Bill Burroughs and Paul Smock are two of the world’s biggest Triumph fans. Bill owns a TR6 and a TR250, and Paul’s family has a TR4, a Herald and a pair of TR4As. Together Bill and Paul own the TR4A vintage race car pictured here.
Bill is one of the principal voices in the Southern California Triumph Owner’s Association, and as a long-time enthusiast remembers Triumph’s glory days of class dominance in SCCA production racing and the European Rally circuit. After driving their Triumphs across the country to the Road Atlanta circuit during a V’i’R National Convention in Georgia, and having spent years street and slalom racing, Bill and Paul decided to go to racing school, get certified and build a real vintage race car….What a Southern California kid, who grew up with Disneyland in the back yard would call an “E” ticket ride! (The now defunct Disney ticketing system provided “A” tickets for simple toddler rides up to the most exciting and expensive “E” ticket extravaganzas).
On a tight budget but armed with decades of Triumph wrenching experience and tremendous enthusiasm, our heroes set out to find a cheap and solid old TR4, and build it into an exact duplicate of one of Kas Kastner’s highly competitive factory supported races from the ’60s. The first part was a breeze. A solid TR4 turned up at a Long Beach Police auction and was purchased for S50! The second part took three years of hard work. The partners set up a time schedule, a $3000 budget and stripped the car to the chassis. The engine and chassis work was carried out at Paul’s house in Long Beach and the body was undertaken at Bill’s house some thirty miles away-a sort of commuter classic! Parts were bought, traded, bartered and services were handled in a similar manner. Much of the work they did themselves constantly reminding each other that vintage racing is not just about winning and losing; it’s playing the game in a 25 year old, full factory replica of their favorite car.
Using the Kastner Competition Preparation Manual, Bill and Paul collected all of the right pieces as they finished up the chassis. Parts like real alloy wheels from a factory racer, and a finned sump and finned aluminium brake drums from a factory supported ’60s’ SCCA race car. The straight axle chassis was built to Kastner specs and they even acquired a Kastner stamped “F” cam which was installed in an engine built to be a good ‘learning motor’ and not a radical racing monster. The object was to get some driving experience with out having to rebuild the motor every two weeks! Vintage racing associations require some modern safety equipment, so a fuel cell and some $800 worth of Nomex fireproof clothing was purchased to make the car ’90s race legal. Our two heroes then completed race driving school with the blue and white Kastner replica. That, and ten racing weekends produced only one mechanical failure – a leaky axle seal! With more experience, came the need to uprate the performance of the TR4. A ’60s era Moon race cam replaced the milder Kastner unit, while a racing seat and a sticky set of new tires cut ten seconds off their lap times for 1993.
Other Triumph Club members having gone to see Bill and Paul at the track, have built their own racing replicas of the past and by the end of last year no fewer than five SCTOA Triumphs were ready for the starting grid, and together they formed the “E” Ticket Racing Team. The Team has created much more than a weekend diversion. This highly visible example of Moss Motors sponsored Triumph motorsport was shown in no less than seven auto shows and fourteen races during 1993, collecting numerous awards along the way, including 1st place in Slalom and a second in concours at the Vintage Triumph Register’s National in Seattle, a Racer’s Choice award at the Moss Triumph day and the year was completed with the award to “E” Ticket Racing, of the “Digger Davitt Memorial” award as Triumph enthusiasts of the year, at Triumphest ’93 in Sacramento.
Paul and Bill also got the first TRMGChallenge Race started at Willow Springs in 1992 and for 1994 no less than 20 Triumphs are expected to be the standard bearers at the Third Annual Moss Motors TR-MG Challenge race at Las Vegas Raceway against Abingdon’s finest in November this year.
More club members are joining in the fun and we should see no less than sixteen SCTOA Triumphs out in the pits this coming season, Nothing gives Bill and Paul greater pleasure than helping another Vintage Racing enthusiast get started. “Talk to us before you hand that blank check over to some so-called engine builder” says Bill.
“Half the fun is in the building, the other half is in racing (i.e. finishing!) and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on either of the grins. Stop by the “E” Ticket pits any time-we’d love to help you get started” said Paul.
Though Vintage Racing gets major coverage in the general press when Ferraris race at Palm Springs, Bill Burroughs contends that racing is just as much fun to compete in driving an MG, Triumph or Alfa. He stated “While we all love to watch the Ferraris and the Cobras on the track, most us can actually afford to own and race a Triumph-or at least share one”!
By Rick Feibusch