Buttonwillow Fall 1998

Well, did we have fun, or what? Did we not enjoy two days of super wheel-to-wheel racing with cars from the earliest part of the century to the latest clubman rockets? Did we not marvel at the standard of British cars in the popular vote show? Did we not get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a real race track in our very own car or maybe hurtled around, as a passenger, in one of the pace cars provided by Chrysler Corporation (including a Prowler!)? If you wonder of what I speak, then obviously you were not at the Third Annual British Extravaganza sponsored by Moss Motors and VARA at Buttonwillow Raceway earlier in the year.

Despite a little inclement weather on the Saturday evening, a full two-day racing program was completed “in the dry,” including the prestigious Moss MG/Triumph Challenge event followed by the Sprite/Mini Challenge! Visitors came from several surrounding states and from such distant parts as Hawaii and even Calgary, Canada!

Highlights of this ever-growing event included the sight of Tom DeMund’s 1915 Saxon Speedster being tailed by the 1919 Essex Racer of Fred Huttleston in the Group 3 class, which attracted no less than 16 entries. Pete Icelander’s 1934 MG NE was being campaigned again while other entries included several of the ubiquitous Morgan Three-Wheelers from the ’30s. One of these, of 1934 vintage, was driven by our founder—Al Moss! Lovely Lagondas and Tasty Talbots also made for a memorable lineup in this class! No quibbling here—these venerable gentlemen had come to race!

Meanwhile, we had the terrific spectacle of MGs, Triumphs, Mini-Coopers, Sprites, and the odd Big Healey striving for honors in the 14 Clubman’s Races along with Jaguars, Lotus Cortinas, and all manner of other great names from a British automotive past which, even as we write, is becoming even more fragmented with Teutonic overtones! The Saturday evening BBQ and disco should have engaged the band “Wet-Wet-Wet” as the El Nino rains came, but it takes a lot to dampen the spirits of a merry crowd of race fans, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Then again, when did it ever rain in Bakersfield in May?

Of course, a great many of the club participants entered the Sunday morning car show and presented a fine variety of assorted classics for our enjoyment and judging. Here Wes Selvedge, U.S. Acrobatic Champion, who was prevented from entertaining us on the previous day by the low ceiling, suddenly appeared from out of the blue and proceeded to amaze the huge crowd of spectators with a display straight out of Top Gun! This culminated in Wes undertaking a lap of the Buttonwillow Raceway—in his aircraft—which, needless to say, obtained him fastest time of the day (or any other day, for that matter!). We vividly recall seeing a Porsche driver hammering down the front straight, thinking that nothing could pass him, when the Pitts Special passed over his roof at a considerably faster rate of knots to enter Turn One at the tightest of angles, trailing smoke around the course! Thanks Wes, for a memorable display this fine Sunday morning!

Awards were duly presented, and a check for $20,000 raised from a raffle to win a 1974 Alfa Romeo Spyder was presented to the Boys and Girls Club of Bakersfield.

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