GingerMan Raceway-VSCDA Spring Brake 2014

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GingerMan Raceway-VSCDA Spring Brake 2014

I think the clothing pretty much tells the story of far-western Michigan in early spring. Think west winds off a big pond that was ice-covered just a couple weeks ago. The good news: no rain!

The Hoodie Guys — Ray Freiwald and Jim Blett warming their hands?

 

This was our first journey to GingerMan Raceway. Ray Freiwald talked us into it at our annual Volvo Racers and Friends get-together back in February. So after returning to cold Wisconsin after 3 glorious weeks in Florida I “killed snakes” (my father-in-laws term for working non-stop at a frenzy) to get the car ready.

 

New wiring under the dash, nice fresh paint in the cockpit and the underbody … it all sounds so simple and easy in the mind’s eye. Add to it changing the rear axle to one suited for the shorter track, starting a fresh engine for the first time, and killing snakes was an appropriate metaphor.

David Farrington came up with data acquisition revision and it actually worked. He’s still working on getting the video right. 🙂

A little over two-miles in length, GingerMan is technical and tight. In the first practice I followed master-mentor Freiwald around the track. Eleven turns with two nice straights.

GingerMan has added a new section extending the course, but it was all new to me.
The Volvo field was well represented. Ray Freiwald’s and Alex Christopher’s 1800s joined us, as did Jeff Babcock in his 122.
Three 1800s in an idelic scene. (Must admit I like that the red one is out front!)
Jeff is having a multi-year streak of bad luck. He threw a rod on Saturday, and with flames from burning oil coming out from beneath his car the black flag all came out again.
Here’s Jeff chasing the Barb Nevoral Alfa, prior to the 122 having a major issue, And that engine was fast!
Todd Jongen was there with his 142, although he was in a different race group
Dawn Fisher in her beautiful Lotus 7 and I are evenly matched and usually are right around one another. on the track. Had she not picked up a cone under her car in the feature, things might have finished differently.

This was VSCDA’s “Spring Brake” Driver’s School and Race weekend, so there were a fair number of cars with X’s on them. And as is expected at the first event there were a fair number of rather minor issues. Our 2nd  Friday practice session lasted about ¼ lap before the Black Flag All came out as two Group 2 cars got into it right off the bat in Turn 1.

In Saturday’s qualifying we got the car tuned a bit better and placed 9th on the Sprint Race grid. We finished 4th in the Sprint Race, but Dawn Fisher in her Lotus 7 had a slightly better lap time (1:55.199 vs. 1:56.168) so we were placed 5th on the grid for the Sunday Feature. The weekend was capped by a decent 3rd place finish with a recalcitrant car. Our best lap was 1:54.369. I was being challenged in the end as I was having some sputtering issue, but managed to hold on.  Even with all the stress I had to laugh a little when I happened to see Joy standing at the end of the hot grid whirling her arm in circles, meaning “put your foot in it buddy!”

And as usual, the big problem on the track turned out to be a little problem under the hood — a broken wire.

Here’s a little trackside video shot by Dave Farrington.

If I can get the car all sorted out we should be very competitive this year.
A weekend highlight-family members Theresa and Rob Sisson (the Mayor of Sturgis, MI) came over to see us on Sunday. 
We have a long season ahead of us. One of the reasons we can make it long, and travel extensively, is because of people and organizations that help make this doable for us. So allow me to recognize our 2014 Sponsors:
Thank you!
Next up, Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America, May 16-18.

Road Atlanta 2014 Mitty Report and Pics

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Road Atlanta 2014 Mitty Report and Pics

The Mitty: No. 1 did not go but our Race Engineer did.

Race Engineer David Farrington pulled into Michigan’s GingerMan Raceway on May 1, stepped out of his climate controlled Jetta, and immediately muttered, “What the heck is this???”

Our 1800 buddy Ray Freiwald was there as an instructor for Spring Brake, saw the Farrington shudder and said “Get dressed!”  Our RE, who is a ‘sutherner’ now living in Tennessee, had left 80+ degree weather, quite comfortable in a tee shirt, but was greeted with northern temperatures in  the mid 50s; the nice stiff breeze off Lake Michigan put the wind chill in the low 40s. Fortunately he had brought along sweats, jackets and even a parka he hadn’t used in two years. Oh, and a delightful little ceramic heater for the trailer.

But the weekend prior, Dave had taken his 1800ES and spouse Sue (P and B’s Dog Wrangler) on a nice little warm and sunny day drive. Destination: Road Atlanta & The Mitty. They walked all over and finally found our paddock friends from last fall, Bonne and Jonathan Foulds.

And he got to try out his new Canon camera and its 75-300 mm lens that he is trying to convince Sue was really purchased in case grandchildren are in the future. (I hear she’s having none of it and trying to blame me.)

