We made the trip down to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend of March 16-17 for the HMSA Spring Race.
It was a great weekend with lots of sun and fun. We took the Koepchen 2002 and my new Swift DB2 S2000 car for this event.
There were enough S2000 cars so that we had our own group. The 2002 was put in Group 5 which had a couple of other B sedans, an open wheel car, and a bunch of big bore Corvettes, Cobras, and Mustangs.
We made a change to the K2002 over winter that we hoped would make it quicker. We softened the springs from 400 lbs. down to 350 lbs. It made for slightly more body role in the corners but also increased the grip noticeably, as well as making the car feel more into the track.
This was my first drive in the Swift. I do fit in it a whole lot better than I did in the Chevron. There is a lot more leg room and room in the pedal box for my big feet.
I did have a problem during the first practice with the car jumping out of 3rd gear whenever I let off the throttle. Jim tried adjusting the shift linkage in an attempt to fix it. However during the qualifying race on Saturday it was still doing it.
About half way through the race I shifted from 2nd to 3rd coming out of the Corkscrew and 3rd gear stripped completely.
At the end of the day Jim pulled the transmission cover off and found a bunch of teeth and bits in the bottom of the case. We parked the car for the weekend. I did manage a 1:44.6 during the race. Not stellar, but ok for my first time in the car.
I had a much better run in the 2002. The softer springs helped a great deal. My best lap last year at this event was a 1:49.7. My best lap this year was a 1:46.9!
Both races went about the same. I started 2nd in the Saturday qualifying race and finished 3rd. In the feature I started 3rd and finished 3rd. I ran pretty much alone in both.
The only bad thing from the weekend was that our car was vandalized on the way home. We stopped to have breakfast in Willows and while we were eating some low-life smashed the back window in our X5 and stole our son’s backpack. We were happy they didn’t steal any of the cameras, but it still makes you feel violated.
Just a quick update on winter projects. All of this work is being done up at Racecraft by Jim and his fantastic team.
NSU- The repairs are coming along nicely on the NSU. You will remember that I crashed the car in its initial race at Seattle in July. I lost the car in the rain and hit the dirt embankment outside Turn 2.
We were able to find a rusty but useable donor car in Seattle. Who would of thunk it. It had all the bits we needed plus a spare engine and transmission. I was able to donate the rest to a friend who is restoring a street car.
The car will head off to the painter next week!
The spare engine and transmission is up at Ivey Engines in Portland. Jay Ivey is the premier FF engine builder in the country. He will be using his considerable experience to build a hot-rod motor for the NSU. All the go-fast parts are available for these engines in Germany.
Asahi M3- Terry Tinney has completed the rebuild of the S14 engine for the M3. You may remember that we cracked the block during the Rolex Races in Monterey last year. We were able to find a donor block for the car along with a complete race motor. The race motor came from England and will serve as a spare in case we have another problem. The new motor will be shipped up to Racecraft next week and go back into the car.
Swift- A new color wrap is going on the Swift DB2. The new color is turning out beautifully. The guy doing the wrap is tough to keep focused. We have been waiting a couple of weeks for him to come back and put on the accent stripes and numbers. He does great work, but . . .
Luigi CSL- Luigi is getting a new transmission this winter. The original Getrag is getting pretty long in the tooth. I have decided to replace it with an Elite transmission out of England. It is a modern recreation of the old ZF 5 speed but with stronger internals. These transmissions were homologated for the CSL back in the day so it is a legal replacement. It has been ordered and should be to the shop sometime next month.
Street 2002- Terry has been hard at work on the street 2002 he has been building for me. The S14 engine is in the car after some complications. Terry had to fabricate custom engine mounts to get the engine back and lower in the engine bay. One issue when putting an S14 into the 2002 is clearance between the oil pan and the front crossmember. This is solved by fabricating a new oil pan. It also requires moving the engine back to give clearance between the front pulley and the radiator.
The fuel injection guru stopped by the shop last week and went over everything with Terry. Terry has everything we need ordered and once it all gets here he will install it. The FI Guru will then come back and do the fine adjusting.
The #34 2002 is in transit back from SC. Once it is back at Racecraft Jim will swap the transmission with the transmission in the K2002. I won’t be racing the #34 much this coming year. I am thinking about taking it back to its original Hyde Park black and orange livery.
That about wraps up the winter projects. Our first race of the season will be the HMSA Spring Event at Laguna Seca in early March.
Mary and I recently made the trip down to Greer, SC to attend the closing celebration of The ICON exhibit. This exhibit was at the BMW CCA Foundation Museum.
