Anticipating the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, one has visions of the Road Course Re-enactment with race cars and a few select street cars parked on Lake Street, the Gather on the Green where the show cars approach Pebble Beach in quality, the gentle sound of big band music, a refreshing adult beverage followed by [this year] the VSCDA banquet with Road and Track’s Peter Egan. Add in cloudless deep blue skies and warm temperatures.
All of that took place in 2018, but we missed it. All of it. Not that we were not at Road America (part of the time).
Just like in college, the weekend began Thursday noon. Paddock space choices for the Swedish Pavilion dictated that someone be there to guard the fort that Road America event chairs Mike and Deb Korneli had set up for us. Thursday night was filled with fun and conviviality at Alex and Liz Rorke’s VSCDA 40th Anniversary celebration at the Elkhart Lake Garton Overflow. We spent most of the time protected from mosquitoes in the screened boat house ,getting to know Scott and Cyndi Paisley.
1 Red went out for Friday practices and hummed along just beautifully. The first practice was devoted to bedding brand new Carbotech ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) brake pads and new rotors. Wow, this is going to be grrrreat!
Then came Qualifying. Because the Group 2/3D grid consisted of 87 cars, including 47 Spridgets celebrating their 60th anniversary (driven by a few drivers who might be old enough to have seen them new), I was out in the grid right as the previous group took to the track. Even had enough relaxed time for a few publicity photos out of the car.
Despite my early arrival to the grid there were a couple little cars in front of me. They apparently had the same idea as did I. While Practice session have their entry lap under yellow, the track is green as soon as one leaves the pits. I stayed right of the blend line through Turn 1 but as soon as I was out I put the hammer down and left my forerunners to deal with each other. Clear sailing around the track, but still, the tires are cold, so the first circuit is not a push lap and the time is not going to be useful anyway.
As I came out of the Kink it occurred to me that with these many cars the possibility existed that some might just be leaving the grid when I came around but coming under the Start-Finish line it was apparent things had cleared out. Yessuh!
Nice setup through Turns 1 and 3, headed for the Sargento Bridge. 6000 rpm. Typically, the motor spins up effortlessly to 7000. But not now. Into 5th gear, and nothing more. I glanced at the EGTs — they were a little higher than normal but still not anywhere close to dangerous. Eyes shifted right just in time to see oil temperature go up. Houston, we have a problem. So, I stuck my arm out the window to signal I was going off at Turn 5 and stuck the clutch in. We rolled through the jersey barrier chicane and the motor died. I pointed to the waiting tow truck and rolled to a stop. As he started moving, I tried the starter and knew things were not good; the motor would not turn.
Back under the canopy we put the 13/16ths on the crank bolt and knew we were done for the day. A confab with the crew took place, followed by a call to Dave Buettner who was still in his PJs at home thinking about coming down for the Gather on the Green. How crazy are we? Pretty crazy.
The car got loaded up and by 11:30 we were back in the P and B shop undoing bolts to do a swap. I had two motors in wait. I was hopeful that we could get back for the 7:30 VSCDA banquet. Folly. I saw out of the corner of my eye somewhere around 5 p.m. that Joy came out to the shop with her “banquet attire” on, and knew that was wishful thinking. At 10:20 p,m., after 10.5 hours of uninterrupted work by Buettner, Farrington and Perry we had a new running motor in place.
One might logically wonder what would take 10.5 hours to change a motor. Reasonable. 1 Red is loaded with safety wire. E.g., the flywheel bolts have safety wire. The transmission shift bracket has safety wire. The flywheel cover. The motor mounts. The alternator bracket. The water pump pulley. The throttle linkage. So far, we have never left any parts on the track as a result. Nor have we oiled the track because the drain plug is wired in. Cutting, removing and eventually replacing that adds about 30% to the timeline.
I was up at 4 a.m. and back out in the shop an hour or so later finishing the last-minute details. By 9 we were loaded up and headed back to Road America, to be greeted by lots of big smiles as we pulled into the Swedish Pavilion.
Knowing the car was faster than many of the other Group 2 cars I went to Timing and Scoring to see if they wanted to move me from last to somewhat higher on the grid. Nope. Fine by me, but sometimes race officials feel it is less safe and do it.
The 11 a.m. Sheldon Cup, one of three “Cup Races” with cars slotted on expected lap time was a dandy. Motor B hummed just like it was meant to be. I got to do a lot of passing. I think Dave Buettner’s comment when I texted him with the results is an all-time classic. “Shit. Now you will think [the 10.5-hour swap] was worth it.”
The Group 2/3D Feature Race was equally rewarding. Remember, this was late on Sunday. The potential 87 car grid had shrunken to only 38. Starting in the rear of the field, at the end of the 6-lap race I had moved to 9th. The 6-8th place cars had slower lap times than did I … if only that race would have been a bit longer! (Of course, there was no hope of catching up with Colin Comer is his ’58 Sprite. Check for the nitrous bottle, boys!?)
Usually I don’t post long videos, but this one is pretty fun to watch.
Now, back to some stills …
I was not the only one who had an issue over the weekend. Ray Friewald broke a ring gear. David Farrington was, ahem, “helping” diagnose the problem.
Here are a few of the personalities of the weekend.
Great to see Cana Comer back behind the wheel. (David Farrington photo)
And Colin Comer brought his little car out for this event. Fast! (David Farrington photo)
Tony Drews (David Farrington photo)
One more to go for the season. Assuming it’s not snowing, we’ll be at VSCDA’s Blackhawktoberfest October 13-14.