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  Chicagoland MG Club:Club Info

Brian Redmond Int'l Challenge at Road America

by Kelvin Palmer

I had my first experience racing the MGB on Road Americašs twisting four mile circuit in July. Fellow CMGC member and MGB racer M.L. Hillard invited my wife , Vicki, and I to paddock with him and wife Jan, along with several other vintage racers comprising the "British Race Group" team. The weekend weather was perfect and we enjoyed great racing and great company. The event schedule called for an early Friday morning practice session for my car group so we made arrangements to arrive Thursday and be settled in for a less hectic Friday morning.

Thursday evening in the paddock, upon spying a newcomeršs car in their midst, a group of other Brit racers huddled around my MGB for conversation and, I suspect, friendly intelligence gathering. Most small-bore Brits run in Group 2 and this bunch was confused that my car had been assigned to Group 8. The sanctioning group, VSCDA, marks a separation between "Vintage" and "Historic" at the 1963 production year, Group 2 being earlier Vintage and Group 8 being later Historic. My B, originally a rubber bumper model although now sporting a 74 chrome grill and fender flares (rather dimly viewed by the vintage types), by the book should be in Group 8. Having satisfied themselves that my tamely prepared car and novice level driving experience was no threat to Group 2, the huddle campaigned to have me switched. A "tech" person passing by was willing to attempt the switch and told me to show up at the inspection area at 7AM the next morning to confirm the plan. So much for a relaxed Friday morning. Vicki and I rose at 6, wolfed down breakfast and showed up on schedule to find that the plan had been vetoed by the powers that be, due to the already large size of Group 2 and the simple fact that rules are rules. I accepted the decision without argument and prepared myself and my car to meet Group 8. . . Then I met Group 8.

I pulled the MGB into the Group 8 starting grid amongst a pack of snarling 911 Turbo Carreras, Z cars and a few very fast Brits. This was gonna be an experience! The session went fine, the car ran well and I had no problem STAYING THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY as I worked to memorize and repeat the "Simon-game-like" sequence of approaching and exiting 14 very different corners and all the connecting bits in between. (For those interested, I can now confirm that your helmet dances on your head in a rather disconcerting manner when a 911 passes your 100mph MG at probably 130mph and at who-knows-how-many wailing RPM.)

I had a repeat performance in a qualifying session that afternoon that ended slowly with my preoccupation over a missing bonnet latch pin. I couldn't see the front edge of the bonnet where the pin must have been missing but I could see the bonnet center buckling downward as the front was buckling upward at speed. Luckily the session was over just as I was planning on pulling in anyway to look at it. Another session FINISHED!

Friday night's attraction was the race car parade and concours in the town of Elkhart Lake. Dozens of gorgeous, extremely well prepared race cars streamed through the streets lined with cheering spectators resembling a Fourth of July parade. The cars were parked around the Siebken's complex for close inspection, stories and endless photo opportunities. Hallowed ground this, as this street, and this spot in particular, was the start/finish line of the original road racing Elkhart Lake hosted in the 50s and 60s. As fun as the arrival and viewing of these cars was, their spirited and squealing exit from town later on had to be the supreme exhibition of glorious, all-American, testosterone oozing, "boys with their toys" enthusiasm. I had to laugh as an unsuspecting motorist passing though downtown in a Buick was suddenly confronted, face to face, with a thundering CAN-AM McLaren in his path. His mouth is probably still agape.

Saturday brought the CMGC campers to the track. Vicki and I did hook up with a number of you and I hope you enjoyed seeing me run as well as M.L. and the others. My morning warm-up session and afternoon Group 8 race were again both FINISHED fun and safe. (Seven DNFs in that race by the way...the MG ran flawlessly if not exactly up front.) M.L. had his Group 2 race a little later and really put on a great show for us and the other cheering Turn 5 spectators with some really close "dicing" between his MGB and another British Race Group Triumph.

I look forward already to next year's Brian Redmond International Challenge vintage race event at Road America. If you havenšt been there I assure you will find the biggest, best and most exciting collection of fantastic sportcars ever, and you will have not yet left the parking lot!! See you there.

Click here to read Kelvin's First Race Season Summary

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