The ICON exhibit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 2002, which is one of BMW’s most loved models.
We flew from Portland to Greenville via Detroit, arriving late Wednesday night. On Thursday we visited several museums and parks in Greenville, including the Upcountry Museum, the Music Museum, and the Falls Park on the Reedy.
When one visits South Carolina one thinks of BBQ so we went looking for the best BBQ in Greenville. We found it at Mac’s Speed Shop- Beer, Bikes & BBQ. It is on South Main Street, and it is fantastic.
Friday morning we went over to the BMW CCA Foundation Museum to check on the car and see if the staff there needed any help getting ready for the coming celebration.
At 1:00 we had a reservation at the Performance Driving Center. They were putting on a special program for those coming for the celebration. After a short orientation meeting we headed out for 3 driving experiences.
The first experience we did was to drive one of the new X5’s on their off-road course. BMW has done an amazing job with this car giving it impressive off-road capabilities while keeping its comfort and cruising personality.
Second we had a chance to challenge for FTD on an autocross course in a new M240i. I really like this car, It seemed to me to be the closest thing to a modern 2002. It is small, light, nimble, and has ample power to give a thrill.
The best came last. We jumped in one of the new M5’s and got to turn some hot laps. What’s not to like about 600 HP, 550 ft/lbs of torque, and 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds? The car handles like one of my race cars! The full-time FWD pulls it through the corners like a freight train. What fun!
Following the driving experiences we had a chance to get the four race cars that were part of the exhibit on the track for some demonstration laps. The cars were driven over from the museum and lined up in the staging area. Each owner took a few minutes to tell about the car and its history. Then we took them on track for some fun.
Saturday morning we had a one hour tour of the factory. The tour began in The Zentrum Visitors Center where a dozen historic BMWs were displayed along with examples of the X cars produced at the factory.
The Spartanburg plant is BMW’s largest manufacturing facility. It produces 370,000 X vehicles a year, 80% of which are exported.
The plant operates as a ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing facility. This means parts for the cars arrive at the assembly line as they are needed, and in sequence. the logistics for all this to happen are mind blowing.
Saturday night was the closing celebration. Just over 200 people packed into the museum to enjoy finger food, drink some good Oregon wine, and listen to the guest speakers. These included Rob Siegal, The Hack Mechanic, Jackie Jouret, Tom Plucinsky from BMW NA, and Andreas Bovensiepen from Alpina.We had a great time and met some wonderful BMW lovers. A special Thank You to Scott Dishman and Michael Mitchell for all their work making this happen.
Our last race of the year was in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas for SVRA’s Vintage National Championships.
I took my Luigi CSL and the Koepchen 2002 back for this event. SVRA has been promoting a BS championship all year with regional championships culminating in this national event. The CSL ran in Group 12B- the historic GTO/GTU group.
This was our first time at COTA and I must admit it is a world class facility. The one thing that was unexpected was how rough the circuit is in a couple of places, and how low grip the surface is.
Because the BS group was scheduled to run with the GTO/GTU group my CSL was allowed to run with the big block cars on Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying race. This is always a bit nerve racking as those guys can be pretty scary to race with.
For the Feature Race on Sunday I was gridded 4th based on lap times. It was nice of SVRA to do that rather than making me start at the back of the field. I won’t spoil the story but just watch the video for the result.
The BS Group was filled with great cars and determined drivers. Many were from the southeast and had driven COTA before. They had a bit of a ‘home field’ advantage on us. But we still had the best race of the weekend in our Group. here’s the video:
I think this was probably the best race I have driven. I was able to complete the race without any mistakes. The pressure put on my by Tim on that last lap was amazing. He drove a great race, was clean, but didn’t give me a moments rest. Thanks Tim!
I want to especially thank Mary for her support and the great trackside video she gets every race.
I also want to thank the Crew from Racecraft. They are such professionals, and at the same time they make this so much fun!
In July I ran my M3 and 2002 at the SVRA sanctioned Portland Vintage Racing Festival. The M3 ran in Group 12A, and the 2002 in Group 8.
It’s always interesting to see how the various race groups are made up. The sanctioning body, in this case SVRA, tries to make up the groups as best as it can from the entries they receive for an event.
For this weekend Group 12A had a real mix of interesting cars. There were some Big Block Corvettes, Cobras, Trans-Am sedans, NASCAR cars, along with a couple of prototype cars, tube frame GT cars, and my M3.
On Saturday’s Qualifying race I qualified 7th and had a great race with Cameron Healy in his RSR Porsche. We ran nose to tail until he had a motor issue and had to pull off. I finished 4th.
For the Saturday Feature race I had to make a good start as I was surrounded by big block cars. The M3 is very quick but it does not have much torque so I was worried they would get the jump on me going down to Turn 1. Was able to keep them behind me and went on to finish 4th with my best lap of the weekend, a 1:24.9.
Jim Froula, who won on Saturday, didn’t start on Sunday so I started 3rd behind a 427 Corvette and a 427 Cobra. Outside of me was the #33 Skoal Bandit NASCAR Lumina. Again I had to make a fast start or they would eat me alive before we got down to Turn 1.
I am able to hold off the Lumina and finish 3rd over-all, and 1st in class with a best lap of 1:25.1.
My 2002 ran in Group 8. this is a really fun Group to run in. It is made up of mid-bore sedans and sports cars so there is always close racing.
For the Feature race I started 9th. The first lap was pretty wild and woolly! I was gridded inside my old friend Hans Guttman in his 242 Volvo and just behind Paul Gladio’s 911. There was also a bunch of Lotus 7’s in the mix. We swapped places back and forth for the entire race. It was a lot of fun.
I ended up finishing 9th over-all and 3rd in BS with a best lap of 1:29.5. Here’s the video, hope you enjoy it!
Photos courtesy of Bill Wagenblatt at: http://historicmotorprints.com
I have always felt like I had some unfinished business regarding the beautiful Chevron B16 I sold. I never felt like I got the most out of the car because I was never completely comfortable in it. I guess trying to stuff my 6′ 3″ into a space designed for someone 5′ 10″ had something to do with it.
If you look closely at this image you will see that my helmet completely fills the Gurney Bubble in the window above my head. That meant that my head was about 3-4″ above the roof line of the car. This was in spite of taking the padding out of the seat and spacing the window open 1″ more than stock.
At my other end, my feet were too large to fit comfortably in the pedal box. I had to really do an awkward dance to work the pedals. Heel and toeing was difficult at best and I would occasionally miss shifts because of this complication.
After talking with Jim extensively about cars/classes/options I settled on a S2000 class car to replace the Chevron. S2000s are relatively inexpensive to buy and pretty inexpensive to operate, but are every bit as quick as the B16.
After some searching I bought a car from Tacoma, WA. It had a good history, having run in the American City Racing League for many years. Having run in the ACRL meant that it had the Cosworth 4 valve, twin cam head on the Ford Pinto based 2 liter engine.
The first thing you will observe is that I have a lot more headroom in this car compared to the Chevron. The former owner was 6’3″ tall like me so the car is already set up for someone my size.
The car arrived at the Racecraft shop where Jim and Co. will give it a thorough going over prior to our first event in the spring. I have also commissioned a new wrap for the car as black has never been my favorite color for a race car.
I will post additional pictures once it is ready to rock & roll.
In August we made our annual pilgrimage down to Monterey for Car Week. With only 2 cars entered in the Rolex Races we looked forward to a relatively quiet week.
The featured marque this year was Datsun. In the program they had a picture of John Morton’s BRE Datsun 510 racing at Laguna Seca in about 1971-72 and coming into the frame is my #34 BMW 2002 when it was raced by Hyde Park Motors.
I also had consigned the Cobra I took in trade for the Chevron B16 with Russo & Steele. The car went across the stage on Friday night but barely reached the reserve I had on it. I decided to drop the reserve at the last moment so the car went to a new home. I didn’t get what I hoped for, but we also didn’t have to pay to haul it home. Auctions are a crap shoot!
As I said, I had 2 cars entered in the Pre-reunion races as well as the Reunion Races. During the Pre-reunion races the right front strut mounting broke in the CSL when I was forced up onto the cement berm on the inside of Turn 6 by a slower competitor that didn’t see me. The problem didn’t show itself until the Saturday morning race the following weekend. The result was that we had to park the car. It is not a difficult fix but Jim & Terry didn’t have what they needed to accomplish it.
The M3 ran flawlessly during the Pre-reunion weekend. The car was in the group with the GTO and IMSA GTP cars. I spent most of my time watching my mirror as the GTP cars closed very quickly from behind.
Still, I managed to finish 13th in the Feature race during the Pre-reunion weekend after some great racing with Phil Mendelovitz in his Datsun 240 SX GTU car.
For the Reunion Races SCRAMP allowed me to move from the GTO/GTP Group to the same group the CSL was to have been in. They even let me start where my lap times placed me in the group.
I had a great race going with Richard Goldsmith in his Dekon Monza until I started smoking heavily. It turns out there was a large crack in the block that developed and oil was seeping out onto the headers.
I ended up with a DNF. Here’s the video from the week:
We raced the Koepchen 2002 and NSU 1200TT at the 2018 PNW Historics on June 29- July 1. The weekend turned out tube a real mixed bag.
The 2002 ran well all weekend, but the driver was off his game just a little.
The NSU was a lot of fun to drive, but its run came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon in the rain.
This was the first outing for the NSU. I had purchased it last winter and had it shipped to Seattle. After its arrival Jim did a thorough inspection and came up with a list of items needing attention.
I had him work through the list and get the car ready for this event. It needed new seat-belts, an updated fire system, some electrical sorting, etc. Nothing major.
I was pretty excited to get to the track and see the car all ready to go. I was even more excited to get in it and have a go.
I last drove an NSU back in 1971. I had a car just like this that I autocross, ice raced, and did my first SCCA Driver’s School in. I then sold it and built a Mazda RX-2 to race.
I should have kept the NSU!
Everything went well with the NSU until Saturday afternoon. I had entered it in the USRRC race to get some extra seat time. After about 3-4 laps rain moved in from the west end of the track, which means Turn 2 got wet first.
My first time through the turn I spun. The second time through Turn 2 I started to spin, caught it, but the car snapped back the other way and went straight off into a dirt bank. OUCH!
The K2002 had a better weekend. It had no problems and ran perfectly all weekend. I just was not on my game for this event.
in my defense, I did get hit by another competitor in the first race. The other driver wanted to blame me for everything. I wanted to call it a racing incident. You can watch the video and make up your own mind.
On June 1-3 we raced at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival held at Sears Point Raceway. There were over 300 cars entered for the event. We brought Luigi and the K2002.
Luigi ran in a combined Group 12 & 13 which was made up of 1980’s-1990’s GTO cars along with IMSA and FIA cars from the 1970’s. It was quite a mixed bag of fast and slow cars.
This was only the second time we’ve had the car out since we solved our mysterious braking problem. It turns out that the hats that have the brake discs mounted to them were not allowing the front rotors to “float” just that little bit so when I pressed the peddle they caused a severe shaking. Not something to inspire great confidence going into Turn 11 at Sears Point!
I was gridded 13th for our feature race.
The start of the feature race was pretty ragged with cars still coming down through the esses when the green flag was thrown. I was about 20 car lengths behind Ransom Webster’s 935 Porsche going full throttle trying to catch the pack when it was waved. I think they were worried about the Pro Trans-Am race which followed our race running past the curfew so they just waved us off.
I was about 1-1.5 seconds a lap slower than the group of cars right in front of me, and about 3 seconds quicker than the group just behind me. I was anticipating a lonely race, but that didn’t happen.
Several of the GTO cars had problems right from the opening lap. 2 of them went off and a couple broke. I found myself chasing Walter Brown in his 1987 Camaro along with Gordon Johnson in his 1991 Cutlass.
Gordon pulled off with some issue after about 4 laps leaving Walter and I to duke out 8th place. I was able to sneak by him when he went wide in Turn 2. He fought back and for the last 3 laps he hounded me until he finally cooked his rear tires and I was able to pull away and finish about 2 seconds ahead of him.
My best lap was a 1:50.1.
The K2002 ran well all weekend. I let Terry drive the car in the Qualifying race on Saturday. He broke his gearbox on Friday, plus the Qualifying race was back to back with the Qualifying race for Luigi. He finished 11th which was much better than I would have done starting at the back and trying to work my way through the 35+ cars in the Group.
The feature race went very well. I was able to get by a couple of the Lotus S7’s that started in front of me and held them off until the very last lap. I missed a shift coming out of Turn 7 and one of them got by me.
I finished 6th over all, 3rd in BS, with a best lap of 1:57.2.
The only dark spot for the entire weekend came late on Sunday afternoon. While waiting for Mary to come back to the paddock I left my cameras on a friend’s golf cart while I went in to Driver’s Services to get results sheets. When I came out the cameras were gone. Some low-life had taken 4 GoPro’s. So I have no in-car footage from the 2002.
Last weekend we travelled across the country to participate in the 2018 Classic Motorsports ‘The Mitty’ races held on the beautiful Road Atlanta circuit just north of Atlanta, Georgia. This is perhaps the biggest vintage race on the east coast with over 300 entries.
The featured marque for this year’s race was Nissan/Datsun so the paddock was full of 510’s and Z cars. My 2002 was the token German in our paddock, which was also home to the cars of John Morton, the Grand Marshal for the event, and Adam Carolla.
