Rally Barracuda for Historic Competition

 The stories & pitures below were carried by Speedvision which is now Speed Channel. In the transition, the web news articles were dropped so this is a pasteup of the text which I had fortunately saved complete with credit to the original authors. The first story also appared in Grassroots Motorsports Feb. 2002. One point I would like to add is that the basic body repair and strengthening was done by Auto Rust Technicians in RI before it was sent off for Rally prep. They are a good firm to consult for any AMC or Plymouth frame and body rust issues and strengthening for competition.
Update Ralph took first in class at the 2003 Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. More information about this rally can be found at the Automobile Club of Monaco website, BUT you need to use Explorer 5.0 or Netscape 5.0 or more recent web browser.
 Preparation photos of the current 'cuda at VTSportscar
Another version of the same story as below with some different photos than the other sites is at Vintagerally.com.

Ralph Beckman (left) and Tom Jones.

Recreating Some Rally History

Reims, France, Jan. 27 — When Ralph Beckman slid into the navigator's seat of his 1967 Plymouth Barracuda for the start of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique here today, he was recreating a bit of history for himself and American rallying.

In 1968, Beckman and driver Scott Harvey Sr., then the engineer in charge of Chrysler's Plymouth Barracuda racing program, won the Shell 4000 in a stable mate to Beckman's blue rally car. Now Beckman and his partner, Canadian road-racing and ice-racing champion Tom Jones, hope to add the Monte Carlo historic event to their own and the Barracuda's list of rally victories.

Reims, an ancient French city on the Vesle River about 85 miles northeast of Paris is one of five starting locations across Europe for this fourth edition of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique Jan. 26-31. After Jones and Beckman depart the start they will face five days and 2,000km of wintertime rallying over the mountain roads of the French Alps.

"It was a big deal at the time," Beckman says of his 1968 triumph. "The Barracuda was the first American car to win a World Championship event. We had been second in class at the Shell 4000 in 1967 and had worked hard to develop the car."

In partial payment for his Chrysler Rally Team work, the company gave the 22-year-old Beckman one of their cars, a less radical version of the Barracuda in which he and Harvey had won the trans-Canada event. This is the car Jones and Beckman will now use in France.

"Visually, the cars were identical, blue with a white stripe, but my car didn't have all the racing parts," recalls Beckman. "I built mine into a car for SCCA events, and I ran some national rallies in it. Then I put it away, and it rotted in a garage in Michigan for years."

Fast-forward to 1988: After 15 years away from rallying, Beckman was coaxed back into the sport by Michigan rally veteran Gene Henderson, who offered him the navigator's seat in a factory Subaru for the 5,000-mile Alcan Rally. After finishing second in 1988 and 1989, Beckman and Henderson won the rally for Subaru in 1990.

"My rallying career sort of came to an end in the mid-1970s," Beckman recalls. "I was married and I was starting a business. I had to make a choice--was I going to put all my energy into rallying, or was I going to build my business and get on with my life."

Beckman decided to get on with his life. Today Design Lab, Beckman's Providence, R.I., business, basically "invents things," he says. "Our work is in the medical, computer and consumer-products world. We do a lot of toy inventing--Tickle Me Elmo and Sing 'n' Snore Ernie--but also medical instrumentation and gear."

Unless you have kids in the house or watch a lot of children's TV, you probably won't be familiar with the products created by his business. "We conceive, build prototypes and try to sell 50 new concepts a year. Some are duds, but most do well. Once in a lifetime you hit the jackpot and your toy winds up on the Rosie O'Donnell show. (O'Donnell loved both Tickle Me Elmo and Sing 'n' Snore Ernie.) We've probably made 20 different toys for Sesame Street/Fisher-Price in the last 10 years."

Beckman's 1988 return to rallying proved that the sport had lost none of its luster for him, and his success in business meant he could expand his horizons. "While I found that I was having fun, what I really wanted to do was rally in Europe, which is what I wanted when I was 20 years old," he says.

Beckman got that chance in 1995 when he and Jones decided to tackle the Classic Rally Association's Monte Carlo Challenge. "We ran the event in a Mini," says Beckman. "We had some car problems and there was a huge snowstorm--a blizzard. We had a steep learning curve, but we won our class, and we've been going back ever since."

