Evernham explores U.S. car culture on new TV series

Ray Evernham (left) chats with Brad Paisley | Photo courtesy Velocity
Ray Evernham (left) chats with Brad Paisley | Photo courtesy Velocity

Corky Coker isn’t the only classic car personality who wants to take us for a ride. On Tuesday, Jan. 28, three-time NASCAR championship crew chief-turned-classic car restoration specialist Ray Evernham launches his new cable television show, AmericCarna.

While Coker searches backroads for old cars, Evernham takes a road trip through American car history and car culture, as the news release for the program puts it, “chasing down the cars that had a profound impact on shaping our national identity.”

Along the way, Evernham not only introduces us to those vehicles, but to the people associated with them. For example, the opening episode, “California Cool: The Iconic Woody Wagon” features interviews with Mike Love of the Beach Boys and with Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer.

“Over my career, I have visited every corner of the country and learned firsthand about America’s rich, diverse love affair with automobiles,” Evernham says in the news release. “Cars hold the key to many of America’s historical secrets, and I am proud to share my journey through barns, along coastlines, and inside racetracks and garages with viewers on Velocity this January.”

“The automobile is a quintessential part of the American experience – they’re synonymous with freedom, adventure,” adds Bob Scanlon, Velocity’s general manager. “Since the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line, cars have continually helped evolve our culture, and we’re honored to have a true godfather of American car culture, Ray Evernham, host AmeriCarna.  The stories and characters featured are even more unforgettable than they cars themselves.”

The episode on the woody wagons debuts at 8 p.m. and will be followed at 8:30 by “Moonshiners and the 1940’s Ford,” in which Evernham explores the days when revenuers chased moonshiners out of the woods and onto NASCAR tracks.

Subsequent episodes are:

Feb. 4, 8 p.m.: “Marty Robbins Restoration,” a look a Marty Robbins’ ability to excel both at the Grand Ole Opry and on the high banks of Talladega.

Feb. 4, 8:30 p.m.: “Hot Rods and Dragsters,” featuring Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and the Snake and Mongoose Matchbox cars and childhood actor-turned-award-winning director Ron Howard on his movie about Formula One racing, Rush.

Feb. 11, 8 p.m.: “Buried Treasures,” with Evernham helping to uncover winning Daytona race cars from inside an old car hauler.

Feb. 18, 8 p.m.: “Indy Car Rescue,” which covers the restoration of a 1955 Indy 500 racer that had been parked atop an auto mechanic shop for more than 50 years.

Feb. 25, 8 p.m.: “Smokey’s Truck,” in which Evernham is on a mission to find the hauler truck used by famed (and “innovative”) stock car racing chief mechanic Smokey Yunick.

March 4, 8 p.m.: “The Vanderbilt Cup,” with Evernham learning about and sharing the tales of America’s first big auto races, which were staged on Long Island, N.Y.

March 11, 8 p.m.: “Ray’s Roots & the Yellow 303,” with Evernham rebuilding the famed 303 racer campaigned Fred Dmuchowski, a “New Jersey racing icon” who worked his regular job during the week and then raced for fun on weekends. It was Dmuchowski who inspired Evernham to pursue his career in motorsports.

To be announced (Season finale): “The Corvette,” the story of the Corvette that inspired Rick Hendrick to buy his first car and to launch his new car dealerships and racing teams. The episode also features singer Brad Paisley on how his Corvette influenced his music.

 

‘Visual futurist’ Syd Mead’s vehicles to be subject of show in South Carolina

 Syd Mead art courtesy CarArt.us

‘The future, according to Syd Mead, is just “reality ahead of schedule.”

Mead, who worked briefly as a designer at Ford in the very early 1960s, has become famous around the world as the “visual futurist” whose projects include the design of vehicles for science fiction movies such as Blade Runner, Star Trek, Aliens and Tron.

Progressions, a show of 50 of Mead’s illustrations (those shown here provided by CarArt.us), opens August 18 and runs through October 18 at the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery in Conway, S.C.

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Strong Arizona auctions set the stage for solid 2014

A rare 1967 Corvette L88 coupe at Barrett-Jackson hit $3.85 million, the top American-car sale during Arizona Auction Week. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)
A rare 1967 Corvette L88 coupe at Barrett-Jackson hit $3.85 million, the top American-car sale during Arizona Auction Week. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)

Arizona auction week started off the 2014 collector-car calendar with a bang. The six auctions sold 2,312 vehicles for a total of nearly $249 million and an average price of $107,096, all significant gains over 2013 results.

