One of the basic premises of Vintage Racing is to provide an environment where all the competitors can have fun; another is to be able to drive older (pre-1973) race cars in a competitive event without having to modify them beyond recognition of what they were. Toward this end a group of racers (Graig Hinton, Gerald Blum, Larry Narcus, myself and others) were able to convince SCCA that there were enough people holding this same philosophy to create, maintain and support a new race group called Vintage. The intent was to recreate the racing environment of the “early days” where camaraderie took precedence over competition while still maintaining a high degree of safety. It was agreed that these early cars would be allowed to run as long as they had roll bars, seat belts and fire extinguishers and the driver’s safety gear met the standards of the current GCR. It was a success - so much so that a separate GCR was produced, and is still in use, for Vintage Racing. Subsequently, the safety requirements were upgraded to require fuel cells, electrical cut-off switches, arm restraints (open cars) or window nets (coupes) and, in the Florida regions, attachment of the seat back to the main hoop. All were in the interest of safety and were accepted by the competitors in that light. Though full cages (not attached to suspension pick-up points) and fire systems are still strongly recommended (and in use by many of the Vintage entrants), they are not required by the Vintage GCR.
While the GCR described the safety equipment required, the Regions attended to the issue of car preparation in terms of allowable modifications. It seemed only right, since this group was based on the recreation of an era in racing history, that the vehicles be prepared authentically to the period in which they raced (or would have). The general guideline in car preparation then became “anything that would have been done to race the car in the year of production can be done to the car now”. While this allowed cars that were previously street cars to be upgraded to period-authentic race preparation, it prevented modern technology from “creeping” into the competitive equation to a large degree. Cars which actually raced during the early years were allowed to retain the latest configuration or the configuration used prior to 1973 in the case of those raced after 1972. While this presented a challenge in some cases, the spirit of Vintage racing has prevailed in Florida SCCA events and those that were out of compliance were orderly corrected or entered in other race groups.
The issue of permissible wheel and tire combinations was addressed early in the creation of the Vintage group as this was the area where modern technology could not be held back. While the wheel size could be easily determined from previously published rules and/or the production car specifications for the vehicle, the tire choices available presented many options. To simplify this, we took the position of “any DOT approved, treaded tire of aspect ratio 60 or above is acceptable for use in Vintage competition. The exceptions allowed here are only for those purpose-built, race cars which ran only race tires during their history.
Probably the area most enforced in the Vintage group is that of driver preparation and attitude. Whenever you are on the track with other drivers you need to feel confident in their ability and awareness. Vintage cars, by their very nature, are more susceptible to mechanical difficulties and do not have the cornering characteristics of more “modern” race cars (just one of the things I, personally, enjoy most about them). Each driver must be aware of the characteristics of the other cars and drive accordingly. Since every Vintage entrant receives the same “trophy” at the end of the weekend, the operative directive for driving conduct is “If in doubt, don’t!!!”. This allows all competitors to enjoy driving their cars at speed in “gentlemanly” (my apologies to our many female competitors) competition without fear of “unintentional acceleration” in the corners. And there is competition - just ask any corner worker (and while you’re at it, thank them for being there)!!! Under these guidelines we have been able to enjoy many weekends at the various racetracks in Florida and make many new friends. We welcome new members to our “family”, which is what it has become over the years, and always enjoy showing our cars to those interested in learning more about them.
NOTE that there or other Vintage/Historic organizations that do not adhere to this exact philosophy and permit a far wider range of both car eligibility and modification (HSR). Others (SVRA, VDCA, etc.) require either actual race history or absolute authenticity to the racing period in terms of preparation. Many of us race with these other organizations as well - there is room in the racing community for all of us. If you would like more information regarding SCCA Vintage Racing, either see me at the track (No Bozos Racing) or give me a call at (561) 748-6512. Always remember to have FUN!