at PlaySanta Barbara Airport (Goleta)

Frames from an 8mm film made in 1968
Photo: Tony Viedma on trackPhoto: Tony Viedma, still on track

Formerly Marc Ferland's, this "Bug-eye" Sprite was well put together and very, very fast in the right hands.The hands, in this case, belong to Tony Viedma, a young man from Tijuana. The car was re-motored with a Coventry-Climax by this time.

In the next minute or two something happened, and Tony lost track of the track, driving along behind the flag stations for nearly a full lap.

¡ Cuidado, Tony !

Photo: Tony off track in his Sprite Mk I

Here he comes, looking for direction. I don't know if he could see the shaking of heads as he rolled by. There was plenty of that.

Photo: A TR-4 slides our way

Maybe this is the something that happened: a TR-4, well ahead of Tony, slid off the track and raised some dust. No biggie.

04-13-2002:  I've just heard from "Tony Viedma." His name is Antonio Arias.

He also straightened me out on this off-track misadventure (he had never driven a lap on the track, started late, spun exiting the third turn, and was lost among the buildings looking for a place to re-enter), and updated his racing history, which includes a few years as student and instructor with the Jim Russell school at Willow Springs, and a European ride in an F-1 car.

He also asks if anyone has race results records from a Driver School at Riverside, in which he passed 23 cars in four laps, finishing second behind a Formula A car in the second heat. It must have been around this time, early 1968.

Race course was on the airport just off the campus of University Of California, Santa Barbara, at Goleta. The track diagram I obtained from the North American Racing Pages is not as complex as I remember, It seems to me there was a good deal more twisting 'round the buildings, at least in the old days.

I'm pretty sure the Southwest end was the same, or close thereto. When I came here with friends in the mid-fifties (of the century, not of the friends) we liked to get to the inside of the Southwest turn, where you could see the passing at the end of one straight, the U-turn and the more-than-ninety left turn before the next straight.

Photo: Unidentified  formula car, unidentified problem

I'm not sure who this is, nor what problem has the attention of so many onlookers. The man in the black jacket may be from San Diego Region, SCCA. Some of their members used black jackets. I think Ron Moore had been busy getting into a British F-5000 car at about this time. Could be? Jack Milliken had a F-Ford here, a dark car, but look at those tires . . .

GIF: Course diagram

Course layout as found in the North American Motor Sports pages. A 1964 event program shows the abbreviated shape set out above.

I am grateful for a message from Peter Boyd:
"By the way. The blue formula car on your page is Jack Millikin's Lotus 22 with a flipped Corvair tranny and a Traco Olds w/ 180 degree Moldex crank and Phil Remington's ex-Scarab x-over Weber manifold. I bought it and drove it around Hughes Helicopter a bunch. VARA wouldn't accept it though. "

Course diagram, lifted from a 1966 event program

OK, here is one a little more like I recall it. The thicker lines are from a 1966 event program and are overlaid on the 50s configuration, which included the part just above the checkered flag symbol. It appears the only difference was the perforated link inside the northeast turn.

It's the 1966 program that calls the course "2.5 miles"; the 50s diagram calls what is clearly a longer course "2.2 miles" and says the back straight is "1/2 mile." I'd guess the 1966 one should be "1.5 miles."

Photo: Red Jaguar XK120 at speed

See what I found: looks like a Jaguar XK120, probably the same one seen in Southern California races since, well, when was the XK120 invented?

My memory wants me to say it is "Hap" Richardson. I'm certain he was the known Jaguar racer. Just not certain this is him.

I never raced or worked in an official capacity at Santa Barbara. In 1968 I was there as a guest of the organization when I had been appointed Chief Of Course Control for the San Diego Stadium events. I expect I learned something, but cannot remember what. I had my 8mm camera with me. Can you tell?

See Jim Weisman's 1958 photo of Bob Oker and the Aston Martin at Santa Barbara

I remember seeing that an MG TC broke a front-end component, leaving one wheel independent of the steering wheel. As the driver tried to turn right in the second half of the U-turn, the car went straight off and came to rest parallel to the snow fence, both front wheels pointing forward. He got off the car and looked, and could see nothing wrong, so he got back in.

Car still wouldn't obey: as soon as he tried to steer it, the loose wheel plowed in and grooved the ground. He got out, and of course the wheels were pointed fine. This was repeated a couple more times, until the driver finally listened to what spectators had been telling him from the beginning. I don't remember how he got back to the pits, which were across the track, well away from the crowd, on the far Southeast side of the start-finish straight.

Here's another one for the books: the TC driver sent an email message:

"I was the guy in the TC Special that had the steering failure. It was like a severe case of understeer. I don't remember anyone telling me what the problem was, but it was no big problem getting back to the pits because as long as I drove slowly the unsteered wheel tracked perfectly . . . "
                                                               Bill Watkins

The most poignant memory from that 50s trip was living in traffic on the return to L.A.:  hours of bumper-to-bumper, inching forward, raising eyebrows at the row of British cars along the verge with their bonnets akimbo, steam rampant on a field of frown. Allards, Healeys, MGs, JAG-you-ahs, a Singer. One of those EYE-talyun Fuh-RARE-ee MAWN-dials with snakeskin on the fascia. I'd have traded my cool-running '49 Ford for any of them. I'd imagine some of the drivers might have been tempted, given the circumstances.

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