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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

VARAC Member Amyot Bachand at PVGP Historics

Recently VARAC member Amyot Bachand raced to double weekend of the PVGP Historics at PittRace and Schenley Park. Here is his wonderful account of the experience…

2 fabulous race weekends. Yes it is 12 hour drive, but it was worth it.

Beaver run as it was formely named is now Pittsburg International Race Complex. The new owners have added a North track and joined the old and new together to make it 2.8 miles long: 18 corners, 2 long straightaways and a corkscrew, and there is a corner(15) that reminds me of corner 1 at Mosport which sets you up for a long straightaway.

I did not take me long to adapt to this track. I was told that Beaver run was meant for small bore like my Midget, but even with long track it is perfect. Yes more power would be fine, but where it lacks, work into turn makes it for the lack of speed. So there is a lot of space for mid and big bore. The owners are racers.

Facilities are great, personnel is totally devoted. Track time was very good. Since this was a first event with the full track, they had to forfeit the enduro. But it was very good track time. It is a fast track for a small bore yet technical. You don’t have time to relax: just a few seconds in the long straight to look at your gauges and lot of space to be two in a turn if your fellow driver gives you some space.

I found it safe, fast and had a really good time. My best lap time was 2:21:273. The apexes are easy to find (they left the cones to help us out since on the new part they not done the rumbles yet. So if you concentrate on your lines, which, in most cases are traditional, you adapt quickly and have fun.

VARAC at PVGP Historics

Schenley Park Historic Grand Prix

This was my second time at Schenley Park. First one in 2012.

Schenley Park is a place where you have to trust entirely the corner workers and where you have to adapt your racelines. There is no escape, no way out. You have to keep your car on the track and the pavement varies from one section to another.

This year I had a great time despite misfortunes. Again, Vintage racers are the best gang I ever saw and the mutual assistance is outstanding.

Last Sunday, I finished first in Group 2 race, starting second from last from the grid.

I had told the chief organiser that I would try to win this race Sunday morning, but he told me politely that he did not like those kinds of statements. I reassured him that I would race with safety first (MG motto) in mind than race with my head not my feet…I kept my word.

But I had 2 aces in my back pocket: 2 friend’s mechanic who replaced my MG Midget head gasket that broke during the British cars race Saturday at lunch. They worked until 7pm. We had to skip dinner. The head gasket was a gift from Andrew Moore (#79 – group 3). So I missed qualifications Saturday PM. Then at Sunday practice I restudied the track… I had walked it with my friends on Friday pm. It is a must. Since I had race at Schenley in 2012, I remembered how important it is to know the tarmac we race on there.

The 2 aces: maybe 3. First, I know my car and trust it: we blend together. We have been together for 6 years. Second, excellent brakes, new this year, which allowed me to brake very late, then the third one, the most important, the corner workers. They are your eyes on this track since there so many blind turns. In 2012, I had noticed your critical importance especially in turns 10 to 13 and in the serpentine.

Track conditions obliged me to change racing lines. I decided to use unorthodox race lines in the serpentine to avoid bumps and choose also to skim past the wall from 11 to 13th. I also liked the hay bale chicane which, with a hard braking, a twist of the steering, you can get through in a jiffy to be able to get on the bridge at full throttle. Mind you, with a 998cc, even race prepared, you have limited speed. Working on your lines and braking in the right sequences is some of the secrets.

My tribute to guys and girls corner workers comes from the fact that I totally concentrated on my lines, keeping my car under control and working to  keep the rear tires on the pavement for the best traction possible considering that I do not have a locked differential.  I knew that if something came up as it did in other practices and races, they would signal it fast and safely. That is why, with the help of my fellow racers, who kindly let me go through when I was approaching fast, I was able to win this race. There is no way out, no escape on this park.  So to run as I did, I had to trust the corner workers entirely, race with my eyes and head and push. I remember that from 11 to 13th, I always had my eyes and mind ready and on the lookout. They are on top.

I did expect to run between 2:34 and 2:32, perhaps 2:31 but never expected to have a really hot lap as I did: 2:29:783. I was trying like hell to reach Alain Raymond in his Abarth: it took me a good 4 laps to get at him, traffic helping, and in corner 9, I just dove in, because we got slowed down by a neat and funny blue Dyna. Sadly Alain’s Abarth let him down after. I could not have done this without the corner workers.

Both weekends are fantastic and there is lot of things to do in Pittsburg, showcars every night, activities. You don’t get bored. Yes it is a bit costly, but worth it. Winning is the cherry on the cake, and it tastes so good. My second win in 6 years with my MG Midget. It does not come often, so I will savor it….

VARAC at PVGP