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P&B Motorsports

P & B Motorsports Spring Vintage 2017 Season Opener

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                            (David Farrington photo)

Just like in major league baseball, a season opener for people racing in the northern climates can be a real crap shoot, ranging from warm and sunny (rare) to rainy (likely) to cold and raining (more likely) to solid rain (not so likely but not impossible). Spring Vintage (well, the calendar says it was spring) fell into the ‘more likely’ category at Road America. But it was not so bad inside for the season opener of P and B Motorsports.

A little heater can make a big difference

Actually, these old naturally aspirated buggies rather like cold air, and  we did pretty well for track times and results.  On Friday. though I did not break my fastest lap record, I came close.

We had the entire crew plus at the event. In addition, some acquaintances – now friends – from Florida escaped the sunny heat with their second generation Miatas on their bucket-list tour of iconic road race courses. Originally intending to do only the Road America Track Day on Wednesday, SVRA allowed them to run in the Miata Series on the weekend.

The P and B Crew (Phil Koller photo)

In fact, in doing so SVRA was beyond generous in many ways.  Chad Jorgenson’s car had, um, ‘issues’ on Wednesday. When he described the uncertainty of having a car that would make it around the track, they told him to give it a try, and if the car ran, come back and pay the registration fee; if not, don’t worry about it. Chad’s car ran, and both he and Phil Brown had a great time. In fact, Chad beat SVRA  President and CEO Tony Parella in the Sunday Miata feature.

Phil Brown (Phil Koller photo)

Chad Jorgenson got some rain experience (Phil Koller photo)

For the most part our weekend was mercifully uneventful. The air filter housing needed a little modification …

Crew Chief at work while Phil Brown       supervises (nice hoodie, Dave)

And another minor issue  that could have become a big one– a motor mount bolt that lost its nut – tried to jump out but fortunately my keen-eyed under-hood inspection caught it in the nick of time. When Dave Buettner is on the crew he jumps in immediately and solves the problem, leaving me to kick back, have another cup of coffee with my feet up and watch. Well, maybe that’s a little exaggeration.

We won our class in Sunday’s Feature Race. I was most proud of myself when I followed Jeff Johnk in his 3L big Healey past Dawn Meyer’s MG going through Turn 5. Dawn’s pretty fast, a good driver, and also lives the Vintage Spirit by recognizing a completed pass and swinging a bit wider through 5 as I took the inside line.  i was pleased I successfully completed an inside pass at Turn 5!

A pretty good season opener (David Farrinton photo)

So as soon as we got back I started preparing for a trip to a new track – Virginia International Raceway for the VIR Historics.  Dr. Buettner has installed a new Weber DCO and made a dandy fiberglass air duct and did a little welding on the hood hold down pin mount. I’ve changed brake pads, front rotors, rebuilt a set of rotors, found the source of the erroneous EGT reading and a myriad of other little things that need to be done before a race. Off to Virgina.

Here are some weekend pictures and a bit of my in-car video.

Video:

In addition to our own cameras, SVRA mounted a GoPro onto the windshield and posted it. It was shared on Facebook and within 36 hours had almost 20,000 views! Everyone got to see the left hood pin pop out and the hood start to flap around a bit.

See it at https://www.facebook.com/sportscarvintageracing/videos/845644758924659/

 

Spring Prep

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Racing is fun. It’s said that racing makes heroin seem like a mild craving for something salty. Thank goodness I never experience heroin, but I can say that racing gets in your blood. The preparation for racing can get to you in a different sort of way. For a team like us, where the owner-driver does most of the between-race maintenance, it can be all consuming.

Last fall following the September VSCDA’s Volvo Nationals at Road America I thought we were pretty much good to go for 2017. I went on my merry way shifting from racing season to bird hunting season) AKA ‘the holy season’.) As we were planning to head off to sunny southern Arizona for the winter I decided it might be a good idea to do a compression and leak-down check on the engine.  #1 – great; #2 – great; #3 – great; #4 whaaattt? Significantly lower compression. The leak-down check was equally disappointing. Damn! Now the head must come off! What I saw caused one of those “Oh crap” moments. The top of #4 piston was badly beat up. And so were the valves.

That’s not what it’s supposed to look like!

                      #4’s valves took a beating

When I put the car up on the lift and took the wheels off I immediately noticed a hole in the air intake duct leading from the headlight to the carbs. We had ingested some nasty stuff. I convinced Steve Blom (Competition Specialists) to make a very rare visit to one of his customer’s where he determined that the pounding had collapsed the top ring groove. Now the block needed to come out.

                        The avenue for carnage

The block was off to Steve’s place for piston replacement. We buy five pistons when we have them made. Until now, we have never needed that spare. At that point we were off to AZ where I had the winter to think about it.

New piston installed. Nice ‘n shiny.

Late April rolled around and we headed north. I knew that it was going to be intense once we got there because we needed to be ready for the season opener on May 18. I was not, uh, disappointed.

A day-by-day, blow-by-blow saga

Tuesday – The Day after Arrival:  Let’s start slowly. I repaired the damage to intake duct and decided I would go with a fresh engine, setting aside the repaired one as a backup.  Engine A came off the cradle and onto the crane. Motor mounts were changed from the storage to the racing variety.

Wednesday: I decided to create a new oil breather port plate (the stock fuel pump blocking plate) so we do not need to change between motors. This required a very large diameter hole and tap that I don’t have so I went to Competition Specialists to borrow both a drill bit and tap. When I got home I found I did not have a tap handle larger enough for the tap, so I tried an adjustable wrench, which resulted in a non-90-degree hole. I had to start over with another blanking plate. Fortunately, I have a stock of those on blocks in the barn.

Oil breather port – a modification of the fuel pump blanking plate

Thursday: A trip into Competition Specialists to use the correct handle with that large tap for the  oil breather port. I’m sure I did something else but the trip into town takes a couple hours no matter what I am up to.

Friday: I got the motor and transmission in today. It sounds simple, but getting the transmission to lone up is always an issue because there is about a millimeter clearance between the tunnel and the tranny.  I have a transmission jack that eliminates some lifting off my chest. It took a bunch of efforts getting that adjustments on the jack just right. That was the day’s work so the linkage and drive shaft is not connected yet.

