Another Buttonwillow Bonanza

By Ken Smith

Moss Motors returned for the sixth successive year to Buttonwillow Raceway to host their annual British Extravaganza May 5-6. The event was held in conjunction with the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA). For $25 per person, attendees could enjoy a variety of competitive auto racing events.

Entries this year were at an all-time high with no fewer than 270 racecars and more than 150 fine British automobiles entered in the Popular Vote Car Show.

The itinerary included full practice and 11 races on Saturday and Sunday, plus a car show on Sunday morning. Registrants were able to take their own cars out on the track during lunchtime track sessions to get a taste of what the racers experience.

We were allowed to use the skidpan at the circuit for the inaugural Moss Motors funkhana. The “funkhana” was a new feature this year and proved to be a wild ride. Following Saturday’s exciting racing program, the traditional tri-tip barbecue was held, followed by several entertaining rounds of karaoke.

The two major Moss-sponsored events took place on Sunday. Spectators at the MG/Triumph challenge watched as Robert Colosia won by just 5.10 seconds in his TR6 ahead of Steven Smith in a GT6. Robert’s winning speed was 78.742 mph, roughly twice as fast as the average punter made in his or her lunchtime drives around the circuit. In the Sprite/Mini Challenge, last year’s stunning result was reversed, with father and son adversaries Mark Matthews Sr. and Jr. finishing first and second in a 1965 Sprite and 1959 Bugeye respectively.

Notable this year was the huge turnout of pre-war machinery, ranging from a 1916 National and various MGs and Morgans, to a suburb 1939 Laguna V12. All the veterans ran competitively and acquitted themselves admirably. Some of the drivers and riding mechanics dressed in period costume for a photo shoot on Saturday.

Peter Conway of the British Tourist Authority was a welcome guest at the event. He dispensed freebies from his booth while other vendors were busy selling t-shirts and souvenirs to the estimated 10,000 spectators who came through the gates. The new air-conditioned control center provided spectators and competitors with an excellent vantage point of the track. From the control center, veteran commentator Alan Bolte kept race information and facts flowing to an attentive audience. The audience was especially attentive when an Alfa Romeo GTV was raffled, which raised nearly $20,000 for charity.

In the EP race on Sunday, no fewer than 75 (mainly British) cars started and stretched halfway around the track before finally coming to the line for the announcement, “And you’re off!” Included in this impressive line-up was British Marketing Manager Kelvin Dodd in his 1965 MGB works replica. Truly, we drive what we sell. Tune in to Speedvision for coverage of the Moss Extravaganza.

Moss Motors gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the directors and staff of Buttonwillow Raceway, the officials and workers of VARA, Dan and Darlene Longacre, the Long Beach MG Car Club, and the dozens of others who made the Extravaganza so successful.

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