Maybe the closest I’ll ever get to driving a Lola F5000, but at least sitting in one mid-resto was pretty darn cool!
This weekend VARA held its annual British Extravaganza race weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway. After an extremely windy and dusty Test day on Friday (we actually saw a few black flags as visibility neared zero), the weekend left us with perfect racing weather as we enjoyed mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s. With the obligatory Saturday night bbq and karaoke, and the All-British car race on Sunday, the 150 entrants along with their families and crews all seemed to have a very memorable weekend. Joining VARA for the weekend was also our Historic race car group, and the Bakersfield British Car Club.
I’m happy to say my Datsun 710 B-sedan race car is finally coming around. This was only the second time I got a full race weekend out of it with no major mechanical issues, and with me actually back in the hunt. All the recent prep work paid off as the handling is much improved, the drivetrain is running strong and reliable, and all the safety equipment is easy to operate. Speaking of which, we unfortunately had a rookie driver experience a roll-over accident at the bottom of Phi Hill in his Volvo this weekend. But while the car received considerable damage, the safety equipment did its job and the driver walked away unscathed. Roll cages, seats, harnesses, and helmets are not the places to skimp in your racing budget.
I tried out using an inexpensive timer/data-acquisition app on my smartphone this weekend, sold as ‘Harry’s Lap Timer’. Not quite the data available through a high-end system, but it’s easy to use, the timer is easy to read, and some of the data charts are interesting. Shown below is a lateral G-force vs distance chart covering one lap of the race. No wonder I feel so beat up on Monday mornings…
Older, wiser, less invincible, slower to heal… whatever the reason, I’ve been spending more attention (and money) on my safety equipment as my amateur racing career carries on. This season I’ve been working on making my cockpit a safer place to be in case of an impact. I added a halo style seat, and since I’m so long-wasted, I had it custom made with a two-inch longer back so the shoulder harness holes were positioned properly. To keep the angle of the harness properly aligned with the use of my HANS device, I had to add a higher harness bar to my roll cage as well. I installed a new window net that uses both wide webbing and mesh to help keep my body parts in the car and to keep unwelcome parts out. And even though my race club does not require them, I added a right side net for a little more protection.
As we vintage racers get older, stiffer, and larger, it gets more difficult getting in and out of our caged cars. I’ve seen many racers getting by with a minimum driver’s side door bar to help ease car entry and exit, often just a simple ‘X’ without the top horizontal bar. My car has quite a high top door bar, same height as the window sill, so it’s been getting tougher to slide in and out gracefully. I discovered a helpful modification that kept the safety and added some ease, a hinged bar kit made by Chassisworks. With some help from my racing buddies John Teaby and Mike Malone, my racing just got safer, and easier.
Last weekend VARA held it’s annual 2-hour Twighlight Enduro at Willow Springs Int’l Raceway during their High Desert Challenge race weekend. I was invited to co-drive the second hour of the enduro by Steve Villata, the current owner of the Race Wagon, and was more than happy to partake. Most vintage races are in the 25-35 minute sprint length, so this is one of the only West Coast opportunities for a longer vintage race format. It takes a bit of planning: driver change, refueling, pitlane repairs if necessary, things that we just don’t get to practice very often. But it’s the best ‘race laps for the dollar’ ratio you can get anywhere, and man, its a whole lot of fun!
The race had 17 entries, and Steve drove a great first half, dicing steadily with a 240Z and turning consistent laps in the 1:42 range. After the pitstop and driver change, I had a good battle going with a 911 for several laps, but with ten minutes to go and running in 4th place, the Wagon’s motor decided it had had enough abuse and we had to call it a day. Steve’s brother Ron (a second season racer), and his co-driver Lawrence Dunnigan (a rookie season racer) finished their Capri’s first enduro in a very respectable 12th place. Can’t wait for next year’s Enduro!
Here’s a link to a great story written by one of our students at this year’s VARA University, Tom Stahler. His story is the reason I volunteer my time every year at our club’s driving and licensing school, and will continue to as long as I can. To keep this sport alive and in good hands, we need to pass along the skills, passion, and camaraderie to the next group of vintage racers.
Click here – If only college was like this! by Tom Stahler, as seen on DrivingLine.com.
