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.
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.
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
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.
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.
First car is the M3 race car I bought a few weeks ago. It has been loaded into a container and onto a ship. That ship left Australia on January 9th headed for Seattle. It should arrive sometime in early February.
The Willis and all its extras left Racecraft’s shop yesterday morning. It will head south to Arizona where it will be photographed for the Bonham’s Auction catalog for their Amelia Island Auction that is happening on March 8th. Here’s a link to the auction site.
The Willis is not yet listed among the Lots on offer but should be soon:
Last but not least, my Hyde Park Motors Trans-Am 2002 is headed back to the BMWCCA Foundation museum in Greer, SC where it will be a part of the display honoring the 50th Anniversary of the 2002.
I spent a couple of days cleaning him all up. I then took him up to Portland to meet the same truck that is hauling the Willis.
The car will be on display starting in March through January. He will get a well deserved rest for this summer.
In July we took the Chevron and Luigi to Road America for the 2017 edition of the Weathertec Challenge.
One of the highlights of this event is the race car parade and concours on Friday night in downtown Elkhart Lake. The folks really turn out for this event with the route lined 4-6 people deep all the way into town.
We entered Luigi and were rewarded with a win in Group H!
Unfortunately this was the highlight for Luigi as well. On the way to his qualifying race on Saturday he stripped his oil pump drive belt.
We had another one on the truck but Jim and Terry were worried about internal damage to the engine so we parked the car for the weekend.
It is too bad because on time he qualified 14th in a grid of big block cars. It would have been fun to race him and see ho he did against the Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs.
The Chevron went very well. Was able to finish 7th in my group of sports racers with a best lap of 2:33 and change.
The opening lap of my race was hairy! A couple of the GT-40s got together going into Turn 1. They hit the car in front of me, and the car behind me, but I managed to squeak through.
The mid part of our season consisted of races in Seattle and Portland, both events close to home.
The Northwest Historic put on by SOVREN are always a fun event. This year was no exception.
This weekend was especially fun in that I was able to track test my recently refurbished 1800 Ti. Terry Forland from Racecraft did a superb job of creating an homage to proper mid-1960’s touring car. Here’s the short video I made of that test:
I had my trusty Koepchen 2002 at this event. The racing was very tight all weekend. I was in a large group of mixed production cars, sedans, and older sports racers. The grid of the race was mixed up because there was a rain shower for qualifying and some of the faster cars chose to start at the back of the field. Take a look at the video from the event:
The Portland Vintage Festival was the weekend following Seattle. I raced the 1800 Ti and my Chevron at this event.
The Chevron and I were still coming to terms. I was getting a much better feel for the car, but still needed to work on downshifts. I had a fun race with a Lola in the feature:
The race debut for the 1800 went really well. It ran flawlessly all weekend. I learned quite a bit about its idiosyncrasies and had a fun race with Steve Smith in his potent VW:
We had the privilege of attending this years Amelia Island Concours and bringing along Luigi. He was driven by Hans Stuck in 1976 at the famous Nurburgring in the ETCC race, and since this year’s honored driver was Hans Stuck we got the call.
Friday night after cruising the displays of trophies, auction cars, and vender tables all at the Ritz Carlton, we attended the BMW dinner in honor of Stuck.
Saturday morning we unloaded the car in time to catch the end of the Cars & Coffee before heading off to the BMW Drivers seminar.
The panel of drivers for this seminar consisted of Boris Said, Bill Auberlin, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Hans Stuck, and John Fitzpatrick. It was a spell-binding 2 hours of funny stories, friendly banter, and great BMW history.
Following the seminar we had too get back to the car and drive him out on the field for the “Cars of Hans Stuck” official photo shoot. The group included the BMW X5 with the 700 HP Le Mans winning V-12 in it that Hans drove around the Nurburgring in under 7 minutes.
We then parked the car in its assigned spot on the concours field and headed back to our motel for the night.
Sunday morning came with a threat of rain. We were told that all events would be wrapped up by 3:00 in hopes of beating the rain. The crowds poured in at 9:00 AM, and by 10:00 it was packed! I was told that over 35,000 people attended this year.
We had entered Luigi to be judged in the “Cars of Hans Stuck” group. Our judges included German driver Jochen Mass, former Porsche racing director Norbert Singer, and Steven Pastiener.
Needless to say we were floored when we were awarded Amelia Award for our class. This is a real tribute to the work of Jim Froula, Terry Forland, and the rest of the skilled guys at Racecraft.
Both Mary and I were thrilled to be a part of this spectacular event. It was a weekend full of wonderful memories.