Since I got Bridget in the fall of 2009 it has been my ambition to get her on the race track–preferably one of the historic courses on which she cut her teeth under grandpa’s hands 60 years ago. And so this week, I did.
Unfortunately, my videographer did this. The whole two laps at look like this, save for the 30 seconds or so he had his finger over the lens. No idea how he managed to do it. But then again: everything about Bridget is a squint-and-you-can-imagine sort of endeavor. So my blurry screen shot heading under the bridge at Lime Rock at 25 mph is just about right.
It was a gorgeous Saturday after an easy ride up from Baltimore on Friday. I flat-towed Bridget with the formerly-totaled Nissan Frontier and had no traffic issues until after the George Washington Bridge. Crawling through Stamford, needing to pee, I decided to stop by Benson & Post Automotive, in Fairfield, the former Urban Arco gas station where I worked from 1981 through (off and on) about 1987. I didn’t know if my old boss Sam would be there–or even if it was still his place. All I knew is that I had to take a leak, and Sam’s place was about the only bathroom I could maybe depend on before mom’s house in Milford, 20 miles up the road at a snail’s pace on Friday afternoon.
I also figured Sam would like Bridget. Circa 1983 a customer brought an MG TD in for some work. I don’t remember what we were supposed to be doing to that car. What I remember is that it smelled like decaying varnish, and that one day Sam climbed in it, fired her up and took me for a ride.
(Astonishing fact: Bridget is today four years older–as a kit build, never mind the chassis–than that ancient TD was on the day I got that ride.)
I pulled the truck-sportscar rig up on the sidewalk along the pumps and walked through the office into the garage, where I found a man in his 40s who I didn’t recognize. I introduced myself and asked if Sam was by chance there.
“He’s here,” the mechanic said. “He’s in the bathroom.”
Oh that figures.
Turned out the guy was Sam’s step son, Bryan. I had met him—when he was 12.
We hung out a minute, inspecting a chrome-bumper MGB in the corner of the lot, and Sam came out.
As a long-time mechanic he of course had to work the throttle with his hands. We shot the shit for a few minutes, I used the toilet and offered to unhook the car and take Sam for a ride. He declined, unfortunately, saying he’s not sure he can get in and out of the car.
So I soldiered on to mom’s house, got a good meal and awoke at 6 the next morning for the 68-mile run to Lime Rock. I was on the road at 7, wishing I’d brought the leather jacket and Snoopy hat. It was chilly.
The Lotus came next. Not long later an E-Type Jag, for sale. And an old Jag saloon. Meanwhile, the Porsches were swarming all around.
I loved that I had the only T-type MG in the corral. One guy came up and told me what a great dash I have. He said he had a ’53 and never noticed Bridget’s replicant nature. Every time I approached her all day there were people crowded around, taking her picture–almost as many as were taking in Danny P’s 550.
The most interesting group I saw was just inside the gate: an Arnolt Bristol club. These cars–Italian coachwork over British mechanicals–are like nothing made before or since. And not many were made. I’d previously seen only one in person, a few years ago at the Great Race (3:17 in the video here).
The Speedster guys came in force–Lenny and Danny in their Spyders, Gordon, Carl, Joel and Al, mostly with Speedsters, plus some guys I didn’t know: Frank and Rick. Joel had a lot of questions about Bridget’s Soob job. I tried to be encouraging. There really isn’t all that much too it, other than patience, sweat and frustration.
I saw one Mustang walk off the track on this turn but heard of no real incidents on Saturday. The Formula Fords seemed to be running at each other pretty hard but most of the rest of the field seemed to be rolling in a gentlemanly way. Which is understandable when you’re rolling something like this:
More serious enthusiasts than I am already recognized the 250 Testa Rossa, circa 1957, with its unmistakable cut-away fenders. That’s about $30-$40 million right there, so I don’t begrudge its owner one iota of care.
The car ran at least twice on Saturday. I think the D-type Jag finished ahead of it.
And what else is running? Oh…a couple-odd Porsches… This is a 904. Note the four-cam flat-four. That is royalty.
And this? This is a Porsche 718 WRS: Two liters, about 240 horsepower from an air-cooled flat-eight.
Just walking along you didn’t know what you’d run into. A replica 1937 Talbot Lago—badged Talbo—that absolutely fooled me.