CASC-OR’s Bob Long Recognized

This article was written by Charlie Pinkerton for the London Free Press

Original article can be found here.

At 80, Bob Long’s as quick-witted as ever. And on the racetrack, he’s the fastest he’s ever been.

“Most guys my age play cards or something, well I’m bored as (expletive) with cards. I can’t do that,” Long said.

As the oldest fully licensed Formula 4 (F4) race driver in Ontario, Long recorded his personal best time at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weeks ago.

He’s been building and racing his own cars since 1958, the year he moved to London and joined the London Auto Sport Club.

With the 5-foot-8 senior in the car, the Gamma II — named because gamma rays are faster than X-rays — weighs only 375 kilograms.

“I average at Motorsport — which is uphill, downhill, short corners, long corners — around 170 km/h,” he said.

He races about 10 times a year.

“It’s pretty nice when you get in your own car and it goes fast and you do well.”

According to F4 Canada’s website, Long’s a 14-time national champion in the sport. But Long says being on the track isn’t what he enjoys most.

“I get more of a kick out of building the car,” he said.

Long was trained as a tool-and-die maker before moving to London. He spent 22 years working in the auto sector and 12 more in the food-vending business. For another six years, he dealt with air compression for a friend’s company.

The senior retired for the fourth and final time 15 years ago, and with his wife, Nancy, lives in a central London home, where he maintains a house he owns next door, and keeps the Gamma II and a few other classic cars.

“Nothing gets easier when you get older. Nothing.”

Long says if he could be any age forever, he’d pick 30.

“You’re smart, you’re dumb — so you can associate with anybody,” Long said. “You’re kind of a man, but you can still be goofy.”

Long’s next race is at Calabogie Motorsports Park at the end of the summer. He knows his final race is coming. He’s said if someone buys his car, he will quit.

He says he’s trying to sell it to the right person, preferably a woman, because that would help the sport.

Although his car is one of the fastest on the track, he’s struggled with selling it. He says he’s been told by other drivers that there’s a stigma attached to his car.

“What kind of a stigma, it’s fast?” Long asked when he heard that.

Apparently, no one will buy his car because they don’t want to drive it slower than an 80-year-old.

 

Joe Lightfoot’s Field of Dreams

This story was written by Paul Williams and was posted on www.GoneDriving.ca (it has been re-posted with permission, the original link is here.)

The story of Joe Lightfoot’s British car adventure goes back many years. It begins in the early 1960s with a teenaged Joe motoring around in the family’s diminutive Austin A30 sedan. This was a time when British cars like Austin, Morris, Vauxhall and Hillman were a common sight on Canadian roads, and while Joe also liked Studebakers, Packards and Flathead Fords, he retained a soft spot for British imports.

As an adult Joe got busy building Lightfoot Antenna, his company that installed tower-mounted television antennas to rural customers mostly in Ontario’s Prince Edward County where he still lives. But he was always a car guy, and that meant he was a regular reader of the now-defunct Old Car Trader, published monthly by Auto Trader. Twelve times a year in the Old Car Trader you’d find all kinds of classic cars listed by province from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, so for $2.95 readers could embark on a monthly cross-country collector-car tour as they turned each issue’s nearly 300 pages.

Joe was doing just that when he happened upon an Austin A30 for sale in St. John, New Brunswick, and that is how the adventure started.

Ahhh, the old family car. Nostalgia struck and Joe was powerless to ignore the A30’s charms. Sure, he wanted to see it, but this is very much pre-Internet, right? Back then, even the idea that a person in Ontario would, sight unseen, buy a car located in New Brunswick was pretty unusual. You’d have to be really motivated, which Joe found he really was.

“Drive it away!” read the encouraging advertisement. But prudently Joe set out with a buddy and a trailer attached to a 1983 Ford pickup. Driving 16 hours straight through he was greeted by an A30 without a carburetor or spark plugs, so he couldn’t start it. But he was there now and the car was indeed in awesome shape, according to Joe. So he bought it anyway.

After getting the A30 to Ontario Joe realized that parts for it were not exactly plentiful anymore, and that he’d surely need some. The antenna business got him all over eastern Ontario and now that he was looking, he soon found a couple of A40s which he bought, and then came the flash of inspiration, the life-changing decision. He’d acquire an example of each Austin model exported to Canada. That would mean mostly family cars; models like the A30, A35, A40 Devon and Somerset, A40 Convertible, Cambridge, Westminster, Gipsy, Mini, Marina, Commer commercial, 1100 and 1800, and maybe a few variations like the Healey Sprite and America.

So now Joe was a man on a mission, and some years later he’d pretty much achieved his goal, at one point owning 12 Austins, all drivers and licensed for the road.

