Volvo Nationals 2018 at the SVRA Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio

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First, a bit of a rant before the fun stuff…

The only person missing was Noah. As in, Noah of  the Ark. There’s a rainy reason for the lush green of central Ohio. I just wish it would, for once, be a nice, sunny weekend when I was there. But while I’m grousing, I have to count the blessing of being in Group 3 run sessions, because, by contrast to just about every other one, we had the most dry track time.

Keith Price photos

SVRA hosted the Volvo Nationals 2018. The Volvo turnout was not overwhelming, due in part to significant weather problems that kept some home dealing with flood damage, some broken cars in mid-season, some broken tow vehicles, and maybe most significantly, lack of support from Volvo corporation. IPD, one of the U.S. suppliers of Volvo parts provided support (Thank you!) but for the most part we were on our own.

ipd provided the funding for these beautiful Tim McCarty-produced awards

SVRA, through the leadership of its CEO Tony Parella, bent over backwards to help us out. They offered the race weekend at a 50% discount, and all of the folks working the event were spectacular.

Back to the rant: Mid-Ohio needs to take a look at other major tracks and get their act together. Race cars should not need to drive on access roads that look like some post-apocalypse scene from a dystopian novel. I was interviewed by one of theSVRA people at the end of the weekend, asking my assessment, which was: great organization, great people, great track, terrible paddock and amenities.

 

In Wisconsin, we call them “Scottholes” after our Governor, who will give billions in tax incentives to Foxconn, but won’t repair the roads. In Ohio..?

And the “facilities” – well, they may have been pretty good in 1957.

This belongs in some antique shop. Instead of “Automatic” it should say “Wipe hands on pants.” (And obviously M-O has not heard of the Kohler Company, who insignia is seen my many males on a daily basis. i spare you a picture of the troughs.)

OK, I got that out of my system.

All the Volvo guys and gals got together at the Road House Friday night for dinner. It might be said we more or less commandeered a good portion of it.

Sam Moore was holding court. It’s great having David and Suzanne Farrington retired so Sue can be with us to take care of the needs of the P and B Race Engineer. Canadian Peter Lambrinos (white hat) looks like he is worried that ICE might catch up with him. 🙂

The waitresses were tolerant and friendly

Eric Leopold’s wife (cringe – I have forgotten her name) provided a great souvenir (Definitely Volvo Brick folks!)

 

Joy and I wore our “bowling shirts.”

Irrespective of the, ahem, facilities, the track at Mid-Ohio is a really great and technical course. Good flow, as they say. And we had some of the best racing ever, especially with fellow Volvo 1800 guy, Gary Jebsen. Gary and I certainly put on a show for the fans perched on the hillside of the Corkscrew.

Two pretty similar sports cars. Sam Moore had reeled us in, but he was a bit too late and the race ended before he got by us. (Mark Snelgrove photo)

Here’s the video from Feature Race 1 on Saturday. (10 min.)

Gary and I were very evenly matched in our group races and all-Volvo race, so we were like two cars attached with a tow rope. In the end – Gary 2, Jim 1.

And from the Volvo race … (Full race)

The weekend reunited many that were at the big 2016 Road America event. And it tells you something when a guy who races a 142 in California flies into the Great Middlearth just to be part of the fraternity:

 

Californian Mark Snelgrove, who provided photographic and video expertise. (David Farrington photo)

We were not without Midwest company and friends. Ray Friewald and his neighbor Dan came to support Alex Christopher and generally make it a good time.

So Sunday was sun day. The combined Groups 1, 3, and 4 wrapped up the weekend with the final feature race. And in the final I finally … well watch! (Short)

Volvo Nationals 2018

Mid-Ohio let Kevin Price climb onto the bridge for this shot just as the sky was about to let loose.  Again. (Kevin Price photo)

Group 3, Class DP (D Production)

Jim Perry – Larsen, WI (Mark Snelgrove photo)

Gary Jebsen – Leesburg, VA (Kevin Price photo)

 

Alex Christopher – Reno, NV (David Farrington photo)

Group 8, Class BS (Historic Production to 1972/B Sedan)

Rich Kushner – Marietta, PA (David Farrington photo)

 

Peter Lambrinos – Pickering, Ontario (Mark Snelgrove photo)

 

Jim Stem -Bethesda, MD (Kevin Price photo)

 

Todd Jongen – Lockport, IL (Mark Snelgrove photo)

 

Kevin Michael – Pennsylvania Furnace , PA [REALLY!] (David Farrington photo)

Group 8, Class DP (Historic Sports Car to 1972/D Production)

Dan Reynolds – Corbeil, Ontario (David Farrington photo) [Dan was put into Group 8 because of the considerable amount of fiberglass on his car.)

