Endurance FulviasHello Lancia enthusiasts,
I wrote the attached as an answer to one of your group, Fillipo Lulli (Italy). He had written asking specific questions, which I tried to answer as good as my memory would allow. The only records I have of my race in the Daytona 24 Hour race come from the race program from the next year, which has the results for the previous running of the race. There were also a couple pictures of me, which are about all the photos I have of racing that car. The book on the history of the racing at Sebring has listings for each year, which shows my participation there.
Back in those days, I was in my early 20's, and racing was just for fun. I had no idea at that time that later in life it would be nice to have some pictures of that part of my life. I raced for about 10 years, and have only a handful of photos from them.
I hope you enjoy reading what I could remember of my days in the Fulvia. If you have any further questions feel free to write me. But don't expect too much more! I had to really dig through my brain to come up with this little bit.
I hope you are enjoying your cars. I restored sports cars for some time, but a spinal cord injury has made getting into low cars difficult. So now I collect Honda motorcycles, mostly from the 1960's and early 70's. I have about 20 of them, which are probably worth less than one of your Lancia's. But I can tell you this; they sure are fun! And that's what life is all about for me.
Best regards, Wayne Marsula, Escondido, CA, email@example.com.
-DID THEY RACE 1300 OR 1600 ENGINES?
-4 OR 5 SPEED 'BOXES?
-I ASSUME YOU RACED ZAGATOS, IF SO DID THEY HAVE 2 OR 4 HEADLIGHTS?
-I HAVE SEEN PICS OF ZAGATOS ENDURANCE RACING IN THE STATES. THE PETROL QUICK RELEASE FILLER CAP WAS ON THE REAR LEFT, WHILE FULVIAS HAVE IT ON THE RIGHT. DID YOU HAVE TWO TANKS, OR DID THEY MOVE THE FILLER CAP TO THE LEFT FOR "PIT LANE" PURPOSES?
-WHAT SORT OF POWER OUTPUT WERE YOU PLAYING WITH.
-WHAT PANELS WERE IN ALLUMINIUM?
-ARE THERE STILL, TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE, RACING CARS IN THE STATES TO BE ACQUIRED?
-WHAT WERE THE GENERAL RESULTS OF THE FULVIAS?
At the Daytona 24 hour, we finished 3rd or 4th in class, against much faster cars. We finished this well after having charging problems all night, and a front suspension a-arm breaking during the morning, which I fixed out in the infield. We never found the charging problem. Due to both of these difficulties, we parked the car for several hours, going back out for the last few laps.
At Sebring we were gaining one lap each hour, when shortly after darkness fell, the car jumped out of 5th gear at close to 150 mph, which bent valves and put us out of the race. The owner had driven the car down from Algar Ent. in Pennsylvania, arriving at the track only in time for a little practice. It had been jumping out of gear during that drive, and we had been holding the shift lever whereever it would jump out. This time it jumped out where I didn't expect it to. That car had been the factory car driven by Maglioli two years previously. They were turning 8300rpm the whole race, where the owner of the car when I drove it limited us to 7000rpm. Even so, my lap times were faster than Maglioli's.
I am working from memory after around 30 years, so much escapes me. I must say that I really enjoyed driving the cars. They were very fast for their displacement, surprising many other cars. They were quite easy to race. A funny problem showed up at Daytona. Just after a pit stop, we would go back out on the track, and the first turn at speed would be what is now known as the International Horseshoe. The brakes would be hot from sitting in the pits for a few minutes, and they would not work at all, causing us to spin, fortunately each time into the inside of the turn. It took many times doing this before we caught on to what was happening, and slowed down well before the turn. After we got up to speed, the brakes would cool off and be fine again.
When we were haveing the charging problems, a spectator who had offered us any help or parts we needed, had everything stripped off his car; battery, generator, regulator. We changed them all, and it did not help, so we would charge a battery in the pits while running a few laps. As I was the only driver that could keep a reasonable lap time after dark, I drove most of the night, only getting out for the mandantory minimum time. The problem would only show up when the car would not pull full revs in top gear, when it would start "breaking up" or missing. Going down the back straight vision was excellent. There was a full moon, and you could look around the track behind you to see if any cars were coming up. If not, I would turn off the head lamps and driving lamps, driving only with the parking lights. I did this three laps in a row, as I only had about three laps out after changing batteries, and I knew the battery in the pits would not have any charge. As I pulled into our pit, a pit marshall came running up to tell me the Chief Steward was going to Black Flag me if I kept running with no lights. I told him "I just came in to find the problem", and he believed me. Of course, this was my home area, and I knew all the officials. I think he really knew what was going on but decided to ignore it for a friend.
It may be of interest to you how I got to drive the car. I had started my racing career driving a stock Austin Mini Cooper 998cc, which is of course, front wheel drive. My first year I won every race that I ran, and won the regional championship. The next year I was asked to drive an NSU TTS for the local dealer. It ran in the same class as my Mini had, but was much faster. During one of the races at our regional track, another Mini, this one a well prepared 1299cc Cooper S, passed me going into a fairly tight turn. He was going too fast for the turn, and went off the track on the outside. This track was on an old airstrip, and in Florida the palm trees and brush came right up to the side of the track. He was well past the flagging station, and as I came around I could see him on his roof, with the driver's door up against a tree. I got my car down to a slow speed, aimed it off track, cut the ignition and jumped out running. I was able to open his passenger door, help him out of the safety harness, and get him out of the car. Several years later this same person had bought the Lancia and needed a driver for the Daytona 24 hour race, and knowing my front wheel drive experience, and I think remembering what I had done for him, called me to drive for him.
Several years later I moved to California. I was contacted by a person who had bought a Lancia, and through the local sports car club found out that I was living close by, and had raced a Lancia. He asked if I could help him prepare the suspension for Vintage Racing, and also give him some driving tips, as he had no experience with front wheel drive. I went to his house and when I saw the car, something told me that it was my old car from Sebring. I set in the car and just got a feeling that I was "back home". A few phone calls confirmed the course of sales from the owner when I drove it through another owner and to this person. It was a strange feeling.
Wayne Marsula, Escondido, CA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions were asked by Filippo Lulli, Livorno, Tuscany, Italy, email@example.com
If anybody has some Fulvia pictures during those races, please, send them to me, firstname.lastname@example.org .
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