Let’s begin another round of stories of racing in the early sixties. As I have said many times, this is no attempt to be historically accurate, so I won’t try to defend anything I say in these meanderings.
One weekend stands out in my memory because of several things that happened. First, let me explain one feature of CDR that was a great boon to those of us who had children. There was snow fence inside the course all the way from Turn 1 to Turn 6. This made a very large, safe, fenced area where the kids could play. We would simply drive our cars to the inside of the corner and we could be outside working and the kids would be inside the car or playing near it. It was a near perfect system. The weekend in question turned out to to be very rainy and as we all know, when it rains it is cold. So we were working Turn 5 in the wet and the kids were playing in the station wagon we all were trying to stay warm. Unsuccessfully. Naturally, since the track was wet, we had more than our share of incidents.
One occurred during the ladies race (Yes, the ladies their own races in those days). It seem we had a charming couple named Charlie and Sally Tyrell. They owned and raced the nicest Porsche speedster of the many in the region. Well, on thhis day Sally was running briskly down the back straight towards Turn 5, when she skated off the outside of the track and went through the 200 ft. sign. Plywood and 2×4’s went flying. Sally got a pretty good rap on the head but when we got her to the corner station she stood there crying, and the rain streaming down her face saying over and over, “I scratched Charlie’s car and he’s going to hate me.” Needless to say, Charlie was much more concerned with the condition of his lovely wife than he was with the condition of his Porsche. This attitude was not always shared by Porsche drivers.
Another incident had a lasting effect on our family. In the big car race on Saturday a big green Corvette went straight off the course towards the farmhouse and got nearly to the fence outside the corner. Now this was a big heavy car with wide tires so he plowed huge ruts all the way until he stopped, then sank belly deep. Naturally, we left him there until the end of the day. When the wrecker got there, we dragged the winch cable over to the car. While standing by the car I noticed some tiny creatures lying in the mud so I picked one up and showed it to Ila and the kids. We thought it was dead but the kids wrapped it up in a towel and put it near the heater. By the time we got ready to leave, it began moving and when we got home, it was very much alive. We put him in a hamster caqge and named him George. George, it turned out, was a 12-striped ground squirrel and became an interesting pet which we kept for several years. If it hadn’t been a wet and miserable time we would never have met George.
The last and feature race of the weekend turned out to be a spectacle without peer. Let me explain first that we had run our races in those days with a strange mix of cars. Generally, we lumped the fastest cars, regardless of size or type, into the main race. I suppose that each class accrued points independent of the other classes, but the real honor went to the overall winner. So all eyes on that slippery track were on two cars. First, we had a 1963 Corvette (split window) belonging to Matt Rauen. This was an extremely well prepared and very fast car, and Matt drove it very aggressively. Against this behemoth, we had a tiny, pencil thin, Elva 300 Formula Junior driven by Chuck Trowbridge. This was a car/driver combination that was proven to be blindingly fast. For instance, the lap record had stood for several years at 2.08. This was recorded by the great Carrol Shelby in a Scarab on a completely clean track. Trowbridge had routinely turned 2.10 on several dates and in traffic, so you can see the Elva certainly had the pedigree to do the job at any time.
Now, on to the race! These two man proponents quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field and then a pattern developed. The Vette, with its abundant power, could pull out a lead on the straight. Then, the Elva could nip past somewhere in the tighter part of the course. This went on for some time and it was so exciting I forgot how wet and miserable I was. Matt, knowing Chuck was back there, made his car was wide as possible, sometimes even dropping a wheel off the track to cover the Elva with mud. Now Chuck knew that the race would end this way unless he came up with a different strategy. The next time around saw the Corvette with Elva tuicked up right under the rear. Matt lost track of where Chuck was because he couldn’t see the Elvaanywhere, so assuming it had dropped out he relaxed and backed off somewhat. Imagine his shock when the Elva slipped past and led into Turn 1. At that time it was all over but the shouting. Chuck went on to take the win and the crowd loved it. Everyone loves to see the big guy get beat by the little guy. Later in the pits, it was discovered that the Vette had smudges of red paint from the nose of the Elva on the differential. That’s coming close folks!
Well, it looks like I’ve just about run out of steam for this month. One thing I would like to ask all of you out there in faithful reader land. I want to accumulate as many square feet of decals as possible. I don’t care what they say or how big they are, just as long as I have lots of them. At this time, I’m not saying what they are for except that I assure you the outcome will be kinky.
So we will say goodbye for now. Stay tuned for next month.