However, he also had a growing collection of unlicensed vehicles representing not only Austin, but also most of the other British marques. What happened was that while hunting for Austins, these other British cars presented themselves (or were presented to him) and Joe started picking them up as well. Eventually, he got proactive and placed advertisements in local publications. Penned by Joe, they read: “Wanted: old British cars in neglected or respected condition.” Unlike most people obsessed with cars (be careful what you wish for…), Joe actually had a place to put them on his acreage in “the county.”

His collection, therefore, continued to expand, becoming not only a historical record of British cars owned by the local population, but also of the British car industry in what was arguably its heyday. In the process, Joe Lightfoot became “Austin” Joe, known and liked by many, understood by a select few.

But this was Joe, not Jay, and most of the cars were very much of the neglected variety, which Joe dutifully “saved” by hauling them back to join the others on his property. He’d typically pick them up for maybe $125.00, which in case you were wondering, explains why no Austin Healeys were represented in his collection (big Healeys always had serious value, and weren’t neglected for long).

Still, what for Joe was a surely an enjoyable, if somewhat consuming pastime, for others was a bit mystifying. The collection was fascinating to explore, for sure, but also kind of sad, as the vehicles were stored outdoors and predictably succumbed to exposure as the years passed. Their deteriorating condition would add a note of poignancy to any visit.

After becoming the owner of a 1960 Morris Minor in the early 1990s, I first met Joe at one of the annual VARAC vintage race weekends then held at the track in Shannonville. He was also a regular at the annual Boot ‘n Bonnet British car show in Kingston every August. You’d often see him in his A30 (the Austin equivalent to the Minor), which was the very car he bought in New Brunswick. I remember asking what his plans were for the collection, which would grow to about 80 vehicles. He mused on the possibility of an Austin museum, which I, for one, would have been keen to visit. Joe may not have been serious about that, or maybe he was.

Certainly the vehicles were a fabulous source of parts, especially if you owned a popular MGB, Midget or even a Triumph TR3. But as I say, the majority of the vehicles were less interesting to enthusiasts. They were family cars like the Hillman Super Minx, for instance, or the Vauxhall Viva or Austin Cambridge. All but forgotten, really, and now literally out to pasture.

“Every car has a story,” says Joe as we tour what’s left of the collection (now about 60 cars). He introduces each vehicle almost like an old friend. “See the dents in that TR7? The woman who owned it took a sledge hammer to it out of frustration,” he recalls. “It wouldn’t run and she’d had enough.”

“And that Morris J2 window van was actually the school bus in Shannonville for years. Those two A40s are the first cars I brought here, along with the Ford Prefect next to them, that was the third.”

Joe can’t understand why there isn’t more interest in acquiring some of the parts. Pointing to a rusted Triumph TR7 coupe, he lifts the hood to reveal a Toyota 2R engine mated to a five-speed transmission. “For $200 you’d think someone would want that,” he says scratching his head. “A rear-drive five-speed, too. Pretty useful!”

Joe’s got several Austin Marinas that he sees as a great source of desirable parts. “They’ve got MGB engines, a Spitfire gearbox and a TR7 rear end,” he says of the last Austin model exported to Canada.

He identifies the remains of a Vauxhall Viva GT, its 2.0L engine capable of 120 mph, according to Joe, and then takes me to an old GM van that contains nearly all the body panels of a Riley 1.5, along with that model’s distinctive two-tone seats. On the way we pass what appears to be an interloper in the form of an Opel Rekord.

“It’s the same as a Vauxhall,” explains Joe without missing a beat.

When we get to the van, Joe slides the door open to reveal the cherished Riley parts. Says Joe, “A buddy of mine, Norm Mort, asked me what car I’d want if I could have any car, and I said a Riley 1.5. Terrific little cars.”

“I guess I’d better keep these,” he says sliding the door closed decisively.

Eventually Joe stopped rescuing old cars and hasn’t added a vehicle to his yard in ten years at the time of this writing. Some have been dragged away for parts and some contributed to a “parts corral” in a small barn on the property as the attempt was made to box and catalogue thousands of them over the years. Unfortunately, it’s now a challenge for Joe to identify many of the parts.

“I had so much stuff I lost control,” explains Joe. “I no longer knew what I had.”

