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.
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.
I love going to new tracks. I love big, long courses. Virginia International Raceway outside Danville, VA is spectacular in every respect. It’s just downright gorgeous, with barn-red buildings scattered over hundreds of acres of greenery. And the 3.27-mile Full Course we ran is F-A-S-T!
It’s almost 1000 miles from our NE Wisconsin home but the trip was really worth it. The scenery of the southern Appalachian Mountains is breathtaking, even if the drive on ‘The Crooked Road” (US 58) was attention-getting pulling the rig.
Lover’s Leap on Hwy 58 (“The Crooked Road”)
All weekend was perfect weather – completely clear and dry. At the Friday Driver’s Meeting HSR was so confident that they tore up their notes about driving in the wet.
And speaking of HSR, these folks always do it right. Say what you will about for-profit sanctioning bodies, but every time we race with them we are made to feel that our time and money spent is appreciated. The entire HSR crew is friendly, but I am going to single out a couple of people by name. David Hinton is their Owner and President with James Redman (that’s Brian Redman’s son) serving as the General Manager. Both came to see us and personally welcomed us.
HSR Friday Night Party. (Included a bit of southern hospitality in a quart jar!)
The fields were a bit disappointingly small but that did not stifle the enthusiasm. And it gave a newcomer an opportunity to learn the track a little easier. Each outing was an improvement for us, with our best time being about 2:23 in the 3rd qualifying session. Here’s a one-lap video.
Prior to leaving home we replaced the front carburetor with a brand-spanking new DCO 40 to get rid of the ever-problematic front one. Dave Buettner crafted a beautiful fiberglass air intake duct to replace the one damaged at last year’s ELVF. The car responded and ran beautifully all weekend. Other than minor jetting changes, nothing needed to be adjusted, nothing needed to be touched. How good is that?!
David and Sue Farrington drove up from Chattanooga, TN and Duane Matejka down from Pipersville, PA.
Duane Matejka, Joy Perry and Sue Farrington offer grid support (David Farrington photo)
On Thursday, we got to see our buddy Goran Nyberg in his new, blazingly fast GT3 B23-powered 1800. So, we had great crew and made some new friends, including 1800 tuner Ebbe Hansen and his wife Elsa from San Jose, CA.
Goran Nyberg’s GT3 ‘new’ 1800
Ebbe has been working with David Farrington at making a more sophisticated version of the old, NLA IPD D-jet controller for our old street cars. The Hansens were visiting a NC daughter and heard about our being in the area and made the trip to see us. They are very delightful Volvophiles originally from Denmark.
And then there was Rocket-man Jim Green (a real rocket scientist) from Atlanta who was attracted to 1 Red and gravitated to our paddock. How often do you get to go racing and have an evening star party with a rocket scientist toting a big telescope?
Rocketman Jim Green does a star party
Having Duane with us was quite the bonus. He is a sponsor (R Sport Engineering), the builder of 1 Red, and a mentor/coach. He’s full of tips, both about the car and racing strategy. He’s got decades of experience and is the source of all those Historic Series Championship decals on the car door.
Duane Matejka back under the hood
During the Bob Woodman International Challenge, I had some good racing with Guy Laporte in a Porsche 944 and Debbie Graves in a 4.2L Jaquar E-type. I was able to reel in Laporte. Graves was considerably slower in the corners but pulled away from our 2L on the straights. During Saturday’s race she really put the pedal to the metal and drove away. We had a laugh with good natured ribbing about a little 2L Volvo pushing on a 4.2L E-type at the Oak Tree Tavern Saturday night.
Here’s a bit of video from Friday’s International Challenge.
And more pictorial from the weekend …
VIR has a covered grid. Nice!
VIR’s Villa$ in background (David Farrington photo)
We always love to have people stop by the paddock and talk cars and racing. Particularly rewarding is getting kids into the car to pique their interest beyond vido games. Who knows where this might lead?
Our Race Coordinator talks some of the finer points with Andrew Eaton from Raleigh, NC (David Farrington photo)
And adding a little better looking “driver” is welcomed too!
We’re always happy to make photo ops – that’s Merri Junqueira [What a great name!-Merri!](David Farrington photo)
How often do you see a custom fuel blend pump? (David Farrington photo)
Weekend results: two bottles of champagne (one went to the Farringtons), two medals, two trophies, and a couple trips to the podium. A pretty spectacular weekend all around. VIR and HSR, we’ll be back! Joy already has “the best route” marked on the map.
Sunday podium (Joy Perry photo)
Next up: Blackhawk Classic on Father’s Day Weekend. No rest for the wicked!
P.S. A bonus: VIR has 4G five bar cell phone reception! Take note, Road America.