There are many ways to go fast, but very few ways to be moved.
Speak to any professional racing driver and you will quickly realize that the cars they use are merely seen as means to an end – a piece of machinery built purely to be as quick as possible. It will at some point become obsolete and relegated to the sidelines by a newer and quicker alternative. Emotional attachment will ultimately lead to lost time in this game.
Classic car racing is different.
Looking at the roster of cars and drivers in the Millstock pre-80’s and 90’s Classic Cars at Killarney, you’ll notice that things work a little differently. These are not your teenage wunderkinds destined to be the next big thing. The machines aren’t exactly youngsters either, long past their expiry date on the performance index set by modern racing cars.
So, clearly, this is not the quickest or most economical way to go fast around a track, yet the roster of cars is jam-packed and the racing is exciting to watch. There must be something else in this calculation which numbers cannot explain. To find out what that is, I spent the day among the drivers and their cars to ultimately fall in love with racing again.
Let’s start with the drivers. As mentioned earlier, these are not your young guns climbing the ranks to prove themselves. These are the more seasoned racers who have either retired from various degrees of competitive racing or are gentlemen who fancy octane and burning brakes over 18 holes at the golf course.
I should also be using the term “gentlemen” lightly, as it is one of the few classes boasting a female driver in the roster.
Then we have the cars. As the class name implies, these are racing sedans which saw their first iterations introduced before 1980 and 1990. Drivers are welcome to strip out and prepare their cars for racing, but need to keep all modifications period-correct and exterior modifications must be kept to a minimum.
The beauty of this class lies in diversity.
The entry list spans ranges from the likes of Minis, various types of Fords and Alfas all the way to Porsche 944s, Chevys, Datsuns, Toyotas and VWs. This makes for a thrilling formula as there are all kinds of of Davids and Goliaths fighting it out on the track at any given moment.
Race meetings run in intimate fashion. After qualifying, a drivers’ briefing is held in the pits where some courteous ground rules are laid out for specific scenarios, especially in the case of first corner etiquette. Drivers are instructed to commit to either the inside or outside of Turn 1’s long left-hander until the apex is open, at which point full racing commences.
These are pieces of history, not GTi Challenge bumper cars, so any form of contact is frowned upon strongly. Not only does this preserve the cars, but it also lowers the cost of racing (when it goes to plan).
Looking at the cars, I can completely understand why. These are monuments of time that deserve to be stored in collections and pampered. Instead of enjoying a peaceful retirement however, a handful of people have decided that these old dogs still have some new tricks to learn. They are subjected to the mercy of the racing gods weekend after weekend.
It makes no sense, until you change your perception of modern racing.
These are not dedicated machines built to destroy lap records. These are vessels equipped to move the driver beyond stopwatches and performance indexes. Be it the nostalgia of racing a car from your early childhood or just the pleasure of working on a car which still needs more spanner swinging than computer programming, it is contagious and keeps the drivers coming back for more each race meeting.
This makes it all the more heart-breaking when these machines come to blows every now and then. You get the impression that the damage isn’t just just a hole in the pocket, but also a hole in the heart. Hours of blood, sweat and tears are reduced to bent pillars and mangled bodywork that will ultimately require plenty more blood, sweat and tears to fix.
Like so many others over the world who adore historic racing, I have completely fallen in love with the Millstock Classic Cars pre-80’s and 90’s Series. I have committed to do a range of interviews with the drivers and features on their cars so that you too may fall in love with this irresistible form of racing.
Of course, there’s no substitute for experiencing the real thing. Get yourself down to Killarney for the next regional race and see for yourself!
If you would like to get involved in the series, feel free to contact Jarred at firstname.lastname@example.org
This racing series would also not be possible without the help of their major sponsor, Millstock Cars. Check out www.millstockcars.co.za for the best premium used cars.