 

Bonne’s 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite


He also greeted Jim Mathews, who had shared our podium with his second place in the rain-soaked race in Atlanta last fall. I’ll never forget the first words out of his mouth: “My car has often been called a “bath tub” and today I know why.” We’re hoping to see Jim at the HSA event at Mid-Ohio this fall. His Porsche roadster is one of the few that looks precisely as a gentleman racer would have been driving his car to the races & racing in the ’60s.

Jim’s 1960 Porsche S90 Roadster: The Bath Tub

In Farrington’s words:

“Finally, it was a joy to see a quite special and fast Morgan racing. And I would be remiss to not mention that there were at *lot* of Morgans there, as the Morgan club had put in quite an appearance. But Stacey Schepens’ Mog was specifically mentioned by the track announcer as something pretty breaking up the ‘parade of Porsches’  in the lead cars of the Group 2 race.”

Note Stacey’s special helmet in that 1964 Morgan 4/4 twin cam

Maybe next year we will hope to start the season at the Mitty again. Might be time to start working on the Race Coordinator …

2014 Preview and Season Schedule

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2014 Preview and Season Schedule

We took a little break from winter in Wisconsin — escape the persistent Polar Vortex. So this was drafted while we were in Florida in shorts and no shirt conjuring up what the 2014 season will bring.

So you slackers who don’t want to read much more, here is our tentative 2014 schedule:

  • Gingerman – South Haven, MI – May 1-3 [VSCDA]
  • Road America – Elkhart Lake, WI – May 16-18 [SVRA]
  • Blackkawk Farms – South Beloit, IL – June 13-15 [MC]
  • Pacific Raceway – Kent, WA – July 4-6 [SOVERN]
  • Portland International Raceway – July 11-13 – Portland, OR [HMSA]
  • iRoll Motors (show) – San Martin, CA – July 19
  • Road America – Elkhart Lake, WI – August 16-17 [MC]
  • Volvo Sports America (show) – Milwaukee, WI – August 22-24
  • Road America – Elkhart Lake, WI – September 12-14 [VSCDA]
  • Mid-Ohio – Lexington, OH – September 19-21 [SVRA]

Pending some outstanding decisions about support, there may be a few more shows in there too.

We’re about a week away from our first trip. Think we’re gonna make it?
April 23, 2014. GULP!

As usual, the winter was filled with tearing apart and redoing.

I finally got tired of looking at the rat’s nest of wires under the dash, so I took everything out, bought a Painless 7-circui fuse block and went back at it. While it does noting for making me or the car go faster, it sure looks nice, all labeled with wires of different colors for each circuit.

The Race Technology data acquisition system was on the fritz at the end of 2013 so it got sent to Virginia to be checked out. Seems we might have had a bad GPS antenna, so that’s being replaced.

David Farrington got the 10V power supply back and, after making a couple attempts to create a new box to accommodate EGT voltages, threw in the towel and bought a dandy little signal amplifier.

New data stuff
 

Last year while racing in one of the many deluges I realized how great it was to see other vehicles in the mirrors, so thinking that safety might be improved I installed a couple high-intensity halogen bulbs behind the grill.

Ready for the 24 Hours?

It’s a hell of a lot easier working under the dash with the seat out. That led to a major clean up and repaint of the cockpit. Took the fire bottle into make sure it was still fully charged too.

At the front end we have two fresh engines for 2014. We’re starting the year with what we call Engine A. This is the block that we got with the car. I did all the assembly on this one last summer, setting it aside as a spare. Because both heads have been repaired, we’re a little uncomfortable depending on it. So our Left Coast Volvo guru friend Phil Singher of VClassics Motorsports is creating a new one for us. Phil has built Volvo motors, both street and competition, for decades. The Apple Farmer Racing Amazon (122S) that won its class of the LaCarerra Panamericana a couple years was a Phil Singher creation.

The new head requires different headers, so Beans at Performance Stainless is creating a set of those while I am away. And while he was at it, Beans made me a new exhaust pipe (after I got grief for how bad the original one looks from one of the crew members).
New Performance Stainless exhaust pipe below original

Meanwhile, Engine B, with 2 seasons on it went into Competition Specialists for a tear down. This led to an important lesson — when the car is overheating find out why, right now! If you follow these posts you will recall that we discovered our timing was off. Seems we may have had a bit of detonation as a result and we had four cracked JE pistons. I had to use a magnifier to see them, but I could not make them disappear, so we ended up with 4 new pistons. There was sufficient wear on my flat-tappet cam that we decided to replace that right away too.

Engine B will accompany us on the trips as I am not really confident that welded up heads are going to last.

Enough for now — time to get back into the car. Hope to see you at one of our locations this summer!

Atlanta Historics – Road Atlanta, 20-22 September 2103

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Atlanta Historics – Road Atlanta, 20-22 September 2103

Southern hospitality abounded this past weekend as we made our second 2013 trip to Road Atlanta, and we came away with our first overall win in Saturday’s Feature Race!

