This past weekend I went to the Vintage Motorsports Festival at Thompson Speedway which celebrated the grand reopening of the historic road course at this facility. Thompson Speedway was one of the first closed-course purpose built road racing tracks in the USA.
While the event lasted three days, I only attended the last day, Sunday June 29, 2014. On Sunday there was a morning car show in the pit area followed by races in the afternoon. At the Thompson Speedway, due to Sunday noise restrictions, racing is only permitted after noon.
On Friday night there was a banquet where Fox’s NASCAR announcer, Mike Joy, was a featured speaker. Bob Melhado, Chief Steward for the VSCCA races forwarded the following photo to me. The photo shows, from left to right, Gordie MacKenzie who was a very well-known and successful Jaguar racer in the 1950s and 1960s, Ernie Stuebesand, and Mike Joy, who is seated.
Gordie MacKenzie, Ernie Stuebesand, and Mike Joy
There was a tremendous amount of eye candy at the Thompson Speedway. I have selected some of the photos that I took on Sunday, but there were many more great and interesting cars at the Thompson Vintage Festival, but I had to draw a line somewhere. The racing was a combined Vintage Racer Group (VRG) and Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) event. Each organization had their own races.
1964 Chevrolet Corvette
In addition to cars in the pits and on the track, I was able to walk through the garage and see the cars being prepared. The picture below shows a couple of MGA race cars in the garage.
Two MGA Racers
As the case for any race event, there were a number of Porsche cars present. The Porsche 911 shown below is but one of many Porsche cars there.
1968 Porsche 911
There were quite a few Lotus 7 cars at Thompson. The Lotus 7 is a street car that seemed to be designed as a thinly disguised race car.
In addition to cars that were actively being raced there were a number of interesting cars around the track and in the spectator’s parking lot. One of the more impressive cars at the track was the “blower” Bentley shown below.
A “Blower” Bentley With The Front-Mounted Supercharger
While many of the cars were quite immaculately prepared, one car stood out to me due to the healthy dose of patina displayed on the car. The Bugatti shown below looks like it has been sitting in the garage for many years and just got pushed out for these races.
In the pre-war race there were several race cars that appeared to have more of a history on dirt tracks than on road courses. However during the race these sprint cars were quite competitive. The Dreyer Ford Special shown below had a small Ford “flathead” V8 engine.
Dreyer Ford Special
A car that is no longer seen on a race track in the Ford Thunderbird. The mid-1950s 2-seat Thunderbird shown below is reminiscent of the days when there really was “thunder” in the Thunderbird.
The Lotus Evora shown below appeared to be the personal car of one of the racers. This is a very impressive car!
In addition to race cars, there were a few very interesting and unusual cars there as well. The Citroen van shown below fits into that category.
You Don’t See A Citroen Van Everyday
Another interesting spectator car was the TVR 280i convertible shown below. Car #136 shown in the background is a Marcos.
There were interesting cars in the parking lot as well. Check out the Alfa Romeo Giulia SS shown below. Also the Porsche beside the Alfa Romeo belongs to Jim Garfield of Rhode Island. I know Jim from a few years ago when he wanted to buy my Brantz Retrotrip odometer. I told him that I was not interested in selling it to him because I had some issues with it. However I did lend the Retrotrip to Jim so that he could try it out and form his own opinion. I looked inside Jim’s car and I notice that he now has his own Brantz Retrotrip odometer and a nice set of watches. Jim and his son, Mason, were attending the Thompson Vintage Festival as crew members for a Porsche 911.
An Alfa Romeo Giulia SS
The Jaguar below has that color that I always associate with the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar race team.
Jaguar XK140 Racer
Another great spectator car was the Lotus Elite shown below. As I noted in a recent discussion on the Lotus Elan cars, the Lotus Elite was the precursor to the Lotus Elan in the road cars that were built by Colin Chapman.
One of the oldest cars at the Thompson Vintage Festival was a 1932 MG J2. This is one of the earliest MG cars. This car was raced in England from 1932 to 1934 before it was imported into the USA. This car looked beautiful, but it had some difficulties on the track during the pre-war race and only was able to complete one lap.
1932 MG J2
Another MG racer at the Thompson Vintage Festival was the MG P Lester Special shown below. This was also a very impressive car.
MG P Lester Special
One of the most storied race cars in the northeast USA is the car known as “The Old Gray Mare”. The Old Gray Mare has been raced continually from the early 1930s. There are numerous photos of this car on race courses and at the Mount Washington Hillclimb over the years. Power comes from a Ford “flathead” V8 engine.
The Old Gray Mare
Below is a front view of the legendary Old Gray Mare.
Front View Of The Old Gray Mare
In summary, the Thompson Speedway Vintage Festival was a very enjoyable event. I hope that it becomes an annual event. It is wonderful to have road racing return to Thompson.