Bravo Harlan Halsey! A letter—actually a mini-article—over a page in length and I agree with all of it! Am I just mellowing, or does the dear man speak the truth? Look, I’m glad to see just about anything out on a road course. And I don’t want to deprive anybody of having fun with their car. But. Harlan pretty much said it all. Maybe it’s the way of the world; remember the photo of the cars in the pits at the Riverside SCCA American Road Race of Champions (when everybody was already calling it “the runoffs”)? Over a quarter of them had license plates in the late ’60s—potential National Championship winners. It’d be fun to find out the last runoffs winner with a license, not including the Showroom Stock classes. But back to vintage, and may I add a couple other factors in making what it is today: Yes, there are wealthy individuals who bring out rare and very, very valuable cars and run ’em hard. They’re wonderful to watch, and I recommend the Goodwood Revival for that sort of thing. But there has, for a long time, been a dearth of the slower cars in the States because, and I guess I’m just agreeing with Harlan here, the fun/risk/reward trifecta doesn’t work well: you have a neat car; it’s rare, it’s worth some $$, but you don’t want to blueprint and boost it a wee bit. So, if you run it just as it is, you’ll be back in the pack trying more to keep out of somebody’s way than to work on getting that sweet lap where you know you’ve gotten every corner 85 percent right. So you polish it up and drive it on the road some, and take it to car shows, and maybe go to a track day just to blow the carbon out. But you and it just aren’t up to the growing intensity of a modern vintage race. Point two: the flipside of the safety aspect, as in “Since I’ve got a rollbar and a fuel cell and an onboard fire extinguisher system and the car balanced out on four-wheel scales and the latest tires and shocks and a ridiculously expensive FIA firesuit and extra-special shoes and a new helmet that weighs eight ounces…heck, I’ve just gotta try to go as fast as I can to live up to the level of car preparation!”
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