Seems as though one of my previous blogs found it's way into print and ruffled some feathers in the vintage group that I am a member of. I have just received some copies of e-mails sent to other members who have then sent them to others who then sent them to others and so on and so on till they found their way to me. Some of the things noted in the e-mails were interesting. Basically I have been called a liar or worse.
I did not mention any names in my blog. I did not accuse any one person of any misdeeds. I mainly pointed how weak leadership allowed a lais-sez-faire attitude towards rules being enforced and poor driving caused a dangerous concern to grow.
Sure some rules where enforced. It was decided that it was important to have "proper door panels" on the cars. Car owners where hammered hard on this one. A number of drivers complained that the door panel rule was goofy. I spent a lot of money( for me) and stuck new original panels on my car and did not complain, thinking that maybe this was a sign of stricter rules to come. I thought that the rules that forced proper vintage prepped suspension and engine packages would follow. I was wrong.
More than anything my concern is safety. For this public display of concern I have been more or less made a target by some folks in the club of which I am a paid member. I am still worried that someone will get hurt or worse if the club does not control the non-vintage high speed cars being driven by guys who are growing older and skill levels are also failing too.
I am all for seeing just how fast a guy can design and get a sprite to go. It might be better if younger guys in the SCCA did that sort of testing. At one time I thought oh what the heck let em race. I don't now. A vintage race is no place for this type of racing.
The continued level of offs and crashes that are being allowed is scary. I had a crash in 1998. I was driving the slowest car on the track and made a mistake that destroyed two neat little cars. No one was hurt. I was put on probation ..or so I was told and for the next 5 years or more I did not spin, go off or crash. It is possible to drive and not do those things even for a crappy driver like me. Right now I see guys who drive wildly crash and go off many times a year and nothing is done. I believe that had I gone off in the year or so after my crash I would have been in serious trouble and rightly so.
The speeds have gone up and the skills have not. If the rules that were followed in 1998 in the club were still followed and the cars were built like real 1972 cars, the speeds would be down and the danger would be lower too. I have seen too many crashes that easily could have killed someone. Even in the group that I did run in and felt secure in has gotten out of hand a bit. It got to the point where I did not feel safe putting my un-crashed true vintage 948 engine powered 1959 sprite on the track anymore. I just don't trust a number of guys I had to race and share the track with.
If the wild drivers will not police themselves then maybe to club should do it for them. To those that are angry with me, be angry with me if you wish, shoot the messenger, but someone will get hurt badly and it will not be good. I hope that I am not there when it happens.
Cheers
Roger

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Comment by Robert Metcalf on March 8, 2010 at 10:36am
Roger,

I do not run in Group 2 and I'll admit that I do not know a lot about Vintage Sprites. I sat in on the BOD meeting a year or so back when they spent 10 minutes discussing the need for and style of inner door panels for these cars. I was appalled by the waste of the Director's time on such a trivial matter. I have run a Midget before, however, in a non-vintage form and another type of racing. In 1991, I worked closely with the car which won SCCA's Runoffs in F/P. This car was nothing close to what was run prior to '72 nor did it need to be. The front suspension was computer designed made of 4130 tubing and used Penske shocks. A handful of other cars were built in a similar manner and, for that National Championship race, a group of officials went around looking at them and asking, "Is this really the direction you guys want to go?" We all responded that we were only following the rules the club had established. They agreed and we raced.

The point is that each club establishes rules which it should enforce. If the rule package includes something as ridiculous as the requirement of stock inner door panels, that's what the competitors should abide by. Although I am certainly no expert in what is going on in G2 in CVAR, it appears several cars are being run which in no way follow the rules, and I'm not talking about door panels now. I'm speaking of the performance enhancements made which are not in accordance with period correct preparation. In my opinion, faster cars are not necessarily a hazard on the track and I believe the club should create a class for cars which are prepared to later versions of the GCR. They should not compete against the earlier cars, however.

Driver ability is a separate issue. The club seems to use our drivers' schools as a profit center more so than an educational opportunity - my opinion. Why else would we require someone with proven driving ability and a license from a nationally recognized sanctioning body to go through a CVAR school before they can race with us? I have heard it said that the reason is to teach "vintage spirit". If that is the reason, perhaps some of our members, the drivers whom you charge with rubbing fenders, causing crashes and rolling cars should be re-instilled with that spirit. A related question is this: If we have 20 to 30 students come through the schools each year, should our number of licensed drivers not go up by that same number? Either they do not continue to race with us or the same number (or more) are leaving the club each year. What's going on here?

I don't foresee any substantial changes until the members have a say in running the club. Leaders are hand picked at the present time and only go through the motions with regard to issues like this which are brought up by the members. I'm sure others will disagree with me on this and I'll endure more bashing. But if they were to give an open minded look at the facts, they will see it is true. Once the members have a say in what goes on in the club, perhaps you can retire your door panels.

Just my opinions -

Robert Metcalf

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