There’s a sad (and probably very reasonable) perception that modern racing series are willing to sacrifice car diversity in the name of good racing. It’s either an engineer’s sport where the cars are so limited by regulations that they all end up the same, like F1, or the whole show devolves into a quasi-spec series like DTM, WTCC or NASCAR where the only aesthetic choice is where to put your headlight stickers. (A notable exception is the WEC, but even that’s looking mighty homogeneous these days.) Nuts to that.
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) has only 11 groups to classify basically every performance car made, though most tend to fall in the ’60s and ’70s, the so-called “Golden Age” of auto racing. What that ends up meaning for fans is that there’s a huge gamut of cars in every single race and the focus on spectacle, as much as pure competition, can make it way more approachable than most modern racing. For example, at the recent US Vintage National Championship in Austin, Texas, the first race saw a beautiful Lister Maserati from 1956, a handful of 911s from the ’70s and a BMW M3 from 1989 start on the same grid. Which, as a car guy, is about the coolest thing ever — and it didn’t matter a bit that the lap time difference between first and 10th place was almost 20 seconds. And when the margin of victory is half a second like it was between the ear-shattering 2.0-liters in Class 7 (the Primagaz and Kodak Lolas in the photos above) you start crying tears of joy.
It’s best to think of vintage racing as the Top Gear to traditional motorsport’s YouTube car reviews. Yes, they’re ostensibly the same thing, but with vintage racing there’s such a strong underlying sense of pageantry and fun that even the most tenuous car fans will be mesmerized by the show.
What good is racing without a trophy? The winners of each class in Austin took home the undeniably beautiful and heritage-packed Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969. Inside the 42mm steel case lies the famed “high beat” Zenith El Primero 4061 automatic chronograph that operates at 5Hz (36,000 bph) and can match the historical prowess of anything on-track. Learn More: Here