Story and Photos Mike Spicer
Attending a vintage race and seeing old cars barreling down the track always gets my blood pumping. Historic auto racing takes us to a time when we were young or an era we really identify with. The events are celebrations of history and the cars transport us back in time with the drivers.
All kinds of people are attracted to historic auto racing but the simple fact remains it’s more fun to go fast in a slow car than go slow in a fast car. Talking with a few historic drivers they say, “it’s important to enjoy the stage you’re racing in and find people with similar horsepower and skills. Whether it’s for first place or thirty-first place, someone with matched speed makes it very enjoyable. The fun comes from having a good battle on the track.”
Historic auto racing regulations are pretty strict. Safety upgrades are allowed and any modifications are designed to keep the cars true to what was available at the time. Tire technology has advanced a great deal so racing on harder compounds with taller aspect ratios (similar to back in day) makes these cars very exciting. Not being able to rely on traction control or electronic advancements creates a very pure racing experience.
Much of historic auto racing is about the clock. While everyone looks at what position they’re in, lap times and personal bests are how many drivers measure their success. Most drivers have never raced professionally so not having had that experience to compare to, the clock becomes the motivator and target.
It’s easy for something to break when you’re pushing machinery hard. Most people don’t have a pit crew so they prepare and maintain the cars themselves. My racing friends say “bringing the car home safe with no damage” is the thought process on the way to the track, but in the heat of the battle they sometimes find themselves doing risky things and getting caught up in the moment.
There are many different ways to go historic auto racing, from smaller engine classes and getting your racing chops to big bore cars with high running costs, as well as everything in-between. There are several events to choose from all over the world.
Some race cars have become very collectible and extremely expensive. Walking the paddock is similar to going to a car show. Seeing race cars worked on next to vintage road cars is very common. Some like “the show”, some like the “thrill of racing”, and others like to spend all year “tinkering and preparing” their car for racing.
Regardless which camp you fall into a weekend at the track is very exciting. Whether you’re five or eighty-five. The old race cars bring pure joy to a hobby that is like no other.