Me and My ASP Formula Vee. Part 1

Eric Dean—who’s magnificent Merlyn Formula Ford restoration remains one of the most popular posts here on The Chicane—is nearly finished with the restoration of his first racing car: A 1968 ASP MKIII Formula Vee. It must have him feeling nostalgic because he’s finally relented in my frequent pleas that he start writing about his racing in Formulas Ford and Vee, and his restorations. This is the first part of a series he’s begun on his relationship with this racing car and her subsequent restoration. I’ll see the car in person at the end of the month and while I’ve spent a great deal of time around this car, both when Eric first picked it up and helping him in the pits over the past several racing seasons, I’m a bit giddy to see how it turns out. Ok that’s enough from me, let me hand it over to Eric.
— Harlo.

Previous Owner Robert Samm

It was tired, worn and I was starting to feel like my car was the roach among all the beautifully prepared vees I race with in the VSCDA. The car is a 1968 ASP MK III, originally built by Wayne Purdy, a former Beach FV employee. The ASP was 1 of 6 or so vees Wayne built before moving on to other racing ventures. This car was raced by a gentleman named Robert Samm very successfully in the southwestern United States and Mexico, claiming at least 3 national titles in Mexico in the MKIII.

I acquired the ASP in the winter of 2004 sight unseen. I knew I wanted to go vintage vee racing but admittedly didn’t do as much research as I should have prior to making the purchase. I was taken by the story and esthetics of the little known ASP rather than the proven race worthiness. A more rational man may have sought out a Lynx or a Zink, brands that dominated FV in the late 60s. I discovered the ASP on a racing classifieds website and the price was right… or so I thought. As it turns out it was just further proof that you get what you pay for.

Despite that, I remember feeling just like a kid on Christmas when it arrived by truck that day late in January. With the help of the driver, I rolled it off the truck through the fresh snow into the garage. I was elated. I couldn’t believe I now owned a vintage open-wheeled racecar. I had wanted to race cars like these since I was a kid. At this point I had only been to track days and autocross events in a street car but I had the racing bug and I had it bad.

I contacted the race director at my local track to see if he could put me in touch with any of the vintage vee drivers in the area. As luck would have it, his former neighbor Garret Van Camp was recently back in vintage vee racing, a former SCCA national champion and he lived 20 minutes from me. Garrett won the 1970 FV championship, raced Porsche speedsters and went on to race super vees as the factory driver for Lynx. Eventually he took a long hiatus from racing to raise his family. In 1994 he decided to once again get behind the wheel. He tracked down his original Lynx, restored it back to the configuration he won with in 1970 and he keeps on winning nearly every race he enters… At 74! Truly inspiring.

I called Garrett and that same day after work he met me at my house to have a look at my car. I’ll never forget what he said upon laying his eyes on the ASP. He said “I wish we would’ve met 3 weeks ago… I never would have let you buy this piece of shit”. We joked about the whole car being held together with cabinet fasteners and zip ties. He was right and I knew it but I was still optimistic. He immediately started educating me on the car and made an impossible list of what needed to be done before the driver’s school began in April. And without his help it would have been impossible.

Garrett would stop by once a week to check on my progress. He encouraged me, taught me and provided endless motivation. Besides that he re-engineered and re-fabricated parts to make the car stronger, safer and the car more competitive. All things that at the time were well beyond my knowledge and ability. I had some background in motorcycle restoration but when it came to racecars I was about as green as they come. Garrett would constantly remind me “if it doesn’t make you go faster, don’t waste your time kid”. Come spring, the car was done but it was a tremendous amount of work… especially for a car that was advertised as “race ready”. Garret was my instructor, is still my mentor and a constant source of inspiration. I consider he and his wife Maggie as 2nd parents and lifelong friends. I completed the school that spring and went on to my first race. There are few things in life I’ve experienced that are as satisfying as finishing a race in a car that you’ve built… Except maybe winning—but that came much later.


19 responses to “Me and My ASP Formula Vee. Part 1”

  1. Eric,

    Good to read you telling your story. I remember when you got this car and it looks so much better now. In the photos it looks brand new. Great job.

  2. Eric says:

    Thanks John. I remember the test runs in the parking lot of your business. That was the first time I drove the thing. Fun times. Wait til you see the latest restoration. The car in orange was the first resto. I’ll post more next week. Take care

  3. robert schiffer says:

    eric-loved your story, i believe we met at mid-ohio..i’m the guy that sold the old man his first speedster (memories of waterford) bob schiffer

  4. Eric says:

    Thanks Bob. I bet he wishes he still had that speedster as I’m sure you do as well. Take care and hope to see you at the track. Best, eric

  5. Brian Goldman says:

    I dug that car out of the mud of somebody’s yard in North Houston. At the time I had a shed full of frames and body pieces. I sold it cheap to a vintage racer as shown in the early pictures. How it went from a restoration project to being sold as a nearly race ready call indeed shows that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder ( seller?). I wish I had held onto the ASP. Olive the engine being a stressed member

  6. Eric says:

    Brian,

    that’s great! so you found it in it’s original unrestored condition? what was the timeframe? i bought the car from a guy named Dick Maddux in ’04 and have the name of another previous owner that said it had 8 log books at one time. i only have one. i’d love to hear about any history you can tell me.

    thanks,
    eric

  7. Brian Goldman says:

    I bought the car probably around the late 90s or early 200s. Robert was still alive at the time. The car had been raced extensively by him throughout Texas and in Mexico. It also served as the school car for a lot of Vee drivers out of Houston. I had most of the body except for a broken windshield. I was missing the top piece of the rear frame section that helps hold suspension and Z-bar. Seems to me I got that piece right before selling the car when the previous owner found it in his shop. The car had been stored outside for a long time under a rotting tarp. It still had many of its race stickers including the Mexican races. Bob claimed to be the Mexican Champion in that car. Had I kept it I would have left the paint as was. Funky, but original. I only had one Log Book but did have a lot of original pictures that went with it. Check with Wayne Hardy, a Houston SCCA official he took lots of pictures in those days. An internet search of Robert and Formula Vee will turn up some early races in the 60s in an autodynamic as well as his picture. I’m sure you are aware that Wayne Purdy himself was very interesting interesting guy. I guess several folks might still like to find him.

