2017 VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival – Road America; 14-17th September
The longest track, and sweeping bends: tiring for Juniors but such a beautiful setting.
The trucks arrived on Wednesday, then Thursday was test day, with four mixed single seater sessions and a most useful minibus circuit Tour with “Duck” Waddle. There were no dramas in testing but it was much appreciated to have the early track time, even if with FBs. The Texans were back, with FJHNA Chairman Tom O’Grady (T 59), having escaped from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Jim Sharp (T56, discs) and Bob Merrill, sans BMC, but spannering for Bruce Revennaugh’s Lotus 18-803. Tom Atlas had his BMC Mk 2, with Ford motor, disc brakes, and for sale notice, while his recently acquired ex – Bob Woodward Lola Mk 2 was in the course of a chassis up restoration, and his BMC Mk 1 is also for sale, but only to a US buyer. Robert and Holly Hoemke, also of Texas, had come straight from Lime Rock.
Mid-West brought Marv Primack (18, with front discs) and the still mysterious BMC front engined FJ found in Duluth, Minnesota back in the late 70s by John Hertsgaard: there are renewed efforts to establish its ID!! Mike Soltis, owner of Elva 100/07, and past owner of Kieft 1/1, now being restored by Robert Goodwin in UK, was helping.
Jeremy Deeley and Colin, Nina and Boxey Mk II were back after Goodwood.
Friday had two practice sessions, combined with FVees, with times led by the first 16 FJs, and Chris Drake on top each time, in P1 from Robert Hoemke and P2 from Marty Bullock. David Kent and Colin Nursey were both going very well. Michael Sexton had a valve cap go into free flow in P1, while in P2 both Don Thallon and Tom Atlas ran out of petrol and Jim Sharp stopped early when the oil warning light signalled. Peter Strauss had no transponder but made up for it in the evening FJ display outside the Welcome party, after much polishing by self and Jane being rewarded by Best of Show, and Robert Hoemke taking home the Porsche award too with his Speedster, which he had trailed up with the Cooper, for some open top touring.
On Saturday, the FJs were lined up at 8 am to get ahead of the FVees, albeit they were already reduced in numbers, for qualifying, and it was still a flying Chris Drake from Robert Hoemke and Marty, with an impressive David Kent (Lynx 117) joining the leading group, clear of Ray Mallock leading the fronts: he had been here before – back in 1990 with the Aston Martins!! Jim Sharp (T56, discs) was exceptionally pleased with his time, ahead of Jeremy Deeley, the latter delayed by a visit to the black flag station, on an alleged but disputed yellow flag infringement. Bruce Edgar (Elfin) stopped early to investigate some misfiring, Neil Tolich was taking it carefully, while Duncan’s electrical problems returned with a vengeance, and Bob Juggins set about changing everything!!
The afternoon race was the standalone FJ feature with Chris on pole from Robert Hoemke and Marty. It was very hot!! Chris led, but Marty was “trying hard” and dived ahead on lap 2, with Robert Hoemke just past, as well, on lap 4, but giving way to Chris, as these three moved well ahead of David Kent (Lynx 117), battling with a flying Ray Mallock, with Ray just ahead at the flag. Further back, was another needle match between David Innes (5A) and the drum braked David Watkins (Elfin), one of the revelations of the Tour, Dr Innes going onto the rumble strip after T6, and letting the Elfin past. Colin Nursey (22) and Don Thallon (MRC) had been up with this battle, but continued their dice behind. Colin led into the final lap, but Don, notwithstanding pleading age and too many metal parts, took the place at the flag. Behind, it was more battles, Malcolm Wishart (T65) very happy ahead of Tom Atlas’s BMC Mk 2 at the flag and the Panther of Neil McCrudden just beating Michael Sexton’s prototype Gemini Mk II, going well at last. Lance Carwardine slowed on the last lap, stuck in fourth gear, Tom O’Grady (T59) broke off his gear lever, stuck in 2nd and retired, while Jim Sharp in the T56 slowed and pitted on lap 1 with sticking throttle and Peter Strauss pitted immediately with his engine on only 3 cylinders. Poor Bob Juggins’ efforts with Duncan’s car were ill rewarded, as after two laps it faltered again and finally stopped on T-12 on the last lap with defective (replacement!!) rotor arm, and was towed in.
Saturday was the grand car show at Osthoff Resort, old Elkhart Lake, followed by the Event Dinner: a Religious convention was in the next door Ballroom!! Vic Elford gave a very interesting talk about his transfer from Porsche 911 rally driver to 917 at Le Mans, [must read the book !!] via (at Duncan’s request) his time with Cooper F1. Vic also made complimentary remarks about the FJ Tour. The finale was a rather strange Charity promotion, but it did involve Dan Binks who has the Dolphin Mk 1 ex-Ken Miles, so interesting to meet at last.
Sunday was fine but cooler in the morning; the final FJ race was a split grid ahead of the F Vees with well over 50 cars in total. Grid positions were in the end decided by Qualifying times, so Chris was ahead of Robert and Marty. Lance was slow away with starting difficulty, and positioned P 26, but proceeded to move up the rolling start, which caused some confusion, as no gap had been left in his original position !!! Marty was in the lead in lap 1, but this time it was Chris on the charge. Lap 2 it was grid order, with Marty passing Robert on the fourth, with David Kent and Ray Mallock in battle behind, with Watkins clear of David Innes, who was now battling with Colin Nursey, with Don Thallon close behind. Texan Bruce Revennaugh just led a close dice of Deeley, Lance Carwardine, and Jim Sharp, with Tom O’Grady and Bruce Edgar closely following, and another dice between Malcolm Wishart, and Marv Primack (18, front discs and Hewland) closely followed by Tom Atlas, Sexton and Doug Elcomb’s much admired Dreossi. There were steady races from Roger Herrick (Lola BRJ1) and Neil Tolich in the Jocko, very happy to finish, with Peter Strauss last unlapped on 3 cylinders in his BT6, while Duncan just struggled home in the Alexis, whether fuel feed, fuel content, electrics, carburation, or all four were the problem yet to be resolved!! But sadly of all, with three corners to go on the last lap of the last race of the Tour, race leader Chris Drake left the track while involved passing a FVee battle, and ended along the guardrail, leaving Marty, Robert and David Kent in first three positions.
Everyone gathered for prizegiving with awards for the feature race and the combined two races, Tom O’Grady spoke for FJHNA, and then Duncan made the Awards, before we came to the Presentation of the Bob Woodward Trophy for the best performance in the Sector. Up to today it had been neck and neck between Ray Mallock and Chris Drake, each with 100% Class Record, but with Chris’ misfortune, Ray was the worthy winner of the Sector and it was presented by Marv. Marv said a few words on behalf of Barbara Woodward. Bob had been a Period FJ driver, who followed Jim Buckland and the first Formula Junior Register in USA by establishing the Monoposto Register and coherent rules for FJ cars. Bob organised two decades of races for the FJs, including the 30th Anniversary FJ celebrations here at Elkhart Lake in 1989 and the 50th Anniversary race at Gratton in 2007 where Duncan drove Marv’s 18, which Marv was racing here today. So very sadly, Bob died two weeks ago, but we are happy to celebrate the memory of someone so important to the FJ Historics that we race today.