Group 12, Class MP1 (Select Sports Cars and Sedans/Modern Production 1973-83)

Sam Moore – Kannapolis, NC (David Farrington photo)

Group 12, Class GT3 (Select Sports Cars and Sedans/???)

Frank Marcum in Goran Nyberg’s car (Mark Snelgrove photo)

The pictures here are only a smattering of the really good stuff that came from David Farrington, Mark Snelgrove, and our “Official Volvo Nationals Photographer” Keith [Go to Waterford] Price. Maybe I will put some more good ones on Flickr …

Can never end without recognizing those who help make this all happen …

THANK YOU!

SVRA Spring Vintage 2018 at Road America

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Spring Vintage at Road America is sort of like the opening of the baseball season in the upper Midwest – you never know if the weather is going to be naughty or nice, or if the players are still getting the cobwebs out. So when there are four straight days of May sun in Wisconsin I start getting pessimistic.

A sure sign of spring at Road America, white trillium in woods near Turn 5.

The weather gods must have had a good winter because they provided rain at night but a dry track and cool [fast] air during run times for SVRA’s Spring Vintage 2018.

The whole P and B Motorsports Crew came from their winter abodes to be part of the opener. The Perrys got back from Arizona just in time for me to do some minor prep work on 1 Red, Buettners followed a few days later from Florida, and newly retired and relocated Farringtons drove west from their new home near Scranton. Pennsylvania.

L to R: Pam Buettner, Dave Buettner, Jim Perry, Joy Perry, Suzanne Farrington, David Farrington. Missing: Phil Koller.

 

Road America Track Map at the Winner’s Circle. Large video displays really separates RA from all other tracks.

1 Red liked the weather and did well. During Friday’s Practice our lap times were surprisingly fast given that I was not pushing it. To comply with SVRA’s Group 3 requirements I had re-routed my air intake, and that seemed to work out well.

It was fun to see our old friends again and get back on the track. In the end, we made only four of the five sessions because after winning our class on Saturday afternoon, we decided the head gasket had finally said ‘see ya later’ and pulled the head only to find that the spare Cometic gasket we had with us had the wrong bore size and interfered with piston travel. Fortunately, we discovered this by carefully hand-cranking the motor, and not using the starter! When the crankshaft stops turning, there has to be a reason.

 

Dave B pondering an overheating issue 

The racing was good, with only a few sweat-on-the- butt moments. The video shows some of the more interesting things. Race Engineer Farrington got the integration to work well!

Americans have become picture book readers, so let’s just show video pictures with some interesting captions.

This is a match-up I just cannot win. This Porsche 356 is driven by 85 YO George Balbach Sr.

Great to see Jessica Johnk in her BMW convertible. This car is confused with all sorts of things. (David Farrington trackside photo)

Robbie Gurolnick in the family 356. (David Farrington trackside photo)

David Farrington caught our good Austin Healey friend ,Bob Wagner, coming out of  Turn 6.

But for “Dr. BMW Dave Buettner” there was an interesting story of a Group 10 M6. Seems Andrew Meudt was looking for an inexpensive car to run in the vintage circuits and a car was located in pretty tough condition in a Florida storage building. Purchase price — $8K. When Meudt started putting the car together all of the ‘should fit’ parts just did not. Corporate BMW got involved and Muedt learned that he had a major find – It was a former Group 2 BMW factory racer.    The 4 liter S38 engine is believed to be only survivor. Normal S38s are 3.4 or 3.6 liter variety.  The 4 liter version was never used in a production car and uses a fully machined billet crankshaft, making it a very special item. The brakes were also special items not seen on production cars, called Nurburgjng brakes, developed for use on this car.  Reportedly this M6 is being sought by auction houses seeking to make a commission, as the estimated value of this now restored car is …well, let’s just say Muedt made one hell of an investment!

M6

Gathering of the team at the Buettner motor home after the day’s racing was done.

