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2023 VSCDA Blackhawk Classic and Ray Freiwald Memorial

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In vintage racing – perhaps all racing — sometimes things go well and sometimes they just don’t. Last September at Road America’s Ariens Art on Wheels weekend was one of the latter. Throughout the weekend, I watched the water temperatures rise each track session. Thinking it a head gasket failure, we installed a new Cometic gasket and hoped for the best. No luck. By Saturday the temperature gauge was in the danger zone and copious quantities of water was being pushed. My weekend was done.

When I got home, I pulled the motor and found a cylinder-long crack in No. 2. This block had become nothing more than the proverbial boat anchor.

Motor D – Crack runs length of #2 cylinder

All of our race motors are bored out to some degree. This particular one had gone beyond what could be tolerated. I had made the mistake of not checking to see how thick the cylinder walls were before the machining took place. I vowed that that was not going to occur again. So, with new stock block secured from the P and B Motorsports Parts Department (aka, the barn) I searched for a local source for accurate sonic testing. After one false start with a company that came up with wall thickness measurements that were found to be wildly off by virtue of a caliper, I found some kindred souls who took an interest in what I was doing at Great Lakes Testing in Neenah, WI.

With confidence that the Great Lakes results showed my replacement block could be safely bored, it went to Competition Specialists Race Engines for machining. Fortunately, the internals from the previous block, including crankshaft and rods, were intact and reusable. Unfortunately, the heat had caused the rings on one of the pistons to seize. Deciding to be conservative, I ordered new custom pistons from Ross. Additionally, Duane Matejka (R Sport Engineering) sent a head plate to ensure the very most accurate boring process.

We spend our winters from January until early May in southern Arizona. Periodically throughout the course of that sojourn I checked in with the good guys at Competition Specialists, who told me the motor would be ready upon my return in May, and it was. Much of that month then was devoted to reinstalling what is now designated as Motor E, but it also included an extremely thorough cleaning of all the oil lines, the Accusump, the oil cooler and anything else that September’s failure might have impacted.

Remarkably, two days before the Blackhawk Classic, I was ready to go!

All the effort paid off.

This year’s VSCDA Blackhawk Classic was devoted in part to the memory of our good friend and Volvo racer Ray Freiwald, who passed away suddenly in October 2022. Ray had been my mentor, I dare say a hero, and that of a number of other Volvo drivers over his four-decade racing career. Ray’s friends decided that it would be a fitting to create a plaque for the obelisk in the heart of the paddock at Blackhawk Farms Raceway, where Ray was lead instructor for their track days. Saturday’s noon break was devoted to dedicating the plaque with Ray’s family present.

Obelisk plaque


Obelisk ceremony, with Blackhawk Farms owner Paul Machute (Greg Blue photo)


Alice Freiwald and friends (Greg Blue photo)


The family brought Ray’s track car. (Paint by P and B Motorsports! Greg Blue photo)

In addition, VSCDA decided to name the Group 2 Feature Race in his honor, not only for 2023, but forever.  Any event is special, but this one was more special for me and the others whose were touched by Ray’s life. Perhaps that was an additional incentive for me to make sure that everything was prepared as well as possible.

Other than my shop 20-minute break-in, the first practice session was the initial run for Motor E.  It proved prophetic for what the weekend would bring. The first qualifying session was run under ideal conditions. I was able to turn a lap second only to John Salisbury, off his mark by 0.148 seconds. It put me on the outside of the first row for the Saturday morning Sprint Race. As the green flag dropped, I was able to get just enough distance between the two of us to take the lead and hold it throughout the course of the race. A win!

That win allowed me to select my starting position for the Heat Race. I chose the traditional inside pole.  John’s P2 had him on the outside. Roles were reversed, and this time John beat me to Turn 1, taking the lead. Throughout the first lap I was thinking “Be content to stay with him.” But as we rounded Turn 7 I saw a puff from his tailpipe and I was back in the lead and once again was able to hold off the competitors behind me. A second win!

We’ve won our class many times, but two overall wins in any weekend was the first for me and One Red. And now I was poised to be on the pole for Sunday’s Ray Freiwald Group 2 Memorial Feature.

All of this was not lost on many people, based upon the comments about the possibility of a Volvo winning this Memorial Feature. Now, I am not a religious person, but if I were, I would swear that Ray was looking down on me and our Volvo.

This time Matt Goettzinger in his Porsche 356 was beside me as we came around Turn 7 of the Pace Lap. Matt and I are no strangers to one another; we have raced closely a number of times at a number of tracks. As the pace car pulled off I was in second gear with my eyes riveted to the Starter on the bridge. I had thought about the mythical story of drag racers of old watching for the Starter’s muscles twitching in advance of waving the green. I can’t claim I saw that, but the second I saw the green, the pedal was to the floor. As I shifted to third just before going under the bridge, a quick glance at the mirror revealed I was half a car length ahead of Matt. We went into Turn 1 like that, and I was able to use the advantage to pull up front. But I have been there before. Could I hold it through the entire race? Matt was on my tail and never let the pressure off until we hit traffic in last lap. Coming out of Turn 7 I knew we had pulled it off.

The hat trick. The trifecta. We had won the Ray Freiwald Memorial! And what’s more, Ray’s sons and daughter were on the bridge waving that checkered flag. I’m not a religious person, but I was talking to Ray that last lap.

Here’s a short (5 minute) video of the Feature Race. (Special thanks Tom Ocahl of TwoPics Photography for providing the trackside portion.)


            Ray Freiwald Group 2 Feature Race Podium (Joy Perry photo)

Freiwald Group 2 Traveling Trophy

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P and B Motorsports adds a Second Car

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We are pleased to announce that a second race car has been added to the P and B Motorsports stable. In late 2020 we acquired a purpose-built Generation 2 Spec Racer Ford, The car is run in Chicago and Milwaukee Region SCCA region events.

We are currently competing in the eight race GEN2 PRO TOUR Series, whose primary sponsor is Elite Autosport or Woodstock, IL.

2021 was our first full year of racing with the car. We finished 7th overall in the pack of 18 drivers. Take a look at some action from the season opener at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in April of 2022.

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2021

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One never knows what to expect as late summer trends to fall in Wisconsin. I had looked at some previous pictures and saw wool hats and gloves, but not this weekend. In all the years I have run this fall classic there has never been a more perfect weekend that this one. Absolutely gorgeous.

Our team this weekend included Joy Perry, and David and Sue Farrington who made the trip from Madison Township, PA.  We had lots of company in the paddock. Four additional 1800s – Ray Freiwald, Alex Christopher, Tim Detwiler and Ramiro Malgioglio, plus the 122S of Joe Brabender.

This was only the second outing of the year for the Volvo. i have been consumed by running a Spec Racer Ford (SRF) in a real series with SCCA this year. And occupied dealing with life as it has been presented. First the Great Pandemic that we had hoped would be over by now, but still is taking the lives of too many people and then the abject sadness as our canid family left us, awaiting the day of our reunion at the rainbow Bridge.

The SRF is a purpose-built race car that I will write about at a more appropriate moment.

This is me in the SRF in June at Blackhawk (David Farrington photo)

In June Blackhawk Classic the Volvo had run well, turning excellent lap times, but also had a disconcerting issue with a small amount of water ending up in the oil vapor recovery tank. In the intervening months I did all sorts of shop tests to see if I might learn the source without pulling the head or motor. Compression test. Leak down test. Cooling system pressure test. Nothing stood out as abnormal so I put half a bottle of head gasket stop leak into the cooling system and hoped for the best, unable to find a place to test the motor on the track. The test ended up being the ELVF and I am please to say that it passed.

The Saturday Sprint Race was clearly the best outing of the weekend. We qualified in the morning a respectable P9 in Group 2 that list 66 cars in several different classes. Under ideal conditions we were able to finish P4. Here’s the video of the race that saw us best our Road America lap time down to 2:48.

Sunday was devoted to the Group Race. — Groups 2 and 3b). I was gridded 5th and had a pretty good run except for one late turn it at the Kink that resulted is a bit of a scary ride in the dirt along the wall. ‘The Kink will bite you.” The GULP lasted just about two seconds, but two seconds wondering if metal is going to meet concrete seems like an eternity. Enough time for me to tell myself to just keep the wheels straight. I lost a bit of time but no position.

Here’s a bit of footage (what do we say as we have given up film for 0s and 1s?) of that race.

And here are some pictures to give you a flavor of the weekend.

Race Engineer David Farrington

Data being collected

Saturday night, Gather on the Green Concours

Elkhart Lake, that made famous by Sally and Buddy (“The Last Open Road” by BS Levy)

Group 1 (Sue Farrington photo)

Those who help make it possible

As I finish this report we are on our way to Grantsville, Utah for the SVRA Speed Tour. This was planned to  be the Volvo Nationals. What started with a ‘commitment’ from 14 vintage Volvo drivers has dwindled to 8. Not real encouraging, but the 8 of us will have fun I am sure.

