The Collier Cup

Regular followers will no doubt look back on the past few years as the “formative ones” in the development of our Moss Motorsports program. From humble enough beginnings, which included a small bunch of dedicated and, no less persistent, weekend racers, our sponsorship program has grown to include over twenty-five race teams and occupies a regular page in Moss Motoring. Let me give you some background on our racing interests.

Vintage Racing

The majority of sponsored teams race in what is called “Vintage” racing, where the cars arc largely stock or prepared in the same fashion that they would have been if you were racing the car when it was new. Vintage racing is relatively affordable, accessible from coast to coast, and generally bags of fun. You can still find a taste of days gone by at a Vintage race. Husbands, wives and cars alike can all be found sharing the same camping spot on the infield. Feasting on hot dog and hamburger cookouts with your competitors is standard practice.

Safety and Hot Dogs?

As with any type of racing, the emphasis in Vintage racing is always on safety. Followed by safety. And then more safety. When that’s finally out of the way, you’re allowed to enjoy yourself by blowing away that guy who ate the last of your hot dogs the night before. Your trophy is rarely anything more than the checkered flag, but the camaraderie and fun are worth every skinned knuckle and every penny you had to scrape together for the entry fee. If you’ve never thought about trying your hand in it, then you should reconsider.

Moss Event Support

In 1993,our program expanded,with Moss offering support to the individual organizing committees of several major races. One of these was the 39th annual Collier’s Cup MG Race. The Collier Cup Race was established in 1954 to commemorate a local racer of the time, Sam Collier. The race is open exclusively to vintage MGs of all types and the actual Collier Trophy is voted on by race participants for the driver who displays an unparalleled level of sportsmanship – he or she need not win the race.

It’s always held as part of a week long vintage racing event at the historic Watkins Glen Racetrack in NY, and the week following Labor Day was selected as a new date this year in hopes of warmer weather (that didn’t work). I was lucky enough to be flown out from California to lend a hand and check things out – with the understanding that I should take lots of notes in preparation for the 40th anniversary CollierCup next year. (Moss will once again be the official sponsor of the Collier Cup in 1994.)

In what really turned out to be a learning experience for me, I packed a few changes of clothes, decided NOT to take a jacket (bad move), sent the UPS truck off with six boxes of catalogs and Moss Motorings, and boarded a flight from sunny Santa Barbara to Ithaca, NY. I’d pick up a rental car once I arrived in NY and continue on by myself for the forty mile stretch to Watkins Glen. Before leaving I checked my maps, marked my route, and promptly forgot the one thing I really shouldn’t have – a camera!

After a few time changes and airline delays, I arrived at the “Ithaca International Airport” – barely a wide spot in the road – at about 10:30 p.m. east coast time. Finding your way to Watkins Glen through an unfamiliar NY mountainside at night can be tricky at best. But, with assistance from a state trooper and several good guesses on my part, I arrived at the hotel with enough time to unpack a few things and relax for a bit before hitting the sack for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning I was greeted by a picturesque New York fall day. Read that: beautiful and cold. And off I went to find breakfast and the racetrack. The town of Watkins Glen is lined with giant Oak and Elm trees which elegantly drape the town’s streets and sidewalks. I suspect that most have been doing so for nearly a hundred years.

The Racetrack

The racetrack was an easy find, just about three miles over the mountainside. As I pulled up I could already get a sense of the excitement and activity as racers and pit crew zipped around the pits on bicycles and mopeds. Gary Harrison, from Two Bears Racing, had arranged ahead of time to find me when I got there. Although we’d never actually met before,we promptly walked right into one another minutes after I arrived. Gary has attained a near legendary status at Moss for his ability to keep you on the phone for hours with details about new engines, cranks, and all sorts of interesting stuff. Having the chance to meet both he and his lovely wife, Gail, was certainly one of the high lights of my trip. (And thanks for the loan of your jacket, Gary!)

Until the Collier Race on Sunday, I basically had free rein to mingle with spectators and acquaint people with Moss Motors. If you came by our tent, you probably picked up a catalog or two. I walked around the pits about a hundred times, and learned a lot about what makes Gary’s MGA coupe go so fast. Most of it is his right foot!

I ran into a Moss friend, Jim Pesta, and convinced him that if he wanted to volunteer his photographic abilities, that he’d have a much better viewpoint of the race from inside the track. He bought it (thank you, Jim), we arranged Press credentials for him, and I saved the throw-away camera I bought for later.

The Action

The actual Collier Cup Race was held on Sunday morning, bright and early. And I might add, cold! At least we wouldn’t have to worry about overheating cars. Fifteen plus vintage MGs, including two TCs lined up along thc pit wall at Watkins Glen is a sight that would move even the most stoic of souls.

Jim headed for the track side after taking pictures of the lineup, and I headed for the grandstands to watch. Even though the race is considered somewhat of an exhibition, there was some nice jockeying around for positions and lead. The checkered flag was taken by Alex Quaddlebaum, III in a bright red MGA Twin Cam. And, on behalf of Moss, I was proud to present the Collier Cup to Jim Carson, driver of a 1947 MG TC, who attended his first race at Watkins in 1949.

40 MGs in 1994

Next year marks the 40th running of the Collier Cup and Moss will be there helping out again. The organizing committees tell me that they would like to see 40 MGs in next year’s race, and if you get busy now we can make that happen. The date will be September 8-11. If interested in participating or just attending please give us a call and ask for extension 3030 – talk to you then.

By David Eichelbaum

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