Presented by Victory Lane Magazine
All around the world thousands of competitors are finding, restoring, preserving, driving and racing performance cars from every era of history. In North America there are more than 170 racing events organized by over 30 vintage racing Organizations and thousands of other vintage events sanctioned by thousands of car enthusiast clubs. Vintage racing events range in size, some mega events attracting as many as 600 entrants, with 20,000 to 200,000 spectators while the small club races attract around 50 to 100 entrants and are closed to spectators.The rasping whine of a race car at-speed, the visual and physical treat of a highly tuned and stressed car enjoyed in an atmosphere of sportsmanship and competition, is truly exciting. That combined with the setting of North America’s great tracks, associated social events, convention crew and friends, is what makes vintage racing. It’s easy to get involved; it’s a friendly, low key family endeavor. Vintage racing is the lowest cost “adventure sport” according to the association of Adventure Sports. There are also many associated racing events which welcome the vintage race car: hill climbs, autocross, rallies, rally tours, concours, car shows, car meets and marquee and special interest club meets. There are also oval track showcases and road racing course exhibitions for less intense on-track sessions; the vintage car is truly a chariot to adventure and fun.
“Makes Types, Classes and Categories”
Cars competing in vintage racing and competition span the years from the dawn of the automobile age in the late 1800s to historic only, a few years old. The cars include Production Sports Cars, Sports Racing Cars, Grand Prix Cars, Champ/Indy Cars, Formula Cars, Champ/Indy Cars, GTP Cars, Grand Touring Cars, Trans-Am Cars, Stock Cars and Sedans. Some of the cars have actual racing history and some are performance cars that could have been raced in their respective periods but are seeing actual competition for the first time in vintage racing. It is important to check with the organizations or events that you mighty race in to determine acceptable types, ages and preparation.
Most people who decide to enter vintage competition have a car such as an Austin Healey Sprite, an MG or Triumph which, with a bit of preparation, can go racing. Others have or are seeking a car with a race history for both its collector value as well as its suitability for vintage competition.
The racing organizations group several classes and groups together to form a racing grid. These are usually of similar size and performance potential for fun and safety.
• Pre-War Cars - pre WWII, rare enough that many ages and types may be grouped together to fill a grid.
• Small Production Sports Cars - these make up the bulk of the fields; MGAs, Sprites, Minis, Triumphs, etc. Beginner friendly.
• Medium Production Sports Cars - slightly faster but still inexpensive to prepare and race; Austin Healeys, Sunbeams, Triumphs, Porsche 356s.
• Large Production Sports Cars – the heavyweights of production racing; Corvettes, Mustangs, Jaguars.
• Historic Stock Cars, Sedans and Trans-Am Cars - An important part of racing history: fast, safe and straightforward.
• FIA World Championship and GTP Cars – the big fast prototypes that ran LeMans, Monza, Daytona, etc.
• Sports Racing Cars (large) - purpose built two seat race cars from 450S Maserati to Lola Can-Am cars these competed in great series including the Canadian American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) Series and the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC). Fast and expensive then, fast and expensive now.
Most vintage racing organizations stress preserving vintage race cars in the form they were raced in their most famous period or the eligibility period designated by the club. In addition to the cars with actual racing history, cars that could have raced are eligible. Production Sports Cars preparation for vintage racing is very straightforward and simpler than for almost any type of racing. At the most basic level, a very well prepared vintage-era restored street Sports Car with a few safety and reliability modifications can qualify and compete.
In the vintage era of the 50s and 60s many Production Sports Cars were driven during the week and raced on weekends. As racing became more competitive in the US and Factory Teams appeared, more preparation and special modifications were allowed; many for safety which also enhanced performance. This leads to the contemporary SCCA production racer, heavily modified, very expensive and suitable only for racing. The late 60s and early 70s eligibility cutoff of most clubs means that period- authentically prepared cars are slightly modified street cars, not tube-framed, fiberglass bodied look-alikes, although some clubs are beginning to accept the later cars.
Period-authentic preparation means doing the research. If your car had a racing history, you'll be preparing it to the specs in accord with the era it was raced. If you have your eye on a Formula or Sports Racing Car, the rule is still period-authentic and pre-1973. That may mean stripping off those wide wheels, tires, big wings and spoilers that were added later as modern modifications. A car prepared for reliability and predictable handling rather than all-out speed will be much more enjoyable in vintage racing, give you more track time rather than garage time, and certainly give you more time for the parties that are so much a part of the vintage scene. There are several guidelines (we strongly recommend consulting with a vintage race prep shop):
Vintage road races are organized by over 25 independent clubs and organizations at over three dozen tracks across the U.S. and Canada. These organizations set their own individual rules, class structures and licensing requirements. Most belong to "The Vintage Motorsport Council," a schedule coordinating and rules advisory group. The VMC also issued an advanced National Vintage Racing License which allows racers to re race as guests with VMC member clubs. Clubs advertise schedules and events in Victory Lane Magazine which also presents a national events schedule each month. Outside the U.S., the international clubs operate under the FIA which sets rigid rules and requirements. It is important to contact the various clubs in your area and obtain a copy of their requirements. Most advertise in Victory Lane Magazine. They have different rules on car acceptability with regard to age, race history, makes and models, restoration and race preparation. Licensing rules and driver school requirements may vary.
We're happy to help. If you've got questions about car selection, equipment and parts suppliers, clubs and organizations, or you-name-it, give us a call at Victory Lane Magazine (650) 321-1411 or visit our web site: http://www.victorylane.com/
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