Sunday, August 14, 2016

VSCDA Blackhawk Classic XXIV-June '16

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh from PA, a new 1800 part of the Swedish Pavilion
Tim did not race but got to spend some time playing with the car in the paddock with all sorts of useful and useless advice. He has since gone through the Midwestern Council school and it looks like we are going to have a new strong competitor being part of gang.

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

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

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

And finally some pictures that represent some of the weekend.

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

This is John Ullrich in his incredibly beautiful Darracq Roadster
Rick Kardos and Alex Christopher share the good times. (David Farrington photo)

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 7, 2016

VSCDA "Spring Brake" 2016

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

GingerMan Raceway - 2.1 miles in tropical South Haven, MI

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

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

We had a whopping 137 entries for Spring Brake

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

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

The driver has to make himself look useful, right?

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

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

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

Here’s a bit of the Sprint Race action.

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

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

Manley Ford leads us through traffic (David Farrington photo)

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

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

Spring Brake Team P and B Motorsports

There's always something interesting at a vintage event 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2015

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2015

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

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

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

Never a dull moment.

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

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

The featured marque this year was Jaguar, with a smattering of really nifty Allards along for the ride too. The Jaguar show outside Turn 5 was beyond impressive. So let’s take a look at the weekend in pictorial form.
Over 80 Jags came from around the nation for their national show and shine

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

The Friday night Team Dinner featured an Allard show

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

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

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

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

Jaguar legend Bob Tullius entertained us at the VSCDA banquet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Mid-development photo of Can's 444 that we will be running in Mexico in '16.
Never one to sit idle, I'm happy to say I will be deeply involved in planning nexy year's ELVF -- the Volvo Nationals: Swedish Speed and Style!

Should be an interesting "off" season.

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

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Hawk International Challenge with Brian Redman 2015

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

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

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

Goran Nyberg came to play

The Three Vänner of the weekend -- Perry, Nyberg, and Freiwald
And Goran is F-A-S-T. (Plus just one hell of a nice Swedish guy with a strong Volvo affiliation.)

Friday night’s Race Car Concours in downtown Elkhart Lake is just about beyond imagination. The race cars get a police escort into town to park along the street sides. The path downtown is lined with parade spectators.

Crowd control in Elkhart Lake? 
Here's our Fox Cities Sign Country friend, Travis Pfrang, with his beautiful 'Vette. 
In the early 20th Century Elkhart Lake was the playground for Chicago. The city has retained (and even enhanced) its charm. Siebkins Resort and the Osthoff play strongly in the history and natural beauty.

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

Live music at Siebkins reving up the crowd on a spectacular evening.
The Hawk itself is a ‘see and be seen’ event that attracts people from everywhere. It’s a spectator’s delight with just about every type of race car imaginable. Vendors come out to add to the ambiance and automotive attraction.
A modern Morgan
A group of Cobras, including No. 99 that Rollie Stephenson has had since he was a kid (he's a late middle aged kid now), was on hand to share space with Tesla.

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

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

Oh yeah, about the racing ...

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

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

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

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

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

Seems I am not the only one that spends time doing this stuff!
Overall it was a great weekend.  And now we have a bit of a break. Speaking of brakes, I need to figure out why I have a pedal that goes nearly to the floor at inopportune times, like at the end of the fastest straights on the course. Never a dull moment!

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

And check out the September 2015 issue of Classic Motorsports,  p. 7 to be exact. (Thank you, Mueller Motorwerks.)

Here's a link to a really nice video done by Jessica Johnk:

Bonus photos
"Everyone get out your cell phone. Now take a picture to remind yourself that if you think about doing something crazy, these are the guys who will come to visit you."

'Nuff said
The Nybergs. L to R, Eric, Cecelia, [boyfriend], Victoria and Goran. I could understand them once in a while. I bet they were talking about me in Swedish.  
Mark School and Doug Senk.
Jeff and Jessica Johnk, great folks (Phil Koller photo)
How long before Road America has a water slide? (Phil Koller photo)
Turn 5