I spent Saturday, July 1, out at out local road circuit, Pacific Raceways. It’s nice living half an hour from a place where all kinds of motorsports takes place, everything from karting to drag racing to road racing for many different kinds of cars. My favorite event of the year is the Pacific Northwest Historics, conducted by the Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts (SOVREN). It’s their biggest event of the year and always draws an eclectic mix of cars spanning all eras and types of racing machinery.
One thing that keeps me going to vintage races year after year is the prospect of seeing in person and photographing particular cars I’ve seen in magazines and on the Internet. Last year’s big catch was the iconic Lou D’amico Corvette. This year I had the good fortune of meeting up with another Corvette, a car I have been chasing for years but never caught up with.
This is Greenwood Customer Car #2010, one of a small run of Corvettes built for SCCA racing, in particular the TransAm series. These cars had many of the features of the well-known Greenwood widebody cars raced in IMSA but were built to SCCA rules, the most visible feature of which was less extreme bodywork. Way back when Pat and I were SCCA corner workers we watched John Greenwood win the 1975 Portland TransAm on his way to the championship in a car very similar to this one, and I’ve been interested in the Greenwood SCCA Corvettes ever since.
#2010 spent most of its life on the East Coast. I’ve been to a number of East Coat vintage races over the past several years, but this car was not at any of them. So, you can imagine that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s now owned by a vintage racer right in our local area, so I expect I’ll see more of this car in the years to come.
Racing is full of “one-offs”, cars of which only one was ever built or raced. The CanAm Series had more than its share of them. One such car is the “Open Sports Ford”, designed by Len Bailey for the CanAm and built in 1969 by Alan Mann Racing. It was based in part on the Ford P68 endurance racing car but you’d never know to look at it. This beast is all CanAm car, shoved down the road by a Ford Boss 429 “cammer” engine. The single overhead-cam 429 was intended to be Ford’s killer NASCAR power plant. It was intended to take NASCAR engines to the same kind of extreme the Dodge and Plymouth “Winged Warriors” had taken aerodynamics. Fitted into Torinos with aero enhancements it was all set to one-up Chrysler in NASCAR’s escalating factory arms race. NASCAR, seeing that the factory wars were taking speeds into scary figures and pushing budgets and technology beyond the reach of too many of its teams, decided to ban both exotic engines and spacecraft aero before the cammer could have its shot at stock car racing glory.
But engines had already been built, and Ford looked for other places to use them. One of those places was the CanAm. By 1969 big-block V8s ruled, and this big-block looked like it could be the baddest one of all. Unfortunately, AMR’s CanAm project suffered from the all-too-common woes of too little time and money to give both the car and the engine the development they deserved. A third place in the 1969 Texas race with Jack Brabham at the wheel was as close as it came to road racing glory.
The restored car is a brutally beautiful piece of racing history and engineering. We can all hope it keeps providing eye and ear candy to vintage race fans for many years to come.
Not all the cars that capture my fancy at historic races are ground-pounding V8-powered monsters. The car above is a Japanese and European market subcompact that, when it came to America, became the Toyota Corolla. The 4-cylinder engine displaces all of 1200 cc’s but it sounds marvelous at full song on the long front straight. The paint scheme is perfect for the car’s scrappy personality and the overall aggressive look makes one think of a small dog who isn’t afraid to take on an opponent twice his size.
You can find 135 photos of race cars from the 2017 Pacific Northwest Historics on my Smugmug page. Enjoy!