Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vintage Innovation

Through the years, the ATQMRA’s relatively basic race car rules left plenty of room for innovation.  This photo shows one such innovation.

This is a rear view of the Wehrle #02 from the 1970s, with the radiator mounted on the rear of the roll cage.  The car appeared in this configuration one winter for the indoor races in Atlantic City... and then never appeared this way again.  Not all innovations pan out.

The radiator placement affected both cooling, which was improved, and handling, which was not.  The car remained competitive but instead of staying at the front where it was usually seen, it ran mid-pack.  Driver Tony Romit praised the setup, but struggled.  The radiator was returned to the more conventional location come springtime.

Here’s another shot of the car at that time, with driver Romit in the seat:

Where the ATQMRA once had upright cars, offset cars, rear-engine cars and mid-engine cars, today most ATQMRA cars stick to a formula that has evolved over the years:  Engine dramatically offset to the left of the chassis, driver reclined in the center of the chassis.   But this evolution was not determined by rules, it was determined by trial and error.  For the most part, ATQMRA rules have boiled down to dimensions, displacement, weight, and safety.  It has never been specified where one must put the radiator, or the engine.  As a result, there have been some truly distinctive cars and some truly creative ideas through the years.

The Vintage Club is where these cars and ideas are being preserved.