Everyone Has a Story to Tell

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When I started this magazine, I braced myself for a lot of questions like, “Are you crazy?” and “How does one man get that sexy?” The one I got most, though, was completely unexpected: “Aren’t you going to run out of things to write about?” I still hear it today.

The magazine business has plenty of real problems, like controlling printing and mailing costs, dealing with the tidal shift from print to digital, and fighting stiff competition for people’s time and attention. Finding cool stuff to write about is not one of them.

It’s also easy to find freelancers who want to try their hand at writing. Now, finding good, dependable freelance writers who check their facts and can meet a deadline is another story altogether. Perhaps our long-suffering editor, David Wallens, can take up this topic in his column one of these days.

This issue marks the start of our 34th year of publishing, and as we do every year at this time, we try to organize an editorial calendar for the coming calendar year. That means we are now planning what we will write about for this magazine as well as our sister magazine, Classic Motorsports–and as usual, we can’t fit all the cool stuff that our core staff and freelancers have proposed. Our world has so much to write about, not least because everyone has a story.

I was reminded of that fact just this morning. Sometime back we found a cool 1969 Caracal Formula Vee perched atop an equally cool, and painted to match, 1969 VW Transporter Pickup. We thought the combo would be super cool to feature in Classic Motorsports, since it was a little too vintage for this publication.

Once we tracked down the owner, however, we learned that the marriage of the Vee and the transporter was a fiction: the combo never did race duty together, and the two vehicles were just posed that way for photo opportunities.

Pretty photos with no real back story is not what we are all about, so at that point I decided perhaps we didn’t have anything there for a story.

Still, I dug a little further and hit paydirt. I found that the humble little Vee had enough stories to spare: Formula Vee legend and five-time Runoffs champion Bill Noble had owned and driven the car, and former SCCA President Lisa Noble had helped the current owner locate it. That guy, a longtime SCCA racer named Charlie Hearn, took the Vee to an SVRA national championship just last year. Things were starting to get interesting.

The tale got even better when I reached out to Clark Racing’s Fred Clark, who now owns Caracal Cars, and he started telling me about the history of Caracal. We talked about how the cars were originally called Lynxes, but Mercury paid then-owner Jon C. Mills to change his company’s name in the ’80s so that Mercury could legally use the Lynx name. As part of that deal, I learned, Mills received a new Lincoln every year. (Lisa Noble confirmed that detail, telling me she bought one of those big, black Lincolns from Mills and drove it for a while.)

I also learned that Fred Clark’s building in Jacksonville, Florida, is the place where Jan Brundage of Brumos Porsche fame actually invented the Formula Vee. That got us talking about how cheap and easy it is to restore a Vee for vintage racing. The conversation then veered into the fundamental differences between vintage and modern Vee racing, and what areas of the country have the largest groups of Vee drivers.

So what started as a neat little photo shoot of a Vee being transported by a Volkswagen Transporter ended up rabbiting off in a hundred different, wonderful ways that I would need to condense into some sort of readable form. Again, thankfully, our editor, David, is better at this than I am. (To see how it all turned out, you can pick up the September issue of Classic Motorsports in our online store—or, better yet, a subscription.)

So yes, there are so many interesting stories. We can only fit so many into each magazine, but we are always looking for the best to whittle down into eight great issues a year of Grassroots Motorsports. If you know a story we need to hear about, or have a topic we haven’t yet covered enough, please drop me a line at tim@grassrootsmotorsports.com.

Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it’s published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

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View comments on the GRM forums
racerdave600 UltraDork
3/15/18 12:16 p.m.

I love this article.  I have driven a Vee a couple of times and they do not get the respect they deserve I don't think.  How popular are they in vintage racing these days?

dean1484 MegaDork
3/15/18 5:40 p.m.

Thanks for sharing. It should be noted that many people would have moved on from that car once it was discovered that the photo was staged. The fact that you take the time to dig deeper and ask the right questions sets GRM and CMS apart from many of your competitors.

Thanks for doing what you do!!!   

te72 New Reader
3/20/18 1:13 a.m.

Absolutely love that GRM is still in publication. My only regret? Not subscribing sooner. Seriously, I'm a lifer, as long as you guys continue to put out in print. =)


On the subject of formula cars, I can't get it out of my head that it would be an awfully fun autocross car... But that involves a tow rig, and I just abhor the idea of driving a truck or van with a trailer on the back any more than I already have over the years. I'd rather drive my car to the track.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
3/20/18 4:22 a.m.

In reply to te72 :

I just looked up the weight of a formula V without the driver. 825lbs. You'd probably need a custom light trailer, but you could tow a V with something quite a lot smaller than a truck. laugh

As far as the article. Nothing beats two comfy chairs and two cold drinks for teasing a story out of someone. I don't think I've ever met anyone that doesn't have something interesting in their past that's fun to hear about. Keep finding and writing down those stories GRM.

racerdave600 UltraDork
3/20/18 10:09 a.m.

There used to be a guy that showed up at the runoffs towing his F440 with a X1/9, you wouldn't need a lot.  wink

snailmont5oh HalfDork
3/20/18 1:28 p.m.

My dad used to tell me, "Everybody knows everything about something.  Even if he's dumb as a box of rocks, you'll be able to learn something from him if you can figure out what it is."

I'm not sure what my point was, there. :)

JimMurphy New Reader
3/23/18 4:14 p.m.

I have been told by the younger guys (I am 70) that they are not interested in FV's to race because the technology is so old that they don't want to learn it and that the FV's are much slower than the FF's and F5's that run in the same race group at SCCA events.  Now, if the FV's were updated to what is already being run in Formula First cars - FV's with rack/pinion steering, disk brakes, FF tires, 1600cc VW motors and dry sumps, etc., that run much faster lap times then it should be more attractive to the younger drivers.   I hope that it is not too late.


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