Well, the 2017 vintage racing season is over. VDCA’s Season Finale’ is arguably the last event of the year, hence the name. This year’s race weekend was another success as the small Club booked well over 100 entrants and presented a nice mix of predominantly east coast cars from many first timers as well as the usual perennial participants. Hopefully they weren’t driven by anticipation of a warm weekend in the sunny south because the weather was unseasonably cold for the Savannah area – high 30s overnight and mid 40s during the day with wind and rain Thursday and Friday, just plain windy, cold, and cloudy on Saturday, and sunny and cold on Sunday. It’s amazing how a little sun and no wind can make things so much more tolera
ble. Other than the rain on Friday, the weather didn’t seem to effect the participation or the lap times. A little more time than usual in the paddock or during the first few laps to warm up water, oil, and tires to operating temperatures seemed to do the trick.
GROUP 1 Feature Race – Small bore production cars
Three out of four of the perennial protagonists in Group 1 (Chip Haddock 1982 LeGrand Mk 25 D Sports Racer, Alan Collard 1972 Hague 72 DSR, Rob Stewart 1967 Triumph Spitfire FP, and Andy Russell 1973 MG Midget FP) continued their friendly battle. Chip couldn’t get the LeGrand to the grid so the starting order was Stewart, Collard, and Russell, with Dennis Moser joining in fourth in his 1974Datsun B210. He has raced a Pontiac GTO in the past but joined these guys in Group 1 this weekend for the exciting competition. Stewart and Collard got by Russell and Moser once their tires got warmed up and became sticky enough to grip the cold track. Rob ran away from the field but Alan and Andy had some fun a little ways back. Finishing order was Stewart, Collard, Russell, Moser. The 948cc Bugeyes of Brian MacEachern, Andy McLean, Bo Lemmon, and John Daniels ran like the FVs in a midpack train. That’s where much of the hard racing took place – just ask any of them!
GROUP 2/5/7 Feature Race – Sports racers and Formula Fords
Ben Sinott in his swift 1991 Lola T90/91 Sports 2000 pulled out a huge lead right from the green flag and only Peter Krause in his 1984 Tiga stood a chance of catching him. We were cheated out of an epic race, however, when Peter’s car experienced an accelerator cable problem that allowed him to speed through left turns but fumble in right turns. He limped into the pits after five laps of frustration and disappountment. The seven FFs and CFs provided the best racing over the 16 laps. Thomas Fraelich 1979 Crossle CF started third, the first Formula Ford but dropped back to sixth and then did a superb job getting back to second, only to be passed by the battling Doug Meis (1974 Lola T340) and Scott Fairchild (1978 Zink Z10). The latter two exhibited the fine art of drafting and passing in the turns and on the long front straight multiple times over the final 10 laps. Doug made his last pass stick for second place while Scott finished third and Tom fourth.
GROUP 3 Feature Race – Medium bore production cars under 2 liters
This race was pretty unexciting up front but very exciting mid pack. The first five cars under the green flag finished in the same order at the checker except that Joey Sullivan spent one lap a position up on Hervey Parke then gave it back. We’re talking about Roy Morgan (1964 Merlyn Mk 60), Fred Burke (1962 Cooper Monaco), Hervey Parke (1965 Ginetta G4), Joey Sullivan (1983 Porsche 944), and Mark Gobble (1991 Miata). Mark has raced a number of cars over the years and is an accomplished (fast) driver. He said he just wanted to try a more modern (reliable) car and is very happy with the Mazda. Dave Bondon seemed to be in fine form after starting his 1964 Morgan 4/4 in last place due to no qualifying time and then working it all the way up to the middle of the pack. Three drivers who will remain nameless had a quick kerfuffle in turn 4 off into the sand but came back onto the racing surface fairly quickly and spent the rest of the race trying to get back to where they were when they goofed up. That led to some more good racing.
GROUP 6 & 8 Feature Race – Big bore production cars over 2 liters
This Group was characterized by some awesome cars and some equally awesome racing. Doug Hagopian’s 1968 Porsche 911 is not only good looking, but fast and well driven, attested to by his flag-to-flag run. Equally impressive was the bright yellow 1969 Fiat 124 Coupe of John Baucom who started third but made a courageous pass on Blake May in the 1974 BMW 2002 early on and kept it there. Mike Levine in the unique 1965 Corvair V8 (Corv8) used his favorable power to weight ratio to outdrag Bill Feaster’s 1967 Camaro to finish 3rd. Bill was 5th by virtue of May (4th) succumbing to the thundering V8 in the Corvair. One of the most beautiful cars in the Group was the 1965 Ginetta G4R driven by Sharon Adelman. It may have been one of the smallest displacement cars in the Group but it sure did sing as it advanced five places to its eventual finish. Perhaps tied for the best looking car with Sharon’s Ginetta was the colorful 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL of Bill Glavin. Dark blue with red and white factory stripes attracted attention in the paddock and on the grid but once Bill got it on the track, his driving from 19th and last on the grid to a finish of 7th impressed even more.