All of my safety equipment was out of date so this is the year of replacement. Ordered a VERY expensive ATL fuel cell from Summit and a new FIA-approved window net from Stroud.

Saturday: It was slow today. The goal was to get the driveshaft in and as much else as possible. But the shift assembly must go in first. Should be simple. Now let’s look at the shift lever assembly. Hmmm … where’s the circlip that holds things in? That spacer washer is really loose too. Better make a new one that fits better. Start with a fender washer and rig something up to hold it in place for the drill press. Of course, the washer is a little too big so it needs to be ground down some. The circlips I have work, barely. Really a little too small. Need a bigger one. That means another trip into town.

Shift lever. The bracket is part of the reverse lock-out mechanism,

Let’s do something else. While in AZ I bought a T fitting for the oil pressure port so I can have the idiot light sender facing forward instead of upright. That sender fails all too frequently, and I would like to be able to replace it without taking off the carb assembly and header, But the Autometer oil pressure gauge line is attached at an angle and the idiot light sender runs into the side of the block when I try to swivel it. Need to make a trip into town to get something to extend the oil pressure fitting out from the side of the block. And get that shifter circlip.  And I need a 27 mm deep well if that is to work, so a stop at Northern Tool for one of those.

Oil pressure fittings

Let’s do something simple — put on the alternator bracket. But this is a ‘75 block. So, are those threads metric? Fiddle around a lot and decide that a 3/8″ bolt will work, if the split lock washer is replaced by a thinner one. How can two bolts take 45 minutes?

OK, let’s try to get the driveshaft in before the day is over. Of course, the first thing is to connect the shifter linkage to the back of the transmission. No which way did those bushings go?  OK, got that figured out after putting them in the wrong way and, at least being smart enough to see if the lever hit the lower roll bar before I buttoned that up. (It did.)

Well, at least the water pump pulley was not so hard. But all that safety wiring takes time.

Fellow 1800 aficionado Sam Seward drove up from Milwaukee to drop off his snowplow and pick up his Triumph from P & B Motorsports storage. There’s always something in the way in the barn that needs moving. And an old Triumph does not just fire right up after 6 months in the barn.

Back to the driveshaft. Oh, hell. I must have dropped one of the new all metal locknuts that I bought yesterday so I can’t put on the rest of the transmission mount assembly until I have another. Tomorrow is another day …

Sunday: A lock nut. My kingdom for an all metal lock nut! A trip into hardware store for a single damn lock nut. Well, today I went after that elusive lock nut for the driveshaft and picked up some additional brass fitting for the oil pressure devices. Then finally got the driveshaft connected, the transmission supports on and safety wired in place, clutch fork installed, transmission filled with fresh oil, oil pressure fittings onto the block and oil pressure line attached, and oil temperature sender reinserted into oil pan.

Also got the spare motor on the cradle and rocker on back in place. Ready to go if need be.

Tomorrow the header goes on and carb assembly.  Also want to install the new oil temperature data sender.

I’ve long wanted in-car communication, but not spend $1000+ for it. There’s a new cell phone ap called Zello that allows phones to be used as walkie-talkies. Pretty neat. And better yet free. Need to deal with earphones and order push to talk button for the steering wheel.  I want to call Speedy Metals to see what I can come up with for wheel hub pedestals for suspension set up.

Monday: Why does everything take so long? Big (maybe even small) plans seem to evaporate. So, what did the day accomplish? Well, I got the pilot bearing into the spare motor. Had to make a trip to the barn to find a spring clip and retainer ring since the one that had been in that motor disappeared. Got the alternator on (safety wired, of course), filled the steering box (had I EVER checked that?). Connected the oil lines after once again (i.e. for the 4th time at least) checking to make sure the lines were going to the correct ports, and then drawing the circuit out (for future reference, when I doubt myself the next time.) Put the headers on to see if the new oil temperature data sensor will have an interference (it does not).

Tuesday: I’m ready to install the carbs and headers, spin up the oil and give her a go to break in the new motor. Took the 123 distributor apart to inspect it, got the oil temperature data sensor installed in the oil pan, reoriented the AAV cover plate so I could insert the water temperature data sensor, sent in a new On the Racing Line article to the editor of Volvo Sports America magazine. Had to make a run to the hardware store again for some shorter bolts for the header. Good thing is that I have discovered the hardware store in Hortonville is a real hardware store.

New oil temp sensor in oil pan on right. This goes to the data system.

This is my oil pump priming tool, an old distributor with the guts removed and a oil pum shaft with the cam-mating gear ground off. That’s a drill chuck attached to it.

Wednesday: Installed radiator, ground off lower A arm washer to increase header clearance, installed header, installed carbs.

Thursday: Started the car and adjusted the carbs. Lots of fiddling there!

Friday: Crew member Doug Senk drove down from Iron River, WI. We replaced fuel cell, with a few surprises about the pickup that required a couple calls to ATL. The pickup on the new cell has a fitting that the old one did not, so we put the duckfoot pickup back in and said if it worked before it will work now.

Fuel cell pickup and breather

Saturday: The B in P and B came out and did some work to satisfy the tech inspectors of SVRA. They don’t like our open headlight ‘ram air’ arrangement, and I want to be in Group 3, not 8. In the meantime, Doug fitted the new window net, requiring some modification to the mounts. I put in the new harness. There’s lots of fiddling there with the body in an unnatural position to get the harness adjusted close to where it should be. Roll cages make everything a bit more difficult.

Sunday: Today: I bought a two-ton engine crane from HF with my 25% coupon. Joy bought a 1/4″ drive inch pound torque wrench with her 20% coupon. I got some microfiber towels and she got a head lamp FREE!

She cut the rest of the grass and tried to get the Ranger Extender connected. No luck with the latter. I fixed the light in the barn (several trips up and down the ladder),  got a dolly for the spare motor and put the motor on it, assembled the crane, changed the oil and filter on the race car (need some more oil), changed the main jets, put the correct tire on LF, installed the inner fender well plugs, cleaned and reorganized the trailer, put the car in the trailer, changed the oil on the Prius — an idiot at the Tucson Toyota dealer tightened the oil filter cap so tight I had to use a breaker bar to get it off, rotated the tires, and got the salt out of the shop.