2019 WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Sponsored by Hawk (“The Hawk”)

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Hot. Humid. Heavy weather. Just what you’d expect in July at Road America for the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman. We went through 60# of ice over the weekend. But 1 Red ran flawlessly, albeit a little warmer than normal –at speed, water temp was 220 and oil 240.  Given the heat we were a bit surprised to see our lap times come within 0.015 seconds of our all-time best and GPS data showing a new top speed.

We were the only Volvo in the 60-car Group 2, so we got all the attention. Porsche 356s – pfft – dime a dozen.

Elizabeth came with her dad from Milwaukee and tried out the driving position. (The number change was a result of my being a bit late to register.) (David Farrington photo)

This event attracts people from all over the nation. It is one huge weekend party with racing sandwiched between. The off-track festivities center around two car shows that fill the streets of Elkhart Lake. We joined the 154 race-car field for the drive downtown Friday night. Here’s a quick 50 second look …

If you wish to see Nate’s video of the entire parade, you can find it at

I was astounded to see people lining Highway 67 beginning 2 miles outside of town. The crowd was 4 deep as we wound around downtown. For two sunny, hellaciously hot hours we hosted on-lookers outside Siebkins Resort.

After getting some good laps in on Friday our Qualifying Race was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday. At 12:30 the storms rolled in and we were warned to seek shelter.

At  Friday Driver’s Meeting the Chief Steward told us that Sunday’s Feature Race grid would be based upon our finishing position of the Qualifying Race. We huddled in the trailer as the rain pelted the track. Next thing we knew we heard “Final Call to Grid for Group 2” as the heavy rain continued.  If there was a first call we sure as hell did not hear it! We scurried in a major way to get to the grid. The car went up, Joy and David Farrington threw on the rain tires, David laid in the water to disconnect the rear sway bar trailing arm and I softened the shocks. There was no time to think.

A significant problem with racing in the rain is fogging of the windshield. No defroster in a race car. Years ago we had bought a Harbor Freight defroster that just does close to nothing and have gone in favor of a long-handled squeegee, but given the rush that failed to get into the cockpit. This clip gives you and idea …

It was slightly irritating that Road America decided to abandon the stated Sunday gridding provision in favor of best lap time of the previous qualifying sessions.

Group 2 had a wide range of cars in it, including some V8s and former professional driver Doc Bundy, who started on the pole. We did pretty well – moved up 7 positions to finish second in class to a Devin-Porsche. The race was cut short due to an incident in Canada Corner that you’ll see on the video. Here’s the edited in-car video of the feature race.

Photo gallery at the end of this narrative.

So next up for us will be the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, which will prove to be an “interesting” event. There are over 500 cars registered, with more than 200 Formula Fords. One of the criticisms of the WeatherTech International Challenge is that there is not a lot of track time, and to a large extent that criticism is accurate. The sessions are short. It’s also the first time I have ever run a session at 7:30 a.m.

Between now and then I need to decide on which motor to run. I have a brand new (as new as a 1970s B20 can get) motor on the stand but given the way the one in the car in running, maybe it’s best to stick with that one.

Photo Gallery

Ian Wood, a fellow Volvophile from British Columbia, left his Volvo home in favor of his McLaren. But he ran into a few issues. (Like his lift!)

This shift fork sent Ian on a quest for a replacement. Fortunately he and his team were able to come up with a fix.


Does this tell you it was … HOT?


Young people have the capability of finding the best viewing position for the race car parade. (David Farrington photo)

The “$90 sticker.” Some people register their cars just to be part of the parade, and don’t race them.


Race Coordinator Joy Perry showed the colors and spent the evening showing the car and inviting people to get into it.


The Paddock Shop was a popular place because of its AC. (Oh, and the personalities — Brian Redman, David Hobbs and Burt Levy were there too.)


This event attracts a bunch of vendors where one can spend more money.


And the performance car people come out too.

“I’ll take two”

As Ron Soave would say … (David Farrington photo)

2019 Volvo Nationals at VARAC’s Vintage Grand Prix at Mosport-June 2019

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Oh Canada!

