March 2015

Our first race of the 2015 season is on the books! It was a spectacular weekend. We had a huge field with a large number of our Pacific Northwest friends making the drive down as well as a few racers coming all the way from the East Coast, and even a participant from Australia just for our event. I guess our east coast participants have had enough of the long cold winter and wanted some California sun. I have said this many times but our March event is truly the best time to come to Monterey. The weather is great and the hills are green.

 

With the Rolex Monterey Reunion requiring participants to complete three race weekends before August, our spring event is becoming an event that should not be missed. Not only is there tons of track time but you are actually on the same track run by the same officials as the Reunion.

 

For those of you thinking about our new event, Barber Historics held May 15-17, this will add to the required number of races plus our HMSA stewards and tech crew will be running the event. If Barber isn’t on you “bucket list” it should be. The track and facilities are world class. As many of you know, Barber is the home of the Barber Museum, acknowledged as the largest motorcycle collection in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. The Museum is also home to the finest Lotus collection in the world consisting of an example of every Lotus model, both production and race cars.

 

HMSA is bringing the excitement and glamour of the Monterey Reunion to Barber Motorsports Park with great cars, drivers, and more. . .  The Master’s Grand Prix F1 group, the Senior USRRC Tour, 2 - one hour enduros, parades, car corrals and venders galore. We will truly have something for everyone in your family to enjoy.

 

We are celebrating Lotus and the 50th Anniversary of George Follmer winning the USRRC Championship in his Lotus 23. We will have groups for all the regular historic cars in addition to everything described above. The one thing you won’t want to hear later in the year is “gosh, you really missed it.”

 

Full event information and entry forms can be seen on our web site (click link)

http://www.hmsausa.com/events/barber_historics.html

 

This month we are adding a new feature column “My Rear View Mirror” which will shed some light on my past and how I got here.

 

At the recent Spring Club event, a participant asked if I ever thought about driving a racecar. My 1st reaction was a hearty chuckle. Then I answered the question: I grew up in a dream family, living a dream. I earned my competition license after attending the Johnny Kastner driving school at Willow Springs in 1973! Initially I had a short career.

In 1974 two things happened that altered the course in my pursuing a career as a race car driver. Under Doane Spenser’s watchful eye, I built an MGB race car for a friend of my dad’s. It was built for his son who really didn’t like racing so the car sat in a corner of the shop. On race weekends I would tell my parents I was going skiing. But someone had to exercise the car so instead of heading to the snow, I went to the race track!  Life was grand until a buddy of my dad’s recognized me at the track. He called my dad the next day telling him how great I was doing. My dad said to his friend, “I didn’t know you skied!” He’d been told I was seen at Riverside Raceway racing the MGB. Dad wasn’t pleased. My dad was finished with racing when his “brother” Pedro Rodriguez was killed. We were committed to running the CanAm series for 2 more years, but he never attended another race after Pedro’s death.

 

The second event that occurred in ’74 and shaped my course was the Peter Revson crash testing an F1 Shadow. Peter was a close family friend. At my dad’s request, at each CanAm race Peter would check in with me making sure I was ok – pretty cool “watch dog.” When Peter was killed I was finished with racing. I was tired of losing my heroes and friends. I didn’t get back into a race car until 1981.

 

Unfortunately, once racing gets in your blood it’s very addicting with no rehab. Since 1981 I have raced everything from a Triumph Spitfire to a Holman and Moody built Penske owned Ferrari Daytona, a Ford GT 40, Formula Atlantic and the McLaren M6 which Jerry Titus drove for my dad in 1968. I raced until 1996. My son Connor was born in 1994. When Connor asked me to stop racing after Dale senior was killed, I hung up my helmet.

 

Several years ago, I was able to repurchase the MGB that Ronnie Bucknum and Jim Adams drove for my dad in 1963 and 1964 (great future story). I can’t touch the B until Connor finishes college (13 months to go!!). I am not sure you’ll see me driving, but you’ll see a Vandagriff on the track in a Hollywood Sport Cars team car!

 

I have been very fortunate to have done well racing. When I restarted driving in 1981 people were surprised I was doing so well and asked why. During the CanAm days I was running track and Cross country in high school and college. During that same period I would run racetracks with Jim Adams. Jim would show me how to “read” a track and the proper line. This training was forever engrained in my brain. I have always enjoyed teaching new enthusiasts how to drive a race track. While a VARA Board member, I created the University of VARA which is still going strong today.

 

In the next issue I’ll tell you about the 5 most exciting memories I have from the CanAm series. Until then, keep it between the lines!

Cris Vandagriff