Now we’re ready for 2017, I think. It’s easy to see why you need to be very wealthy to be an arrive and drive type. You said you wanted to own a race car?

VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival-Volvo Nationals, Sept. 2016

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ELVF

How does one summarize the “event of the century” if you are a Volvo fan? Not easily. I think maybe I have finally recovered enough to do this.

This all started 16 months earlier when Ray Freiwald and I got together with Volvo trucks president and fellow 1800 racer, Goran Nyberg, at The Hawk. Goran was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of getting together all the Volvo racers we could find. It turns out there are about 90 of us on this continent, so convincing more than a third to be part of an event is downright respectable. The convincing factor was, without a doubt, coming up with $20,000+ to help with transportation.Thanks to Volvo Car USA, Volvo Trucks, ipd, and Volvo Penta for contributing to that fund.

National Champion

We had 33 race teams in the North Paddock at Road America, which turned it into Volvo City. Volvo Club of America was there with us for their 2016 National Meet. Corporate Volvo, now known as Volvo Car USA, had an enormous tent with their displays – new cars, Heritage Cars (our ’73 ES was one of them) and enough to keep anyone busy. The Volvo Executive Team was there as well.

volvo car usa

Lex Kerssemakers, President of Volvo Car USA was part of the action in the paddock and  got the feel of a vintage 1800 race car, (David Farrington photo)

Mike Dudek

Mike Dudek, owner of iRoll Motors and P and B Motorsports sponsor, flew in from California to help
with the VCOA National Meet (David Irvine photo)

Most of this will be a pictorial post, but I will say a word about the all-Volvo race that took place on Saturday. There were Volvos ranging from nearly bone stock 544’s from the ‘50s to current SCCA-running 1800s. The latter are much lightened with fiberglass panels. Bruce Ackerman brought what I would call a tube frame GT3 car that is about as trick as I have ever seen.

David Irvine

David Irvine photo

Bruce Akerman

Bruce Ackerman (California) SCCA prep

The consequence was that we knew lap times were going to be wildly different, so we created 6 trophy classes for the race.

I was in the “Vintage 1800” class. Josh Rodenbush and I had a great race. His car was classified for the weekend as 2A, slightly faster than my 2B. Turns out VSCDA was right. While I led a bit more than half of the race, Josh jumped ahead in Turn 1 on Lap X. I had one opportunity to regain the lead, but it was risky, and I have drummed in my head “If you are not sure it will be a safe pass, don’t do it.” Josh and I raced to the finish line together, with the timer saying that he beat me by 0.05 seconds.

Volvo Race Results 

1st Overall:   Rob Keller, Algonquin, IL. 1968 1800S (2032cc, Group 8-Class G70)

Rob Keller
Rob Keller

1st Vintage 1800 Class: Josh Rodenbush, San Francisco, CA, 1966 1800S
(2000cc, Group 2-Class A)

Josh Rodenbush
Josh Rodenbush

1st 122 Class: Rich Kushner, Marietta, PA, 1963 Amazon (1998cc, Class S1)

Rich Kushner
Rich Kushner

1st 142 Class: Jim Stem, Bethesda, MD, 1971 142E (1986cc, Group 8-Class BS)

Jim Stem
Jim Stem

1st 444/544 Class: Ron Polimeni, Capon Bridge, WV 1959 PV 544 (1800cc, Group 2-Class S2)

Ron Polimeni
Ron Polemini

Here’s some video of that race … (Disclaimer: I’m learning a new video editing program and there are some spelling errors that crept in. I do know how to spell “Ackerman” and “something.”)

And on to the pictorial essay…

VSCDA Blackhawk Classic XXIV-June ’16

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This has taken way too long. How many excused would you like? First there was the dead Dell computer. There there was the new dead Dell computer. There there was a number of board meetings … well, so be it!

VSCDA’s 31st Blackhawk Classic may have seen the largest assemblage of vintage racers ever to occupy Father’s Day Weekend, an amazing 160 cars of all stripes. This on a weekend where SVRA was holding its Indy event just down the road. Considering the track time and cost on the lesser known venue of Blackhawk Farms Raceway, we should not have been surprised.

For our P and B Motorsports team, it was a mixed bag weekend. #1 Red ran flawlessly and we had some really good lap times, but the Sunday Feature Race got a little bumpy.

Volvo P1800

An opportunity for Crew Chief Buettner to show off his body working skills

It’s always a risk, and by comparison with some of the things I’ve seen this was a pretty minor occurrence, but it’s the first time I’ve been in a situation that arguably should have been avoided. It took a couple laps for me to get back to the mental space I needed to be in, but we still finished well.

The Swedish Pavilion had all the usual suspects plus a new addition. Tim Detwiler caught the bug from hanging around with us, mostly helping out Jeff Babcock. Organizing the Volvo Nationals I’ve learned of a number of Volvo race cars for sale. Long story short, I put Tim in contact with Pennsylvania Bruce Saunders and we now have another 1800 in our fold.

Volvo P1800

Fresh from PA, a new 1800 part of the Swedish Pavilion

Tim did not race but got to spend some time playing with the car in the paddock with all sorts of useful and useless advice. He has since gone through the Midwestern Council school and it looks like we are going to have a new strong competitor being part of gang.

A highlight of the weekend was rekindling competition with my friend Cana Comer. The arrival of Briggs Comer, now a bit less than a year old, caused Cana to take a two-season hiatus from the track. Far as I could tell, the stint at being a mom instead of a race car driver did not slow her down much. OK, in all honesty, not at all. No doubt Colin Comer is never going to hear the end of Cana’s beautiful little Bugeye matching the times of Colin’s equally gorgeous screaming ’66 GT350 Mustang.

Vintage Racing

Here’s Cana, and my position seems to be consistent. 

Here’s a little video of some of the more exciting time of our Saturday Sprint Race.

And finally some pictures that represent some of the weekend.

 The Group 1 boys were really out in force over the weekend. And Bill Goulette’s J2 MG Group 1 car won the Dad’s Day Handicap Race by about 10 ft. over Colin Comer’s GT350! The handicap race starts cars at different times based upon best lap time (slowest cars first). In theory all should finish the race at the same time. Bill set a blistering pace of 63.339 mph. Colin’s 84.291 mph was not quite enough.

