12th Annual British Extravaganza Presented by Moss Motors
By Mike Chaput; photography by Moss Motors staff
It was a fine central California weekend, perfect for racing and showing British cars at Buttonwillow Raceway. The usually sweltering weather of early May had given way to a kinder, gentler weekend, the cars were plentiful and the crowd was thankful.
In cooperation with the Vintage Auto Racing Association, Moss presented the 12th Annual British Extravaganza. The event draws cars from all over California to compete on the tight, twisting circuit. Built and operated by the Sports Car Club of America, Buttonwillow reminds me of the slotcar tracks my friends and I built across the living room floor. Instead of the books we used to create whoop-te-doo’s on our pretend course, Buttonwillows’ serpentine circuit is draped over undulating acreage for a challenging, technical track that can be a real handful. The long front straightaway unveiled many of the winners with a whole host of vintage production sports cars dueling through the last left hander to land the knockout and win the race.
With about 250 cars entered to compete, the grids were full and cars lined up all weekend to go around Buttonwillow. The paddock was wide open to spectators and offered a diverse mix of British, German, Italian and American racers with a sprinkling of historic racers for good measure. From Allards to Alfas and on to Lolas there was a tremendous diversity of racecars to gawk at. And most owners were more than happy to answer questions and discuss their cars provenance.
VARA also does a great job of putting together “grudge match races” and Saturday saw MGs and Minis face off while the Sprites and Triumphs battled for glory on Sunday.
The Moss Motors booth was a popular place to grab some shade and our air conditioning equipped MGB was a big hit with the crowd (look for the MGB A/C story in this issue).
The track tours were popular, allowing many spectators to lap the track at safe speeds. It was great to see so many British cars and their owners out on the track enjoying them.
While the track was packed with action, the car show offered a great line up of 50 British cars to be enjoyed. Special thanks go to Geoff Kimler and the Bakersfield British Car Club for a fine job organizing the car show. For more information visit mossmotors.com or vararacing.com.
One of the cars that caught my eye was a TR8, one of 11 original Huffaker-built competition cars, campaigned by SCCA member Frank Emmett and maintained by John Mattson of Performance Concepts. Frank has been racing for 30 years and this was the first car he ever competed in. John was an original Huffaker crew member and worked on this particular car in its 80’s glory days when it beat up Corvettes and Mustangs in Trans Am. The TR8 is stunningly original except for upgraded wheels and tires and looks like a brand new race car inside and out. It’s difficult to tell this racer is over 25 years old.