Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The compromise between Road Legal and Race Optimized

In the 50ies and 60ies people didn't use trucks or trailers to bring their race cars to the circuit. For example when TVR entered Le Mans with three Granturas they drove them from Blackpool to Le Mans. Or when Lotus Eleven racing drivers competed at Silverstone they had driven their road registered race cars to the competition. Of course this wasn't possible with formula 1 or 2 cars anymore in the 60ies, but before the war this approach was even applied to the fastest racing cars existing. I am sure it also influenced the behavior of the drivers knowing that they needed their car to go home after the race.
Anyway, for a number of reasons, this principle makes sense also today. First, you will have less problems with customs, less issues with insurance companies and finally you can test drive the car from time to time on the road. But there are also some negative consequences, mainly the need to comply with street car legislation. Often this means that things not needed for racing are required in the race car, depending on national laws. This can be things such as a handbrake, front screen heating, pedestrian protection, heavier starter battery, alternator, mufflers/exhaust modifications, etc.. Most of these things make the car heavier and potentially slower. So from a racing point of view they are not useful. But, if you think about what vintage car racing should be all about, then reflecting the spirit of how it was done in the period races seems to be a good thing. And if you ever looked at race cars on period photographs you will have seen that these cars often were completely trimmed, had quite a bit of luxury (and weight) on board and were much closer to a street sports or touring car than what you see today at historic races. And if you drive a real historic car (with the bits and pieces manufactured in period) you anyway will not have the best chances to win against heavily "optimized" and lightened cars. So for me, the better compromise is to go for street license plates and have fun on the road too.

No comments: