VIR Gold Cup 2010

The return of the mad bomber

June 5


After spending all available garage time in the spring on the Honda Fit conversion of the Swift, it was time to take the ole Crossle out for some fun.  The weather forecast was tolerable with daily temperatures near 90 with 30% chance of thundershowers.  For some unknown reason, rooms in Danville were impossible to find, so I decided to drive up Friday morning, blowing off the first qualifying session.  Since I was going solo (Kathy says shopping around Danville sucks), I would sleep in my nice air-conditioned trailer.  Haven’t done that in years.


Bob Graham would be there racing his Lotus 51, and Mark Walthew would be crewing, so I had some help available.  Frank Malone would be coming up for Friday to help me before heading off to the “Pinks” event in Petersburg.  I unloaded about 11 AM and went to tech where some apparent novice spent an inordinate amount of time poking and prodding my car. I think he touched every bolt on the car.  I looked over at Frank as he rolled his eyes and gave me the “zipped lip” signal. 


Friday was hot with temps unexpectedly around 95.  My car was NOT running. well.  I was slow, but still passed many cars.  At that point there were 14 FF’s and 8 CF’s running.  After the session, Mark assisted in checking the timing.  OK.  We considered changing gearing, but the ones I had installed were correct enough.  Frank checked my points gap and found it lacking by considerable margin.  He also discovered that my distributor shaft was moving around a lot.  (Time for a rebuilt/new one….. Ah, the joy of old race cars and ancient technology.)  I would have to live with fluctuating point gaps.  Mark reset my float level, as it was much too high.  Car would bog down in turn one and Oak Tree.


As fate would have it, Dave Fairchild was in the paddock across the road from me.  He came over and pitched a major fit, as he had done at Summit last month.  He said I was all over the place, a major hazard, and nowhere near the racing line.  He further said my “dive bombing” people in the turns was totally unacceptable.  I assured him I was driving the racing lines and offered to show him my video.  He ranted on and said he was having the corner workers watch me (interesting concept).  I finally grew tired of his yelling and told him to F***  Off.  Footnote here: my qualifying time was faster that Dave’s. 


Before long the race director showed up at my trailer saying  “We need to talk.”  Ah, I said, you have been talking with Dave.  I said Dave was dead wrong and that I have been racing since 1965, been to 12 Runoffs and knew what I was doing.  Turns out the race director is still an active SCCA racer and started racing in 1966.  We had a nice friendly chat about racing and such.  In closing he said that a lot of the FF racers have only been racing a VERY short time and that my aggressive passes were scaring the daylights out them.  They could not be comfortable with putting their precious race toys at risk.  I promised to try not to scare too many. 


I went over to Bob Graham’s paddock  (Mark had high tailed it away from my trailer when the “official” showed up) to share my trip to the principal’s office.  Just then another racers showed up to yell at Bob for a “scary” pass attempt in turn four.  I am beginning to think vintage racing may not be for me.  But on the other hand, Friday night we went to the very nice banquet and enjoyed the steak and lobster feast. 


Saturday morning qualifying the car ran much better but was still bogging down in at Oak Tree.  My best time of 2:18 was third best in FF and 14th overall. There were 7 FB cars at the head of the group.   No one yelled at me.


Saturday race with temperature now above 100 degrees was shortened to 6 laps.  When I went to the grid, I was put in 18th place and 6th in FF.  I don’t know why I got shuffled back, but the same thing happened to Bob.  Go figure.  I got balked at the start trying to go inside of Brian Thomas, who’s engine loaded up as he used up all available pavement on the inside.  I considered passing in the dirt, but thought better of it.  Race was uneventful, and I finished 13th overall and 5th in FF.  Best lap, 2:17.  Many, many FF/CF would just motor away from me on the straights.  Most were unaware of the concept of threshold braking and cornering speeds.  Temperature in my well-insulated trailer was 102 at the end of the race. 


Mark was talking with the guy (can’t remember his name, but he is the M in MWE race engines) who said that at LEAST four of the FF cars were running illegal engines.  He could tell by the sound.  Apparently the norm in Monoposto racing is to bolt on killer cams and other goodies.  There is NO compliance checking of the cars.  Weight is not ever checked, EVER!  So you get lots of guys who need to stroke their egos by having big HP advantage.  This is a critical flaw of vintage racing FF’s.  If you are not willing to go down this path,  you have to be content to run mid-pack.  (AND dive BOMB ‘em in the corners!)


The Saturday night feed/party got cancelled for some unexplained reason.  Mark, Bob and I ate the Tavern.  Nice.


Our race on Sunday (also shortened to 6 laps) was at 1010, before it got too hot.  I was stuck behind two cars with big motors and no cornering speeds.  I almost hit Dave Allison when he braked for the kink before NASCAR turn.  My God, I didn’t think anybody would brake there.  He passed me three times on a straight.  Results were interesting with the 8th thru 16 finishers all running (best lap) within 0.5 seconds of each other.  I finished 5th in FF and 14th overall with a time of 2:16.08.  (Video at


At least, my laps time did improve in every session I ran, so the race weekend wasn’t a total loss.  Time to get the Honda/Swift on the track where at least no one will have a significant HP advantage.