Jim Matthews (’59 Porsche 356, 2nd place), me, and Richard Taylor (’64 Triumph TR-4,3rd place) . Our first podium! (John Hendrick, Hendrick Sports Photo photo)

[Video at end of blog if that’s what you are looking for.]
Returning to Road Atlanta was not on the original radar screen, but when we thought about some of the trappings associated with the Savannah Speed Classic (i.e. unable to stay at the track and the cost of Savannah apart from the race) we decided that going back to one of the nation’s premier tracks was a better decision. The Mitty had been a great learning experience and I wanted to see if I could do better a second time out. Right off the bat I was able to better my best time of the Mitty.
HSR once again put on a class event. Despite the fact that there had been over 400 cars there, the folks from HSR remembered us, and were extremely welcoming. I cannot say enough about how they treat folks who race with them.
Late September is beautiful in the south for a northern boy. Friday was hot, good for a couple practice runs and ‘seeing’ those blind corners and the off-camber downhill run to the start-finish line that Road Atlanta is known for.
Race Coordinator showing Race Engineer her next car at Friday night’s BBQ …
… hosted by Lucky Dog Motorsports, directly across from the track, a real man cave.
Saturday …
…looked Ominous …
… and it turned out to be a bit damp on Saturday (David Farrington photos)
Sunday …
Stacey Schepens’  ’64 4/4 twin cam Morgan was fast. I couldn’t keep up. (David Farrington photo)
Jonathon and Bonne Foulds  with Bonne’s Bugeye Sprite paddocked right next to us. We shared some wine, some beer, some food and made some great friends. (David Farrington photo, left)
Moments of Relaxation – Joy Perry, Sue and David Farrington
Here’s what the P and B Motorsports Crew Chief, who’s playing Interim College President, missed. A couple of BMWs, one almost like one at home in the shed.
I sometimes wonder if this is amateur racing …
Jon Briggs from our Yahoo 1800 forum came by to do a little work on his ’65.
Here’s a short video compilation of the weekend.

 

 So, is this it for the 2013 season? Seems like Joy wants to us to do the Midwestern Council Looooong Race in late October. I expect the B20 has one more race in it before we do a transplant and have Motor B freshened by our Competition Specialists friends …

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2013

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Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2013

VSCDA’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival featured Triumph this year. They were all over the place, on the track, off the track, on the highways.

This Triumph 250K made an impression both on and off the track

Colin’s (Comer) Classic Automobiles once again the event sponsor.  Colin is running and winning with  a hot ground pounder.

While Cana is back in her beautiful Sprite, a car that has always been a race car (Phil Koller photo)

Triumphs were  buzzin’ like bees, but they did not triumph over us this time! It was a great weekend at Road America.

(Phil Koller photo)

Let’s get right to the good stuff by starting at the end. In Sunday’s Feature we placed 1stin class and 5th overall. And on the last lap set another personal best time of 2:51.226. I had hoped to break 2:50 this year, but at this point the lap times are coming down in tenths.  We’ll take it.

 It was a truly beautiful weekend at America’s national speed park. We had a minor issue during practice on Friday — a popped freeze plug again. And just a little rain resulted in some tricky driving for Saturday’s qualifying that put Cana Comer and her ’59 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite on the pole and Tony Drews’ Triumph TR-4 on the outside row. I was right behind Cana.

Here’s the video of the Group 2 Vintage Production Feature Race taken from our car.

But you might find it even more interesting to watch us from the cockpit of Tony Drews’ TR-4:

I must admit I did not heed this request
Lots of cars did not make it through qualifying – there were a fair number of cars off in the grass during the session. Some, including a few fast ones, made it back for Sunday’s racing; some did not.

Ray Freiwald’s transmission started giving him problems so he and Doug Senk changed it in a bit over 2 hours…

… while the Babcock crew celebrated a 50th Anniversary with a surprise party for friends. (Doug Senk photo)

 Welding 101

The Swedish Pavilion is not only for Volvos. L to R: Dennis Birkholz, Mark School and Volvo Joe Brabender

 

As always, the cars visiting the paddocks are as interesting, or maybe even more so, than the race cars themselves. Our friend Rick Bunkfeldt showed up with his new own creation, a 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast. Read that again – Rick designed this car! I am speechless to describe it, but just imagine! Rick showed his car at Pebble Beach, and now here it is in our paddock.

Rick’s the guy on the right. Amazing! (Doug Senk photo)

(Doug Senk photo)

(David Farrington photo)

Each member of the coach building team signed the truck fascia. (Doug Senk photo)

And then on Saturday night the annual Gathering on the Green at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake took place. Thanks to organizer Bob Prince there were many more fine examples of exotic cars on the Green this year. What a beautiful evening.

Gathering on the Green. How idyllic is this?

Here was this year’s ELVF team in our new work shirts. Sue Farringon (or is it Fannington? Farmington? 🙂  made the trip too. (Derek Brabender photo)

It must be street legal if it has a license plate, right? Travis Phrang’s  ’69 ‘Vette.
There was a downside to the weekend. We lost our 14 1/2 year old family member, Shooting Starr’s Teasel on Friday. We ran home on Friday to deal with the great sad responsibility of taking care of him. He went to Portland last year with us. Gone, but never forgotten.
In Memoriam, Teasel. February 24, 1999-September 6, 2013
 So now we’re off to Road Atlanta for the HSR Historic Races, Sept. 21-23. More after that.

