With the fall season of our area Vintage racing series about to start back up I
started thinking about the term "Vintage Racing" and what it really signifies,
at least to my warped way of thinking.
The last two or three weekends saw a fairly good amount of time spent in my hot
and steamy garage working to get the 61 ready for the upcoming September race at
Texas World Speedway.
Fortunately the work required was mostly of a maintenance nature as opposed to
the wicked gremlin hunts of the previous seasons which made it a far more
enjoyable, and as I refer to it, a therapeutic adventure in automotive upkeep.
The difference being that the amount of obscenities, tools and sweaty rags being
flung about the garage were significantly less, to the point where the
parishioners at the small Pentacostal church across the street were no longer
holding remote exorcisms in my honor, and the blood letting was down to only a
drop or two as opposed to the quarts shed during an earlier Esprit radiator
re-install and manifold removal project. And, at the end of the day, I felt good
about what had been accomplished and walked away with an eager anticipation of
getting back into the race suit and out onto the track.
At the end of the final day of tuning and adjusting I pulled out a lawn chair,
opened a cool one and sat down for a moment or two of reflection on the whole
effort and where it fell in the grand scheme of things. Don't know about the
rest of you, but as I get older the sit down and reflect action seems to be a
more common occurrence than in the past. There never seemed to be enough time
for that, nor a need as there was always another crisis or subject requiring
urgent attention, right on the heels of the last endeavor. That sense of urgency
just does not seem to apply to as many things as it did before.
All part of the vintage process I guess and to a degree the focal point of this
miscellaneous and rambling dissertation.
While I was sitting there admiring my handiwork I started to think about the
term "Vintage Racing" and what it really meant to me. At first my thoughts were
random and disjointed, much like most of my writings, but amazingly with each
successive brew a clearer image or concept started to come to mind.
Vintage racing is not just about a bunch of old race cars having a last go of it
before being laid to rest in some collectors garage or, for the less fortunate,
local scrap heap or spare parts bin. It's also about the mind set of those
involved and the experiences garnered from the various meets and occasions held.
There is a great feeling one gets when their efforts are rewarded with a
completion of a race weekend without having a major mechanical failure, or
attack of gremlin-itis, or having to walk every foot of the track in search of
some random bit that decided to part company with the car for some unknown
reason. As I get older being able to wake up each morning and get through my
days activities without having any new ache or pain show up, or major life
trauma occur, or, God forbid any miscellaneous part fall off seems to run a
direct parallel with the vintage racing world.
So to me the vintage in vintage racing is about the driver as much as it is
about the car. For those who are further along in their years I'm pretty sure
the correlations are more significant. It's this relationship between man and
machine that makes vintage racing exciting. Perhaps if more people knew first
hand what it was all about the enthusiasm would be greater. Right now I have
visions of all the nursing homes emptying out and the stands being filled with
large groups of geriatric ward denizens meekly cheering as the cars go whizzing,
or wheezing by, as the case may be.
I think also that since the older cars are a bit slower than the new age four
wheeled rocket ships, we as drivers are afforded the opportunity to be more
aware of the things around us as well as what is happening in the drivers seat.
Having just watched a Formula 1 race with all their "on-board" camera technology
I cannot imagine how one of those drivers can have the time for anything but the
full concentration needed to operate the car. With the speeds that those guys
are moving at there is just no way the driver could see the friendly wave from a
passing driver, or perhaps one fingered salute that might be offered.
The time to notice that something has fallen off the car is just not there. And
the moment to take notice that something terribly wrong is about to happen is
gone before it even registers. Where's the fun in that?
In three weeks the fun and mayhem will be back in full swing and the time for
reflection will have to be placed on hold till the next season break. In it's
place will be the fun and chuckle factors, probably a few "oh-s#$%t!" moments,
and the thrill of getting behind the wheel and going at it with the other
vintage racers in 3 or 4 fifteen minute sessions of adrenalin rushes per day
with the final big race on Sunday.
Then there will be the post race reflections, repairs, and Advils to sustain us
till the next race weekend in October. How much more fun does one need than
See y'all at the races.