Posts

Britain West Motorsport Open House

by Jeremy Sale
photos by Diane Dale

Britain West Motorsport have put the finishing touches on their brand new 8,000 sq. ft. shop and so they invited us all to their open house, Saturday, March 18th.

LDD-1512

On hand were over 20 exotic formula cars, sports cars, rare vintage racing cars, including a lovely Formula One Cooper, once driven by Bruce McLaren and some more “regular” British vintage cars. We were also able to have a gander at Ted Michalos’s “new” red Lotus 23B. A tasty piece of race kit, hope I didn’t leave any drool marks…

LDD-1587

We were able to tour the shop, check out the cars, meet the Britain West Motorsport team and try our hand at a racing simulator, though I decided not to embarrass myself in front of the younger crowd lining up “for a go”. Besides, no Mosport video was available on the machine; we are so lucky to have this iconic track in our neighbourhood.

LDD-1501 LDD-1496 LDD-1490

Lots of products were on special, plus refreshments and door prizes as well. It was worth the drive from Mississauga!

LDD-1542Started in 1975 by Oliver Clubine, BWM is now run by son David, who says “We have been proud to carry on Oliver’s original work, he led by example and built a solid foundation for us to work from. The business continues to be interesting, and sometimes challenging, however the people we meet through it make it all worth while.”

BWM has an in-house machine shop, tooling and testing dyno. The immaculate shop was a perfect venue to see some of the race cars being worked on.

Check them out at britainwestmotorsport.com

February 2017 Pit Signals

The February 2017 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:

  • Nick and The Boys Go Ice Racing by Nick Pratt
  • Bob Long, a Legend in Canadian Racing
  • A GSM Delta!
  • Former Al Mason BFG Corvette by Perry Mason
  • 2017 Put-In-Bay Road Races Celebrating Alfa and All Italian Cars
  • John Sambrook… not quite an elder statesman
  • Updating the Yellow Flag Rule
  • Photos from Palm Beach International Raceway from Paul Madder
  • … Classifieds and more!

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:

Historic Formula One to Run at the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

Toronto, ON (February 10, 2017) – the Masters Historic Racing Series confirmed today that they will be joining the event roster at the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park from June 15 to 18, 2017.

This series races 1966 thru 1985 Formula One cars – the classics that we all love from the golden era of Formula One.

The cars will pack up up as soon as they finish running the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in the Montreal and bring them to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix.  The Formula One cars will run a practice session on Thursday, a practice and then a qualifying session on Friday, and two races on Saturday.

More information on the 2017 VARAC Vintage Grand Prix available here.

About Masters Historic Racing: Established in 2004 with its trademark Formula One Series, Masters is now the leading organiser and promoter of international historic motor racing. Based in the UK and North America with a dedicated team, Masters aims to provide customers with great racing at superb circuits with a wonderful atmosphere.

 

Related Articles

F1 Cars Returning to Old Mosport, featured in Norris McDonald’s Toronto Star Racing Roundup column

Rich Heritage for Canada in Formula 1 Racing, by Norris McDonald

 

Photo by Hugh Hawley

December 2016 Pit Signals

The December 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:

  • VARAC Member Hilights
  • Claude Gagne – Race Restoring a Lotus Elan
  • 2016 Highlights with Cam McRae, Phil Soden, Frank Mount, John Kinnear, Jeremy Sale, Paul Austerbury, Ted Michalos, Ivan Samila
  • Reg Hillary: Canadian Rally-Racing Driver
  • Skuderia Hysteria by John Kinnear
  • 2017 Conduct Committee Procedures
  • … Classifieds and more!

November 2016 Pit Signals

The November 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:

  • Keeping the Al Pease MGB in Canada
  • 2016 VARAC AGM Awards and VARAC Champions
  • In Memory… Peter Jackson, Ralph de Winter
  • VRG at the Glen with Alain Raymond and Gary Allen
  • My Saddest Day of the Year, by Chris Rupnik
  • The 2016 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge with Tim Sanderson
  • 2016 Whiskey Hill Classic: By Alain Raymond
  • In Other News…
  • … Classifieds and more!

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 Trailer.com. 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