Now on to Ohio for SVRA’s Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio and the Volvo Nationals!

Pre-2018 Season Greetings

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Happy Spring 2018 everyone!

It’s been a awhile since our last update, but rest assured we have not only been sitting around eating bonbons and reading the newspaper. Lots has happened since the last post, all good. So consider this my Spring Letter to you all.

The Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival took place in mid-September. 1 Red ran as flawlessly as it had all season. I started 15th and ended up 8th overall, but only 3rd in class behind Bob Wagner and Scott Fohrman.

We had the 6th Annual P and B Motorsports Garage Party in early October. It was a perfect day with a record turnout of cars, including a lot of Volvos, a lot of BMWs, and some pretty fancy other stuff too.

An opportunity to clean up the shop! Garage Party and Car Show 2017 (Nice shirt, Pam Buettner )

In honor of the movie night, we even had a McLaren.

You’ll find a new pick off the website home page — ‘”Current Projects” showing, well, current projects, and new pictures on the Street Cars portion of the website.

One current project, among many

One current project among many

You may know that the B part of P and B Motorsports is Dave Buettner. Dave has owned more cars than anyone I know, a lot of them BMWs. [Buettner – German – makes sense.] He likes short, fast runs (drag strips) and bought a ’63 Dodge Max Wedge during the 2017-18 winter. The car has a lot of provenance and is now undergoing restoration. In fact, at the present it is spending the winter in our paint booth awaiting Dave’s spring return from Florida. He also bought a car that requires turning the steering wheel, a pretty special 325i. I’m trying to talk him into using it for what it’s designed for — wheel-to-wheel racing, road course, but I am not optimistic.

Dave’s 325i . Do we need new trailer graphics now?

In December, we co-hosted the 7th Annual (is there a pattern here?) Fox Valley Gearheads Movie Night.  Almost 100 came to UW Fox Valley to have some great beer (or soda or wine), tell stories during the social hour, and then watch the big screen documentary McLaren.

If you were not at any of these events, well, you should have been.

Our 2018 Race Schedule has now been drafted. That’s found under [guess what?]  on the website.  I look forward to all of them, but some more than others. Notable will be our return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June for the Volvo Nationals, this year hosted by SVRA. Lots of time at Road America for the VSCDA “Big One,” the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in September. And I probably will serve as a backup Enduro driver for Scott Barr as he takes his Spec Ford Racer on Midwest Council’s endurance series.

I’m looking forward to trying out some new technology. I like to be able to communicate with the team while I am in the car. In the past I tried the conventional radio system and found it lacking. Those things are fine for roundy-round racing, but they lose signal on big road courses. Thinking that the big box wired into the car was old school technology I started investigating. There is a free app called Zello that allows cell phones to be used as walkie talkies. I have partnered with Lake Forest Hearing to be the beta tester (actually they tell me I am the first in the U.S to have this) for Bluetooth ear buds that link to my cell phone. I have a PTT (“Push to Talk”) button for my cell phone that will install on the steering wheel. So we’ll see how this all works out. Joy can now yell FASTER FASTER at me instead of looking like a windmill at the edge of the track.

 Bluetooth earbuds. Now maybe I can hear Joy scream “FASTER! FASTER!”

Joy and I are planning a trip with the President of the Great Lakes Chapter, Volvo Club of America, David Irvine and spouse Joyce to the Mother County (Sweden) in late July. Need to see Volvo museum! Maybe go to Genuine Classic Parts. Probably VP Autoparts. Sellholm AB? Oh, maybe there is something else to do there as well. We’ll see. 🙂

David and Joyce Irvine on the left. The silver-haired guy on the right was just squinting. He’s not really as old looking in life.

And remember the opening picture of the “Spriggs ES” getting some attention? It joined us in Arizona for the winter.  Winter? Is it winter? Geez, it was 75 most of January, and now it’s 90 at I sit in the AC in AZ. (Scott Barr posted pre-season pictures from WI. What’s all that white stuff in April????)

The “Spriggs ES” in sunny Arizona

Final thought: Thank you to K & N Filters for joining the P and B Motorsports supporters for 2018!

 

 

VSCDA Grattan Vintage Grand Prix 2017 and more …

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To start – why did it take a month to get this to you? Answer” Too many board meeting, too many projects, like R/R the engine on one of my street cars, cleaning and painting the engine. Better late than never.

