Vintage Postbag, July 1985
Vintage Racing Philosophy
Your piece on this topic in your May issue was very interesting, but failed to make various points — possibly because you see the racing mainly from a comfortable station at the trackside, rather than from an uncomfortable and sometimes hairy position in a vintage racer on the tarmac. Those of use who sometimes find ourselves in the latter position may see things differently from yourself.
As Anthony Ludovici remarked in 1888:”A man has no ears for that to which experience has given him no access”.
Even in the vintage period, the racing of vintage cars was never more popular nor did it recruit more participants than it does today, with 1985’s warts and all. One must assume that if so many drivers vote for VSCC racing with their feet and their chequebooks they must be enjoying the Performance as it is now, in 1985.
Fifty or sixty years ago many of the cars we race today were supported by works mechanics, or their gentleman-driver had a chauffeur-mechanic at £3-10s-lid per week (= 35 gallons of petrol) to strip and rebuild his engine for him when he blew it. Today we have to strip and rebuild our little Austins or ERAs ourselves when they break, or we have to put them out to engineers who charge £20 per hour = 10 gallons). Either ‘vs!, we don’t want continually and exPensively to be repeating history and failing to karn from it, so we fit a 1985 crank, or rods, or pistons, made with 1985 etallurIgY, and we hope to stay out of Carey mreet.
Fired with your innocent enthusiasm for ‘rigitialitY, I used to race my Edwardian on beaded edged tyres. Those are ,C200 each, and the beads come off, mostly at W.dcote, because in 1985 you can’t get ,Yres in which the canvas goes through into the beads. The beads are now glued onto the ryre’s carcass, and under stress they unstick, followed by the tyre. And that affects the handling adversely. The tyres were not much better in their 4,6Y, apparently, if T. A. S. 0. Mathieson’s Grand Prix book is any indication; the early outings of the T35 ‘ttgatti are known to have been dogged by continuous tyre problems. History is quite that if you race big, heavy cars on their .riginal tyres you end up as an unattractive Prt)sPeet for the If insurance companies, an, that is history whose repetition (and a L.4t1 many other VSCC members) am very PPYen forgo. So my Edwardian now races
on well-based rims — with their tyres at £60 each.
You may huff and puff about “larger section tyres of modern rubber mixes”, but it isn’t your neck on the block — or rather, trying to find some room under the scuttle. You decry modern rubber mixes in tyres, but you must appreciate that if cars are used their tyres tend to wear out. Then their owners have to buy new tyres, and discover that nobody now sells such items in the 1928 mix; so what else can they possibly use other than what is available in 1985, a 1985 mix? We are very fortunate that Mr Dunlop continues to make some tyres of pre-war appearance, even though their rubber may hero today’s favourite recipe. We don’t necessarily go vintage racing as an attempt to recapture history; there are many pre-war drivers whose recorded behaviour on the track and socially would not be acceptable in 1985, and whom we certainly don’t wish to emulate. We go racing in 1985 to provide ourselves and others with entertainment. Vintage racing is enjoyable mainly because iris indulged in by amateurs rather than professionals, and it is cheap because we don’t have to buy the latest chassis every year to remain competitive (as we would in F-Ford or F3), although, as you say, the week to week running costs of a 250F or a quick F-Ford may be similar.
Shawford T. J. THRELFALL [lam sure the ex-President of the VSCC is right, although I do not know about watching “from a comfortable station” — I seem to stand up most of the time! I was, agreed, looking at VSCC racing partly from the onlookers viewpoint, but mainly with that of panes old car owners in mind, and this is surely valid, with the VSCC trying to get more and more of the public interested in its type of racing, vide the publicity blurbs for the Oulton Park Two-Day Meeting. But if the cap fits . . . — Ed.]. No