Since 1995, Beckman and Jones' record includes class wins at the 1996 Classic Marathon, 1998 Liege-Rome-Liege and 1999 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique. At the latter two events they were also third overall. The Monte third was especially gratifying, Beckman notes, because the field contained 260 cars.

In 1999, Beckman reunited with Scott Harvey Sr., and the pair finished second in class at Mexico's Carrera Panamerica in Harvey's Porsche 356. At last year's retro Monte, Beckman and Jones retired on day three after the engine in their Lotus Cortina blew up.

"We had the same car for the Classic Marathon in September, and we would have won the event if we hadn't missed a control," Beckman says. "I think we won every day but the day we missed the control." The slight "oops" dropped the pair from first to 19th at the end of the rally.

About two years ago, Beckman decided to resurrect the Barracuda. "I decided it would be fun to redo it and bring it back as a fully competitive car, one that is indicative of how good the Shell car really was," he explains. "Scott was running the Barracuda Trans Am program at the time, so it was basically a fully developed Trans Am car. For the last two years I've been searching for all the bits and pieces and assembling them into a proper rally car."

Now that the job is done, what will Beckman be thinking about at the start line in Reims? "I'll be thinking, 'If we can keep this car on the road AND if nothing critical fails AND if we don't get lost AND if we zero all the controls, we can win this sucker!'" he says. — James Heine (photos by David Perluck and courtesy Tom Jones)

NEXT TIME: The ups and downs of reconstructing a 33-year-old World Championship rally car.

Monte Carlo Historic Update: Miserable Conditions Put Porsches On Top

Vals les Bains, France, Jan. 31 — At the conclusion of two days of rallying over the roads around this charming French town, the Porsche 911 teams of Rolf Lie/Tom Granli and Kjell Gudim/Tore Fredriksen have established themselves as the provisional leaders of the fourth Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.

The two teams prevailed in difficult conditions that saw many of their competitors struggle through deep snow and fight to maintain traction on slick mountain roads.

Among the American teams entered, Tom Jones and Ralph Beckman, in Beckman's Plymouth Barracuda, hold the number eight spot in the rally, while the British/American team of Neil Wilson and John Buffum are 57th in the field of 255.

Teams from Oslo, Reims, Bad Homburg, Barcelona and Turin assembled here Sunday morning to take on the first of six regularity tests on stages familiar to the fans of the Monte Carlo round of the WRC.

Even with average speeds set at 48km/hr., more than one team found itself struggling to stay on time and on the road, says British rallyist Mark Appleton, who is running the rally with his father, Dick, in a Mini Cooper S. Not even studded tires and front-wheel drive have helped states Appleton adds.

In spite of the tough conditions and frequent off-road excursions, no serious incidents have been reported.

Not everyone is experiencing problems with the winter conditions. Reports Appleton: "One of the sights Sunday came when we were being held up by an Alfa on a regularity. Ralph Beckman and Tom Jones came storming up behind us in the Barracuda and flew past both of us, the back end fishtailing and missing the Alfa by a quarter of an inch. He certainly knows how to handle that big car with all that power in the snow."

The Barracuda, Appleton adds, was a crowd-pleaser at the Reims start. People gathered around the car, marveling at its big V8--and its equally large 32-gallon fuel cell.

Many teams, especially the rally's top teams, had high hopes that conditions Monday would be better for them, if only because an overnight reseeding would put them at the front of the field and away from the slow and inexperienced cars that held many of them up on Sunday's leg. With the slow teams out of the way, the experts would have open roads for the day's four TSD tests.

To the disappointment of many, the reseeding backfired. The top contenders set of first only to find roads deep in snow or extremely icy. By the time the backmarkers hit the road, the sun was up, the snow was being cleared, and much of the ice had melted. The result: Cars later in the field had a much easier day than early teams.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was to be a long one for Monte contestants. After a 5 a.m. start teams were to face more than 500km of rallying and four more regularity tests on their way to a late afternoon arrival in Monte Carlo. After a five-hour break for meals, rest, and repairs, teams will take on an additional 200km of rallying over the famous cols above the seaside resort. Fortunately, with their departure from Vals les Bains, rally teams should leave much of the snow and winter driving conditions behind.

