Racing History Visits the 2023 Checked Flag Party

Tom Simpson with his 1966 McKee MK VI Can-Am car 

The Chicago Region has been celebrating their racing heritage and recent competition years with the Checkered Flag Party.  In the recent past the party has been hosted by Chicago Region member and Ferrari dealer Rick Mancuso.  Rick has always been a gracious host and the cars in the dealership are always available to view up close and personal. 

If you have attended the Checkered Flag parties you’ve witnessed firsthand the cars on display and the opportunities to enjoy them.  In 2018 Rick Mancuso provided a Ferrari California and a McLaren 570 S for ride and drives.  In 2019 Gerald Risner a 60+ year member of the Region displayed is freshly restored 1954 MG TF and the following year Jerry Chak shared with us his 1946 MG TC on the display turn table.  Both of these cars were impeccable and showcased the cars our founding members owned and raced.  We lost 2021 due to the pandemic and in 2022 the Ferrari dealership wasn’t available so the Region moved the event to the Klairmont Kollection Automotive Museum in Chicago.  The entire museum was open for our viewing pleasure with its eclectic collection of vehicles.   

This year for the Chicago Region’s 75th Anniversary Celebration the party was back at Ferrari Lake Forest and again like in the past Rick opened the showroom to allow us to walk among the Ferrari’s and other special cars.  This year just as in the past we also had a car on display.  In keeping with the historical theme of display vehicles Tom Simpson shared his 1966 McKee MK VI CanAm car with us.   

The 1966 McKee MK VI sports racing car was designed by Chicago Region member Bob McKee and built by McKee Engineering Corporation, in Lake Zurich, Illinois. This car is the second of three MK VIs made and the only one powered by a Chevrolet engine.  Bob McKee began his racing career building stock cars for Tiny Lund and serving as crew chief for Dick Rathmann in Indy car competition. His first car in the MK series had a mid-engine design and tubular frame and was built for Illinois Chevrolet dealer and amateur racer Dick Doane. The following MKs, II through V were single concepts one off vehicles. The MK VI was an attempt at streamlining production and standardizing processes to increase output to three vehicles.

This MK VI’s racing career includes Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) and Canadian American Challenge Cup (CanAm) competition. It finished first at the 1966 Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints® at Road America in the Sports Racing class.  In USRRC competition in 1966, it finished second at Watkins Glen and fourth at Las Vegas.  One of the subsequent models, a MK VII had its moment under the Hollywood spotlight when it was driven by Paul Newman in the movie “Winning” at Road America.

Current owner and vintage racer Tom Simpson was very kind to shared his car with us.  Tom has owned this car for over 30 years and has raced it as recently as the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Leguna Seca in Monterey California, and in 2019 the International Challenge with Brian Redman at Road America, in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.  Currently the car has just undergone a two year full restoration and will soon be back on the track where it belongs. 

Guests at this years party enjoyed a real treat by viewing this racing treasure, and learning first hand form the owner/racer and its creator about the car and its history. It is not often that you can have an opportunity such as this.  If you missed this Chicago Region SCCA 75th Anniversary event it’s not too late to join in on other events.  The road racing, autocross, and track event season is just starting up.  There is a backroads tour type rally planned for early May, and the Geneva Concours d’Elegance this summer and other car shows.  So watch Piston Patter and MotorsporsReg (MSR) for upcoming events.  

Don’t be left out, there’s lots to do and become involved with.