This beast has occupied my time. It’s tough being picky about what your engine compartment looks like.

Oh, and be sure to at least go to the end of the post to see the other reason!

The good – better lap times than in 2017, 2nd in class in Group D Feature Race, friends, Paddock Crawl, cousins Rob and Theresa Sisson visit

The bad – rain for Friday’s practice, Sunday afternoon sessions messed up due to an Alpha that ended up straddling a guard rail Sunday morning

It was about as slick as it looks!

The ugly — an Alpha that ended up straddling a guard rail, a bump and spin that means body work on 1 Red

The car count was down a bit compared to 2017, and as a result Race Group D consisted of 2 liter Group 2, Group 8 and Group G70 cars running together. Watch your mirrors boys and girls. The bright blue Mustang and high wing Porsche 911 made me look mighty slow, even if I was faster this year than last.

The Volvo Pavilion was populated by four 1800s. Three of us had a pretty decent weekend. Tim Detwiler struggled throughout the event with a miss that remains a mystery. Actually, it was great seeing Alex Christopher have good runs. He popped a fuel injection port plug during one session but the P and B Motorsports Parts Department was on site; overall his 92 White ran well.

Friday’s morning rain made being out on the track an exercise in futility. But by late afternoon the tide had begun to turn for the annual Paddock Crawl supported in part by Hagerty Insurance.

Paddock Crawl

Saturday’s weather was dramatically improved and set up the day for a lot of track time. In the Sprint Race I had my sights set on Larry Boyer and Tony Drews only to have the session shortened for who knows what reason. So I had to wait for the late afternoon Heat Race to see if I catch them.

Chasing Tony (David Farrington Photo)

Alas, Turn 3 of the first lap ended all hope of that when two of us tried to occupy the apex at the same time. “Thump.” And then I felt like the NASSCR driver along for the ride after a nudge from someone either ticked or wanting more prize money, or both. The Bumper was not either of those, and the Bumpee managed to escape with some modest damage behind the left rear wheel. Neither of us was angry, and as is often the case we walked away shaking hands and being apologetic to one another. Here’s a bit of video that culminates in the bump.

And the Bumpee learned something, that hopefully will prevent this in the future.

Grattan is a highly technical track. It has a very long front straight that allows the higher horsepower cars to get some exercise, and a lot of squiggles that favor the smaller cars. Turn 3 is a slow, off-camber downhill. There are two places on the track where the suspension gets really light. Tracks have names for the different sections, and none is more appropriate than “The Toilet Bowl” of Turns 5, 6, and 7. Imagine watching water swirl as it exits the bowl and you get the picture. It makes for real work horsing a big car around.

Nonetheless we managed to finish second in class in the Feature behind Tony Drews, who I had teased about his new turbocharger that I figured he must have installed after Blackhawk.

Love this picture of Ray. It’s so typical.

Nice hair! (The ruffled Arctic blonde look.)

Now on to preparation for Road America’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in three weeks. The bodywork was done by Dave Buettner and fluids changed. We’ll be ready.

Doesn’t look too bad.

Dent  pulled with the “Spitzenagel”

Every race car needs a little (?) bondo

Gettin’ there

 

Better than new! Thanks Dave!

One weekend was taken up getting a new experience. Fox Cities buddy Scott Barr paid me the ultimate compliment by inviting me to co-drive his Spec Ford Racer the enduro at the Milwaukee Mile Midwest Council Race. We won!!!!

Is there a Spec Ford in the future for Race Coordinator Joy Perry? Her wedding anniversary is coming up!

VSCDA Blackhawk Classic XXV, June 16-18, 2017

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The Father’s Day Weekend running of the 25th annual Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway, South Beloit, IL, had big fields and lots of good action. It was also the location of the annual Kastner Cup, so the paddock and track were filled with Triumphs of all flavors, including some rarely seen.

 

Kas Kastner presents his field of Triumphs for their group photo

The Kastner Cup was made even more special to me because it meant rekindling friendship with Wausau High School Class of 1966 classmate Jeff Snook, now of Bowling Green, Ohio. Jeff campaigns a really well prepared TR3 that was constantly in my rear view mirror.