The finish of this year's rally is scheduled in Monte Carlo about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and we will have a full report as soon as final results are available. Here are the provisional standings after six of 14 Regularity (TSD) Tests. Scoring is based on penalties for both road sections and TSD tests. Penalties range from 100 points/whole minute late on road sections to one point per 1/10th second early/late for the TSD sections.— James Heine and Malcom McKay

Driver/Co-driver (Nationality), Marque, Penalty Points
1. Rolf Lie/Tom Granli (N), Porsche 911, 6004
2. Kjell Gudim/Tore Fredriksen (N), Porsche 911, 6401
3. Philip Armstrong/Frank Hussey (IRL), Mercedes Benz 220SEB, 6404
4. Ernst Juntgen/Willie Potjans (D), Mercedes Benz 300SE, 6961
5. Hubert De Gail/Dominique Jacquemin (F), Daf 66 Coupe Marathon, 7272
8. Tom Jones/Ralph Beckman (CDN/USA), Plymouth Barracuda, 7694
57. Neil Wilson/John Buffum (GB/USA), Porsche 356C, 15,871

Irish Team Wins Monte Carlo Historic Rally

Snow, more snow--and a some ice to make things really interesting--were the order of the day on much of this year's Rallye Monte Carlo Historique. Here, one of the many Renault Alpines competing leaves the start of the Burzet/Vals les Bains regularity section last Sunday afternoon.
Monte Carlo, Feb. 3 — The Irish team of Philip Armstrong and Frank Hussey has won the fourth Rally Monte Carlo Historique in a Mercedes 220SEB. Strong contenders throughout the tough event Jan. 26-31, Armstrong and Hussey dominated the last half of the rally as it moved from the snowy landscape of Vals les Bains in the ArdĖche region of France to the glitter and flash of this seaside resort.

In winning the rally, Armstrong and Hussey managed to hold off the ambitious challenge of Italians Luigi and Andrea Capsoni in a Fiat 124 Abarth Spider. Throughout the closing stages of the rally, the Italian team chipped away at the lead of Armstrong and Hussey, but they could never move ahead of the Irishmen in the standings.

While Team Capsoni struggled to take first place away from Armstrong/Hussey, the pair managed to hold off the efforts of German Horst Deumel and Welshman Colin Francis in a Porsche 356B, who finished third.

Missing from the top of the leader board at the end of the rally were Americans Tom Jones and Ralph Beckman in Beckman's thundering '67 Plymouth Barracuda. After storming back from a dismal 59th on the first regularity test Sunday afternoon outside Vals les Bains, the pair found themselves in eighth place by the end of the sixth regularity test Monday evening. At the end of the eighth test (Chabestan/Laragne Monteglin) Tuesday morning, they were second and making a strong bid to take the lead away from Armstrong and Hussey.

"The first test Sunday afternoon was terrible," Jones said. "We had to stop and shovel people out of the snow so we could get through. Ralph was literally out of the car, helping others try to move their cars."

Many of the contestants were woefully unprepared for the wintertime conditions, says Jones, a construction company owner from Thunder Bay, Ont., and a seven-time Canadian and international ice-racing champion. "I drive to work every morning in conditions like we had Sunday and Monday in Vals les Bains. Right now, there's seven feet of snow outside my office window."

On Tuesday's third test (Laragne Montegln/Les 4 Chemins), Jones/Beckman and Armstrong/Hussey recorded nearly identical times, and it appeared the Barracuda was unstoppable. "We had the rally won," Jones says. "All the bad stuff was behind us, and all we had to do was get to the end. The car was absolutely magnificent. Ralph has it set up beautifully. If you were behind us in the dry, you could tell we had been through, because we would leave three car-lengths of rubber on the exits to the switchbacks."

Unfortunately, the end of the rally came early for the pair when the ring gear on their starter disintegrated at the start of stage 10, the final regularity test before the rally descended into Monte Carlo for an early evening break.

"Our practice was to start the car and let it idle a few minutes before we entered a stage," Jones says. "On the last stage before Monte Carlo we couldn't get the car started. We finally push-started it, but there was so much noise and rattling around in the bell housing that we had to pull over to the side of the road. When we pulled the starter, which wasn't easy because the headers were so hot, the ring gear came out in pieces."

Eventually, Jones and Beckman managed to limp into Monte Carlo, but their rally was over.

