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2011 Race Reports

Our Hurricane in Savannah

While Sunday races have over the years earned the reputation of being anti-climactic to Saturday afternoon's feature races, such was not the case this year at Roebling Road.  Sunday morning's Enduro produced a hotly contested finish between Henry Costanzo's Datsun 240Z, Skip Bryan's BMW 2002, Alex Moya's Datsun 510 and Ron Monfils' Porsche 911.

The Group A race saw John E. Jones' Sprite pursued by Phil Wicks' Mini Cooper  and Doug Meis' Honda S800.  Wicks and Meis diced back and forth for the second place finish while they were dogged by Dennis Moser's Datsun B-210.  Great entertainment for the viewing public!  While the Group B race was lightly attended, it produced one of the better races of the weekend between Fred Ritneour in his Toyota SportsRacer and Hugh Tompkins piloting his Bobsy SR2 who finished 3/100's of a second apart!

The Open Wheel Group saw the lone Club Ford of Barry Durham chased by a passel of Formula Vees.  Mike Ennis in his Lynx  triumphed over both Duke  Waldrop in his Lynx and Mike Jackson in the Shadowfax with a spectacular run--tight, close racing that only drafting Vees can provide.

The real story of the weekend, however, is in the race Julie Allen has won. 

Vintage Drivers have long been familiar with Julie Allenís smile, her warmth, and her engaging personality. Many of us got to know her when she first became involved with vintage racing in 1994, first as Membership/Marketing Director for the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and then as Marketing Director for VIRginia International Raceway. She bought and restored her 1962 Austin-Healey Sprite and formed her DWD (Damn Woman Driver) Racing Team while still at VIR.

While there, she proudly organized a Tribute to Women Racers for the 2004 Gold Cup Historic Races which featured an All-Womenís Feature Sprint Race sponsored by Vintage Motorsport. The event included Donna Mae Mims, Suzy Dietrich, Divina Galica, Audrey Zavodsky, and honored Denise McCluggage as Grand Marshall. At the time, Julie said, "It has always been my desire to create a tribute to women racers. It was an honor and a privilege to line up on the grid with all those great ladies, both professional and amateur." Those of us who were there remember what a classy event Julie produced that weekend.

Since then she and husband Mike Allen have moved on, settling in Charleston, SC. DWD Racing involves her entire family. Her husband, Mike, also long associated with Vintage racing, serves as Team Manager They have long used her racing and team logo to earn money for breast cancer research and awareness, raising thousands of dollars over the years. But her racing was forced to take a back seat during her own personal battle with the disease.

After a double mastectomy and months of intensive chemo and radiation treatments, Julieís doctor gave her the go-ahead to race competitively again. She chose our event at Roebling Road Raceway for her return to the track, supported by a crowd of fans made up of family and friends from Charleston. She may have felt a little rusty behind the wheel when the weekend started, but she said, all smiles, that it felt great to be back on the track where she belongs.

At this event DWD Racing also introduced the original graphic that she has designed for the hood of her car. An adaptation of the ubiquitous pink ribbon symbol for breast cancer survivors, the "damn woman driver" grasps a steering wheel aggressively. Mike obligingly painted it on the car for her. More importantly, rather than her name followed by driver next to her door, he has stenciled
"Julie Allen, Survivor."

 

 

In Lieu of a Summer Racing Report,
we're publishing a brief article written by Bill Ward,
VDCA Member Emeritus

 

I was having lunch with a friend last week, and we were talking about the people we e-mail on a daily basis. At least half of mine were Ďol racing friends.  She said she talks every day to a friend of hers that lives in the Bahamas. Her friend Pat is also the x wife of a famous racecar driver.  One thing led to another and she asked if I missed racing. Then before I could answer she said. ďWhat is it about racing that makes you all love it so?Ē

Now this is a question Iíve been asked many times before in many different ways.  People are always wanting to know the secret.  Some times the questions come from friends who know I have been involved most of my life in owning and driving race cars, and want to know what the big deal is.  Just why I have devoted so much time, money, and passion to this thing. Then there were questions by people who are convinced the whole thing is absurd, child like, and also dangerous.  Their hostility requires short answers from me.  Some of my friends who like to argue live for those moments and those people to come along.  Itís well known that racing is loaded with egos the size of a Moby Dick or larger.  The real honest answer is far too complex to answer in a few sentences so I usually go for the quick simple answer of the day.  Like itís fun, I like to drive fast, it helps to get girls, or I have a death wish. Whatever pops into my head at the moment. 

