Sunday, June 21, 2015

2015 VSCDA At Blackhawk Farms, Post #1

We'll call this "the British car post."  And I'm sorry to say that this year that there won't be an Italian car post.   There was only one vintage Italian car there this year, an Alfa GTV.  And it was not the car of my local heros, John Saccameno and Barb Nevoral.  John found water in his oil earlier this year, and hasn't yet rebuilt his engine.  At Blackhawk, Barb's engine put con rods through both sides of its block on Friday.  She may be able to cobble something together to get through the season, but her regular builder can't turn an engine around until after it ends.  And her husband Bernie broke an axle on his Lotus.  John and Barb were smiling and laughing in the paddock on Saturday.  That's resilience.  Or the first stage of grief, denial.  ;-)

How small is a Lotus Elan?  Small!  Think of a Mazda Miata.  This car could fit inside it.

A yummy MGB.  It has an MGC (six-cylinder) hood, and I didn't catch up with the car to see whether a four or a six was
under it.  The man in the wheel chair is a false grid marshall for my club, which works race staff for VSCDA at BFR.

A lineup of (mostly) MG TC's and TD's.  These cars are amusingly slow compared to even the most basic modern road
race cars (say, Formula V's).  But the drivers are very busy, double-clutching downshifts on non-syncro gearboxes and
wrestling with pre-rack-and-pinion steering and sketchy braking from tiny drums. 

A Pilote post on vintage racing without a picture of a Mini?  Not likely.  ;-)   The preparation of this car was immaculate.
But I didn't see how well it did on track because I was chatting up the drivers of the preceding race group in the paddock. 

Above and below: speaking of pint pots, a 1965 Hillman Imp.  It was the Rootes Group's contrarian answer to BMC's Mini.
Instead of a cast iron engine in front, driving the front wheels, it had an aluminum engine in back , driving the rear
wheels.  It was imported into the States, but it was poorly made and unreliable, and an immediate sales failure.  I
hadn't seen one in forty years until I laid eyes on this car.  (The owners of #44 had some fun with this: "Is it Polish?
Russian?  A Fiat?")  The Imp was also spectacularly unsuccessful as a small-bore race car.  It's oversteer was hard
to manage.  This car provides another clue to the lack of success: the roll cage is, in fact, an entire and additional
frame, with a mounting point for the engine  Viola: chassis rigidity!  And why was this car the first Imp I'd seen
in decades?  Because it was a hillclimb racer, imported from England, where they've been improving Imp race
cars for a long time.  With the biggest Webers I believe I've seen on a 1-liter engine.

If racing hands you lemons, make lemonade: John Saccameno's Big Healey.  Without a car to race, he brought it to BFR
for fun and to promote his business, Sport & Specialty.  Restored twenty years ago, it has become a daily driver--at
least on sunny days.  He said he'd brought it from the shop, which is nearby.  I said "Well, that's a pretty good
freeway car--big engine, long legs."  John's reply: "Not at our age.  Too noisy, too harsh, too few amenities."

Above and below: MGA.  What do you drive if you're flagging a corner for the VSCDA?  A classic.  While this car is not
in rough condition, it is certainly one you can drive without worrying about it.  I well-remember the dash: just a hole in
it for the dealer-installed radio (this one has a cover plate), a tiny single center speaker, Smith's instruments with needles
that jumped around all the time until they just defaulted to a peg: "Time to fix me."  And a banjo-style metal spoked
steering wheel (this one has a better aftermarket wheel).

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