December 2, 2002
SCCA Vintage Racers:
Shame on me! With all the activity surrounding this year’s Turkey Trot event and trying to ensure a repeat does not occur next year I forgot to send out the ballots for the Spirit of Vintage Competition award! This award is presented annually to the individual who most embodies the qualities of the Vintage participant. Note that it can be either driver or crew – or someone who is simply "always there" to lend a helping hand at our events. Past recipients are not eligible for this award and are Sandy Jackson, John Rollins, Susan Gabel, Mike Jackson, Meredydd Francke, Tom Johnston, Randy Cook, Beau Gabel and Morriss Holliday; everyone else is eligible. That leaves quite a selection to choose from and you, the Vintage Participant get to do just that. Fill out the enclosed ballot and return it to me by the end of the year so I will be able to present the award at our first Vintage event of the year. Seriously, it is a true honor to receive this award because it comes from your peers – take the time to give it serious consideration and then vote!
OK, now on to the other items on my rant, er, list. First off is next year’s race schedule, which has been posted on my website athttp://www.netcom.com/~nobozos/ and is enclosed as well. As you can see, it doesn’t look too bad – but it’s all subject to change at this point so don’t get too excited yet… One event on it that should catch your attention is the "Open-Wheel/Vintage" event scheduled for September at Roebling Road. This event is being hosted by Buccaneer Region in an attempt to give some additional track time to those groups who most often, how shall I say this, get slighted? I applaud their decision and would hope we can support the event with a good turnout from our group. Maybe we can schedule some "caravan" meeting points and times for the trip up and post-race events as well. Give this some serious thought as it’s a chance to run a track that many of us do not run that often in a friendly, relaxed environment – with people we all know and enjoy! Also remember that Roebling Road has strict adherence to the noise restrictions so please make sure your car complies…
As always, we have not been incident-free this year so we have some work to do in that area. Most of the contact situations were caused by "race conditions" where avoidance was simply not possible due to the speed and proximity of the vehicles involved. One of these required medical attention to a driver (concussion). Others were caused by mechanical failures and only a few were caused by driver misjudgment; it is this last group that we need to totally eliminate while minimizing the others. Considering the awards we get for finishing position, etc. there is absolutely no reason for what I will term discourteous conduct on the track. This includes blocking, "chopping" and overly aggressive driving. In case these terms are ambiguous, let me describe them. Blocking occurs when two cars are approaching a corner and the lead car moves toward the center of the track in order to block the following car from taking an inside line and possibly making a pass. True, this is done routinely in "real racing" but after a while it gets old to the driver of the following car. If this action occurs lap after lap then it is considered blocking. I would ask that the lead driver hold "the line" and let the pass occur – if it can be done safely. Then, if the pass does occur, the new leader can either pull away (because they are faster overall) or a subsequent pass can occur as racing progresses. This would be a lot more fun for all involved. If the cars involved are really diverse in terms of straight-line speed (like a FV and a V8-powered vehicle) this situation can easily arise. The "faster" car will out-distance the more nimble FV on the straight-aways and the FV will then gain all the track position back under braking and in the corner itself. When this is the case, corner after corner or lap after lap, I would ask that the "faster" car let the FV go by and give it a little "head start on the next straight, allowing it to enter the next corner in the lead; after that, if the V8 can still overtake, well, that’s racing! In all cases, use good judgment – and use your mirrors.
Chopping occurs during a pass or attempted pass in the entry to the corner; it is the action of one car turning toward the apex when it is not yet clear of the car holding the inside line. The result is that the inside car must abruptly brake in order to avoid contact with the other vehicle. The cause of this condition can be a number of things but the result is the same. Regardless, driving room must be given to the car on the inside line (it’s in the GCR). This means that the car on the outside may have to modify their line a little to accommodate this – so be it! Loss of a little track distance is always better than making contact with one of your compatriots! Again, that’s the way they used to race when these cars were new…
Overly aggressive driving is pretty much self-explanatory. It usually results in the car locking up the brakes entering corners, leaving the track temporarily or reversing its directional orientation to the track altogether! When these events begin occurring multiple times during a session, it might be a symptom of overly aggressive driving… We have all done all of the above at one time or another – maybe even a couple of times on the same lap; it’s not always our driving style. But when it is, it’s time to sit back and take account of the situation. Either the goals of the driver do not match those of the Vintage Program or they’re just trying too hard. If you observe this behavior, first try discussing it with the driver himself. Maybe you can help them overcome the difficulties they are trying to overcome. If your discussion proves to be unsatisfactory, then feel free to contact any member of the driver review committee (Mike Jackson, Beau Gabel, Greg Bennett, Roger Beasley or myself) and voice your concern; we’ll try to remedy the situation to everyone’s satisfaction. Also, keep this in mind if you find yourself "caught up" in a race with another competitor and discover that you may have committed one of the aforementioned indiscretions. Seek that person out after the session and apologize – not only will it keep our Program safer but you might meet someone who will become another friend! We are, after all, all part of the same Vintage family.
OK, so enough of my "preaching". During this off-season (the month of January) it’s always a good time to go through the vehicle and check those items you’ve been meaning to look at for a while. Are your seat belts still valid for the new year? When was the last time you flushed the hydraulics? Is that seat still safe and securely fastened? How about those brake pads, rotors and wheel bearings? Are the wheels still straight and crack-free? How much tread is left on that left-rear tire? Hey, these are all items that Santa could bring, right?
If some of you haven’t heard from me recently by Email, it probably means that I don’t have your current Email address (I have a fairly lengthy list of non-functioning Email addresses on the Vintage list already). So if you’ve recently acquired an Email account or changed your Email address, please send me a message email@example.com with your full name (in case I couldn’t figure out who was sending it from the Email address) and any other information that may have changed in the last year or two (like address, telephone number/area code, car information, etc.) and I’ll update your information in my database. (Wow, Microsoft Word didn’t like that last sentence – hope you could understand it…) Similarly, if you are still receiving my Email but have moved/changed telephone numbers or cars since you originally provided the information to me, send me the updated information for the database. (Of course, if you’ve moved you probably won’t receive this letter in the first place…)
Some new ideas for next year include pre-planning at least the location and time for Saturday night feasting at the Vintage events. Many of us have been getting together for dinner on Saturday at the races for some time and we thought those of you that haven’t joined us may be missing out on some of the best parts of our weekend! So this year we’ll try to set a place and time beforehand and let you all know where to eat if you feel like joining in the group insanity and general mayhem of a dinner with this group – the more, the merrier!
I think that may do it for this edition – don’t forget to fill out the ballot and return it to me ASAP. Wishing you all a merry and safe Holiday Season.
John A. Rollins, Vintage Race Coordinator
Florida Region, SCCA