Personally, I was thrilled to find a pair of headrests in excellent condition for the 1969 Ford Cortina GT that I own. Mine were missing and a replacement pair was not to be found. Turns out Joe has a blue 1970 two-door Cortina with its engine long gone, but the unique headrests – true “unobtanium” – were there for maybe the only person in the world who wanted them. That pleases Joe. He’d love it if more of the rare and useful parts in his yard could be salvaged. On the way back to his house, we pass a Mk 3 Cortina, only available for two years in Canada before being replaced by the “sexy European” Ford Capri. Nice lines on that car…

Nearby is the expressive grille from the Prefect, now separated from its body and looking like it needs a helping hand. Behind a tree you can make out the shape of a Plymouth Arrow (formerly Sunbeam Alpine) and over there’s a Triumph Herald, its Michelotti lines unmistakable. A Vauxhall Viva Estate is nudged in between an MGB and a Marina, and what looks to be a Sunbeam Rapier and an HA Viva are losing a battle with an aggressive shrub. An Austin Gipsy — Austin’s attempt to compete with Land Rover — languishes permanently off-road. An Austin 1800, the so-called land-crab, slowly decomposes while a Farina-bodied Cambridge flashes what’s left of its paint in an apparent attempt to get your attention.

Well it’s bittersweet, I tell you.

Protected from the elements is one car Joe really wants to get on the road. His history with this particular 1956 Austin A35 Pick-up goes back decades. Only 475 were built and Joe knows he has way too much in this car that still needs extensive work. It’s a quirky little vehicle, but needy.

You often hear about cantankerous codgers with a yard full of cars, a suspicious attitude and a Rottweiler guarding the property, but Joe’s none of that. He’s affable, still car crazy and easy to talk with. He’s just kind of overcome by what he’s wrought.

Nonetheless, at 73, Joe is selling modern vehicles through Joe Lightfoot Motors and has become an enthusiastic vintage racecar driver (you’ll find him behind the wheel of an MGB at local events). Meanwhile, and it’s clearly difficult for him, he and his wife are now vacating their property and realistically there is no buyer for an 18-acre Prince Edward County lot that includes a nice house with a fine garage, a 19th Century log cabin, a barn and vast collection of rusting old British cars. The property, sure, but the cars, no way. You certainly won’t see pictures of them in the current real estate listing, and soon you won’t see them on the property at all.

“$175 a ton,” says Joe philosophically. “It’ll be quick. They’ll come with their machines and scoop them up.”

The real estate sign is already at roadside. Amusingly, for those in the know, the online listing describes the property as having “ample parking for cars.” Across the road is one of the many wineries now prospering in Prince Edward County, but there’s no mistaking Joe’s place, at least for the time being. A vintage Ford Consul decorates the front yard.

“It’s going to be tough when they’re taken away,” says Joe of his collection’s imminent demise. “But right now I sit on my back porch and look out and think, well… this is an awesome place. I’d like to keep it forever, but I have to move.

Joe Lightfoot’s property for sale. 3616 County Rd 8, Napanee, ON

Should you need parts or be interested in a Prince Edward County property, contact Joe Lightfoot through his Joe Lightfoot Motors advertisements on Kijiji.

Joann Villeneuve Reunited With Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari Formula 1 Car

This fantastic article is written by Michael Taylor and posted on Trackworthy on June 25, 2017.  Original link is HERE.

PHOTOGRAPHS and VIDEOS © Copyright 2017 TrackWorthy Group Ltd.

Joann Villeneuve, wife of the late great Formula 1 legend Gilles Villeneuve and mother of Canada’s only Formula 1 Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, recently took a trip down memory lane. She attended the VARAC (Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada) Vintage Grand Prix held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Amongst the historic racing series that comprised the weekend’s activities was the FIA Masters Historic Formula One series. The Masters USA provides a venue for classic Formula 1 car owners to compete against each other at world class race circuits in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The series is largely comprised of Formula 1 cars from 1966 through 1985. Not only do these cars sound great, but they are also beautiful to behold, as they must run in their correct period livery.

 

Participating in the Masters USA this year were cars from constructors that includes such famous names as Williams, McLaren and Lotus. Of particular note was a very special 1979 Ferrari: a 312T4 with a 3-litre flat 12 cylinder 500 hp engine, a manual 5-speed gearbox, and its former driver Gilles Villeneuve’s name on the side.

TrackWorthy - Joann Villeneuve waving the green flag (5)

Joann Villeneuve waving the green flag to start the race

Joann Villeneuve and Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Eppie Wietzes were the Grand Marshals. Joann’s duties included signing enthusiastic fans’ memorabilia at an autograph session, waving the green flag from atop the starter’s stand to start the race, and presenting the trophies at the victory podium. But the highlights of her day were seeing and hearing her late husband’s car out on the track again, and, for the first time in her life, sitting in one of Gilles Villeneuve’s Formula 1 cars.