This is John Ullrich in his incredibly beautiful Darracq Roadster

Vintage Racing

Rick Kardos and Alex Christopher share the good times. (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Dale Schmidt invariably comes around to kibitz with his old Volvo friends. Alex Christopher now runs Dale’s 1800. (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Ray Freiwald’s car is still be worked back from a nasty run in with a tire wall last October, but Ray was with us all weekend taking care of us. (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Doug Senk made it down from his Iron River home. I’m sure we’re talking about something important, like beer. (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Jeff Babcock leads the Volvo crowd, with Rick Kardos and Alex Christopher in hot pursuit. ((David Farrington photo))

Blackhawk Farms

VSCDA “Spring Brake” 2016

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South Haven, Michigan. Five miles from Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline. April 30. Why did we come back from sunny Arizona????  Or for that matter, Race Engineer David Farrington was asking himself why he had left the warmth of Chattanooga. 460 and rain. The tulips were not blooming. What’s to be expected? But racin’ called.

Gingerman

The 2016 season opener for VSCDA and P and B Motorsports started out with some pretty miserable weather but the results were anything but. We had a fresh 2L power plant that seemed to run well enough on the shop floor. No time to take it to the dyno to see what it had. But the first outing laid testimony that it has IT!

GingerMan serves as the spring driver’s school for VSCDA so there were a goodly number of cars sporting X’s on their paint for the weekend.  At least one of those – a Mini no less — gave us a real run for our money.

We had a whopping 137 entries for Spring Brake

Jeff Babcock and Alex Christopher completed the Swedish Pavilion for the weekend (David Farrington photo)

Cold and rainy conditions prevailed for much of Saturday. We got a couple dry sessions before the rain started falling for the Group E Qualifying session, keeping a number of the cars in the paddock. For over a year we’ve been hauling around a brand new set of Hoosier H2O rain tires; time for their inaugural run.  David Farrington softened the rear suspension and out we went for Qualifying. While they were not magical, they did allow us to put ourselves near the front of the grid for the equally wet Sprint Race. Maybe they even kept us on the track, albeit a bit loose at times.

Volvo P1800

The driver has to make himself look useful, right?

Vintage Racing

On a cool, rainy day, an enclosed trailer, a generator & an  electric heater makes for some good company. L-R are Alex Christopher, Ray Freiwald was crew for the weekend, Jeff Babcock & Jim Perry. (David Farrington photo)

Volvo P1800

Rain makes for interesting photos, if nothing else (David Farrington photo)

The #37X Mini was on the pole, with our #1 Red beside him for the Sprint.  As the green flag dropped I put the pedal to the metal and powered away.  We were able to hold that position until “Dr. Dreadful” Rick Gurolnick caught up with his bathtub Porsche 356 about 2/3 way through the race. I should have known that Rick would take the inside line, even in the rain. He got past me in Turn 1 and while I was able to run with him I was unable to keep enough traction to catch him, so we placed second by 1.281 seconds.

Here’s a bit of the Sprint Race action.

While the rain subsided on Sunday, it remained frigid. Nonetheless we were able to stow the rain tires for a fresh set of Speedsters. Gridded 3rd to a Lotus 7 and the Mini, I was able to get a good jump at the drop of the flag and once again found myself in the position of having no one in front of me for 11 of the 15 laps.

Ron Soave (Sprite) and Don Dickey (MG B) kept the pressure on me (despite Soave having an accelerator pedal that seemed to have my name written all over it by jamming into his floorboard).  But it was Manley Ford’s lightweight Super 7 (gridded 30th of 39) that prevailed in the end and once again I took the “silver,” by 0.476 seconds.  It’s hard to complain about any of this because my best lap time beat my previous best by almost 5 seconds on a relatively short two mile track!

vintage racing

Manley Ford leads us through traffic (David Farrington photo)

It took a bunch of cameras and some creativity to make this video interesting.(Forgot to turn on the data so no speedometer or tachometer.)

All in all it was a good weekend outing for us. If the car continues to perform as it did at GingerMan this should prove to be a very good season. And maybe I will get more practice running up front with a clear field.

Vintage Volvo Racing

Spring Brake Team P and B Motorsports

VSCDA

There’s always something interesting at a vintage event 

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2015

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ELKHART LAKE VINTAGE FESTIVAL 2015

VSCDA

Our 2015 season began at one RA (Road Atlanta) in April and was completed at the second RA (Road America) in September. Another successful season – no blown motors, no bent metal, no black flags. And overall a good season with consistent top three finishes in Class.

The finale was the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival. Except for a little rain in the darkness of Friday night/Saturday morning (we can say that, we were in the trailer Friday night; the tent-dwelling Farringtons might beg to differ with the adjective “little”) it was a spectacular weekend.

The prep leading up to this race had promised to be as easy as I have ever had. Only needed to bleed the brakes. And of course I waited until Monday before the race to do it. Trouble was that I found I had no rear brakes when I got ‘done.’ Seems it was time to rebuild the rear master cylinder, and of course I had no spare AP Racing rebuild kit. That’s what overnight shipping is all about, right?

Never a dull moment.

David and Sue Farrington flew into our “new” INTERNATIONAL Appleton airport Thursday night.(air freight directly from Thunder Bay to Appleton, just what I need).  It’s always great to have the effervescent, always positive Suzanne in our midst.

Volvo Amazon

Sue’s sister Rachel Durfee came over from Madison. I think I need to send Rachel a P and B  Motorsports T shirt! (John Tuteur photo)

The featured marque this year was Jaguar, with a smattering of really nifty Allards along for the ride too. The Jaguar show outside Turn 5 was beyond impressive. So let’s take a look at the weekend in pictorial form.

ELVF

Over 80 Jags came from around the nation for their national show and shine

ELVF

Joy and I helped out during registration. It’s a great opportunity to meet people and see all the problem-solving that goes on behind the scenes. Makes one appreciate what our single VSCDA staff member, Laura Hire, has to deal with.

ELVF

The Friday night Team Dinner featured an Allard show

Vintage Racing

Maybe they all have history, but this one seems to have a bit more than others

Vintage Racing

Alex Christopher had plenty of help (?) dealing with a cracked head

Road America

It was a picture perfect evening for the annual  Saturday night Gathering on the Green at the Osthoff.

