Vintage Auto Racing

It’s hard to truly describe vintage racing to someone who has not seen it. When you see vintage race cars on display at an auto show, or in a museum, you can’t help but be impressed by these machines. Compared to today’s computer designed and controlled marvels, it is hard to imagine technology from 1926 as state of the art.

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This 1927 Bugatti 38A is one of the older classic racers on the vintage circuit.

Whenever I talk to someone, and show them pictures of vintage racing, the response is almost always the same. “That looks cool”, or “that’s nice”. This was pretty much my response before I attended my first vintage racing event. All of that changed however when I attended the Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America.

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A very rare one indeed is this 1965 Causey P6 Special.

I think to truly understand, and appreciate vintage racing you would have to have been a car enthusiast pretty much from childhood. Just seeing these mechanical marvels is one thing, seeing them do what they were built for is quite another. Before this I had only seen these cars in pictures, and read about them in books which recounted the tales of their glory days.

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This Jordan 197 Formula 1 car was powered by a Peugeot V12 engine.

 

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One of my all time favorite european sports cars, the Austin Healey. Here we have a 1960 3000.

Hearing engines that were innovative, and state of the art when they were designed is yet another thrill. These cars were designed to do one thing, go faster than the other cars they raced against. Seeing them do this decades after they were originally built is a real treat.

From year to year, and event to event you never know what gems you will see till you get track side. From european sports and open wheel, to american muscle. One thing you can be certain of is that you will always see something truly amazing, and most likely something you have never seen before.

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From the days of the CART series we have this Lola T97/20.

 

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Lola is one of the oldest names in racing. This is their 1967 T70 Spyder.

The photos included in this is a very small sampling of what you will see at any vintage event.

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A 1969 Brabham BT29.

 

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Another rare one, a 1959 Devin DeMar MK II.
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A 1997 Lola T97/20 former CART racer.

 

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1964 Ginetta G4, another rare bird.

 

 

2013 SCCA Blackhawk Valley Regional

It felt good to be at trackside again. This was the feeling I had as I completed the first event of my season. When you near the end of a season, you are a bit fatigued and looking forward to a break. However after two or more months of down time, and computer work that feeling fades fast. At this point you are anxious to get out and shoot again.

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The event just completed was an SCCA double regional event with points scored towards the national standings. Most of SCCA’s 29 classes of competition were on hand. This particular event comprises the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Blackhawk regions. Together this covers half of Wisconsin and Illinois. Turnout for this event always seems to be high. This is probably due to the area covered, and that it is most competitors first chance of the year to go racing again in the Midwest.

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I enjoy the variety of cars and people you find at these gatherings. You will find the one car one man operation, the family operation, and the multi car full crew operation. You won’t find any big prize money, or sponsorships. So what makes these men and women go through the effort of hauling a car across state for these events? They all are there for one reason, the love of racing.

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The number and variety of cars range from old to new, and the number of them is amazing. From spec classes of a single type, to classes with multiple types, you will see a bit of everything.

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Golden Age of Sports Cars

Today if you were to ask someone to name a sports car, the names you would get are, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and Maserati just to name a few. These super expensive, limited production, state of the art machines however can only be possessed by the wealthiest individuals. For those of us of more modest income, we may be able to purchase the cars on the lower end of the range price wise. This would include the Corvette, SRT Viper, and some Porsche models. The other thing to consider is these machines are made by multi million dollar corporations. Utilizing state of the art computers and design tools.

1959 Bocar XP5
1959 Bocar XP5

What we refer to in the golden age of sports cars, are cars that were modified or built by individuals and partnerships. Some were modified versions of production cars, but quite a few were purpose built from the ground up as race cars. This was at a time when speed and form began to merge, and rudimentary understanding of aerodynamics was beginning to enter into racing. Most were funded by wealthy individuals interested in, or planning to race themselves. Quite often these same individuals would then move on to other interest, selling or storing these great machines. As a result few of them were built, and even fewer still exist.

1959 Demar Devin
1959 Demar Devin

Attending the Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America provides an excellent opportunity to see these cars do what they were made for, race. Members of the SVRA always put on a good display of rare automobiles in true racing form. In just two years this has become one of my favorite events. You just never know what gem you will see there.

joel

1964 Ginetta G4
1964 Ginetta G4
1959 Kellison J-5
1959 Kellison J-5
1958 Echidna
1958 Echidna
1965 Cheetah Coupe
1965 Cheetah Coupe
1959 Devin
1959 Devin

Photo of the Month April

Starting this month we will try something new. A photo of the month feature. This will not take the form of a normal monthly photo, as it will be either a single shot or sequence of shots showing an event, and telling the story behind it.

APR Audi R8 first makes with TRG Porsche 911 RSR.
APR Audi R8 first makes contact with TRG Porsche 911 RSR.

We will start things off with a bang. We’re at the 2012 Rolex Grand-AM race at Road America. I was shooting from the inside of turn eight at the time. On the first lap I noticed quite a bit of contact among the GT class cars as they came through this turn. On the next lap, the number 67 TRG Porsche 911 attempts to pass APR’s Audi R8 on the outside. The Audi locked up the brakes in an effort to slow down enough to not drift wide in the turn. It did not work, and resulted in the Audi climbing up the left front fender of the Porsche. The Audi spun around in front of the porsche, and into a gravel trap. However he was able to turn around and continue. The Porsche was not to fare so well. Due to suspension damage from the incident, he only made it through the next turn before something broke sending him into the retaining wall. The Audi finished the race with only cosmetic damage.

APR's Audi R8 climbs up the left side of TRG Porsche.
APR’s Audi R8 climbs up the left side of TRG Porsche.
Aftermath of contact in turn eight with TRG Porsche.
Aftermath of contact in turn eight with TRG Porsche.

 

New Events

It won’t be long before the new event season will here. While parts of my 2013 schedule are still in a state of flux, I thought it might be a good time to talk about something that I do every year.

Every year I make it a point to try to shoot something new or different. I haven’t decided yet what that will be for 2013, but for last year it worked extremely well.

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The first new event for me last year was the ISOC Snocross finals in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. If you have never seen it, it is like AMA Motocross, but with snowmobiles. It is quite a site to see, especially if it’s your first time. The way the course is laid out it provides for a number of different angles and view points for the photographer or spectator. Like most events fo this type, there are different classes of competition base on size and power of vehicles. This makes it an all day event, with lots of shot opportunities.

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Oh, in case  you were wondering, the people in the background are wearing shorts and T shirts. We had uncommonly warm weather for a March weekend, it was 83 degrees.

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My second new event was vintage auto racing. The VSCDA Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America, was my best surprise of the year. I was blown away by the number and quality of vehicles present. From the 1920s to the 1990s, American to European, well known to extremely rare, there was no shortage truly amazing vehicles.

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This is already on my calendar for this 2013, and is one of the events I am most looking forward to this year.

joel

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