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.
We had our first race last weekend with the M3 at the HMSA Spring race at Laguna Seca.
Let me first give a big shout out to Pall, Luis, and Kevin for coming down and cheering us on. It was great fun to meet them and talk about all things M3! And if you haven’t looked at Pall’s Flicker album yet- don’t miss it. He got some really great shots of the car.
This was my first time in the car and I always approach a new car with the idea of just getting comfortable with it, the controls, the feedback its giving me, and making sure everything is operating nominally.
Saturday morning was cool and damp. The track was dry, but off-line there were damp patches. I used the first few laps of the session to just get comfortable in the car and to build a little heat in the slicks. I also needed to scrub the mold release off their face.
After a few laps I began to build up my speed. The gearbox in the car is pretty amazing. It is a Getrag 265 case with Samsonas innards. The cluster features straight cut gears and it has a dog ring so the clutch is not necessary once you are moving. I chose to use the clutch for now so as to not add another complication to my learning the car. Later I’ll work at shifting w/o the clutch. The gear throw is VERY short; just a flick of the wrist and you’re in the next gear. Really sweet.
The car felt very neutral and I kept having to push myself deeper into the corners before braking as they are much more effective than any of my other cars.
Saturday afternoon the rains came. It started just as I was sitting on pre-grid for the qualifying race with my 2002. By the time our race was over there were puddles starting to form on the track so I decided not to take the M3 out.
Sunday morning was sunny and warmer. I took the car out for the morning warm-up session. The second time in a new car is always better. I feel like I at least know more what to expect, plus I am more comfortable with the steering, pedals, and shifter. So I turned it up another notch.
As I began to push the car harder it began to show more of its personality. The first thing I noticed was a little bit of under steer on turn in. As I reached the apex and added power the car instantly neutralized and came off the corner like a freight train. There are in cockpit adjustments for the sway bars and brake bias. I will begin exploring those later. I have left them at the settings the previous owner recommended.
The engine in the car is great. It dogs below 4500, which you would expect. Once you reach 5500 it really comes alive and pulls hard up until the red line. I was choosing to shift at about 8000-8200. red line is marked on the tach at 8500.
I was gridded for the feature race in 4th behind 2 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup cars, and a 1990 Olds tube frame GTO car. How did we get 2 brand new GT3 Cup cars on the grid of a vintage race? Good question. I asked but never got a straight answer from HMSA. I’m guessing the reason was financial. There was also a 2012 GT3 Cup car in the field. He was gridded at the rear of our group because he didn’t have a qualifying time.
As the 2 GT3 Cup cars sailed off into the distance I chased the GTO car. I decided I would just follow him and keep him honest while I was still learning the car. My best lap was a 1:40, about 2 tenths quicker than the GTO’s best lap. A few laps into the race the other GT3 Cup car came forward and passed us both so I finished 5th overall, but 2nd in the ‘vintage’ class.
I also raced the Koepchen 2002 in Group 4. The car was just plain ripping all weekend long. We had the new Ivey engine in the car and it performed very well.
In Saturday’s qualifying race I had a great dice with Dennis Racine in his yellow Mini. I was finally able to pass him in Turn 11 on the last lap to finish 2nd.
In the feature race I was able to pass the lead Datsun 510 going through Turn 2. He missed a shift going into Turn 5 and I opened a lead on him that I was able to keep throughout the rest of the race.
My best lap was a 1:49.7. The best I have ever done in the 2002 at Laguna Seca.
Along with BMWs and MBs my father’s dealership sold NSUs. So when I started racing he suggested I find the holy grail of NSUs, a 1200 TTS. I found one for sale in NJ and went with my friend Peter P. to collect it and bring it back to MN.
NSU was an old manufacturer. They began in the late 1800’s as a knitting machine manufacturer. Soon they became a bicycle manufacturer, and then in the early 1900’s began making cars and motorcycles.
After the war they continued making excellent motorcycles, winning races in Europe and setting many speed records at Bonneville. Their cars were small, but of high quality, and were also quite successful on track.
Their most successful model on the track and at hillclimbs was the TT and its successor the TTS. These cars came as 1,000 ccs and 1200 ccs, and were named for the race where NSU had had such success, the Isle of Man TT races.
In the late 1960’s they developed a Wankle engined car called the Ro-80 that was a marvel. It was a beautiful design, but the engine proved unreliable, and the warranty claims put the company in jeopardy.
VW/Audi took over the company in 1969 and the NSU brand disappeared.
I ran my TTS in a few auto crosses in the fall of 1969, setting several FTDs, and then raced it on the Ice in the IIRA series in 1969 through 1971. I never got a chance to race it on a track because I sold it and bought a Mazda RX2 to race in 1972.
The question of how well these cars go has always rattled around in the back of my empty skull, so I decided to take steps to find out before I was too old to care.