Although teams saw a lot of snow and ice Sunday and Monday, conditions improved Tuesday as the rally made its way to Monte Carlo. This is not to say that the rally got any easier, however. "Tuesday was a tough day on cars and crews alike," says English rally organizer Mark Appleton, who with his father, Dick, finished 34th in a Mini Cooper S. "We had a 5:30 (a.m.) start and 11 hours of rallying before a five hour break in Monte Carlo and another five hours of rallying. There was snow on the first regularity (St. Jean en Royans/Chabestan, at seven in the morning), but it wasn't too bad...The other regularities were dry and reasonably easy."

While the Appletons and their Mini didn't encounter serious problems on the St. Jean en Royans regularity, others did, especially teams at the front of the field did. Organizers eventually discarded the early-morning stage from scoring because too many front-runners found themselves blocked by fellow contestants who couldn't plow their way through the snowed-in roads.

The last leg of the rally, a 200km nighttime loop with four regularity sections, began at 9:30 Tuesday evening and ended early Wednesday morning in Monte Carlo. Even though it came at the end of a long day, the leg proved to be fun, Reports Appleton: "We dropped only five seconds on the Col de Madonne, and the Col de Turini was great fun, too--not particularly tight because there wasn't much ice. The last regularity was very tight and icy though, and we lost about 50 seconds."

This year's Rallye Monte Carlo Historique featured 255 teams starting from five cities. The four-year-old event has quickly become one of the most popular historic rallies on the calendar, not only because of the wonderful history associated with the event and the wintertime challenges it offers, but also because of the way the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) organizes the rally. "Most of the regularity sections are effectively closed roads, with gendarmes or marshals at every junction stopping the traffic," Appleton says.

For this year's edition of the rally, the ACM received 330 applications for an initial 220 slots. Eventually, 262 invitations were issued, with, as noted earlier, 255 teams beginning their concentration runs from five cities (Oslo, Barcelona, Reims, Bad Homburg and Turin). Of the 255 starters, 215 crossed the finish line in Monte Carlo.

Scoring is based on penalties for both road sections and TSD tests. Penalties range from 100 points/whole minute late on road sections to one point per 1/10th second early/late for the TSD sections.— James Heine and Malcolm McKay (photo courtesy Automobile Club de Monaco)

Driver/Co-driver (Nationality), Marque, Penalty Points
1. Philip Armstrong/Frank Hussey (IRL), Mercedes Benz 220SEB, 7231
2. Luigi Capsoni/Andrea Capsoni (I), Fiat 124 Abarth Spider, 8870
3. Horst Deumel/Colin Francis (D/GB), Porsche 356B, 9220
4. Gregor Joos/Thomas Korner (D). BMW 2002, 9476
5. Ivar Aage Moe/ Ingrid Moe (N), Morgan Plus 4, 2852
34. Dick Appleton/Mark Appleton (GB), Morris Mini Cooper S, 15667
41. Neil Wilson/John Buffum (GB/USA), Porsche 356C, 16184
87. Ron Gammons/Paul Easter (GB), MGB, 19632
DNF. Tom Jones/Ralph Beckman (CDN/USA), Plymouth Barracuda — 

Resurrecting A '67 Barracuda For Historic Rallying

There was plenty of snow on the Monte Carlo Historique, but the Beckman/Jones Barracuda handled it well.
Monte Carlo, Feb. 6 — To make a vintage example of 1960s American iron ready for the rigors of the fourth Rallye Monte Carlo Historique Jan. 26-31, owner and Providence, R.I., businessman Ralph Beckman took several steps beyond the usual old-car restoration process with his 1967 Plymouth Barracuda.

Although this year's edition of the international road rally came to an abrupt end for Beckman and his partner, Canadian Tom Jones, when the starter on the Barracuda disintegrated at the start of stage 10, both Beckman and Jones are delighted with the overall performance of the car. The balance of the car is superb says Jones, and the horsepower the 340ci V8 can transfer to the road surface amazed their European competitors.

"Gregor Joos and Thomas Korner, who finished third on the rally in a BMW 2002tii, told us that when they first saw the car at the start in Reims, they laughed at it, because they thought no one could rally a car that big over the roads of the Monte," reports Jones. "At the end of the first day they were impressed by how well it worked, and by the second night (Monday, Jan. 29) they started worrying that we were going to beat them."

Stripping a car and beginning again from ground zero is pretty much standard operating procedure in the world of restoring old cars, but to make his Barracuda competition-ready, Beckman had to ensure that the car's components were sufficiently strengthened, and that once complete, the car would meet the regulations for historic rally cars established by the FIA.