Have you ever noticed itís impossible to have a serious conversation with more than 4 people.  You will be interrupted before you finish your first sentence. A guy I know who traveled in Miamiís smart circles once told me he read only the headlines and sometimes just the first paragraph of articles in the NY Times. He said thatís all you need for people to think you are smart.  He said someone will always interrupt you before you finish. One must have Henny Youngman type one liners ready to go. Was it Hemingway who said the only real sports are car racing and bull fighting?  Thatís a good  example.  Short, assertive and dramatic.  It may not be true, but it sounds like it might be true.

My lunch friend is a lovely lady who deserves an honest answer.  She has other racing friends and has been at the track with them and in conversation with them about their motives, but it seems to be the un-answerable question.  The more you talk about it, the more questions come up.

There are so many kinds of racing these days I cant keep up, and I have been around it for most of my life.  To tell some one how you feel about it, you need the words of a poet.  I got into racing because a friend wanted to do it. While I was at the University of Florida I had a friend, Dick Richards, who owned a beautiful MGTF 1500.  He found an almost new MG TD he talked me into buying . It didnít take much.  I bought it for $4,000.  A few years later I was living in Port Washington, NY.  Dick came up to visit the summer of 1957 and we went to our first race, the MG Nationals at Marlboro, Md. After a day of driverís school we went racing.  I got a first and 2 seconds-in-class that weekend in my TD, and there was no looking back. The 3-day weekend consisted of my loosing a woodruff key, and doing almost all of my racing in the rain, good training for later.  The rain was so bad I had to open the door on the TD to let water out. I drove three laps with a fly in my goggles.  And spent lots of time off the road . After the Novice Race where I got a 2nd, we were told to behave ourselves, and we rookies could be allowed to continue racing.  I was late getting to the grid--still working on the woodruff key problem--so I lined up in the back of the pack of about 25 cars.  At Marlboro in those days, you made a rolling start on an oval then onto a long straight down to the first hairpin turn. It was still raining.  My surplus flight suit is wet and I am cold and I have that fly in my goggles.  As I come off of the oval, I see everyone has lined up on the right side of the track for the first hairpin turnÖbeing good little drivers.  I take off in 2nd gear and pass about 20 cars when I get into the hairpin.  Iím now in about 5th place overall, and every one is thinking ďwhy didnít I do that?Ē  After that spectacular pass, every lap I come round, the whole grandstand of wet spectators stood up and cheered.

And thatís why I became a race car driver.

There were many adventures after that. Seventeen race cars and over one hundred races later, I will never forget the thrill of that first time.    

P.s. I drove the TD back home to Port Washington after the race.

 

   

 

Bill Ward 

 

 

 

 

VDCAís Ninth Annual Wild Hare Run

 

Our April event at VIR, the premier track in the South, enjoyed a record entry this year. VDCAís partners, Tarheel Region BMWCCA and Pro-F2000 helped fill the paddock with race cars of all stripes and levels of racing. Saturday and Sunday spectators from throughout the greater Danville area enjoyed the mix of cars.

Friday evening after the Wild Hare Run, Dave and Robyn Handy of SASCO hosted our entrants at their new shop in the Raceplex. --A great way to start the weekend.

