The Vintage Automobile Racing Association has announced the schedule for it’s annual High Performance Driving School called VARA-U. It is held at the beginning of every race season as an opportunity to either get your provisional vintage racing license or enjoy a weekend of track-based instruction. Some drivers come every year for a fun and affordable weekend, and some come for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Street cars, race cars, and rental school cars will share the track all weekend, so come on out and join the fun Jan. 14 & 15, 2012 at Buttonwillow Raceway, California.
Archives for November 2011
This weekend was VARA’s 2011 season finale, the Big Bore Bash held at Willow Springs Int’l Raceway. Most vintage race weekends have a theme event, and this wknd the thundering V8s got the spotlight. Turnout was excellent, the weather remained raceable (cold, damp, and windy), and Saturday night’s spagheti dinner was a hit. The Shelby Club joined us for hot-lap sessions both days, and Peter Giacobbi brought out his Ferrari Testarossa to race. The latest mods to the Wagon worked well, but I didn’t get as much time to sort them out as I had hoped. I was involved in some racing contact during Saturday’s Qualfying race that left both cars virtually unscathed, but rules are rules, and I was done for the wknd. I’ll have a detailed post on this issue following this one.
An annoucement was made this weekend that VARA and HSR-West will have a joint event later this month at Chuckwalla Raceway. Hopefully this a sign of good things to come.
Every vintage racing organization has the same primary rule – no racing contact! However the enforcement and levying of penalties varies widely 😉 Sometimes the rule is specific, sometimes it’s vague. Sometimes enforcement is “personalized”, sometimes it’s consistent. The vintage club I race with regularly is VARA, based out of Southern California. Their rule on racing contact is quite specific – the Overtaking Car takes total responsibility for the pass until the pass is completely finished. The responsibility does not leave the Overtaking Car when he is next to the Overtakee, not when he is half-way past the Overtakee, but only when he is completely in front of the other car. The Overtaker will not cause the Overtakee to alter their line during the pass. The Overtakee is allowed one move, and only one, to protect their position. Even if the Overtakee changes line during the pass causing the contact, the fault is with the Overtaker, period. If contact does occur during a race, both racers are expected to immediately report to the Black Flag station, and retire from the session. Once fault is established by the Chief Steward, penalties are enforced. This weekend contact occurred while I was the Overtaker, the penalty was properly applied and I was told to put my car on the trailer for the rest of the weekend. In ten years of racing this is my first such infraction, and it’s not much fun watching your buddies have a great race weekend when you should have been out there with them, especially with what it costs to attend an event these days.
This is not to say that passing in corners is not allowed, not at all! You just must plan your move in advance and be ready to “own” the pass. Over the years I have had many competitors whom I am comfortable sharing the line with, racing side by side through the corners. You know they are consistent, they use their mirrors, and they understand the give-and-take of vintage racing. Then there are drivers who never share a corner, are inconsistent with their line, and have earned their reputation. Part of vintage racing is to knowing your fellow drivers, and if you’re not sure who they are, then don’t make an aggresive move. Be smart and save the pass for later.
If you race with several clubs as I do, be sure to know each club’s rules. Some will take video evidence into account, some will take statements from the drivers, some just take the story from the corner workers. If you’re not sure, talk to a Class Rep, the Chief Steward, an Instructor or a Scrutineer. It’s never fun to meet these folks for the first time just because you’re in trouble… But the most important thing to keep in mind is why we’re out at the track – to have fun! We aren’t making money doing this and we don’t want to spend more of it fixing our cars unnecessarily. So if you’re not sure that it’s going to be a clean pass, get him at the next corner.
This is an open letter to all the members, management, and boards of SOVREN, CSRG, VARA, HSR-West, and VSCCA:
I am aware that with the economic malaise and the small grid counts, many vintage and historic racing clubs are considering increasing their eligiblilty cutoff dates. This makes good sense as there must be hundreds of 30 year old SCCA cars sitting in garages which are no longer class competitive that would love a place to spend their time and money. But before that happens, how about a great big joint event for all the Southwest and Northwest vintage clubs to get together, drop the politics, do some racing, and have a beer and bar-b-que? The West Coast Vintage Revival of 2012!!! No points, no trophies, just good old fashioned racetrack comraderie. The “bubble” would be respected, and a “touch” sends you home. A historic location like Laguna Seca would be epic for such an occasion. I envision a three day event with a 8-10 groups and five run sessions per group (20 minute warm-up, 20 min. timed practice, 25 min. Qualifying race, 15 min. warm-up, and a 30 min. Flag race). Keep the cars pre-EFI and pick a cutoff date that would include all the clubs vintage cars, say 1972 (ed.). I understand the need for events that have TV coverage, $100 gate fees, and $1000 entry fees, but this would be a Club Racer event. You know, $300 entry fees, a $10 pitpass for the wknd, and lots of cheap-beer-induced bench racing!
Well if this idea hits the spot for any of you like-minded racers, drop me a note, drop your club a note, and volunteer a little time to make this event happen in 2012. If it draws a big crowd, maybe we can do it once a year and have the event rotate around to each region. Wow, maybe now I’m dreamin’…
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