All posts by stewal46

2019 David Love Memorial Race

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.

17 B sedans were ready to race on Saturday’s qualifying race. I was lined up 5th.

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.

A cracked and split trailing arm ended our weekend.

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.

The NSU ran perfectly all weekend and my lap times got better each session. That makes for a good weekend.

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!

HMSA Spring Race

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.

A pan full of 3rd gear! This put an end to our weekend in the Swift.

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.

All they got for their trouble was my son’s dirt laundry.

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.

Here’s the video from the weekend:

Off Season Project Updates

Just a quick update on winter projects. All of this work is being done up at Racecraft by Jim and his fantastic team.

The before picture. Ouch!

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!

All the metal work has been completed and the car will head off to the painter soon.

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.

The wrap guy came through finally. Here’s the mock-up of what the car will look like.

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.

The Elite 5 speed transmission is an exact reproduction of the old ZF transmission from the early 1970’s but with stronger internals.

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.

Installation of the S14 engine is going along smoothly.

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.

The ICON Exhibit Closing Celebration

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.

Macs Speed Shop- Beer, Bikes, & BBQ; the three B’s everyone loves.

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!

4 historic 2002 race cars ready to do their thing.

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 factory is BMW’s largest manufacturing facility.

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.

Here’s the video from the event:


SVRA Vintage Nationals- COTA, Austin, TX

Our last race of the year was in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas for SVRA’s Vintage National Championships.

Luigi CSL and Koepchen 2002 ready for the battle.

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.

Group 12B Feature Race.

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!

Without Mary’s support I couldn’t do this. Thank You Mary!!

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!

These are the guys that make all this possible. (L to R) Jay Ivey, Austin Hironaka, Monty Jarvis, Jim Froula, and Terry Forland.
BS National champ! And its an all BMW podium too!
Probably the best race I have driven and a good result.

Portland Vintage Racing Fesival

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.

Sometimes vintage racing makes for some strange bedfellows.

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.

The M3 finished 3rd over-all, and 1st in class in Sunday’s Feature Race.

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.

Hans and I race together a lot. He is a good clean driver and we enjoy racing against each other.

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



New Car in the Garage

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.

I need more headroom!

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.

1986 Swift DB2 fitted with DB5 bodywork.

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 Cosworth 2 ltr. Ford. This engine features the twin cam, 4 valve head and makes about 220 hp.

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.

My new Swift arrives at Racecraft’s shop.

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.

Monterey Car Week- 2018

The M3 quit itself well until the block cracked.

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.

Pace lap from the 2.5 Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca in about 1971-72. The orange and black BMW is my #34 Hyde Park Motors car being driven by Carl Fredricks.

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!

The Cobra crosses the block at Russo & Steele on Friday night. Not what I hoped for.

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:

2018 Pacific Northwest Historics- Kent, WA

The ‘Before’ picture of both cars.

 

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.

After I ran out of talent.

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.

 

2018 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

 

With over 300 cars entered the paddock is full!

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!

Luigi crests the hill at Turn 2.

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.

Terry is chased by a bunch of 02’s on Saturday’s Qualifying race.

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.