The race that gives this event its name takes place on Friday afternoon. The Wild Hare Run is an Australian pursuit race: cars are lined up in reverse order of qualifying time with the car with the slowest times from Fridayís practice sessions taking the pole. Cars are then staged single file in the hot pits and released at intervals dictated by their official times. Theoretically, all the cars should cross the finish line at the end of the race at the same time, but, of course, this never happens. Since the number of laps for the race is a closely guarded secret and sandbagging for qualifying is frowned upon, attempts to "game" the system are usually futile.

VDCAís only trophies are for its infamous "fun" races such as the Wild Hare. Bob Clarke, annual fabricator of the second place award, The Bunnyís Butt Trophy, started on the pole in his Bobsey FV and fended off all the wild hares chasing him until the very last lap. Corner workers called his progress through the turns, but he was overtaken before the checkered flag was thrown. This yearís Wild Hare was Sam Blanton in his Datsun 510. Ben Prewitt took the Bunnyís Butt, second place, asking incredulously, "Are you sure? I won this in 2001." ("Like we're gonna remember that from 10 frickin' years ago!" exclaims hare wrangler Doug Meis.)

This year, Race Director, Mike Jackson, inaugurated a new award for the event: a skunk for the driver whose times were waaaaay off his official qualifying times, hence "breaking out" and disqualifying him from winning the Wild Hare pursuit race. He is therefore "skunked." This year the driver most off his previous fast times was Chris Bryant in his amazingly fast MGA.

For the second time this year, Victory Lane Magazine has selected VDCAís event at VIR as one of the venues for the Formula Vee Festival series they sponsor. Nineteen Formula Vee drivers competed against one another as part of the Group 1 field. Split starts in both Saturdayís and Sundayís Feature races ensured that they and the spectators could enjoy the spectacle of watching a full field of Formula Vees coming down through the hog pen on their way to take the green flag at Start.

 

Close racing between the four leaders in Saturdayís race provided heart stopping excitement. While Marcus Jones started on the pole on Saturday, mechanical problems put him out so that Duke Waldrop in his Lynx took the win followed closely by Mike Jackson in the Shadowfax and Mike Ennis in his Lynx. Sundayís race was equally tight with the lead changing between Waldrop, Ennis and Jackson who had started on the pole. They finished in that order. Not far back, John Harkness driving the Ringwraith and Paul Meis in his Zink fought a tight battle on Sunday for fourth and fifth .

All the Vee entrants also received T-shirts provided by Victory Lane, and Duke and Fay Waldrop hosted a happy hour party at their paddock for all the Vee racers Saturday afternoon before dinner.   Meanwhile, Mike and Kathy Ennis profiled all weekend in their "vintage" scooter and sidecar.

Sunday morning, people were moving in slow motion after Saturday eveningís festivities in the Gallery, but that didnít stop the intrepid from girding up for the 60-minute Enduro. Thirty-five entrants started the test of vintage endurance, but Tom Kane in his Tiga SC83 took first, completing 21 laps. Nate Scigliano in his March Apache took second, and Skip Bryan finished third in his 1972 BMW 2002.

Group 1 was dominated throughout the weekend by James Hamlin in his silver Lotus XI. Saturday Charles Guest in his MG Midget and John E. Jones in his A-H Sprite vied with each other for second and third. Phil Wicksí Mini Cooper S and Larry Smithís Midget ran within 1/10th of a second of each other for fourth and fifth. Sunday, Larry Smith moved up to capture second while Mack McCormack finished third.

Saturday, Hobie Buppart led Group 2, 5 & 7 from start to finish in his Lola T70 Mk IIIb, turning some very quick laps along the way.  Behind the leader, Larry Wilson's Royale ran second but suffered a mechanical failure and dropped out clearing the way for an S2000 battle between Peter Krause and Bob Hooks with the crafty Krause finishing as the first S2000 across the line by a small margin.

