Our next event was the David Love Memorial Race at Sears Point Raceway outside Sonoma, CA. This is one of my favorite tracks and it really suits my 2002.
The weather was fantastic all weekend and the racing was some of the best I’ve had in quite a while. Thanks to Rob Fuller, Jim Froula, Troy Ermish, and the other racers in Group 8.
After practice and qualifying we had the Qualifying Race on Saturday afternoon. I had qualified 3rd for this race behind Mike Thurlow in his Corvette and Troy Ermish in his 510 Datsun. At the green flag Mike and Troy drove away from the rest of us but I had a great battle with a group of Datsuns lead by Jim Froula.
Jim chased me hard for the opening laps, then Michael Anderson got by him and brought Rob with him. Michael put on a lot of pressure but I was able to hold 3rd place until the checkered flag.
Sunday morning we all went down to pre-grid for the morning warm-up session and the CSRG folks informed us that this session would be a race that set the grid for the Feature Race later in the day. This took us all by surprise. I had planned to scrub some sticker tires for the Feature Race. Troy only put a few gallons of fuel in his car. It would be an interesting race.
At the green flag Mike disappeared in his Corvette but eventually pulled off because he didn’t have enough fuel to finish. Troy was having to short shift and coast to save fuel so he, Rob and I had a fun battle the entire race. Mike Korn came from the back and passed the 3 of us. I eventually finished 4th behind Mike Korn in his Chevy Beretta, Troy, and Rob but I turned my best lap of the weekend- 1:53.7.
The Feature Race was gridded by our best lap time of the weekend because of the confusion from the warm-up/race. That meant I started 3rd. Again, I had a great race with Rob and eventually finished 5th.
It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything. I apologize for that but it has been a very strange year for all of us. Plus I had some health issues this year that have reduced my energy.
Last march we weren’t sure if we would have any racing at all this season. Though several big events were canceled or re-scheduled we were finally able to attend 8 races and a track day out at ORP. We’ll review the first 3 in this post.
Our first event was the SOVREN Spring Sprints held at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. I will admit Pacific Raceway is not one of my favorite tracks. It is rough, narrow, and there is no run-off room. Because of these factors I’ve just never felt very comfortable racing there.
However, I was anxious to try the new motor and transmission combo in the Koepchen 2002 as well as the new seat in the Swift so Mary and I loaded the RV and headed up I-5.
It was a different kind of weekend for several reasons. First, it was the first race under the new COVID protocols which meant social distancing, masks, and extra paperwork. Second, SOVREN and SCCA shared the track for the weekend so we had a lot of different cars and classes at the track. It did make for some down time for us.
Saturday and Sunday had pretty good weather so I got some good seat time in both cars. I found the new engine and transmission combo to work very well together in the K2002. The power and torque were improved and complimented the closer ratios in the transmission.
The new bead seat in the Swift was a huge improvement for driver comfort. I now felt like I could actually drive the car closer to its limit.
Unfortunately the weather turned to rain on Monday so we packed up and came home early. Here’s the video from the weekend:
Our second event for the season was a track day out at Oregon Raceway Park in the high dessert of eastern Oregon. Its a 2.3 mile, highly technical track with lots of blind rises and blind apexes. It’s really a lot of fun to drive, but also very taxing.
We had a group of Racecraft friends and 8-9 cars out for the day of practice. It was a good chance to get some seat time. I was also getting some time on the new motor Terry Tinney built for the CSL. My friend, John Murray had purchased an ex-DTM MB 190 that he wanted to get familiar with.
The day began with a short track orientation with Bill Murray, the track manager. He helped us all a lot and made our day more productive and fun.
Following that we began taking our cars out for some runs. I began by taking the M3 out for a few laps. The last time I drove ORP was 5 years ago so I began slowly and built up speed as I re-familarized myself with the track.
Over the lunch hour our resident hooligan, John Hill, entertained us all. You’ll have to watch the video to see what he was up too. You won’t be disappointed.
I did get some time in the CSL but it was a lot of work on this track. The car is quite heavy to steer and as busy as this track is it gave me quite a workout.
John Hill had brought his Mitjet and he let me have some laps in it. The Mitjet is a tube framed race car much like a scaled down NASCAR car. It has a solid rear axel, a 2 liter Renault engine, sequential gearbox, and ABS brakes. John has raced it a couple of times in the 25 Hour race at Thunderhill, winning his class in 2019. It was nice of him to let me try it out.
