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Historic Races or Demonstrative Runs?


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#1 BRG

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 15:41

Motorsport readers may have read Doug Nye's article  this month about the plans by Jason Wright to field historic F1 cars from 1961-5 in a demonstration run without all the modern safety features such as roll-over bars, full-face helmets, HTPs and all the other anachronistic appurtenances.  DCN has nailed his colours to the mast (hurrah) to welcome this initiative which will be tried out as a 'demonstrative run' at the Red Bull Ring shortly.

 

How do others feel about this?  It would present a spectacle far closer to that of the period, but it is definitively not racing.  

 

I am conflicted about this.  Whilst I understand the sentiments that have inspired this idea, I am also of the opinion that racing cars should be raced.  EIther keep them in a museum, or let them do what they were made to do.  There is a case for saying, where a car is unique and special - like 722, the Moss/Jenks Mille Miglia 300SLR, it should be treated as such and not raced.  But where there are multiple examples of a model, this might not be such a compelling argument. And if you are going to race older cars, it is difficult to justify turning the safety clock backwards.

 

We have often seen demonstration runs at Goodwood and elsewhere - most notably the Porsche 956/965 cavalcade at the recent Goodwood MM.  But these always seem a rather sad spectacle to me, like thoroughbred horses or greyhounds being held back & forced to walk rather than run as they should.  So on balance, were I to be going to the Ring, I do not think I would be over-impressed by this 'demonstrative run'.  And will the drivers be very keen to be hobbled in this way?

 

 



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#2 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 17:25

 But these always seem a rather sad spectacle to me, like thoroughbred horses or greyhounds being held back & forced to walk rather than run as they should.  So on balance, were I to be going to the Ring, I do not think I would be over-impressed by this 'demonstrative run'.  And will the drivers be very keen to be hobbled in this way?

 

Uncharitably you could say the cars are being held back no matter what format you deploy them in...

 

Yes yes there are some very good historic racers but it's like a local good golfer vs a pro.

 

 

Let's take a step back. What is the point of 'historic racing'. Is it re-enactment or competition? Is it effectively club racing just with really old cars? It gets into interesting philosophical questions about what is and isn't 'pro racing'. F4 events don't have much in the way of crowds, the entrants are paying their way, there's some cursory TV/internet coverage; it's interchangeable with historic single seaters. The only notable difference is decades difference in pilot and machine. But one seems more credible? I don't know really.

 

But why would you race with any less safety than you could given the technology or prevailing attitudes available to you. To look....cooler? Why not run crappy tires and low quality fuel while you're at it.



#3 john aston

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 17:47

Demos are invariably dull. Andrew Frankel may have raved in Motor Sport and elsewhere about driving one of the 956s at the Members' Meeting but the excitement wasn't contagious from the spectator banking , where we were standing . The cars looked great in the paddock , wonderful in fact , but on track ? A rather dull procession of flat sounding racers , being driven no faster than the 911 Something or Other which led them . 

 

I have read Doug's piece and  if owners  want a half way house between a race and a demo fine , better than nothing , but give me a race any time. Historic racing is so well established now that it is a perfectly acceptable route for many drivers to take , and some of the best racing I've seen in the last decade was by historics, often being driven as well, or better , than many cars were in period. 'But they're not the same ' some complain and while they are often right, I don't dwell on that over much as I watch  a bevy of Cobras or T70s on opposite lock . 

 

Of course there's some slow guys (and at least one gal ) but drivers of the calibre of  Jon Milicevic and Sam Wilson (FJ ),Jake Hill and Gordon Shedden (saloons ) , and Michael Lyons (F1 )  are often  as good as many the field  were  in period. Nothing is sadder than seeing an old racer fading away in a badly curated museum (Donington for at least its last five years ) . Sure a full face helmet and race suit may be at odds with period obsessives , but if you want the real past you can add badly equipped and poorly trained marshals , fires aplenty , and a wide selection of fractures, burns and  maiming (at best ) . And bloody awful catering ,        


Edited by john aston, 24 June 2022 - 17:49.


