Burt Levy once described Zapata Racing as an undisciplined horde of T- wielding misfits, "T" for T-Series MGs. It was ably abetted, though, by like-minded racers from the Florida Gang, New England Bunch, Mid-Ohio/PA Group, and similar fanatics from all the other states. Initially, cost and business considerations held the racing venues to tracks located east of the Mississippi River. The name, Zapata, originated with banter between truckers on I-95 inFlorida and Bill Parish, while describing some classic western movies, especially Viva Zapata. The name stuck, and it remains alive and well today.
From its founding in 1980, the members have changed over time. The original three founders drove TCs and TDs, but it is much more diversified today, with Carl George and David Conrad campaigning MGAs, Mark Craig a Spitfire, Charlie Kates a Lotus 7, David Bearden, Bob Yeager, Hunter Yeager and Tom Trabue Porsches, plus Phil Wicks with a Mini Cooper. Zapata lost its mecurial and beloved leader, Bill Parish, to lung cancer in 1998. After Bill passed away, the mantle fell to Carl (The Chief) George, and he has worn it well. He has led and grown the team to its current state. And, while some of the early aspects have faded away, it still retains the original purpose and personalities - an electic bunch who have FUN with their vintage race cars.
One always gets in trouble when naming names, but there are some that just have to be mentioned, who made for a fantastic journey for Zapata members and others. Some that come readily to mind are: Ford Heacock, founder of SVRA; Greg Prehodka, original Editor of MG Vintage Racers newsletter; Fred Lieb, an early Zapata member who drove his very original Turner, a car he had originally raced at Sebring in 1957; Dave Rex and his brutally fast Vette; Mike Buhl, Zapata's one-of-a-kind chef or "Spatula;" Al Cole, who still remains a member of the family; Tony Roth, Beau Gable, Will Bowdin and Blair Engle, the four T-wielding misfits from Florida. Last, but not least, Ken Nixon of Cumberland Motor Works in Nashville, who has kept them flying (running) and Bill Davis, Zapata's resident artist, plus special acknowledgments to the distaff side, without whom most of the racers would never have gotten off the ground (so to speak).