This March 19-20, 2016, VARA is hosting its annual High Desert Challenge race weekend at Willow Springs Int’l Raceway. SVRA is joining VARA for this event, and we’re looking forward to the club camaraderie at the Saturday night social. The highlight (at least for me) of this event is the Twilight Enduro, a two-hour race that starts exactly two hours before sunset on Saturday, March 19. Club rules allow a solo driver to race the event, but the fun comes with sharing the race with a fellow club member. The race requires a 10 minute pit stop mid-race, so a safe and leisurely driver change and refueling can occur. I’ve competed in the enduro several times, and look forward to co-driving it this year with a good friend in a former race car of mine. Its just about the best laps-per-dollar ratio you can get at this historic race track, so come and check it off your bucket list this year!
Well, it looks like 2016 is going to be a great year for West Coast Formula Ford racing. And it seems like some clubs are actually trying to work together to fill the grids. Formula Ford The Series is joining VARA for most of their schedule, SVRA is joining VARA for most of their West Coast schedule, while Cal Club SCCA (SoCal) and SFR SCCA (NorCal) both have full schedules. SFR SCCA Group 4 has invited FFTS to join them, and CSRG
might even be inviting has invited Club Fords from other clubs to join them for their spring and fall Thunderhill events. Wow, lots of choices! Or is that too many choices???
However, Spec Tire Rules remain quite fragmented, much to the detriment of getting racers to join other clubs’ events. Not many racers are gonna keep two, no less three, different sets of Spec tires in their trailer. Here is a rundown on the tire rules from each club’s 2016 Rulebook. As each club uses different Class names for the different generations of FFs, my references will be: VFF – Vintage Formula Ford ’67-’72. CFF – Club Formula Ford ’73-’81. MFF – Modern Formula Ford ’82-on with Kent motor. As a synopsis for the West Coast Club Ford racers: VARA/SCCA – American Racers. CSRG/SOVREN – Dunlop/Avon. SVRA – Toyo. Links included below:
VARA link – Dunlop for VFF, and American Racer for CFF and MFF.
FFTS link – Dunlops or American Racers for VFF, CFF, and MFF.
SVRA link – Toyos for VFF, CFF, MFF. And Dunlops/Avons for Monoposto (FFM and CFM).
– a current, but not yet published, SVRA directive says Toyos or Hoosier for VFF, CFF, MFF. And Dunlops/Avons/Hoosiers for Monoposto.
Monoposto link – Dunlops/Avons.
CSRG link – Dunlops/Avons for VFF and CFF.
SOVREN link – Dunlops/Avons for VFF and CFF.
SCCA link – American Racers for CF, Hoosier R60a for FF (including Honda powered).
EFF link – Toyos for VFF, CFF, and MFF.
Required Dunlops are the CR82 9092, the Avons are the ACB9 A29, for American Racers the 133, and for the Toyos the 888 DOT legal tire. Hoosier has just announced their new vintage treaded FF tire will be available in April ’16. And still no update on the new American Racer 133.
I’ll do my best to update this post as, or if, the clubs change their rules. As a further note, some clubs will let you race with them if you’re not on their spec tire, and some won’t. Some will grid you at the back with no points, some will send you home, and some will have a different remedy on a case-by-case basis (ie. are you making waves or playing nice). So please be sure to have the answer to this question before you head to the track. But most importantly, talk to your fellow racers and Club Directors about how you feel about these rules, in a civil manner of course 😉
Yesterday the San Francisco Region of SCCA held their annual member’s Free Test Day at the club-owned racetrack, Thunderhill Raceway. It’s a great way for the Club to ‘share’ its profits from the year with its members. A cold day for sure, it was 32F when I arrived, and it never got above 40F, but the winds were calm and the track was in good condition, so we got in some worthwhile testing time. We had six hours of rotating sessions, closed-wheel on the hour and open-wheel on the half hour. Maybe 60-70 cars were running and most of them seemed to keep it on the racing surface. Since my Crossle is all cleaned up and ready for sale, I brought out my B/S Datsun 710 for the day as I needed to test some recent repairs and updates. I got in four sessions and it’s running well, but I’m still dealing with some bad handling quirks at full chat, further improvements and testing are still required…
I met a couple of nice gents pitted next to me exercising their Lola F5000. I tried to sell myself off as a factory test driver available to take their car out for a session, but somehow they saw through my disguise.
The Lucky Dog Racing League is a new west coast endurance racing series. Their 2016 season kick-off is Jan 2-3 at Lguna Seca Raceway. Sounds like a great addition to the left coast racing scene.
Lucky Dog race schedule
Welded on a new Magnaflow today, the old SuperTrapp was pretty old and rusted out.