#4 Bob Riebe

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 19:46

You can blame the sanction in the U.S.; I remember well (and kick myself in the buttocks for not being there) when Road America held the historic Can-Am anniversary in 1996 and George Follmer and a gent (who has owned multiple Can-Am cars and at that time did not dawdle) whose name I cannot remember, actualy raced them HARD to the point of fender to fender contact.

 

Afte the race the organizers had a snit-fit about them actually racing and George said: " I thought I was here to race!"



#5 FLB

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 19:51

 

I have read Doug's piece and  if owners  want a half way house between a race and a demo fine , better than nothing , but give me a race any time. Historic racing is so well established now that it is a perfectly acceptable route for many drivers to take , and some of the best racing I've seen in the last decade was by historics, often being driven as well, or better , than many cars were in period. 'But they're not the same ' some complain and while they are often right, I don't dwell on that over much as I watch  a bevy of Cobras or T70s on opposite lock . 

 

 

Absolutely. The 1974-77 Monaco Historique 3-liter F1 race last year between Jean Alesi in the 312B3 and Marco Werner in the 77 was one of the best races of the year, all categories considered.

 

 

 

Of course there's some slow guys (and at least one gal ) but drivers of the calibre of  Jon Milicevic and Sam Wilson (FJ ),Jake Hill and Gordon Shedden (saloons ) , and Michael Lyons (F1 )  are often  as good as many the field  were  in period. Nothing is sadder than seeing an old racer fading away in a badly curated museum (Donington for at least its last five years ) . Sure a full face helmet and race suit may be at odds with period obsessives , but if you want the real past you can add badly equipped and poorly trained marshals , fires aplenty , and a wide selection of fractures, burns and  maiming (at best ) . And bloody awful catering ,        

 

 

I was amazed at the state of some of the cars I saw at Donington in 2009. I wasn't expecting to see a rain tire undergoing the process of delamination on a Williams FW13, allowing me to see details of its inner construction...  :|



#6 sabrejet

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 21:54

Yes yes there are some very good historic racers but it's like a local good golfer vs a pro.

 

Plenty of professional racers in historics these days, and many a part-timer who has put them to shame! You should take a look - you might be surprised at how professional these teams are. And I also have to say that in general you'll get better racing in a historic meeting than you will in a round for contemporary cars.

 

I would also say that I'm OK with demonstrations: it's better to see these cars moving than not at all. Just maybe not after dark, where all you can see is headlights?



#7 LittleChris

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 22:23

Surely one of the main differences between a demo and a race is the noise level and for me the noise and violence of a racing  engine being pushed to do what it was built to do is what attracted me to motor sport. Couldn't care less about a bunch of rich poseurs driving their cars around in front of their adoring families. I wonder what DSJ would've thought ( mind you as it's not contemporary he probably would've dismissed it out of hand  :D ) ?


Edited by LittleChris, 24 June 2022 - 22:25.


#8 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 05:19

You can blame the sanction in the U.S.; I remember well (and kick myself in the buttocks for not being there) when Road America held the historic Can-Am anniversary in 1996 and George Follmer and a gent (who has owned multiple Can-Am cars and at that time did not dawdle) whose name I cannot remember, actualy raced them HARD to the point of fender to fender contact.

 

Afte the race the organizers had a snit-fit about them actually racing and George said: " I thought I was here to race!"

Having done 'spirited demonstrations' in classicspeedway Supermodifieds for decades you can drive the cars hard without actual racing. eg it is nice to finish first but far from imperative. At one stage the South Oz modifieds were all going quick, quicker than in period. But incidents [yes they happened] were seldom.  Our cars were ofcourse running on modern tyres and some engines were better as well. 

Fixing crash damage is time consuming and expensive. Many modern racers spend more money fixing broken and smashed cars than actually running them. So less cars available for the next meerings

And ditto ofcourse for most historic racing,, still having a go,, just not quite to the same extent. 

Also the majority of us are older, an older folk do not recover as well as younger.



#9 GregThomas

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 07:54

Our local classic speedway does it two cars at a time - half a lap apart.  There is of course plenty of incentive to catch the other car....

 

I've been involved as a participant, bike builder and organiser/Clerk of the course for our Classic and Post classic bike racing here.

Safety improvements of course are confined to the tracks - we're still riding in leather. Bikes are almost invariably faster than in period due to many factors. Most are invisible.

