The V.A.Y Special Rides Again

Some recollections by Gary Magwood with Jeremy Sale

While wasting time on the world wide web the other day I saw some chatter about the quirky “V.A.Y. Special”, which had appeared on Bring A Some VARAC members may remember Mike Rosen racing the car with VARAC at Mosport. I knew that it had gone on to the Excited States and I have seen various ads for it since. On asking Gary Magwood about it he said, “Actually, I know quite a lot about the VAY Special. I bought it in the early 60s. It was built by Vic Yachuk (hence V.A.Y.) to compete in the recently established Canada Class (an attempt to allow home builders to build and race cars utilizing production components).”

VAY Special 1964

We asked Gary where he had acquired the car…

“I found the car behind an old gas station on Dundas West in the winter of 1963. A guy had bought it a year earlier but whacked it a couple of times and lost interest. The trailer that came with the car was just two lengths of highway guardrail welded to an axle/hitch assembly… very primitive but it worked really well!”

So now you had a car to restore and a race license to obtain…

“Yes, I rented a garage in behind a motorcycle gang’s house in Etobicoke, I shared it with two Brits who were converting a DKW-­‐ powered Canada Class single seater into a sports racer. They also had a modified Austin A-­‐35 that we all used to get our CASC licenses! Unfortunately the damn thing was so slow going up the back straight at Mosport, we almost had to downshift going up the rise to corner 8! The only consolation was that Graham Hill had raced one in his early years!”

So what was the VAY like when you got it out on the track, Gary?

“When I first raced the VAY in 1964 it had the original bodywork and an Alta overhead converted Morris Minor engine. The engine preUy much self-­‐destructed every weekend, to the point where Bob Hanna’s Autosport dealership ran out of Alta parts!”

“Anyway, realizing the VAY’s power unit needed upgrading and that the bodywork was quite primitive, I undertook to rectify both problems. Getting married generated enough cash (a story unto itself!) to purchase a Sprite engine and gearbox. I even signed up for a welding course to learn how to braze steel tubing. I removed all the crude sheet metal fenders and other “lumpy” bits. The resulting, self-­‐ designed cleaner bodywork was aluminum, riveted to a new fabricated frame, the “core” centre section was left alone. (Above) The result was definitely lighter and more powerful.”

VAY Special

How long did you have the VAY, Gary?

“I raced the VAY for two years: the first year with the original Alta overhead conversion for the flat head Morris Minor engine and body configuration; the second year with a 998cc Sprite engine and tranny in my “flying shingle” design. It was a very stable and fun car to drive, but by the time I had the new engine and bodywork, Canada Class designers/builders had realized that single seaters could be built to the CC specs. That made all the two seaters obsolete in short order and needless to say, earning any points in CC races was now a pipe dream. “

VAY Special

“However, I did wire it and mounted lights to enter the 6 hour Sundown GP at Mosport in 1965. (See photo above) After a few minor dramas the now re-named BS&T (Blood Sweat and Tears) Special finished the race. I later sold the car to Bill Bovenizer. That’s how I recall it anyway…” Gary .

PS. Bill Bovenizer ran the car in 1967 and then sold it to acquire a Lotus 51.

PPS. Pit Signals contacted the new owner, Dave Gibson, a 944 Racer for the past seven years, competing with the 44 Cup series and winner of three championships with NASA Mid-­‐Atlantic in the German Touring Series. He plans on shaking the VAY down early spring at VIR or Summit Point and hopes to be ready for a Pittsburgh and Indy trip by June. He says “he is truly honoured to be the current caretaker of a piece of Canadian Motor sports history.”

Main Photo Credit: Bob Harrington

January 2016 Pit Signals

The January 2016 edition of VARAC Pit Signals by Jeremy Sale has been released!

Click here to download your personal copy.

VARAC Pit Signals

Features this month include:

  • The Dick Baker MGA
  • The 2016 Canadian Historic Grand Prix – Flat 6s vs V8s
  • Dunlop Vintage Race Tires Are Back
  • The V.A.Y. Special Rides Again…
  • A Real Life “Hot Wheels”
  • Canadian Motorsport Flashback
  • At The Turkey Bowl
  • The Birth of the Cam Am Series
  • Bob Polak, Willy Goebbels, Bill Pickthorne, Mystery Photos, Classifieds and More!

December 2015 Pit Signals

The December 2015 edition of VARAC Pit Signals by Jeremy Sale has been released!

Click here to download your personal copy.

VARAC Pit Signals

Features this month include:

  • VARAC AGM & Awards
  • Team Canada Scholarship Goes to Michael Adams
  • The Kingston Jaguar Special
  • Mystery Photos, Classifieds and More!

VARAC Announces The 2016 Canadian Historic Grand Prix

Mark your calendars – the date for the 2016 Canadian Historic Grand Prix has been set: June 17- 19, 2016 on the iconic Grand Prix Track at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, just outside Bowmanville, Ontario.

For those that are interested, a comprehensive test day is available on June 16 for an additional nominal fee.

On Friday at the end of racing, VARAC will be hosting the new Paddock Crawl – three different stations of food and beverages designed to provide teams and track workers with a chance to meet and mingle.

By popular demand, this year’s Saturday Grand Feature will be “Flat 6s vs V8s”.  A 30 minute “extra” race pitting Porsche finesse vs raw North American Power!  New for 2016, following the feature, VARAC will be hosting a reception in the beautiful Conference Centre at CTMP – “Brats and Dogs”, both German and North American foods for competitors and track workers.

Sunday is all about racing – a session for each group in the morning and then the trophy races in the afternoon:

  • 3 Vintage Historic grids (small, medium and big bore)
  • The Classic grid for G70+ and G90+ cars (cars built between 1973 and 1995)
  • The Monoposto grid, including wings and slicks
  • The Toyo Tire 1600 Championship for modern Formula Fords will also be featured as our guests

We hope you will be able to join us in 2016… we look forward to hosting you!

Click here for more information.


2015 VARAC Annual Awards

Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2015 VARAC Annual Awards!

Awards were presented to the 2015 VARAC Series Champions as well as a number of special awards as part of the VARAC annual social, this year held at the Sheraton Parkway North Toronto on November 7.

We hope you enjoy some pictures from the evening, kindly covered by Peter Viccary and Diane Dale.

October 2015 Pit Signals

The October 2015 edition of VARAC Pit Signals by Jeremy Sale has been released!

Click here to download your personal copy.

VARAC Pit Signals

Features this month include:

  • VARAC at Cobble Beach
  • Canadians at Monterey
  • Good News on Tyres
  • Lost and Found – a great story!
  • Grand Prix au Grattan XXIX
  • Notes from Calabogie, Mt-Tremblant and Celebration
  • Marriages? Special Birthdays?
  • Frankie – A 1978 Corvette’s History
  • Classifieds and More!