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The short answer is, “Europe.”

Why aren’t more GT40s being vintage

raced here in the U.S.? To answer that

question we need a little context.

Vintage racing really got its start

here in the late 1970s. It’s been a part

of this country’s motorsports scene for

almost forty years and a lot has hap-

pened in those four decades. In the be-

ginning, a car’s race history was vital.

If you had a race car without verifiable

race history it wasn’t even worth your

time to send in a race entry. To be ac-

cepted by most sanctioning bodies,

cars had to have race history and also

be restored to period, as-raced specifi-

cations. Values had not yet soared into

the stratosphere (although they were

clearly headed in that direction) so

cars were prepared and driven moder-

ately, as befit their historical impor-

tance. No owner wanted to be recorded

in history as the one who wadded his

car up or put it into a guard rail.

Vintage racing was becoming in-

creasingly popular each succeeding

year, and quickly moved from drivers-

only to spectator events. Prior to this,

costs for the event were borne by par-

ticipants through their entry fees.

Once there was a spectator “gate,” the

sanctioning bodies were quick to see

the link between spectators and prof-

its. Activities like club corrals and

shows, honored marques, and special

guests (drivers, team members, au-

thors and other well known personal-

ities in the racing world) increased

interest in vintage events and helped

make them more popular. And, with

that, more financially successful.

The competitive urge, never very

far below the surface, began to bubble

up. Vintage racing started to slowly

move from “vintage” to “racing.” Some

owners to begin to modify their cars to

go faster and perform better. At first

these modifications were described as

being made to increase the safety as-

pect of the cars. That rationale made

sense. To offset the additional weight

of a roll cage, more power was needed

to maintain equilibrium. As cars be-

came faster, bigger brakes were neces-

sary to slow them down. Larger

radiators kept them from overheating

and wider wheels and tires were em-

ployed. To retain the original body con-

tours, rear ends were narrowed so

fenders did not need to bulge. It was a

creeping evolution.

At the same time this was happen-

ing, owners of historical race cars,

which were becoming increasingly

valuable due to their low production or

unique history, were no longer being

vintage raced. Their owners were un-

willing to put them at risk on the track

in the middle of a pack of other cars

which no longer accurately repre-

sented their history.

Spring 2016 15