Here’s the video from the day:
In July we were back at Pacific raceway for the PNW Historics. I had the K2002 and the Swift there again. The field of cars for this event was smaller than in years’ past but the racing was just as competitive as always.
The K2002 was in Group 2 which is mid-bore production cars and sedans. I had some great racing all weekend with Bruce McKean, Paul Gladio, Eric Smith, and Josh Moriarty.
Unfortunately I got a very nasty surprise in Race 4. Watch the video to see what happened.
The Swift ran in Group 6. There were only 8 cars in the group but I still had some great racing with John McCoy in his Mallock. He was much quicker tham me down the long straight but I was quicker under brakes and through the turns. It was a classic battle!
I thought I would update some of the projects we have going on with the cars this winter. Racecraft has been working hard on almost all of my cars. Here’s a rundown.
After 3 seasons it was time to freshen/rebuild the motor in the car. I had a spare motor which we sent down to Terry Tinney for some Tinney Performance magic and he delivered in spades! A few more HP’s and a little more torque. Thank you Terry!
I also had Racecraft install the Elite transmission I had purchased for Luigi but have since decided not to use in that car. The Elite is an exact copy of the ZF 5 speed transmission that was homologated for the 2002 back in the early 1970’s but with modern, stronger internals.
Getting it in the car required some modifications to the transmission tunnel and a new exhaust manifold for clearance. The car is all done and ready for our fist event next month.
The seat in the Swift is just the aluminum tub with a little bit of foam. It has never fit me well and the lack of support makes driving the car very uncomfortable. So we decided to fit a bean-bag seat in the car.
This type of seat is made up of tiny beads of foam that has epoxy resins added and then it is molded to fit my backside. Its a lengthy process but it works very well and the end result makes fitting in the car wonderful.
The only problem is I have to sit in the car for an hour without moving while the epoxy sets up. That is a small price to pay for the comfort I will have now. And that comfort should translate into lower lap times.We will be taking this car to the first race next month as well so I will know quickly if the new seat helps.
You may remember that at the Rolex Reunion last August we ended the weekend by finding bits of metal in the oil in Luigi. Fortunately we caught it in time to salvage the block and major internal bits.
The engine is currently down at Tinney Performance getting rebuilt. It should go smoothly as no major parts will be needed and the machine and porting work have all been done on the head and block.
#34 Hyde Park 2002
Unfortunately the #34 2002 was the victim of a brain slip by a Datsun driver at the Charity Challenge. The Datsun hit its LF wheel on the RR wheel of my car. When the tires touched the Datsun was lifted into the right side door, traveling down the side of the car and ripping the RF fender.
Fortunately we had a spare right side door, and the rest of the metal work was fairly minor. The fiberglass fenders were fairly easy to repair. The RR wheel was damaged but we were able to find someone who could repair it.
The car is now back from the paint shop ad ready to have the decals put on it and it will be ready for its first race at the David Love Memorial race in April.
Asahi Kiko M3
Unfortunately I had a brain fade at the Charity Challenge with the result that the front bumper was severely damaged on the M3.
Jim was able to find reproduction parts in New Zealand which we had air shipped to Seattle. Racecraft had to do some metal repairs to the supports and brackets, but that was about all.
The car is at the paint shop and should be done in a week or so.
The NSU is sitting out the first part of the season as Jay & Colin Ivey work on a fresh engine for it. They have torn the engine down and ordered parts from Germany. This is their first experience working on an NSU engine but are hopeful they can get it ready by mid-season.
Our first race is in just a couple of weeks down at Laguna Seca. We will be running 12-14 events this summer so check back often for updates and results.
During qualifying for the Group 8 race on Saturday I was lined up 4th. After the green flag dropped I tried to pass #33 NASCAR on the inside of Turn 1 but realized he didn’t see me and backed off. Going up the hill to Turn 2 I moved to the inside and passed him. I attempted to pass the #25 car also but was too far back for the driver to see me coming. He turned in to Turn 2 and we made contact, spinning us both out.
Following the contact Jeff the CSRG Race Director came to our pits and informed me that I would not be allowed to race anymore that weekend.
