Aaron Noo­nan

Australian Muscle Car - - Maniac -

The more I sit back and an­a­lyse and ab­sorb what is hap­pen­ing in His­toric motorsport in North Amer­ica, the United King­dom and Europe, the more I think we are re­ally in need a lit­tle re­fresh of our own His­toric motorsport men­tal­ity.

His­toric motorsport in this coun­try isn’t in cri­sis, nor does it need a com­plete over­haul. It doesn’t need a whole new driv­e­line; it just needs a few new gear ra­tios and a lit­tle re­fresh in or­der to at­tract the next gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue the fab­u­lous work of those that have come be­fore.

With­out this con­nec­tion I fear we’re go­ing to lose the chance to se­cure the in­ter­est of an im­por­tant de­mo­graphic in an im­por­tant pe­riod of time in the sport. More of that in a sec­ond.

Re­cent trips to lo­cal His­toric events have left me a tad dis­ap­pointed when com­pared to those same events in pre­vi­ous years. Smaller car counts, smaller crowds, a feel­ing of see­ing the ‘same, same’ cars and fewer and fewer off-track at­trac­tions that re­ally caught in­ter­est and at­ten­tion have left me pon­der­ing what can, could or should be done to help with the fu­ture.

One el­e­ment is a fac­tor that none of us can x: the sheer fact that time stops for no one. The days of the ‘leg­ends’ is sadly nigh. We must all re­mem­ber that these leg­endary driv­ers and per­son­al­i­ties of the sport are now solidly in their ‘70s and ‘80s. Their days as ban­ner­head at­trac­tions to events, fes­ti­vals and gath­er­ings are closer to the end than the start.

For each of the healthy and spritely ones you see at an His­toric event or sim­i­lar, there are equally two or three that are strug­gling with their health and time is catch­ing up with them, mak­ing travel and pub­lic ap­pear­ances an in­creas­ingly rare pos­si­bil­ity un­til they are forced to re­tire from pub­lic life.

These stars, icons and leg­ends are not go­ing to be here forever. Many of their con­tem­po­raries have al­ready passed on. Those who are still with us are closer to the che­quered ag than the green light.

We’re all do­ing the sport a dis­ser­vice not to pre­pare for the next step in the her­itage of our sport’s his­tory. With­out in­ter­ven­tion there’s a big gap­ing hole that might skip a gen­er­a­tion and, in turn, largely undo a lot of the work done by these greats of the sport by not keep­ing things rolling.

So why do I have this feel­ing of His­toric rac­ing need­ing this lit­tle re­fresh?

I can’t help but feel that many of the car own­ers who raced their his­tor­i­cally signi cant ma­chines while in their older years some 10 or 15 years ago have sadly now left the sport. They’ve be­come too old to com­pete, or sold off their cars. Ei­ther way, they are no longer in­volved in the sport. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just life.

And do I feel this way be­cause, as a 36-yearold, I see those num­bers are not be­ing topped up at the other end of the spec­trum by 30 to 40-some­things due to a lack of rel­e­vant cars, cat­e­gories or stars from their up­bring­ing to con­nect with and thus cap­ture their in­ter­est?

Granted, there are plenty of 30 and 40-some­things in­ter­ested and/or in­volved in His­toric motorsport (I’m one of them!) but there should and could be many more.

At present there are a range of cars sit­ting out there in garages, sheds, pri­vate stor­age fa­cil­i­ties and the like that sim­ply don’t have a place to race. These are the cars that com­peted largely in the late 1980s, 1990s and very early 2000s that don’t fall into cur­rent His­tor­i­cally-classied cat­e­gories but don’t fall within cur­rent con­tem­po­rary cat­e­gories of rac­ing.

We need to nd ways to get them out and about, ei­ther by get­ting them classi ed as new His­toric cat­e­gories (yes, a big task with lots of ef­fort re­quired I know!) or en­cour­ag­ing the no­tion of ‘Mod­ern His­toric’ motorsport; es­sen­tially pro­vid­ing a ger­mi­na­tion pe­riod, giv­ing a place for these or­phans of the sport some slots to race, for like-minded own­ers of cars from the same era, class or cat­e­gory to unite, slowly build their mo­men­tum and, should there be an ap­pro­pri­ate base of cars to form solid elds, take their case fur­ther to be­come an of­fi­cial His­toric cat­e­gory with CAMS some­where down the track.

I take in­spi­ra­tion from what is hap­pen­ing in Europe, in par­tic­u­lar the Masters En­durance Leg­ends cat­e­gory for GT and sportscars from the pe­riod of 1995 to 2012 in­clu­sive.

Run as part of the Masters His­toric Rac­ing port­fo­lio in Europe af­ter a suc­cess­ful pi­lot event in 2017, the cat­e­gory is split into groups for the var­i­ous pro­to­types and GT cars that are el­i­gi­ble and the eras they are from.

Ba­si­cally these cars would have nowhere to race oth­er­wise, but now have a plat­form for them to be out on the track, rather than tucked away count­ing down the years un­til they per­haps are given His­toric classi cation.

The most ob­vi­ous rel­e­vant cat­e­gory here lo­cally is the ve-litre/V8 Su­per­cars of the 1990s through to the very early 2000s prior to Project Blue­print-spec Fal­cons and Com­modores.

I will put my hand up here. I have a vested in­ter­est in this hap­pen­ing given my con­nec­tion with the cars, work in re­search­ing all their his­to­ries and fact that an arm of my busi­ness deals in this very pe­riod of ve­hi­cles. But the fact is there are more than enough cars out there and more than enough ea­ger own­ers to get some­thing rolling, as well as piles of en­thu­si­asts that would love to see them, given the ’90s winged cars are now be­tween 19 and 26 years old!

Cars from this era, like the 1990s V8s and other classes of rac­ing from the late ’80s, en­tire ’90s and early ’00s, will hook more of my gen­er­a­tion into His­toric motorsport, paving the way to its fu­ture. If we don’t hook them now, I fear we’ll miss them – and that, above all else, would be a dis­as­ter.

Broad­caster and jour­nal­ist Aaron Noo­nan op­er­ates the pop­u­lar V8 Sleuth web­site, which is ded­i­cated to trac­ing, track­ing, record­ing and ar­chiv­ing motorsport his­tory of all kinds – with a pri­mary fo­cus on the his­to­ries of in­di­vid­ual rac­ing cars. Visit www.v8-sleuth.com.au

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