Jack Layton founded the Vintage American Race Car Club in 1978 with the purpose of bringing safety standards to race car restorations and to showcase and exercise the vintage race cars. It was his desire for future generations of race fans to not only see the craftsmanship, but also, hear and smell race cars of yesterday.
VARC members continue to bring Jacks dream forward. These members are the “thinkers and doers” just like Jack was and continue to lead and grow this great club.
Jack Layton has been involved in Michigan motor
sports his entire adult life. Jack’s first car was build
by himself in 1957. It was a Pontiac powered Sprint
Car. This car was campaigned successfully in the
Michigan area with Red Camp as the driver. Later
in the 1858 season, the engine was changed to
Chevrolet power. The second car that Jack had
was the Vern Ottmar number 66 out of Ann Arbor
, MI. The car was built in 1956 and competed with
a Wayne Chevy 6 Cylinder engine. Jack got the
car from Vern in 1959 and put a Chevy V8 in it
and contacted Norm Rust from New Hudson, MI to drive the car. The combination of Layton and Rust found success racing with IMCA, as well as tracks in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. In 1961 Jack decided to have Rust attempt to put the car into the field for the Little 500 in Anderson, IN. Rust immediately went out and broke the track record previously set by A.J. Shepherd. The interesting thing about the new record set by Rust was that Layton had 3 two barrel cars under the hood. That was considered unusual during the time of fuel injected engines. The car was later sold to Art Braithwaite.
Jack’s ability to extract horse power from Chevy V8 engines in the early 60s actually started him into a part time business called Jack’s Custom Shop. his specialty was porting and polishing heads. The testing and development of his engines were done in his own race cars at the local tracks, Dixie, the Speedrome, Lansing and many more. It was not long and people started to notice that Jack’s engines were very potent and the orders started to come fast. In the late 60’s, Jack got out of the circle track scene and built a wheel stand drag machine called the Mystery Mover. This Corvair Van Truck would run the 1/4 mile with the front wheels high in the air and ran against the likes of Bill “Maverick” Golden and the Little Red Wagon and Bill Shrewsbury and the Hurst Hemi Under Glass. The other interesting thing about the vehicle was that jack would not disclose the power plant (thus the mystery mover). No one knew just what made the thing go. This created a lot of curiosity among the fans. Many thought because of the sound it was an Offy, but it in fact was a 472 cubic inch Pontiac, with 180 degree headers.
By the late 70s and early 80s, Jack continued his motor sport activity with his interest in race car restorations. The list of cars that he restored are: 1952-53 Bill Painter Sprint Car #47, the Lempelius Offy Sprint Car #52, 1956 Vern Ottmare, Dean Van Lines Champ Car #9, Hun Robbins Indy Roadster #73, Speedy Helms #3 Sprint Car, #21 Clark/Cathera Chevy V8 Sprint Car and others.
Jack was also successful in a business venture called Customer Fun Machines in Howell, MI. The business sold Rupp Snowmobiles and Suzuki products. Jack and his son were active in racing modified snowmobiles and competed successfully against the factory teams.
Jack also founded the Vintage American Race Car Club. The VARC is very successful and is still an active club. Jack died in 2004 and is survived by his wife Vaughna.
The mission of the Vintage American Race Cars club, with it's membership and race promoters, is to keep racing of the past in the public eye, in a safe and entertaining environment and to educate the public of earlier years of racing.