Wow! The Canadians really know how to throw a party and call it a racing weekend. And Volvo Nationals was privileged to be part of the Vintage Auto Racing Association of Canada’s (VARAC) 40th Anniversary at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

14 vintage Volvos from the newly minted Vintage Volvo Racing Association (VVRA) showed up from near and far. We were slightly disappointed that our friends Kevin Michael (PA), Sam Moore (NC) and Irv Stein (PA) had to bow out at the last moment, but probably not nearly as disappointed as they were.

Stephanie Barnes from Calgary, Alberta took the “Loose Odometer Award.” We were glad she did because she kept us laughing throughout the entire weekend, even including during the downpour that greeted us Thursday night for our VARA picnic under the su … uh … deluge. No matter, our Canadian hosts Peter Lambrinos, Leon Lok, and Bonnie and Dan Reynolds, fed us, beered us (Peter’s wonderful home brew), and got us together for a sun dance that worked wonders for the rest of the weekend.

The Thursday picnic hosted by the Canadians was, ahem, a little soggy. Beer and burgers helped.

This was my first running of Mosport. My friend Steve Bonk cautioned me that this particular track has done the ultimately nasties to quite a few drivers, so I had this on my mind as I took to it Friday morning. It’s a very very fast track, not particularly technical in my mind, with several blind, off camber corners, two of them falling away as you sweep left. Moss Corner is the only tight three-part 2nd gear hairpin. By the time Saturday had rolled around I was pretty comfortable and told the crew that if one ran only Mosport, we might be able to go 4 or 5 years without changing brake pads.

Speaking of crew, we had two newbies with us who added greatly to the mix. Our Volvo friends David and Joyce Irvine from Shelbyville, MI, came along not as wrenches but as true professional videographers. David and Joyce were our Scandinavia traveling partners last summer and are the leaders of the Great Lakes Chapter of VCOA.

The crew. Joyce Irvine, David Irvine, David Farrington, Suzanne Farrington and Joy Perry

Joyce and David did not get their hands greasy, but they put on miles walking from location to location for some of the great video you will see here. So, while Joy Perry was dealing with her normal race coordinating duties, David Farrington was handling in-car video, data acquisition, and still photography, and Sue Farrington made sure I could see out the windows, the Irvines prowled the track and paddock with a very professional video camera and microphone. You will see their driver interviews periodically in the future.

There’s a real contingent of street Volvo enthusiasts that come to Mosport. We felt appreciated because we could see their enthusiasm both with their paddock visits and presence in Turn 8. Our paddock was home to not only our Volvos, but a significant contingent of horseless carriages that are just flat-out gorgeous.


The cool air was good for 1 Red in the Saturday morning session. With 123ignitionusa Ed Madak’s help, I figured out on Friday that I needed to write an advance curve program to my new fancy-dancy tunable 123 distributor (so that its internal rev limiter was set at 7400 rpm instead of 6000.) Then we were really dialed in. [Note to those thinking about a 123 – this is why you buy your distributor from Ed and not a place that may sell them and then leave you on your own when you have issues.]

All the Volvos were running in VARAC’s Group VH4, along with about 15 other marque cars. VH4 is for cars running lap times over 1:45. On Friday afternoon I qualified at a time that put me on the pole, and then ran Race 1 on Saturday morning. Here’s a short video of Race 1.

When the results sheets came out there was a lot of heavy-duty laughter at my expense among our cluster of Volvo drivers. Turns out VARAC does “bracket racing.” At the driver’s meeting I had heard something about “breaking out.” I said, ‘What’s that?” Answer: when you go too fast. I sort of dismissed the idea of going too fast. Where I come you go fast, and then you try to go faster.

I was penalized four frickin’ laps for running four of the 12 laps faster than 1:45!  My 122S buddy Ian Lok with whom I had a great race did the same. We got the privilege of being relegated to either Quebec or Saskatchewan (anyway,  wayyyy back) for that. Gary Jebsen was listed as the winner with a best lap time of 1:45.088. He got to start on the pole for Race 2 and won. Ian and I got to practice our passing but never caught sight of Gary or Bob Criss. The Volvos put on a show.

Sunday morning, we ran the Volvo Nationals 2019. While we are still trying to figure out the Greek Gridding System that Peter Lambrinos conjured up (Leon Lok said it must have something to do with goat races), Bob Criss started 4th, I was 5th and Ian Lok was 6th.

Here’s a rather long video of the Volvo Nationals. We were able to utilize some of the video that the fans took.

