After attending the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion for years, I leaned over to my wife, Maureen, while sitting in the pit row suites and said, we need to figure out how to move from the best seats at the track to the last race car on the track. That was August of 2015, and a lot has happened since.
(Maureen and me in the pit row suite back in 2015)
While at the track that weekend, I met Victor Avila in the paddock. He was racing a Lotus 26R and told me about VARA University (VARA U). I researched the race school and learned it was at Buttonwillow, and the next event was January 2016. After speaking with Maureen about it, we agreed it would be a fun experience and possibly an entry into vintage racing. There was only one problem. I didn’t have a race car. Race cars are not required at VARA U, but if you want to participate in the last session of the weekend, you need to be driving a car that has all the safety components (i.e., a race car). That said, the folks at VARA referred me to Danny McKeever from Fast Lane driving school. He rents race cars for the weekend and with a credit card deposit, my race car problems were solved.
While attending VARA U, I learned that I am not nearly as good a driver as I thought. Fortunately, all the instructors who sat in the passenger seat of my rental were patient. By Sunday afternoon, I was significantly better at braking, down shifting, and hitting the apex at the appropriate speed so that I was always under control and ready for the next corner or straight away. I also made a lot of friends. Some of them have become close friends.
Because I have already written an article on my early days of vintage racing with VARA, as well as the acquisition of the Hyde Park 34, I will fast forward to the 2023 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. As you can see in the picture below, we were accepted and would be running in the 1961-1971 FIA Manufactures Championship Group. In that group was a Ferrari GT 250 SWB, Porsche 910, and a 1965 Ford GT 40 driven by Adrian Newey. My dream of moving from the best seats in the house to the last car on the track came true (second to last car to be exact but who is counting?).
(I couldn’t believe it when I received the email notification)
(Kind words from the Rolex Reunion Tech inspector)
(Adrian Newey passing me in a 1965 Ford GT40)