Road America

The Gathering provided time for relaxed conversation. Here’s VSCDA’s Laura Hire, Joy and Alex enjoying the company.

ELVF

Jaguar legend Bob Tullius entertained us at the VSCDA banquet.

ELVF

Chuck Rydberg and his Jaguar XK 120 – one beautiful machine (David Farrington photo)

Volvo P1800

Photo op – Perry and Jongen on the grid (David Farrington photo)

ELVF

Todd Jongen filled Jeff Babcock’s mirrors in Turn 5 (David Farrington photo)

Road America

Joe Brabender and Alex Christopher overtake the sole VW at Canada Corner (David Farrington photo)

ELVF

Mark School and his Saab really put the pressure on Ray Friewald  in Turn 6 (Phil Koller photo)

ELVF

Race Control at Road America. No one gets away with much with this sort of scrutiny.

ELVF

This GoPro test resulted in an interesting perspective (Sue Farrington Photo)

Road America

Group 1 guys may not be the fastest of the weekend but they are the most photogenic … (Phil Koller photo)

Road America

… and Bill Stelcher’s ’29 Ford was at the top of the heap. (Phil Koller photo)

I had my best lap time in our Sunday Group 2 Race: 2:49.725. Here’s the video along with some commentary and self-assessment.

Perhaps the best race of the weekend for us was the Sheldon Cup, one of the special races for cars that have a typical lap time of 2:45-3:00. Falling pretty much in the middle of that range, I ended up pretty much where one would expect, in the middle. But it was a good race as this video illustrates. Tony Drews had some really great video that allowed me to watch myself from the perspective of another driver. You can see that at https://youtu.be/AxgwER_Cy6E.

Tony graciously allowed me to use some of his footage to be part of my own video of the Sheldon Cup. Thanks Tony! Here it is:

So what is ahead as we go into the down period? Well, both motors will be stripped down, inspected for wear and new rear main seals installed. The Group Race video will show why that’s necessary. All the calipers will be rebuilt. The front master cylinder will be removed and get new seals. The transmission may get a new front gasket. I have a stock Volvo M47 transmission that needs to be gutted, the case reinforced, and then the salvagd straight cut gears from a couple broken ones installed to create a spare. And we will prepare a new motor to be installed in Cameron Lovre’s 444 as we prepare for April’s  Chihuahua Expess rally.

444

Mid-development photo of Can’s 444 that we will be running in Mexico in ’16.

Never one to sit idle, I’m happy to say I will be deeply involved in planning nexy year’s ELVF — the Volvo Nationals: Swedish Speed and Style!

Should be an interesting “off” season.

And as we sign off on the 2015 race season I want to express deep gratitude to the myriad of folks who have helped this all happen.

ELVF

And espcially these individuals:

  • Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports Race Coordinator and spouse
  • David Farrington, P and B Race Motorsports Race Engineer and email buddy
  • Dave Buettner, P and B Motorsports Crew Chief and consultant
  • Phil Koller, P and B Motorsports Photographer
  • Doug Senk, P and B Motorsports Crew and Northern WI Volvophile buddy
  • Steve Blom, Competition Specialists and P and B Engine Builder
  • Duane Matejka, R Sport Engineering and P and B Advisor On Call

P1800

The Hawk International Challenge with Brian Redman 2015

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The Hawk International Challenge with Brian Redman 2015

Road America

HAWK

As far as track time goes, The Hawk is not exactly at the top of the list. When you are at an event with 550 cars you don’t expect to have just too many sessions, nor very long ones. But The Hawk is a party beyond any other. Personally, because it’s in one of only a few real “racing towns,” it’s even better than The Mitty at Road Atlanta..

We showed up at noon on Thursday and enjoyed the scenery and a bit of relaxation. And we got to meet our newest Volvo buddy, Goran Nyberg, who came with his three kids plus one boyfriend (a daughter’s,  not Goran’s) all the way from North Carolina. The kids were visiting from Sweden.

Most of our cars started as someone else’s; Goran’s came from Richard Schnabel several years ago, but it has been improved upon, without question.

P1800

Goran Nyberg came to play

HAWK

The Three Vänner of the weekend — Perry, Nyberg, and Freiwald

And Goran is F-A-S-T. (Plus just one hell of a nice Swedish guy with a strong Volvo affiliation.)
Friday night’s Race Car Concours in downtown Elkhart Lake is just about beyond imagination. The race cars get a police escort into town to park along the street sides. The path downtown is lined with parade spectators.

Road America

Crowd control in Elkhart Lake? 

Corvette

Here’s our Fox Cities Sign Country friend, Travis Pfrang, with his beautiful ‘Vette. 

In the early 20th Century Elkhart Lake was the playground for Chicago. The city has retained (and even enhanced) its charm. Siebkins Resort and the Osthoff play strongly in the history and natural beauty.

If you have read Burt “B.S.” Levy’s fictionalized account of road racing in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, The Last Open Road, no red-blooded male can walk past the lake without envisioning Buddy Palumbo and Sally Enderle cavorting on the beach in the moonlight.

Elkhart Lake

Elkhart Lake beach on the left, scene of …

Road America

Live music at Siebkins reving up the crowd on a spectacular evening.

The Hawk itself is a ‘see and be seen’ event that attracts people from everywhere. It’s a spectator’s delight with just about every type of race car imaginable. Vendors come out to add to the ambiance and automotive attraction.

RA

A modern Morgan

Cobras

A group of Cobras, including No. 99 that Rollie Stephenson has had since he was a kid (he’s a late middle aged kid now), was on hand to share space with Tesla.

RA

One of two LaCarerra cars on hand. This behemoth actually ran with Group 8!

P1800

The Hawk includes a Sports Car Concours on Saturday night. The Brabenders won first in class with their P1800A, beating out Ferraris and others!

Oh yeah, about the racing …

I had a new first experience during qualifying on Friday. On the second green flag lap as I downshifted entering Turn 1 the rpm’s jumped. It only took a microsecond to realize that the throttle was stuck open. I did my version of trail braking around 1 and jabbed the gas petal, freeing things up for Turn 3. But the problem returned as I approached the tight Turn 5 so I slapped off the ignition and rolled into the exit straight off 5.

