Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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 ...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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 1st in 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.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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)
Hoping to see you this weekend at America's speed park, Road America!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

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 ...