2006 Vintage Races

Cars at Mission Raceway Vintage 2006 Cars at Mission Raceway Vintage 2006


From our September 2006 Newsletter

This was the 7th annual Vintage Race at Mission. It certainly was not the driest, but then it wasn't the wettest, the coldest, the warmest, the busiest, nor the quietest. But all this doesn't matter a hoot for diehard goofs like me, Charlie Teetzel, Glenn Russell, Dave Philips and Gil Stuart who camp at the track for those 3 days. We have a great time.

The Vintage Racing Club of BC (VRCBC) hosts this annual weekend event. Ian Wood of IWE Rear Ends Only, Vancouver’s best differential repair garage, deserves special mention. He seems to have infinite energy and is either roaring around on his bicycle keeping the race meet organized, or roaring around the track at the head of the pack in his Ralt race car.

Gil Stuart - Cars at Mission Raceway Vintage 2006
Gil Stuart’s red 1958 PV444 at Mission 2006.
Photo - Michael Zbarsky

Page Header photos: (L) Jim Latham’s 1968-122S leads Gil Stuart’s 1958 PV444. (R) Gil Stuart’s 1958 PV444 leads Peter Valkenburg Black 544 off the front straight.

Participants for the race typically come from BC, the US Pacific North West and sometimes Alberta. Weather certainly plays a big part in the attendance, particularly Friday’s weather. If it is nice on Friday the racers will take a chance that the weather will hold. Unfortunately it was just pouring on Friday and many elected to stay home. Bad decision as it turned out, because Saturday and Sunday were not bad at all. This year the theme of the event was a celebration of Italian sport and racing cars. VRM (Vintage Racing Motors) brought a stable of famous Italian Racers. Particularly impressive was a 1954 Ferrari 250 Monza that finished 5th in the 1954 Mexican Carrera Panamericana race. Although the old Ferrari did not leave the paddock, a monster Ferrari 512M Formula car with a wailing V 12 engine did some parade laps for the entertainment of the spectators. They were also expecting a big showing of Italian cars to turn up at Sunday’s car show and pace laps. However, we all know how well Italian cars start in the rain, so we weren’t surprised that hardly any of them turned up.

Gil and Peter - Cars at Mission Raceway Vintage 2006
Mission 2006 - Gil Stuart and Peter Warrington
Photo -

The attraction of Vintage Races, as spectators, is that you recognize many of the race cars as familiar street sports cars and sports sedans from the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s. Mission’s Riverside Raceway is an excellent spectator’s track, because you can see most of the track from the well-placed bleachers. The race cars are organized in 4 groups. Group 1 is for Pre-1964 Vintage and Pre-War This was our favourite group as it included Gil Stuart’s 1958 PV444, and Jim Latham’s 1968-122S. They race against such cars as Triumph TR3, Austin Healey, MGA, Porche 356, Fiat Abarth, Elva, Alfa etc. Group 2 is for Post-1963 Historic under 2 litre Sports Cars and Sedans; such as MGB, TR4, BMW 2002, Lotus Cortina, Ford Escort, Datsun 510, Porche 911, Mini Cooper; Group 3 for Post-1963 Historic over 2 litre Sports, GTs and Sedans is for the heavy metal such as Jaguar Etype, Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, Sunbeam Tiger, AC Cobra and finally Group 4: Post-1963 historic open wheel cars, sports racers and exhibition cars.

We have a number of photos from this event.

The capabilities of the cars and drivers in any one group vary significantly so there tends to be races within races. Add to this the great equalizer of a wet track and it makes for super entertaining racing. Gil started the weekend on worn rain tires and found that the 444 had no traction at all, so he went out tire shopping in Mission for something that might stick to the wet track. He returned with a set of 185/65 x15 Michelin Hydro- Edge Rain tires and a significant hole in his wallet. The tires sure did the trick though. The track was wet and slippery and the 444 hung on incredibly well. These would be the perfect street tire for typical wet Vancouver weather conditions.