First place in class 5FM was Graham Adelman in the ex-Charlie Gibson Lotus 23.  Behind Graham was Gordon King taking class honors for 5BSR.  You may know Gordon as the infamous "Gordo" of Gordo's Garage Vineyards.  Doug Meis highly recommends the Pinot Garagio. Sunday, Peter Krause took first place followed closely by Tom Kaneís Tiga SC83 and Tom Grudovichís Brabham BT21 FB.

The 14 Formula Fords and Club Fords in Group 2 elected a split start on Saturday and Sunday taking the green separately from the sports racers. On Saturday Bob Bruce's immaculately prepared 1980 Crossle led them to the flag with Doug Meis alongside in his 1974 Lola T340 followed closely by Rollin Butler in his Crossle 35F. The official lap chart shows that Bob led flag to flag, but there were at least one or two lead changes around the track as they waged a war for top honors.

On Sunday Doug Meis started on the pole, but Rollin Butler was driving the wheels off of his Crossle and Meis was unable to keep him bottled up. Butler led laps 4, 6 and 7 to take the win. Bob Bruce waited patiently to make his moves on the last lap.  After drafting past Meis on the back straight, he set his sights on Rollin coming to the line, but came up short by only .018 seconds.  Meis finished third with all three of them covered by only .147 seconds.  Typical Formula Ford racing with the combined margin of victory from two races of just .106 seconds!  Behind the lead battle, David Allison repeated his class win and finished a mere .027 seconds ahead of Dave Fairchild's Zink. 

The large bore production cars were dominated by Dennis Moser in his Pontiac GTO who took first in both Saturday and Sundayís feature races. Ray Morganís Merlyn MK 6 ran right behind Moser and just ahead of Les Gondaís MGB GT V8, the three of them finishing in their grid order both days. Saturday Tom Grudovich drove his Ginetta G4 to fourth while Michael Moore in his Lotus Elan finished fifth followed by Hervey Parkeís Ginetta G4. On Sunday, on the other hand, Denny Wilson, who had suffered mechanical problems on Saturday, moved up to fourth while Stacey Schepens finished a close fifth in her Morgan 4/4.

The members of the Triumph "Ghetto" always make a hearty showing at this event, paddocking together, helping each other repair their Triumphs, and sharing a cook out Friday evening. Mark Craig in his Triumph Spitfire finished eighth in Group 1ís Saturday race and fifth on Sunday to make the best showing among the small bore Spitfires. In the larger displacement group, Mark Wheatley bested the field of TR4ís while Henry Frye and Tony Drews swapped finishing positions on Saturday and Sunday. This year Leo Oddi presented the Martha MacDougall award, a bronzed sneaker, to Tony Drews.

--Paul & Doug Meis both contributed to this report

 

 

VDCAís WINTER GAMES AT ROAD ATLANTA

By Bob Spruck

MotorMouth/south

Each year for the past eleven years, the Vintage Drivers Club of America has held one of the last race weekends in the country at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, GA on the second weekend in December. For the past two years in February, they have held one of the first races of the year at Road Atlanta. That gives us a very short off-season to work on our cars, make improvements, rebuild if necessary, or just plain take a break. The longest break for VDCA racers is from the May race at Summit Point to the September race at Roebling. Thatís just as well since that is the "hot" season down south! December and February weather in the South, on the other hand, has been known to be quite reasonable and good for racing although the opposite can also be experienced.

Since VDCA decided to answer their membersí call for a race at the fantastic Road Atlanta facilities last year, and the only date RA would give them was February, they have been blessed with sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures (60-70 degrees) bracketed by some untypically cold, nasty, and white weather before and after their race weekend. Nobody seems to complain, however, and RA has quickly become one of the favorite VDCA events, not only because of the weather and the track, but also because of the chance to really unbridle those old horses on the long straights and high-speed turns of this professional style track.

