Just a Simple Wrench
by Ann & Jake Snyder
Camping Trip 2000
Who could ask for more: vintage racing at its best, a chance to cheer for friends competing on possibly the finest track on this continent, and evenings of good fellowship around a campfire. This year is the 50th anniversary of racing in Elkhart Lake, and this was the fifth annual Chicagoland MG Club Camping Trip. As usual, we stayed at Plymouth Rock Camping Resort, just down the road from Gate 2. Staying at the group campsite were Susan, Ralph, Caroline, and Rachel Arata, Curt Bork and Pam, Dave Bralich, Lana and Kori Ehmann, Barney and Elliot Gaylord, Shirley and Roger Goebbert, Bill Hedrick, Cindy OíBrian and Randy Byboth, Ann and Jake Snyder, Dianne and Kim Tonry, Henneke and Reinout Vogt, and Jan and Rick Wesley. Friday evening we were joined at dinner at Harveyís Qís, an Elkhart Lake restaurant, by Vicki and Kelvin Palmer, and George Goeppner joined us at the campground Saturday evening for the cookout, which, as usual, was excellent. Once again, we had too much food!
At the track, we could watch practice on Friday, practice and qualifying on Saturday, and races on Sunday. What exactly can you expect to see at this event? Once known as the Chicago Historics Races, this is now the Brian Redman International Challenge. Group 1 included Modified Production and Historic Stock Cars (Camaros, Corvettes, Ferraris, Mustangs, Porsches, and even a couple TR8s). Group 2 was Vintage Production Cars, and club members ML Hillard (37 Green) and Scott Fohrman (53 Blue) were in this group with other MGs, Alfas, Corvettes, Elvas, Healeys, Jaguars, Porsches, Triumphs, etc. Scott was 14th overall in this group of 46 and finished ahead of quite a few big Healeys, Porsches, and Alfas. Group 3 was Sports Racing Cars (Bobsies, Brabhams, Devins, Ferraris, Lotuses) An Allard was listed in the program, but didnít run. Group 4, Monoposto Racing Cars through 1972, included the smaller Formula cars (B, C, Ford, Junior, V, and I, II, and III) and their race, which usually borders on madness, was red-flagged and restarted when 12 cars left the track at turn 9, the Carousel. Group 5 was FIA, World Manufacturing Championship Cars, and Formula 70- Chevrons, Lolas, Marches, McLarens, Ralts, Reynards. Group 6 was Historic Production GTO, production based cars 2 to 5 litres, from Camaros, Cobras and Corvettes to Ferraris, Porsches, Shelby GT-350s and XKEs. Group 7 was the Can-Am cars- Chicagoland members always meet at the bleachers on Turn 7 to watch this spectacular race of colorful Lolas, McKees, McLarens and more. In Group 8, Historic Production GTU, was Kelvin Palmer in 34 Blue, one little MGB among lots of 240Zs, Alfas, Lotuses, Porsches, and bigger Triumphs. Group 9 was GTP and Single Seat Can-Am, mostly later cars than Group 7, except for a 1966 GT-40. The Ferrari F1 that won this race also won the Group 5 race, after starting nearly a lap behind the pace car. This car, which runs on methanol at engine speeds of 17,000 rpm has a distinctive, high-pitched whine that carried to all parts of the track and was doing laps of 4 miles in under 2 minutes. Scott Fohrman pointed out that it is the only car he has heard shift three times going up the hill out of Turn 5.
Another attraction of this event is the paddock filled with exotic vehicles - both race cars and support vehicles. Shelby was displaying the new production car. And a Panoz roadster was displayed in the parking lot with information that the marque is now available from Knauz Motors, Lake Bluff. The streets of Elkhart Lake surrounding Siebkens are used for a race car concours Friday evening and a sports car concours Saturday evening. If you donít know what Siebkens is, you need to read The Last Open Road. There was an auction again, but, to the best of our knowledge, no one from the club bought a car this year. But there are always interesting people at this event- ask Vicki and Kelvin about Brian Redman stopping at their table Friday evening to ask if he could join them, or ask Curt and Pam about Phil Hillís reminiscences when he saw Curtís TD.
One club member, new to this event, commented that he hadnít realized what a big part of the weekend the evening campfires were. Each year, Roger and Shirley bring a van with lots of firewood, and, with the cool evenings this year, we all appreciated the huge campfires. Some of us roasted marshmallows and made smores, and even more of us shared a few brews around the fire. Most of us stayed up late but we all were up early for the races or for touring local attractions each morning. The roar of the unmuffled exhausts as the cars warm up is a great alarm clock.
The results of this yearís races and lots of photos have already been posted on the Road America Web Site http://www.roadamerica.com. Watch the Chicagoland Web Site and the Driveline next January for details of next yearís trip.