Local gearheads gear up for Savannah Speed Classic 

click to enlarge Owner Ted Wenz, is on the right, and Bobby Carville, his #2 man, is at the left.
  • Owner Ted Wenz, is on the right, and Bobby Carville, his #2 man, is at the left.

TUCKED INTO the back of an Industrial Park, not far from JCB and the Eighth Air Force Museum, is Savannah Race Engineering, the kind of place that race fans drool over.

Inside you’ll find an ex-Dyson Riley and Scott, an Oreca LMPC car, an ex-Danny Ongais March-Cosworth, and any number of exotic engines and cars in various states of rebuild and tune.

Perhaps not the kind of thing you might expect to find in suburban Savannah, but they do a lot of special, fabulous work that you will be able to see, along with lots of other beautiful cars, when the Savannah Speed Classic returns, Oct. 22-25.

Among the engines either ready to be shipped to their car owners or in a state of rebuild are a Ford 289 V-8 with 4 Weber carbs, set to go into one of the five original Shelby King Cobras.

Being rebuilt are a 4-cam Maserati V-8, Judd V-10, and numerous others of varying degrees of exotica.

Presiding over all this glorious machinery is Ted Wenz, who brought his shop to Savannah from the Northeast about 5 years ago, and who does work for professional and amateur racers all over the country. Ted will be racing the March-Cosworth Indycar, raced at Indianapolis by Danny Ongais back in the 80’s.

Wenz has been building race cars and racing them for four decades, and his shop does suspension and chassis work as well as engine tuning and rebuilds. The cars he prepares compete in all levels of vintage racing and SCCA, and you can see his shop’s handiwork from Watkins Glen to Monterey.

Ted’s associates include Bobby Carville, whose career includes racing karts, Formula Ford 2000, a Formula Continental Championship, and years of competition in Formula Atlantic and other open wheel series. Between them Ted and Bobby have over a half century of experience in racing in North America and Europe.

The engine genius on staff is Wayne Brown, who has been working on racecars since he was 7, and was chief mechanic on an Indy Lights team with Johnny O’Connell and Eric Batchelart at age 15.

Over the past 23 years he has built race engines for everything from Formula Ford to Indycars, and he is also the Superflo Dyno Technician at Savannah Race Engineering.

Henry Bergmann has been building race engines since his days working on modifieds on the Long Island ovals, branched out into marine engines, then came back to cars and has been building engines for European race and road cars for the last 20 years.

However, the glue that holds it all together is Snoopy, the faithful company dog, without whom none of all this glorious work on racecars would be possible.

Their clients are all over the country, and with their location in Savannah, they are within an easy drive of numerous excellent tracks. Road Atlanta, Daytona, Barber Motorsports Park, Carolina Motorsports Park, and Sebring are all easily reached. They do a lot of testing at Roebling Road, out in Effingham County.

The facilities are all clean and modern, and a walk through their shop is quite a treat, with engines and full race cars in various states of tune, teardown, and rebuild.

When I visited they had just returned from a vintage event at Barber Motorsports Park, and fortunately none of the cars they had taken there had sustained any serious damage, either mechanical or body damage. The technicians were busy working on a couple of engines, and a large supply of racing slicks dominated one part of the shop, in various sizes.

Sadly, there were no engines in the dyno room for me to hear roar, maybe the next time I got out for a visit. Keep an eye out for their transporter at Hutchinson Island, and stop by and say hello. They will be happy to see you.


About The Author

Jim Casey

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