The premium auction houses – RM, Gooding and Bonhams – stepped up with great collections of cars, and the 43rd annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale had the highest number of cars and highest total results in its history. Barrett-Jackson was so big, it made the Guinness Book of World Records.

There was even a classy new starting point for auction week, the first-ever Arizona Concours d’Elegance at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

The Arizona auctions are considered a bellwether for the year ahead, so last week’s huge success bodes well for collector-car sales and values during 2014. As Corky Coker of Coker Tires said during one of the week’s many classic-car seminars: collecting old cars has become less of a hobby and more of an industry.

A 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider soared  at RM in Phoenix to a $8.8 million sale. (Photo: Bob Golfen)
A 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider soared at RM in Phoenix to an $8.8 million sale. (Photo: Bob Golfen)

While there are just about as many stories and lessons learned as there are vehicles on the dockets, here are a few observations from a hectic week:

Rising tide of values goes across the board – There were more than two dozen sales that reached over a million dollars during the week, but prices for more-modest cars and trucks also had strong gains this year.

The $25,000 to $50,000 range shows a healthy market of cars for regular Joes, although the price of entry has sailed upstream, leaving many left behind.

As usual, spending more up front for a well-restored or highly preserved original will pay off in the long run. Restoration costs are through the roof these days and can quickly take the bloom off a bargain purchase price.

“Barn finds” cast magic spell – Preservation verses restoration was a hot topic of conversation, with most savvy collectors heeding the old adage: It’s only original once. A well-preserved car or truck is a thing of beauty, with an air of authenticity and patina that cannot be duplicated.

But there is a flip side to that, as Sports Car Market and American Car Collector publisher Keith Martin observed, “There’s a difference between a preserved car and a nasty old thing.”

A 'barn find' 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL reached a surprising $1.88 million at Gooding. (Photo: Bob Golfen)
A ‘barn find’ 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL reached a surprising $1.88 million at Gooding. (Photo: Bob Golfen)

And the debate is on after the sales of two rare and valuable “barn finds” at the Gooding auction in Scottsdale. Both results were very surprising, to say the least, because while they were highly desirable cars at the top of the pecking order, neither of them were very appealing. Though original dirt does have its charm.

The first over the block on Friday was a dusty, musty 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing that shocked with a $1.88 million selling price, including auction fee. That should buy you the very best restored Gullwing (steel body, not alloy) and seemed excessive for this survivor. Indeed, several beautifully restored examples sold for much less during the week.

The other one, a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider, soared to exceed $2 million, including fee. This car was a crispy critter, the victim of an engine fire and many decades of subsequent storage. It was in no way preserved and deserves an extensive – and no-doubt wildly expensive – restoration. According to the price guides, the Ferrari is already fully priced for one that’s in top condition.

So there you go. Such is the romantic lure of the great “barn find.”

Ferrari prices are on fire – Beyond the lofty price tag of the soot-smudged 330 GTS, the top sale of the week was a mighty $8.8 million, including fee, for a 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider, a record result and the highest-ever sale at an Arizona classic-car auction. All the Ferraris were hitting big numbers, going well into seven figures for anything of any rarity and history.

The famed 1969 Chevrolet Corvette #57 Rebel L88 convertible sold for $2.86 million. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)
The famed 1969 Chevrolet Corvette #57 Rebel L88 convertible sold for $2.86 million. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)

Dinos are rocking the house, with a 1973 246 GTS hitting a lofty $500k at Gooding. Even such high-production runabouts as the 308 climbed into six figures; a 1976 fiberglass 308 GTB sold for $114,400 at Bonhams.

Likewise Corvettes – Barrett-Jackson, always Nirvana for aficionados of the Chevy sports car, hit the ceiling with the sales of two very rare and special Corvettes: the 1969 race-winning Corvette dubbed The Rebel, which sold for $2.86 million, and an ultra-rare 560-horsepower 1967 L88 coupe that hit the heights at $3.85 million, becoming far and away the highest-priced Corvette ever sold at auction.

But Corvettes across the board were fetching premium prices as well. For example, among the top sales at Russo & Steele in Scottsdale were a 1971 454 SS convertible sold for $250,250 and a 1953 roadster for $225,500.