In discussing the incident with Jeff and reviewing my in-car I realize that I exercised poor judgement. I ended my conversation with Jeff by telling him I understood why I was not going to be allowed to drive my other car but I wasn’t happy.
As I thought about it later I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy was not because of Jeff’s decision to send me packing but I was unhappy with myself for allowing myself to get into the frame of mind that put my car in a bad position and created the potential for damage to my car and another car.
I realized that I began the session in a very impatient and aggressive frame of mind. I had just qualified my 2002 in 3rd place in Group 9 and had driven perhaps my best lap ever in that car at Sonoma. I knew my M3 was quicker that either of the NASCAR cars I was following and I was impatient to get by them and drive another “miracle” lap. The results of my poor judgement and even poorer mindset speak for themselves. This race weekend was a real wake-up call to me personally, as well as being a very expensive lesson. Nose clips for E30 M3’s don’t come cheap, if you can find one.
I am also in a very unfortunate position after last weekend as I was both the perpetrator and receiver of avoidable contact. My #34 BMW was hit by another car during the Group 9 race while being driven by Jeff Gerken.
I want to commend the Board of CSRG for their decision to clamp down on aggressive driving. As an owner of several valuable cars I have felt that things have gotten out of hand at many events in recent years. There are some events I will not participate in because of the poor level of driving allowed.
CSRG has taken a very brave stance by committing to cleaning up the driving at their events. I would like to respectfully point out to the Board that the only way it will work as we would all hope is for the Board to be as even handed and consistent in applying their standards as possible, no matter who causes an incident. Anything less will cause feelings of resentment, lack of respect for the Board and its decisions, and lower turn out for their races.
On the Thursday following our trip to Road America I suffered a mild heart attack. It came totally out of the blue- I had no warnings, nor did I have the usual precursors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
It did cause me to miss the Portland races the following weekend but I recovered enough to make the trip down to Monterey for Car Week. I had to skip the Pre-reunion races, but we arrived in time to take the Asahi M3 to Carmel for the Concours on the Avenue.
The Carmel Concours is always such a fun event. The race cars that are entered convoy over to the event from the race track on the public highway accompanied by a contingent of CHP motorcycle cops.
This year we placed 2nd in the race car group to a beautiful green Aston Martin DB5. The judges said they had a very difficult time deciding but ultimately went with the more historic car.
After the event the race cars all head back to the track by heading out Carmel Valley and going over the scenic Laureles Grade. It’s quite a fun adventure.
Thursday and Friday are practice/qualifying days at the track. Each of the 12 run groups gets one session on track each day. With 3 cars entered I had a lot of seat time on each day. By Friday evening I was feeling a bit tired. The CSL is especially wearing to drive because of the suspension geometry.
The CSL was in Group 5A- 1973-1981 FIA IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT. This group is a real mixed bag. The fastest cars in the group are the turbo 935 Porsches and big block GT cars like Decon Monzas and Corvettes. The next group of cars in terms of speed is primarily RSR Porsches and CSLs like mine.
The CSL raced both races on Saturday, the Bonham’s Cup race in the morning and the Rolex Feature race in the afternoon. I had qualified 12th in a group of 38 cars so I was pleased. My main rivals were 3 RSR Porsches driven by Erich Joiner, Alan Benjamin, and Cameron Healy.
I was able to get by all of them going into Turn 2 in the morning race. I held them all of until the last lap when Erich Joiner was able to get by. I ended up 10th. The morning race sets the grid for the Feature Race in the afternoon.
In the Feature Race Alan Benjamin forced his way by at the start and kept me behind him until about 4 laps in. I was able to get back by him between Turns 2 and 3 and pull away, finishing about 12 seconds ahead of him. I ended up 10th again with a best lap of 1:40.3.
The 1800 Ti was in Group 4B- 1961-1966 GT Cars Under 2,500 ccs. I qualified 35th out of 45 cars because I never got a good, clean lap during my qualifying sessions. There were just so many cars on track. I knew the car was quicker than we qualified. It made for a very interesting first lap as I was able to pass 6 cars by Turn 5!
Because I was not up to full song I chose to only run the morning race. Still, I finished 25th out of the 37 cars that finished. There was a few more places to be had if only . . .
Terry drove the car in the Feature Race in the afternoon and finished 20th with a best lap of 2:06.3.
Both races were marred by long yellow flag sessions. Both Terry and I were passed under yellow by fellow competitors. Sometimes that happens.