Not sure what happened behind us after we clawed our way around 1, 2, and 3, but we had a great race. Ian’s Mosport experience, his driving expertise and very capable 122 prevailed. Watch his style in the video – no brake lights and it was NOT because they don’t work. At the checkered I caught up to Bob on the last lap and then … well, you have to watch the video. Great fun among friends!

Volvo Nationals 2019 Podium – Bob Criss (2), Ian Lok (1), Jim Perry (3) (Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports photo)

But hey, I had the fastest lap! Does that count?

Screen shot from Race Monitor on iPhone – only one screen of results shows up (Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports photo).

Some parting thoughts on our first Canadian racing experience:

  • Ontario’s highways make our interstates feel like corduroy roads.
  • The whole approach to vintage racing is the same as we experience in the USA except everything is said with a smile instead of … well, the U.S. stewards seem to have a different way of letting drivers know who is in charge.
  • The friendliness of all the Canadians makes one feel like family.

These are the people who made it happen. The publicized, interceded, got sponsorship, provided shirts and awards, and were just all around great.

Bonnie Reynolds

Peter Lambrinos is like a brother to me, one that has his own Canadian flagpole.

Canadian flagpole. Look closely at the base.

Not sure about this bracket racing concept, but I cannot wait to be with my Canadian Volvo fraternity again.

Thanks to Volvo Canada, Castrol, DRD Distributing (that’s Dan and Bonnie Reynolds, BTW), Peter Lambrinos, Leon Lok and VARAC for a great race weekend!

(David Irvine photo)

Vintage Volvo racing Association 2019 Volvo Nationals Drivers (David Irvine photo)

Next up for us is the July Road America Weathertech International Challenge with Brian Redman. But already on the horizon is the 2020 Volvo Nationals – July 2020 at Portland [Oregon] International Raceway.

2019 Run Up

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Flowers!? In a racing post? Hey, else what would you expect from a guy with a Ph.D. in botany??

The irises are blooming and the trees are in full leaf in Wisconsin. Must be time to go racin’!
We left AZ and arrived back “home” (I’m getting confused where that is) about a month ago and have been in the race prep mode almost every day since. We made the decision to not push it by trying to be ready for Spring Vintage at Road America this year, which was a smart move; I went down to the track to do some business and they were under a fog delay. You gotta love Wisconsin spring.

Ready to go. Flyin’ the flag.

So today was load-up for our trip northeast to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park east of Toronto for VARAC’s Vintage Grand Prix and the Volvo Nationals 2019.
Have a new motor on the stand. Originally I had intended to get it in for this race but despite all the parts being at Competition Specialists Racing Engines last fall, the lawmaker Murphy interceded.
The racer’s preferred Volvo B20 block is relative rare, having been used for only about a year in the late 1974 Volvo 144s and 1975 240s. These had main bearing caps that were more stout than those used in the 1968-73 B20s, and they  have an 8-bolt crankshaft — the flywheel is attached with 8 bolts rather than 6.  Over the course of the winter I did a group buy from Tinus Tuning in the Netherlands of new, lightweight racing flywheels, including an 8 bolt for my new motor. In 2012 I had purchased one of  these more rare blocks and stuffed it under the bench for the day when I needed a new engine. And that went to Competition Specialists last October. It got bored and prepped for all sorts of new internal goodies, but at one of the last steps, line boring for  the crankshaft, it was discovered that the main bearing caps were apparently  from some other engine, i.e. the bearing-to-block match necessary was not there. So we had to start all over with a different block.
The guys at Competition Specialists did a great job but even at that the new motor arrived just a couple days ago, and I would have been running a brand new power plant that had zero testing time on it. I made the decision to stick with the one that is in the car, so I am going to the Volvo Nationals 2019 race with what I consider a backup motor. It ran well after I threw the rod at the ELVF last September. Hopefully it will carry me for this race.

Lying in wait

Pretty, huh? Now to get some ARP bolts to hold it in place …

Competition Specialists fashioned a new timing marker too.

On the other end of the car, I decided I wanted a backup 4.56 limited slip rear axle. Last fall I bought a Yukon Gear ring and pinion set.  Dave and I spent maybe 12 hours at this . Lots of fiddling around. We start with an “open” carrier, then replace the spider gears with a spring and block arrangement that turns it into a limited slip (or positraction, as you may know it). Dave has done the ring and pinion setup before but I am just learning. It’s complicated, lots of measuring and placing of shims. I have watched countless You Tubes.

