Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blackhawk Classic 2012

I’ve been delaying this blog post about the 20th Annual Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, Illinois. Time to catch up as Chief Torque Wrencher Joy is behind the wheel of the rig as we head for Portland, Oregon. Just a little 2000+ mile road trip.
We got down to Blackhawk on Thursday night, June 15 to join the Swedish Pavilion with Ray Freiwald, Jeff Babcock. Alex Christopher, Joe Brabender, and our Swedish cousins (Saab) from Appleton Mark and Dennis.  Practice started the next morning, but I deferred until the afternoon session in favor of some relaxation in the morning.
Swedish Pavilion
Joe was on his inaugural trip with a freshly built motor, completed just a day or so before, replacing the one that shed metal out of the carbs last fall. And you may recall that Alex got intimate with the wall in the Kink last fall at Road America; his car was destroyed. Not to be discouraged, Alex tested and bought Dale Schmidt’s  “No. 3” 1800. I teased him that his new number (13) was appropriate.
Alex’s new ride, joined by Ray’s No. 93
Blachawk Farms Raceway has undergone some really nice improvement since last year. The pavilion has been completely replaced with a fully enclosed lower left and a covered but open viewing area above it. Makes for a great spectator place.  There is a dispute going on between the owner and the asphalt contractor about an unacceptable repaving job in Turn 1.
View from the second story of the pavilion. Group 2 was crowed to say the least.
The Blackhawk Classic is a fund-raiser for the Shriners. Here they do their version of a fly-by.
Absent Crew Chief Dave Buettner and Race Engineer  David Farrington, Babcock crew stalwart Doug Senk agreed to help us out over the weekend. Little did he know what he was getting into. Neither did we.
Doug Senk in his hippy attire checking over the Babcock car
At 1 o’clock I pulled out for my first run. Turns out it was my only run, and an abbreviated one at that. All the gauge readings looked great, but coming out of Turn 7 in Lap 2 a major clunk came from the drive train. I stuck the clutch in and it went away. Let it out and returned so I immediately headed for the pits.
We put the car up on jack stands and could see nothing obvious. Ray took the stethoscope while I went through the gears, determining that something was amiss in the transmission.  So Doug and I crawled under and spent a couple hours pulling it out.
This was a scene I was hoping to avoid for a change
Opened the cover and lo and behold no fluid! What the heck? But there was no damage visible, either internally or externally. After considerable head scratching and discussion by everyone who ventured by, we decided to fill ‘er up and put it back in. Since the cover was off it made sense to pour the two quarts of 85W-140 right in the top, on the table in the trailer. Which processed to cover the table with 85W-140.
When I took the Energy Suspension mount off the back of the transmission it was obvious that we did have a problem. My mother used to say that some people had more holes in their head than they started with, and that was the case here to. A bolt in the 5th gear housing had punched its way through the back of the M47 case. Ugly.
Uh, that’s not an original configuration!
Doug’s son Mike and Mike’s girlfriend Brittany  were with us too. Mike piped up that he had a spare M47 back home, in Muskego. The decision was made that Mike and Brittany would take a road trip in our Prius to get it, so off they went. Maybe the weekend was not totally done yet.

Message for Mike Senk: Brittany is a real "keeper!"
When I was messing around I turned one of the rear wheels backwards and it came to a sudden and very definitive stop. That was not a good sign, so I asked Doug to take the cover off the differential for a look-see. When he drained the fluid he saw there were metal shavings in it, but was unable to get the cover off because I have a stabilizer mount welded to the top. No amount of his struggling could get it off.
We all sat back for a while and I decided to have a go at it. When the cover came off it was more than obvious that we were not going to be back on the track for the weekend.

 And here’s where it came from
I stayed through Saturday to enjoy watching the boys play, and witnessing the attrition take place. First Alex lost 3rd and 4th gears and had to retire, then Jeff’s oil pressure dropped to 10# at idle, although it was a reasonable 60 at higher rpm’s. Everyone once in a while we all make a somewhat sensible decision, realizing that our desire to be on the track should take second place to the possibility of blowing something up and spending $$$$$$$$$. Jeff called it a weekend. (In the end it was a simple pressure relief valve in the oil pump that caused the problem.)
Brittany and Blossom Babcock
Jeff in his stressed out demeanor ...

... while Mike and Doug change brake pads moments before race car. (Jeff Babcock photo)

After sticking around for Bridgette Babcock’s famous gourmet track dinner I packed things up and headed home so I could get a start on repairs immediately on Sunday. The transmission went back to Pat Flynn at Automatic Rebuilding on Monday morning and they had it done by Wednesday, no charge. Thank you Automatic Rebuilding!
Nice photo shoot opportunity for the boys. Christopher, Freiwald and Babcock

Fellow VSA member John Tuteur stopped by to hob-knob with the gang and visit the race dogs. Shooting Starr's Teasel (Perry) needs a T shirt, but not a 122! 

I went to the P and B Motorsports Parts Department to source a new axle with a welded differential. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it. We’re on our way for the Portland Adventure!
Stay tuned …

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Non-racing Volvo Weekend at VCOA's National Meet

The National Meet of Volvo Club of America was in St. Louis last weekend. We were invited by the local chapter to bring our race car for some show and tell.  Joy drove the ES while I trailered the race car.  Doug and Mike Senk, part of the Volvo racing crew, caravanned with us in Doug’s modified E. The 490 mile trip down was through heavy rain. Certainly cleaned off the underbody of the ES!
That blur in the slow lane is the ES

On Friday the ES and race car were shown to customers and staff at West County Suntrup Volvo in Manchester, a St. Louis suburb.

 Return to the showroom floor after 39 and 50 years respectively.

Joy explains details to Suntrup's Ken Levine

Saturday’s show was in beautiful Forest Park. This event really brings out the best of the best in Volvos. There were 13 different classes with the most populated being that with cars that had won at other national or regional meets! Our ES was in that group. I thought we had a chance to bring home the gold, but when I saw the other cars in our class …
We can always count on Gary Sievert to bring an impeccably prepared 1800 of some sort.

Gorgeous 544's

Lawrence Haugen of Tomhawk, WI does not need a hotel with his Scamp trailer behind the 850!

Denis Levangie of Springfiled, MO has created a convertible that is far better than Volvoville's.

Lyle and Linda Benedetto from Frankfort, IL brought there recently acquired E.

I'm not a big fan of 164s but this one of Delesa Michalski from Columbia, MO is exceptional

Our ES

Starting the race car attracted a crowd. Thanks to iRoll Motors ( for their sponsorship of both the event and our car.

A Danish friend introduces his son to Volvo, who was somewhere ujnder the dash.

Judd's Custom Photos ( created this spectacular image for us.

The weather was gorgeous, everyone was so friendly and helpful, and the meet exceptionally well organized. Special kudos to Glen McMillin and his team from the Gateway Chapter for a wonder event, and for all of their support.