Committed Now!

Gregory Peck, starring in a 1960’s war movie “The Guns of Navarone,” said to a reluctant fellow commando, “Well you’re in it now, buster, up to your neck!” It was a dramatic scene I’ve always remembered and that’s how I’m feeling now, like the reluctant commando, since I’ve just inked the papers on a brand new race car trailer. We’re committed now and there’s no going back! Well, in truth there certainly is going back, as this is simply a hobby, not war. And we’re not setting off for a New World, crossing the Rubicon, or dumping a family fortune into some new business venture. It’s all folly, and everything can be parked, sold, forgotten. But a grand season is planned and we’ll have none of that! We’re going racing!

The new trailer affirms our commitment to the plan and is a first step to the grand season. 11 race weekends, starting in Monterey, CA and stretching, if all goes well, as far east as Watkins Glenn, NY, as far north as Elkhart Lake, WI, and as far south as Austin, TX.

Three years ago I bought a 1972 Lola T204 Formula Ford in which to race against other equally mature cars and, for the most part, drivers. Turns out that vintage racing can be a pretty cheap way to race a car–CAN BE, being the two hugely significant words in that sentence. It can also be astronomically expensive, but costs, justifications, rationalizations, etc., will be sidelined for now and addressed in another blog—preferably one I’ll write after some numbing martinis, as even at the cheaper end of the spectrum, the costs, when honestly recognized, would be described by some as indicative of a serious mental malady, genetic disorder, or serious illness, not unlike that of a compulsive gambler or drug addict. But I digress.

I bought the Lola in California where I have raced it 4 or 5 times each year since taking ownership, leaving California only once for Portland, OR, for a fabulous weekend under, surprise surprise, cloudy skies and on a wet track—who’d have thought? We towed on an open flatbed trailer behind an Audi SUV, returning after each weekend to my friend’s airlplane hanger in Marin County where the car still rests. It all worked out well, but now it’s time to take advantage of living in the midwest and somewhat better access to famous venues relatively nearby. 11 weekends to famous places, pulling a new trailer with the car comfortably protected from the rougher elements-—be they atmospheric or human. That’s the plan.

Trailer buying is more complex than I thought it would be. How big must it be? Can it be? Should it be? All critical questions. We settled on an 18 foot long, 7 foot wide, 6 foot tall, all-aluminum Featherlite. Featherlites are lighter than steel trailers, and very well built. A pricey, all-aluminum box, on four wheels, painted silver on the outside and gleaming natural aluminum (is there any other kind?) on the inside. It is bigger than it must be, smaller than it could be, but I hope as big as it should be. Some prep work on the tow vehicle going on at the dealership as I write this, and I have only taken a brief acceptance look at it. My first impression is how big it seems on the outside and how small it seems inside. The opposite impression would have been better, but I remain optimistic and hopeful that I have chosen wisely.

Over the next few weeks the trailer will be made a place for everything where everything can be kept in its place. For an obsessive organizer like me, it will be a therapeutic process. The truck and trailer will then head to California mid-March to collect the car and attend our first race at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. The countdown begins.

More blogs to follow. And pictures. Plenty to say about racing in general, the vintage races we’re going to, the Lola and other cars, our plan, and thoughts about why we do such things as race. Many things upon which to opine. I’ll try not to make it a brag site, but rather a place to hear the miscellaneous ramblings of an aging baby boomer doing something simply because, as racer/actor Paul Newman once said to Barbara Walters during an interview; “It’s a kick in the ass!”

Mike W.