No. 979
January 16, 2018

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Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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July 22, 2009

Fleeting moments and magic memories.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 7/21, 1:00pm) Elkhart Lake, WI.
Though marred by a dismal day of cool - make that flat-out cold - and rainy weather on Friday, the big vintage weekend at Road America was a crowd pleaser on many levels. The official name for the event - The Kohler International Challenge Presented by Ford - is well known, but for most enthusiasts it's just about heading up to Road America in July knowing full well that they'll be immersed in speed, horsepower and memorable moments that will stay with them for a lifetime. And last weekend the tiny village of Elkhart Lake didn't disappoint.

This year's event - a tribute to the Ford GT40 - was brimming with Ford GTs of every kind of description, from race-winning Le Mans and Sebring racers to some very authentic looking and sounding replicas. George Bruggenthies and his excellent Road America staff arranged for a huge Ford GT tribute tent in the main paddock that was chock-full of the most famous original Ford GT racers and street cars in existence - including the famous Dan Gurney/A.J. Foyt Le Mans winner from 1967 - along with many others, and it was crawling with enthusiastic fans all weekend.

Ford's presence as presenting sponsor of the event began last year and grew exponentially this year. Mustang owners were admitted free on Saturday and got to do a parade lap at the track Saturday evening, while fans were treated to hot laps by Ford GTs, comp Mustangs and even a drifting exhibition by Vaughan Gittin Jr. Ford also had a huge display of its latest production cars and trucks (and Superformance had an impressive display of its own nearby with new and customer-driven Ford GTs and Cobras). Needless to say fast Fords were everywhere you looked last weekend, and Ford's growing presence is a good sign, lending credence to the notion that this is one of the must-see stops on the enthusiast calendar.

As for the weekend's events, the annual race-car drive from the track into the village of Elkhart Lake on Friday night brought out a tremendous crowd in spite of the iffy weather, and the raucous drive back to the track was witnessed by wall-to-wall people, too, despite a rain shower halfway through the proceedings. Saturday night's show "downtown" featured notable street cars of all stripes, and the weather finally cooperated with a sunny warm glow too.

The on-track action was the usual vintage stuff - with some racing groups deeper with fast drivers than others - but the racing was good, and the machines were beautiful. The AE "Best of the Road America Vintage Weekend" goes to Ted Wentz' gorgeous ex-Frank Williams Brabham BT23C Formula 2 car (below). Ted's well-prepared and well-driven racer represents the best of the sport of vintage racing as far as I'm concerned.

And kudos must go out to the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) who ran the event again this year. The whole idea of these vintage events is about the orchestration of the actual racing, and Carl Jensen and his group do a superb job of it.

By the end of the vintage weekend, Road America and Elkhart Lake proved yet again to be a truly unique event, with the village of Elkhart Lake and Road America so lovingly intertwined that it becomes a magical place where time stands still and memories come to life, if only for a fleeting moment in time.

Ted Wentz' gorgeous ex-Frank Williams Brabham BT23C Formula 2 car was our pick for "Best of the Road America Vintage Weekend." See a brief gallery here.


See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and friends this Thursday evening, July 23, at 7:00PM EDT at .

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Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Tuxtia Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico, 1953. The Lincoln Team draws a curious crowd of spectators before the start of the Carrera Panamericana road race. The Mexican Government created the border-to-border race in 1950 in order to celebrate the completion of Mexico's portion of the Panamerican Highway. The original race was conducted over six days on a 2,096-mile route that went south from Juarez to El Ocotal. The 1951-1954 races started in Tuxtia Gutierrez and went north to Ciudad, Juarez, Chihuahua, lasting five days. Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz factory teams contested the Carrera Panamericana as the race enjoyed international attention and prestige for a fleeting moment in time. Lincolns took the win in the large stock car class in 1953, with American Chuck Stevenson leading a 1-2-3 sweep. Stevenson is the only driver to have won twice in the original event. The event was canceled after the 1954 race as the Carrera Panamericana had become notorious for being one of the most dangerous auto races in the world, with 27 fatalities occurring in the open road competition over the years. The race was resurrected in 1988 as kind of a run-what-you-brung annual rally and continues in that configuration today. The winner of the first Carrera Panamericana was Hershel McGriff of Portland, Oregon, in his 1950 Oldsmobile 88. McGriff, now 81, finished - incredibly - 13th in a NASCAR-sanctioned race on the road course at Portland International Raceway last Sunday, part of the NASCAR Camping World West Series.

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