Photos & Text By Len Emanuelson
Like virtually everything else in California, this year’s 16th Annual Faye Pearson Vintage Kart Reunion was canceled due to Covid. And that was a real shame as the weather was a balmy 76, with lots of sunshine and hardly a wisp of wind. Not typical weather for Riverside in February that can often be wet, cold and extremely windy. About 25 vintage karters showed up for the Saturday-only gathering with masks, social distancing and all of that. Those who made it were rewarded with the best track day possible – plenty of track time sharing it only with fellow vintage karters.
There was a great assortment both rear-engine and sidewinder karts. The Bug camp was well represented by Tom Harpur of Wilmington, CA who brought a ’76 Wasp, a ’88 Spider and a ’81 Scorpion. (He left a ’72 Stinger and Bug 2000 home because he ran out of trailer space.) The opposing Margay camp was well represented by Paul Wright who brought a pair of beautiful Expert 1s and a Panther X. He too left a couple of Margays at home. And finally, Jack Dodd brought three Emmicks, a NOS Arrow III (twin Yamaha, big axle), a K35-powered Elite and a Yamaha-powered Express. All that was missing was a few of Van Duesen’s Invaders.
What was interesting to me was to find out what everybody was doing with this track day. My old buddy from the Hot Rod Magazine days, Pete Eastwood (his primered ’32 Sedan graced the cover while I was editor), was there breaking-in a freshly rebuilt pair of 101s on his ’68 Dart Chapparal single, for his twin Dart Chapparal. Big Mike Golembesky had his twin K-30 Emmick at Adams to switch from gas to methanol and figure out the new tune-up. Jack Dodd was breaking in his NOS Emmick Arrow III with a pair of Yamahas and Jon Woods at the wheel. The Bug guys including Stacy Seguine in a Spider were seriously working on their lap times as were Paul Wright’s Margays.
Howard Combee showed up with an early ‘80s Birel with a direct drive K78 – no gauges, as bare bones as it gets. He gave us all a driving exhibition of how to drive a DD for smoothness and momentum. I think Howard ran more laps than anyone until he broke a header. Fortunately, someone was selling exactly what he needed. Unfortunately, a hard-working Victor Osuna from nearby Jurupa Valley thrashed all day before getting in some laps just before the track closed. And it was good to see a couple of youngsters out there getting a thrill of a lifetime. One of the highlights of the day was when Greg Richardson let Timel Sebastian (Adams Track Manager) drive her first vintage kart. She’s been part of the Adams operation for years, but never had the opportunity to drive. Greg’s Briggs-powered ’80 Proline was the perfect starting point.
With the limited number of VKA karting events in any regional area, arranging a few track days with a group of friends is a great way to get your kart ready for the big events and also to get that all-so-important seat time!