Lots of messing around here

One other change also has been made — Ed Madak at 123ignition USA converted my distributor to a Tune+ model. I will be able to watch and change the advance with my cell phone.

Screenshot of my smartphone. Should be able to watch advance in real time.

Advance curve. Rev limiter set at 7400 rpm

We’ll be gone about 9 days. The worst part of it is being separated from Doppler that long. I know that’s a little ridiculous but he’s really important to me on a daily basis. We’re going back to PA to stay with the Farringtons to their new home, and then stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Already have the Volvo Nationals 2020 planned for Portland International Raceway in Oregon.
See you on the flip-flop!

VSCDA’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2018

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Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2018

Anticipating the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, one has visions of the Road Course Re-enactment with race cars and a few select street cars parked on Lake Street, the Gather on the Green where the show cars approach Pebble Beach in quality, the gentle sound of big band music, a refreshing adult beverage followed by [this year] the VSCDA banquet with Road and Track’s Peter Egan. Add in cloudless deep blue skies and warm temperatures.

We had a new 1800 as part of the Swedish Pavilion – Ramiro Malgioglio

All of that took place in 2018, but we missed it. All of it. Not that we were not at Road America (part of the time).

VSCDA’s VP Jim Donato was busy early laying the field

Just like in college, the weekend began Thursday noon. Paddock space choices for the Swedish Pavilion dictated that someone be there to guard the fort that Road America event chairs Mike and Deb Korneli had set up for us. Thursday night was filled with fun and conviviality at Alex and Liz Rorke’s VSCDA 40th Anniversary celebration at the Elkhart Lake Garton Overflow. We spent most of the time protected from mosquitoes in the screened boat house ,getting to know Scott and Cyndi Paisley.

“Garton Overflow” on Elkhart Lake was the site of the Thursday Rorke Party

Pretty idyllic setting for conversation and relaxing before the fray begins.

1 Red went out for Friday practices and hummed along just beautifully. The first practice was devoted to bedding brand new Carbotech ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) brake pads and new rotors. Wow, this is going to be grrrreat!

Then came Qualifying. Because the Group 2/3D grid consisted of 87 cars, including 47 Spridgets celebrating their 60th anniversary (driven by a few drivers who might be old enough to have seen them new), I was out in the grid right as the previous group took to the track. Even had enough relaxed time for a few publicity photos out of the car.

My new publicity shot. Gonna have to fend off the girls for sure. As you can see Suzanne Farrington (grey shirt) is ready to jump the fence! 🙂 (David Farrington photo)

Despite my early arrival to the grid there were a couple little cars in front of me. They apparently had the same idea as did I. While Practice session have their entry lap under yellow, the track is green as soon as one leaves the pits. I stayed right of the blend line through Turn 1 but as soon as I was out I put the hammer down and left my forerunners to deal with each other. Clear sailing around the track, but still, the tires are cold, so the first circuit is not a push lap and the time is not going to be useful anyway.

As I came out of the Kink it occurred to me that with these many cars the possibility existed that some might just be leaving the grid when I came around but coming under the Start-Finish line it was apparent things had cleared out. Yessuh!

Nice setup through Turns 1 and 3, headed for the Sargento Bridge. 6000 rpm. Typically, the motor spins up effortlessly to 7000. But not now. Into 5th gear, and nothing more. I glanced at the EGTs — they were a little higher than normal but still not anywhere close to dangerous. Eyes shifted right just in time to see oil temperature go up. Houston, we have a problem. So, I stuck my arm out the window to signal I was going off at Turn 5 and stuck the clutch in. We rolled through the jersey barrier chicane and the motor died. I pointed to the waiting tow truck and rolled to a stop. As he started moving, I tried the starter and knew things were not good; the motor would not turn.

Back under the canopy we put the 13/16ths on the crank bolt and knew we were done for the day. A confab with the crew took place, followed by a call to Dave Buettner who was still in his PJs at home thinking about coming down for the Gather on the Green. How crazy are we? Pretty crazy.

The car got loaded up and by 11:30 we were back in the P and B shop undoing bolts to do a swap. I had two motors in wait. I was hopeful that we could get back for the 7:30 VSCDA banquet. Folly. I saw out of the corner of my eye somewhere around 5 p.m. that Joy came out to the shop with her “banquet attire” on, and knew that was wishful thinking. At 10:20 p,m., after 10.5 hours of uninterrupted work by Buettner, Farrington and Perry we had a new running motor in place.

