Vintage Challenge 2014 - Roque Perez Race Track - Santiago Sánchez Ortega Review
Recently it has been proved that Argentina is a country ruled by its passions. And from all of them soccer is the one that dominates the rest of them. This affirmation surely seems painful to people like us that don’t understand those twenty-two men who run after a leather sphere. We prefer the delicate lines of good machinery and a sensual bodywork design which combined create a technical masterpiece; moreover if we add vintage and history on metalwork on these marvellous machines. Perhaps a car with sports history or simply a representative of a certain historic period is all incomparable with a foot and a ball.
As it has been happening for the last four years the Club de Automóviles Clásicos (Classic Cars Club) has organized the third edition of the Dasfío Vintage (Vintage Challenge) at the El Orejano circuit in Roque Pérez, 130 km in Buenos Aires. The date chosen is the 9th of July, a traditional national Argentine holiday; and ideal risk-free date to reserve the track without being kicked off by other category races taking place here. As well, the club has a history of celebrating “National Mechanics Day” on this day. In this time of the year winter manifests itself in all its splendour, and we had the cold as well as thick fog at its highest peak. Although we are used to climate challenges, this one played doubly against us.
We already talked about native passions and how football can captivate and change daily habits on unthinkable people. The event organizers never imagined that the Argentine team would make it to semi-finals in the world cup in Brazil. The match date coincided with the race and worse, they never imagined that bi part of the applicants would desert the race to go and sit in front of the TV. Also, we need to add that the majority of participants travelled over 130 km through highways and roads from Buenos Aires with fog which didn’t allow us to see more than 5 km, it all created a discouraging cocktail for the event. Consequently, this edition had the least applicants since its creation. Anyway, this did not affect in the least the brave participants.
The usual categories were: Baquets and Sports until 1945, Standard Vintage until 1930, Standard Post Vintage until 1939 and motorcycles until 1960. This year two new categories were incorporated: Monopostos front engine until 1945 and Cupecitas TC until 1939. Due to the low audience in Monopostos, Baquets and Sports and the two Standards joined the group. The most important number and saviour of the race were the motorbikes; because of their survivor spirit they gave some slack to the year limitation and physical condition.
The competition system was applied by the sports motorists, since it is not allowed to be evaluated by speed; it is measured by auto-imposed regulation times. Three reconnaissance turns were made and passed the third round the speedometers take that time as the ideal one to copy with one with the least difference. Even more, watches, communication systems, chronometers or any other devices or objects foreign to the cars were completely forbidden to use. Any hundredth part of a second of time was penalized by one point. Whoever summed the least amount of points won the competition. The first ones to turn were the Cupecitas, which didn’t care about times, and dedicated their race to revive the Great Awards and stepped (cautiously…) their rocket cars. The two best ones were Alberto Corral with a Ford (which some friends baptized the car as La Tetona - Big-breasted- why would that be?) and in second place Pedro Vasena with another furious Ford. This year the goats were left grazing far away. Afterwards the Standards did a tidy job It was so remarkable that they decided to establish a minimum speed for future editions. In this group we must recognize the Itala 61 from 1928 from Luis Bustelo, which has been recently fabulously restored and it drove very good and it came and went back to Buenos Aires driving, like it should. Congratulations to the team. Also, John Hampton with his Morgan 4/4 made an impression overtaking quite a few laps over the rest of the team. In future years it would be convenient that he integrates the sports category which is his natural habitat. In the regulatory race Bustelo won with his Itala and in second place came Horacio Rossi with an incredibly well-kept 1936 Plymouth Cabriolet. Then came the main dish with Baquets and Sports car entered the scene with an abundance of CADEAA friends with Baquets. In this category the 37 type Bugatti from Manuel Elicabe impressed all with its looks and good driving. So, he took second place in the regularity race. The winner was Juan Carlos Spinella with a Ford T Baquet which previously was driven by the great pilot Dante Emiliozzi before competing in “Turismo de Carretera”. This car belongs to the Hermanos Emiliozzi Museum in Olavarria and it was brought specially for the event. The car was restored recently by Juan Carlos and everything on and in it was copied as it was in times when they used to race on dirt roads. Tehre was a great diversity and interesting Baquets like Gustavo Barufaldi’s canvas body worked Ford T like a Graf Zeppelin or rugby ball style. There were also two first time appearances on track: Jorge Penedo’s Chevrolet monoposto made from a Malusardi chasis and driven by his son Luis. On the other hand, Sanchez’s Ortega Whippet Baquet which Reneé Hartman started constructing years ago in Entre Ríos was the other one. The rest were the usual ones including diverse Americans like: Buick, Pontiac, Ford and large amounts of Chevrolets. At the end it was time for the motorcycles were you could find everything. In the high morning, fog started to get thicker and visibility of whole racetrack from the stands was scarce. For some cases it was better, for others you could watch itnersting makes and years. There were more than usual ones and we preferred this. As always it was a great pleasure watching Paul Greene draw trajectories in his 1948 Velocette MAC 350 and Jorge Valenzuela’s 1958 Norton Dominator. Diego Carvotta came in first place with an incredibly fast 1947 Cushman in a state better than new and Ludovico Muchall with a funny 1962 Gilera 150 came in second.
After all the categories series raced, a new but different and innovated system took place. Each categorie started racing but, after the first lap time was taken and the next three rounds they had to reduce the time by three seconds. There were some pilots that complaint the measurement being incorrect and difficult to be established since there was no standard measurement. But the challenge was exactly that, the natural sense of the chronometric time of each pilot and the engine under his feet. The outcome was a lot of fun and more than one took advantage to press on the gas pedal.
Like every year the Capricho award was given to the sports spirit recognition, the best conserved car, the best restored car, the car which is best recreated after its original image and definitely to the guy we like the best. This year Carlos Pugliese won this prize with his very correct Ford A Baquet which drove very well and always transmits enthusiasm and a good feeling.
A little bit after midday the event ended. As predicted, the sun came out and we all returned to our hoes to get on time to watch the soccer game.
Santiago Sánchez Ortega