 

“The emotion of sitting in Gilles’ car, that was really something special,” said Joann Villeneuve. “Every now and then something happens like that, and you do not expect that rush of emotions. And all of a sudden, there they are. I was not expecting that. I also felt that when I was waving the green flag and I was watching (Gilles’) car go by. Just to see and hear the car go by and you say ‘this was my husband’s car, he sat in this car’. And then when I sat in the car and touched the steering wheel that he touched. You think you have put those emotions aside and away, but they are still there. It was a lot of emotions today. It really was nice.”

TrackWorthy - Joann Villeneuve sitting in her husband’s F1 car for the first time (4)

Joann Villeneuve sitting in her husband’s F1 car for the first time

“To see how much the man I loved touched so many people,” said Joann. “Obviously he touched me, he was the man of my life, the love of my life, but to see that he touched so many people, for some reason, Gilles touched them more than other drivers. That’s pretty special.”

This Gilles Villeneuve F1 car is owned by the Baker family and is part of a collection in Sun Valley, Idaho. The owner’s son, Californian Danny Baker, drives the car. Danny’s father had the opportunity to buy the Ferrari 15 years ago from the Jacobazzi family who had previously acquired it directly from Ferrari.

“I have the racer mentality so I want it to go quick and I want to compete with it and yet I have to respect it as much as possible,” said Danny Baker. “I got into a tussle (on the track) with a guy and he managed to get into me today. He gave me a little bump and I made sure he knew it was not appreciated. It is really fun to run out here and it is great to see everyone go just crazy for the car.” During every lap of the track Danny could see appreciative spectators taking photographs of the car and waving him on.

TrackWorthy - Danny Baker (3)

Danny Baker (R)

Of the 16 Formula 1 cars participating in the races, Danny finished 3rd in class in the first race and 4th in class in the second race. He was very happy to have been able to complete every lap of every session. It is a surprisingly reliable car but it takes a great deal of time, and money, to keep running properly.

Also on hand was Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Ron Fellows, one of the owners of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Ron is one of Canada’s most successful race car drivers, winning in series from NASCAR to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona. But Ron never raced in Formula 1. “Surreal, magic and exhilarating,” was how Ron described what it was like to sit in Gilles’ car.

“It wasn’t on my bucket list because I would never think to put it on, but when Danny (Baker) confirmed that he was going to bring the car, that’s all I wanted to do, was sit in it,” Ron went on to say. “A big thank you to Danny baker, he was not planning on coming here after the Montreal race, but I kept on him, for five days, twice a day, phone calls, text messages, and he finally agreed to come. It was absolutely magic to have it here.”

TrackWorthy - Ron Fellows

Ron Fellows

When asked if he could imagine racing one of these cars, Ron shared his admiration of the “…incredible skill and bravery they had to drive those cars. The bodywork gives you a false sense of security, the tub of the car is basically at your hips. They are spectacular cars, it’s an era that I grew up watching, as a kid and a young man I idolized Gilles along with millions of others. To have Joann here and then to actually get to park my butt in it was incredibly special. I will treasure that for as long as I live.”

To reunite Joann with Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari Formula 1 car was the icing on the cake of what was a very successful VARAC Vintage Grand Prix weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (or Mosport as it is fondly referred to).

 

30 Years Between Drives in a Glorious Can-Am Car

by Seann Burgess
Photos provided by Seann Burgess

In our “have it now” world, is 30 years between drives too long, or just right?

In my case, it’s just right. The very special “drive” in this case was my homebuilt Can-Am car that I ran in the 3rd gen center seat series in the mid ‘80’s. I did only 6 races and parked the car. Looking back, the slow demise of yet another Can-Am series, coupled with the excitement around the new “Player’s Challenge Series” (I did the first 3 years), meant the race car got pushed to the back of the shop. At the end of ‘88 after racing pretty steady for 10 years, I decided to take a break from driving. I already had the new stronger, wider tub drawn up as the major improvement to the car, as well as finishing the rushed conversion properly. To get the car on those grids back then was a very “hurry up job”. Any racer who has ever had to do something in a rush (that’s all racers), knows what I mean.  I wasn’t going to rush making the car the way I wanted it this time.

