Onboard for the Formula Vee 50th Anniversary Race at Road America

The Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association always has a fantastic grid for their Formula Vee group. With 20 or more racers, it has to be one of the most densely packed Formula Vee grids in the States. Last weekend’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, though, brought even more out to the track to celebrate Formula Vee’s 50th anniversary together with a FV-only feature race. (Edit: Paul just wrote in to tell me that the event drew 34 Formula Vees for the weekend. Yowza!)

What I like most about Jeffrey Tschiltsch’s onboard footage here is that it really showcases one of my favorite aspects of the group: they manage to run really tight. Even towards the end of this video, there’s still five or six cars within a few seconds of each other; never more than a turn apart. Keeping together as a pack and drafting one another in the long straights at Road America makes these little 1200cc powered racers an exercise in true racecraft. After all, there’s not a lot of horsepower to rely on when you make even the smallest mistakes. Sure, taking advantage of every newton of momemtum and using every aerodynamic advantage to try and win is true for every race group, but this particular formula really manages to deliver on similar performance and racing characteristics across a variety of builders. It’s just such a joy to watch.

I have to also give kudos to Jeffrey for actually using YouTube’s usually annoying commenting tools to give some honest commentary for the video, pointing out some hairier moments, some near misses, and even his own mistakes to give us some insight into the on-track thoughts and analysis of the moments that defined the race for him. Thanks for sharing these, Jeffery.

Man, I love Road America.

Road America ’59

A half-hour of 1959 Road America footage? Yes, please.

With all the changes that happened to America’s great racing courses over the years, I am reminded what a treasure Road America remains. Riding onboard this Porsche in the opening minutes of this clip, it’s plain to see how much of the course is virtually unchanged. Turn 5 is still harrowing, complete with a little wiggle as we close the gap on another driver. We need some radical correction as we overcook it into the always tricky Turn 6, half-obscured as it is by the crest of the hill up under the Toyota Pepsi bridge.

Be sure to stick with the video until the main event, watching the Alfas of William Wuesthoff and Chuck Stoddard mix it up with the dominating Porsche Carrera GTs of Blanchard, Rickert, Collins, and Jennings might be one of the best things you do today.

We’ll go back onboard late in this video, and start overcooking it again through 5 and 6… well, at least it’s an accurate depiction of my own lines on Road America.

I still don’t know why this staccato rhythm of voiceover hasn’t make a tremendous comeback—even just for the kitsch factor.

Finishing order and more for the June 1959 Class F/G/H/I/J race at Racing Sports Cars.

Elkhart Lake Kohler Challenge Vintage Parade

We pulled into Elkhart Lake for the 2009 Kohler International Challenge with Brian Redman last Friday night hoping to catch the parade of vintage cars from the track into downtown Elkhart Lake for a small concours d’elegance on the streets of my favorite small town. Parked in front of Siebkens, the crowds and the rain kept us from taking in too much of the rows of gorgeous machines lining both sides of the street. So, as is traditional, we disappeared into the Siebkens bar for a few Spotted Cows. When we finally made our way back into the streets, we caught this procession of the cars making their way back to Road America.

I’ve identified as many of the machines as I could in this video. It really says something when there’s just too many GT40s and Cobras to accurately identify which one belongs with which driver. Ah, Elkhart.

The Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge at Road America

Peter Gidding's Maserati 250F at Road AmericaHow could I have missed this? Road America is only a few hours drive away and somehow I completely missed the chance to see some marvelous vintage Ferraris at a racing pace in the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge. The series is open to pre-1980 machines, and divided into disc and drum brake classes.

The drum brake class featured two—two!—Maserati 250Fs on the starting row. Ultimately the pole-sitter, Peter Giddings, won the drum brake race by more than 30 seconds. No surprise there, Giddings has won most of the events since the series started in 2000. So chalk another one up for Giddings. No matter though; whatever the official site lists in standings for the event, the folks hanging out at the Turn 5 fence and the Hurry Downs benches were the real winners. It’s a bit of a rarity to see vintage machines from Maranello racing hard here in the Midwest and I’m really kicking myself for missing the opportunity.

Veloce Today has a wonderful gallery.

If you’re in Quebec, don’t make the same mistake I did. The next Shell Ferrari Historics will be hitting Le Circuit at Mont-Tremblant from July 24 to 26.

Elkhart Lake ’57

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival

Don’t feel too bad for me not being able to attend Goodwood this year. I’ll still be eating up some vintage action at Road America for the VSCDA’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival. It’s a double treat for me this year since the Austin Healey Sprite is the featured marque. In honor of the Sprite’s 50th anniversary, the race weekend will feature an all Sprite grid. The little Sprites on the monster 4 mile Road America track is sure to be a blast — and hopefully offer some excellent photo opportunities. I’ll be back with a full report and some photos next week. Enjoy the weekend.

Here’s something to tide you over until then; Roy Salvadori debuting and test driving the Sprite around Silverstone in 1958. Narration by John Bolster.