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Gary SuperDork
9/15/17 8:25 p.m.

I've been attending vintage races across the country for 25-30 years. The majority of the participants are now old men, and getting older, to the point of retirement. What's going to happen to the sport going forward? Just using the recent Lime Rock vintage weekend as an example, it seemed like the majority of the racers were 70+ yrs. old. But even if it was 60+ years, that's a serious problem for the sport in the 2020's and beyond. The old cars will exist, but the drivers will soon go away. Sure, there are a few youngsters willing to drive their grandfathers' race cars in vintage events, but nowhere near the numbers that were driving vintage race cars during the past thirty years. What's going to happen?

stu67tiger Reader
9/15/17 9:01 p.m.

I think it gets back to an old theory I heard, which many of us here prove.  Many of us seem to gravitate toward the cars that were new when we graduated from high school.  Example?  My Tiger was built just as I entered college.  IIRC you said you had a Spitfire.  Is it about as old as your HS diploma, too?  And how many folks of our age bracket gravitate toward Model A's, or even stuff from the '50's?  Not many that I can see.  Street rods, etc. seem to be the only exception.

But you are right, lots of grey hair in the paddock at vintage races.  It takes, of course, a certain level of prosperity to support a vintage racing effort, or even support a vintage street car.  Younger folks supporting a house, family, college looming in the distance, are less likely to be able to support a 4 wheeled toy, especiallly a racer that requires a substantial investment is support equipment, spares, tow rig, etc.  Once the kids are out on their own, and they get that promotion to regional VP or whatever, maybe they can afford a toy to remind them of earlier days.  Hence the grey hair...

Missed you at Lime Rock, but I was only there Saturday.


LanEvo Reader
9/15/17 9:10 p.m.

There's some truth to the high school thing. I was born in '75 and was in high school in the late-'80s. Probably not a coincidence that I love cars like the E30 M3, 964 RS America, 190E 2.3-16, Sierra Cosworth, and Lancia Delta HF. 

But I'm going back in time. Just picked up a '74 Triumph TR6 this week. I find myself eyeing the Sprite/Midget, 2002tii, and 914. I also have a weird thing for the MG T ... with cycle fenders, please!

Gary SuperDork
9/15/17 9:17 p.m.

Stu, I was only at LRP on Saturday. (Well, I was at the Thursday night car show in Falls Village, too). But much to my dismay, due to weather, I wasn't at the Sunday car show at LRP. Too bad we didn't connect on Saturday. It was pretty crowded!

frenchyd HalfDork
9/20/17 11:46 a.m.

With grey hair typically comes reduced or fixed budgets. Once the 2008 ressesion eased I went looking to return to vintage racing.  What I found is costs had multiplied many times. In addition helmet seat belt fire extinguisher etc all needed replacing. 

Not sure why. They'd been carefully stored away and never abused or neglected yet all had to be replaced. Maybe  the sales of new helmets etc are required to sustain profitability, whatever 

it was simply too much 

OFracing Reader
9/20/17 7:48 p.m.

A guy I race with (he has a TR4A) son just bought a Spitfire and plans on racing it in vintage next year. I'm afraid that's the exception rather than the rule. Both my kids drive old Triumphs but have no interest in racing.

I'm pessimisticly guessing in 20 years you won't be able to race anything except electric cars and, due to insurance regulations, the drivers will either be computers or remote with a joystick. They'll probably do 300 MPH and have a full VR streaming output to your brain stem.


shoot me now

mike h

bmw88rider SuperDork
9/21/17 6:34 p.m.

Its not just the racers. take a good look at most of the race officials on any weekend. there may not be any races because there will be no one to work them without having to finally pay and then the costs go up. 


Any race group that doesn't allow late 80s or early 90s vintage racers into their orgs are going to be history soon. There isn't that level of interest.

frenchyd HalfDork
9/22/17 6:30 a.m.

In reply to bmw88rider : adding newer cars will cost a loss of older car owners.  

