Friday, May 25, 2012

Road America Spring Vintage Weekend 2012

Spring Vintage Weekend 2012
Road America in May is known for changeable weather. Many avoid the spring races because it can be raining, sleeting or snowing. They missed the boat this year because if there was a more perfect weekend anywhere it would be hard to find. Deep blue skies and warm – Cool Shirt warm -- temps.
P and B Motorsports was blessed, cursed, and blessed. The first blessing was Duane Matejka’s presence. The curse was the loss of freeze plugs from the new motor, and the blessings returned with our ability to patch things up and have a good finish.
 Duane Matejka looks over the car he built 16 years ago (Dave Buettner photo)
Car builder Duane and Race Engineer David Farrington flew in early for the Lamers Track Day that took place on Wednesday before Spring Vintage Weekend. Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward graciously ran these two to P&B Motorsports headquarters from the Milwaukee airport. Lamers annual invitational charity event– Denny Lamers calls it “a golf outing for gearheads” -- attracts over 200 hot shoes in race cars and [mostly] high performance street cars. Several non-profit organizations benefit, among them Wounded Warriors and a program that encourages responsible driving by youth as they start their on-the-road experiences. The health care provider that puts on the driving program flew in a life-flight helicopter for the event. You can read about the track day at
ThedaStar LifeFlight Chopper. I never want to be in this baby in the prone position.
We had installed the right seat and bought an intercom system so Duane could ride with me, but that was not meant to be. At 8 a.m. I headed out on the track to break in the new motor gently, only to have the number 4 freeze plug come out after 1.5 laps. We attempted an at-track fix but the head gasket was also blown so the opportunity for Duane to spend time coaching was lost. The car went home to the shop for a more extensive fix.
Stock (left) and adjustable freeze plugs. Our weekend nemesis.
As Yogi Berra said, “This is like déjà vu all over again.” I met Duane in 1986 at a Washington, DC area Volvo meet when I was doing a gymkhana with my Amazon and I blew a freeze plug at high RPMs. Duane fixed it!  Who would have thought that 36 years later he would be doing the same thing?
Friday found us back at the track ready to go. Our first qualifying run was a good one. Water temp held at 160, everything tight. Then in the afternoon’s 2nd qualifying session we made it only two laps before the #2 freeze plug came out and I saw the back of the tow truck. Now we got serious, pulling the carbs and intake manifold back, removed the headers, whacked the plugs in and put some JB weld over the top.
But the gremlins were not done with us. When we got to the grid Saturday morning Duane saw a small stream of water coming from one of the plugs we had replaced, so that qualifying session was aborted. Time for the high-tech solution – Barr’s Stop Leak. And that did the trick.
Saturday’s Qualifying Race put us into the 7th row for Sunday’s Feature, with some significantly faster cars in Vintage C Production in front and a lot of slower cars in that and other classes behind. Once again this year Bob Wagner in his 3 liter Austin Healy 3000 was in front of us, running about 5 seconds faster. Bob placed first and we took a second in Vintage D Production. The only other Volvo at the track was David Hueppchen’s No. 72 fuel injected ‘72E.  David ran the 200 mile endure on Friday and then had a bunch of issues after that, including dropping No. 3 and 4 cylinders, so he was parked after the Enduro. During that event his alternator fan disintegrated, producing a pretty spectacular dimple in his hood – looks like someone used the back side for target practice from 500 yards with a high powered rifle!
 Just a little off the mark. Alternator flywheel shrapnel. (David Farrington photo)

 Look ma. No fan! (David Farrington photo)
Despite the freeze plug issues that plagued us all weekend this Spring Vintage could be classified as just about the most perfect weekend we have experienced because of the outstanding weather, but more importantly the number of friends who were with us. Doug Senk cruised over from Mukwonago in his tricked out 1800 to join the P&B crew. Doug is a regular with Jeff Babcock’s 122 team but Jeff did not run the weekend so we benefited from Doug’s “what can I do to help?” attitude.
 On Friday Chris Clemmer (‘73ES) picked up Skywest Airlines pilot (and Bjurholm, Sweden resident – really!) Jan Efverlund at O’Hare and came up to Road America.
Real Swedes will go to any length to see Swedish Iron running. Jan Efverlund and Dr. Chris Clemmer (John Tuteur photo)
Milwaukeean Jim Slapikes is always at the track with his ’69 1800S. John Tuteur was present with his gorgeous steel grey ‘71E. At times it looked like a meet of the Lake Michigan Chapter of Volvo Sports America.
 Is this a Lake Michigan VSA Chapter meeting? Doug Senk is doing the judging. (John Tuteur photo)

 Good friends, good food, good weather. What more can one ask for? (Dave Buettner photo)
Jeff Babcock came up from northern Illinois in his 740 Turbo wagon on Saturday, and longtime friend Phil Koller from Appleton, WI spent the weekend with us, taking many great photos. Joe Brabender (Amazon #123) and his son came up from Stoughton bearing Mobil 1-related gifts. Add Duane and the rest of the regular crew and we had one heck of a party, pretty much continuously. Chief Torque Wrencher Joy Perry was able to hand off many of her duties to Duane and concentrate on keeping everyone watered and fed. Crew Chief Dave Buettner made a comment on Monday that he hoped that I had thanked Joy profusely because she “worker her [butt] off.” 
Chief Torque Wrencher Joy Perry (Dave Buettner photo)
Race Engineer David Farrington spent the weekend being teased about his proclivity for conversation with anyone within earshot and trying to get a video synchronizer to work. (He’s still working on that with the supplier.)
It’s a rare moment when Race Engineer Farrington actually sits still. (Dave Buettner photo)
Pam Buettner was the only one without a hot pit wristband, but she is among the most gracious and pleasant people to be around, and never lets me forget that I would look better with shorter hair.
Once a stalwart member of the Buettner dragster crew, Pam Buettner is content to watch from the other side of the fence now. (David Farrington photo)
Having a lot of people to watch also allowed me to get feedback and learn better track position at various turns. We spent one evening in the motor home reviewing video and discussing lines. Duane’s presence was invaluable from a multitude of aspects, not to mention that he is just about one of the nicest guys you would ever want to be around.
Turn 5. Harry Chapin said it best: There’s a better place to be. (Phil Koller photo)
We have a month-long break from racing, but are headed to St. Louis, MO, with both the race car and ES for the national meet of Volvo Club of America next week. Here are some more photos of Spring Vintage for your enjoyment. Movies will be posted when we have the video integration sorted out. Ugh!
Memories -- Duane Matejka back in the driver's seat. Those championships decals are his. (David Farrington photo)
 Joe Brabender tries on an 1800 for size. (David Farrington photo)

 Crew Chief Dave had opportunity to discuss finer points of No. 1 with Duane. (Phil Koller photo)

Jeff Babcock shows off his vintage chest, uh, I mean T shirt. Duane used to own Foreign Autotech. (Dave Buettner photo)

 Last minute instructions from Joy: “Drive well, have fun and be careful.” (Phil Koller photo)

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