Many classic-car hobbyists are feeling priced out of the auction scene, and with good reason. There still are some worthwhile deals out there, and many examples of American muscle cars seem underpriced, but by and large, it takes deep pockets to buy anything of value.

For those still able to take part, 2014 should be a golden year for classic-car auctions if nothing bad happens to dampen prices, such as war, pestilence or another economic collapse like the one that killed the market in 2008. We have now fully recovered from that downturn.

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Shelby Daytona Coupe is first to gain historic status

The first 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe is driven during a special event at the Simeone museum in Philadelphia. (Photo: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum)
The first 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe is driven during a special event at the Simeone museum in Philadelphia. (Photo: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum)

 

Score another win for the 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which has become the first historically significant automobile recorded under the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation. Like a historic building, the Cobra Daytona and its records are to be preserved in perpetuity.

The first of six Cobra Daytonas built 50 years ago, CSX2287 will have its complete documentation permanently archived in the Library of Congress as part of the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historic Vehicle Register and Historic American Engineering Record. The HVA and Department of the Interior collaborated in the effort to document the Cobra Daytona, the first in a number of historical vehicles that will be so recognized.

Designed by Peter Brock as an aerodynamic solution to raising the top speed of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra racecars in GT competition, the Cobra Daytona successfully beat Ferrari to win the International Manufacturer’s GT Championship in 1965, making Ford the first American manufacturer to win an international race series.

Having my Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe design recognized as the very first car to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor and the thrill of a lifetime.”

– Peter Brock

“Having my Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe design recognized as the very first car to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor and the thrill of a lifetime,” Brock said in an HVA press release.

According to the HVA, the Daytona was picked for historic recognition because of “its association with important persons and events; its construction and aerodynamic design; and informational value as one of the few racecars from the period that has not been completely restored.”

The Daytona, part of the permanent collection of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, is currently being displayed by the HVA at the Washington Auto Show through February 2.

“It has been nearly 120 years since the first automobiles were produced in the U.S.,” said Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association, in the release. “During that time, we have implemented national programs to recognize our historic buildings, airplanes, spacecraft and vessels but not our historic automobiles.

“Through our work, we hope to celebrate the contribution of the industry’s pioneers, the vehicles they produced and the preservation efforts necessary to ensure future generations appreciate the unique roll of the automobile in shaping America.”

HVA and the Department of the Interior are working to document more historic vehicles as well as refining guidelines and procedures for public input. For more information, see www.historicvehicle.org.

Mecum heads into final days of huge Florida auction

The winning 1963 Corvette ZO6 race car campaigned by Dick Lang will be among Mecum’s weekend  offerings. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)
The winning 1963 Corvette ZO6 race car campaigned by Dick Lang will be among Mecum’s weekend offerings. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)

 

Mecum’s massive classic-car auction at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla., continues through Sunday, Jan. 26, with more than 3,000 cars, trucks, motorcycles and what-have-you offered during the nine-day super sale. There were also more than 3,000 pieces of automobilia to be sold.

Highlighted by an enviable collection of Corvettes – including a couple of rare high-performance L88s, a famous ’63 ZO6 race car, a ’67 convertible formerly owned by astronaut Gus Grissom, and the historic 1956 SR prototype known as The Real McCoy – Mecum cranks into the weekend with a vast range of vehicles to fit most any wallet. Mecum has a grading system for values at its auctions, ranging from general to featured to stars to main attractions.

The 1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible could fetch $2 million. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)
The 1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible could fetch $2 million. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)

Some other top dogs of the Mecum auction include a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra factory race car valued in the $2 million range, 1969 Mustang Boss 429, 1969 Yenko Camaro, 1973 Porsche 911 RS and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. For fans of true classics, there’s a lavishly restored 1930 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline convertible, formerly part of the Harrah and Imperial Palace collections, as well as the notable collection of the late John O’Quinn. Value estimate for the Duesey runs from $1.5 million to $2 million.

After the rising tide of classic-car values shown during the recent Arizona auction week, Mecum can most likely look forward to a strong finale for its flagship Florida sale.

If you can’t make it to sunny Florida, you can catch the action during nearly 50 hours of broadcasts on NBC and the Esquire cable channel. Check the listings for times or see Mecum.com for more information and a complete auction catalogue.

