Turn Zero at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit
CVAR had billed the races at HRMC as being "Winter Vintage Races". But, I think "winter" is a relative term. For someone such as myself, coming out of the Colorado Mountains, the weather sure felt like Summer. Temperatures crept up into the upper 80's both Saturday and Sunday. The skies were mostly sunny. To folks from the Southern reaches of Texas, it probably felt like the dead of Winter. One thing was certain though, when you hit Turn Zero at the Hallet Motor Racing Circuit you should be prepared for one thing-- lots of seat time.
The Stephens Family, Art Summerville and CVAR had scheduled six 25 minute sessions for Friday practice, and an hour of racing Saturday and another hour Sunday. Friday morning was off to a damp and foggy start. The first set of practices had to be cancelled due to a lack of visibility, because of the fog. There was little to do but have breakfast at the Finish Line Cafe and see what other Lotuses were on hand.
The Finish Line Cafe, located on the ground floor of the Timing & Scoring Tower, at the HMRC, is so named since the Start/Finish Line actually is projected right through the cafe and gift shop, in the floor tile. It has some of the finest trackside food that I have found anywhere. Breakfasts, cooked to order, pancakes, omelets, biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, ... you name they have it. And it's all excellent. If you take lunch a little early or a little late, you can watch the races out over Start/Finish as you enjoy lunch. Their lunch faire is as good as the breakfasts.
With breakfast out of the way, it was time to hunt up the other two Lotuses, on hand, both 51's. Patricio Junco, George Garza and Juan Manuel Cañamar towed all the way up from Nuevo Leon Mexico with Patricio's freshly restored 51. Patricio, George (a F3 mechanic, known in Mexico as "El Sox") and Juan ("El Güero") have done a beautiful job with the restoration of 51/FF/144. Everything was immaculately plated, painted, polished and trimmed. A truly beautiful restoration. I would have to say the 51 "was better than factory new"! Nice job guys.
They are currently working on the restoration of David Martinez's (Monterrey, Mexico) 51/FF20A. Looking at the registration photo of 51/FF/20A, I can't imagine it needing much work, but I know it will end up looking as Patricio's 51.
Patricio with 51FF/144.
Pitted over the hill, from Patricio, near Veronica Lake, was the other 51, belonging to Chalmer McWilliams. Frame # AM-110 has been beautifully restored and maintains much of its originality. It is even sporting the original 51 roll bar. Check the photo closely and you will see the current spec roll bar wrapped around the original. Nice touch. A Hewland has been added, to make the car driveable and very competitive. Dan Taylor (those Taylors) and his young son (on the scooter) were trackside to support Chalmer's campaign.
CVAR runs their events a little differently that most Vintage groups. You get one qualifying session, 1st thing Saturday, and then it's time to race! Finish order in each race determines starting position, in the next race. During the qualifying, Chalmer McWilliams captured the pole with a time of 1:26.271, Patricio Junco gridded seventh (in class) with a time of 1:31.815 and I ended up starting at the back of the field at 19th, because of a nonfunctional transponder. In Race #1, Chalmer McWilliams had an excellent dice with Steve Smith, Merlyn MK11A, and managed to hold on to the top spot. When they put me a lap down, they were flat "carrying the mail". I managed to move up to 9th (in class) with Patricio 10th (in class). Race #2 had Robert Hoemke (Winkleman), Steve Smith and Chalmer McWilliams battling for the lead. When they put me a lap down after topping the hill, approaching Turn #2, I watched as they went into the turn, almost three abreast. Turn #2 is a tight, almost 180 degree turn. There was tire smoke and I expected to find carnage when I arrived, but everyone made it through unscathed. Robert Hoemke ended up finishing first, with Steve Smith, second and Chalmer McWilliams, third. I managed to move up to 6th (in class) and Patricio Junco up to 8th (in class).
Sunday morning's Race #3 saw Robert Hoemke, Chalmer McWilliams and Bill Johnson dicing for the top spot with Hoemke coming out on top, but with McWilliams and Johnson, in very close pursuit. Patricio Junco did not start because of cooling system problems and ended up heading for home, early. I managed to hold onto 6th (in class). In Race #4, the battle between Heomke, McWilliams, Johnson and Smith continued. However, in this race Smith had problems that forced him to drop out on Lap #1 and McWilliams found another competitor's Hewland, with the nose of his 51, and was DQ'd and put on the trailer. With all of that Hoemke finished first, with Johnson second (in class) and I suddenly, and surprisingly, found myself with a podium finish, third (in class). A first ever for me, so sorry for the shameless self promotion, by including the "sheet of shame", to the left. Race #5 found all of the frontrunners back in form and running well. Robert Hoemke finished first, Bill Johnson second, Lee Lydick third, Steve Smith fourth, and myself in fifth (all in class).
A great weekend of racing! Thanks again to the Stephens Family and all of the folks at the Hallett MotorRacing Circuit, Art Summerville and CVAR and all of the competitors. See you next trip.
by John Mihalich, Jr.
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