The Story of Dave Lucier's 1950 MGTD Racer, The Hogwarts Special
The Hogwarts Special
(A six-year saga to build a vintage MG racer) by Dave Lucier
In 1998, six years before this writing, during the weekend celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Watkins Glen International Speedway, a truly rare moment in vintage MG racing occurred. Fifty years after MGs first roared through the streets of the Glen on the old racecourse, a very unusual conversation occurred between a husband and his wife. Read on!
My wife, Sheelah, and I were in Watkins Glen, NY in September 1998 as crew members of Kim’s Motorsports, Inc. On Friday night, we went downtown to enjoy the Zippo U.S. Vintage street festival. I had left my own street Triumph (1972 Triumph TR6) roadster back home in Niskayuna, NY, because my crew duties necessitated that I drive the SUV. However, Sheelah drove her roadster to the happening, a very presentable 1965 Triumph TR4A-IRS.
Many auto clubs came to the Glen to participate in the festival. The New England MG T-Register had their “gathering of the faithful” there, as expected. It seemed like there were over a hundred T-Series roadsters scattered throughout the village. As we walked along Franklin Street marveling at hundreds of vintage vehicles, I suggested that we sell our other roadster, a 1950 MGTD. Why keep it around, I reasoned aloud? How many roadsters does one family need? Oh sure, it was a classic and a decent-looking street vehicle. But heck, we didn’t have enough garage space as it was and the TD should bring a fair price.
Sheelah’s response was unpredictable, to say the least. "Why don’t you build an MG racer, dear?" she asked. I was stunned in my tracks.
Few wives on this good earth would ever suggest such a thing. Build a vintage racer? My response was almost instantaneous. Less than the time it takes for the traffic light to change before the jerk in the minivan behind you blows his horn! I knew I must seize the moment. Carpe diem!
Hold that thought, I said. I’ve got to get my video camera. None of my friends are ever going to believe what you said without me giving unimpeachable proof!
Sheelah said it and, more importantly, she meant it. That was six years ago almost to the date. The unveiling of the TD racer, a supercharged H-production car with a 1250cc block, came during the Zippo U.S. Vintage weekend of Watkins Glen on September 10-12, 2004.
It took a lot of ink on paper (It’s not really money, is it?). It also required the unwavering effort from a lot of people, primarily by Kim Graff and Skip Beck of Kim’s Import Motors, Inc. in Amsterdam, New York. Others contributed too: Haberek’s Auto Diesel Machine (Chuck Haberek) did all the engine machining and rebuilt the supercharger. ABS Chassis (Bud Abbitello) installed the roll cage and the complete aluminum interior, replacing much of the original wood. Boyd’s Engine Shop (Jack Boyd) accomplished the engine balance work. Many of the crewmembers of Kim’s Motorsports, Inc. selflessly dedicated many Wednesday nights at the shop too and countless ideas for improvements. Mike Sylvia did the painting.
Six years is a long time to sustain the kind of effort required. I wanted the TD to participate in The 50th Collier Cup event, so the team pointed toward the 2004 event at the Glen. I had hoped to drive the TD myself in the event, but a problem with my internal “ticker” prevented me from participating. My cardiologist vetoed the idea. Next year may be different.
My partner, Kim Graff, was tapped to drive the TD in the Collier Cup, and deservedly so. The maiden race came in the qualifier on September 11, 2004. We’ll always remember this date for more nationalistic reasons, of course. But the unveiling of our TD racer at the Glen on 9/11 will carry far more positive memories.
The Hogwarts Special consistently turned times of 2:50 on the long course (3.4 mile), pulling strongly up the back straight and out of the toe of the boot. Kim Graff drove the TD like the car was designed to race, running average speeds of 72 miles per hour. Kim finished first in the TIP class in the qualifying race on Saturday (10th overall) and a respectable 14th in Collier Cup #1 on Sunday. The fantasy clock was rewound to the era of the 1950s, when the Collier brothers raced T-Series cars through the back roads of Watkins Glen.
Kim’s daughter, Heather Graff, a Harry Potter book fan, christened the car the “Hogwarts Special,” as the hood proudly displays. Dave and Sheelah drove the TD roadster to town to participate in the vintage festival over the original Watkins Glen road course.
The restoration for racing of this 1950 MGTD (S/N 6353) with its supercharged original engine (S/N 6393) has been a labor of love for many on the Kim’s Motorsports race team. Sheelah and I appreciate all of the unselfish work of the team members.
In conclusion, I would ask this puzzling question: What words would you never expect to hear a wife say? Would you believe: "Why don’t you build an MG racer, dear?"
Subitted by David & Sheelah Lucier, a true story.
Last modified Saturday, Apr-04-2009 07:49 AM