We’re in for a real treat today. Motorsports veteran and MCG contributor Rick Voegelin has been cruising the pits at the West Coast historic racing events with his camera. Here’s his report.
A Stroll through the Vintage Racing Paddocks
In this age of homogenized, faceless spec racing masquerading as Big Time Motorsports in many series, the appeal of historic racing is a powerful force. Vintage race cars—and the vintage people who prepare, race, and maintain them—remind us of a time when ingenuity and audacity were rewarded, not punished. The machines that turn up at vintage events range from gorgeous restorations to rusty crocks, from engineering triumphs to quirky aberrations, and from pedigreed champions to homebuilt orphans.
While the visual appeal of a pristine Ferrari or a better-than-new Bugatti is undeniable, the real treasures often lurk in the farthest corners of the paddock. If you’ve seen one million-dollar Cobra, you’ve seen ’em all – but where else are you going to come across an Airstream trailer converted to a car hauler, an MG pickup truck, or a 16-passenger Suburban?
So in the spirit of irreverence that propels the Motor City Garage, here are some of our favorite transporters, ramp trucks, trailers, conveyances, and pit scenes captured at Laguna Seca, Bakersfield, and Sears Point. Rest assured than none will ever be featured on the pages of a glossy magazine.
Airstream trailer – Abandoned and unloved, this classic Airstream trailer was pulled out of a canyon by its current owner. Too far gone to restore, it was repurposed as an enclosed trailer for his dimunitive Bugatti race car. Big style points for this one!
Big Red – Nothing commands respect on the road quite like a duallie crew cab conversion on a heavy-duty truck chassis. Big Red, indeed.
BMC Bus – Brittania may no longer rule the waves, but this regal BMC British Racing Team Technical Support Vehicle certainly rules any vintage racing paddock.
Carryall – Stageway Coaches converted Chevrolet station wagons and Suburban Carryalls to carry up to 18 people. J&D Corvette turned this rare stretched Apache into a stunning support vehicle.
Coleman Thermos – Before there were microwave ovens in motorhomes and a Starbucks on every street corner, if you wanted caffeine on the road, you filled up a Coleman thermos in a diner and then drove 12 hours straight to get to the next race. This survivor was reincarnated as a vintage flower vase.
Cooper and Mini Cooper – John Cooper revolutionized motor racing when he put the engine behind the driver in his championship-winning GP Coopers. He also pioneered branding when he licensed his name to BMC for the hot rod Mini Cooper. It’s not difficult to imagine this pair parked at the Cooper works.
Deco Hauler – Discovered in the pits at the California Hot Rod Reunion near Bakersfield, this art deco cabover with its matching streamlined trailer is powered by a contemporary V8 engine.
Ford Crewcab – What better way to take your vintage 1970 Boss 302 Trans-Am Mustang to Monterey than on the back of a Ford crewcab ramp truck?
Garlits Carryall – Back in the day when Don Garlits barnstormed the nation with his series of Swamp Rat dragsters, a two-door Suburban Carryall was Big Daddy’s home, car hauler, and mobile workshop for long weeks on the road.
Huffaker Hauler – Huffaker Engineering’s double-decker is an ingenious solution to the problem of how to haul two race cars with one truck. The top deck pivots to load the Mini – or maybe a few good men simply lift it to its perch.
MG Pickup – Before the El Camino, before the Ranchero, there was this: the MG pickup truck. Just the thing for carrying a truckload of spare Lucas electrics.
Moon Ramp Truck – We confess to having an irrational fondness for classic Chevy ramp trucks. And when the truck in question is bright yellow, with Moon discs and telltale rust from the Bonneville Salt Flats – it’s a perfect 10.
Motorhome – In a paddock awash with Prevost, Monaco, and high-dollar coaches, how do you stand out from the crowd? Arrive in a motor home that’s all hard angles and corrugated siding.
National Pit Scene – It’s not just about the cars at vintage events. This pit scene captures the essence of the early days of motor racing with vintage tools and parts, backed by a photo mural that sets the scene for a trio of Nationals. Well done, lads!
Not Dead Yet Racing – This could be the motto of the Carpe Diem Race Team. You never know when the Grim Reaper will knock on your door, so go ahead and spend your children’s inheritance on obsolete race cars.
Pit Crew – Envious of well-heeled teams with legions of uniformed mechanics, engineers, and hangers-on? No one can make you feel inferior without your permission, so staff up with life-size two-dimensional crewmen (and women) in your paddock. Bonus: Cardboard crew doesn’t have to be fed.
Porsche Van – This is how the big boys go the races. Porsche’s impeccable Mercedes transporter has hauled its share of legendary cars over the decades. If this truck could talk, what tales would it tell of the cars that have hitched a ride on its elevator?
Ramp Trucks – Before the advent of 18-wheelers and enclosed trailers, a ramp truck was the top of the line for professional racers. Think of three sweaty, greasy guys sitting bolt upright in the cab of a C30 for days on end, with the race car in full view of fans, cops, and passersby.
Rules of Racing – Even if it’s an event for vintage and historic automobiles, it’s still racing. These are good rules to follow regardless of time or place.
Stainless Trailer – Stainless steel, porthole windows, streamlined styling – what’s not to like about a stylish pit support trailer like this?
Support Vehicle – If necessity is the mother of invention, then this chopped, diced, and sliced pit cart is surely necessity’s stepchild. All credit to its creator for adding braces to retain a semblance of structural integrity.
.Triumph Tea Service – Amid the trials and tribulations of motorsport, it is always comforting to have a proper English afternoon tea . . especially when you are racing a Triumph.
Weber Truck – Fuel injection? We don’t need no stinkin’ EFI! This purveyor of jets, emulsion tubes, and other ephemera for obsolete carburetors had an appropriate period vehicle in the pits at Monterey to provide trackside support.