Article for Abarth Register USA Newsletter, “The Stinger”, 2003



Texas Abarths are Still Flying



by J. K. Jackson



Texas, only thought to be populated by wide-open spaces, oil wells and cowboys, is the home of an active and fun-loving group of Abarth vintage racers.  While Abarths are slowly disappearing from the result sheets of most vintage race organizations, in Texas, Carlo Abarth’s spirit is alive and CVAR competitors are feeling their “sting.”


 Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing, Inc. a vintage sports car organization, was formed by Dallas-area enthusiasts in the early ‘90's. 95  Most racing activities center around Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas.  The aging 2-mile super-speedway, which hosted its last NASCAR event in 1981, has a challenging 2.9 mile, 14 turn road course that crosses over the oval’s back stretch and loops around the countryside before it rejoins the infield course. The long front stretch, hot pits, paddock and garages are all used by the vintage race group. 95


The two fastest and rarest of the Abarths are the SE 033, 1980 Formula 2000 Abarth formula cars belonging to David Ricker of Dallas, and Steve Garise of Detroit, Michigan.  Ricker is a regular CVAR member and Garise is a frequent visitor.  Both drivers have centered their involvement around Robert Rodgers and his Shade Tree Enginetrics which is responsible for the restoration and race tuning of both vehicles.  According to the new book “Abarth, the Man, the Machines,” this is the last Abarth car which Carlo Abarth had a small part in designing.


Ricker’s car (serial # 33 out of 150 built) has successfully won the CVAR class  championship for three years and the race car division of the  1997 Automobili Italiane Concours XII in Dallas.  Of interest to “Stinger” readers might be David’s cars red livery.  During restoration, evidence showed that this car was always red although the famous Abarth factory “group” shot of the total SE 033 production show a car with race # 33 in bright yellow.  Obviously the factory-applied race #’s didn’t coincide with the serial numbers.  The engine in David’s car has been extensively modified beyond the original mild Formula 2000 spec although it can be returned to the form it was run in the Italian series with little trouble.  Alas, David’s car is currently for sale and could soon be leaving the CVAR fold.

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Garise’s car (serial # 44 ) was uncompetitive when first raced it at Waterford Raceway in Michigan.  Garise’s Internet research turned up Ricker and his car and he forged a friendship with David and Robert at Shade Tree.  He shipped his car to the Dallas-area shop in 2000 for an engine upgrade and chassis preparation and returned to Texas to run the first post-rebuild race  with CVAR.  He liked the good racing and easygoing attitude of the southern group and has returned many times over the last few years.   His car is in the original red-and-white livery with the Italian sponsors stickers still circling the upper body.  For the original Italian series, Abarth enlisted many sponsors whose contributions helped defray the cost of constructing the cars and helped keep the buy-in costs low for new drivers.


The third regular Abarth entry in CVAR is the 1967 1000 OT Spider replica raced for the past six seasons by Registered member (and author-ed.) Karl Jackson.  Jackson has been the dominate force in the sparse competition of CVAR HP class and took home the class championship for the fifth time in 2003. Jackson regularly battles with the larger 1275 cc Sprigets of the FP class in the crowded CVAR Group II.  Karl has chosen to run in HP trim including the 903 cc engine and restrictive Weber 30 DIC carburetor although he’s planning to move up to a full 1000 OT spec including the 982 cc engine and Weber 36 DCD allowed in the GP class.


Missing this season were CVAR regulars Robert Rodgers who often dominated the fastest cars in Group II with his beautiful replica Fiat-Abarth 124 Spider. His wife Cindy’s tidy Berlina Corsa TCR replica has been missing the racing action for the last few seasons. Her beautiful white Corsa just won top honors in its class at the ItalianCarFest 2003 concourse, but sadly, is also for sale.  John Furlow Jr.’s 1959 Allemano Spider, an ex-Ugo Pacagli car, has also missed the entire season as he is busy building a new house although he expects to return for ‘04. 


At the final race of the year for CVAR’s 2003 season, a total of 13 Italian and Italian-powered race cars took to the track in several different classes.  In the year-ending points championships, Italian car drivers took home a total of three class  awards.