A driver’s-eye view from Stephen Newby.
THE EVENT. This was the third in a three-race series sponsored by the Sports Car Club of BC, and the last race of the season in the International Conference of Sports Car Club championship race series. The championship points battle would be decided in this race.
QUALIFYING. The Newby Racing MG Midget was fitted with a different engine for this event due to the expiration of our “good” engine at our last race, in Seattle. Our reliable workhorse motor was therefore fitted to see us through the weekend. Mission is a short track where horsepower is sometimes a detriment. The decision to install this motor was made of necessity, rather than good planning. However, we will gladly take credit for the right move! Qualifying on Sunday morning put us in the lead position for our class!
THE RACE. Race day dawned cold and foggy again, but as luck would have it, the weather broke late in the morning and the sun quickly boosted the temperature. The extra heat in the track proved to be exactly what we needed and our race setup was perfect!
During the race we established an early lead which proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered. Eight laps into the race, a rather nasty incident occurred in the fastest corner of the track, with a car making heavy contact with an unforgiving wall! The driver was okay but debris was strewn all over the track, necessitating a pace car situation whereby we all had to line up in running position.
The cleanup took a long time, meaning we ran behind the pace car until the three-quarters mark, when out came the checkered flag! We had been handed the win! And this win also had a bonus attached…the points lead in class! Once again, we had won the points championship for our class for the NINTH time!!
At this point, I glanced over to the pit wall to see my crew going crazy, cheering and jumping around! What a great feeling as we secured the championship by ONE point! Even the driver of the second-place car congratulated us on a fantastic season. It could have gone either way, at any time, and if it had, I would have been just as happy for them!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Harry Haigh, Jonathan Lane, and David Eichelbaum of Moss Motorsport for helping us win the championship yet again. Gentlemen, without your support, none of our successes would be possible! As for 1995? Stay tuned to these pages!
FIREWORKS AT LAS VEGAS: The Moss Motorsport MG-Triumph Challenge
Thursday, November 3. 44 degrees and raining. So this is “Lost Wages,” where normally the the temperatures are so fierce, even the rattlers hide from the sun under the brown desert rocks? However, this was Las Vegas in November, and the only heat was being generated inside the massive halls hosting the SEMA automotive show downtown on the strip.
Fortunately, these abnormal weather conditions faded before the start of three days of motorsport at Las Vegas International Raceway, which included the MG/Triumph challenge event, run under VSCC regulations and sponsored by Moss Motors, so practice and racing were held in the normal sunshine expected in this little corner of never-never land!
Friday, November 4. The dawn air is shattered by the noise of jet aircraft—not just one, or two, but a whole flock of F-16s, F-15s, AWACS, and C-130 Stratotankers! Not only were the Fighting Falcons taking off, but we also had the Blue Angles and the Thunderbirds into the bargain! Many people pay big bucks for an air show like this—we saw it all for free, and it continued throughout the weekend!
9:00 p.m. With Fills taking off, using reheat, the sky was lit up like a gigantic moving firework display. Maybe these jet jockeys were aware that November 5 is traditionally fireworks day in merry old England! Meanwhile, down on the raceway strip, drag racing was starting to happen. Not just any old Top Fuel cars or funny cars, but police cruisers drag racing for the Supercop Challenge National Police drag racing championships! What is this?! Only in Las Vegas, I guess, land of the flying Elvises!
Lights flashed and sirens wailed as police officers from 57 departments across the USA challenged each other over the quarter mile in souped-up squad cars. Back home, the officers use their dragsters in programs to promote social issues. Jack Snyder of the Nevada Highway Patrol, who founded the Challenge, told us,”Hundreds of thousands of kids are exposed to these programs each year. A drag car is a perfect tool to get your message across and make an impression.” It certainly made an impression on us while we struggled to get some trackside shut-eye, even as a jet-powered dragster, chute deployed, hurtled past us, approaching the midnight hour!
Saturday November 5. Back to the real racing, and soon many of our favorite Triumphs and MGs were gathering in pit road for scrutineering and first practice runs.
Sunday November 6. The great day at last! All eagerly awaited the show down over the 1.6 mile track between 23 Abingdon and Coventry classic racers.
Kenny Rodgers in his 1965 MGB jumped into the lead from the start, closely followed by Dan Longacre in a ’64 MGB, the nearest Triumph being Leon Duhamel in a ’63 TR4, running fourth.
By the third lap, the original two leaders Rodgers and Longacre were battling it out well ahead of the pack, but Leon managed to pass the third place MGB of Ron Hlavka. However, this position was short-lived, as Hlavka retook third place on lap six and stayed there until the finish.
Retirements took their toll, and only 10 finishers crossed the line at the end of nearly 29 miles of hard racing, the final result being as follows:
1. Kenny Rodgers, Newport Beach, 1965 MGB
2. Dan Longacre, Dana Point, 1964 MGB
3. Ron Hlavka, Alya Loma, 1967 MGB
4. Leon Duhamel, Long Beach, 1963 TR-4
5. Paul Smock, Long Beach, 1966 TR4A
6. Neal Rupp, Yorba Linda, 1957 MGA
7. Jim Dickerson, Santa Ana, 1957 TR-3
8. Jim Bush, Woodland Hills, 1962 Spitfire.
9. Randy Keene, Seal Beach, 1966 MGB.
All in all, a great weekend’s motorsport in which Moss was proud to play a significant part.