Could It Be? Sounds Like… Yes, It’s Actual Racing!

Racing is alive and well in California – albeit under restricted conditions. The VARA (Vintage Auto Racing Association) British Extravaganza was held at Buttonwillow Raceway this past weekend at its originally scheduled May 15-16 date. This fortuitously coincided with Kern County’s pullback of restrictions, but it was a touch-and-go situation as late as Wednesday prior to the event. VARA’s General Manager Jeanette Bourke managed to navigate all the government channels and get an approval to “green flag” the race, and VARA President Scott Parsons put the pedal to the metal to conduct what (by all accounts) was the first motorsports event in the state since the Coronavirus shutdowns.

No spectators were allowed, teams were expected to follow social distancing guidelines in pitting, masks were worn, and participants had to bring their own food as the track’s concession stand was closed.

There was a good turnout of racers, all things considered, and solid competition in all six of the run groups –which ranged from small-bore sports cars and sedans to big-bore muscle cars and various single-seaters — plus the pre-war cars of the 1920s and ’30s. And to add a bit of tongue-in-cheek “humor,” Saturday’s schedule concluded with a 19-lap Enduro race aptly named the “Covid-19.”

The editorial content of Turnology.com doesn’t normally focus on race results – it’s primarily technology – so we wont delve into the usual “who won what.” But the real story here is that after months and months of relative inactivity, people who like to go fast in turns finally got an opportunity to do so in a safe, competitive environment.

The sun is beginning to peep over the horizon.

(Left) With competitors expected to bring their own sustenance to the event, some teams put out quite a spread. (Right) Masks were the order of the day. Here’s Penta Motorsports crew chief Doug Pearce sporting a mask that was repurposed from one of the team’s old T-shirts. Photography by Bill Holland & CaliPhotography.

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About the author

Bill Holland

Bill Holland has been involved in racing and the performance aftermarket since the 1960s in the capacities of racer, speed shop proprietor, journalist, street rodder, designer and advertising/PR/marketing professional. Along the way he’s raced Top Fuel and Funny Car, been editor of NHRA’s publication, National Dragster, was involved in off-roading as publisher of SCORE News, built a variety of Featured Vehicles for the SEMA Show, as well as a Track “T” that was a Contender for the AMBR award. He currently races vintage sports cars. Bill was inducted into NHRA’s California Hot Rod Reunion Hall of Fame in 2017.
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