track is actually on the second story of the building. As soon as you open the front door at Thunder RC Raceway, dude, you know you are going to have a blast!

The pit area greeted all racers with comfortable, spacious, chair-level tables.

The pit area greeted all racers with comfortable, spacious, chair-level tables.

For the 2013 event, a number of generous volunteers helped the Thunder RC Raceway’s staff install better lighting, paint hundreds of square feet of walls, improve pit spaces, add additional restroom facilities and they made sure that flat screen displays were hung so that racers always knew what was going on the entire weekend, and more importantly, when they were up to race.

The generosity of R/C industry manufacturers, suppliers and small vendors for this race was extraordinary. I still can’t believe the amount of items that were raffled off over the weekend! It was amazing! The trophies were really top notch too. One aspect that the event has become known for is the incredible trophies that are presented. Each year, they get nicer and nicer! Race Director Myron Kinnard makes sure that winning a trophy is a real treat and a memento that any racer would love to have to take home.

Myron Kinnard served as Race Director for the weekend.

Myron Kinnard served as Race Director for the weekend.

In Myron Kinnard fashion, the trophies for the Junior VTA racers were also incredible… Just as nice, if not nicer than the trophies for the grown-up boys. Myron clearly understands that the future of R/C racing is important. He smiled biggest for the young guys and he made sure they were treated like kings at the end of their weekend. I was impressed that the junior racers were willing to race in front of some of the best on-road racers in the country. Those racers, along with the crowd, really cheered them on.
In terms of numbers, the 2013 event had over 102 entries. Approximately 60 of those were in the VTA class. Other classes that were also run were 12th scale, 17.5 Touring Car and USGT. That kind of attendance translated into 18 heats of racing! Three qualifying rounds were run on Saturday. On Sunday, a “last chance” qualifier was run in the morning and then the Mains kicked off later in the afternoon. Since many racers had a long way to travel home, the goal of our hosts was to have us all done by 4 PM or so on Sunday. Nice.

PROTOform's new Trans Am body!  Note "Approved" sticker on windshield.

PROTOform’s new Trans Am body! Note “Approved” sticker on windshield.

This was awesome: PROTOform chose the 2013 USVTA Southern Nationals to debut their new ’71 Trans Am body which has been specifically designed for Vintage Trans AM racing. A Pontiac Trans AM body has been begged for by VTA racers for several years. Sure, there’s already Camaros and Mustangs galore in VTA, but the Trans AM was the car body that many wanted to see on the track. McAllister Racing came out with their 1970 Trans Am version earlier in the season, which has proven to be excellent on the track. The high anticipation for the PROTOform ’71 body was due to its super scale lines and detail. Racers were not disappointed! Rob King, the Guru (and official approver of all things Vintage Trans AM), attended the 2013 Southern Nationals and personally gave the new PROTOform ’71 Trans AM body USVTA approval right there in front of everyone! He placed his “USVTA Approved” sticker directly on the Lexan windshield to a strong round of applause and cheers. That was a cool moment to experience. Smiles all around. A little piece of USVTA history.

The most anticipated races of the day were of course the A Mains. Thunder RC ran the VTA A Main three times! They scored each race to eventually determine truly the best VTA driver at the event. The racing was incredibly close, and an absolute treat to watch for everyone attending.

BBQ Hot Dogs!  Almost as good as the racing!

BBQ Hot Dogs! Almost as good as the racing!

One of my favorite aspects of the weekend were the family members who came to the track to cook great concession food (we are talking Nashville BBQ people)! That way, we didn’t all have to run to the nearest fast food shack during the day. A special ‘Thank You’ to Ebony Kinnard and her daughters for feeding the masses with home-cooked chow.

The USVTA 2013 Southern Nationals were heaven on earth for those of us who love to race classic muscle on a smaller scale. If you want to go to the 2014 event, you better keep and eye on when sign-ups start. The goal weekend for the 2014 event is September 24-28 in Nashville!

2013 USVTA Southern Nationals A-Main Results:

Pro Trans Am (VTA)

  1. Rob ‘VTA’ King
  2. Eric Anderson
  3. Eric Gillespie
  4. Kevin Kane
  5. Mike Jones
  6. Melvin Lee
  7. Eric Whiteside
  8. Bill Eisenhard
  9. Dave Franklin
  10. Scott Meeks

Pro Grand Touring (USGT)

  1. Rich Murphy
  2. RJ Whiteside
  3. Eric Schneeweis
  4. Travis Surridge
  5. Bill Sydor
  6. Kevin Kane
  7. Matt Lyons
  8. Dave Franklin
  9. Justin Lyons
  10. Rob ‘VTA’ King

1/12-scale 13.5 Spec

  1. Eric Anderson
  2. Steve Rossi
  3. Robert Dirla
  4. Bill Eisenhard
  5. Scott Fuller
  6. Brian Lettrich
  7. Chuck Mackin
  8. Chanc Saari

17.5 Spec Rubber Tire Touring Car

  1. Michael Skeen
  2. Eric Anderson
  3. Cody Woods
  4. Steve Rossi
  5. Mike Jones
  6. Brian Busse
  7. Evan Williams
  8. Eric Schneeweis
  9. RJ Whiteside
  10. Monti Panzica

Novice Trans Am

  1. David Owens Jr.
  2. Tyler Batey
  3. Matt Lyons
  4. Taj Mitchell
  5. Melinda

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Updated: October 22, 2013 — 8:46 PM
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