2011 VARAC Festival is in the books

It was a busy weekend here in The Garage, as Jay Tomchuck headed to MIS to cover the NASCAR race, while I stayed closer to home and shot bits and pieces of the VARAC Festival at Mosport. Saturday morning I even took in a preview screening of Cars 2! As a result of the busy weekend, I only got to shoot a bit on Friday afternoon and then most of the afternoon on Sunday. This meant that I spent next to no time socializing in the paddock and didn’t get any stories from the racers. I did however get some great shots of the on track action.
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Father’s Day weekend heats up with VARAC Festival

What better way to spend Father’s Day weekend than to be surrounded by the sights and sounds of vintage race cars? Unlike big pro race weekends where the stars stay hidden away in the motor coach, the cars are the stars at the annual VARAC festival at the legendary Mosport International Raceway. Drivers and crew are always happy to chat with fans about their cars in the paddock, where spectators can get up close. The little ones will often be invited to have a seat in all sorts of different cars as they wander the paddock.
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More Fiat Fun

Yesterday’s post about the ex George Comacchio Fiat 124 Special had some wondering if that car is the same 124 Special that is currently racing with VARAC. For those who aren’t able to visit races in Ontario, I thought that I should maybe put up a shot of the car so you know what we’re talking about.

This shot was taken from the bottom of Mosport’s corner 4 at the 2010 VARAC Festival. Good friend of The Garage, Andre Rousseau in the Spider is trying to get up alongside Andrew Celovsky in his sweet 124 Special. These cars are quite rare in Ontario, so it is great to see this car out on track. Gotta love the flower child look!

A bit of Fiat history in The Garage

Alongside the great Porsche discussion on the Canadian Motorsport History group on Yahoo, there has been another thread about some early racing Alfa’s in Ontario. Our old friend George Commachio’s Alfa was brought up, as was the Fiat 124 he raced prior to the Alfa.

The car was a late Sixties (George thought ’67 but wasn’t sure) Fiat 124 Special. Twin cam, 5 speed, 4 wheel discs. A neat machine that did indeed later become the Lada, but missing a cam, a gear and had drums in the back. George eventually sold his 124 to Lloyd Service who then raced the car. There is a tale that perhaps he had a major crash with the car in turn 3 at Mosport.

I can’t remember the name of the guy Lloyd sold the car to, but I think the next guy only raced it once. It was then sold to a guy named Neil Burns. In fact, we met because of the car, when as a teenager I poked my head into the shop where he kept it.

Years later, I convinced Neil to finish the car up and race it. I don’t recall any evidence of heavy crash damage at that time so I’m not sure about Lloyd crashing it. Neil was on a tight (ie none) budget and struggled to get the car to keep running without blowing head gaskets. Even then the car ran in the high 1:50′s.
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Have you seen this Sprite?

At some point on the evening of October 3, some dirtbag stole a grey 20′ Haulmark trailer from Woodstock, Ontario. Having a trailer stolen is bad enough, but inside that trailer was Dino Micacchi’s red Bugeye Sprite. Seen above at the 2010 VARAC Festival, #02 is a vintage race prepared Sprite.

The license plate on the trailer is D26 44W. If you see this trailer or car, contact Dino directly, by email at dino@vmswca.com or by phone at 519-788-2227.

On Track Today: BARC regionals

Some of our readers may have noticed that my contributions to The Garage have been somewhat sparse lately. While I’d love to apologize, the truth is that I’ve been spending most of my days at Mosport taking pictures. As much as I love writing, photography is beginning to pay the bills, so track time it is. Besides, what self respecting gearhead wouldn’t rather spend time at the track than in front of the computer.

It occurred to me that this is a photo series for The Garage just waiting to happen. Let me introduce On Track Today, a photo series of whatever I happen to be shooting on any given day. It might be race cars, it might be a lapping day consisting of street cars. Either way, we can share a bit of the fun.

Today’s photos were actually shot yesterday at the BARC Labour Day club races. Given that I wanted a bit of long weekend action myself, I only went up for 1 session to get some shots for an article I’m writing for a print story. I ended up being there for a couple of sessions, so I got some Historic Sports Cars and some of the Group 70+ cars.

Our first OTT, after the break…
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Ridin’ with Rousseau

One of the coolest thing about publishing The Garage over the years is that we’ve had the opportunity to make some great friends from all over the world. Fortunately, some of those friends are closer than others. We first met Andre Rousseau through The Garage, while he was publishing a build blog that followed the restoration of his rather stunning Triumph GT6. A trip to the vintage festival at Watkins Glen, driving the Triumph, sealed his fate: he had become hooked on racing. The GT6 was far to pretty to be turned into a race car, so the hunt for a race car began.
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2010 VARAC Festival race report

Festival poster by Don Hooten

Guest post by Jeremy Sale, Editor of The Vintage Racer

The Vintage Automobile Racing Club of Canada (VARAC) held its 31st Annual Vintage Racing Festival at Mosport International Raceway, Ontario, Canada, enjoying great weather and exciting racing while hosting the annual “MG Vintage Racer’s – Focus Event”. Since 1995 the MG Vintage Racers have annually teamed up with one vintage racing organization for their designated “Focus Event” and this year a large turnout of MGs of all types and years came to enjoy magnificent Mosport. This year’s festival also celebrated the 50th season of racing at this iconic race track.

It was a fun and full weekend, including the opportunity to be entertained by well known motorsport author and novelist, Burt “The Ride Mooch” Levy at the Saturday evening banquet. VARAC also played host to Canada’s largest Mini gathering, Mini Meet North, as well as the “Field of Dreams” car show that welcomed sports cars, and car clubs from far and wide with the opportunity to take part in Sunday noon parade laps on-track. Large fields were the order of the day in Vintage and Small Bore where 62 cars took to the field while 49 cars contested the Historic class.
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Random thoughts from the north

That was probably the best VARAC Vintage Festival ever. It certainly was the best I have attended. More MGs on track than I have ever seen and many of them racing hard. Nick Pratt in a Midget beat all the ‘B’s and twin cam A’s to take the overall win. A real upset. But he can really drive. A TD finished 7th I think. Well over 50 cars started. Other races had over 60 cars and that sure makes for one busy track!

One fault with many Vintage events is that many drivers more cruise than race. Given the value of some of the cars that may be forgiven a bit. At this year’s event there were more really racing than usual and many others at least driving hard. There still were a few that really should just go to lapping days and not clutter up the track.

VARAC does not seem to attract many high end cars with Jack Boxstom’s Aston and Mk1 Chapparal being exceptions. The Mk 1 was not actually designed or built by Jim Hall but by Troutman and Barnes. The oldest cars were 1946 MG TC’s so there were no pre war cars racing.
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VARAC Saturday enduro

On Saturday afternoon at the VARAC festival last week, the final event of the day was a 1 hour enduro. The term enduro caused a bit of chuckling among the old guard, as a 1 hour race is far from being an enduro but at least it allows more track time than most guys get in vintage cars. The race was also sort of a run what ya brung type of deal, meaning the grid was shared by everything from MG T series to much more modern sports racers.
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