Selling your classic car without selling out to the IRS

John Draneas reminds classic car owners to make sure things are OK at tax time|Photos by Larry Edsall
John Draneas reminds classic car owners to make sure things are OK at tax time|Photos by Larry Edsall

You’ve just sold your classic car and you’re ecstatic because the check you received was for a nice amount more than you paid when you bought the car. But how much of that profit can you keep?

“If you sell a car and make money, you’re supposed to pay taxes on it,” said John Draneas, an attorney and car collector who writes about the legal issues of classic cars for Sports Car Market magazine. Draneas made the keynote presentation at the magazine’s inaugural Scottsdale Insider’s Seminar held at the Gooding & Company auction venue.

“The Taxman and Your Collector Cars — How Do You Keep Them Apart?” was the subject of Draneas’ address to an audience that overflowed the seating area.

Draneas told the audience that the Internal Revenue Service “likes to make a splash” with its investigations. He explained that wealthy car collectors who don’t pay full and proper taxes are just the sort of people whom the IRS targets to show as examples.

But what are the proper taxes on the sale of your classic car?

“Keep really good, detailed records,” Draneas advised, explaining that if you have owned a classic car for a year or longer, your profit is considered a long-term capital gain and is taxed at a lower rate than if you owned the car for less than a year.

How much lower? Twenty percent versus 39.6 percent. Oh, and that’s by the federal government; state taxes also apply.

The amount of taxable profit is based not simply on the difference in the money you paid for the car and the money you received when you sold it. You can subtract any selling expenses and any restoration costs (provided, of course, you have kept those good, detailed records).

draneas4But what about the 28-percent federal tax on “collectibles”? Don’t worry, Draneas said, because federal tax law does not include cars within the definition of collectibles (which he said is a fact that escapes the notice of some accountants).

OK, so you sell a classic you’ve owned more than a year and you pay 20 percent in federal taxes on the profit. That’s it, right? Not quite. There is a new net investment income tax of 3.8 percent on anyone making $200,000 or more per year. Plus, there is the matter of state income taxes.

Or, Draneas said, you can take advantage of the 1031 lifetime exchange to defer your tax.

How does a 1031 exchange work? Either before the hammer falls at an auction or before you receive your check from a private sale, you transfer ownership of your vehicle to an “accommodator,” who sells the car and holds the money. You then have as many as 45 days to find a car or cars you want to buy with that money.

The accommodator actually makes that transaction as well, using the money from the sale of your car. You don’t see any of the cash but you do get your new car and you pay no tax.

If the car you want to buy costs more than the car you sold, you can add your own cash to complete the transaction.

Whew! Well, not quite, because there are sales taxes to consider. For example, buy a car at an auction in Arizona and drive it away, and you must pay Arizona sales tax. But have that same car shipped to your home outside Arizona and you don’t pay Arizona sales tax, though you will have to pay the sales tax in your home state.

Unless that home state is Oregon, where there is no sales tax. Draneas said that to encourage people to buy vacation homes in Oregon, state law allows the registration of any vehicle. The owner of that vehicle doesn’t have to reside in Oregon, but the car does.

The thought is that you leave a car at your vacation home to use while you’re in Oregon on vacation. The law allows you to drive the car anywhere you want, but it also requires that you bring it back to Oregon when it is not in use.

Or course, he said, driving that car outside Oregon, especially within your state of residence, likely means you are violating the law in your home state, which may require residents to register their cars where they actually live.

There is another alternative, he said, which explains why you see Montana license plates on so many classic cars. Montana will register any vehicle owned by an LLC established in Montana, where many counties have no sales taxes.

Draneas said some people think obtaining a car dealer’s license also allows them to avoid sales taxes, but for collectors, that would mean lying to their states, and it can making insuring the cars very difficult. It also eliminates the capital gains tax break or allowing a 1031 exchange.

goodingpanel

After Draneas’ keynote, a panel of  Sports Car Market staffers — (from left) Keith Martin, Simone Kidston, Carl Bomstead, Donald Osborne and Steve Serio — discussed classic cars as blue-chip investments, and then led audience members on guided tours of vehicles available at the Gooding & Company auction, each panelist focusing on his area of expertise, from American sports and muscle to Ferraris and late-model European exotics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage racers to provide 24-hour Daytona time capsule

Porsche (4) challenges Ferraris (28 and 22) in 1971 Daytona race | Photo by Bill Warner
Porsche (4) challenges Ferraris (28 and 22) in 1971 Daytona race | Photo by Bill Warner

Three vintage racing groups will join forces later this year to stage the first 24-hour race for historic cars in North America. The Classic 24 at Daytona will be held November 12-16 at Daytona International Speedway, where a 3.56-mile course includes parts of the famed high-banked oval and an infield road circuit.