At first we thought the cable had stretched and caught up on the linkage, so we tightened it. Of course, it can’t be that easy. While Doug Senk was cranking down on the nuts that squeeze the cable the shaft broke. Our 5 minute job turned into 90 minutes, including borrowing Jeff Johnk’s drill and creating a new shaft.

Then on the next outing – Qualifying — it happened again! I rolled to a stop on the access road outside Turn 5, jumped out and, with the help of Jim Stephenson, Mark School and Amish John, found that there was binding in the linkage with a wide open throttle. It must have looked a little bit like the Keystone Cops. It’s a mystery why this would show up all of a sudden since that had not been a problem at Blackhawk, and I had not touched the carbs since.

So how did the weekend turn out? Not bad. In Sunday’s late afternoon Feature Race we placed 3rd in class, behind Brian Davis’ Elva Courier and Goran’s ’65 Volvo 1800. Goran had me beat by a handy 7 seconds per lap! I’d like to use my friend Cana Comer’s line “Don’t get used to it,” but 7 seconds is a tremendous difference …

Road America

Ray Freiwald’s drive train gave up on him late in the qualifying race on Saturday, so at the end only 2 Volvos were running, and that was only thanks to Goran’s ingenuity of finding a tractor top link at Mill’s Fleet Farm to replace the nice aluminum trailing arm that broke on him.  Now it’s a real ‘Swedish tractor!’

Volvo

Seems I am not the only one that spends time doing this stuff!

Overall it was a great weekend.  And now we have a bit of a break. Speaking of brakes, I need to figure out why I have a pedal that goes nearly to the floor at inopportune times, like at the end of the fastest straights on the course. Never a dull moment!

Here’s a relatively short (6:53 min.) video of the Feature Race. Sorry I cannot get the video to synchronize properly with the data so there is no speedometer or tachometer.

And check out the September 2015 issue of Classic Motorsports,  p. 7 to be exact. (Thank you, Mueller Motorwerks.)
Here’s a link to a really nice video done by Jessica Johnk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xrf2mJBbkJc
Bonus photos
Road America
“Everyone get out your cell phone. Now take a picture to remind yourself that if you think about doing something crazy, these are the guys who will come to visit you.”

‘Nuff said

The Nybergs. L to R, Eric, Cecelia, [boyfriend], Victoria and Goran. I could understand them once in a while. I bet they were talking about me in Swedish.  

Mark School and Doug Senk.

Jeff and Jessica Johnk, great folks (Phil Koller photo)

How long before Road America has a water slide? (Phil Koller photo)

Turn 5

Blackhawk Classic XXIII

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Blackhawk Classic XXIII

VSCDA

BHF

Sometimes things start off well and go all to hell. Sometimes things start off all to hell and turn out well. The Blackhawk Classic XXIII was pretty much of a mix of these two.

Built in 1967, Blackhawk Farms Raceway is 1.9 miles long, flat as a pancake, and has the very best facilities bar none. Owners Paul and Carol Musschoot have really put a lot of money and effort into it. The chalet serves as an eating area on the lower level, with a very nice spectator tower above. The grill is 3 steps from the chalet, and the food is good. The shower/rest rooms are clean, showers far better than the “name tracks” we have attended. Grounds are meticulouslymaintained, and camping, be it with a tiny tent or a motor home, is welcomed without additional charge. Each year improvements are made.

Blackhawk Farms

Alex Christopher (L) shares some quality time with Blackhawk owners Paul and Carol Musschoot

Following Spring Vintage we decided it was time to find the source of the oil leak and elevated coolant temperature. Suffice it to stay that once one starts heading down this path it becomes a long one, with lots of twists and turns.

Off came the head and down to Competition Specialists it went. The almost inevitable call from Steve Blom came: “Jim, you have a really beat up exhaust valve seat. And the guide is completely destroyed.” This after only three race weekends! Crap.

Well, that was the only good head for that block, and it needs to come out anyway to search for the oil leak. We have two weeks. Wait! Make that 4 days given all the other commitments. Crap. Life became very regimented. Again. Still.

Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward came up from Milwaukee and we lifted Block A from its moorings. Not much sign of a leak from the engine, but there was a transmission cover bolt standing very proud of its seat. And that confirmed Race Coordinator Joy Perry’s sharp olfactory observational skills that we were throwing Mobil 1 gear oil from the top of the ‘new” Sellholm tranny. The bolts went to the drill press for safety wire holes.

safety wire

Racer’s Best Friend

Blawkhawk Farms

And those bolts ain’t goin’ nowhere again!

The car ventral surface (that’s biologist speak for bottom) got a good pressure washing and new coat of Ford Gray paint.

While I was at it, I decided now was the time to get rid of the very heavy driveline spacer made necessary by the ‘new’ Sellholm transmission. Off went an Amazon drive shaft to Appleton Crankshaft to be shortened. Of course that’s not as simple as it sounds because BOTH halves need modification and then because it’s a two piece shaft, it has to be sent out to be balanced. (Don’t trust Internet ads that say “We balance two-piece drive shafts.”) $423 later we had a shiny dandy looking correct length  driveshaft.

Might as well replace the clutch while we’re at it — after 2.5 years and knowing what it has gone through, it must be time. The new Tilton disk and pressure plate arrived from Pegasus in time, Of course, it can’t be just that easy — the new one has a slightly different profile and also, most ominously a different number on the pressure plate, A call to Pegasus ended up in a call to Tilton, which ended up with a consult with their fabricators, and eventually the message that it was indeed the right plate, that the numbering was now a serial number and not a PN. Geez, why cannot they say that up front and save everyone some angst?!

Motor B had been lounging in the trailer for over a year, awaiting its turn. This is the one that was the original creation from bottom to top by Competition Specialists. Thanks to help in my absence from Crew Chief Dave Buettner, we got ‘er done in time to get to Blackhawk Farms for the annual Father’s Day Blackhawk Classic.

As we sat waiting for the track to open for us to cross into the paddock we watched the late morning practice session. Our three Volvo buddies Jeff Babcock (122), Joe Brabender (123) and Alex Christopher (92) were out putting their Swedish Iron through the paces.