Midwestern Council Double Race Weekend and Up-Coming ELVF

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Midwestern Council Double Race Weekend and Up-Coming ELVF

We’re preparing for VSCDA’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival this coming weekend at Road America.

 

Our most recent outing was Midwestern Council’s “Double Race Weekend” at Road America. MC is a regional organization that makes Blackhawk Farms Raceway  in northern Illinois its home. We don’t do a whole lot with them because they usually run single-day events and I don’t like to make trips for a single day. The Double Race Weekend is an annual special though, with the corner workers being treated to rides at speed in the race cars.

Smiles! That is what getting a ride brings.
There were no classes in our group. The speed disparity was pretty stark. with a couple Cheetahs blowing past most of us like we were standing still, thought they are not so hot in the corners. And I walked up to the driver of this car and asked what I was doing on the track at the same time with him.

Maybe we should put a wing on our Volvo?

There’s not a whole lot to report other than the good news that I was able to continually improve my lap times, running three consecutive personal bests lap times in as many sessions. Still have not broken 2:50 but we’re gettin’ close!

We got pretty lucky in the last one – a 30 minute race — because we wore the left front tire right to the cord on the pouter edge. A couple more laps and we might have been in big trouble. Doug Senk helped crew for us. We though we found and issue with some suspension when we got back to the shop but …

Uh, what’s with that tire Doug?

The week following the race I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what happened. I took the front suspension apart and found nothing. Lower A-arm bushing (Delrin material) looked pristine.  I inspected every weld for cracks and found nothing.  So what caused this? May never know.

Crew Chief Dave Buettner was able to arrange for me to take the car to a Fox Valley Technical College instructor who does national seminars for alignment professionals. If the guru of gurus Mel Shampfer could not find an issue a suspension issue then it is likely that we had a tire issue, not a suspension issue. And that’s where we are.

Mel doing his thing.

The Hunter alignment system is pretty amazing and precise

Mel was really impressed with the build of the suspension. He spent four hours teaching me some of the finer points. We did a few minor adjustments.  We’ll see what happens in a few days.

I took the opportunity to replace the front rotors and all the brake pads. Every time I do something that I have not done before I get a learning experience. This time I discovered the need for modification of the rotors to accommodate the Wilwood hubs.

Looking forward to having Mr. Farrington back in the paddock this weekend. Our electronic data acquisition array needs him! (Nuff said!)

New graphic. Gotta keep the Sign Country boys in business! (Not to mention iRoll Motors)

Mid-Ohio Grand Prix 2013

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Mid-Ohio Grand Prix 2013

Cry me a river! That could have been the tag line for the Mechanics Bank Vintage Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Club. It did not just rain. It poured. And then poured some more. And then some more. Of course our travel day was beautiful.

 

Our first experience with this tight 2.4 mile, 15-turn track was less than exceptional, mostly because of very limited track time as wave after wave of black clouds rolled in from the northwest.

Start and finish line are in different locations

We were smart enough to be paddocked on the high ground. Those lower found themselves flooded. Rivers ran down the paddock roads, washing them out. Potholes to negotiate abounded.  Heavy winds resulted in many EasyUp frames turned into pretzel-like shapes. (We learned our lesson last year – when in doubt, take the canopy off!)

Forecast: Breezy, sunny, cloudy, warm, cool and wet

The P and B Motorsports team consisted of Race Coordinator Joy Perry and Race Engineer David Farrington supplemented with the hands, mind and willingness of Doug Senk (who often takes care of Jeff Babcock) and our car builder/friend/Volvo guru Duane Matejka who came out from eastern Pennsylvania. The plan was for Duane to share the driving of the Enduro with me. Best laid plans …

Mid-Ohio is not an especially fast course for small-bore cars, and it was slowed not only by water on the track but the addition of a chicane. Probably a good thing. It has a tight “keyhole,” some off-camber blind turns that fall away, and a very slow right-hander carousel leading to the front straight. Lots of drivers found it pretty unforgiving during the practice session on Friday. Between cars in the grass, sideways in the middle of the track, car pieces lying in the middle of the track and my own cautious nature with an unknown surface, our sole Friday practice session was not anything to write home about.

(David Farrington photo)

SVRA runs a first class operation. They are a for-profit sanctioning body, and perhaps as a result they are not only very customer friendly, they are also extremely serious about their tech inspections and safety on the track. (Other sanctioning bodies might consider taking note.) They also were not reluctant to close things down when the heavy rains hit. The consequence was our only getting one qualifying session.

Duane Matejka gets the feel of the cockpit again

Duane qualified the car Saturday morning. I wanted to make sure he had some seat time given the weather forecasts, and I also wanted to see him drive the car in which he had taken five Volvo Historic Series championships, both from a trackside vantage and also using our two in-car video cameras. He put the car in the back half of a Group 3+4 field of about 50 cars. The guys and girls in front of him were riding rough as this short video clip shows, and Duane knows when and how to keep the metal straight.