Once he had retrieved the Barracuda from its Michigan garage, where it had been stored for many years, Beckman selected Vermont SportsCar to prep the car for international historic rallying. The Colchester, Vt., shop has a long history of preparing rally cars, including the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V of 2000 SCCA ProRally Group N champions Karl Scheibel and Russ Hughes.

Building a car for historic rallying is really no different than constructing a new rally car, Beckman says. "First of all we stripped the car to white metal and seam-welded it. We put in a cage and all the safety requirements mandated--or allowed--by the FIA. We went through everything. All the disposable parts are new, and everything else has been resurrected, reinforced, and gusseted. The car is really solid now. It's awesome."

Because Chrysler homologated the Barracuda in two forms, Beckman opted to update his 1967 car to 1968 specs, which allowed him to choose Chrysler's 340cid small block rather than the 273 that was installed originally in the 1967 version of the car. "The FIA allows you improve within your period as long as there's homologation," Beckman says. "So I decided that if I was going to build this thing, I was going to put a 340 in it, because it's a much stronger engine."

In addition to the 340, which in its present state of tune puts out about 325hp, Beckman installed an aluminum-cased Chrysler four-speed from the company's Trans Am program and an 8-3/4 inch friction-type limited-slip rear end that allows a variety of final-drive selections. "For this rally (the Monte) we have a 3.91 gear in it," Beckman says. "There are six or seven different ratios available, and they just plug in."

Brakes per the 1968 FIA car are front disc and rear drum, with rear leaf springs, torsion-bar front and KYB shocks. The stock fuel tank has been replaced with a 32-gallon rear-mounted fuel cell. "Just as with the original car, we have 15 x 7 American Racing Torq-Thrust mags," notes Beckman. "Ours are aluminum while the originals were magnesium."

For the retro Monte Carlo, Beckman mounted 70-series Hakkapelitta winter tires.

Inside the Barracuda, Vermont SportsCar has installed Sparco Evo II racing seats, a Terratrip intercom system, and a Halda Twinmaster for keeping track of the miles. "Because this car is meant for historic rallying, we're limited in the kind of equipment we can use," Beckman says. "The Halda is about it."

While obtaining FIA Historic Identity Papers from ACCUS proved to be easy, the initial step of finding the original homologation papers was far more difficult. Says Beckman: "The SCCA had a fire some years ago, and they lost their whole collection. So finding the basic document stipulating what the car had to be was interesting. I think I eventually found a copy of the papers in Finland."

It turns out that Chrysler sold a lot of Barracudas in Finland, Beckman says, and there are several cars that compete in Finnish historic rallying. "The guys in Finland were really helpful," he adds.

Shortly before Beckman took the car to Montreal to be shipped to Europe, he had one last scare. In testing, he discovered some oiling problems. "We had to make some repairs to the engine," he says. "We had a problem with oil circulation. It could have been a lot worse, because it could have appeared on the rally rather than at home, and there would have been very little we could have done about it."

Now that the Monte Carlo rally is over, Beckman plans to bring the car back to the U.S. and sort out several problems that cropped up over the five days of the Monte Carlo rally. Once those problems are resolved, the car will go back to Europe for more historic competition.

NEXT TIME: Ralph Beckman and Tom Jones talk about rallying in Europe, the mystique of the Monte and going downhill fast when there are no guardrails. — James Heine (photo courtesy Photo Agency Rene)

Lessons From The Monte Carlo Historique

Providence, R.I., Feb. 12 — If you want to understand what the roads of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique are like, just take a look at Speedvision TV's coverage of the 2000 WRC event, says Rhode Island car owner and rally navigator Ralph Beckman. Unless you do that, or have been there and driven the roads, it's hard to fathom the challenge they present, especially in winter.

"They're very narrow, unguarded, nasty little roads in the French Alps," he says. "Most of them are the classic stage roads from the World Championship event."

The roads are fun, Beckman adds with a laugh. "If they're dry, they're not a problem, but I haven't seen them dry in the three years we've run the Monte Carlo."

