Thirty five years of vintage racing and here, in 2010, the BEST single vintage or historic race I can ever remember. Here is the story.
Happen to love Quebec, the people, the Laurentian mountains, Tremblant and especially Le Circuit....the fabulous race course with gorgeous mountain views. And since 1996, generally do two race events a year. The on and off Legends event in July and the Fall Classic.
Gotta say, the last few Legends events were pretty sorry affairs. Run with complete indifference to the entrants...no partes, no activities, no hoopla, no lunches, no nuthin'. But not this year.
As always, the first part of the event was the normal making of reservations, sending in an entry, getting the Suburban and trailer ready, making the sure the race car (a Mallock Mk XIB), checking out our transport for the week...a 1964 Morgan we have owned for many years....and a pair of motorbikes.
Finally the packing....okay, clothing, race suit and helmet, passports, racing license, cell phone, etc. And an air compressor, battery boxes, charger, generator, lots of race gas (116 octane VP), empty cans for mixing gas (with a low compression, not highly modified engine, we mix race and road gas 50-50...saves money and why waste high octane on an engine that doesn't need it?) funnel, extension cords, speedy dry, 60W Redline racing oil, coolant, jacks, jack stands, tools, spare parts, a spare Mallock radiator, Weber parts, air bottle, torque wrench, and so much more. Filling the back of the Suburban. Along with son-heir-pitcrew. 15 and ready for Formula 1.
AND the journey began, heading up scenic Rt 8, through Connecticut, into Mass, towards Albany, and then right up Rt 87 and into Quebec. Overnight in Napierville, up early, now on Canadian Rt 15, a jog through Montreal, and up into the mountains. The absolutely gorgeous Laurentians.
Registration was easy, got into the track Wednesday afternoon, set up our tents, unloaded the Morgan, the Mallock, and some basic tools. Thursday cruised to our favorite Creperie in St. Sauveur, went Kart racing just south of St. Jovite, shopped for some yummy cheeses, hung out at our favorite sidewalk pizza bistro, and on Friday, back to the track for the first practice with the rest of our class.
Class? Oh, COME ON!!!!!!!!!! Class??????????? Hey, the Mallock is a good little car, runs well with its spiced up 1600 Formula Ford pushrod engine, kinda basic with a solid back axle, cycle fenders for the 'unaerodynamic look,' and is capable of putitng terror into the hearts and minds of typical competitors....Alfas, Morgans, Lotus Elans and 7s, even Formula Fords and small engined sports/racers. BUT THIS WEEKEND?????????
Yikes! Our competitors: two Lola T70s, a McLaren Mk IB (all mid engined racers with 6 lter V8s), Porsche 910 (looked like a smaller engined 917), Ginetta G16, a gaggle of Lotus 23Bs, a Brabham BT8, and a very modern looking Chevron B16. Every single competitor was mid engined, some with V8s, the rest with multi cam sophisticated race engines.
A computer glitch? Thinking a Mallock was a cross 'tween a mid engined this and a V8 powered that?
Anyway, there we were. Sort of the poor relation in the pack. And on this daunting, world class, high speed circuit. we really felt out of our league....some of these cars were, in their day, amongst the worlds fastest sports/racing cars. And the Mallock? At best, a little hillclimb or short circuit club racer.
So, off we went....ran strong in practice, stronger in qualifying, by the time of the Saturday qualifying race, had knocked 6 seconds off our fastest time and was running sufficiently well to finish 2nd beating both T70 Lolas. And on Sunday....must have had a tail wind 'cause the Mallock was flying and finished 3rd (in class, 5th overall behind the LeMans Ferrari 512M, the Mclaren, the Chevron, and one of the Lolas), in class than a second behind the Lola T70 Spyder and on the same lap as the winning McLaren and Ferrari 512M (winners both in two classes).
The Mallock had shaved even more time off its fastest lap on this cicruit and over the long, 17 lap race, never missed a beat....over three days of racing, we checked the tire pressures, retorqued the wheels a few times, added gas (in our case, with a modest low compression engine, a 50-50 mix) and ran and ran and ran. Which I can't say for most of the other cars that seemed to have body panels off and up on jack stands half the time of the event.
What a thrill. Finished the race, parked the car, had an official zip over and point to the podium, a trophy and a bottle of bubbly. What a thrill. AND WHAT a surprise. Must have just been sucked along with the big V8 racers. But a great weekend for the Mallock.
The video was a first stab at mounting a little $100 Canon on the roll bar. Dumb us....had lots of video of the other sessions and ran out of card space 1/3rd of the way through the race. But we were delighted with the results....as shown, started on the 2nd row, 2nd in class behind the McLaren, was able to keep up with the Chevron and McLaren for a couple of laps, was left in the dust on the straights by everyone but was able to make it back under braking and handling, was passed by Doc Bundy's Lotus 23B, then by the Lola T70 Spyder, passed the 23B, was passed again, and finally he broke 2/3s of the way through the race. Could have (I suppose) dived under the Lola at the last corner on the last lap but why wind up in an accident with only a few hundred yards left in the race? Was thrilled to get podium finish, and not a scratch on the car.
(note, in the qualifying race, the left cycle fender came adrift and removed the right one for the feature race. Sort of 'half a formula car)
The rest of the event? Run by Bobby Rahal's organization, great fun rubbing shoulders with him and 1997 Fm 1 Grand Prix champion Jacques Villeneuve, had lunch with Doc Bundy (and diced with him through the fearure race 'till his white Lotus 23B 'ceased to continue'), elegant breakfast and lunch for the competitors each day, a driver's meeting during lunch...dinner theater?...big screen TVs in the party tent showing race movies all day for those who had less interest in the track activities, a rock band under another tent keeping the music going, a lovely party at a local hotel on Saturday night, what an event. THESE guys know their stuff. And the results were incredibly impressive.
The Morgan, of course, was the perfect car to have in this French Alpine-like setting. Village to village, on hot days with the windshield folded down, shopping, dining, cruising by an old covered bridge, by a lake with two privately owned seaplanes, felt THIS CLOSE to being in France.
'Twas a wonderful time. And how can one beat it? Great racing (with surprising results), parties, good food, great entertainment (the International Jazz Festival was going on in the pedestrian village), celebrities, our condo's hot tub, and the majestic views of lakes and mountains. An absolute paradise.
And now it is a memory, remembered by photos, lap time sheets, and that bottle of undrunk bubbly in the fridge. But a HOORAH for the organizers and a thumbs up to everyone else.
Now...the Mallock, checked over, cleaned up, front fenders reinstalled, and sitting in the barn. Waiting for its next outing. And, even better, ready for next year's Legend event in Quebec.