Reflections on the FF50th

Image by Jay Bonvouloir

Reflections on the FF50th

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

Reflections on the FF50th

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Happily, the Vintage and Club Ford races provided joy enough to go around with some truly memorable battles up and down the order but especially for the lead.

The Saturday morning Vintage sprint race was a three-way affair up front, with pole winner Dan Cowdrey (Titan Mk6) fending off both Eric Langbein (March 719) and Todd Willing (Merlyn Mk20A) until, on the last lap, a U-joint failed on the March left rear, moving Willing up to second and a closing Keith Nunes (Crossle 20F) snatching third.

Lewis leads Cowdrey and Willing in the Vintage feature – great stuff! Image by Jay Bonvouloir.

The Vintage feature on Saturday afternoon was similarly a three-way tussle, with fast-qualifier (grid position for the feature determined by either fast lap in the sprint race or Friday qualifying) Ryan Lewis’s gorgeous black Titan Mk6 taking the place of the March in the fight with Cowdrey and Willing. It was a nail-biter start to finish that had everyone on their feet, Lewis eking out the win over Cowdrey by just 0.364s, with Willing another 0.046s back in third.

As for the Club Fords, their numbers were the largest and, with all the carnage in the slick-tire group, there were serious concerns that there might not be enough wreckers to go around.

Instead, we saw two more great races, pole winner Jeremy Treadway getting redemption for his huge disappointment at the FF40th event 10 years ago (when a dominant win was taken away for his Van Diemen RF81 being a few pounds underweight after boiling away all its water in the closing laps) by winning both the sprint and feature Club Ford races.

However, neither win was easy! In the sprint race, Dan Cowdrey’s vintage Titan filled Treadway’s mirrors throughout en route to second place while behind Tom Stephani (Crossle 35F), Robert Detrick (Van Diemen RF80), Scott Fairchild (Zink Z-10) and Jesse Jurgenson (Dulon MP21) finished in that order after scrapping fiercely for third through sixth.

Incredibly, Cowdrey’s sprint race fast lap earned him the pole for the Sunday feature race, and he paced the early laps as Fairchild and Treadway watched and plotted. (You must watch Fairchild’s video posted on the Vintage Formula Ford Facebook page!) Treadway waited until the last lap to make a bold move into the lead which paid off, and his dark blue Van Diemen won by a comfortable 1.744s, surely the biggest lead any of the three drivers had in that race.

Fairchild was second with Cowdrey third, that trio pulling out 10 seconds on the dueling Crossles of Quinn Posner (32F) and Tom Stephani (35F).

At the front, organizer Steve Beeler’s Lola T-540 and Roland Johnson’s Lotus 51, the car which won the first official SCCA FF race in March 1969. Image by Jay Bonvouloir

By the numbers? Regrettably, a few cars were damaged in Thursday’s wet practices and so were not counted but below, the number of cars which clocked at least one lap in qualifying and race:

Vintage qualifying / sprint / feature: 42 / 40 / 40
Club Ford qualifying / sprint / feature: 70 / 70 / 61
Slick tire qualifying / sprint / feature: 53 / 51 / 49
(East-West Challenge: 38)

Mr. Beeler, it was great. Thank you for all your hard work.

And, to all in the 500-member, all-volunteer VSCDA who made this happen, fitting all the Formula Fords into your otherwise fully subscribed 34th annual Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival: Amazing job. “Vintage Spirit” indeed.

Will there be a FF60th at Road America? Hmmm.

For more reflections on the Sept. 11-15 event, visit VintageMotorsport.com and Formula Ford Racer.

 

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