Beckman and Thunder Bay, Ont., racer and rallyist--and long-time friend--Tom Jones challenged the roads of the Rally Monte Carlo Historique for the third consecutive year Jan. 26-31 in Beckman's newly restored 1967 Plymouth Barracuda. (See Parts One and Two of this story for the history of the car.) Like last year, the pair suffered a frustrating DNF. A year ago the engine of their David Sutton Historic Motorsport Lotus Cortina blew up. This year the pinion gears fell off the Barracuda's starter and jammed in the flywheel.

Not all has been bad luck for the pair on the Monte, however. Their first effort in 1999 resulted in a third-place finish in a field of 260 in the same David Sutton car that let them down last year.

Both men are proud of their 1999 accomplishment and of their effort this year. "It's a great event," says Jones, a Thunder Bay construction company owner. "The organizers of the Monte use little, narrow roads that climb up the mountain with switchback after switchback. We've always done very well, and we can run with anyone."

The Barracuda, Jones adds, surprised the daylights out of their European competitors. Many were unfamiliar with the car and its capabilities, or that it is a stable mate of the Barracuda in which Beckman and Scott Harvey Sr., won the 1968 Shell 4000. "It sure hauls the mail," Jones says with a laugh. "It's a little tough to handle downhill on ice, but there wasn't anybody we couldn't keep up with this year."

But then Jones is no slouch as a driver, either. At one point in his career, Jones, who holds numerous road-racing, ice-racing and rally titles, won 21 consecutive 100-mile ice races. That experience lends itself well to the traditional conditions of the Monte, Beckman says.

As friends, the pair go back a long way. "I think we met one year at the Shell 4000," Beckman says. "I used to fly up to Thunder Bay and run rallies with Tom, including some events for American Motors, which had a rally team in the late 1960s."

Their first historic event was the Classic Rally Association's 1995 Monte Carlo Challenge. That year they finished first in class despite a steep learning curve and heavy snow. The pair recorded a similar finish in the 1998 Liege-Rome-Liege rally and the 1996 Classic Marathon/Targa EspaŅa.

"The Targa Espana was probably the best rally I ever ran," Beckman says. "It was a five- or six-day flog through the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. It was just incredible. We were winning the thing until 50 miles from the end when we put a hole in the gas tank. That proved we could win. The organizers declared us the moral victors, but the hole in the gas tank put an end to us."

For American rallyists, the biggest adjustment to rallying in Europe may be getting used to rallying with maps. "The map-reading skills required are very different than the skills we require in the U.S., but it's nothing you can't learn," Beckman says. "Everything else is similar. A rally is a rally. You're always learning something new. Every rally is different from every other rally and different in its own way."

"Ralph is a great navigator," Jones says of his partner. "He's comfortable with the maps and all the little tricks you have to get used to. No matter how good the map is, the roads and the intersections always look different on the ground."

Now that the Monte Carlo rally is over, Beckman is busy digesting everything he learned about the car on the event. "You'd like to think that once you finish building a car, it's done, but that's not the case. It's a process. I brought back three pages of notes from Europe. The next step is to figure out what we need to do to reach the next rung of the reliability ladder."

Presently, the car is on display at David Sutton Historic Motorsport in Daventry, England. Once he decides which problems need to be addressed, Beckman will also decide whether to have the work done in England or bring the car back to the U.S.

One of the elements that requires fine-tuning is the windshield wiper system. After a day of moving slush around on the windshield, the wipers simply stopped. Fortunately, the next day they worked again, Beckman says. Likewise, the car's heater blew too much hot air on Jones' side of the car and not enough on Beckman's. "He had hot feet. I had cold feet," Beckman says.

On a more significant level, Jones and Beckman discovered that their sump shield was far too low. "We bottomed out a couple of times," he said. "We will probably have to fabricate a new oil pan that's wider and more shallow to fix that problem. I thought we could get by with the stock oil pan, but now I know why I have drawings from the original car for a modified one."

