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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:

VARAC 2013 Race Season Gets Underway This Weekend

TORONTO, ON (April 29, 2012) – The snow has melted and the grass is finally getting green so it’s time for the competitors from the Vintage Automobile Racing Association (VARAC) to hit the track for their first race of the season.

Cars from the Vintage/Historic and Group 70+ classes will be participating in the BEMC 63rd Annual Spring Trophy Races this Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th at the newly refurbished Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

2013 VARAC Race Season Starts This Weekend

During the off-season the addition of a VARAC Festival Championship in concert with vintage clubs in the U.S. was formulated to compliment the already popular VARAC Regional Championship which is run as an integral part of the CASC Ontario Region schedule.

It was also announced a short time ago that Shellbourne Fuels has come on board as the VARAC Driver’s Championship Primary Sponsor, providing the club with some necessary resources and the competitor base with a fully customizable fuel program.

“This is going to be a great season of racing,” said VARAC President Del Bruce. “We have been working diligently over the winter to continue to grow the sport of vintage car racing.  Our new sponsorships and our evolving relationship with some key vintage groups in the US are really enhancing the vintage racing experience for our members,” he added.

The highlight of the season is always the Canadian Historic Grand Prix, this year taking place June 14-16 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The event will continue to celebrate the history of Canadian motorsport as this years featured class will be the Rothmans Cup Porsche 944’s that provided some of the closest racing ever seen and launched the professional careers of many home-grown stars.

The full weekend schedule is available here

Complementary tickets are available here

 

VARAC is the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada whose members share a desire to preserve, restore and race historically significant cars in a form as close to the original specification as possible.  We race cars made in 1989 or earlier in Ontario and Quebec.  The highlight of our season is the Canadian Historic Grand Prix held annually in June at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.  The 2013 CHGP will feature Porsche.

For more information on VARAC: www.varac.ca
For more information on VARAC’s Canadian Historic Grand Prix:
For more information on CASC-OR: www.casc.on.ca
For more information on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park: www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

Follow us on Twitter at @VARACBoD

Pre-Race CASC-OR/CTMP Celebration of Motorsports, Sept 29/30 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE VINTAGE AUTOMOBILE RACING ASSOCIATION OF CANADA TO CLOSE OUT
THE SEASON AT THE CASC-OR/CTMP CELEBRATION OF MOTORSPORTS

TORONTO, ON (September 25, 2012) – VARAC Vintage/Historic and Group 70+ race cars will compete in their final race for the 2012 season as part of the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs (CASC-OR)/Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) Celebration of Motorsports this coming weekend. It has been a long standing tradition that CASC-OR runs this season wrap-up event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport) and VARAC continues to be a strong participant. This event is the eighth and final points race counting towards the VARAC Drivers Championship.

For each VARAC race group of Vintage/Historic and Group 70+, Saturday will consist of one 15-minute practice, one 15-minute qualifying and one 20-minute race. Sunday there are two 25-minute races. On-track actions starts at 8:30am both days.

Other race groups that will participate at the CASC-OR/CTMP Celebration of Motorsports event are as follows:
• CASC-OR GT Challenge
• CASC-OR GT Sprints
• Toyo Tires F1600 Championship
• Formula 1200
• Formula Libre

The full weekend schedule is available here

Complementary tickets are available here

VARAC is the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada whose members share a desire to preserve, restore and race historically significant cars in a form as close to the original specification as possible. We race cars made in 1989 or earlier in Ontario and Quebec. The highlight of our season is the Canadian Historic Grand Prix held annually in June at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The 2013 CHGP will feature Porsche.

For more information on VARAC: www.varac.ca
For more information on CASC-OR: www.casc.on.ca
For more information on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park: www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

Follow us on Twitter at @VARACBoD