One of the most active groups of vintage car racing is MG T series . However if you put those cars on the track with other cars they become a moving chicane. 54 horsepower and the aerodynamics of a brick means a top speed of maybe 75 mph 

newer cars are all massively faster and force MGT series off the track eventually we stop going to that event.  

Now we show up in mass only to events where we are welcome 

meanwhile a lot of MG T series owners and sons and grandsons  sit out event after event  


danvan New Reader
9/22/17 2:20 p.m.

I know the vintage club that runs at my track will not let me run my 1971 510 that has been a race car since the 70's because it has flairs and a small spoiler on the deck lid, we may be losing vintage racing more because the organizers have there heads up there well you know what I mean, I would post a pic but can not figure out how 

LanEvo Reader
9/22/17 3:05 p.m.
frenchyd said:

adding newer cars will cost a loss of older car owners.

Not if they run in their own groups. I've run vintage events with VARAC. The MGT's don't share the track with 930 Turbos or E30 M3's. 

In fact, the huge turnout in cars from the '70s to '90s (running in their own groups) makes it cheaper for the guys with the older cars to run. Everyone benefits. 

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/22/17 3:14 p.m.
danvan said:

I know the vintage club that runs at my track will not let me run my 1971 510 that has been a race car since the 70's because it has flairs and a small spoiler on the deck lid, we may be losing vintage racing more because the organizers have there heads up there well you know what I mean, I would post a pic but can not figure out how 

To post pics on the board you'll need to upload to a photo server like Flickr, and then post the link here.  We'll soon have the capability to host photos on our own, but we haven't' jiggled that handle yet. 

danvan New Reader
9/22/17 4:43 p.m.

It appears my photo files are to large and will not upload to imgur when you guys start to host it will be nice and easy maybe i will even do a build thread on the old Toyota.


racerdave600 UltraDork
9/22/17 5:17 p.m.

I've been going to vintage events for more than 3 decades now, and you know what, for the most part it is still the same cars.  There have been a few attempts at modern cars, but mainly prototypes and open wheelers.  The bread and butter cars are all the same Triumphs, MGs, Alfas, Porsches etc.  Nothing wrong with that, but there needs to be a way to transition older SCCA cars into vintage. 

My first vintage event in the '80's had MGBs running, some barely 10 to 15 years old, that would put us squarely into NC Miata territory today.  Not suggesting that, but newer guys for the most part might be able to pick up an out of date IT or production car and prep it for vintage, but not a $25 to $50k Triumph or worse.  They don't relate to them anyway.

It will be interesting to see where vintage racing ends up in the future.  Events like Monterey are pretty secure I think, but what about the average versions around the country every year?

bmw88rider SuperDork
9/22/17 11:05 p.m.

That's exactly what I was referring to. I can have classic plates on my old MR2 but wouldn't be able to race it in the 2 main vintage groups locally. Kind of seems odd. I like the idea of vintage racing but hate the available hardware to choose from. Group those cars in their own race group and let people go have fun too.

BillBall New Reader
9/23/17 7:24 a.m.

As track days have become very popular for current sports cars it will be interesting to see if something emerges for older cars where they are driven at speed on a track but all pretense of "racing" and "classes" is dropped. Something like this http://lggpr.org/. I think there would be a lot of demand for this kind of thing where your MR2 or Miata is as welcome as your MG. It would be the bottom of a pyramid that could feed people into serious vintage racing and keep it healthy as it evolves to embrace newer cars.

frenchyd HalfDork
9/23/17 12:11 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider : it's sort of like SCCA regional events.  You could run your MR2  but would need to make it conform to SCCA rules where it's doubtful it would be competitive without massive a investment, a silhouette car if you will.  

Vintage racing keeps cars more original but has an absolute cut off.  

It makes sense too if you think about it.  1940's & 50's cars were more original than later cars.  By the late 1970's with fender flairs and add on aerodynamic devises pretty well turned production cars into modifieds 


TxCoyote Reader
9/23/17 4:54 p.m.

