Monday, July 6, 2015

John Saccameno's Caterham 7 (Alfa/Austin Healy Clubs Meet at Blackhawk Farms, 06/15)

I have A Thing for John Saccameno's cars.  Not only are they makes/models that I admire, and their overall presentation visually appealing, but they are what we used to call "sanitary:" well-engineered mods using high quality parts.  There are other cars that race with John that are just as well-prepared.  Many are not.

His (new) Caterham 7 is interesting for another reason.  It was a race car when he bought it.  He converted it to a street car.  Now he's got it set up to be dual-purpose.  He can convert it from street car to vintage-legal race car and back again in about two hours.  That throwback to the earliest days of sports car racing makes me smile.  Drive it to the track, race, drive home.  Maybe, if John tries to get through tech in a tweed cap and string-backed driving gloves, we'll have to intervene.  ;-)

Come to think of it, he could reverse the process: tow this little gem down to the Tail of the Dragon.
It's street-legal.  The entry fee is zero, and the track time is unlimited.  I foresee some smiles if he tries it.

Hotshoe and I watched John's first outing in the car from Turn 1.  I don't remember nose-dive under braking (seen here).
What I noticed was dead-flat cornering and John getting the power down earlier as he got more familiar with the car.

Hotshoe admires the car while John jokes with his next-door neighbor in the paddock.  We asked him what the Caterham
was like to drive.  "It's very precise, and requires you to be precise.  I can bank the Alfa off the curb in Turn 2 and it
will more or less set itself up for 3.  The Caterham goes where you point it, and you'd better point it or it will keep
going where it is pointed.  And it has nothin' below 4000 r.p.m.  It wants to be closer to the 7000 red-line."

Above and below: John had his Sport & Specialty business banner flying proudly, but the best advertisements for his shop
are his own cars.  This is the street roll bar, which was installed to allow him to give friends and family rides.  He has
another bar for racing, with a tube that braces to the chassis diagonally across the passenger seat.  Either way, when
it rains, you get wet.  And the cockpit is very cozy.  The top of the shift knob is just below the dash panel.  You learn
drive this Caterham with your hand around the side of the knob, or you miss shifts.

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