With all of the videos on Youtube and other services where you can see legends like Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, A. J. Foyt, Ayrton Senna, and dozens of others racing in their primes, in those beautiful cars, even people who were born after 2000 can be nostalgic for a time for which they have no memories of their own.
For those of us who watched the exploits of those champions in person or on tv, a trip to a vintage racing weekend can be just the cure for that nostalgia.
Vintage racers cover a broad spectrum, from the owner/driver/pit crew who puts his Triumph TR-4 on a trailer and goes out for a fun weekend, to a millionaire architect whose crew packs up the semi with 4 cars and spares, and heads off for his fun weekend. What they have in common is a passion for the sport, and a love of older cars. What they also have in common is a friendliness and willingness to talk with fans about their cars.
A general admission ticket to a vintage weekend usually allows paddock access, where you can get right next to the cars, and chat with the owner/drivers about their cars, and you’re likely to see everything from a TR-4 to a Porsche 962 to a Ferrari Daytona to a BMW CSL to a Williams FW 07.
Tickets for vintage events generally cost a fraction of the price of a Formula One race, and the vintage cars sound better than today’s F1 cars.
What you will always see a lot of at any vintage event are lots of Porsches, Corvettes, and Mustangs, and the glorious sound of those flat 6’s and
American V-8’s will bring a smile to any fan’s face.
My favorite vintage event is the July vintage weekend at Road America in Wisconsin, sponsored by Brian Redman. The track is the best in North America, 4 miles of long straights, sweeping curves, up and down hills through the beautiful dairy country of central Wisconsin. The nearby town of Elkhart Lake is lovely and picturesque, and the local merchants do not raise their prices on race weekends, and concessions at the track are reasonable as well.
One of the best features of the weekend is the Friday parade of racecars into town, which are parked on the street around the three major hotels in town, Siebken’s, the Osthoff, and Victorian Village. The owner/drivers stay near their cars to answer questions, each hotel has a bar set up in the area, and the rumble of the racing engines as they roll into town is glorious.
The cars are in town for about 3 hours before they head back to the track, and the whole thing is repeated on Saturday evening, with vintage and exotic road cars.
There are large vintage events at most tracks, usually a couple every year. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than at a Grand Prix or WEC event, and generally much easier access to the cars and drivers.
If you have a favorite historic car, if it’s not especially rare, like a Ferrari GTO or Lotus 79, there is a good chance you’ll find at least one of your all-time favorites there, and maybe it will inspire you to become a weekend Gentleman or Lady racer yourself.