If all goes well, Jones and Beckman plan to run the Barracuda at the Thousand Lakes Historic Rally Aug. 3-4 in Finland. "The roads will be different, the speeds will be different, and the temperature will be different--and we'll have a different ratio in the rear end," Beckman says. "The learning process will start all over again." — James Heine

Your Papers, Please

When Ralph Beckman wanted to again rally his '67 Barracuda (seen here testing at Tim O'Neil's rally school in Franconia, N.H.) he had to prepare it to the car's original homologation specs in order to obtain the necessary Historic Identity Papers.
Denver, Colo., Feb. 17 — Okay, so you have a historic rally car, a potential partner, some free time, a pocketful of spare change and a desire to try an FIA or FIVA approved international old-car event. Before you mail that entry application and begin looking for a way to ship you car overseas, pause a moment and check whether your paperwork is in order. It could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

There are three key documents that govern international historic racing and rallying, says Mark Williams, the chair of the Historic Rally Committee for the SCCA's Performance Rally Board: (1) the homologation form for your vehicle, (2) Appendix K of the FIA's International Sporting Code and (3) a set of Historic Identity Papers.

"The foundation of FIA historic racing is the use of competition vehicles that conform to the original specifications when they were actively competing," says Williams. "These specifications are set forth in the homologation form for the particular vehicle make, model and year as submitted to the FIA by the manufacturer when the vehicle was introduced and certified for competition."

Vehicles competing in FIA historic rallies must adhere to the specifications in the original homologation form, Williams adds. In the U.S., those forms are available from ACCUS (the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States, 1500 Skokie Blvd., Suite 101, Northbrook, IL 60062, [847-272-0090]). Williams advises that obtaining the homologation form for your vehicle should be an early step in your preparation process.

All About Appendix K
Appendix K of the FIA's International Sporting Code describes modifications to historic vehicles that are either required for safety reasons or allowed beyond the specifications in the vehicle's homologation form, Williams says. The regulations are available on the FIA's web site (www.fia.com) and can be printed out for easy reference. They are also an important early element of your rally plans.

Just What Are Historic Identity Papers?
Historic Identity Papers describe the specifications of a particular vehicle and attests that it conforms to the vehicle's corresponding homologation form and to regulations of Appendix K. Again, in the U.S. application forms are available from ACCUS, and completed forms are verified, signed and stamped by ACCUS for U.S.-resident car owners. States Williams: "The hard part is preparing a car to the specifications of the homologation form and Appendix K. Once this has been done properly it is quite easy and straightforward to obtain Historic Identity Papers."

Historic Identity Papers And Provenance: An Example Of The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

Burdett Martin, the president of ACCUS, agrees with Williams that in many cases obtaining Historic Identity Papers is a straightforward process. "The place to start is with us," he says.

Martin warns, however, that occasionally the wait may be longer than a few weeks. This is especially true if the papers are for a rare or unusual car. "If the papers go to the FIA's Historic Commission the process may take six months," he says.

Martin is concerned, too, that some owners have the wrong idea about Historic Identity Papers. They see the papers as a way to bolster the provenance of their cars, and that attitude has led to a host of issues neither the FIA nor its national members want to become embroiled in--but may not be able to avoid. In one case involving Historic Identity Papers, ACCUS has even been threatened with legal action. "Even though the papers specifically say that the vehicle identity forms are not intended for any purpose but to make a car eligible for competition," says Martin, "people seem to want them in order to increase the value of their car."

Martin takes that observation a step farther. He suspects that many of the applications he sees are for cars whose owners never intend to use them in competition.

The entire issue is further complicated by several facts, explains Martin. First, many constructors began as little more than backyard mechanics and shop owners, and records are not always up to snuff by today's standards. Second, old racecars that were wrecked or parted out may reappear today as two or more "original" cars. Third, even if a car's history is well documented, the car itself may have undergone changes during its lifetime, and establishing the appropriate specifications for the car may take considerable work.

The ERA Club in England is a good example of the second situation, notes Martin. Some years ago the club discovered it had more cars on its roster than ERA built!

To sort out these dilemmas, the FIA increasingly is requiring a comprehensive history of the car as part of the application. Says Martin: "You can't just list it as, say, a works car in 1961 and then say nothing further about it until it reappears in California in 1995."

The application fee for Historic Identity Papers is $75. You will also need an FIA entrant's license, which costs $150. For rare vehicles, says Martin, the cost may be higher in the future, because the FIA may resort to asking experts to certify the history of the car. "If you have to hire someone from Europe to verify the authenticity of, say, a particular Maserati or Alfa or Bugatti, that will not be cheap. Someone will have to pay for the time and expense."

NEXT TIME: If your interest leans toward road rather than stage events, an FIA Historic Regularity Car Pass or a FIVA Identity Card may be all that you need. — James Heine (photo by Lars Gange/BlackBullet.com)


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