“Daytona is considered by many to be the toughest of the classic endurance races,” James Redman, general manger of Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) said in announcing the event.”The nights are long and the speeds are high around the famously steep banks. It is a true test of car and driver.

“The Classic 24 at Daytona will give owners, drivers and spectators a chance to relive and witness what the greatest names in racing went through en route to the top step of the podium at Daytona,” he added.

Joining HSR in the race are the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA) and Vintage Racing Events (VRE).

Though known as the home of NASCAR, sports cars began racing at Daytona in 1962, when Dan Gurney won the three-hour Daytona Continental in the Arciero Lotus-Climax 19B.

The race expanded to 2000 kilometers (approximately 12 hours of racing) in 1964 and two years later joined Le Mans as a 24-hour test.

For the Classic 24 at Daytona will feature five days and nights of activity with preliminary events, night practice, and more. The 24-hour event begins at noon on Saturday, November 15 and will feature six historically period-correct groups of cars. Each group will race for an hour at a time, four times within the 24-hour period, and with a mandatory pit stop in each session for a driver change.

1964 Ferrari 250 GTO
Photo courtesy Ferrari North America

Months before the Classic 24, in fact, this weekend, the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona will be contested in brand new sports cars. During the race weekend,  Ferrari North America will celebrate its victory on the track 50 years ago by displaying the 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO that Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodriguez drove to victory in the 1964 Daytona Continental, a 2000-kilometer event.

The winning No. 30 car, entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.) was chassis 5571GT and the first of three Series II GTOs built for the 1964 racing season.

Record-breaking car to fire up for first time since 1962

Sunbeam 350hp | Photo courtesy the Beaulieu museum
Sunbeam 350hp | Photo courtesy the Beaulieu museum

If you happen to be in England on January 29, you might want to visit the Beaulieu, the National Motor Museum, where the engine in Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world land speed record-breaking Sunbeam 350hp will be started for the first time in more than 50 years.

In 1924, the car reached a then-record 146.16 miles per hour and then did 150.76 on the Pendine Sands beach in Wales. The car last ran in 1962, when Lord Montagu drove three laps around the track at Goodwood.

Recently, the museum’s workshop team and a group of volunteers have done a rebuild of the engine with help from the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register in finding parts and specialist services needed to complete the mechanical work.

The car will be started at “midday” just outside the museum entrance.

“Visitors are welcome to watch as this iconic motor is fired up,” the museum said in the news release, “but please be warned — it will make quite a noise!”

The museum is located in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, and includes more than 250 automobiles and motorcycles displayed to tell the story of the history of motoring in Britain.

 

 

Natural selection: How to choose a professional restorer for your classic

(From left)) Bobby Smith, Alan Taylor, Lance Coren | Photo by Jim Resnick
(From left)) Bobby Smith, Alan Taylor, Lance Coren | Photo by Jim Resnick

It is difficult enough boiling down your classic car obsession to a manageable, affordable group of cars. But it is just as time-intensive when you need to find the most capable and conscientious professional shop to take on your restoration work.

To that end, Russo and Steele Auctions hosted The Art of Vintage Restoration seminar during Arizona Auction Week with three noted experts: Bobby Smith, who specializes in classic Ferraris; Alan Taylor, who specializes in pre-war collectible cars; Lance Coren, official appraiser for both Ferrari North America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Russo and Steele’s Drew Alcazar was moderator

“The most common mistake I see is that customers don’t have a complete game plan at the outset,” said Coren.

“That game plan should describe what you want to do with the car. Do you intend to show it at certified shows for points? That means the restoration needs to be done as more of an art piece for correctness than anything else and is a very different process with different materials and hours than for a car being primarily driven, rallied or having the family pile in for road trips.”

Having a total game plan also prevents mission creep.

Approach a restoration as a labor of love because there’s only a small chance you’ll recoup the cost.”

— Alan Taylor

Once you’ve defined the game plan for yourself, the shop you choose should agree to that plan and neither of you should deviate from it. Both parties must agree to the approximate cost and the time frame. All other details about the restoration follow that lead of overall goal and become secondary to the game plan.