The M3 ran in Group 6B which is made up of IMSA GTO, and GTU cars from 1981-1991. It is a pretty quick group of cars. Still, I managed to qualify mid-field out of 32 cars!
Unfortunately the car had some issues all weekend. It began to have a miss during the Thursday practice which got worse each day.
For the Sunday morning race I was able to only make 2 laps before I came in. I was afraid the miss would damage the engine. I never started the Feature Race.
As it turned out once Jim had a look at it we needed to replace a sensor and the distributor cap and the car was fine.
So it was kind of a mixed bag of a race weekend. The CSL did very well. The 1800 showed its potential, and the M3 showed well in Carmel but had some problems on track. Given my health scare I was just glad to have been there racing!
We did get some nice publicity for the M3. Automobile Magazine blog did a nice piece on the car. Here’s the link:
Every other year we make the trip back to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This year we went back for the Weathertech International Challenge the weekend of July 18-21, 2019.
Road America is by far my favorite track in the US. I have many fond memories of going there in the 1960’s and 1970’s watching some of the most famous names in racing compete on that track.
This year we made the trip with the Swift S2000 and my M3. I was looking forward to racing both cars on this fast and flowing track. I had also entered the M3 in the Friday night parade and concours.
I ran the Swift in the practices and did a best lap of 2:32 and change. The car had a tendency to trolly track in the cracks in the pavement going down the straights which was a challenge to say the least. Jim said it has enough downforce at that speed that it won’t go anywhere, but it still was not comfortable.
Road America has 3 places per lap where the car reached its maximum speed. It also has several long high speed turns that really stretch your neck.
I decided to let Jim run the car in the feature race on Sunday as he was about 4 seconds a lap quicker in it than me. He had also blown out the diff in his Datsun on Friday so he was without a ride.
He ended up finishing 16th after the race was shortened because of an incident involving several cars.
As I mentioned, I entered the M3 in the Friday night parade and Concours. This is an incredibly fun event that is unique. The race cars line up outside Turn 12 at the track where they are inspected by the judges. Following that they head into town behind a police escort.
Someone told me that as many as 20,000 fans line the route into town and winding through the city streets. Once the cars are parked the fans descend on them en-mass. After a couple of hours the judges announce the awards for each division and the cars fire up and drive back to the race track.
The M3 was the winner of Group 4 so I was invited to present the car for the Best in Show judging on Sunday in Victory Circle at the race track.
I had some great laps in the M3 before the alternator fully broke and the motor overheated because the fan belt disappeared. In the interest of not making the problem worse we parked the car for the rest of the weekend.
I managed a 2:34 and change with the car in qualifying. It is a real joy to drive on this track. I really want to bring it back sometime soon. I bet I could get into the high 2:20’s with it.
On the weekend of May 3-5 we raced in the SVRA Trans-Am Festival held at Laguna Seca Raceway outside of Monterey, CA.
I took the NSU and the E30 M3 down for the event. We enjoyed great weather and a lot of fun racing.
The NSU raced in Group 1 which has small bore sedans and sports cars built before 1972. It has one of the smaller engines in a group made up of highly developed Minis, 356 Porsches, TVRs, Austin Healys, and Sprigits.
I was still trying to feel out the car after my crash last summer. I am still just a bit tentative with the swing axel rear suspension and the short wheel base. As the weekend progressed I was starting to pitch it into the corners with much more confidence, and my lap times showed my improvement.
I did have one scary moment in the car. I was going up the hill into the Corkscrew right beside a Morgan during practice and the throttle stuck wide open. At first I just jammed on the brakes but quickly realized that wasn’t going to hold the car, so I quickly reached over and turned the kill switch. Frantically waving to the cars around me I coasted down the hill and back into the paddock. Jim quickly diagnosed the problem as a broken internal return spring on one of the Weber carbs. The piece that broke off had fallen and jammed the throttle open.
I finished 16th out of 24 cars in the Feature Race on Sunday. I had a great race with the Morgan, a TVR, and a Spitfire. Great fun! My best lap for the weekend was a 1:57.9.
The M3 was put into Group 10 which is made up of GTO and tube frame Trans-Am cars from the 1980’s and 1990’s. They have engines that are 300 CI and larger. Jim and John Murray also had their Datsun 240 GTU cars in this group. Unfortunately John had a transmission issue on Saturday and was unable to run on Sunday.
