I bought Peyote from Baxter Culver in 1999. That seems impossibly recent–it seems like I’ve owned it forever. a lot of good things happened to me in 1999–for one thing I sold part of my company to an investment firm and took some of the chips off the table. That ultimately freed up more time for me to play.
Peyote came along at just the right time. I was racing a TR3A that I had more or less built myself, though a fellow named Collin Sparkes did a lot of the smarter stuff on it. I started off knowing nothing about vintage racing. I’ve raced something or other for most of my life–mostly motorcycles. I started racing cars in the early eighties when a guy I worked for named Doug Root bought an H-Production Rabbit. Doug knew that I was a fairly good wrench (my daily driver was the same TR3, with a Toyota 2TG drivetrain I grafted in) so he talked me into helping him keep his car running, and in return. I’d get to drive it out of class. In practice, Doug Didn’t get to race very much. His wife had a firm grip on his goolies and wouldn’t let him play that often, so I got to race the car quite a bit. When Doug got discouraged and sold the car I decided to do something on my own, and I found out about Vintage Racing.
The first vintage race I went to as a spectator was the Norm Thompson Historic Races in Portland at PIR. I was enthralled. I went home, pulled the original drivetrain out from under the workbench and ripped my TR3 apart. I knew nothing about the rules, and so I built the best race car I could, which of course was in violation of nearly every rule any racing organization ever contemplated. About the only positive thing you could say is that I didn’t put on rear disks. It weighed considerably less than Peyote and had more horsepower. It took a while for me to learn to drive this go cart, but once I did it was probably pretty obvious that it wasn’t kosher. When the head of the competition committee for SOVREN finally took a close look he said “You’ve got to be sh*@#ng me! Show me something here that you THINK is legal”
That’s a quote.
Fortunately, I had just learned through the Friends Of Triumph (FOT–an internet group of people that race Triumph-powered cars) that Peyote was available. Baxter had made the critical mistake of calculating what it was costing him to race–per lap–and decided to take up less expensive pursuits (perhaps cocaine?). So I bought Peyote and an enclosed trailer for about $20K as I recollect, and it was a nice trailer.
When I first started racing Peyote I was underwhelmed. After all, my cheater TR3 could certainly out accelerate it. At first, I thought the handling was pretty dodgy, but then the lights started coming on. Go faster. Brake less. Let the ass end hang out a bit and get back into the throttle. Trust the car. Suddenly my lap times started falling, and they really never stopped, though the curve has flattened out as I come close to the limits of my abilities. I suspect a better driver could find even more time.
I don’t have any really early race results–I never made much of an attempt to save timesheets. I did staple up a growing stack to the wall of my trailer so I’d have some idea of prior performance, and most of the ones I have come from that “source”. The earliest one I can find comes from the 2001 Portland Historics race–the successor to the Norm Thompson race.
Lap times in the 1:30’s aren’t bad at PIR with the chicane. Under most conditions these days with good tires I can do 1:31 to 1:32, and I’ve managed a 1:29 I think. But 1:36 is a respectable time with Hoosier Vintage TDs. Hey. it was good enough to win, and any day I can beat Tony Garmey is a good day.