The great thing about racing classic cars as opposed to modern spec racing is that you are quite spoilt for choice in terms of what you can bring to the track. This is especially true for the Millstock Pre 80’s and 90’s Classic Cars at Killarney International Raceway, where the variety of cars makes for some of the most exciting racing in the country.
(find out more about the series here: Old Dogs, New Tricks | Classic Racing)
To better understand why drivers choose certain cars over others, I sat down with the Classic Cars chairman and avid Ford racer, Jared Thomson. I soon realised that his requirements for a racecar go further than just lap times.
Jared has been racing for the better part of 10 years and currently spends his time on track behind the wheel of a Ford Cortina Mk4 3.0S, a car probably more suited for driving the family around than trying to set lap records.
Jared mentioned that if you want to go fast in a Ford, the Capri and Escort are the clear favourites and have a lot of racing heritage and status. For him though, the 3.0S holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s a car that my dad treasures and now we do so together while working on it. The Cortina isn’t an easy car to drive which makes it even more exciting!”
In stark contrast to petrolheads that restore sentimental cars for the road, drivers like Jared take on the additional risk of racing their cars at full speed around a circuit. Every driver fears the day when something may happen to their car. Unfortunately for Jared, he had to face that fear when his Cortina ended up in a crash at his last race meeting in June.
“At the start of the race, I usually work my way up the middle when there are slower cars in front of me. Unfortunately, I got clipped on the left rear which sent me straight into the car on my right.”
The end result is an unpleasant one, putting his Cortina out of the next race and into the panel shop. Jared is also very particular at keeping the car as original as possible. Instead of opting for a quick solution by using fibreglass panels, he sourced original Cortina body panels to stick back onto the car. Availability of parts plays a huge role in deciding which car to race – some drivers are not always as lucky.
Having a full-time job doesn’t make it easy to find time to work on repairing a car, so Jared and his dad find time wherever possible to get the Cortina back to its former glory. This is what makes the Millstock Classic Cars series as special as it is. The heritage and stories that these cars carry aren’t just limited to their lives before they became racecars. The heritage grows with every race entry, constantly accumulating experiences.
Even in the face of a crash that would send most cars to the scrapyard, the process of getting the Cortina back on track is reinforced by a father and son bond that is priceless and makes it worth all the effort. It’s why I would prefer any of these cars over a pristine garage queen that only knows a life of luxury. It’s something great to witness, but even more special to experience it first-hand, which is why racing in this class is something I aspire to do one day to build my own heritage.
But before I search the classifieds for my first classic racecar, Jared recommends that I get to grips with driving fast in general first. Track days are perfect for this and Jared insists that aspiring drivers make use of as many opportunities as possible in a more casual environment to build up confidence before taking the plunge into fully-fledged club racing.
It just makes sense.
We are always told to respect our elders and I can’t think of a bigger way to disrespect a classic racecar than not fully understanding the immense responsibility it carries. If this is your heart’s desire, be ready for blood, sweat and tears, but also be prepared to be moved in a way that no other sport can move you.
A big thank you to Millstock Cars for sponsoring this series. For the best exotic cars in South Africa, be sure to check out www.millstockcars.co.za
Also a big shout out to the series’ sub sponsors:
DONADIO PLANT HIRE – firstname.lastname@example.org
LYNX MOTORSPORT – email@example.com
ACCESS AUTO – firstname.lastname@example.org
CLAUDE’S AUTO – email@example.com
CJ SUPPLIES – firstname.lastname@example.org
HARKERS AUTOMOTIVE – email@example.com