An Innocent on the Track
Reprinted, with permission, from Sporting Classics … January/February 1991
By Alan Fraser
Alan Fraser, of Victoria, BC has just completed his first year of vintage competition through the purchase of an unusual MGA roadster.
"Although I had spent a quarter of a century professing publicly that the MG TC was the last 'real' MG and that all subsequent models were simply variations of the MGY with the roof missing, I kept a clandestine eye open for a good MGA to run as a more practical road car. Eventually I heard of a partially restored MGA 1600 roadster that needed a good home. Upon interviewing the car, I discovered a well restored beast, painted the dark green colour of the first Le Mans prototypes, boasting a breathed-upon engine with Weber carburetor, plus oversize rims and tires. The previous owner had apparently been restoring the car with vintage racing in mind. The MGA became mine along with boxes of parts yet to be installed, a daunting venture for a confirmed TC owner. At least the floorboards were still wooden!"
"As I looked over the green beast, I realized that I could complete it in a number of ways: restore it to original to be just like every other restored MGA, accept the modifications and drive the car as an exciting road car, or complete the car as the vintage racer my predecessor had planned. After much thought, I decided to combine the latter two options to enjoy a unique, powerful MG road car which could be quickly converted to a vintage racer. After a year of arranging the boxes of parts into close formation, I had the car on the road and was studying the rules of vintage racing."
"After fabricating a roll-over bar, discarding the fire snorting Weber for original S.U. carburation, restoring the original rims and tires, installing various overflow tanks and purchasing assorted Nomex clothing, gloves, belts and helmet, I had the car ready for the track. I, however, was not. I was required to qualify in driver training at Westwood for the Sports-car Club of BC. In this venture I used my favourite wife's '82 Tercel. At the end of two days of enthusiastic driving, I was complimented for my skill at correctly signalling all the faster cars past and had many fierce duels with that nice lady in the Honda Civic. I was now qualified to race on the track."
"Armed with spare half-shaft, fuel pump and tools we ventured to the track for the first time with the MGA. Between races everybody else was seen to be jacking up cars, adjusting brakes, changing parts and generally looking gainfully employed. Whenever I returned to the pits my crew would check the essential fluids, close the bonnet, wipe the car down and await the next race. I felt left out of all the activity, but the car ran faultlessly and consistently in both wet and dry (it was mostly wet). When we arrived back home my favourite wife saw the gleam in my eyes and knew that I had found a new love: vintage racing, which she simply dismissed as a symptom of a mid-life crisis, mentioning that it is probably slightly less expensive than acquiring a mistress!"
"The MGA returned to Westwood for the Historic Race Weekend in July in company with 150 other vintage cars and an equal number of vintage motorcycles. This time my bored pit crew disappeared for hours at a time to help other competitors who continued to jack up and work on cars, while I had no problems. By the second day I was asking passers-by to help me belt up: the pit crew arrived back just in time to help load the car on the trailer."
"For my final outing this year, I brought my favourite wife along as pit crew. She also disappeared for the day, returning only to tell me that she had found a shopping centre and that our living room was finally furnished to her satisfaction. Thus, she has proven to me that vintage racing can indeed be an expensive undertaking. It was probably revenge for those bald tires on her Tercel."
"My novice year of vintage racing have shown me that the MGA is a reliable high speed car with very predictable handling and limits far above anything I have the skill to attempt. Thirty years after the car was produced, it still substantiates the claims made on its behalf by writers and drivers when it was new. I was equally delighted to have the car in its racing guise recently earn the "People's Choice" award at the Victoria MG Club Anniversary meet. I feel that I have the ideal MG: a car with robust street performance that can be converted in an hour to a race machine. Though not finished or maintained in concours form, my MGA is exciting to drive at any time and has displayed its racing pedigree on the track."
"After a delightful season of racing, I was recently driving quietly along at 40 m.p.h. when the gearbox seized up.
Obviously the. car does not enjoy being driven in a genteel manner. Luckily I have all winter to repair the gears.
Now if I can only find my pit crew." … Alan Fraser
Return > < Return