Deciding on what shop to use becomes your next big question. The experts agree that you must first do your due diligence.

“Talk to previous customers, ask around at events. Simply do the research on the shop for the type of work you’re thinking about,” said Coren.

“When I visit a shop,” Smith said, “I look for three things. First, I look in the trash. If I see lots of wasted scrap metal or beer cans or materials in the garbage that really seem odd, that tells me something. Second, does the shop have the proper equipment for the type of work you’re considering? Lastly, I look for a system of parts tracking and packaging that’s organized and clearly labelled.

“You can also inspect projects in the shop. I believe in finding a shop that specializes in your type or brand of car. If you’ve got a 1964 Pontiac GTO, don’t go to a shop that specializes in 1950s and ‘60s Ferraris. They won’t know your car.”

When it comes to cost, you must be realistic.

Alan Taylor: “In today’s economy everyone should approach a restoration as a labor of love because there’s only a small chance you’ll recoup the cost upon selling the car.”

Coren agreed: “Are you in this for profit or heart? If your answer is profit, you’ll have little chance of success. If your answer is for the love of the car, the people and for the history, there’s no better hobby.”

So you think you want to go vintage racing? Here’s some advice from the experts

(From left) Mike McGovern, Chris Hines, Brian Ferrin Drew Alcazar, Lyn St. James, D. Randy Riggs | Photo by Jim Resnick
Mike McGovern, Chris Hines, Brian Ferrin Drew Alcazar, Lyn St. James, D. Randy Riggs | Photo by Jim Resnick

There are more cliches about auto racing than you can shake a stick at in a month of Sundays. But when it comes to racing classic cars – “vintage racing” is the universally accepted term – the cliches end and something religious happens.

Russo & Steele Auctions held an informative seminar on vintage racing during Arizona Auction Week, on how to get started and what to expect.

The panel of experts included: former IndyCar, IMSA and SCCA racer Lyn St. James; long-time Bob Bondurant School chief racing instructor and IMSA, NASA and NASCAR veteran Mike McGovern; D. Randy Riggs, editor-in-chief of Vintage Motorsport magazine and also an experienced racer; Brian Ferrin, who races an ex-George Follmer SCCA Trans-Am Boss 302 Mustang; Chris Hines, president of ArrowLane Racing; and Drew Alcazar, CEO of Russo and Steele and himself a vintage racer.

There’s no money, no points… It’s only about the fun.”

— Brian Ferrin

“It’s like magic,” said St. James. “When you get into a rhythm with the car and with your competitors on track it becomes one part dance, one part race, one part spiritual connection to your own racing heroes and one part illicit narcotic. It’s the thing that great musical soloists achieve at the height of their creativity. You forget all your troubles.”

“Vintage racing is not at all like racing a modern car professionally,” Ferrin added. “There’s no money, no points, lap times don’t really matter. All you get at the end of the day is a trophy and a slap on the back. Maybe a cold beer. It’s only about the fun.”

Make no mistake, however. It is still fast and still dangerous.

“Dangerous enough to be thrilling and to require a basic skill set and understanding of road racing theories and racecraft,” McGovern cautioned.

All the experts implore would-be vintage racers to attend a professional racing school such as Bondurant’s or Skip Barber’s, schools where you are taught the fundamentals of road racing, gain seat time and receive direct feedback. The best part about taking a pro course is that you’ll know with certitude if this is something you really want to do. You may find it’s not. If that’s the case, just think of the money and time you just saved yourself by taking the course.

If you do take the plunge, all experts agree you should spend more to prepare yourself as a driver than in modifying your car for greater performance. You are the biggest performance variable and will make the biggest difference when on the track, not a huge engine.

“When you’re picking a car of a particular era, speak to the people racing that vintage machine and the pro shops that maintain them, what their class is like and what it takes to maintain the vehicle,” said Riggs. “This will help determine which era is for you and hopefully your wallet can follow your heart.”

The group also agreed that you should plan for a track support crew of some sort to help with loading, tire changing and other work done at the track. These could be friends, family or a pro shop.

The group also expressed uniformity on the upside of vintage racing. Besides the fun of racing itself, the biggest plus is the camaraderie. Hanging out with other racers who you simply cannot avoid and would never choose to.

Ferrin closed: “They are simply the best people in the world.”