It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

Sport and Specialty - Blackhawk Classic 2020

John Wheeler in his #25 Alfa GTV.

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times was, “Don’t change the car, your next four seconds will come from between your ears”.

He was right of course, but then again, he was driving his beautiful #25 Alfa GTV, and I was racing my red Bugeye Sprite. Cute as hell, but certainly not a sexy Italian. My times got much better, but I still loved the looks and performance of his blue GTV. About ten years ago, envy got the best of me when a fellow racer was selling his GTV. Somewhat the worse for wear, but hey, it was a 1969 GTV with bad yellow paint. I was smitten.

I learned to drive all over again. Alfas are a little different. You need to steer them with the throttle. If the car understeers, don’t slow down, speed up! Turn in a little earlier and harder and get on the gas earlier. She’ll go down to the apex and pop up at track out. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m sure that’s not a particular Alfa trait, but it sure feels good in one. Enjoy the video.

(All video and photos by https://www.nvsndmedia.com/)


Read More of My Blog Posts


It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again. I quickly...

read more
Breaking The News

Breaking The News

Over the past week I had two customer visits from two different types of customers. It got me thinking about the differences between the two, both really nice guys who want work done on their cars. The main difference is that for one, it wasn’t his first rodeo with a...

read more
We’re Racing Again! The 2020 VSCDA Blackhawk Classic

We’re Racing Again! The 2020 VSCDA Blackhawk Classic

We’re Racing Again! The 2020 VSCDA Blackhawk Classic

Last week, Cyndi Paceley of Vintage Motorsport magazine reached out to me for my impressions about upcoming the VSCDA Blackhawk Challenge. She was interested (after the racing concluded) to see how I felt the event went overall, and also specifically how the current Covid-related issues affected the event.

Her story will appear in the upcoming issue, I’m looking forward to reading the full story. Below is what I sent her regarding my impressions. (spoiler alert – we had a great time)

 

Sport and Specialty Alfa Romeo GTV

All photos courtesy Bill Nesius Photography

Hi Cindi,

It looked to me that all of the participants of VSCDAs Blackhawk Classic came away with a happy racing experience, and positive thoughts for this long race weekend. The strict Illinois quarantine rules dictated a laundry list of dos and don’t that in the end were all pretty easily tolerated and well managed.

Registrar Stacey Donato and Race Chair Ron Soave worked closely with track management to ensure that all of the various guidelines were interpreted properly and enforced reasonably. Race registration, communications, and payments were done on-line and flowed smoothly, Masks were to be worn in any buildings, social distancing was expected in paddock areas, and temps were religiously taken prior to entering the track area. No spectators (except for restricted crew) were allowed which in the end had little effect on the racing, just the general attendance. Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs managed the staffing and few, if any, issues were reported. Meals were served at the concession stand, and the attendee dinners were a take away boxed affair, which were great. I think common sense prevailed and virtually no policing was needed, as expectations seemed to be met by the participants. Good email and social media communications were helpful, as was the digitally sent driver’s meeting.

My 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV ran well most of the weekend and kept ahead of the other Alfa competitors until I succumbed to bad CV joint late Saturday during the heat race. The car count was off as expected, but we all had someone to race with and there were plenty of enthusiastic drivers to share stories with afterwards.

With many questions as to what a COVID 19 event may feel like, it seemed as if the track management, the sanctioning body and the participants all pull together to meet the state and local regulations, and follow the common sense recommendations, we just may be able to pull off a safe and fun vintage racing season here in the Midwest.


Read More of My Blog Posts


It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again. I quickly...

read more
Breaking The News

Breaking The News

Over the past week I had two customer visits from two different types of customers. It got me thinking about the differences between the two, both really nice guys who want work done on their cars. The main difference is that for one, it wasn’t his first rodeo with a...

read more
Stardom Isn’t Easy – My Time in Front of the Camera

Stardom Isn’t Easy – My Time in Front of the Camera

Stardom Isn’t Easy – My Time in Front of the Camera

The Envision Media team of Emily Turner and Graham Wendel with me at Arizona Auction Week.

For some time now, many of our customers and shop fans have commented that we should have a cable show. I even replied to a request from a casting agent, as I thought hey, this could be fun. Obviously, that never happened and most people I’ve talked to said it’s probably for the best as the business disruption would may prove formidable.

Fast forward to late last year. I was asked to provide content and backdrop for a cable pilot about vintage racing and thought it might be fun. As it turned out I really like the fledgling media production team that came out and started some conversations about promoting Sport and Specialty though some video and photographic media in 2020.

Envision Media Inc. (NVSND Media) is the team of Emily Turner and Graham Wendel. I’ve been working with them for the past five months, including some time at Arizona Auction Week. They’ve produced some really nice stuff to include a very cool video of the 1937 Indy Car Tribute we built over the past few years.

One of the other pieces we discussed was some quick promotional pieces, as well as a shop tour for our website to give a flavor of the type of work we do, and the guys we have doing it. The only problem we ran into is that I just don’t feel very spokesman like. I only felt worse when I saw the footage they captured and wondered if maybe a professional voice over would be a better idea.

In my opinion, I have a face for radio, and my voice sounds even worse. I’ve been told this is typical for many people and was encouraged to suck it up and post it. As many of my friends know, I’m seldom at a loss for words. I have a whole new respect for those who can present in front of a camera. Hint: if you want me to shut up, simply point a camera at me.