I didn’t really do too much on the car for the next few years, I was enjoying the post racing feel with regards to how cheap everything seemed to be in comparison! We bought a used motorhome, went camping (often at race tracks), toured both coasts, built a hotrod, restored a couple of Atlantic cars and a bunch of 70’s bikes, drove “The Ring”, then the car started calling to me. I decided then that I wanted the finished product to be entirely by my own hand, a true homebuilt car. Originally the chassis was my 73-B March hiding under the M1B body. You can see the small 13” wheels in the ‘86 Turn 5 photo. I looked at several options for bodywork back then, not wanting a cycle fender conversion and always loving the curves of the early McLaren. After closing in the cockpit and engine cover  for the center seat configuration, the lines  now “flow” from every view, there’s no bad angle. Into the 2000’s, I went back to working on the car when it called to me, usually between other projects. I fabricated my own front suspension using turbo RX7 brakes and  hubs and found some NOS undrilled Revolution 15” wheels. On the back I made centres for the readily available inner and outers. The car still uses March rear suspension with the FT200. The 15’s fill those wheel wells just right. The engine is from a mid ‘80’s Sebring/Daytona endurance team with all Mazda factory race stuff, very scarce…then and especially now. Dyno shows Weber (285hp) and Lucas injection (314). I’m using carb for simplicity.  The car has a very simple ‘70’s fabricated look to it, the only real experiment was with the always hot rotary exhaust…I ran it forward and back 180 degrees into the right sidepod. A 12v fan exchanges air in the enclosure, getting rid of the unwanted heat around the muffler/pipes. It’s all wrapped and foiled, and although I’ve only done exhibition laps, it seems to work. I’ve seen too many heat related failures with these engines. Then there’s the noise. I broke a muffler in qualifying at Summit Point in ‘86 and was deaf in my right ear for a week. I’ve always had a fascination with the Wankel engines…I have a ‘75 RE5, a ‘69 SnoFury, a ‘75 Sachs Dolmar chain saw (only saw made world wide with rotary engine), and have had several Mazdas, best one being a ‘93 RX7, a very nice car.

Quite a few of the projects I do are basket cases or forgotten/lost interest ones that somehow find me, I don’t look for them. Once people know you do this kind of work, you don’t need to shop. My Can-Am car was never one of those. I promised myself that I would restore it, and I would drive it. I also answered the question “When will it be ready?” about a million times with the same response….when it’s ready. I wanted to enjoy doing it, rushing wasn’t part of the plan. About 10 years ago, I designed & built my new shop, complete with a tool room that is a re-creation of one of the original Mosport pits. It has proved to be a very nice place to work.  Fast forward to 2015, one winter to go before the 50th anniversary of the original Can-Am Series. Timing seemed perfect to have the car done by spring 2016, and go enjoy the fact that IT’S FINISHED!! Just around that time, a neighbour stopped by and asked if I had heard about that Italian racer coming to the Firestone dealer in Owen Sound TOMORROW for a meet and greet?   Sure enough, Mario Andretti was coming to the dealer for one of his promos, and they were encouraging people to come for a car show, barbeque and bring things for him to sign. Well, I’ve got something for him to sign alright! I called the boss up there and asked him if he wanted me to bring the car up to be part of their show. He thought that would be great so the race car took centre stage under the big inflatable tire display.  Mario showed up and after meeting the staff came out to chat with me and check out the car.  We had a great talk, he’s a VERY nice person. 

He signed a bunch of my stuff, Indy flag, some books and my 1986 Molson Indy event poster (his car on it) where he finished 3rd and I was 5th in our respective races. At the end of the day I asked him if he’d sign one more thing for me… the car. “Sure” he said, looking at me with Sharpie in hand, and I said “something complimentary in Italian would be great”.  So, I opened my hand crafted door, exposing my hand built tub side, and he laid it down… ”Bella Macchina”. 

The 2016 roller coaster did not stop there. The folks from Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, approached me about bringing the car to their show in September, and I was all for that. We had been to the show that had run for the last 4 years, introducing us to a new level of automobile appreciation. I’d often thought Pebble Beach or a similar type show should be on the bucket list, but thanks to the folks at Cobble Beach, we’ve now got one an hour from our home!

We had enough time to plan a visit to the 50th anniversary at Elkhart (as VIP’s, thanks Dan), to find 50 Can-Am cars! I took a nice enlarged photo from Mosport with me to get a few signatures from the “legends”. I showed David Hobbs and Brian Redman the photo and told them I just drove the car for the first time in 30 years….they both said (and signed)…WOW! Bruce McLaren’s sister & daughter both signed the photo with compliments as well.

Cobble Beach was next, we got the car cleaned up and had a 5 am load-in time onto one of the most beautiful 18th hole fairways you’ll find. They lined me up beside Ayrton Senna’s 1987 Lotus F1 car, not bad company. Being in a Concours is nothing like being at a race track. Everything is spotlessly clean, smells good, tastes good and staff members are everywhere trying to make you happy. It was a great experience. When the judges came to my wife and I with a 2nd place ribbon in hand, we couldn’t believe it. This meant that I had to drive the car across the podium for awards/photos. Of course this had to be done with my right shoe off because a hiking boot doesn’t fit in the footbox if you’re a size 11!

