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2005 REUNION II AT THUNDERHILL

Attendee Comments

 

Charles Lucas - Boroughbridge, UK reunion-28-luke.jpg (56117 bytes)

Willows CA, where the most fun to be had in the evening seems to be watching the lights as they change from red to green, then back through amber to red again, may not seem to have much going for it compared to Vegas, but it does have a better racetrack.

Thunderhill Raceway is a little thriller, with a challenging assortment of turns, & even it's own version of the famous Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. It is a perfect track for Formula Fords, & it was a great pleasure for me to see so many Titans come together to enjoy it.

I wish that Roy Thomas could have been there to see it, though I am sure he was there in spirit, as it was a worthy tribute to his talent as a race car builder, as is the honest to God love & enthusiasm that goes into the preparation & racing of his venerable little cars, most of which must now be older than their drivers - apart from one or two notable exceptions. In this context it was specially good to see my old friend Pierre Phillips out there, still racing with the best of them, as Pierre has been driving Titans from year one.

And none of this would have been possible without the tireless effort & enthusiasm of Andy Antipas, without whom the Titan racing tradition would have faded into the mists of time, along with the Alexis, Ginetta & Merlyn. With the co-operation & promotional skill of Ed Swart they put on a great weekend's racing, & I can only hope it this will not be the end of their racing relationship.

The last Formula Ford race I did in the US was for Freddy Opert at Daytona in 1970(?). This was not a track for 1600cc Fords, so I took some pleasure in seeing the roles reversed at Thunderhill, where you were lapping as quickly as the big NASCAR mothers.

Anyway I had a great weekend & I enjoyed meeting so many old & new friends, who where invariably kind & hospitable. Maybe we can do it again some time? In the meantime, keep that pedal to the metal.

 

Tony Trimmer - Leybourne, UK reunion-19-trimmer.jpg (58507 bytes)

It was at an historic race meeting at Silverstone last year that I first met Andy Antipas although we had been in e-mail contact for many years because of my early days of racing in Titan Formula Fords.

I was one of the first to drive a Titan, and also did some development testing for the Charles Lucas Team under the watchful eye of Roy Thomas (Tom the weld). I had competed in 1968 in my self-built Brabham BT21 Formula Ford, whilst working for Frank Williams. Frank arranged for me to have a Lucas engine (a real step-up), and then in 1969 he arranged a drive in a Titan, in which I contested two championships, finishing second in both.

So, at Silverstone, when Andy asked me to come to Thunderhill Park Raceway in May this year for the Titan club reunion, I immediately said that I would come if at all possible. Just weeks before the reunion I e-mailed Andy to say yes, my partner Sharon and I would be coming. He asked me if I would like to drive in the Titan race, and I agreed straight away, even though I would be unable to make it in time for qualifying.

After visiting my sister, who has lived near Carson City in Nevada for many years, we drove to Thunderhill on the Saturday, and bumped into Charles Lucas (Luke), on arrival so nice to see him again. Ed Swart arranged for me to do some slow laps in the lunch period, and the 15 minute warm-up on the Sunday; enabling me to start from the back of the grid for the race. It was quite daunting to race on the fantastic Thunderhill track with so little practice. It is my sort of track, with every turn in the book, but it needs to be learnt properly.

There was such a great atmosphere at the circuit, which was very refreshing, and gets my vote. My thanks to Andy for arranging everything; Ed for being so accommodating; Todd Strong and team for the car and their big input and advice; Luke and everyone I haven’t mentioned who helped to make my visit such a great trip down that old memory lane.

Oh yes, the race, had a great time, and some good dices, finishing in 10th. WOW! What a circuit!

Chris Fearon - Penkridge, UK chris-feature.jpg (53001 bytes)

I feel compelled to write and give you my thoughts of the weekend while it is still fresh in my mind. It is hard to decide where and how to start, but here goes. 

Andy was first class. To get all those great cars and drivers together in such a huge country must taken extra ordinary amount of effort and persuasion. On top of that to get Charles Lucas, Tony Trimmer, and myself over from the UK shows your persuasive powers to the full. Having said that it won’t take much persuasion to get me over there again!

Ed Swart and his team did a great job. They created a well-run but also easygoing atmosphere that I have not experienced before. They could certainly teach the UK and Europeans a thing or two.

Thunderhill was the perfect location for this event. The track was very challenging, had great flow to it with a variations in corner speeds and elevation changes that compelled you to want to keep driving around it. As a European I found the lack of “dreaded” chicanes a joy (these are spoiling a lot of the great circuits over here). The paddock was also very good with level tarmac surface and plenty of space for all.

The racing was most enjoyable with close but fair dices all down the field. The top drivers showed a very high standard of performance and left us trailing in their wakes. Mind you, I do think I could do myself more justice with a second visit, but four and a half years out of single seaters was my worst enemy.

I considered it a privilege to be able to inspect all the Titan cars together with Luke, Tony, Pierre and Marty for the concours and car preparation awards. It was difficult to single out one, as all but a couple were extremely well prepared. However, the car we chose for the top prize was superb right down to the lock wires on all blind bolts, filler, and drain plugs, which we felt was the finishing touch.

All of the people I came in contact with could not possibly have been more hospitable. Their acceptance of an old foreigner was second to none. I felt totally at ease with everyone. In conclusion, I had the most memorable and wonderful time at a great track with super people. My heart felt thanks to all concerned. Roll on the next one?

 

Marty Loft - Milton, Washington thunderhill-157-loft.jpg (57108 bytes)

It started out as a normal workday . . . until I received a call from my wife Bonnie. She said that someone had called; asking if this was the home of Marty Loft, who used to racecars.

Soon I was talking to Andy Antipas from Colorado. He was organizing a reunion of current and former drivers of Titan formula ford racing cars at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows California. Andy asked if I would like to join 22 Titan owners to recognize a very successful car in one of the best formula classes ever conceived. Plus, I was excited to learn that Charles Lucas, who founded the Titan racing Car Company, would attend the reunion. It was a great pleasure to meet “Luke” and discuss history of Titan cars.

Talk about a blast from the past! It’s been just a little while since I last drove my Titan Mk6 Formula Ford in SCCA national competition – 1973! We picked-up our credentials and were greeted by Ed Swart, one of the event’s organizers and competitors. He was about to take the pace car onto the track to lead a group of Porsches for a practice session. He asked if we would like to join him for the pace lap. It was the first time my wife and kids were in a pace car, and as I thought about it, it was the first time for me as well.

One lap with Ed showed me that the 15-turn Thunderhill Park is a terrific road course. It was built 10 years ago by the Sports Car Club of California and has a lot of elevation change, including a turn reminiscent of Laguna Seca’s corkscrew, otherwise known as a broken elevator.

As I visited Titan owners’ pits and introduced myself, I was fairly blown away when competitors Ron Boone and Ron Hornig said that they had arranged for me to take the track in Ron Boone’s Titan Mk 6 formula ford during the lunch break. Yikes! I haven’t sat in a racing car since 1979 and so was just a little apprehensive jumping on a track that I’ve only been around once (in a pace car).

As I put on Ron’s driving suit and climbed into the car, it immediately felt very normal. Taking the car on track and bringing it up to speed brought back the remarkable performance of formula ford racing cars. For years they’ve provided drivers and fans alike with some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing around. The FF competition over the weekend is just the latest example of a great tradition.

Many thanks to Andy, Ed, and Charles! Plus, a special thanks to Ron Boone for letting me take his beautiful Mk 6 for a few laps around Thunderhill Park. I hope to see everyone again in 2010 for the next Titan reunion.

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