VSCDA

On the last lap Alex came around trailing a plume of white smoke., When I got to the paddock Alex’s hood was up and the guys already in discussion. Removal of the valve cover revealed a broken roller rocker . Unfortunately, that was not the extent of the damage as a look inside the cylinder with our ‘protoscope’ showed lots more damage. Well, one did not need to even get in quite that far …

VSCDA

Uh, something doe not look right here. (David Farrington photo)

I really admire (and am jealous of) Alex’s ability to face adversity. While he was disappointed that his weekend had ended before it really even started he made a great weekend of it nonetheless. Class act. VSCDA helped out in this regard too; they refunded much of Alex’s entry and race fees. Thanks VSCDA.

I got out onto the track for the afternoon practice sessions. The new motor had only 20 minutes of break-in run time on it. so I took it easy. But I could tell she was really rarin’ to go! In fact, after the session I texted Buettner that we had one sweet motor.

Volvo P1800

That feeling held up until the cool down lap of the second practice, when very suddenly I lost a cylinder. So now it was my turn to look for issues, and once again it was found under the valve cover.

Vintage Racing

No. 4 exhaust valve spring

Now, I carry just about every spare imaginable. But “my kingdom” for this too!

Vintage Racing

… which, unfortunately, was home on the shop pegboard.

And my buddy Duane Matejka sent me this so I can duplicate it. This is a mechanical engineer’s work at his best! (Well, maybe that’s just a little overstatement.)

Volvo Racing

R Sport Engineering Valve Spring Compressor

I need to give credit here for some really wonderful help that managed to find a way to reinstall a spring to get us back on the track., I went to Autozone and bought a valve spring compressor make for the wimpy stock springs. Ray Freiwald suggested stuffing a rope in the cylinder with the piston at TDC to prevent the valve from falling into the cylinder. Then Dennis Birkholz and Mark School spent hours trying different things, and after a good night’s sleep Dennis used a channel locks to compress the new spring, and Scott Barr suggested wrapping a small hose clamp around the whole mess to keep things from flying apart. Wahla! It worked!

Volvo P1800

It looked a bit like an operating room late into the night.

So how did it all turn out? Pretty darn good! On both Saturday and Sunday we finished first in class and on Sunday second overall, behind only the insanely fast Bugeye of Colin Comer. In the Dad’s Day Handicap Scramble (staggered start with slower cars first) I set a personal Blackhawk best lap and ‘beat’ my buddy Colin, finishing 3rd overall.

Here’s the video of the race that really counted.

Next up: The Hawk with Brian Redman at Road America.

And here are a few bonus pictures …

Vintage Racing

This racin’ is a tiring business! Jeff Babcock (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Colin Comer, in his usual position  (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Volvo Racing

Doug Senk was there to help out whoever needed help. (David Farrington photo)

Vintage Racing

Mark School gave me one heck of a run for my money with his Saab Sonnet on Saturday (David Farrington photo)

Spring Vintage 2015 @ Road America

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Spring Vintage 2015 @ Road America

Wisconsin + Early May + Lake Michigan = Unpredictability

Spring Vintage at Road America is an SVRA event. Tony Parella and his crew were out making people feel welcome. The tech sessions were serious, the anticipation for a good weekend high.
SVRA
P and B’s Race Engineer David Farrington flew in from Chattanooga, picked up at what we old timers still call Billy Mitchel Field by our Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward and handed the keys for a TR6.
1st in Class 3DP
Meanwhile, our Race Coordinator (AKA Joy Perry) is addicted to weather, or more specifically, weather forecasts. I start getting the reports a week ahead. As the week wore on this year, I said. “I don’t want to hear it. Tell me if it’s good. otherwise I don’t want to hear it!” But I hear it anyway.
We pretty much had it all. Saturday was beautiful. But the most notable was Sunday morning wind off the big pond 20 miles east of Elkhart Lake..
Spring at Road America. Where’s the tower????(David Farrington photo)

Because Road America has decided to get sticky with competitors camping by their rigs, we decided to drive home Saturday night and enjoy the comforts of home. We left Larsen in sunshine and 70’s and arrived at Road America to fog, wind, damp, chilly. Ugh. But it could have been worse!

You’re really not interested in that, are you?

OK, we had a good weekend. The field was not as deep as in the past; given SVRA’s push, that’s a bit surprising. Too expensive? Too iffy with respect to Wisconsin weather?

Groups 1, 3 and 4 were combined. 1 is the very slow group (there was only 1 car in it) .4 is a whole lot faster than 3, so we got to hear the road of Chevy V8’s as they blurred by on the back or front straight. Group 3 was where the action was for the most part, and we were in the thick of it. More or less.

I never really know exactly how to refer to our car. Farrington calls it No. 1. Something about that bothers me; maybe it seems presumptuous. Well, anyway, the car ran well all weekend, and here’s what I think you might be wanting to know: We placed 1st in class in both the Saturday and Sunday races.

We had lots of friends stop by, including one of our major sponsors. Because the car was running well there was enough down time to really enjoy the weekend, as you will see in the large photo gallery below.

Nothing like having a P and B Motorsports sponsor come to see what is being supported! This is Louise Googins of Googins Advisors, Inc.  (David Farrington photos)
One has to finish in order to come in 1st. On Saturday, On Saturday Pat Star (Class 3DP) and his Morgan had me beat handily. He was racing hard with Dawn Meyer in her Class 3EP ’61 MG but on the next to last lap he suffered ignition issues and, well, I did not. So we ended up 1st in our class.

