Fine 'Whine': Vintage auto racers from Charleston area showcase time-honored sports cars on the track

Scott Cracraft with his Ford Mustang (from left), Torsten Kunze next to his MGB and Gordon King beside his Porsche are from the Charleston area and compete in vintage car racing. (Jim Parker/Staff 5-3-2014).

They come from varied backgrounds, professions - even continents - while driving autos that aren't exactly alike.

Yet Scott Cracraft, Gordon King and Torsten Kunze share a distinction. They're all Charleston area vintage race car drivers.

Sporting roots in the Lowcountry, vintage racing offers high-flying 100 mph action while preserving the mystique of legendary sports car models.

Cracraft, who drives a Mustang, socked away money from his financial advisor's job to be able to bankroll his hobby. King, who wheels a Porsche, grew up around racing as the son of an oil company executive in Africa. And Kunze, who powers an MGB, got involved with vintage car racing after moving to the U.S. from his native Germany in 2006.

"It's a lot of fun," Cracraft said.

The Charleston drivers typically race in the Vintage Drivers Club of America ( series, which has six events this year; and the Historic Sportscar Racing Ltd. ( circuit, which includes the Savannah Speed Classic in the fall.

The most recent VDCA event was the Wild Hare Run April 11-13 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., near Danville. The circuit hosts the Hotlanta Historics at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., July 25-27.

There's no set age to be considered vintage: It's based on types of racing and the historical accuracy of the cars. With a few exceptions, however, cars date from the 1950s through the early 1970s. Some larger production categories go through 1989 and the "pre-war" category showcases cars before World War II.

"One of the goals of VDCA is to re-create a lost era in motorsports," the vintage drivers group noted on its website. "Cars that are faithfully prepared to the period in which they were raced help to re-create that golden age."

The sport remains somewhat obscure. Just 30,000 drivers have vintage-car racing licenses, Cracraft said, so racers don't always cross paths even from the same town.

For instance Cracraft, who has known King for some time, didn't meet Kunze until last year at a race at Savannah's Roebling Road - considered the "local" track since there isn't one in metro Charleston. "I saw another car with South Carolina plates," he remembers.

King, a noted car collector on Johns Island, is the elder statesman of the trio.

He grew up in Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - where his father was public relations manager for British Petroleum. The oil giant sponsored Formula One style race cars, and King became hooked on the sport.

He moved to the U.S. about 20 years ago and would take part in rallies in South Africa and vintage races domestically. King steered a 1960s era Mini Cooper before switching seven or eight years ago to a 1970 Porsche 914/6 GT.

"The sport has grown," King said. "A lot of money is getting in."

Kunze, who worked for Porsche in Germany, went to his first vintage race in Michigan after relocating there eight years ago. He would playfully register as "Bubba" on occasion and sometimes would be listed that way in programs. He moved to the Charleston area to work for Boeing.

Kunze's owned the green 1965 MGB for three years. It's a "fast car" with solid handling, he said.

The racing series' are well run, he said, noting "you get excellent support." With a smaller and lighter car, Kunze typically drives in a different division than King and Cracraft but not necessarily a separate race.

Cracraft, a wealth management specialist with Raymond James in Charleston, said he's climbed the financial ladder to be able to buy a car and absorb the vintage racing experience.

He planned ahead - acquiring a motor home to carry the vehicle to the track, attending the famed Skip Barber driving school at Road Atlanta and earning the special vintage-racing license - before he picked out a race car. He looked at a Porsche first before choosing the 1965 Mustang.

The vintage racers give a lot of credit to Alex Quattlebaum, a Charleston industrial developer who was instrumental in launching a group that today organizes scores of races.

"He really is the patriarch of vintage racing in the Southeast," Cracraft said. Quattlebaum, who raced a Cooper, was a founder of the Southeast Vintage Racing Association, which would morph into Sportscar Vintage Racing Association ( in 1981. It has a nationwide racing schedule today.

Quattlebaum participates in six to eight races a year driving vintage racecars as part of the SVRA, according to his company website.

Cracraft, for one, said there's a couple of big reasons why he races. "It's for the camaraderie and to keep the race cars alive."

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or