How To Get Started
In Vintage Racing

Presented by Victory Lane Magazine


Vintage Racing is Exciting, Challenging and Fun!!

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. Small Sports Racer

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.

Selecting a Vintage or Historic Race Car

“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.
Small Production: Bugeye Sprite

• Sports Racing Cars (small) - the fast but friendly two seat race car; Lotus Eleven, Lotus 23, Elva 7, Porsche 550. These competed in amateur races and the USRRC.
• Formula Cars - open wheel cars built to a strict formula; F-Vee, FC, FB, F2, F Atlantic, F-5000, and F Jr. F-Vee is the least expensive. There were both pro and amateur series.
• Grand Prix or Formula One and Historic Champ/Indy - the ultimate open-wheel, single seat racers. Each car and category has its advantages. The built for racing cars are usually easier to maintain but more expensive to buy and less suitable for street events. we strongly recommend talking to your race preparation shop about their recommendation on cars. There are many special interest groups such as Historic Can-Am, Historic Trans-Am, Pre-War Racing Group, Historic Grand Prix, F5000 Association, Vintage Formula Vee Association and Marque Registries and Associations that can help, call Victory Lane at 650-321-1411 for more info.

Car Preparation

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.
Formula Cars: Bobsy Formula Vee
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): F1: Mclaren and Tyrrell respectively

FIA World Championship: Ford GT-401) Chassis: Prepare it so it doesn't break. Disassemble and crack-check if possible; at least clean it thoroughly and inspect the stress points and welds. replace excessively worn parts. Do the research on the weak links in the system that broke "in-period." Use your head on anticipating weak points and get advice from others racing similar cars or shops specializing in race prep, especially in vintage racing; they will keep it period authentic -safe yet quick. 2) Engine and Drivetrain: There is more than one story about dragging that old car out of the barn and racing it for five years with no maintenance, but. ...the safe path is to completely check out the whole drivetrain-replace the stress and wear points like U-joint crosses and stub axles. Suspension and Brakes: After you have prepared it so it doesn't break there are a few points: -Set-Up by a professional/vintage Race Car Shop. -very good street-performance brake linings and high boiling point fresh fluid is the minimum. 4) Safety: The minimum requirements are a rollover bar, seat belts, shoulder harness and an in-car fire extinguisher. Check with the clubs you plan to race with for their requirements. On type and age of equiptment. Recommended is a fuel cell and an in-car fire system with multi-extinguisher nozzles with automatic and manual triggers. Driver equipment is considered elsewhere in this article. 5) Appearance: Last but not least, make it look good-not new, good! Some of the best vintage cars are raced in the 20-year-old livery in which they originally found glory.

Car and Personal Safety Equipment

How much are you worth? That's the tough part when we get into safety equipment. It's no secret that one can go racing with a full set of personal equipment costing less than $500 or one can spend over $3,000. Similarly, the safety equipment in the car can be simple or complex. There are minimum requirements by the organizing clubs for both driver and car equipment. Check with them before buying for specifications. It's both a budget and an application choice, but buy the best you can afford. Victory Lane Magazine is a good source for dealers who are helpful and knowledgeable. The safety kit consists of: Driver: Snell-approved helmet, rated SA-05 or later, fire resistant suit, shoes, underwear, and gloves. Car: seat, seat belt system, roll over bar, safety padding, fuel cell. Large Sports Racer: Lola T-163 Can-Am

Clubs & Tracks

Med. Production: Porsche 356 SpeedsterVintage 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.

Driver Schools and Training

To go racing, most vintage organizations require a vintage-racing license. Some clubs issue a license some use only a medical cards as evidence of having met the requirements, To obtain the license requires past racing experience or attending a club or commercial racing school, and a racing physical exam.
Renewals require a physical every one or two years and the type of physical including a regular or stress EKG after a certain age. As always we recommend contacting the proposed club you plant to race with for details.
Racing school costs range from about $200 to $4,000 depending on whether they are one day or multiple days, beginner or advanced, whether the student or the school supplies the race car, and whether it's a club school or a commercial school. Past racing experience, type of car, talent and the club license requirements are all factors in selecting a school.
Most clubs offer an inexpensive driving school immediately preceding an event or even on the first day of a race weekend. A vintage prepared car is required either your own or a rented one. This may be Thursday, Friday or even Saturday morning. Some are taught by experienced members and some are taught by driving school professionals. They stress basic racing skills, the spirit of vintage racing and safety. It is important to check with the local race club to see what their requirements are for beginners. For the latest list call Victory Lane Magazine at 650-321-1411.
For more extensive training, it is useful to consider a personal racing coach or an advanced course in a commercial school. Commercial racing schools are staffed with permanent employees who know how to help clients learn but they focus on the serious racer or corporate clients. Almost none have vintage programs.
Most personal vintage racing coaches are racers or ex-racers, but most important, they know how to transfer the accumulated racing knowledge and skill and have an ongoing system in place to continue to improve the instruction. Vintage knowledgeable and coaches are available for all types of racing and race cars, as well as levels of aspiration for the student and at most tracks around the country.
Commercial schools have their own cars and offer a short introductory course to enable the student to get the feel of a race car. A full two-or three-day course that qualifies the racer for a vintage or contemporary license is usually $2,000 to $4,000, including car and loan of all driving equipment. The student has no or limited financial responsibility for car damage at this level. Advanced days or sessions are available for "Spring Training" or honing skills to a near professional level. Private coaching at the school or with you at the race track, including car setup, is also available.

Need Information on Vintage Racing?

Almost every vintage racing club advertises in Victory Lane Magazine, complete with phone numbers and Web sites. Victory Lane Magazine advertisers including race prep shops, race resources, race cars for sale, etc.
Victory Lane Magazine staff members are always happy to help. Most staffers currently vintage race, and some have international experience.
If you’ve got questions about car selection, equipment, parts suppliers, clubs and organizations, or you-name it, give us a call.

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:

Dan Davis
Publisher and Co-Editor
2460 Park Blvd. #4
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 321-1411
(650) 321-4426 FAX

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