I really cannot say enough about the dedication of this crew. If you could only see the rain …

All I need do is watch?

I ran the two Sprint Races, one on Saturday and one Sunday. We placed third in class. By the time my three track sessions were over I felt semi-comfortable and was able to best Duane’s time by 0.281 seconds. In fact, as the video shows I had a great race with Paul Gelpi’s E Production MGB.

Here’s a short video clip that David took from trackside at the Esses:

If we could figure out why #4 cylinder is running a lower EGT (and hence putting out less power), I might have been able to take him on the back straight. Duane made note of the fact that the power seemed to be down from what he remembered. Always a little problem to chase down.

Is this the ’60s again? (David Farrington photo)

We have a month long break before the Midwestern Council Double Race Weekend at Road America in August. We’re showing the car at the 150,000 spectator Iola Old Car Show. Should be fun.

See you in a month, and remember …

Blackhawk Classic 2013 – Blackhawk Farms Raceway

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Blackhawk Classic 2013 – Blackhawk Farms Raceway

It was Father’s Day Weekend. Not being a father, but having had one once, that means this weekend  event brings out the lots of moms and kids too. “Let pop has his fun” I guess.

It helps to keep your eyes on the road … and to be able to reach the steering wheel (David Farrington photo)

Because we’re in the midst of preparing for Mid-Ohio, and trying to take care of house related things during Wisconsin’s short Construction Season, this post is going to be [mercifully] short. You only want to look at pictures and video anyway, right?

Blackhawk has a grass airstrip. Interesting stuff

 

There were five Volvos in the Swedish Pavilion – Jeff Babcock (122-#122), Joe Brabender (123-#123), Rich Kardos (142-#79), Ray Friewald (1800-#93) and me. Plus, Todd Jongen (142-#142) was paddocked off in the hinterlands with a BMW buddy.  Great representation for a small race venue. Then we had a couple of our Saab friends next door – Mark School and Dennis

It made for a great weekend with friends.

Friday evening fish fry at Pearl Lake (aka the Old Sand Quarry)

We ran the 4.88 differential for the first time. Also tried out some 14” Street TD tires that remain legal for our car. Together, I felt like I might be able to break the rears loose in all but 5th gear. Talk about pulling hard out of the corners on this short, 1.9 mile course!

Blackhawk Farms Raceway, South Beloit, IL.

The weekend was a resounding success. I broke previous best lap time records on three separate occasions. The only minor issue was again the data acquisition system. We’ll just say we experienced some human and technological miscommunication. I.e. humans screwed up. But it is only an irritant and does not cause the car to run poorly.

How many dumb phones does it take to figure out the weather?

 

Friday was beautiful, Saturday morning was rainy, Saturday afternoon was good and Sunday gorgeous. We did not run in the rain since it was only practice. Absent Crew Chief Buettner Race Coordinator Joy Perry and Race Engineer Farrington were not excited to get down into the mud and put rain tires on. Not that they wouldn’t have, mind you. But I was in the preservation mode, for both car and relationships. Especially those that are legally binding.  But we did the Sprint Race on Saturday afternoon.

One of the really nice Pre-War cars

Sometimes the rigs are as interesting as the race cars

On Sunday we did our first ever handicap race, the Dad’s Day Scramble. Here, the slowest cars start up front and faster cars are released at intervals determined by qualifying time the afternoon previous. Theoretically, everyone could win because the results are based upon overall time. And it means lots of fun passing. There were two great Group 1 Pre-War cars with good drivers whose heads sat on swivels.

Post race, Farrington pointed out to me that had we been a bit more consistent on lap times, I would have won the whole shootin’ match. As it was I found myself testing the agricultural terrain coming out of Turn 1 late in this 14 lap race and Dawn Fisher, who had been bothering me with her pink Lotus 7, slid by me.

The Feature Race on Sunday afternoon turned into a great duel between the Old Volvo Master Ray Friewald and the Young Upstart Jim Perry. Please note that this has nothing to do with chronological age all to do with experience. Ray’s Blackhawk laps number in the thousands, and Jim is approaching the hundreds. Plus the Old Master happens to be a Lead Instructor.

Based upon Ray’s caginess in Qualifying (and my lack of recognition that there is no yellow flag on the “warm-up lap,” we joked all weekend about who would let whom go by. Going into Turn 1 of the start I was on the inside, having position, but Ray was Ray and by Turn 3 I was looking at his Last Open Road sticker. By the time 1.5 laps of the 12 lap race was completed I had decided to hang with him and see if I could out-power him on the front straight on the last lap. My plan was OK, but sometimes things happen. Watch the video.

Well guys and gals, time for the old cowboy to be hittin’ the trail to the shop. See you after Mid-Ohio!