So, here is our first piece, with the shop tour still in production. Take a look. We will also be adding some fun content throughout the year on our website and You Tube Channel highlighting some of our customers, cars and the events we’ll attend. The event stuff will come in due time as the restrictions are lifted, so please stay tuned!

Give a click and I look forward to seeing everyone sooner than later!!


Read More of My Blog Posts


It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again. I quickly...

read more
Breaking The News

Breaking The News

Over the past week I had two customer visits from two different types of customers. It got me thinking about the differences between the two, both really nice guys who want work done on their cars. The main difference is that for one, it wasn’t his first rodeo with a...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again.

I quickly asked, how about multiple corner workers on a station? How about safety and rescue, bridge personnel, T&S, stewards, and race control? Not to mention, tech, registration, presentations, etc.

The response I got had something to do with one man against the machine, and that single competitors are safe within their cars, etc.

At that point I realized this person must be new to this whole amateur racing thing and decided I would bail out before my head exploded. I exited the conversation, but of course I couldn’t stop thinking about the notion that how you could possibly hold a race weekend in a socially distanced environment?

So much of a race weekend has little to do with driving, that I opine occasionally that, “I went to a party and a race broke out!” I believe most of us feel this way.

For background, I’ve held a comp license for well over twenty years, as well as a steward’s license and worked virtually all race weekend specialties at one time or another. It’s rewarding to me paying back through volunteering and enjoy that side of the racing community as do others. Typically, I run in Vintage Historic events, but also run in current era groups.

What I actually like best is that I have a group of paddock mates for most weekends, usually crewless, and looking after our own cars. We typically come alone, but our group is usually together.

In essence, the hardest thing I tried to imagine was a weekend with my friends and fellow racers, having to socially distance. On many race days we’re only out on track 15to 20% of the time at best. The rest of the time we’re prepping or visiting. I would go so far as to say that for many of us a race weekend is the pinnacle of our summer social activities.

Without the people, this wouldn’t be the same. Congratulating the winners and friends who had a great race is part of the enjoyment. Thanking and seeing your worker friends at the end of the day is a given. So much of a race weekend has little to do with driving, that I opine occasionally that, “I went to a party and a race broke out!” I believe most of us feel this way.

This isn’t a political statement. In fact, I’m on a race committee organizing for an early July event we hope will come together. I certainly believe we can balance our need to feel the thrill of driving and racing, visiting with our good friends, and provide for a safe environment for the participants and workers.

Things will need to be fluid this year for sure. I certainly hope that we can keep the sport we love to share, safe to race, but also allow us to share our humanity. After all of this quarantine time, we’re going to need some quality-time with our racing friends. Stay safe!!


Read More of My Blog Posts


It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again. I quickly...

read more
Breaking The News

Breaking The News

Over the past week I had two customer visits from two different types of customers. It got me thinking about the differences between the two, both really nice guys who want work done on their cars. The main difference is that for one, it wasn’t his first rodeo with a...

read more
Cars and Stars, The Amelia Island Experience

Cars and Stars, The Amelia Island Experience

Cars and Stars, The Amelia Island Experience

Sport and Specialty - John Saccameno blog

Not many automotive events short of a Formula One race can boast of participants and attendees the likes of this years honoree, Roger Penske.

I’m still recovering from the automotive love fest and spectacle that is the Amelia Concours d’Elegance 2020. It’s been held rain or shine for 25 years now. Amazing!

Estimates for the first event in 1995 was 2,000 people, I read they expected 20,000 for this year. It sure looked as if they met their expectations. The Chairman and founder of the event, Bill Warner, has developed a vision and flavor for this event that is unique amongst similar shows around the world. Long-time major sponsors, Mercedes Benz, and the Ritz Carlton, add a certain panache to the event where all proceeds are donated to charity.

This isn’t a show only about the eras of styles and technology, Bill also makes sure he honors and salutes the people who have helped steer the industry and sport we true believers study and follow. Industry leaders, team owners, and championship drivers all participate in the weekend events. Not only are the cars up close and personal, but also many of our admired visionaries, corporate mavericks, and the brave drivers that made so many of these cars legendary on the road and track.

Not many automotive events, short of a Formula One race, can boast of participants and attendees the likes of this years honoree, Roger Penske. Others included, in no particular order; Derek Bell, Justin Bell, Johnny Rutherford, Lyn St James, George Follmer, Jochen Mass, Jackie Ickx, David Hobbs, Bobby Rahal, Bobby Unser, Hurley Haywood, Brian Redmond, Peter Cunningham, and Scott Pruitt. These are just the people I remember seeing. You never know who you may be sitting next to at lunch or while having a beer.

So happy 25th birthday to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance! Thanks to all of the volunteers and sponsors that come out to support us faithful who relish the automobile, and the many people who make it so exciting. Cheers, and thank you, Bill and Jane Warner!


Read More of My Blog Posts


It Drives Like an Alfa

It Drives Like an Alfa

I met my racing and paddock partner John Wheeler almost twenty years ago when I first started Vintage Historic racing. I was trying to figure this whole thing out and he was my coach and mentor. The most important thing he ever told me when I bemoaned my slow times...

read more
No One Races Alone

No One Races Alone

A few weeks ago I got involved in an online conversation where someone claimed that the only reason we can’t go racing is that organizers would demand a driver’s meeting, and if we could just do the meeting on our phones we’d be just fine to go racing again. I quickly...

read more
Breaking The News

Breaking The News

Over the past week I had two customer visits from two different types of customers. It got me thinking about the differences between the two, both really nice guys who want work done on their cars. The main difference is that for one, it wasn’t his first rodeo with a...

read more

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