To those of us old enough to recognize a carburetor, there’s a powerful attraction to cars that possess these old mixing pots for fuel and air.
The cars of the post WWII era through the mid-seventies hold a spell on gearheads, especially racing cars.
While a modern race car is pretty much a computer lab on wheels, leaving a wake of data that’s analyzed and acted upon in real-time by a crew of engineers along the pit wall, these cars were generally designed without the aid of wind tunnels or computer simulators. Many are simply modified road cars that were never intended for competition.
Road car or purpose-built racer, they represent a team’s or sometimes a single man’s best guess at what would be fast at a given point in time. In the absence of actual data, there is wonderful and endless variety in their forms, dominated by the sure knowledge that lighter is better and a part is only too light if it breaks.
The purpose-built race cars are hand-made by experts at casting, machining and bending metals and other more exotic materials, and the intricacy of their construction is mind boggling. Full attention to the smallest part is required, or that part becomes the one that is not able to withstand the stress and the heat, and gives way, taking the entire operation out of the race.
All excess material having been shaved off, parts are frequently polished to various levels of reflectivity, sometimes just to show off the beauty of their forms.
The Kohler International Challenge at Wisconsin’s Road America is an annual gathering of aficionados of old race cars from all over the world. They come to celebrate the sounds and sights of these vintage machines. They represent a high point in optimizing an internal combustion engine and a set of four wheels to carry a single person as fast as possible around a given stretch of road.
The lucky ones even get to race them.