Just when I thought I could stop pinching myself, I’ve just seen that Cobble Beach is using my car to promote next year’s show in some of their ads….the “rewards” as I see them,  haven’t stopped yet.  Having just turned 60, I’ve spent half my life doing “something” with this car. Maybe that’s enough, time will tell whether it should go to the next caretaker. I’ve also spent over half my life with my wife and crew chief, Carole, who has been part of this car story from the beginning.   We even did Can-Am races with just the two of us, running around the country in our converted school bus with the car in the back. We laugh about it now, we had a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how many times she’s asked me over three decades, “What did you get done on the car today?” Always with a smile, she’s the perfect team player. Those readers with supporting spouses will understand, it makes all the difference.

So, were the stars aligned for finishing this car and for all these events to have happened as soon as it was done? It’s hard to argue against it.

50 Years Ago There Was This Formula 1 Race…

Article by Perry M. Mason
Photos by Perry M. Mason

2017 marks a very special anniversary for Motorsport in Canada, 50 years since the inaugural Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1.  The race was held at Mosport in Bowmanville Ontario, now known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).

Recalling this event fills me with awesome childhood memories and excitement. It was the first major international motorsport event I ever attended. A special thrill as well, since I got to watch my father, Al compete in the support races and win that weekend in his Corvette.

Seeing iconic drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham and getting their autographs are memorable moments I’ll never forget. At the time I had no idea that the drivers I met and watched would be such iconic and influential figures in the sport.

A sharp dressed dapper looking man I saw near driver Jim Clark intrigued me, he looked like “the boss” in that pit.  I was told he was Colin Chapman and “better get him to sign your program” my Dad said.. so I did, right on the Lotus ad on the back..and yes he WAS Lotus, the owner and creator!

My Mother, a big race fan, was in on the action as well. With her Kodak Super 8 camera she captured a lot of the action in the sixties silent colour movie medium. I particularly like her shots of stars Graham Hill and Stirling Moss giving her “the look and a wink” as most ladies of the race paddock would get from these ’60s era playboys.

My most memorable F1 driver encounter was sharing the condiments at the snack bar with a very nice fellow, we were dressing up our fries and I asked him to pass the vinegar..”you like that?” he asked in a European sounding accent. I said “yes”. I guess he was not thrilled about putting acetic acid on his, passed it to me, then he smiled and walked away eating his fries with ketchup.

Then a family friend Gary and formula Vee racer at the time, said “you do know that was Jochen Rindt?” Really??!! I scooted over before he was out of sight and he also signed my program without hesitation, and said thanks to me..he thanked ME..a kid.

Jochen, while leading the championship in 1970 sadly was killed in a brutal crash during practice for the Italian GP at Monza. He was the only posthumous F1 world champion. In the paddock, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart all the greats were there. So were two Canadian drivers entered as well, Eppie Wietzes and Al Pease, both unfortunately did not finish. Australian driver Jack Brabham won the inaugural race on that rainy day in September.

In 1973, that same family friend I mentioned earlier Gary, took me to the Mosport F1 race that year. We went only on Sunday race day, and as I recall it was wet again. Hmm.. Mosport wet in September?

Anyway, I remember him pointing out all the quirky things going on at that time. Jackie Oliver spinning his wheels from exit of one to the top of two in the wet without lifting, “not a mature driver yet” he told me, my opinion he was just a nutty driver!  Jackie Stewart craftily getting his way around in what was my favourite car that year the Tyrrell.

One of the drivers there intrigued me as well, he looked like Hollywood movie star, the women seemed to give him two or three double takes, he drove his Tyrrell like he stole it. Francois Cevert was Jackie’s teammate at Tyrrell. He got into a mess in turn two and destroyed his car. I remember fans running away with the iconic Elf blue cowling and the mirrors on those two foot high supports. Wonder where those are today? Sadly Cevert lost his life at Watkins Glen two weeks later during qualifying. He was Stewart’s last teammate as Stewart promptly retired from racing a race earlier than he’d planned due to this and still won the world championship that season. American Peter Revson won that ’73 GP in a McLaren,  Jackie finished fifth.

Mosport (CTMP) was host to this race for F1 from 1967 to 1977 with only the ’68 and ’70 seasons going to Le Circuit in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

In 1978 the event permanently moved to Montreal. The first edition of the Canadian Grand Prix at the new Montreal location in 1978, was on a purpose built circuit created on the site of Expo ’67 on Île Notre-Dame.

The race was won by our most legendary Canadian race driver Gilles Villeneuve driving for Ferrari. He was presented the winners trophy at this new venue by car enthusiast and Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau.