GROUP 9 Feature Race – Formula Vee and Pre-War cars
Nine whispering Formula Vees, two thundering Ford Speedster V8s and a lone MG TD contested racing honors in this Group. FVs, due to their lack of horsepower and torque but their blessing of outstanding handling, always show great racing and strategies. Mike Ennis (1969 Lynx B) took the green flag first but faltered on lap 3 and was passed by three cars but made a quick comeback two laps later and resumed his first place position. Oliver Tolksdorf (1969 Zink), Mark Lemmon (1965 Formcar), and Marcus Jones (1966 Zink) took advantage and each held first place for a lap or two until Neil Sullivan (1969 Lynx) blasted through from 6th into 1st where he stayed until the checkered flag. Ennis, Jones, and Mike Jackson (1969 Shadowfax) traded places frequently. Order of finish was Sullivan, Ennis, Jackson, Jones, and Lemmon. Al Harriman had a good first outing in his new to him MGTD Special - Special because it sported a TR2 engine and transmission (replacing a really vintage configuration of a Ford flathead V8 60), MGB rear end, and MGA front end. It ran well and Al said he would be back. Only problem is he will have to choose between his TD, his FV, or his ITB Golf.
Fifty-two cars from all 8 Groups started the one hour Endurance Race on Sunday morning, scheduled to finish before the quiet time at 11:00, giving the participants at least an hour to rest before the Sunday afternoon races. This race is different than all the others in that it is open to all cars, from all Groups and Classes. It’s an hour long, requires one 5 minute pit stop any time you think is strategically advisable during which you can refuel, change drivers, do some necessary or experimental fine tuning, or just chill out. There are wide swings in position due to the 5 minute pit stops and other stops that take much longer. Because the race lasted 42 laps over the hour, there were some really great race-within-the race adventures between multiple cars multiple times during the duration. There was some heartbreak and some heroics, too. Some car/drivers just seem to cruise effortlessly while others sputter and eventually retire. Ben Sinnott in his 1991 Lola T90/91Sports 2000 seemed to be in the effortless category as he led every lap and finished four laps ahead of Ben Glavin in that impressive 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL who started second but then ended up a few laps down in 27th place but steadily worked his way back to second place. Roger Casin also had a great run in his 1964 Elva Mk 73 from a mid pack start all the way to second until he had to retire on lap 26. A beautiful car and a beautiful drive! There actually were too many great drives and great stories to document, so suffice it to say that it was an exciting hour with no hint of boredom.
Another excuse for some additional track time and an exercise in strategy and tactics is the Happy Hour Bracket Challenge. The three drivers in each Team declare a predicted best lap time and their plus or minus differentials are accumulated and the lowest score wins. Creativity of team names and Happy Hour themed decorations also were considered in the score. As Chief of Tech, Bracket Race director, and Formula Ford pilot Doug Meis always reminds us, bribes are also accepted. Since Friday was the coldest, windiest, and wettest day, participation was rather light and seemingly half-hearted. No winner was declared and all participants got silly prizes. Doug didn’t even get a bribe.
HUGH KLEINPETER AWARD PRESENTATION
An important annual event at the season ending Pig Picking and Oyster Roast (this year’s libations thanks to Paul Meis and Mark Gobble) is the presentation of the Hugh Kleinpeter Award. Hugh was a successful racer and businessman back before things were vintage and was, in fact, a sparkplug at the start of what we know today as vintage racing. Each year, his son, Kenny presents an impressive cup to a current vintage racer who is a strong supporter of the sport. This year’s award went to Scott Fairchild a very active and successful Formula Ford racer. Each year a small nameplate is added for the latest recipient. When Scott Nettleship won a few years ago, his wife Christine had a small replica made so he could keep a copy at home. Malcolm Mangum, another winner, liked that idea so much that he decided to make a similar copy for each previous winner, one a year until all got their own copy. How’s that for true vintage spirit and supporting your race organization?