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IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“I still remember my pleasure at my first 1:10 lap in that car at Lime Rock!”

Like so many others of my generation, I first got hooked on sports cars in the fifties, reading magazines like Road & Track. To a teenager from Syracuse, this was exotic stuff, even more so than to those from the New York area or the West Coast, who might occasionally actually see one of these cars in the flesh!

I got my first car my sophomore year in college, a used MG TD, $1,100, all of 54 horsepower. In those days, you had to be 21 to get an SCCA license, so my first driving school was at Lime Rock in 1959. By that time I had traded up to a used XK 120, and I remember the local guru in the plaid tam telling me to “just keep it in second gear everywhere but on the straights.”

Uncle Sam intervened in the early 60’s, but I was stationed in the U.S. for part of the time, so I was able to do a bit more racing, getting back to Lime Rock, plus Thompson, Vineland, Bridgehampton and Watkins Glen. During my four years of active duty, the 3rd Marine Division was based in Okinawa, so we spent a lot of time there, between “assignments” in Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam. There was a fellow named Bill Baxter, who ran a trading company importing cars and other items mostly from Europe for sale mostly to GI’s. In 1963, he staged the “Grand Prix of Okinawa,” a grand name for a motley collection of sports cars, which I won against not much real competition in an XKE owned by Bill.

Meanwhile, back in the States, my pal and classmate (and eventual brother–in–law) Matt Forelli had been racing a Porsche Speedster with some success. He introduced me to his cohorts, Peter Revson, (who drove a Morgan), Mark Donohue (Elva), and Mike Gammino (Corvette). By the mid–60’s, I was back in a few SCCA events with my own XKE, my first new car (about $3,000, thanks to a waiver of excise tax for returning servicemen). I still remember my pleasure at my first 1:10 lap in that car at Lime Rock!

Then financial reality caught up with me in the form of work, marriage and a family. The XKE was replaced by a VW, and my racing “career” was put on hold for 20 years, until I took my son to a Skip Barber School as a high school graduation present. But, that’s another story.

Archie Urciuoli

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