Jeff Snook (Joy Perry photo)

The Volvo Pavilion was fully populated – Jeff Babcock, Joe Brabender, Alex Christopher, Tim Detwiler, Ray Freiwald and Jim Perry. Slumming with us were Chuck Ryberg in his XK120 Jag and Larry Boyer with his Porsche. The P and B Motorsports team was scant – just Jim and Joy Perry taking care of the car duties.

On Friday we had the privilege of meeting for the first time in person Ed Madak of 123IgnitionUSA.com, one of our sponsors and supplier of our 123 distributors.  Ed, his wife and another couple were on an adventure to Seattle with their MGs. Life on the road as it used to be – little sports cars packed to the gills and with air conditioning with crank handles.

Ed Mudak, 123ignitionusa (Joy Perry photo)

“P and B Motorsports uses 123 distributors” (said in advertising lingo)

Event Chairs Ron Soave and Jeff Porasik pulled off a spectacular event, and had an agreement with the weather gods too. In return for heavy nightly rain, the daylight racing hours were hot and mostly sunny with not a rain drop. Importantly, the event raised a record near $6600 for the Children’s Transportation Fund supported by the Tebala Shriners.

BH Event Chairs Ron Soave and Jeff Porasik really created a fine event

We had a spectacular racing weekend. 1 Red ran really well and we were able to set personal best lap times in two consecutive sessions on Saturday. My typical get-at-the-head-of-the-line for qualifying almost backfired on Friday because as I came screaming around Turn 7 of the 1.95 mile track I saw the last cars just leaving the grid! Despite getting a lot of passing experience we did well enough to put us on the outside front row for Sprint Race 1.

Here are the video highlights of that race. (Sorry about the typo you will see at the outset.)

Sprint Race 1

In both that race and Sprint Race 2 Tony Drews (#95 Triumph TR 4) and I had some great racing going on, while Scott Fohrman sort of motored away in his MGB because he’s about 1.5 seconds faster.  So, in Sprint Race 1, I started 2nd and ended up 2nd. In SR 2 somehow another Triumph was gridded in the #2 spot. Tony was directly behind me and pulled one of his trademark starts by storming by on the inside and we all raced to Turn 1.  It didn’t take too long for me to get around him and proceed to some great back and forth. Again, a short video.

Sprint Race 2

The Feature Race was pretty much a repeat.

The final race of the weekend was the Dad’s Day Scramble, a handicap race. Slower cars start first, with progressively faster cars being held at the starting line, waiting for the go sign while the driver stares at the climbing water temperature gauge. The countdown to go is high tech all the way — Ron Soave counting down from 10 with his fingers. (Just what you would expect from a rocket scientist.)

It was a given that Scott Fohrman would be behind us, but somehow Tony Drews had a faster lap somewhere along the way so I was third last to leave. One gets lots of passing experience. I put distance between me and Tony fairly easily, but Scott was closing in my mirrors on the last lap. I think I could have held him off anyway, but things went a bit south for him on the final turn and I crossed the finish line without a real challenge.

Now, you would think that would mean we won the race but apparently I lapped two of the slower cars only once, and so the results showed that I came in third. Or was it fourth – Race Monitor doesn’t know how to handle a handicap race and was all screwed up.

Nonetheless the Scramble showed that the fast laps in the previous races had not been anomalies, as I had several sub-1:26 laps.

And on Sunday I was standing in the trailer and all of a sudden a Volvo contingent showed up all smiles. I had no idea …

Alex Christopher, Joe Brabender, Brent Gustafson, Joy Perry and Ray Freiwald deliver the news that 1 Red has turned the fastest Blackhawk lap on record (as though records are being kept by anyone but them!)

Great weekend. Next up, Vintage Grand Prix au Grattan in Belding, MI, mid-August. The break is welcomed!

HSR Historics 2017 at Virginia International Raceway

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VIR’s icon (David Farrington photo)

I love going to new tracks. I love big, long courses. Virginia International Raceway outside Danville, VA is spectacular in every respect. It’s just downright gorgeous, with barn-red buildings scattered over hundreds of acres of greenery. And the 3.27-mile Full Course we ran is F-A-S-T!

It’s almost 1000 miles from our NE Wisconsin home but the trip was really worth it. The scenery of the southern Appalachian Mountains is breathtaking, even if the drive on ‘The Crooked Road” (US 58) was attention-getting pulling the rig.

