By Luiz Claudio Valdetaro
Well, using my usual excuse, which is the fact that I was traveling, I arrived Sunday morning for the race. The cars were all there, some of them more beautiful than ever. I entered pretty much the same cars I did last year, with some exceptions: I entered two wood experiments and my specially-made Mini-Cooper.
First of all, I liked the new format. The qualifying of all cars took very little time. The driver would do a couple of laps until he felt comfortable with the car, then he announced to be ready and would do 2 timed laps. I haven't raced the cars because I had cars in every category. But I practiced with almost all of them. The Concours was also simple and fast. Took less than 1 hour.
On to the race.
The Class A (Sports cars) was interesting, because most of the cars, to my surprise, had no traction. Even my cars, which employ Indy-Grips, had no traction, it was like driving on snow. My cars in that class were really disappointing. Others had no grip either. The lotus 30 had several problems with contact. By far the ones that won 1, 2 and 3 were the best. Russell's TI-22 had a lot better grip in this track than on Buena Park's. His car had the pole, and given the new format, cars had to be -fast-out-the-box to get good qualifying. I love this format. The old one (1-minute) did not award the fast, easy to drive cars on qualifying.
Then to Class B (formula cars). That was a blast. The only modern car on the field, the Brabham, qualified on top, but kept losing its wheels. The six-wheeler Indy car was nearly impossible to drive. After me and Paul Sterrett sanded the tires between heats, it became a little better. But what a beauty! In the end the little F1 Cooper won the race, closely followed by the Bugatti. Results are not out yet, but I think the bad news is that Jim Cunningham's Cooper will lose the class win with its handicap points. Bad for Jim. The good news is that Jim Cunningham's Bugatti will win the class with its handicap points. Good for Jim. Needless to say, Jim was on a class of his own on this class. Congratulations Jim!
Then onto Class D (the mini-cooper) class. By far the best to watch. My mini took the pole and the race with relative ease, I think it only came out once or twice. The blue STP seemed to be the fastest on the straight line, but a little tricky to turn. It was a great fun to watch! My mini had a loose body (by design), so it "tilted" the body on the turns, drivers were having a blast watching it! The first heat had to be re-run because the little buggers are so little that some of them were not tripping the lap counter, which is optical and depends on the car breaking visual contact between a light located in a bridge and a light sensor located on a tiny hole below the track. Some cars computed no laps at all! We found a solution, we attached little paper stickers that extended out of the sides of the tiny cars, making them look like car-airplanes with side wings. Laps were then counted properly. I don't think the little stickers influenced the handling.. I loved this class.
Then Class E, the magnet class! That was funny. The Riggen track has a lot more magnet attraction then other tracks (in my opinion). Most cars were severely stuck to the track. Even cars that successfully ran previous Marconi races had trouble, like Kathryn's Porsche 908, which placed second last year. This year it was going well, but needed time to cool down the motor every once in a while. Minus well, since this car was a 1971 body, and the race rules called for 1979. It would have been a shame to disqualify a fast car! By the way, a total of 4 cars were not within the body rules! But the remaining cars had trouble with too much magna-traction. In the race, my Fly Porsche with some modifications placed first, but I suspect The SCX Audi for Jim McLaughin will take the class win, my Porsche had "bad grades" in Concours and it didn't qualify well. My "secret bomb", my wooden car, turned out to be a disappointment. Its contact braids wore very quickly. During practice, I did a 3.9 lap with it, it was literally a speed demon, the fastest for sure . But excess practice killed it. During qualifying there was a lot of "arcing" under the braids, and during the race they almost disappeared. Oh well, next time I will get standard Parma-like braids. No more of this thin vintage braids (which I still have a lot of ). During qualifying, the silk-cut Jaguar was very fast. But right on the beginning of the race it lost a wheel , which had to be glued in place, but after mounting back the car developed a wheel bind , and I'm really surprised its motor didn't go up in flames. Essentially, easy to drive and reliable won the race. All the speed-demons didn't do well. A modified Scalextric Ford GT was entered on the race and physically won it, but it's laps didn't count because of the 1979-body rule. It was basically a stock car, with 3 Scalextric magnets and silicone tires. Since the Scalextric magnets are weaker than the slot-its that most people were using, I think this car was faster.
Disappointments? Yes, three of them. Larry Shepard, that always send good cars, this year didn't get it right. May be, since his car was for a magnetic track, that it also had too much magnets. Russell Sheldon, due to his health was unable to make it, except for Philippe entering a car on his behalf, which still turned out doing well. And Rocky Russo, who really chickened out. He could have entered his cars from last year. I can guarantee you the Lotus 19 would have won. Hey Rocky, what's the official excuse? What happened to your Sicilian confidence?
Can't wait for next year.