One might logically wonder what would take 10.5 hours to change a motor. Reasonable. 1 Red is loaded with safety wire. E.g., the flywheel bolts have safety wire. The transmission shift bracket has safety wire. The flywheel cover. The motor mounts. The alternator bracket. The water pump pulley. The throttle linkage. So far, we have never left any parts on the track as a result. Nor have we oiled the track because the drain plug is wired in. Cutting, removing and eventually replacing that adds about 30% to the timeline.

I was up at 4 a.m. and back out in the shop an hour or so later finishing the last-minute details. By 9 we were loaded up and headed back to Road America, to be greeted by lots of big smiles as we pulled into the Swedish Pavilion.

Knowing the car was faster than many of the other Group 2 cars I went to Timing and Scoring to see if they wanted to move me from last to somewhat higher on the grid. Nope. Fine by me, but sometimes race officials feel it is less safe and do it.

The 11 a.m. Sheldon Cup, one of three “Cup Races” with cars slotted on expected lap time was a dandy. Motor B hummed just like it was meant to be. I got to do a lot of passing. I think Dave Buettner’s comment when I texted him with the results is an all-time classic. “Shit. Now you will think [the 10.5-hour swap] was worth it.”

Lea Peot had  a tryout for Team Umbrella Girl – Hired! (Phil Koller photo)

The Group 2/3D Feature Race was equally rewarding. Remember, this was late on Sunday. The potential 87 car grid had shrunken to only 38. Starting in the rear of the field, at the end of the 6-lap race I had moved to 9th. The 6-8th place cars had slower lap times than did I … if only that race would have been a bit longer! (Of course, there was no hope of catching up with Colin Comer is his ’58 Sprite. Check for the nitrous bottle, boys!?)

Usually I don’t post long videos, but this one is pretty fun to watch.

Now, back to some stills …

I was not the only one who had an issue over the weekend. Ray Friewald broke a ring gear. David Farrington was, ahem, “helping” diagnose the problem.

The P and B Motorsports team is all smiles at the end of the Group Race (Phil Koller photo)

Here are a few of the personalities of the weekend.

Austin Knapp came to cheer on his granduncle, Jeff Babcock, and decided to try out an 1800 for size. (David Farrington photo)

Great to see Cana Comer back behind the wheel. (David Farrington photo)

And Colin Comer brought his little car out for this event. Fast! (David Farrington photo)

Dad and daughter duo, Jeff and Jessica Johnk (David Farrington photo)

Tony Drews (David Farrington photo)

Not sure who they are, but they make the car look good! (David Farrington photo)

One more to go for the season. Assuming it’s not snowing, we’ll be at VSCDA’s Blackhawktoberfest October 13-14.

Midwestern Council 2018 Summer Classic at Autobahn Country Club

By P&B Motorsports One Comment

Getting around (finally again) to a report of our efforts on a new track, Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. But first I want to diverge a little.

I decided we needed a backup tranny. My Sellholm M47000 dogbox has served us very well for five years. I change the fluid religiously (that’s as religious as I get), and each time the magnetic drain and fill plugs have done their job. Translated: there’s less metal on them thar gears than there was back in ’13.



Tranny drain plug, post race

By contrast …

I do a lot less crunching now than I used to, and I almost always use the clutch. I have never had enough guts to NOT use it on downshifts. My SCCA friend Rob Keller is a bit more accomplished than I, and his M47000 suffered a roller pin failure at the June Sprints.

One thing led to another after a conversation with Rob and I decided to order another M47000 from Sweden. Oh boy! Buying a transmission is one thing, importing the damn thing is another whole can of worms. And let me tell ya, guys and gals, the problem ain’t in the eastern side of the big pond.

I got a call from a number I did not recognize. Was driving to a Volvo meet and disregarded it. But unlike most of these unknown number, most wanting to buy long term care insurance (Hey, I’m only 69 going on 24, so what are you bothering me about??) this one left a voice message. And no, it was not a Nigerian prince who wanted to share his $25 million with me. Also noted an email.

Friday, Aug. 24 – FedEx: We need a commercial  invoice for whatever you are getting form Sweden. Call us soon at blah, blah, blah.”

Pulled the car over and decided this one warranted followup. I called …

Me:” I don’t have an invoice.” FedEx: “You gotta have one to clear customs.” And how much was it?” Followed by vague comments that it might be sent back to Sweden.

