Car Collector Corner: Vintage racing booming in all classes
Q: Greg, I see that vintage racing is booming everywhere, as it unites both collector cars and racing all in one. We have some pretty big events for the cars of yesteryear from west coast to east coast, and I'd like your thoughts on this aspect of the collector hobby. I really enjoy your columns very much. Thanks, Bud L., Pennsylvania.
A: Bud, thanks for the words and I recently attended the 2013 Watkins Glen U.S. Vintage Grand Prix, so the segment is fresh on my mind. You are correct that the vintage racing aspect of the collector car hobby is booming. Not only did 400 on-track competition cars show up, so did some 250 to 300 non-track show cars, making for quite the weekend of events .
From a strict business point, all of the cars on hand at The Glen, from Volvo to Corvette to Ford GT40, need parts to keep them running along with necessities to restore them outwardly. The aftermarket parts manufacturers, thus, are enjoying huge success catering to the vintage motorsports crowd
As for vintage racing elsewhere, the exact same expansion is taking place in both vintage oval and drag racing. The crowds are turning out for events in masses and race specific sanctioning bodies have cropped up to handle the needs of drivers. Although top flight cars may be vintage, they are extremely fast and capable of impressive performance.
At Watkins Glen, the races were real races, not just drive around "look at me" type events. Featured were 18-lap events for 11 classes of cars, which were competing for victory laurels and top three podium appearances in victory lane. There were very few slouches in the race classes, yet it is all still for fun more so than for any money you might be able to win.
From a participant value standpoint, you'll find the most expensive of the vintage cars at sports car events. Some of the sports cars on track are worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially cars like a vintage 1967 Ford GT40 or 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. When you attend major vintage events, you'll see Ferraris and Porsches galore, along with Jaguars, Birdcage Maseratis and rare vehicles from countless manufacturers from around the world.
This phenomenon is a sport, collector segment and industry all in one, and you can get involved for less than $10,000 if you want to join the fun. I've seen many low cost sports cars, like an MG Midget, Bugeye Sprite, Triumph Spitfire or Mazda Miata for way less than $10,000 and track ready. With one of these, you'll park right next to a $750,000 Audi Prototype that won Lemans yet from a fans view, you may not be as highly technical and expensive, but still an interesting part of the show.
Greg Zyla writes a syndicated auto column weekly and welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and vintage racing at 116 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848, or email him at email@example.com.