Spring Vintage Weekend 2013 at Road America, Sanctioned by SVRA

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Spring Vintage Weekend 2013 at Road America, Sanctioned by SVRA

SVRA’s Operations Trailer sports a familiar shape

 

Sha-zam! Jim Nabors could not have said it better than I felt crossing the finish line in the Sunday race of SVRA’s Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America. Finally, the car that Duane Matejka’s built was back on top again!

Pre-race changes tuned out to be helpful. Our new digital EGT gauge allowed us to see and monitor individual cylinder performance. Connected to the data acquisition system we are now able see how each cylinder is performing under all racing situations. We can now jet the Weber carbs with a greater degree of confidence that we are maximizing performance without running the risk of leaning out too much.

 A digital EGT gauge (right) that reads 4 channels replaces the 2 old analog units (left)
The only other Volvo of the weekend was our veteran buddy Ray Friewald in his #93 P1800…
… so we got to be under the Big Canopy …

..that sported Ray’s own advertising, along with our own.
Friday we got a decent morning practice run.  Sharon Adelman in her #51 Turner Mark III showed me her stuff in the morning, which led to a little fantasizing, uh, I mean strategizing,  about this little number. Fast on the straights, slow in the corners made me realize that I was going to need to be ahead of her before Turn 1 in any subsequent sessions

Road America is experimenting with a trackside lighting system to supplement corner worker flagging.  They are very bright and much to my liking. Unfortunately their use for this low budget low importance racing was sporadic at best over the weekend. See red circle.

 

By Friday noon the damn skies opened up, making Road America into a repeat of Road Atlanta. Radar showed the goddess of racing was AWOL again. A band of heavy rain stretched eastward from southern Viking Land, landing a 47o hay maker below the 45h parallel, centered on Elkhart Lake.  Of course, it was gorgeous on Thursday.

By god I paid my $575 in registration, so the weather be damned. Note huge fan turnout for “Qualifying 1” (Phil Koller photo)

 

Our Dirt Stocker rain tires arrived with Race Coordinator Joy Perry, and the crew was game, so we hooked up the Harbor Freight so-called heater/defroster (don’t waste you $9.95!) and out for Qualifying 1 we went. Washed the Georgia mud off the bottom of my car. Turned a blazing (?) 3:40. There was only one other crazy on the track. I came in second. Pretty good, huh?

Fellow Group Racer Scott Barr (Triumph TR4) was not running Spring Vintage, but found a use for our Volvo Friday afternoon (David Farrington photo)

 

Thank goodness that P and B Motorsports’ Lodging and Hospitality Coordinator Pam Buettner had brought her Winnebago and stocked it with good movies for a cold rainy evening. The Boys of Bonneville kept us from thinking too much about howRIDICULOUS it is to be 47o and raining in May.

Saturday morning was better, a lot better. The track was dry so the Hoosier Speedsters re-shod Mobil 1 and out we went for the second qualifying race. My stated 2013 Road America goal is to break the 2:50 mark. That did not happen but I did set a personal best time. Bob Wagner led Jeff Jagusch Jr.’s Datsun and me throughout Race 1. Jagusch spun in Turn 3 of the last lap, leaving the Healey and our Volvo finishing 1-2. Adelman was AWOL, the word being that her husband was involved in a significant incident in his race.

Saturday turned out to be a pretty nice day for racing, spectating and kibitzing with friends. The pictures provide a little visual automotive delight, with the new $70,000 Morgan turning a lot of heads. (Phil Koller photo)

We are enormously fortunate to have Crew Chief Dave Buettner and Lodging/Hospitality Coordinator Pam Buettner bring their Winnebago to serve as a locus of operations, banter and dining. Sitting around (or in the case of inclement weather, in) the Winnebago provides a relaxing place to enjoy each other’s’ company, tell lies and strategize the next outing.

The Buettner bus served as a car hauler, allowing me to deliver Parts Provider Sam Seward’s 1800S from its winter resting place at P and B Motorsports

 

I brought the video from last September’s Road America outing and Race Engineer David Farrington was able to process and integrate Saturday’s Race 1 video/data so we were able to talk about how I could improve my driving performance.

 The data acquisition has been of limited value to date, but we discussed how to be a bit faster out of a few of the turns, recognizing that the segment data would show us if different gear selection might pay off. And indeed it did! We found we could pick up a full tenth of a second between Turns 5 and 6 (circled in black) by coming out of 5 in second rather than third.

Vintage racing is as much about friends as it is about cars. Once again this year Volvo 1800philes Chris Clemmer from the northern Chicago ‘burbs and Jan Efverlund from the northern stretches of the home country of Sweden graced our paddock. Jan brought copies of the Swedish 1800 magazine chronicling his experiences at the 2012 Spring Weekend.

Chris Clemmer (L) and Jan Efverlund (2nd from L)   Photographer Phil Koller has the tales turned (David Farrington Photo) Note gourmet lunch  

The real fun for the weekend came on the single morning race Sunday morning. We had a split start with a several Corvettes and a few Porsches getting the green before our Race Group 3 came under the bridge. There were five us in the hunt and the start – Wagner, Jagusch, Perry, Adeleman and Friewald.

