It's a family affair at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend as the Hagopian family dominates the 24th annual Vintage Racing Celebration.
Originally from Springfield, Mass., and now located in Sunapee, N.H., 75-year-old Gary Hagopian leads three generations of vintage racers, including his son Douglas Hagopian; daughter, Margo Otey and her long-term boyfriend Damon Josz; and grandson, Matthew Hagopian. Together, the family makes up almost half of the Vintage Racer Group (VRG), which originated in 2004 with a mission of "safety, safety, safety!" and a goal to race for fun.
The Hagopians have been coming to NHMS for eight years now for the Vintage Racing Celebration, and what sets the Magic Mile apart from the other tracks VRG travels to is the scenic Loudon location, the oval-shaped track, and the road course.
"Other tracks aren't built like NHMS," said Gary Hagopian, who received the Loudon Cup (given annually to a competitor in the spirit of vintage racing based on good family fun) for his 15-year history in racing vintage cars and his family's impact on the team. "It's great, my family's all here and I think that's why they're presenting this award to me is because of my family."
Hagopian bought his first car at age 12, a broken down 1930 Chevrolet for $25,000, which he fixed up and maintained through his teenage years. Soon, Hagopian discovered his love for Jaguars and refers to himself as a "Jaguar nut" amongst friends and family. Compared to his Chevy and other cars, it's the look, the sound, the engine, and the exhaust of a Jaguar that is "music to my ears," he said.
Hagopian began racing at age 60 and is racing a 1963 Jaguar XKE, which he bought as a racecar and over his 10 years of ownership, the car has had four motors with each motor lasting only a few seasons. He maintains his own cars, including his street car - a 1962 Jaguar with around 70,000 miles.
VRG isn't the only team that Hagopian is able to show off his shiny red Jag; he also races with the Historic Racing Group, the Vintage Drivers Club of America, and the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. Out of all of those, Hagopian says he most enjoys racing with VRG.
"I like the rules and I like the people," he said. Being surrounded by his family and other families creates a fun atmosphere rather than a heavy competition-based team.
After Hagopian received the Loudon Cup, he hopes that the tradition of Vintage Car racing will continue for years to come.