The good thing about bikes is that replicas are allowed in the serious racing. If you have an original you wish to preserve, there are parades for you to participate in.

It's not perfect - but it works. There is a flourishing Classic and Post Classic bike racing scene worldwide.



#10 10kDA

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 11:11

Personally I'm glad to see cars out on the track. How fast they are driven does not matter to me. The drivers' meeting is the place for all involved to get the message if some cars will be significantly slower than others therefore drivers must act accordingly. Not much difference there from multiple class racing, and I would guess most drivers involved have been there, done that. So if some want to go for it and others don't it should still work out.

 

If some wealthy owners want to drive their prized acquisitions slowly, avoiding unnecessary risks, that's fine. I applaud them for spending their money on something they share with other fans. They could have bought a painting or sculpture or a grand piano or three. And locked them away the way investors lock away historic cars.

 

I've shot thousands of on-track pics and it's very hard to tell how fast the cars are traveling by the pics, unless a Spridget's inside front or a VW Rabbit's inside rear is in the air. Much easier to tell with bike pics.



#11 Charlieman

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 11:18

I watched an interview with Emanuele Pirro the other day. Pirro drove in many categories successfully. Sadly his F1 career was short, perhaps an indication of short sighted thinking.

 

Two things stood out from the interview. 

1. His participation in historic racing is not part of his racing career. Wins are nice, nice for himself and for the car owner, but they are different from racing when he was 20 odd years old.

2. He said that he drives as well as can, but not as fast as he can.



#12 Sterzo

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 12:35

It's not possible to see old racing cars race. Either (a) they are modified for modern historic racing, often for performance as well as safety, or (b) they are demonstrated - sometimes with spirit - or ( c) they are parked in a shed museum looking too glossy or slightly sad.

 

If that sounds a little negative, I should add that I'm immensely glad to have (a) historic racing, (b) demonstrations and ( c) museums.

 

Demos can be memorable. At the Nurbugring in 1976, a friend knelt at my feet with a primus stove trying to brew up coffee. He heard two racing engines pass by, and said "What was that?" I replied, "Oh, Fangio and Moss in works Mercedes."


Edited by Sterzo, 25 June 2022 - 12:37.


#13 68targa

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 13:04

Of course having a proper race is always preferable but historic racing has changed so much over the past 20 odd years. The higher profile events seem to attract professional modern day drivers who probably have a lot more competitive spirit than owner drivers who just want to give their car a run.  A demo does not have to be slow and is always better than never seeing cars which would otherwise be shut away. There's room for both.

 

Here's a demo from 1981 with Tom Wheatcroft doing his stuff -  useless roll bar, no helmet, shirt & tie and a big smile !  What's not to like.

 

1981-mg861.jpg



#14 Stephen W

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 17:01

On the one hand it is great to see cars out on track that don't necessarily get "raced" but dermonstrations are usually drab affairs compared to even a club race. 

 

Maybe if they send them out one at a time at 30 second intervals and the drivers give them the beans then we might get something better than a dawdling procession.



#15 BRG

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 21:16

Give them the beans without any of the modern day safety improvements?  No full-face helmets, no rollover bars, etc?   



#16 mikeC

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Posted 26 June 2022 - 07:29

There are demonstrations and demonstrations; I'm all for displays such as Fernando Alonso's spirited driving of Bernie's Ferrari, less so for a slow-speed trundle to allow the punters to get a lingering look at their favourite cars. Give them enough space and encourage a bit of full-throttle use and I'm all for it - I would sooner see a V16 BRM squirting out of Woodcote on brief burst of full throttle, but all alone, than to see it mired in the midfield of a 'proper' race because the owner/driver was reluctant to risk damage.



#17 Nick Planas

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 20:40

Hmmmm - remember Black Jack & Jackie Oliver giving it full-beans-plus at Goodwood... didn't end very well for driver or car.

 

Personally I like the idea of 'proper' replicas of the truly historic cars, while the average old one is still belted around hard. 

 

I do find it sad for young folk who don't get to see the older cars really being given some proper welly. It's a bit like our British heritage railways - steam trains chuffing along at 20 mph and all the kids think they only ever went that slowly.