A Vintage Racing Primer
have had over 35 years of history in racing, spanning every generation of the
car and including such stellar examples as the Shelby GT350 and GT500, and the
winning Trans Am series cars of the 1960s.
to vintage and historical events, much of this great history can still be seen
at tracks around the country. Many organizations host vintage races including
the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), VARA (Vintage Automobile Racing
Association), and HSR (Historic Sports Car Racing, Ltd), and some consider them
the fastest-growing segment of motorsports in the world.
racing isnít just a high-speed parade lap for spectators to see restored cars.
Itís real racing, wheel-to-wheel, pass-em-where-you-can running with the
occasional trading of paint or excursions off track just like in any other form
of racing. The fact that some of the cars are considered nearly priceless pieces
of automotive history is secondary for most drivers when a trophy is at stake.
a trophy is about all a winner of a vintage race can expect; most events pay no
prize money, although some do award points within a race series.
anything that has been raced in the past qualifies for a vintage class of some
kind, from wild turbocharged Formula 1 cars down to lowly stock sedans. Cars are
usually grouped by weight, horsepower and a series type, for example GT or Trans
Am, then by age. Some classes, like the HSR ďB.O.S.S.Ē (Big Open Single
Seater) pit cars from very different series and eras against each other, for
example Formula 1 against Indy cars.
sanctioning bodies require that an entrant be retired from non-vintage
competition for at least five years. Of course the cars must be safe and in most
cases, adhere to a set of rules for the class it competes in, just like any
other racing series.
events attract hundreds of entrants and tens of thousands of spectators, and the
series have attracted major sponsorship from the likes of Rolex, WorldCom,
Chrysler and others.
typical race weekend for HSR will include an 8-12 lap sprint race on Saturdays
and a 1-3 hour endurance race on Sundays, and in between spectators are able to
walk through the paddocks looking at the historic cars and seeing the drivers,
many of whom are racing legends like Hurley Haywood or John Paul, Jr.
good is the racing on the vintage circuit? Older race cars typically donít do
anything as well as a new one does, whether it be braking, shifting, steering or
accelerating, forcing drivers to be smoother and more skilled if they want to be
fast. Those skills can make drivers deadly competitors when they get in a more
July, veteran vintage racer John Finger proved the point, hopping into an ARCA
Ford and winning the ARCA 150 at Watkins Glen in his first race in the series.
Will vintage racing become a popular place for younger drivers to develop their
skills? If Fingerís experience is any guide, maybe it should be.