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May 2017 Pit Signals

The May 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:

  • Adventures Down Under of Doug and the Dreossi
  • Calling all Volunteers for the CHGP
  • The Elva Courier Coupe is Back!
  • Tim Sanderson Teams with Downtown Porsche / Speedstar Motorsport for 2017
  • Introducing the Mazda Heritage Cup
  • Britain West Open House
  • Memories of Michael Snowdon
  • A Quiet Reminiscence of John Surtees
  • Holme’s TC Awarded Gold Medallian at Amelia Island SVRA Event
  • 2017 VARAC Drivers Challenge
  • Florida’s Collier Collection
  • 2017 Put-in-Bay Road Races Reunion
  • Chasing Checkers by Christopher Hinchcliffe
  • … Classifieds and more!

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:

October 2016 Pit Signals

The October 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:

  • In Memory of Hans P. Gulde
  • VARAC at the Brantford Airshow
  • VSCDA Grattan 30 or VARAC Table for Three
  • Phil Soden and his half scale Gypsy Moth
  • Limerock Adventures
  • VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival
  • Mt Tremblant Fall Classic
  • The Sound of Toolboxes
  • How to Add Telemetry Like A Pro
  • The Brack Classic Hill Climb at Inglis Falls
  • An Autosport at the Goodwood Revival
  • CASC-OR Celebration
  • Doug Elcomb Heads Down Under
  • John DeMaria
  • … and more!

2016 VARAC AGM & Awards To Be Held Sunday November 20, 2016

Please mark Sunday, November 20, on your calendars. At 10:00 am we will hold the club’s Annual General Meeting, followed by a lunch and the 2016 Awards Presentations.These events will take place at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites, 9005 Leslie Street, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4B 1B2. (Map it here)

Even as we speak, the Vintage Historic and Classic Directors are tabulating the VARAC Drivers’ Challenge points to determine who won each of our racing classes, as well as the overall club champion. There is already a rumour floating around that the overall championship ended in a tie!  Don’t worry, our Race Director (and club President) will make the process clear before we make the final presentation.

The club has two other trophies that we require the memberships’ assistance on – the Jim McGregor Spirit of Sportsmanship Award and the James Ferguson Challenge Trophy.  To learn more about these awards, including a list of past recipients please visit:http://varac.ca/membership/awards/.

Those persons with business to raise at the AGM, or Motions they would like presented to the membership should contact Gavin Ivory, the club Secretary (gavin.ivory@varac.ca) as soon as possible.  We have specific notice periods that must be met before items may be considered and Gavin will be assembling the official package that will be sent out to the membership before the AGM.

The first event of 2017 is scheduled for May 13 and 14 at CTMP – if you can’t make it to the AGM surely we’ll see you at the track next year…

Proxy Form

Are you a VARAC member that is not able to make it out to the AGM?  Click here to print and send us your proxy!

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!