When it comes to the racing discipline of vintage sports car racing, there is no one more enthusiastic about this distinct motorized world where racing's past is married to its present then Sanborn's Bob Deull.
Deull and a few other area vintage sports car drivers will converge on Watkins Glen International this weekend for the annual Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix. The weekend long on-track events will coincide with Friday's 20th annual Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen presented by Chemung Canal Trust Company.
Friday's highlight is the re-enactment though Watkins Glen's village streets of the very first race held there in 1948.
The on-track activity up at The Glen's track is sanctioned by the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association (SVRA).
"Overall I started my racing career in Canada in 1958 in a 1953 MG when I was much younger and these cars were the actual race cars of the day. These were the current cars and current drivers back then," said Deull, 74.
"I started racing in Canada when I was 20 because at the time you could not race in the United States until you were 21 according to the Sports Car Club of America. I started racing at Watkins Glen in 1959 in the MG and later on I ran my first vintage sports car event at The Glen in 1977 in my 1953 Aston Martin.
"But as the cars along with myself have gotten older over the years I guess we both became vintage status together."
While vintage racers take the competition seriously, Deull says that the racing is not necessarily all out as the protection of their vintage machines in very important.
"A vintage racing event is like a rolling museum," said Deull. "There are guys out there in Bugatti's that are $1 million cars that are being raced. But no one wants to damage these vintage machines. We go fast but are very careful and don't want to push it to the maximum. Unless by accident, there is no metal-to-metal contact. SVRA does not allow it.
"Many of the vintage cars do go very fast hitting speeds in the 140 mph range including former Formula One and Can-Am cars and others of various types."
Deull will be driving an open roadster 1940 Atlas Ford at The Glen, sporting a Ford chassis and a 1953 Ford Flathead V-8 engine. The car features a fiber glass body. Only three of these model cars currently exist with Deull possessing one and the remaining two belonging to vintage owners in Florida.
There are 11 different SVRA classes that will run this weekend encompassing a few hundred drivers. Deull will be in the Pre-War class, reserved for cars that feature chassis built before World War II.
"It's really an absolute ball and really fun to race my car at The Glen," said Deull who along with SVRA, also participates throughout the season in events hosted by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. "I first ran my Atlas Ford at The Glen in 2008 but the engine block cracked due to overheating. Now I have a fresh motor in the car.
"I did well last year finishing 27th out of 60 cars in the Saturday race and in the Sunday race I was 27th out of 38 and finished first in my class."
During his sports car career, Deull raced an Aston Martin for 20 years, and later a 1932 Auburn from 1989-2007 and a 1960 Austin Healey from 1992 through 2006 before getting his current machine. Also in Deull's possession is his 1955 Panhard Dyna Jr. machine which he has raced for 25 years exclusively in Pittsburgh and Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
When not on the vintage sports car trail, Deull serves the local Friends of Auto Racing Fan Club (FOAR Score) as its vice-president.
The SVRA on-track activity which actually began with a test day yesterday, and continues with practice and qualifying taking place today and Friday. Class races take place mostly on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. through late afternoon.
In the village Friday, the Grand Prix Festival kicks-off at 9:30 a.m. with Tech Inspection Reenactment at Smalley's Garage. Many other events will be held throughout the day in the village including a tribute to Williamsville reside and Watkins Glen racing pioneer, the late Bill Milliken, during "The Legends Speaks" event to be held at 3 p.m. in Lafayette Park.
The race reenactment on the 6.6.-mile original street race circuit will commence at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks at Watkins Glen State Park. Deull plans on running in the reenactment as he did a year ago.
Last weekend several area tracks crowned their 2012 point champions. Dunn Tire Raceway Park's stock car champions are Bobby Holmes, Sportsman; T.J. Cochrane, Street Stocks; Tom Lalomia Jr., Four Cylinder
At Merrittville Speedway champions are Pete Bicknell, 358 Modified; Cody McPherson, Sportsman; Rob Murray, Hoosier Stocks; Josh Sliter, Mod Lites; Rocco Conte, Mini Stocks. Humberstone winners are: Cody McPherson, Sportsman; Jorden Peters, FASTRAK Late Models. Humberstone will decide their remaining points races Sept. 14.
George Skora III is the Lake Erie Speedway NASCAR Late Model champion. Other Lake Erie champions are: Kaity Kicinski, Street Stocks; Dan Bittinger, Compacts; Wesley McCray, INEX Bandoleros; Brandon DeBrakeleer, INEX Legends; Dave McAvoy, Modifieds.