In some ways, vintage "racing" isn't really racing. Chances are, you'll be in a class with other cars that aren't really like your car all that much and then that class will be in a larger run group with totally different cars. So, if you are accustomed to thinking of racing as being something like Spec Miata or Pirelli World Challenge or IndyCar, well, vintage is different.
But in that difference are some charms, which is why so many people love vintage racing. We recently ran in the SVRA National Championship at Circuit of the Americas, and we were reminded of the attractions of vintage racing. For example:
1. Vintage racing is a car show, and if you like race cars, it is a really good car show. We saw Benetton F1 cars, Porsche 356s, 4 rotor Le Mans Mazdas, LMP2 Pescarolos, Formula Juniors, 2L Chevrons and Trans Am cars. That's just the beginning. SVRA had 419 cars registered, and in every part of the paddock there was something memorable.
2. Instead of racing in class, you get to race against history. For example, we ran our Porsche GT3 Cup car in Group 10. Just behind us (!) on grid was Mazda 787B-003, a car very similar to 787B-002 which won Le Mans in 1991, except for its sprint race trim. "Beating" a historic Group C car or a Can-Am car isn't exactly a lifetime achievement when the competitive drivers have been told to preserve the museum piece they're wheeling around. But still...
3. You race against cars that make speed very differently, which, under 13/13 rules is challenging. Our 415 hp Porsche was grouped with several Trans Am and NASCAR tube frame racers, which make 700 or 800 hp depending on who you ask. We could put down similar or better lap times, but at COTA they could completely walk us on the straights and then park in the corners. Time for some race craft.
4. We generally think racers are pretty good folks to hang out with, but vintage folks are especially fun. That's partly because the atmosphere created by the big, fancy paddock is so great. And partly because most vintage racers don't take themselves too seriously. The addition of auctions, concerts and mini-celebrities doesn't hurt either.
5. There is a better-than-you-may-realize chance you have a vintage car. We wish we had $20 for every time someone asked "how is your 2006 Porsche a vintage car?" The simple answer is that "vintage" doesn't mean "old". It really implies a car with some history (for more on this subject see our Taxonomy of Vintage Racing). Add to that SVRA's recent decision to allow NA (1990-93) 1.6L Spec Miatas and you begin to see that vintage racing is more accessible that you might have thought.
2016 SVRA U.S. Vintage National Championship -- Circuit of the Americas