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VSCCA Fall Finale 2006
at Lime Rock Park
2006 VSCCA Fall Finale

Ending on a High Note! With the surrounding hills dressed in hues of orange, yellow and red, a beautiful reminder that another racing season was closing in on winter’s hibernation, the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) once again took advantage of this special time concluding its trackside antics with its “Fall Finale” at Lime Rock Park (LRP), Connecticut, this past October 6–7. But unlike many past LRP outings, rain was a welcomed no–show as many of the over 120 strong proceeded thrashing their rides around the 1.53–mile labyrinth of curvy asphalt.

For two days, prewar machinery joined VSCCA’s normal array of Lotuses, MGs, Elvas, Turners, Healeys and more, for a delightful “last chance” to duke it out. And duke it out they did with a loud chorus and speedy dices throughout the divided groups. Add the excitement of an All–Front Engine Formula Junior Race (read Bill Gelles’ account ) on Friday, and MG “High Five” Tag Team Race (read Greg Prehodka’s words) on Saturday, the VSCCA Fall Finale was “again” the perfect arena to end the season on a high note.....Walter Pietrowicz

Its What’s Up Front That Counts

Count Giovanni Lurani’s “epiphany,” the front engine formula junior racing series became the darling of the Italian racing scene in 1958, and the international focus thereafter. Front engine junior races were featured at major racing events worldwide.

Lurani’s concept for a popular priced monoposto based on street production automobile parts kept racing affordable and therefore open to a large number of aspiring race car drivers.

The Italians were the first to produce racers for the proposed series. The cars that were constructed used mostly Fiat 1100 components and were clothed in beautiful designed monoposto bodies similar to the Maserati 250 F Formula 1 car of 1957. Both established and new manufacturers went to work eagerly to produce these formula juniors and their names became internationally known: Stanguellini, Volpini, Bandini, Osca, Degrada, Detomaso and others. All the great driver of the period, champions such as Ascari, Bandini, Clark and Surtees, developed their skills racing formula juniors.

The front engine formula junior party ended on Boxing Day 1959 when the radical rear engine Lotus 18 was introduced to the automotive world press. By the end of 1960 the front engine formula junior was obsolete. A similar fate has been bestowed on every racing car since racing automobiles began in the early 1900’s.

Front engine formula junior interest began a resurgence in the early 1970’s when the Vintage Sports Car Club of America added front engine juniors to its approved car list. More recently, in Europe, the Count Lurani Series has held many front engine formula junior racing events.

On October 6 and 7, 2006, the VSCCA Fall Finale was held at Lime Rock Race Track Connecticut. On both Friday and Saturday a unique race event was held. This first time special event was a race for only front engine formula juniors. Six front engine formula juniors lined up for this special event;
       James Steerman – Degrada Formula Junior        John Kieley – Gemini Formula Junior        Victor Pastore – Gemini Formula Junior        John Mayo – Gemini Formula Junior        Larry McKenna – Stanguellini Formula Junior        Bill Gelles – Stanguellini Formula Junior

In keeping with the longstanding tradition of the VSCCA, the results of our races are not published. But, the competition was intense and each of the drivers went home a winner! A commemorative T–shirt inscribed “FORMULA JR. FALL FINALE, LIME ROCK, OCT. 2006 – ITS WHATS UP FRONT THAT COUNTS” was presented to drivers and certain VSCCA officials who made this event happen.

Our goal next year is to encourage at least 12 or more owners of front engine formula juniors to join us in our front engine group at each VSCCA event......Bill Gelles (#21 1959 Stanguellini)

Editor’s Note - Bill was recently selected as 2007 event chairman, so expect even more front–engine formula juniors ending the season on a high–note.

MG “High Five” Tag Team Race = FUN

The Vintage Sports Car Club of America injected a huge amount of FUN into its “Fall Finale” races at Lime Rock Park, Ct. (USA) this October 6–7, where MGs were featured, by adding an “All MG Tag Team Handicap Race!” Teams were mostly mixes of MG T’s and MGA’s, with each team also having to supply a designated “High Five” tag team runner.

The first group of eight MGs took the green in the normal manner, completed five laps, and then came into the pits. Jim Warren – on the winning team – recalls the start: “I started on the inside of the front row. When the green flag dropped, an unidentified TD on my outside got a jump on me, grabbed the lead going into Big Bend, and held on for the remainder. Steve Schultz in an MGA and I had been swapping slipstreams all weekend and I was not too surprised to find him putting me behing him after lap one. The three of us proceeded in order as a three–MG freight train until our final lap. I then pulled in and gave a “High Five” to Jean Weissenborn, our team runner. The rest is history.”

As the teams first MGs came in and stopped, each driver gave a “High Five” to their team’s runner, who then ran to the team’s second MG parked on the false grid, giving that driver a “High Five” slap and out they went. Repeat for team’s 3rd MG that took the checkered flag. This was truly a “race to the finish,” and exciting for everyone! The winning team was rewarded with bottles of champagne! It consisted of:
       ’57 MGA – Jim Warren        ’59 MGA – Jim Weissenborn        ’60 MGA – Storm Field

Storm later reflected: “What a super fun event! The handicapping was spot on with about four teams charging the finish line together! And fellow team winner Jim Warren: “This was one of the most satisfying events I’ve run in quite some time – the wacky MG relay race was great fun!”

John Schieffelin racing a ’39 MGTB in it commented: – “The Tag Team race was really fun – it loosened up the atmosphere, gave everyone a chance to shine, and encouraged more people to get to know each other.” So, as the sun set on beautiful northwest Connecticut, with all the fall colors bursting out, MG racers and crews left with many happy memories!......Greg Prehodka

Footnote from the Editor – As Lu (Louiseann) was setting up to photograph the “taggers,” she turned away from Jim Weissenborn’s better half. Jean, who was approaching at thunderous speed, and got ready to capture the “High–Five” moment. Well, after a few seemingly longer moments than usual and Jean nowhere to be found in her viewfinder, Lu turned to see that Jean had indeed fallen down. But without hesitation, Jean was already getting to her feet and quickly rose to the occasion to tag off to Jim. Yes, Jim Weissenborn’s MG team was top dog, and owes a big thanks to Jean for putting pain aside and to get the job done. “Jean has torn her hamstring and we are taking good care of her,” reported Jim, adding, “she took one for the team.” Get well soon, Jean!......Louiseann and Walter Pietrowicz