The only other Volvo there was our good friend Ray Freiwald. Here’s a bit of trackside video of our racing on Friday. (Video length-33 sceonds)And here’s a little of the action (and inaction) on Saturday. Note the beautiful blue sky! (Video length-55 seconds)

CAPTIONED PHOTO GALLERY

 

 
No visit to Elkhart Lake is complete without a visit to one of America’s most iconic racing watering holes, Siebkins
Joy does her 1950’s impression of a Coke Girl.
New Glarus Brewing Company (their beers are not sold outside Wisconsin) has a knack for brew names, and Siebkins has a knack for displaying them.
Race Engineer David Farrington holds courts with Louise Googins, or is it the other way around?
Jim Slapikes brought his new 1800 creation. This started as a basket case, and Jim got into it before he realized just how deep he was, but it turned out great.
The Sign County crew makes these events into a real family affair! Always fun to watch them. 
Saturday night dinner in the cavernous Road America Center, home of America’s worst acoustics.
SVRA honored Gordon “Duck” Waddle  for his decades-long service to our sport.
More video displays around tghe track allow spectators to keep track of the action on the various parts of this 4 mile track. new this year is a screen rotation that shows standings.
Racing and fishing, especially when one is from Montana, is not a bad life. (Phil Koller photo)
Racing can be very very stressful. 
Ray Freiwald and Dale Schmidt catch up (Phil Koller photo)
Must be nice to have a modular car like Rick Phrang’s.
Race photographer/videographer (new job title, only slightly more pay) Phil Koller on the other end of the lens.
Some people arrive in a little more style than others.
One has to see structural beauty here – Gunnar Phrang’s Camero
When Jeff Johnk is contemplating, he sees his daughter Jessica. Does the middle of the steering wheel have any philosophical significance? (Top David Farrington; Left, Phil Koller; Right, David Farrington)
Next up, Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway on Father’s Day Weekend. We should have a full complement of Swedish Iron there. Guess I need to get out into the shop and work on that “minor oil leak.”

VSCDA’s GingerMan Spring Brake 2015

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VSCDA’s GingerMan Spring Brake 2015

Here’s a brief report on VSCDA’s 2015 inagural event at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, MI.  Based upon our experience there last year we had packed our down vests and knit hats. Coming from balmy Atlanta, we were pessimistic about the accuracy of the weather forecast for anyplace that was a fly-rod’s cast to Lake Michigan in May. Leaving 70 degrees of Indiana, I reported the temperature drop as we drove along the sand dunes of far western Michigan. It hit 51.

But it was not snowing. Or raining.And there was a great turnout.

This Renault brought lots of smiles, and images of old-time picnics

We were the only Volvo running this year, even thought there was a record turnout. The weekend is referred to as “Spring Brake” and starts with driving school, so there are a goodly number of cars with X’s behind their numbers. One of those was a car that is very familiar – a nice 356 Porsche dubbed ‘Dr. Dreadful” owned an [normally] operated by Rick Gurolnick. The mystery of the X was solved when we learned that Dr. Dreadful’s 17 year old daughter had gone through the school over the weekend with Dad’s car.

Robbie’s “X” did not describe her lack of experience. Youth has its advantage, and she’s gonna be a force to be dealt with. She good and not afraid to keep her foot in it or make a move.  After a couple sessions with her — chasing her, I hasten to say, and truthfully, unsuccessfully, around the track I teased her and Rick that I could see that this was not going to end up as a once car family.

Robbie Gurolnick on the grid

Here’s what Rick had to say about the weekend:

Racer friends:

Thought you might like to share a great “bucket list” event I had last weekend: 17 year old Daughter Robbie Gurolnick took the VSCDA vintage school, passed and raced the weekend in my 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster, her first time driving the car anywhere, some 30 years after I started in it.  And she rocked it! I picked Gingerman as a place for her to start in a rear engine car as it has generous, easy runoffs.  They had races Saturday and Sunday.  Out of about 35 starters she gridded 6th and finished 5th on Saturday with some great dices and a couple racers coming over to shake hands and congratulate her.  On Sunday everyone was gunning for her, but she gridded third and charged on the start up to second and a lap later was heading for first when the car lost midrange and went flat – Darn!  (Not an exhaust leak – I checked that earlier during practice – but maybe a failing mag pickup in  the distributor or dirt in the jets).  Ironically the GoPro mount broke and got run over by one of the following cars – including the SD card – so no videos. Anyway we had a wonderful time, everyone was as nice as could be and very welcoming.

Rick Gurolnick

Robbie and Rick Gurolnick, proudly displaying Robbie’s diploma

Sometimes I wish I were a father.

Race Coordinator (aka my dear wife) Joy Perry was the only formal P and B Motorsports crew for the weekend, and we got on pretty well. Jim Blett, Volvo engine builder/Jeff Babcock 122 crew member came over from his central Michigan home to lend assistance and also delivered a B20 block/crankshaft for Jeff’s next engine build. We were happy to have him, and were able to pick his brain of the considerable knowledge he has as a crew member on a previous LaCarerra Paniamerica team (since we  — that’s the royal “we” – are building a 444 competitor for the 2016 south-of-da -border-down-Mexico way races).

The weekend was pretty uneventful. People behaved themselves. One of my Driver’s Committee comrades remarked that it was early in the season and people did not want to risk messing their cars up so soon.

The Brits celebrated the Queen, or at least celebrated something

As usual, Group 2 was the largest of all, with 39 entrants. At the head of the pack was Colin Comer with his screaming  1959 Bugeye Sprite. Colin pretty much ran away from everyone in every race he was in. He chose to sit out Sunday’s Feature Race, given that it’s about as much fun to run alone as it is to do a track day.

I, on the other hand, did not have that problem. Starting on the inside of the 4th row I had a, ahem — interesting first half lap with a Mini beside me. Now I have a thing about Minis. That is, I loathe don’t like them. They remind me of bees around my head irritating me. That Mini buzzed me good going into the technically, ahem – interesting — Turn 4. I saw enough metal next to my door that I, ahem – decided – to take a brief agricultural excursion. I watched the back of the pack go by and re-entered the track.

Because I had been carrying around a track radio all weekend as part of the Driver’s Committee I imagine what was being said: “Control, Turn 4, 1 Red four wheels off … has re-entered track.” (“Watch ‘im.) But since this was a race there was no black flag infraction, so I started making up time.

Turns out I may have had the best race ever, especially with John Hagen’s and his ’63 TVR. The video will show you all of this; I will save the outcome for you to discover. But I will say that there was only 0.08 seconds between me and the higher finishing car in my class.

So we’re in preparation for SVRA’s Spring Vintage at Road America May 14-17. Yep, this week. I feel I am living, breathing, eating and sleeping raced car prep.

Keep ‘em rolling, and we’ll see you on the flip side of Spring Vintage.