Here are some pictures of my latest acquisition. It is a 1970 1200 TTS. It has a OH cam 4 cylinder air cooled engine, sitting on a 4 speed transmission. And no, I will not be doing any bump drafting with that oil cooler hanging out there.
It has independent suspension all around. Up front are unequal length arms, with coil springs and a sway bar. In back are swing axels locate by trailing arms, with coil springs and shocks.
I found the car in the Netherlands, and it is on its way via ship to Seattle. No Baby Corvair jokes please.
Stay tuned to follow the adventures of this little Bad Boy!
My new E30 M3 arrived on Friday February 2nd from Australia. It was loaded in a 20 ft. container and shipped up to Seattle, with stops in Aukland, Fiji, Honolulu, and Vancouver B.C.
Jim Froula, from Racecraft, met us at the shipping company’s office with a trailer. It was quite a thrill to walk back into the warehouse and find the car sitting there ready to go.
The car is beautiful! It is nicer and better prepared than we had imagined. Hats off to Eric Bowden and his crew.
This car was raced in the Japanese Touring Car series from 1988 through 1993. It raced for 4 different teams during those years. Its most successful year was 1993 when it powered Anthony Reid to 3rd in the drivers’ championship.
Following its time in Japan the car went to Malaysia for a few years before coming back to Switzerland where it ran some hill climbs. It then sat for several years before going back to Australia where it underwent a complete restoration back to its 1993 red/white/blue Valvoline livery.
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.
We made the trip back east to participate in SVRA’s Brickyard Vintage Invitational held each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This venue is steeped in history. They have been racing at the Brickyard for over 100 years. It is mind boggling to think about all the drivers who have raced there over the years, as well as all that has happened there.
It sends shivers down your spine the first time you drive off pre-grid, under the “Gasoline Alley” sign and out into the canyon of the main grandstand along the front straight.
The track we used was made up of the front straight and portions of the F1 course. The twisty bits are pretty tight and are separated by 2 long straights. It is just over 2 miles around.
We took the 1800 and Luigi. The 1800 raced in Group 3, and Luigi in Group 12A.
I spent the Thursday practice sessions learning my way around the track. It isn’t hard, but to get a good time requires some precision. It is very easy to overdrive some of the corners and your lap time will suffer.
Friday had 2 qualifying sessions for each car. Because it was hot (91 degrees and 75% humidity), I chose to just run the morning session in each car. I didn’t think the lap times could be any faster in the heat of the afternoon.
There were several other series racing with the vintage cars during the weekend. The SCCA Trans-Am series was there, along with the Pro Spec Miata series. It was fun to have a close look at the cars and to watch them on track. The Trans_am cars can really haul the mail!
The 1800 suffered down the long straights and I was able to only qualify in 10th with a lap of 2:01.5. Luigi, on the other hand, loved hooking-up coming out of the corners and flying down the long straights. He qualified on pole with a 1:43.8, 2.5 seconds faster than the 911 of Tom Clark.
The feature races on Saturday were in the morning when it was a bit cooler. I managed to finish 12th in the 1800 after a race-long battle with Allen Goode in his TR4.
At the drop of the green flag Luigi surged away from the field and never looked back. I ran the entire race with out any issues and finished almost 20 seconds ahead of 2nd place.
It was very special to stand on the top step at Indy and get to drink the milk and kiss the bricks.
Sunday morning I ran the 1800 in the 1 Hour Vintage Enduro. It was wet and already pretty hot when the race started at 8:00 AM. I only ran about half the race as I had 2 more races to run later in the day. It was fun racing on a wet track with some big-bore cars. I could have fun with them in the turns, but then they would leave me in the dust on the long straights.
The 2 feature races on Sunday went well. I had back-to-back races, with the 1800 out first. As with the Enduro I only ran a few laps before coming in and cooling down before jumping into Luigi.
Luigi’s Feature race went just like it did on Saturday. I surged ahead at the green flag and never was challenged.
2 wins at Indy for the old guy- Luigi not me. After 40 years he still knows how to get the job done!
This year SCRAMP started a new race with hopes to build it into a premier vintage race in the coming years. It features cars from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. There were groups for F1 cars, Atlantic cars, and big block Trans-Am cars. However, the largest grid for this first event was the 2.5 Trans-Am Sedans.
Group E was made up of BMW 2002’s, Alfas, 510’s, a Mini, and several Porsches. 34 cars total!
I entered my #34 2002. This car has always been a race car. It taken off the truck at Hyde Park Motors and built into a race car. In fact, it was the first BMW to win points in a Trans-Am race at Riverside in 1968.
There were some fast drivers and fast cars in our group, including Sam Smith in a 2002, and Troy Ermish in his always fast Datsun 510.
The racing was some of the best I’ve experienced for several years. I managed a 4th in the feature race, which was not too shabby given the quality of the field.
Here’s the video, I hope you enjoy the great tin-top racing: