Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring Vintage 2015 @ Road America

Wisconsin + Early May + Lake Michigan = Unpredictability

Spring Vintage at Road America is an SVRA event. Tony Parella and his crew were out making people feel welcome. The tech sessions were serious, the anticipation for a good weekend high.

P and B's Race Engineer David Farrington flew in from Chattanooga, picked up at what we old timers still call Billy Mitchel Field by our Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward and handed the keys for a TR6.

1st in Class 3DP

Meanwhile, our Race Coordinator (AKA Joy Perry) is addicted to weather, or more specifically, weather forecasts. I start getting the reports a week ahead. As the week wore on this year, I said. "I don't want to hear it. Tell me if it's good. otherwise I don't want to hear it!" But I hear it anyway.

We pretty much had it all. Saturday was beautiful. But the most notable was Sunday morning wind off the big pond 20 miles east of Elkhart Lake.. 

Spring at Road America. Where's the tower????(David Farrington photo)

Because Road America has decided to get sticky with competitors camping by their rigs, we decided to drive home Saturday night and enjoy the comforts of home. We left Larsen in sunshine and 70's and arrived at Road America to fog, wind, damp, chilly. Ugh. But it could have been worse!

You're really not interested in that, are you?

OK, we had a good weekend. The field was not as deep as in the past; given SVRA's push, that's a bit surprising. Too expensive? Too iffy with respect to Wisconsin weather?

Groups 1, 3 and 4 were combined. 1 is the very slow group (there was only 1 car in it) .4 is a whole lot faster than 3, so we got to hear the road of Chevy V8's as they blurred by on the back or front straight. Group 3 was where the action was for the most part, and we were in the thick of it. More or less.

I never really know exactly how to refer to our car. Farrington calls it No. 1. Something about that bothers me; maybe it seems presumptuous. Well, anyway, the car ran well all weekend, and here's what I think you might be wanting to know: We placed 1st in class in both the Saturday and Sunday races.

We had lots of friends stop by, including one of our major sponsors. Because the car was running well there was enough down time to really enjoy the weekend, as you will see in the large photo gallery below.

Nothing like having a P and B Motorsports sponsor come to see what is being supported! This is Louise Googins of Googins Advisors, Inc.  (David Farrington photos)

One has to finish in order to come in 1st. On Saturday, On Saturday Pat Star (Class 3DP) and his Morgan had me beat handily. He was racing hard with Dawn Meyer in her Class 3EP '61 MG but on the next to last lap he suffered ignition issues and, well, I did not. So we ended up 1st in our class.

The only other Volvo there was our good friend Ray Freiwald. Here's a bit of trackside video of our racing on Friday. (Video length-33 sceonds)

And here's a little of the action (and inaction) on Saturday. Note the beautiful blue sky! (Video length-55 seconds)

On Sunday we changed to a set of new Hoosier Speedsters. Until you have run a bunch of these races it's a bit hard to imagine just how significant a new set of rubber can mean. Meyers and I were gridded next to one another. From the drop of the green flag to the end of the race we were on a tether. I could see that her tires were not performing as well as mine, so I was doing a lot better in the corners than was she. But her car had a bit more than mine, so, well, here's the video ... (5:52)

Captioned Photo Gallery

No visit to Elkhart Lake is complete without a visit to one of America's most iconic racing watering holes, Siebkins

Joy does her 1950's impression of a Coke Girl.

New Glarus Brewing Company (their beers are not sold outside Wisconsin) has a knack for brew names, and Siebkins has a knack for displaying them.

Race Engineer David Farrington holds courts with Louise Googins, or is it the other way around?

Jim Slapikes brought his new 1800 creation. This started as a basket case, and Jim got into it before he realized just how deep he was, but it turned out great.

The Sign County crew makes these events into a real family affair! Always fun to watch them. 

Saturday night dinner in the cavernous Road America Center, home of America's worst acoustics.
SVRA honored Gordon "Duck" Waddle  for his decades-long service to our sport.

More video displays around tghe track allow spectators to keep track of the action on the various parts of this 4 mile track. new this year is a screen rotation that shows standings.

Racing and fishing, especially when one is from Montana, is not a bad life. (Phil Koller photo)

Racing can be very very stressful. 

Ray Freiwald and Dale Schmidt catch up (Phil Koller photo)

Must be nice to have a modular car like Rick Phrang's.

Race photographer/videographer (new job title, only slightly more pay) Phil Koller on the other end of the lens.

Some people arrive in a little more style than others.

One has to see structural beauty here - Gunnar Phrang's Camero

When Jeff Johnk is contemplating, he sees his daughter Jessica. Does the middle of the steering wheel have any philosophical significance? (Top David Farrington; Left, Phil Koller; Right, David Farrington)

Next up, Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway on Father's Day Weekend. We should have a full complement of Swedish Iron there. Guess I need to get out into the shop and work on that "minor oil leak." 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

VSCDA's GingerMan Spring Brake 2015

Here’s a brief report on VSCDA’s 2015 inagural event at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, MI.  Based upon our experience there last year we had packed our down vests and knit hats. Coming from balmy Atlanta, we were pessimistic about the accuracy of the weather forecast for anyplace that was a fly-rod’s cast to Lake Michigan in May. Leaving 70 degrees of Indiana, I reported the temperature drop as we drove along the sand dunes of far western Michigan. It hit 51.

But it was not snowing. Or raining.And there was a great turnout.

This Renault brought lots of smiles, and images of old-time picnics

We were the only Volvo running this year, even thought there was a record turnout. The weekend is referred to as “Spring Brake” and starts with driving school, so there are a goodly number of cars with X’s behind their numbers. One of those was a car that is very familiar – a nice 356 Porsche dubbed ‘Dr. Dreadful” owned an [normally] operated by Rick Gurolnick. The mystery of the X was solved when we learned that Dr. Dreadful’s 17 year old daughter had gone through the school over the weekend with Dad’s car.

Robbie’s “X” did not describe her lack of experience. Youth has its advantage, and she’s gonna be a force to be dealt with. She good and not afraid to keep her foot in it or make a move.  After a couple sessions with her -- chasing her, I hasten to say, and truthfully, unsuccessfully, around the track I teased her and Rick that I could see that this was not going to end up as a once car family.

Robbie Gurolnick on the grid

Here’s what Rick had to say about the weekend: 

Racer friends:
Thought you might like to share a great "bucket list" event I had last weekend: 17 year old Daughter Robbie Gurolnick took the VSCDA vintage school, passed and raced the weekend in my 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster, her first time driving the car anywhere, some 30 years after I started in it.  And she rocked it! I picked Gingerman as a place for her to start in a rear engine car as it has generous, easy runoffs.  They had races Saturday and Sunday.  Out of about 35 starters she gridded 6th and finished 5th on Saturday with some great dices and a couple racers coming over to shake hands and congratulate her.  On Sunday everyone was gunning for her, but she gridded third and charged on the start up to second and a lap later was heading for first when the car lost midrange and went flat - Darn!  (Not an exhaust leak - I checked that earlier during practice - but maybe a failing mag pickup in  the distributor or dirt in the jets).  Ironically the GoPro mount broke and got run over by one of the following cars - including the SD card - so no videos. Anyway we had a wonderful time, everyone was as nice as could be and very welcoming.

Rick Gurolnick

Robbie and Rick Gurolnick, proudly displaying Robbie's diploma

Sometimes I wish I were a father.

Race Coordinator (aka my dear wife) Joy Perry was the only formal P and B Motorsports crew for the weekend, and we got on pretty well. Jim Blett, Volvo engine builder/Jeff Babcock 122 crew member came over from his central Michigan home to lend assistance and also delivered a B20 block/crankshaft for Jeff’s next engine build. We were happy to have him, and were able to pick his brain of the considerable knowledge he has as a crew member on a previous LaCarerra Paniamerica team (since we  -- that’s the royal “we” – are building a 444 competitor for the 2016 south-of-da -border-down-Mexico way races).

The weekend was pretty uneventful. People behaved themselves. One of my Driver’s Committee comrades remarked that it was early in the season and people did not want to risk messing their cars up so soon.

The Brits celebrated the Queen, or at least celebrated something

As usual, Group 2 was the largest of all, with 39 entrants. At the head of the pack was Colin Comer with his screaming  1959 Bugeye Sprite. Colin pretty much ran away from everyone in every race he was in. He chose to sit out Sunday’s Feature Race, given that it’s about as much fun to run alone as it is to do a track day.

I, on the other hand, did not have that problem. Starting on the inside of the 4th row I had a, ahem -- interesting first half lap with a Mini beside me. Now I have a thing about Minis. That is, I loathe don’t like them. They remind me of bees around my head irritating me. That Mini buzzed me good going into the technically, ahem – interesting -- Turn 4. I saw enough metal next to my door that I, ahem – decided – to take a brief agricultural excursion. I watched the back of the pack go by and re-entered the track.

Because I had been carrying around a track radio all weekend as part of the Driver’s Committee I imagine what was being said: “Control, Turn 4, 1 Red four wheels off … has re-entered track.” (“Watch ‘im.) But since this was a race there was no black flag infraction, so I started making up time.

Turns out I may have had the best race ever, especially with John Hagen's and his '63 TVR. The video will show you all of this; I will save the outcome for you to discover. But I will say that there was only 0.08 seconds between me and the higher finishing car in my class.

So we’re in preparation for SVRA’s Spring Vintage at Road America May 14-17. Yep, this week. I feel I am living, breathing, eating and sleeping raced car prep.

Keep ‘em rolling, and we’ll see you on the flip side of Spring Vintage.