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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!

Formula Ford Featured at 2015 Canadian Historic Grand Prix

Canadian Historic Grand Prix
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
June 19-21, 2015

 

The Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) is gearing up for what promises to be the biggest, most exciting and best-attended event in its history. The Canadian Historic Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious events on the Vintage and Historic Racing Calendar in North America and it is the largest and most popular event of its kind in Canada and counted as a “Major Spectator Event” at Mosport since 1999.

Racers from across Canada and the United States will descend on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just north of Bowmanville, Ontario with their Formula Fords, MGs, Triumphs, Jaguars, Porsches, Alfa Romeos, Lotus, Minis, Corvettes and more to challenge the world famous Mosport Grand Prix Circuit. Mosport is one of only three true historic Grand Prix tracks in North America along with Le Circuit Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Watkins Glen in upstate New York. Mosport is an awesome, technically demanding, fast 2.459 mile track with challenging corners and impressive elevation changes. It is the current and former host to world-class racing such as ALMS, the NASCAR Truck Series and the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada, Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula 5000. Moreover, it is a place for cars, drivers and race fans to come home to.

Open-Wheel Formula Ford Racers will be the “Featured Marque” for 2015 and will compete for the Oliver Clubine Trophy in honour of Ollie Clubine, a champion and pioneer of Canadian Road Racing.

1969 Racing Photo By Paul H Gulde

VARAC will step back in time to recreate the epic battles for open wheel supremacy that witnessed the likes of Gilles Villeneuve, Craig Hill, Brian Stewart as well as other world-class drivers like our 2015 Grand Marshal, former Canadian Champion Gary Magwood as they fought their way to even greater heights. One of Canada’s greatest Formula Ford Aces, Gary Magwood will act as Grand Marshall for the weekend. Mosport’s tarmac then as now was the very proving ground that saw Gilles Villeneuve rise from Formula Ford to Formula Atlantic Champion and on to Formula One and more recently, James Hinchcliffe to IndyCars..

VARAC is staging what promises to be the largest ever such contest in its history. In addition to the Formula Ford Feature, racing fans will once again be thrilled to witness a huge grid of swarming, fast Triumphs and MGs piloted by cunning and experienced drivers from across Canada and the US, returning to vie for the claim of victory in the Triumph vs MG Challenge.

In addition, there will be three full days of exciting racing for six groups of cars including Monoposto (single seat open-wheel vintage & historic race cars including Formula Ford Pre ’82), Small Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (under 2000cc), Big Bore Vintage & Historic Cars (over 2000cc), Wings & Slicks (very fast purpose-built racing cars running on slick tires including Formula Ford Pre ’93), G70+ and G90 Cars (cars dating from 1973 to 1994 including all kinds of Alfas, Corvettes, Porsches, Mustangs and a host of others.

The Canadian Historic Grand Prix is about more than on-track racing! Spectators and car enthusiasts of all stripes will enjoy the scope and scale of experiences open to their participation on the weekend such as:

  • The “Historic Grand Prix Tribute” hosting the “Checkered Flag Cruise” again this year in Downtown Bowmanville from noon to nine on Friday, just like the world-famous street party at Watkins Glen. You don’t want to miss this!
  • Track Touring Sessions – On-track sessions are offered twice daily.
  • Road Rally/Tour – a 100 mile rally/tour throughout the hills and dales and quaint villages of the local area, including a lunch stop on Saturday.
  • Legends of Mosport Racer’s Reunion” – Toronto Star Wheels Editor, Norris McDonald will host this “meet the fans & Press” session Sunday morning with other champions and greats like Bill Brack, Eppie Wietzes, Ludwig Heimrath, Craig Fisher, Walt Mackay and more. Open to all at no cost. Mix with old friends, racers and champions.
  • A Concours d’Elegance conducted by the Mercedes Benz Club of America – Toronto Section on Sunday
  • Mini Meet North” all weekend – Canada’s largest Mini gathering,
  • Field of Dreams Car Show” – welcoming hundreds of sports cars, classics and hot-rods, owners and car clubs from far and wide featuring Canada’s largest on-track parade open to car show participants and featuring discounted park admission for entrants.
  • Free weekend camping courtesy Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
  • For more information email: bob.deshane@varac.ca
  • VARAC members compete in Vintage and Historic Racing events across North America and abroad. VARAC is made up racing enthusiasts from all walks of life. Several Canadian Champions are included amongst the membership.

About VARAC: Founded in 1976, the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada has over 220 members with approximately 100 members who are active racing drivers. VARAC is sanctioned by Canadian Automobile Sports Clubs – Ontario Region under ASN Canada and the FIA. VARAC is a founding member of the Vintage Motorsport Council, an umbrella organization representing all Vintage Motorsport Clubs in North America.