The short answer is No, we do not need a discussion.  Our vintage club CVAR is showing an increase in participation over last year.  We have a rule set based on the 1972 GCR with a few modifications but we will make exceptions provided the technology of the car is in the same timeframe.  

There are a wide variety of rules among different racing organizations.  It is an expensive sport and while the racers are getting older, the individual clubs will alter their rules over time or face extinction.

Gary SuperDork
9/23/17 5:49 p.m.

Oh, OK then. No discussion necessary. I guess we can just shut this thread down now since your local club has solved the problem. Thank you so very much. Incidentally,  this is a concern in Europe too, so perhaps CVAR can help out there as well. frown

Gary SuperDork
9/23/17 6:22 p.m.

Well, I probably shouldn't have rattled off a snarky and sarcastic reply, but I get that way when I hear someone provide a parochial solution to a much broader problem. But I'm going to let it stand. The point I was trying to make when I kicked off this thread was that we have a lot of vintage race cars from the fifties and sixties. The guys that race these cars are getting along in years. The cars will remain. The current racers won't. At some point they'll go away. Do the young people want to race 50-60+ year old cars? I don't know. Recently SVRA, VARA, and CSRG have begun testing the water by allowing 1600cc Spec Miatas into their vintage events. That might be heresy to some but it's a viable solution to a big problem that those organizations are addressing. Do Spec Miatas conform to the '72 SCCA General Competition Rules? Probably doesn't matter. I think the majority of the people on the CMS and GRM forums have valid comments for discussion as well.

ddavidv PowerDork
9/24/17 6:51 a.m.

The older the car the more difficult and expensive it is to buy, maintain and drive. I raced Spec E30 for a few years and loved the simplicity and reliability of the cars. Going to something older that will be (probably) slower, have poorer handling, limited or more expensive parts availability, etc isn't tremendously appealing.

I would, however, welcome the reduced amount of potential damage vs normal W2W racing.

I've looked at vintage a few times but it is just too restrictive while still being prohibitively expensive. Back to HPDE I go.

frenchyd HalfDork
9/24/17 4:50 p.m.

In reply to ddavidv older cars are only slower relative to newer cars 

Racing can be thrilling if the performance is similar to the competition.  I started out racing a MGTD  back when they were the new cars that were allowed in vintage racing. With 54 horsepower and the aerodynamics of a brick our racing occurred between 35- 75 mph 

We had a ball, my face would get sore from all the smiling and laughing we did. Then I moved up to the mid to late 50's  modified. Those were honest 150 mph+ cars. Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin,  etc.  but serious and more than a little frightening.   

However the laughing stopped. The cost escalated and more and more became static displays. 

frenchyd HalfDork
9/24/17 4:56 p.m.

In reply to TxCoyote : my buddy used to be extremely active in vintage racing.  He brought his T series MG to one of your events and hasn't raced since.  

Your group is fine for cars from the  early 60's on  but doesn't work for prewar and early post war vintage.  


Tom1200 HalfDork
9/26/17 12:25 a.m.

I meant to reply to this sooner but I was busy out in the garage getting the Datsun ready for an event this past Saturday.

So I've only ever raced with SCCA and VARA, the SCCA has talked about the greying of the club etc. at VARA race weekends I see quite of few guys in there 20s but yes most are probably 40+.

My comments are for club level events; I like what VARA is doing in that the have a club racer class, you can bring any race prepped car. There were embers who had both modern and vintage cars, club members get more use of a car and the club gets an additional entry. Additionally there are several catch all classes (I run one of them). 25 years ago when they were getting 150+ cars it was possible to be picky about what cars ran. In 1992 the cut off was 1967, well that corresponds to 1992 now. 

When the economy tanked in 08 it put the hurt on all racing, clubs could no longer afford to be picky. I do think it's very smart to allow 1.6 Miatas. I also think they should start allowing CRXs and MR2s.