Our weekend began on Thursday with the red-eye flight from Portland to Atlanta. With only 4 hours of troubled sleep our next challenge was morning rush hour traffic up I-85 through the heart of Atlanta. YUK!
We had been invited to visit the BMWCCA Foundation Museum which is located across the street from BMW’s mega-plant outside Greenville, SC. The museum is preparing to open their new exhibit called “The Icon,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 2002.
My car was invited to participate in the exhibit. I had shipped it back to SC a month or so ago and was excited to break it out for the weekend to go racing.
I found a local race-prep shop, Vintage Racing Co., to transport the car from the museum to the track and to do a race prep on the car. The owner, Michael Eberhardt, was incredibly helpful and competent.
Our visit to the museum was great. We met the curator, Michael Mitchell, who is responsible for putting the exhibit together, as well as Scott Dishman, the Director of the Foundation, and Jackie Bechek, who is on the Board of the Foundation.
We toured the facility and saw how the exhibit is coming together. There are 24 other significant 2002’s being readied and set in place for the exhibit. Around the outside are photo’s, paintings, dealer signs, and a wide array of memorabilia associated with the development, manufacture, and introduction of the 2002. The exhibit is scheduled to open on May 18, 2018.
Following the tour we were taken across the street to have lunch at the Performance Driving Center. Our lunch included a quick tour of the school and a ride around the track in a M2 with Mike Renner.
It was time to head back down to the track and get registered for the weekend and find our car in the Road Atlanta paddock. Because of the huge number of entries HSR was utilizing both paddock areas at the track. The Racecraft truck was located in the Pro paddock on the inside of the Start/Finish straight.
Thursday morning began at 7:20 AM with a quick driver’s meeting. Since I have never driven Road Atlanta I had signed up for the Track Orientation Program. This program, run by Jim Davis, started with a van tour of the track. Jim talked us through car placement, turn-in points, landmarks, and a host of other helpful information. Following the van ride the TOP group had their own test session on track.
Jim’s tour was very helpful, but there is nothing like logging laps in your own car to learn a new circuit. Road Atlanta has several blind turns, most notably Turn 11. You approach the turn from one side of a steep hill, and then crest the hill and turn while passing under a bridge. The back side drops steeply while still turning down to the very fast Turn 12.
On my first lap I followed another BMW that drove straight off the track his first time through Turn 11. I almost followed him, but was going slowly enough to turn and stay on track. Believe me, television does not show how steeply the track drops as you plunge down to Turn 12.
On Friday our group had 2 practice sessions. My lap times got better each session as I gained confidence and familiarity with the track. My best lap in the first session was a 1:50.7, and 1:48.8 for the second session.
In the afternoon they put several groups together for a sprint race sponsored by Sasco Sports. It was a large group of over 50 cars, and I started 31st. The race was only 8 laps and with that many cars on track it was very hectic the entire race. I managed to pass a few cars and finish 28th with a best lap of 1:47.9.
I will say that the racing is more aggressive than we have on the west coast. I had a Porsche dive bomb me turning into turn 3 several times, as well as a few cars that blocked as I was trying to pass them, even on the straights.
On Saturday we had one Qualifying session in the morning and a sprint race in the afternoon. I was able to get my lap time down to 1:47.0 in the morning session which put me 32nd on the grid out of 44 cars. I was happy that my times were still improving, but not so happy to be buried so deeply in our group.
The race went better than I thought. I passed 6 cars in the first couple of laps, but got blocked by a lapper on the last lap and finished 28th with a best lap of 1:46.8. Considering the higher afternoon temperatures and some grease on the track from all the cars running, I was pretty happy with that.
We only had our feature race on Sunday. Several cars in our group either broke or left early so we had 21 cars take the green flag. I started 13th and again passed several cars in the opening laps. After 4 laps I found myself right behind Jim Froula in his 240Z and was able to stay with him until the checkered flag for a 9th place finish, and a best lap of 1:45.6.
I’ll be posting the video in a few days.
Both Mary and I really enjoyed the weekend and our time in the Atlanta area. The people were warm and friendly, the weather was perfect, and the BBQ was spectacular. Road Atlanta has been on my list of tracks that I wanted to drive. It is fast, technical, and intimidating, but rewards lots of laps and familiarity.
The best part of the weekend was the fact that #34 worked flawlessly all weekend, and was driven onto the truck on Sunday night with no issues. He will get a well deserved rest in the BMWCCA museum until next January.
I want to thank Scott Dishman and Michael Mitchell for their help and hospitality; Michael Eberhardt for his help and expertise; and David Hinton at HSR; and Jim and Austin from Racecraft. Without these folks we couldn’t have done the event.