Northern New Jersey Region (NNJR) of the Sports car Club of America (SCCA) is the place for the best Road Racing, Solo and Rally action in the northeast. This is where you can stop being a spectator and become part of the sport you love! NNJR and the SCCA offer many ways for you to turn your passion for racing into a reality. The first step is to join.
NNJR as well as all the other regions of SCCA are family originated sharing a common interest. This interest of course is racing. Believe it or not race events are a good place to bring the family because you and your family will work as a team and be part of a much larger team. You will make many friends within the our region as well as other local regions all the while learning more about racing.
The Early Days of NNJR
IN THE BEGINNING there was an Italian barber AND HE WAS GOOD. He was a professional and he loved his work. As he snipped away he hummed his favorite aria from It Trovatore or Rigoletto. As he stropped sometimes burst into the Largo e Factotum from It Barbiere di Siviglia. Yes, he loved good things, good Italian things from the lasagna to the red vino da tavola that washed it down.
Especially he loved a graceful but large Isotta-Fraschini that he had seen so often standing magnificently near a large factory waiting for some IMPORTANT man at the end of each day. A brass plaque near the instruments stated proudly that this was TIPO 8A and came from Milano. A neat set of letters fastened under the front doors spelled out CASTAGNA.
Mama Mia! This was heaven on wheels!
Wheels? They were huge and each tire bore the legend GOODYEAR DOUBLE EAGLE and the numbers 7.00x21. But what a car for a gentleman! Perhaps it had belonged to a count! He had to have it.
He didn't have long to wait. Even then World War II was casting its long shadow on us and the owner of this wonderful steed knew too well its appetite for fuel and the cost of those tires. With the barest show of reluctance by the barber, the bargain was made and the happy barber drove away. At a discreet distance he burst into ``Figaro, figaro'' and headed home.
And home is where the Isotta remained most of the time. Those puny gas ration stamps were barely enought to get to the gas station and back and trying to keep two usable six-volt batteries on hand was very trying. So it came to pass that he drove the Isotta less and less and after the surrender of Japan, but while the vision of those few gas rationing stamps floated before him, he decided to sell his hungry car. Buyers did not stampede to make offers and he despaired of ever selling until this lean guy in a Navy flight jacket came and looked inside and under, and listened and drove and that's how I got the Isotta.
Now the Isotta didn't have much brightwork by American standards and it wasn't chrome either. It was gen-u-wine NICKEL and so I found myself one day in 1946 delivering some bits and pieces of the ISOTTA to a plating shop in Newark. As I turned to leave the delivery area what to my wondering eyes did appear but a small chrome-plated axle. It was most unusual in design, appearing to be tubular, yet having two box-like openings through it. I asked what it was, but the plater said he didn't know other than that it belonged to some fellow up in East Orange who was always fooling with foreign cars and bringing in parts for plating.
Could I have his name and address? Of course, right then and there. And that's how I met W. Hudson Mills.
I made a phone call, identified myself and my recent acquisition and was promptly invited to visit. That was the first of uncounted visits, when I sat among Duesenburg blocks, Bugatti radiators, and parts too numerous to mention, watching the skilled, meticulous workmanship of Hudson Mills and soaking up the lore of the high-performance automobile. I saw the car from which the little chrome-plated axle at the plating shop came. It was a TYPE 51 Bugatti and one of a few in the country. The axle was indeed tubular, but a forging of exquisite complexity, a nearly impossible feat of manufacturing dictated by the artist known as Le Patron.
So the visits and the conversation continued in the heady atmosphere of Gunk or the glare of the brilliant flame of the welding torch. And here I found out about a club up in New England, mostly around Boston, where club members drove rare and exciting cars, and met at regular intervals to look at and discuss those cars. By and large they sounded like a rather special group of persons who owned exotic cars and knew those cars intimately, and worked in their innards with their own greasy hands. Names like Russ Sceli, Edgar Roy, Col. George Felton, and George Weaver fell into the conversation, and they sounded like wonderful people to know. The club was called the Sports Car Club of America.
I learned that there were a few members outside of the New England area. In New Jersey, besides Hudson Mills there were Haig Ksayian of Lambertville, H. B. Bal Hooper of Trenton, Ledyard Pfund, and Dr. Henry Finn. In the course of my travels around the state I made it a point to locate and visit with these members. I found Haig to be a real enthusiast who preferred to live in the country where he had room for his Alfas, of which he often has two. A person of considerable engineering talent, he did his own rebuilding and frequently visited Bal in Trenton, where Bal had opened a small foreign car repair shop. I had known Bal's brother, Harry, in college and remembered seeing an elderly Bentley on campus from time to time and now I made the connection. There were always some interesting cars at Bal's garage, and he was never so busy that he wouldn't stop to chat about them, and cars in general.
