Just when does a racecar become vintage anyway?

The question has come up asking when is a racecar considered vintage anyway? I am looking for what other folks think in this regard. A friend from the San Antonio area said it becomes vintage when it stops being competitive in whatever venue it races. That is a very interesting view. It has a lot of merit. I bet there are a lot of dust covered cars parked in storage of one sort or another that are very close to being scrapped. A car like that might get to the point of not having a good supply of replacement parts. If you can come up with parts are they too expensive?
Some guys who could choose to race a vintage car might choose to spend less money and get a Spec Miata instead. Anyway, I would like to get some input into this subject. Tell me what you think? Anyone out there reading this stuff, post a comment or drop me a note on the side. I won't out you. If you have one of those dusty cars I would really like to hear your opinion.
Cheers
Roger Williams

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Comment by Robert Metcalf on January 12, 2010 at 11:33am
Hi Roger,

In my opinion, vintage racing exists to allow people to preserve history and enjoy racing cars as they were run in the days of their glory. The question which always seems to arise is, when do you want history to start? Five years ago? Twenty-five years ago? 1972? 1941? It seems obvious that any car which has been made obsolete by the passage of time is a part of history. Does that include Porsche 917s? Certainly. Does it include Porsche 962s? By the same criteria, it does although some clubs will not allow such "newer" cars. What about even more modern cars such as Formula Holden or CART era Indy cars? CART, after all, ended only a couple of years ago. I would argue that, since these cars have no place to compete in current competition, they have been outdated.

Some people I have spoken with over the years define the word vintage as meaning 1972 or earlier. I recently was told, however, that the word should only be applied to 1919 and older cars. I think it is dangerous territory to get bogged down in connecting it with a particular date. Whether we call the cars of bygone days, vintage, historic, classic, etc. makes no difference to what we are trying to accomplish which is to preserve and enjoy the cars.

In order not to be misunderstood, however, I also want to say that cars such as the Panoz GTS or a 1997 Corvette should not necessarily be considered obsolete just because they are no longer competitive in their respective classes. (I don't remember seeing a GTS win in SCCA's GT-2 lately) Not being allowed to race is one thing, not being competitive is quite another. Like the Panoz, a 70's era Formula Ford is certainly not competitive at an SCCA National yet it would still be allowed to run. Should the fact that it is still allowed to race with a current race organization keep it out of vintage clubs? The reality is that such cars have not been seen on SCCA grids in years. Therefore, we must use some discretion - and common sense - in determining what is proper in a vintage race and what is not.

I would like to see an overarching principle established on this question, at least here in the states, so that all the vintage clubs can agree on what we are trying to do in this regard. That doesn't mean that every club should be required to accept the same cars. Some clubs could specialize in pre '73 cars, some clubs could specialize in Formula Juniors and some in Sports Racers. But I think we need to unify vintage racing in this country so that everyone is on the same page. Then we can get down to preserving and enjoying the cars which is why we are here. Perhaps the Vintage Racing League could be the uniting factor?

My thoughts.
Robert Metcalf

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