I attended the 1981 edition of the Grand Prix in Montreal. Driving into the track that morning, I was passed by a crazy person in a Ferrari, deck-lid flapping loose, passing on the inside and against traffic all at breakneck speed. Who the hell is that? When stopped at the gate to show my pass, I could clearly see it was Gilles..somehow it that made that illegal display ok.

During the race, to see Villenueve fans in the stands go wild was something to behold. Once again it was another wet race and it wasn’t even Mosport, I walked around with my umbrella and took it all in. Villenueve came into contact with someone or something, and the front wing was standing vertical in front of him, it never slowed him.

I caught that last lap on my camera that day, a cherished photo. The fast and fearless Villeneuve tragically lost his life qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

The organization for the circuit in Montreal honoured our Canadian race hero by renaming the facility “Circuit Gilles Villeneuve”. Gilles son Jacques followed in his father’s footsteps and made to Formula 1, winning the 1997 world Championship. He however never won in Canada at his namesake’s track. 

These are but a few of the memories I have from witnessing our Canadian GPs over the years. I can’t wait to participate in VARAC’s 50th Anniversary of the first F1 event at Mosport.

I don’t have a Tyrrell or Gilles Ferrari but in my mind I’ll feel like I’m in one!

 

 

Bob Long, A Canadian Racing Legend

by Jeremey Sale

Bob Long is a legend in Canadian racing circles having raced almost continuously since the 1950s! Now, in VARAC circles, a few of our guys started racing in the fifties but I would bet none of them has done lately what Bob has, which is to turn in a lap time of 1:25.60, he did this in 2016 at the age of 79! He has raced everything from a Mini, Camaro, Mustang, MGAs, Formula Fords, Xpits, (pronounced “speets” btw) plus a Mallock with Rotary Mazda engine.Bob Long 2

I checked an old (Dec, 1967) Track and Traffic of mine and found an article quoting Bob Long as saying F4 is “for someone who wants to race competitively without spending a fortune”.  There was at the time a price limit on the cars set by the FIA, which would bring the cost after shipping, duty and taxes to about $2,300. (In case you are wondering the wonders of the Internet tell me that would be about $17,000 today.) In the article Bob said that he had always been concerned about the cost of racing discouraging many novices and had been looking for a class that wouldn’t require a lot of money to be competitive. He went to Europe in January of 1967 and visited a number of manufacturers. He drove a Suzuki powered 250cc car around the Castle Combe race track and decided to import Johnny Walker Racing Ltd machines through his firm A and E Motors.

Chris Haley is a long time friend/crew/racer with Bob and he very kindly contributed the following notes.

“Bob started racing in 1958 at Green Acres with his partner Bill Steele, driving a Morris Minor with a 60hp Ford flathead V8 installed. There were lots of little issues with cooling and so on, and as they went along it worked out thBob Long 4at Bill became the driver and Bob more the mechanic.  In the early sixties they designed and built a tiny sports racer that they called the “Curloo”. It was powered by a 6 cylinder Mercury outboard motor and had “tiller” steering setup like a motorcycle.  This car would pull the front wheels off the ground in third gear! But it was only raced a couple of times by Bill.   In the mid sixties Bill decided to stop racing, so Bob didn’t race for a year or two. Later on he happened to be reading a British automotive magazine in 1966 that had an ad in it for a small formula car made by Johnny Walker
.   He went over to look at them and test. He ended up ordering one for himself and one for his friend Jim Johnston, and so the first Formula Fours came to Canada. They started out with 250cc Suzuki Hustler motors, and as I remember, over the years moved to a Honda 305cc, a 650cc Triumph Bonneville (this is about the time I got involved in about 1970), 750cc Honda 4, 750cc Suzuki 2 stroke (water buffalo), 750 Kawasaki and different versions of the Suzuki 750cc GSXR.  The Three Quarter Litre Association (http://www.formulafour.com/history.htm) came to be around 1970 and since that time Bob has won the association championship at least 14 times, the CASC F4 championship at least 5 times, CASC Regional Overall Points Championship twice and the LASC (London Automobile Sport Club) speed championship countless times!

Currently, from my research, Bob is the only active driver in CASC to have raced continuously in seven decades, from the 1Bob Long 3950’s to the 2010’s.   By this I mean he has raced at least once in every decade in this range.  I have known Bob since 1965 when I met him through my father and then worked for him as a shop cleanup boy in the late 60’s, early 70’s.  I raced for him in the early 70’s when he had two F4 cars and I have crewed for him continuously since 1986, although he has had the odd year off when he may have sold a car and not had the next one ready. There were also a couple of forced retirements in there for medical issues. Oh yeah, by the way, he will be 80 on July 20, 2017 and unless he has a problem over the next couple of weeks when he goes for his medical, he plans to race again this year!”