This was the first race for the M3 with the rebuilt engine. Terry Tinney did a great job with the rebuild getting over 280 HP at the rear wheels. It was immediately noticeable driving the car. I spent the test day sessions logging miles on the motor, keeping the revs below 7,200.
On Saturday I began to take the motor to 7,500, and then 8,000 RPM. What a glorious sound! And what power. The motor really switches on about about 5,500 RPM, and pulls hard all the way up to where I shift it. THANKS TERRY!
I qualified 8th for the Feature Race on Sunday. I got a great start and came out of Turn 2 in 6th place. I was able to hold my own until about 2 laps from the end when I spun in some oil in Turn 5. I managed to finish 9th overall with a best lap of 1:39.04. Jim finished 3rd overall with his Datsun. We finished 1-2 in the 12B small engine class.
This was the first event for SVRA at Laguna Seca. They brought along their West Coast Trans-Am Series. These cars are pretty quick with the leaders turning mid 1:20’s. Their races are 70 minutes long so tires and brakes have to be nursed to go the distance. The T2 race was won by the car that started in last place. They put on a great show.
I’ve put the video from the weekend up on YouTube. The link is below. If you enjoy these videos please give them a ‘Like,’ or subscribe. Your comments are always appreciated as well. Thanks for watching!
Last weekend we traveled down to Sonoma to run the NSU and the K2002 in CSRG’s spring race- The David Love Memorial Races.
CSRG is sponsoring a B sedan series this summer called the John Morton Cup. It seems like every time a sanctioning body puts on a B sedan only race it provides a great spectacle for the public. It is not uncommon to hear, “That was the best race of the weekend.” I hope more vintage groups will schedule some B sedan only races.
For Saturday’s qualifying race I lined up 5th behind Troy Ermish, Jim Froula, Jon Norman, and Dave Stone. John Murray was 6th, and Keith Lippiatt was 7th. It was a nice mix of Datsuns, Alfas, and a bunch of BMWs.
Just before our race a Formula Atlantic car managed to dump its entire dry sump system full of oil all around the track. Just to make it more interesting the driver stayed right on the racing line while the gush occurred. This made for some exciting racing during the opening few laps.
The green flag waved in a cloud of oil dry. The cars at the back of the field were flying pretty blind. My windshield was coated with oily kitty litter by Turn 3. I managed to get by Dave Stone and was running 4th behind Ermish, Froula, and Norman. Going into Turn 11 the first time I was a bit too conservative under braking and John Murray got inside me. As we powered off the turn my engine started to have a slight miss and John pulled past me into 4th.
Behind me Keith Lippiatt and Terry Forland were having a good battle in their BMWs. Terry eventually got by and ran 6th. Henry Schmitt had to start at the back of the field because he only had slicks for his car. He came through the field and finished 12th.
The miss caused me to lose touch with the lead pack so I had a rather lonely race until the checkered flag. My best lap of the weekend was a 1:58.9.
Back in the paddock Jim noticed the left rear wheel had a bit more camber than the right. He jacked up the car and found that the left rear trailing arm had split and cracked. I thought the car felt a little funny but attributed it to all the oil dry on the track.
It meant the car was done for the weekend, but I am very glad we found the problem in the paddock and not going through fast Turn 10! He will be welding reinforcing plates on 2 new trailing arms before the next race.
This event marked the return of the mighty NSU. You may remember that I crashed the car in the wet at Seattle last July. Jim and Ted at Racecraft repaired the car over the winter. It looked good as new sitting in the paddock next to the K2002.
The NSU ran in Group 2 which is made up of small bore production cars and sedans built before 1972. The class is dominated by English cars- Midgets, Minis, Elvas, Austi Healys, TVRs, and Sprites. There are also Morgans, 356 Porsches, and a few Alfa sedans.
I began the weekend taking it a bit easy with the car until I had some confidence that the swing axels weren’t going to bite me again. In the end I qualified 16th out of 34 cars. I was pretty happy with that.
The race went pretty well. I held off an Alfa GTV but was passed by a couple of faster cars that started at the back of the grid. I ended up finishing 17th. My best lap for the weekend was a 2:05.9.
Here’s the video from the weekend. Hope you enjoy it!
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.