Cars at Mission Raceway Vintage 2006
Gil Stuart’s 1958 PV444, and Jim Latham’s 1968-122S at Mission 2006.
Photo -

As the track dried, Jim Latham and his very nicely prepared 68-122S gained on Gil and pulled away when he finally got past. Jim’s car has an interesting history. It has almost always been a race car; originally in rallies and now on road courses. It would turn up in the car park at the Westwood historic race days, wearing its distinctive paint scheme of bright reddish orange and a bright yellow side stripe. Even then it displayed many dash plaques from races in the 70s. I remember seeing the car for sale in the Buy and Sell, incredibly cheaply, sometime in the ‘80s. Mike Handfield and Nick Seldon (formerly of Chariot Enterprises and now of Allvo) must have seen the ad at the same time and headed for the vendor. They caught sight of one another in traffic, realized that they were both heading to the same place, and the race was on. They arrived simultaneously and both wanted the car. In the end the owner had them flip for it, and Nick won the toss and bought the car, which he subsequently sold to Mike. It changed hands a few times after that and finally was purchased by Vintage Racer, Leigh Anderson. Leigh discovered that the car had suffered the ravages of too many races and too much time as a street car and was coming apart at the seams. It needed some structural work and Leigh’s son welded up all the seams in the car and cut out the rust and generally stiffened it up. With the body sound, Leigh steadily improved the powertrain and handling during his years of ownership.

Jim Latham bought the car in the spring of 2005 and had it repainted in its original colours. From Leigh he received some of the car’s history and has continued to research it. For one thing he learned that the car was named Greta in 1970, after the Swedish redhead Greta Garboe. Jim had his first opportunity to race the car in the fall of 2005 and with that track time he formulated a plan for improving the cars performance. This past winter Greta went on a diet. Jim replaced some of the glass with lexan, removed all the sound deadening, removed the head liner, overdrive, replaced the door panels with corrugated plastic sign board, and numerous other details that added up to a 167 lb. weight reduction. His goal is to prepare the car to SCCA 1969 GCR status and will run in vintage events as a 1969 SCCA B sedan which will be group 2 for Sovren.

We missed Peter Valkenburg and his black 61 PV 544 racer because an untimely back injury that prevented his attendance. This was super disappointing for Peter, after he spent the whole winter improving the car for this race. He will be back.

Due to the wet track conditions there were lots of spins and off-track excursions. This is hair raising for the racers but entertaining for the spectators. As conditions changed from wet to dry and wet again, it was hard for them to choose between the rain tires and dry track tires. A wet track is a great equalizer on this multiple turn course. The big engine cars, cannot keep traction and this gives smaller more agile cars an advantage.

These events are fun in all weather conditions so don’t forget to attend next year, rain or shine.


June 30 – July 2, 2006, we reconvened at the Pacific Raceway (formerly Seattle International Raceway) for the Seattle Vintage Races. It was an idyllic weekend of sunny weather, camping at the track with good friends, and 250 vintage race cars from ½ pint Fiat 500 Abarths to cubic dollar Ferraris. Peter Valkenburg was back in action with his black 544 and Gil Stuart arrived with his red 444 with Peter Warrington riding shotgun. It was Peter Warrington who started all this “Volvos in Vintage Racing stuff” 20 years ago when he built a dark green 1800S to race at Westwood and a red 123GT after that.

Unfortunately, Jim Latham was not able to bring his red 122 to the race because his new engine did not arrive in time.

It was a calm weekend for the Volvo pit crews as the most serious breakdown was a faulty plug wire. In the Historic Small Bore grid that Peter V and Gil both compete in, the race commentator described the 544s at Racing Turtles and the Fiat Abarths as lady bugs. As it turned out the PVs were very fast turtles and by the end of the weekend both Peter and Gil had set personal-best lap times and we all left happy.

Also on the Volvo front, Gary Ramstad of the Puget Sound Volvo Sports America chapter arranged to have a nice selection of Classic Volvos displayed at the Car Corral and pace laps that accompany the Historic Races.