The financial barrier has never made it easy for people in their 20s to get into racing.  I do think if someone came up with a sort of vintage improved touring type class that included a requirement where you have to dyno the car so you could set a power to weight ratio. If you only allowed sway bars, shocks springs and a long lived tire etc. you could probably put a car together for under 5K.  I recently calculated building another Datsun 1200 to  lower  spec to mine and getting it on track would be about $4800. On a 3 mile track I'd expect it to be about  4-6 seconds a lap slower. In the small bore group I'd expect to finish 10-12th in a 25-30 car field. By contrast I run 3rd to 5th now with a car that owes me 8K.  If a guy knew he could start with a sub $5000 car and built it up to over several years some younger guys might find it more appealing. People in their 20s don't care whether it's a track day or chump car or vintage racing, they're looking for some cheap fun. Vintage racing could be that, you just have to keep idiot drivers (I include myself) from letting their egos run up the costs because they just have to have some $3500 fancy part that nets a 1/2 second faster lap time.


Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
9/26/17 6:54 a.m.

I'm not sure it's the age of cars that is the issue.  Many historic/Vintage clubs seem to be allowing in cars from the 80's and 90's now.  For the Ex-pro stuff like sports cars and single seaters there are many clubs that welcome cars from this century.  

I think the biggest issue is cost.  It's more and more expensive to race.  In the 90's when I raced club level for a short time I needed a helmet, Nomex and entry fees were less than $200 for a weekend.  Now you need a HANS, fuel cell bladder replacement, belts age out etc.  Excluding the car I'd guess the fixed cost side has doubled in real terms.  

Add to that the different avenues to get on track have gone up magnitudes.  30 years ago racing either current or historic was about the only option to get on track.  20ish years ago track days started to gain popularity then early this century LeMons, Chump and now AER gained popularity.  Finally there are motorsports country clubs, our local one M1 Concourse has some kind of event every week.  Last weekend people with HAggerty Insurance could take their cars to a lead-follow track day for $25.  YEs $25 for a half day at the track.  All you needed was a car and a helmet.  Suddenly it's a big big jump from needing a car and $25 to needing a car with all safety equipment in date, Nomex, helmet and HANS.  That's a massive step up.  Even if the number of people driving a car on track in one form or other has doubled, I bet the options for how to do that have gone up three or four fold.


Finally I think there's a cultural difference between the US and Europe.  In the US historic racing is more normally seen as a no contact sport. Things like the 13/13 rule etc.  In Europe historic racing is just racing that happens to use old cars.  Racing over there is always 11/10 even in a 60hp Morris Minor and it's still very popular and it often makes Spec Pinata look like a red hat ladies afternoon tea.  I'm not saying the US model is wrong, but possibly some people think 'Unless I can go 100% balls out, why go to the expence of 'real' racing when I can get 99% of the same at a track day?'


Summing it up though, I personally think the biggest issue for historic racing is the number of E36 M3box series out there which at least have the perception of lower cost to get into.


It will never happen, but if an organization could find an insurance underwriter who would allow seatbelts up to 10 years old, no HANS and no need to replace fuel cell bladders etc. I think it would help historic racing more than other forms of racing, especially for the retired person who only races a couple of times a year.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
9/26/17 7:00 a.m.
frenchyd said:

With grey hair typically comes reduced or fixed budgets.

I'm not sure I agree with this one.  I certainly plan on having more money in retirement than now.  All Mortgages should be paid off, that doesn't just mean reduced living costs, it means positive income from rentals.  That may not be normal in the general populous, but I think it's more likely for those in income brackets that can afford to race, especially older people with with the funds to race.

frenchyd said:

Once the 2008 ressesion eased I went looking to return to vintage racing.  What I found is costs had multiplied many times. In addition helmet seat belt fire extinguisher etc all needed replacing. 

Not sure why. They'd been carefully stored away and never abused or neglected yet all had to be replaced. Maybe  the sales of new helmets etc are required to sustain profitability, whatever 

it was simply too much 

See, that's the point I was making.  Some of this stuff didn't used to age out, now it's a major obstacle for many.

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