Gary Allen of VARAC recently chatted with Bob and the audio can be found on the VARAC website here:

My Experience As a TV Star

“My Experience As a TV Star”
by Ed Luce’s 1968 Lotus 51A Formula Ford

You know how they always say “the car is the star” in vintage racing, right? Well, this summer I had a chance to be a star off the race track for a change!

No sooner had we returned to Kingston from the double race weekends in Pittsburgh, than Ed Luce (my driver) was contacted by Ted Michalos, who had been in touch with a set decorator who needed to source a ‘vintage F1 race car’ for a commercial being filmed in a week’s time. As if one of those high-maintenance divas could have pulled this off. You know that type, all big noise and fast moves – real ‘Broadway musical’ – while this was going to require some restraint and subtlety for the small screen.

Unfortunately for the set decorator, the weekend scheduled for filming was also the BARC race weekend at Mosport and most of the more local cars were thus unavailable or uninterested. As we weren’t going to be competing that weekend, Ted wondered if we might be interested in appearing in a TV commercial!

After a lot of next-to-last-minute calls, it was decided that we would go to Toronto for a two-day ‘shoot’, where I was to be driven by a professional driver in a Nissan commercial. (You know how the fine print under those TV commercial scenes always says ‘professional driver on closed course’? Well, this was one of those scenarios.) I was to lead a parade of unusual vehicles up a suburban street, where a new Nissan would avoid backing into us thanks to its ‘driver assistance’ aids…

Ed Luce for VARAC Vintage Racing

Of course, I’m no F1 race car but, as I said, a high-strung performer like that would not have suited this task at all. Fortunately, at a glance I look a lot like pretty much every other competition car that Lotus made in the mid 60’s, and I can idle along as low as 20 mph.

I spent a couple of days in make-up, first having my usual suite of CASC-OR, VARAC, etc. decals removed and my badges covered. (When making a commercial they don’t like having any other company’s logo’s, trademarks, names, etc. in shot. I suppose it’s a combination of not having license to use those insignia and not wanting to give anyone else free advertising.) Then I had a ‘flame job’ applied to accentuate my nose – already one of my best features.

Ed Luce for VARAC Vintage Racing

Ed’s concerns about the noise levels of my un-muffled exhaust were rendered moot by the appearance on-set of an immense Peterbilt 389, a ’34 Chevy rat rod with straight pipes, and an honest to goodness M60-A3 ‘Patton’ main battle tank. 12 cylinders of barely muffled, air-cooled, twin turbo Detroit diesel make quite a racket on a city street. But a little three-wheeled Italian ‘Piaggio Ape’ delivery scooter probably made the most noise/bhp of anybody there. How can a single-cylinder air-cooled engine make so much noise? By revving flat-out to keep up with the blistering 29 mph (top speed!) pace dictated by the M60, that’s how.

The low speed of the filmed parade was a problem, as expected. By the end of a few takes, my fluid temperatures were soaring due to a lack of air through my heat exchangers, and my clutch was aching from being slipped pretty much constantly to keep speeds down so that the tank could keep up. Thanks goodness for my relatively high ground clearance, as there was construction on the route around the block and we had to maneuver over some of those 1-1/2” steel plates they use to cover open tank traps in the street. (The tank just backed down the set after each take anyway. Those babies don’t corner well!)

The film crew did camera shots from the front, camera shots from the rear, camera shots from on top of the tank, camera shots from down low on a golf cart driving up the sidewalk beside us, and camera shots from the perspective of the stunt kitten playing in the street. We must have stampeded up the street over a dozen times each day before the director was happy.

In between takes, every little kid in the neighborhood wanted to sit in the driver’s seat and have their picture taken. Lots of happy locals may have helped to smooth things over and make up for the noise and dust. And Ed got to talk to quite a few people about VARAC, vintage racing, how wonderful Formula Fords are, etc.

Ed Luce for VARAC Vintage Racing

“Aaaaand – ACTION!”

As part of the crew for this experience my driver Ed got to learn a bit, helping with what my regular crew Dorothy does routinely – helping the driver into the car, steering wheel on, belts on, connect battery (wait for the director to say “camera rolling” to start my engine), switch over to internal battery. Then grab the starting battery and run into the bushes or down a driveway to get the heck out of shot while we stampeded up the street on cue.

After two days of shooting, it was back into my trailer (every film star has a trailer, don’t ya know). While this was all fun, I can’t wait until the next race weekend for a chance to blow the carbon out of my cylinders and to stretch my legs!