February 18-20 this year was no exception. In order to spread the fun, share the costs, and provide some track time, VDCA arranged their nine groups into three Race Groups. This innovative scheduling allowed the BMWCCA to share the track with the vintage group once again. In addition, The Dark Side Driving Events used three sessions on Saturday and three on Sunday to provide its autocross members some time on a real track in order to get a taste of real racing. To spread the fun even more, VDCA provided four sessions on Friday for any non-vintage racers who wanted to learn the track, test their car, or just get some time on track for a very reasonable fee. These opportunities for the three diverse groups attracted some very non-vintage cars that we all enjoyed seeing and hearing. 

The results for the nine groups and three Race Groups of vintage cars can be seen at http://www.mylaps.com/.

The Gimmick Race that VDCA has become famous (infamous, maybe?) for is worth telling about however. Doug Meis, VDCAís Technical Director, seems to be a serious and rather staid person--after all, he is a lawyer and deals with serious issues every day in his regular job. He is also very serious about his responsibilities with VDCA, since he has to be fair and reasonable to keep everybody happy. However, his humorous and devilish side comes out when he plans the Gimmick Race for each event. This time, he hit on a set of rules that may have been the best yet and could even become the standard for the future.

Envision six teams of three race cars each, any class, any group, any speed, plus one runner on the ground. The number one cars of each Team line up on the grid near pit out, the number two cars line up behind them in the hot pit lane and the number three cars line up further back. Way back near mid-pit stands the designated runner for each Team. All the number one cars go on track to make one lap to the start/finish line, two more laps at race speed, and then enter the pits on the fourth lap. The driver stops his racecar at a designated pit stall and passes off a "baton" to the Team runner, who sprints it up the full length of the hot pits to his Teamís number two car. Number two car driver then takes the baton and rushes on track, makes his four laps, comes into the pits, passes off the baton again to the out of breath runner who sprints again to their third car, who thenÖ. Sounds simple, right!

The advice at the drivers meeting when the rules were explained and hard copies passed out emphasized the importance of the speed of the runner. Each Team was told the race would be won by the Team with the fastest (i.e. youngest and most fit) runner. Makes sense, right? Well, the first group goes out on track. All the people in the pits are counting the laps and are surprised when the first two cars motor down the front straight instead of having come into the pits to exchange the batons. The third car does, in fact, come in, proving the guy with the degree from Princeton can at least count to four. The rest of the cars come in and the baton passes go as planned although the runners seemed to have the hardest and most pressure packed job.

The first two fastest cars, making five laps instead of four, are hopelessly out of contention. The people in charge of making sure the incoming cars stop safely at the correct place to make the baton exchange move the exchange point further away from the next group of outgoing cars and the people in charge of the outgoing cars also moved them further away from the incoming cars Ė the poor runners had to run further each time to meet their incoming car and reach their outgoing car with the baton. Not fair at all! Nobody mentioned that little trick at the driversí meeting!!

The winning team, "Team Spittoon," was comprised of three Spitfire racers, Mark Craig, Tim Slater and Rob Stewart. The driver of the number one car was the one who counted off his out-lap, 2 flying laps, and his in-lap correctly. But the driver of the number two car (Slater) had fallen asleep in the hot pits waiting for the first driver and runner, and had to be awakened by the runner Brent Owens before he could get his car started and get on track for his four lap stint. The driver of the third car had an eventless session and brought the Team home in first place.

The runner-up team was Team Zapata, out of Nashville consisting of V. Carl George, David Bearden and David Conrad. Ashley Felts of the Rocktown Productions video team was their runner.

The runners took quite a while to catch their breath and recover from the heavy workout. Doug didnít even have to change the rules mid-race to disqualify anybody as he usually does - they seemed to do that all by themselves. The lap counting faux pas probably wonít be repeated next time if Doug tries this again, but Iím sure, knowing Doug, there will be some other kink thrown in somewhere to keep things interesting.

Another great weekend of vintage racing is in the books on a superb track, with better than hoped for weather, great parties, unique cars, happy drivers, lots of track time, a free enduro, a fun fun fun Gimmick Race, and a club atmosphere Ė thatís VDCA style. Experience it at VIR in April and Summit Point in May.

 

 

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