How Times Have Changed #3
Club Racing Weekends

The third article in the "How Times Have Changed" series covers how Club Racing weekends have changed (at least in Ontario). This is not meant to be an all-encompassing discussion but rather a quick overview from a spectator's point of view.

British Empire Motor Club
12th Annual Sports Car Trophy Races
Saturday, May 19, 1962
8:00 am
to 10:00 am Late crew registration  
9:30 am
to 11:15 am Warm up (by classes)  
11:20 am
Drivers' Meeting  
11:15 am to
12:00 noon Lunch Break  
12:00 Noon
Race #1 Production Sports Cars - up to 1300cc 10 laps
  Race #2 Production Sports Cars - 1300cc to 1600cc 10 laps
  Race #3 Production Sports Cars - over 1600cc 10 laps
  Race #4 Modified Sports Cars - all classes 12 laps
  Race #5 Formula Junior and Canada Class 10 laps
  Race #6 Touring Cars - all classes 10 laps
  Race #7 Novice Class - all classes 10 laps
  Race #8 Dunlop Challenge Trophy Race
Open to the first six finishers in races #1, 2, 3 and 4 and by invitation
25 laps
  8:30 pm Trophy Presentations at the Empress Hotel, Peterborough  
The first change is the schedule. Today, Fridays are an optional day and the actual weekend covers Saturday and Sunday. As you can see from the below schedule, in the 1960's, a club weekend was contained to the Saturday only. This is partly due to the fact that it was illegal to race on Sunday. This changed in the late 1960's.

The format has changed greatly since then. Today, competitors get practice time, qualifying and up to three races each. In 1962, it was warm-up in the morning and races in the afternoon. The last race of the day was the feature event and was typically open to the top finishers of the earlier races with the winner being declared the winner of the event ie "The Indian Summer Trophy Races", "The Spring Trophy Races", "The Great Lakes Trophy Races", etc.The photo of Ludwig Heimrath at the bottom of this page is an example. The weekend was topped off by the trophy presentations and banquet at a local hotel.

Two typical things are missing from the schedule above: motorcycles and Novice Races. In the 1950's and 1960's it was common to have motorcycle races on the same weekend. This was especially true for BEMC, as they had their start organizing motorcycle races. Novice Races were a way to separate the new competitors from the more experienced ones. Their performance was monitored by the marshalls and in time, were allowed to run with the regular racers.

The schedule from above came from the weekend's souvenir program; that's the second thing that has changed since then. This particular program cost 25 cents, tax included. The programs were pretty bare in the 1950's but improved through the 1960's. The quality of the souvenir program also depended on the club that was organzing the event. BEMC usually put together a very good one with photos and short articles in addition to the schedule and driver entries. Smaller club's programs often were only a few pages and only listed the entries and schedule.

Today there is no program, probably because the events are generally not open to spectators. This leads us to the third item that has changed: attendance.
Each club operated differently but most weekends were open to spectators. The occasional weekend was closed to spectators; often this would be a Novice weekend. Weekend attendance would be as low as a few hundred or up to 5,000.

The clubs even advertised as shown in these two newspaper ads. The first is from The Toronto Star in 1965. The second is from the Simcoe Reformer in 1956.

Ludwig Heimrath, winner of the 1965 Indian Summer Trophy Races

Next time we'll cover such topics as the various classes, clubs, organizations, etc.