Thursday, October 30, 2014

"The Loooong Race," Pilote Gets His Alfa Groove Back (2 of 2)

I arrived at Blackhawk around lunchtime with the understanding that the vintage race would be in the afternoon.  It was the first event.  The second race was for open wheel cars and the third race was for Miatas.  The big-bore cars would run last.  As all races ran for 50 minutes, I decided to bail early, before the Spec. Miata carnage was over at 4:00, having seen only the vintage race.  Which turned out to be excellent, for an Alfiste like me, as described below.  It was a great End Of Season Bash, a fond memory for the cabin fever days ahead.

Gridding up: the MGB is not a large car, so this driver is sitting on the floor or he has a weight advantage over some of
his competitors.  The lines of the B seemed a leap forward over the A when it was introduced, and they still appeal.

Gridding up: this Porsche 356 C had no trouble getting and staying ahead of my beloved Alfas, a reversal the old
D Production days in the SCCA.  The Triumph TR-4 in the background was not highly placed.

Gridding up: the race-within-the-race was between these two Alfa GTA/GTV's.  Foreground: Barbara Nevoral
"represents" for the Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association.  Background: John Saccameno does likewise for
my own North Suburban Sports Car Club.

In the race, this 3-series Bimmer had no trouble running off and hiding from the rest of the field.  Including a B Sedan
Mustang, which tried to outbrake him into Turn 1 early in the race: cloud of smoke, after which he drifted rearward.
This picture shows the new (to me, anyway) 200-foot runoff area at the end of the front straight.  It used to be that,
if you outbraked yourself into Turn 1, you wound up in boggy, high, scrub brush.  Blackhawk put in some landfill
and planted it with grass.  One of many improvements by the new owners over the past few years.

Behind the Bimmer, the Porsche ran his own race: never threatened or threatening, although he (and everyone) had
plenty of lapped traffic to deal with.  It was a nice, full, field for an end-of-year event.

Barbara and John had to drive hard to get around this MGB, which then faded.  John gradually closed the gap to Barb,
from 10 car-lengths down to 5, with apparently better luck in traffic.  They swam like sharks through the fishes, even
if some of the fishes were snails, being lapped.  From where I stood, at Turn 1, they drove fast and mistake-free for
50 minutes.  Turn 1 is not easy to drive.  You must get down 1 or 2 gears for a late apex, and you must hold the car
tight on exit to set up for the best entry into Turns 2-3.  As I said to John after the race, "Who needs passing to
enjoy a great race?"  As John said to me, "Barb kicked my ass this time."

Above and below: afterglow.  Barbara and John were paddocked together and spent a half-hour reliving the race.  They
had close-up views of a lot of... stuff... while driving hard in their own mistake-free race.  Barbara is behind her car,
John is sitting in the doorway of his trailer.  The styling of Bertone's Alfa coupes, especially the GTA/GTV, pulls
my chain like few other contemporaries.  Great looking (and driving) cars!

Above and below: a nod to the fastest Porsche 356 I've seen in many a day.  Mr. Rick Gurolnick has built himself
quite a ride, and knows how to drive it.  The "side pipe" is probably for the benefit of trackside decibel meters;
most 356's run "stinger" exhausts.  As for styling... I've never considered the "bathtub" looks of the 356 as
anything but ugly.  Butzi's sainted 911 is an entirely different matter, as regular readers know.

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