  8. Eric says:

    Thanks again Brian. By the time the car got to me it had been re-sprayed a couple of times. It was red with a black stripe like in the photos above but I’m sure the original paint had a great patina. Funny you should mention the windshield since i just made a new one last night. I have a few of the original stickers from those early races and some letters that also point to Robert being the Mexican champ. I have talked to Mr. Purdy a couple of times via email and hope to get even more info on the ASP. thanks for the Wayne Hardy connection. much appreciated.

  9. […] Vee MK. III. This orange livery that you see was the result of my earlier 2004 restoration that I wrote about here. The ASP is currently undergoing restoration a second time, taking her back to the glory she […]

  10. Cody R. Samm says:

    My grandfathers old car! Lol I see they sold to you exactly as I remember it looking somewhere about 20 years ago when I was like 6. Always wondered what happened to the thing, glad to see it’s still out and about instead of scrapped.

  11. eric says:

    that’s great! i know your grandfather was quite successful in the ASP. any stories you can share are appreciated.

    best,
    eric

  12. Carolyne Samm says:

    Eic! The Purdy! I cried when my grandson told me about it. No, a lot of peope did NOT go to driver’s school in the Vee. (When we had it). My 1st driver’s school was in “Blue”. (The Gel Coat) Later we changed it to black and Yellow with a red pin stripe, which was Ecurie Cerveza Racing Teams colors. The only one in the Purdy was me…a very dear friend and another dear friend who became our son-in-law. My son Cody was leader in a parade lap at TWS…. Bob got TWS sanctioned to race and it was dear to us also. He was called in from the Pittsburg Region to do that as he was currently the only one with a FIA license and a steward’s license. Bob was RE in Pittsburg. St Louis and Houston regions. I think there is possibly a mix-up on the schools and it was the 94 Autodynamics that I had, rather than the Purdy. My car was was fondly (?) called “El Turdo”.
    When I started renting it for races and schools I had the Carolyne Samm on the side replaced with “Occupant”. Turdo was never more than a 3rd or 5th placer, unlike the Purdy. One of my favorite memories is at the Autodromo in Monterrey. It was the first time for a standing start. I passed Bob up…well, until the 1st turn…. He said he was blinded by the glare off my teeth! I was sure I would have to pack Turdo on my back all the way to Houston. 2 engines were built by Bob before that race. The motorhome had not stopped rolling…OK, maybe…before he was jerking engines. Just one of those happy engines. I have some photos that I can share with you. Mexico mostly. Thousands of our racing pictures were lost in hurricanes…
    The Mexican’s not only pay lovely pesos, they give sterling silver trophies, and present the driver…and the car….flowers….sigh….
    My God, I can’t believe our darling was out in a damn field. Love her, because we still do. Wishing you all the luck we had, and may you love her half as much as we did, because that is a wonderful, wonderful car.

  13. eric says:

    amazing! i’m so glad i started to write about my experiences restoring and racing these old cars. the only thing better than the thrill of racing is the wonderful people you meet. i’m going to email you my phone number in hopes that we can have a quick chat. btw… the most recent restoration is done and i’ll be taking the car to gingerman for the first race of the season! not sure if you read the latest posting but here is a link to it http://thechicaneblog.com/2012/01/10/me-and-my-asp-pt-3-restoration/

    • John D says:

      Wow, I bought this car from Brian while I was in Houston, and it moved with me to southern California. While I owned it the black and yellow paint was on the car. One interesting feature of the car was that the front motor mounts were the exhaust J tubes! They were welded to the frame along their length and the export became the front mount. These parts are now gone from the car. The frame was still the original blue and the paint was in fairly good shape on the body work. I may be able to find some old photos of the car. Where is the car now? Very cool that it it still active. John

  14. Nick says:

    Hello,
    I’m looking for any news of Richard Kimsey who was I believe the designer of the ASP Vee. He was based in Tampa Fla and had a business not far from MacDill AFB.

    • Carolyne Samm says:

      Ken Purdy was builder. Her # was 93 when My husband, Bob drove her to several championships.
      We called her “Blue” (gel coat) even after being painted Ecurie Cerveza Racing’s black and yellow w/ red pin stripe. Best Vee ever. Got my competition license in her Oops! Seems I wrote this stuff somjetime back.

  15. Wayne Purdy says:

    Boy this brings back good memories!

    • Carolyne Samm says:

      You probably remember the championships my husband Robert Samm won in this car. We always registered it as a “Purdy” and called it “Blue” for the gelcoat, even after we painted it black and yellow with a red racing stripe which of course was Ecurie Cerveza Racing Teams colors. We acquired “Blue” from our dear friend Michael B. Boylan. When Bob won the Mexican championship the car was protested because the carb had been anodized green. Protest wasn’t accepted of course. One of the great things about Mexico was the the car received flowers too. I got my license in “Blue” before I recived “El Turdo”. (It was….never better than third. lol) So good to see your post. I’ll never have better memories than those of the Purdy. what a car. It held the ground better than any racer and it tod you if it was going to do you dirt! Best car ever….so thanks…

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