Carl Moore and his Lotus 23B were ready for Sunday’s “Group D” race, “representative of the sports racing and open wheel cars as raced in the U.S. in the 1960s and early 1970s.” His suspension was the way he wanted it, and the car was behaving like a really top-form Lotus should.
Carl went to the race grid’s second spot with his Lotus facing a lot of competition to overcome on track. In particular, he was sandwiched on the grid between pole-sitter Harin de Silva in the closed wheel Elva-BMW and third qualifier, another younger guy, Danny Baker in an equally quick open-wheel Lotus 27 Junior.
“We had a good day yesterday,” Carl told me an hour before his Sunday race, “and we did some suspension tuning, which helps a lot. We got the car settled down. In practice this morning everything was working good, but we have a little bit of a grumpy third to fourth shift, a grumpy gear. You don’t like them, because it makes you think about the grumpy gear when you are making that shift—which you shouldn’t have to do. You want to pay attention. And you have to slow it down just a little bit for that third to fourth shift. It’s not a big deal, but you don’t want to have to be thinking about it when you’re going this fast.”
I asked Carl about the other guys up front for the start—Baker and de Silva. “We are within a hundredth of a second of Danny, and he’s a very good driver. And Harin drives the Elva well. He’s young and fast and brave, and there’s a few places that I can still catch up to him, and I’m not telling him where. That Elva’s a fast car with a lot of juice. He has 50 or 60 more horsepower than I do. Michael Malone drives his Elva well, too. He’s predictable and safe and fun. But the young kids, like Harin and Danny—darn them anyway. Us older guys feel like the seniors tour in golf. The young kids coming along are quick and talented. This is good sorting out time now for the coming races.”
And the track, in Carl’s estimate? “This is one of the toughest tracks to drive,” he said. “My car is stored here, and we do testing here. It’s technical to drive. I raced back in the ‘60s with a Lotus Seven for a while, but, when I quite, this track was just starting to be built. This is a great track, and I take advantage of the home course knowledge, so they say.”
Carl took second place to winner Harin de Silva. Understandably, our Lotus 23B driver was a bit upset with his finish, thinking earlier that he could pull off a win over the Elva, even with de Silva’s Nerus BMW power being more than his own less-strong Lotus-Ford. But Carl will be back, and there will more times in 2011 when he and Harin will face off in these same feisty race cars from the ‘60s.
Once again in a list of many meets over the past decade, John took his red car to the race grid, ready for the go this time with CSRG’s “Group F” that includes Brabham, Lola, Chevron, March, Leda and his own Ferrari, a mix of machines with engine displacement ranging from 1600cc to 5000cc. It had all the earmarks of a main event.
John did well with his Ferrari’s mid-pack finish in Sunday race that led to the afternoon break in the CSRG’s seven race groups. Then, just a little over an hour later, it was time for John’s second and last race of the day—taking the Devin to do battle in the “Group C” bunch that included Terry Gough’s pre-race favorite Corvette.
John’s Devin SS, as far as Mike Collins and Walter Gerber could speculate, was going to be OK for the Sunday “Group C” race. The SS’s oil issue had been addressed, the engine was sound and strong, and on went new Avon rubber fitted to the car’s Minilite aluminum wheels, a departure from the Devin’s original spokes and switch some purist find inappropriate.
The Devin’s oil specter did not go away, but came back to haunt John during that Sunday race’s early laps. Oil pressure weakened, dropped, and John pulled in and parked the car. I caught up with him and his wife, Shawn, as they were saying good-bye to the crew and already set to head north for hometown Seattle.
“What happened with the Devin for you to bring it in early?” I asked. “Something is wrong in the pan,” John said, “and I was just losing too much oil pressure. The larger catch tank worked for the earlier problem, but for some reason now I’m losing pressure. It was just too hard to manage that and also manage the race. So, I would rather save the Devin’s motor for another day.” And the Ferrari? “The Ferrari was awesome,” said John. “It felt good! We’ll see you at Wine Country!”
Of course, he meant the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival on June 4-5 this year, where there will be 400 entries compared to the 200 this CSRG Opener had. It’ll be almost summer again and many here this weekend, and many more who weren’t, will return to vintage racing at Sears Point—err, Infineon Raceway. It’s hard to break old habits when it comes to the names of tracks and events. But they continue to be and to grow and to provide fun and entertainment for all.
To echo Tom Franges and maybe make of it a mantra: “It’s really about the people and people talking about the cars.”
I’ve been going to sports car races since 1951, and must say I had a grand time at Infineon with this “three to get ready” trio—Pete Thelander, Carl Moore, John Goodman—and thank them and all the others who helped make CSRG’s 2011 Season Opener another winner of a vintage racing weekend.
Oh, one more thing. I have a footnote to Carl Moore’s “podium” second in that he was one of two top-3 Lotus finishers within the same racing week. The other was in distant Malaysia where Nick Hiedfeld took his F1 Lotus Renault GP to third spot at Sepang International Circuit. I venture to declare that this double Lotus pop was enough to put a smile on Colin Chapman’s face—wherever he might be.
[Source: William Edgar; photo credits: William Edgar and Graham Blake]