This 15 minute video is really worth watching. Without a doubt this was the best racing I have experienced. Bob was faster initially on the straights, and I could catch up in the corners. I decided to push the brakes a little harder than I had in the past, and well … take a look to see how it all turned out. Click on the > in the image.

Bob Wagner is a real gentleman racer. The post-race discussion with Bob and Ray of what happened brought smiles and promises of ‘next time’ (Phil Koller photo)

Our next race is the Blackhawk Classic, South Beloit, IL. Time to hit the shop and change a rear axle for the shorter track …

Here are some bonus photos from Spring Vintage Weekend.

Travis Pfrang’s beautifully prepared Group 6 Corvette. Travis owns Sign Country, where our graphics are done.

At the other end of the vintage spectrum.

1:55 vs. 2:52. Hmmm … Whatza matta wit ma car? (Phil Koller photo)

Nothing quite like a happy Engineer

I wanna be this couple’s dog!

Interesting perspective from high atop Fireman’s Hill (Phil Koller photo)

Joy really wants a GT 40 to go with her T–shirt. Who am I to deny her? (Phil Koller photo)

Amazing what one sees when walking that is completely missed at 100 mph (Phil Koller photo)

My favorite photo of our friends and teammates, Dave and Pam Buettner (Phil Koller photo)

The Future

 

Road Atlanta-Walter Mitty Challenge 2013

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Road Atlanta-Walter Mitty Challenge 2013

Asphalt rollercoaster. Going over a waterfall in a race car. That’s what it feels like at Road Atlanta. This 12 turn course was one exciting experience.

Let’s back up.

 

I took the twin-ribboned carriage road down to Chattanooga, TN to meet up with new southerner/Race Engineer David Farrington who had worked over the winter redoing our data acquisition system. We needed some time to get it reinstalled in the car, so I was able to spend several days out of the ridiculous “spring” weather that the Upper Midwest was suffering through.

Farrington in one of his usual poses – installing distribution box on transmission tunnel

Farringtons now live in a beautiful, heavily wooded rolling development in Ooltewah. If they lived in Wisconsin we would install a chair lift on their driveway and call it a ski hill. So we worked in the cul de sac down the hill and the equivalent of a racquetball workout going back and forth to the house. Several days later, with things hooked up we headed for Braselton, GA and Road Atlanta.

David decided to take his ’73 “Hole-in-the-roof” ES. Sue followed a couple days later.

Arriving on Wednesday, a full day ahead of when we actually needed to be there, gave us plenty of time to do the final preps.  Unlike Road America, rigs are staged and allowed to enter the paddock only a few at a time. Even though we arrived at 2:30 p.m. the upper paddock was already filled with lots of big-rig teams. But Southern hospitality among the HSR staff was really evident. People were just so darn friendly. We ended up in a location called “The Swamp,” apparently mosquito haven. Crew Chief Dave Buettner, Pam and Sparkie V (i.e the fifth Boston Terrier named Sparkie-makes it easy to remember her name) arrived in the Winnebago on their sojourn northward later in the day. Race Coordinator Joy Perry (she got promoted from Chief Torque Wrencher over the winter) flew in to Atlanta on Friday morning and was delivered to the track by our niece/chauffer.

 

Thursday and Friday were gorgeous, with beautiful cloudless blue skies. 340 cars showed up. Lots of Porches. Lots!

 

We spent Thursday doing final preparation on the car, including a complete oil change – removing all the lines, the oil cooler, the Accusump, everything.  Based on the number of cars that came in on the hook or rollbacks with significant damage for the $300 test day, they might have saved their money too. It was a sobering prelude to a fast track that can be rather unforgiving.

 

Over the winter David Farrington had come up with a plan to replace the EGT thermocouples with dual lead units so we could monitor each cylinder’s performance with our data acquisition system. He also designed a new power distribution box that feeds EGTs, AFR, throttle position, braking, and tach into the Race Technology DL1.
Of course, no change is without its challenges. We still need to work on getting some of this working, but Dave Buettner was able to use the EGTs to do some fine tuning of the engine. We also tried out a set of Kenwood radios to aid in our communication.  All of this is going to take some more work before the next race.

Jeff and Bridget Babcock pulled in with 122 Thursday afternoon completing the Volvo contingent. Doug Senk was also able to plow his way out of the Iron River, WI snow banks (literally) to join us as well.

We flew the Swedish colors best we could

 

We got out first, first-hand look and run on the track from on a gorgeous Friday morning. What an experience it was! There are several blind spots where the track just drops away.

 

I had watched a Skip Barber track tutorial many times over the winter, but while I knew some reference marks, it did not prepare me for the real thing. (This sort of reminds me of the discussion that has taken place over the years about whether doing “virtual dissections” adequately prepared medical students for the real thing. I think not!) In hind sight, I wish I had used the driving simulator at Zero to 60 Garage.

 

The elevational changes of Road Atlanta are amazing. Hence, the “asphalt rollercoaster.”