Lover’s Leap on Hwy 58 (“The Crooked Road”)

All weekend was perfect weather – completely clear and dry. At the Friday Driver’s Meeting HSR was so confident that they tore up their notes about driving in the wet.

And speaking of HSR, these folks always do it right. Say what you will about for-profit sanctioning bodies, but every time we race with them we are made to feel that our time and money spent is appreciated. The entire HSR crew is friendly, but I am going to single out a couple of people by name. David Hinton is their Owner and President with James Redman (that’s Brian Redman’s son) serving as the General Manager. Both came to see us and personally welcomed us.

HSR Friday Night Party. (Included a bit of southern hospitality in a quart jar!)

The weekend was made a little more interesting by sharing it with the Radical racers. These purpose-built British cars are both very fast and beautiful to look at. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_Sportscars

Radical Racers

The fields were a bit disappointingly small but that did not stifle the enthusiasm. And it gave a newcomer an opportunity to learn the track a little easier. Each outing was an improvement for us, with our best time being about 2:23 in the 3rd qualifying session. Here’s a one-lap video.

Prior to leaving home we replaced the front carburetor with a brand-spanking new DCO 40 to get rid of the ever-problematic front one.  Dave Buettner crafted a beautiful fiberglass air intake duct to replace the one damaged at last year’s ELVF. The car responded and ran beautifully all weekend. Other than minor jetting changes, nothing needed to be adjusted, nothing needed to be touched. How good is that?!

David and Sue Farrington drove up from Chattanooga, TN and Duane Matejka down from Pipersville, PA.

Duane Matejka, Joy Perry and Sue Farrington offer grid support (David Farrington photo)

On Thursday, we got to see our buddy Goran Nyberg in his new, blazingly fast GT3 B23-powered 1800. So, we had great crew and made some new friends, including 1800 tuner Ebbe Hansen and his wife Elsa from San Jose, CA.

Goran Nyberg’s GT3 ‘new’ 1800

Ebbe has been working with David Farrington at making a more sophisticated version of the old, NLA IPD D-jet controller for our old street cars. The Hansens were visiting a NC daughter and heard about our being in the area and made the trip to see us. They are very delightful Volvophiles originally from Denmark.

And then there was Rocket-man Jim Green (a real rocket scientist) from Atlanta who was attracted to 1 Red and gravitated to our paddock. How often do you get to go racing and have an evening star party with a rocket scientist toting a big telescope?

Rocketman Jim Green does a star party

Having Duane with us was quite the bonus. He is a sponsor (R Sport Engineering), the builder of 1 Red, and a mentor/coach. He’s full of tips, both about the car and racing strategy. He’s got decades of experience and is the source of all those Historic Series Championship decals on the car door.

Duane Matejka back under the hood

During the Bob Woodman International Challenge, I had some good racing with Guy Laporte in a Porsche 944 and Debbie Graves in a 4.2L Jaquar E-type. I was able to reel in Laporte. Graves was considerably slower in the corners but pulled away from our 2L on the straights. During Saturday’s race she really put the pedal to the metal and drove away. We had a laugh with good natured ribbing about a little 2L Volvo pushing on a 4.2L E-type at the Oak Tree Tavern Saturday night.

Chasing Debbie Graves’ Jaguar (David Farrington photo)

Here’s a bit of video from Friday’s International Challenge.

And more pictorial from the weekend …

VIR has a covered grid. Nice!

 

VIR’s Villa$ in background (David Farrington photo)

We always love to have people stop by the paddock and talk cars and racing. Particularly rewarding is getting kids into the car to pique their interest beyond vido games. Who knows where this might lead?

Our Race Coordinator talks some of the finer points with Andrew Eaton from Raleigh, NC (David Farrington photo)

 

And adding a little better looking “driver” is welcomed too!

We’re always happy to make photo ops – that’s Merri Junqueira [What a great name!-Merri!](David Farrington photo)

How often do you see a custom fuel blend pump? (David Farrington photo)

Weekend results: two bottles of champagne (one went to the Farringtons), two medals, two trophies, and a couple trips to the podium. A pretty spectacular weekend all around.  VIR and HSR, we’ll be back! Joy already has “the best route” marked on the map.

Next up: Blackhawk Classic on Father’s Day Weekend. No rest for the wicked!

P.S. A bonus: VIR has 4G five bar cell phone reception! Take note, Road America.

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?