Andre and Fiona
Mosport Raceway, VARAC July 2010. Andre Rousseau and his Fiat 124 named 'Fiona' have someone's eyes on them...
Starring our own Ken Blasko and Jeff Ireland. Video by Petrolicious.
Willow Springs Int’l Raceway (aka The Fastest Road in the West) is located at 2400′ above sea level in Southern California’s Mojave desert, and is prone to some unfavorable racing conditions. It’s kind of like that fickle best friend that you have a love-hate relationship with, one day you want to move in together, the next you never want to see them again. At the track it can be 100+ degrees, or it can be snowing, or the sandblasting winds can be blowing 50 knots. But on that special Saturday when the morning practice temps are in the 40s, the afternoon races are in the 70s, the skies are a piercing blue, and the winds are as quiet as a mouse, you lay down your best lap times ever and you swear that this is your favorite race track! But this was my first experience at Willow in my FF, and the sight lines are completely different sitting so close to the ground. Several corners drop off to the outside and it took me a while to get comfortable using the whole track again. Faster lap times will just have to wait for my second visit (but I may never see weather like that again…).
Well VARA got lucky and enjoyed one of those special weekends for the finale of its 40th anniversary season. With a good turnout of over a hundred competitors, and a Saturday night spaghetti dinner enjoyed by all, this was truly a fine race weekend. On top of the usual run groups, VARA hosts a different Challenge race each event, and for the November event it is the Ford-Chevy Challenge. This year, the race was run as an Australian Pursuit, with the cars that ran the fastest qualifying lap times leaving the pits in an incrementally delayed start. The idea is that all the cars will finish the race at the same time. With more than 20 entrants, it led to a very exciting finish with 17 cars finishing within a minute of each other, and the Checkered Flag coming down to a 0.7 second gap between two cars that had a lap time differentials of over 18 seconds! Congrats to Ken Davis for the Challenge win in his 2010 Chevy Corvette and the second place finish to Don Saueressig in his ’66 Sunbeam Tiger.
What epitomizes vintage racing in general, and VARA specifically, is the familial and congenial atmosphere in the pits. Everyone pitches in to make sure a broken car gets back out on the track, and you regularly see whole families working and racing together. The Eric Ford family is one of these that you will find regularly in the pits with VARA. This weekend there were four generations of the Ford family hanging out together. Eric races his 240Z, as his son and daughter share racing duties in a BMW 2002. His grandkids are climbing around the cars helping with waxing duties, and his parents keep a watchful and appreciative eye on the whole team. To keep this wonderful sport alive, we all need to follow in the Ford’s footsteps and get the next generations involved.
This weekend I got my Crossle 40f out to the track for the first time since I purchased it a couple months ago. Buttonwillow Raceway was having an open test the day before the SCCA Pacific Coast Road Racing Championships, so I took advantage of it and got in seven good sessions. All the prep work paid off as the test went quite well, considering I was getting used to a completely different car, on completely different tires, with the track running backwards making it a completely different track, phew! Yep, I was toast by Friday night
I’m usually a one-man team at the track, just occasionally having a buddy come along to help out. But this Friday and Saturday I paid to have a crew member come along with me, and boy was it worth every penny. Paul Moore of The Moore Speed Co., who worked on both the Wagon and Crossle chassis fabrication projects, helped me fix and tune all the little things that need attention on a car’s first trip to the track. Lap times kept coming down every session as the car and I got used to each other, and by race time I was ready to go. The Southern California Region of SCCA (known as Cal Club) also hosted a Saturday night BBQ and Halloween costume contest that was enjoyed by all.
The race Group I ran in was a mix of Formula Fords, Formula Vees, and Spec Racer Fords, quite the interesting mix necessitateded by the small turnout. We only had about a dozen cars in the group, but the lack of heavy traffic was quite welcome with so much else on my platter this weekend. The fast FFs are a few seconds a lap faster than the fast SRFs, so that put me right in the mix of a swarming pack of SRFs who were obviously quite used to running close to one another. As I pre-gridded for Sunday’s race, the SCCA grid workers politely pointed out I had forgotten to put on my arm restraints, a required piece of equipment I’m not used to needing in Sedan racing. By the time I got back to grid, the warm-up lap had already started so I gave up my 5th place qualifying position and started at the back (which luckily was only 12th). The race start was quite exciting, and I had a great flag-to-flag battle with a SRF driver who said he enjoyed the race as much as I did. We’ll just call this one a successful first outing!
Been working on my Crossle 40f getting it ready for it’s first outing. Finished up all the frame work at The Moore Speed Co last week. I then did my first Hewland Mk 9 gear set change at home, just used the manual and dove in, not as bad as some told me it would be. We prepped the patient for a day of vinyl stickers at the Decal Doctor. Then spent the day at IEM Racing doing the required string and scale ritual. Next week is a test day and a SCCA race weekend.
Today while I was out riding my favorite weekend loop on my old Honda, I came across the Dirtbag Challenge ride. The Dirtbag Challenge was having its tenth anniversary event, where the “competitors” have one month and $1000 to build a non-Harley custom bike that will be judged only after they complete the mandatory 100+ mile ride. I stopped to chat with the builder/riders at a local gas stop, and followed them down a country road for a few miles, what a sight to behold. The creativity and camaraderie were indeed quite evident. It kind of reminded me of a LeMons event for street bikes…
Great videos from SAFE is Fast
Today I installed the new fuel cell into my Crossle and got the fuel and vent lines hooked back up. Also put the dash back together without the AIM the PO was using, got the seat and fire system back in, and started on the new harness installation. I had forgotten how many things I’d taken apart to do the rollcage upgrade…