Scrolling through my emails from my dumb phone after dinner and several beers in Milwaukee, I found something that looks like an invoice. Off it goes. Done.

Monday, Aug. 28,  4:54 p.m. , Email from FedEx “Missing Invoice.”  (FedEx closes at 5 p.m.) Me: “I sent it Saturday night!”  But then I had my laptop and started looking only to discover I had sent them an invoice from something totally wrong. Crap. You know I pride myself on thinking I had made an error once but found out I was mistaken.

Now I really need an invoice from Sellholm and there is none.

Sweden is 7 hours ahead of us. I sent an email. Figuring I better not let this to chance, I decided to call Sweden. Got a recorded message at Sellholm that was all Swedish. Hell, I had enough trouble figuring out the road signs in Gothenburg.

Called my Swedish pilot friend Jan Efverlund. Directly to voice mail. “Jan, I need to talk with you right away. Are you in the U.S. or Sweden?”

Knowing Jan turns off his U.S. phone when he’s home in Sweden, I turned to Facebook Messenger. I know Jan. He’s a Facebook fiend. “Jan, I need to talk with you right away.” Success, within a couple of minutes Jan was on-line asking how he could help And then bless his blonde Swedish soul he calls me.

“I need an invoice from Sellholm and I got a recorded message that says for all I know they have gone on holiday to the nude beach to watch the cows cool off in the heatwave (true story, I kid you not), have a nice day.

Pretty soon my dumbphone is dinging away on Messenger as Jan is on the phone talking turkey, er, Swedish with Sellholm and needs more info. Literally, while I was looking it up I got the invoice from Sellholm. Thank the Swedish gods or the Vikings of the Danes or whoever. The invoice is off to FedEx.

Tuesday, Aug. 29. Me: “Attached please find the correct invoice …” FedEx: “Please verify he Federal TAX number for clearance.” Me: “I don’t have one. I am an individual, not a business.” FedEx: “We need a Federal Tax Number or your SSN, (or you dog). Please fill out Form CBP 5106.”” Well, they sure as hell are not getting my dog, so they got 5106 and the number I am not supposed to divulge until I’m dead and a Norwegian immigrant needs it. FedEx: (new person): What type model of vehicle is the gearbox going on? We will need an HS7 Form completed.”

Now Form HS7 is one page with font the size of the cellular organelles I used to look at with an electron microscope. And it’s in perfect bureaucratic-ese. Included is a box for the VIN. The race car don’t have no frickin’ VIN! So, I calmly (?) explain this and check all boxes that apply. ME: “Please find attached Form HS7.” To which I get the automated message “I will be out of the office …”

Aug. 30- FedEx: “Only one box can be selected on the form.” Well, by god, why didn’t the damn form say that in the first place.”

Now as it turns out Rob Keller was coming up to my place to pick up a car. First thing he asked was if I had gotten my tranny. That set into motion an animated response. Rob: “Check Box 2A.”

Off to the computer and scanner and in a few minutes I had Box 2A checked. MAYBE, I will get my precious Swedish Sellholm M47000 either before my current one breaks, or I die, whichever comes first.

I should know better…

My precious new M47000


For a “country club” Autobahn is not exactly in the Garden of Eden

Autobahn was pretty tame by contrast to dealing with FedEx. This was a one-day event, so to make the most of it we signed up for both Vintage and F Production. That would give us a total of six track sessions in one day. And of course, it was as hot and humid as all get out. But it ended up great! We really should have been in D production but that would have been back-to-back with Vintage.

“Autobahn was conceived and designed to be a member’s club, following the traditional structure of a golf club,” said Mark Basso, who is club president. “It is designed for families, racers, nonracers, car enthusiasts, and motorcycle riders, et cetera.”

The track is divided into two circuits. We ran the longer, 2.1 mile, 15 turn south circuit, while the country club members had the north portion. Oh, if you wish to become a member, you’ll need to pony up $40,000 for the initiation fee and another $5K annually. Darn, too bad I don’t live a little closer. Not.


Here’ my in-car video and commentary from the Vintage Feature Race.

Always nice to be directed to the podium at the end of a race!

Now, as I post this I am final preparation for the Big One – VSCDA’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival at Road America!

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

By P&B Motorsports No Comments

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 …


SVRA Spring Vintage 2018 at Road America

By P&B Motorsports No Comments

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!


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!