A good deal of the early sports car racing in the United States took place on airport runways. In fact, as one writer put it, “Had it not been for the “marriage of convenience” between the Strategic Air Command and the Sports Car Club of America… sports car racing in this country would have taken a different path.”
Among the military facilities that encouraged racing was Hendricks Field in Sebring, Florida. From November 29 through December 3, the former military airfield will be the site for Historic Sportscar Racing’s second Classic 12 at Sebring: Pistons and Props.
It’s Pistons and Props because in addition to a celebration of vintage auto racing, vintage aircraft will be celebrated with a “fly-in” and display of military and civilian aircraft.
Among the aircraft promised to appear at a 1942 Stearman/Boeing N2-S3, a 1941 Beechraft C-45, a 1955 Beachcraft T-34 Mentor, a 1962 Piper U-11A, a 1956 North American’s T-28C Trojan, a 1973 Scottish Aviation LTD Bulldog, and a pair of Vultree trainers — a 1942 BT-15 and a 1943 BT-13. The BT-15 was one of 1,200 produced, but is one of only four still flying today, according to a Classic 12 at Sebring news release.
Making vintage racing debuts will be a pair of Dyson Racing prototypes, a 2006 Lola/AER B06/10 and a 2002 MG-Lola LMP675 B01/60.
“We just finished a complete restoration of Tony’s car (Tony being racer Tony Burgess who owns the Lola/AER),” Chris Dyson was quoted in the news release.
The Dyson team tried to race its MG-Lola at Sebring a year ago but a fuel cell problem couldn’t be fixed at the track so the car was sidelined.
In addition to the HSR Classic 12 Hour tribute race, the weekend will include the Sebring Historics and the season-ending HSR WeatherTech Spring and B.R.M. Enduro series events. For details, visit the HSR Sebring website.
HSR Classic at Daytona lists run-group winners
Before concluding their season at Sebring, HSR competitors took part in the third Classic at Daytona event, where the run-group winners were:
Group A: Gerard Lopez and Franz Wallenborn, 1969 Lola T70
Group B: John Harrold, Chevron B23/36
Group C: Tommy Dreelan and Aaron Scott, 1987 Porsche 962
Group D: Florent Moulin, 2001 Orca-Dallara Chrysler SP1
Group E: David Porter, 2007 Pescarolo Judd
Group F: Mike Gaulke and Thomas Merrill, Porsche 911/993
For Dreelan and Scott and their Celtic Speed team, it was a repeat victory of their 2016 performance. For the others, their victories were their first in the Classic at Daytona events.
An emotional highlight of the racing weekend was the return to Daytona of Memo Gidley, who has recovered from severe injuries sustained three years earlier while competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In the vintage race, he shared a Ford GT with Brad Jaeger and Lyn St. James.
Formula Junior celebrates 60th anniversary
The 60th anniversary of the launch of the Formula Junior racing category will be celebrated January 11-14, 2018, at the Autosport International show at the NEC Birmingham in England, where a car from each year of the racing category will be on display. FJr racing ran for six years and helped launch the careers of many famous racers, including Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, Mike Spence, Mike Hailwood, Peter Revson and many others.
Formula Juniors used mechanical components from regular passenger vehicles to provide an inexpensive start to would-be racers. Cars were powered by 1,100cc engines.
A three-year Formula Junior Diamond Jubilee World Tour concludes during 2018, when the cars will race again at Silverstone during its Classic vintage racing weekend in July.
Vintage racing groups receive Octane awards
Formerly known as the International Historic Motor Awards, the renamed Octane awards are among the most prestigious given in the collector car community. Several categories for 2017 were won by those involved in vintage racing.
The Vintage Sports-Car Club in England won club of the year and the magazine noted that, “These days the VSCC does more than just serve its members: the club has resolved to take vintage racing to a wider audience, and to that end it launched ‘Formula Vintage’ this year. The new series visited five of the UK’s best circuits, with the usual marvelous VSCC machinery complemented by a variety of first-rate guest grids courtesy of organizers such as the Historic Racing Drivers’ Club and the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association.”
Historic Grand Prix Cars Association was honored as the race series of the year. Founded in 1979 and open to cars that raced in Grand Prix events from the late 1920s through 1965, the group staged one of its races in 2017 at the famed Nurburgring.
The motorsport event of the year award went to the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, which Octane noted is “far less crowded than Goodwood Revival and with racing as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world.”
The motoring event of the year award also went to a vintage racing competition, the Vintage Revival Montlhery. “Staged only once every two years, the Vintage Revival is an event worth waiting for: an opportunity to drive Montlhéry’s historic banked circuit, entirely informal, and always crawling with interesting and rare pre-1940 cars and bikes,” the magazine noted. “Among the special features for 2017 were a celebration of the 1927 French Grand Prix and a welcome tribute to the cars of GN and Frazer Nash.”