Coming off the front straight, Turn 1 leads steeply uphill to Turn 2, which you cannot see, but for which you better be set up for. Then entering Turn 3 you are head downhill immediately and cannot see where the track is beyond it. There is one Triumph driver (thankfully very alert) who probably wondered what the hell I was up to on my first practice run.  It’s there in the video … (see below)

The Esses are fast downhill into Turn 5, which can be negotiated at high speed by aiming for a hut on Driver’s Right and tracking out over a bit of a curb on driver’s right. At least it works when the track is dry. Not so well in the wet!
Experienced drivers use the Turn 5 to 6 region to pass on the inside. A number of others (not me!) headed for the wall after Turn 6. The back straight is a nice run. I found my maximum speed of about 120 mph coming into 10a.

Turn 11 takes place under the bridge. Here is where it got intimidating on my first runs, because one aims for a flag painted on the bridge; as the car crests the hill the track falls away and turns to the right. I kept telling myself the track would be there, but for several laps there was the tendency to lift until I could see where the track led. Eventually I ended up short shifting so I was prepared for the quick pickup in speed leading downhill into Turn 12 and the front straight.

Here’s a bit of video from that run:

By my second run on Saturday I was pretty satisfied with what I was doing, and the laps times kept dropping as a consequence, and felt I was semi-competent.

Nothin’ like having the girls hanging all over you, but you get used to it when you drive a Volvo. “Da niece” Paula Nickerson on the right.

 

Saturday ended with the Jack Lewis Enterprises International/American Challenge, a 71 car free-for-all. It was a “free” addition to the registration, so anyone and everyone that had a running car could show up on the grid. The less understanding did a fair amount of grumbling because yhe poor folks from HSR gave up trying to get people lined by car capability, because the grid was just not big enough.

 

Here’s a clip from the Challenge Race:

Speed differentials were enormous. There was one big V8 Mustang driver who apparently was not listening to the staff during the driver’s meeting and decided he just could not wait to get around Jeff, so he stuck his LF fender into Jeff on Turn 1. The stewards showed up at our paddock after the race and quickly determined the Mustang driver needed a talking to. Not sure we saw the Mustang back on the track after that.

Slight body modification thanks to an overly aggressive Mustang driver in Turn 1.

 

The Mitty had significant sponsorship from Classic Motorsports and eBay Motors. These folks threw some really great parties, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, complete with lots of good beer and food.

eBay Motors threw the Friday night party, complete good beer with a great Mexican band

The Three Amigos – Buettner, Perry and Farrington, sporting Mobil 1 regalia

I achieved my best lap time during Group 2 Feature Race 1 on Saturday. Here’s some edited ride-along video of that run:

On Saturday night we were treated to some wonderful stories by a true gentleman of the sport, former drive-anything-well professional racer and now F1 TV commentator David Hobbs.

 

As beautiful as was Thursday, Friday and Saturday (well, for the most part is was least semi-dry on Saturday), Sunday was the exact opposite. The rain started in the middle of the night and never stopped. And it was anything but a light rain! A whole lot of people abandoned he venue.

Only the most committed (or soon to be) endured Sunday’s weather (Bud Carter photo)

With their slicks the stock cars never ran, and HSR combined Groups 2, 3 and 5 into one feature. Several times I hit pools – not puddles – of water that slowed the car quickly, and several times I felt the car get up on top of the water and begin to hydroplane. Coming out of Turn 11 and into 12 was a sweat-maker. Former IMSA champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans driver Doc Bundy gave himself a thrill when he did three 360’s in his ‘64 Lotus 23B coming onto the front straight, and was fortunate to end up facing the right direction in the middle of the track; he still ended up 2nd overall. All in a day’s work, right?

Everyone has their pre-run job, even in the rain. Joy’s includes checking the lug nut torque with her new electronic torque wrench, a slightly delayed Valentine’s Day present.

This little defroster unit (red rectangle, behind “Zero to 60 …”) helped (somewhat) make the track slightly more visible at times.

Two Volvos, just playin’ in the rain, we’re playin’ in the rain, what a glorious feeling, we’re happy (?) again …

Water skis would have been just as appropriate as rain tires (Bud Carter photos)

We took 3rd in our class and felt lucky to get the car back in the trailer intact. This was, without a doubt, the worst conditions in which I have ever driven. There were rivers all over the track.

The car ran great all weekend, perhaps the best it has done on a consistent basis. Road Atlanta is a special place and HSR is to be commended for their friendliness and a race well run. I can hardly wait to make this 2000 mile, $2300 trip and get back to the Peach State again.

P and B Motorsports Road Atlanta Team. L to R: Pam Buettner, Sue Farrington, Joy Perry, David Farrington, Jim Perry, Dave Buettner. Thanks, Dave and Pam, for the nice comfortable lodging in the Winnebago!

 

Next up, Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America, May 16-19. Need to go watch videos and review track data from last year. My goal is to break the 2:50 mark this year! Look out Randy Probst. (Or maybe not.)