By this time I wanted to join the Sports Car Club of America, but there was considerable doubt that I could since one of the requirements for membership was the ownership of a sports car. Patient readers who have stayed with me this far know that, despite untold man-hours of debate, there has never been a completely acceptable definition of a sports car. The same readers will also probably agree with me that it is far easier to say that a particular car is not a sports car than to define it as one. With no illusions I entered the proud name of Isotta-Fraschini in the space provided under ``SPORTS CARS OWNED'', had the application endorsed by two sponsors (even then!) and mailed it to the Secretary at his office in his home there was no Westport headquarters then.
I didn't have long to wait. Back came a polite letter saying that the Membership Committee did not consider the Isotta to be a sports car, and therefore I was ineligible for membership. HOWEVER, the club did recognize that certain enthusiasts had such a deep interest that they would be received as Subscribers, with no voting privileges or rights of participation. I gladly sent my $3 and on March 2, 1948 became a Subscriber of the Sports Car Club of America. Within a year the distinction was wiped out and thereafter there were only Members.
The Regional organization of SCCA had not spread very far at that time. As a matter of fact there wasn't any spread, but rather a few enclaves scattered through the country. Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, and of course New York were the large centers. It was to the New York Region that New Jerseyites then belonged, and this arrangement included the whole of the State of New Jersey.
In September of 1948 came the event that was to set off the latest revival of road racing in the United States the first Grand Prix races at Watkins Glen. It is hard to describe the emotional aura that surrounded the village at the southern end of Lake Seneca on those early fall days of brilliant warm sunshine and crisp, cool nights. After seven years of wartime austerity, no cars, no petrol, no motoring fun, and after years of interruption of the revival of road racing begun by ARCA the competitors and their fans burst upon Watkins Glen like children rushing outdoors on the first warm day of spring after winter's enslavement. They overwhelmed the village in numbers unanticipated by the most optimistic of organizers and filled hotels, rooming houses, guest rooms, and acres around the course. They ate all the food in town and put away the potables. They consumed all the replenishments hastily requisitioned from Ithaca, Elmira, and more distant points. They filled the local coffers and, let's be frank about it, made such a fiscal impression on the townsfolk that the latter have welcomed every annual renewal.
The odor of castor oil delighted their nostrils and their ears were assaulted with the almost forgotten or there-to-be-experienced sounds from countless open exhausts. For the first time many of us heard the wondrous sounds of a high-revving Bugatti like the noise of a bedsheet being ripped asunder by two giants. The deeper sound of Frank Griswold's 2.9 Alfa-Romeo was quiet by comparison. There was much camaraderie and impromptu partying, and on Sunday morning after the races and while morning mist hung over the chill Lake Seneca some of us went down to the lakeside cottage of Cam Argetsinger for breakfast and hot coffee laced with brandy.
Always there was talk of cars, cars, and more cars and repeated expressions that we must do this again. All the anticipation had been realized and yet having been satisfied we clamored for more. The enthusiasm fired here was carried away by all who came and its spread never ceased. The cry was for action and more of it.
The Annual Meeting of SCCA in January 1949 was affected by the enthusiasm of Watkins Glen, and the discussions and actions taken there looked forward to greater activity than ever. The Jerseyites looked to a busy year ahead the New York Region did not provide it and our grumblings increased as time went on. There was another Watkins Glen, as enthusiastic as the first, and again the enthusiasm was carried home with great anticipation of increased local activity. Again we were disappointed and the grumbling mounted. New Jersey was well represented at the National Annual Meeting on January 14, 1950, and these were active enthusiasts who agreed that something should be done.
Small though we be in numbers perhaps the National Headquarters would let us secede from our big neighbor across the Hudson and strike out for ourselves. There began a flow of correspondence with D. Cameron Peck, then President of SCCA.
Jan. 24, 1950
Mr. D. Cameron Peck, Pres.,
Sports Car Club of America
Dear Mr. Peck,
I should like to have our officers consider the possibility of establishing a Northern New Jersey Region. At present this area is part of the New York Region and, as we all know, the latter has been notable for its lack of activity. ... Without having the membership figures available it would appear that there was a sufficient membership in this area (N.Y.) to permit the separation of the Northern New Jersey territory without seriously affecting the New York Region....
Donald H. Rodimer
There followed correspondence with John Bentley, then Regional Executive of the New York Region who gave his approval to the separation of Northern New Jersey from the New York Region.
Mar. 11, 1950
Dear Mr. Peck,
... Enthusiasm for the proposal is running high and
we have no less than nine new members proposed. ...
Donald H. Rodimer
Mar. 16, 1950
Dear Mr. Rodimer,
... Please let me know if you will accept appointment as the first Regional Executive for the proposed new region. ...
D. Cameron Peck
Apr. 6, 1950
Dear Mr. Rodimer,
... I am officially appointing you Regional Executive ...
D. Cameron Peck