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:
I ran the #34 2002 at the SOVREN Spring Sprints held on April 28-30 at Pacific Raceway outside Seattle.
It was a fun weekend with lots of track time. I had some good racing with several other cars.
I should mention that this car has the old style long-neck differential in it. Because of that there are a limited number of diff ratios available for the car.
Seattle has a very long front straight and with the gear I had in the car I was hitting 8,000 RPM about 1/2 to 2/3 0f the way down the straight. So I had to feather the throttle and this was costing me about a second a lap.
Our 2017 season began with the David Love Memorial Races at Sonoma Raceway on March 31 – April 2, 2017 put on by CSRG. I brought my Koepchen 2002 to run in Group 8, and my Chevron B16 to run in Group 7.
It was a beautiful weekend, mid 70’s and lots of sun. Quite a change from our long, cold winter here in Oregon. With all the rain they have had in CA the hills around the race track were a bright green. A perfect setting for a weekend of racing.
Let’s start with the 2002. I was trying a new set of the Avon ZZS DOT radial tires this weekend. They are a little wider than the Toyos we normally run on this car (215 mm vs. 205 mm). I found I liked them a lot. They were very consistent through a run, and didn’t seem to be as affected by temperature as the Toyos.
I love driving this car at Sonoma. It is a track that suits the 2002 perfectly. As a result the car punches above its weight. By that I mean it can compete well against cars it normally would be easily beaten by. I was able to turn a 1:55.3 on Saturday morning during qualifying! That is a lap average of about 90 mph.
The car runs in Group 8 at CSRG events. This group is made up of sedans and sports cars from the mid 1960’s up to the mid 1970’s. There are GTO Corvettes, Camaro, Porsches (911’s & 914’s), and Datsuns (510’s and Z’s). Quite a mixed bag of cars.
I qualified 10th out of 23 cars and began the race outside of David Martin’s GTU 240Z. I was able to get ahead of him at the start, but on lap 2 he tried to out brake me going into Turn 7 and got behind on his steering and I was able to repass him.
I held off David and 2 other Z cars for the next 6-7 laps until he was able to out brake me again for Turn 7 and get by. Then down in Turn 11 the other 2 Z’s snuck by me. I ended up finishing 10th with a best race lap of 1:56.4.
I also entered my Chevron B16 this weekend. I am still trying to learn to get the most out of this car. It is quite different than my other production based cars. My biggest problem is that I don’t fit very well in the car so I am not comfortable and confident. I really struggle with consistent footwork on the pedals. Jim @ Racecraft will be doing some modifications to the pedals to try and help.
The car runs in Group 7 with CSRG. This group is made up of both closed and open wheeled cars. There are a lot of Formula Atlantic cars, some Can-Am cars, an mid-1980’s F1 car, and a few 2 liter sports racers in the group.
I started 10th and finished 9th in my race, with a best lap of 1:48.7. My goal was to log laps and work on feeling comfortable driving the car. My best guess is that I will be turning 1:45’s once I get more experience with it.
Here’s the video from the weekend. Thanks for watching!
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:
Our next race was at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival put on by SVRA. Held each spring, it is a great event with lots of great cars, and big crowds of spectators. SVRA does a great job with this event. One of the highlights each year is the R&R party they put on on Saturday night.
At this event I raced the Willis Special and the Luigi CSL. Both cars ran well all weekend, and I was able to finish 7th with the Willis and 6th in the CSL with a best lap of 1:53.4.
I ran pretty much all alone in the Willis. The car slots in between the much faster F1 cars and the much slower cars in the group. One of the great things about this group is the sites and sounds and smells of all the old cars that run in this group.
The Willis is a very difficult car to drive. It is extremely loose in the rear end. This trait is particularly noticeable in the Carousel where the road drops constantly as you make the 180 degree turn.
In the CSL I had a great race long battle with Bill Lyon in his 914/6 Porsche. We have raced together many times and we always have fun, close racing. At some tracks he is quicker, and at some I am quicker.
Sonoma seems to favor my CSL because of the torque the car has. I am able to really pull Bill coming out of the slower corners.
Here’s the video from the weekend. Hope you enjoy it:
Our opening races of the year were down in California- the David Love Memorial at Sonoma, and the HMSA Spring event at Laguna Seca.
These races would be my first chance to drive my newly acquired Chevron B16 so I was excited for the season to begin. I also raced my trusty Koepchen 2002.
My 2002 races in Group 8 which is a mixture of mid and large bore production cars and sedans. Sonoma is ideal suited to the 2002 so they do very well there against the larger engined cars.
I started about mid pack and had a great race with John Murray in his 2002, and Gary Cook in his 240Z. My best lap time for the weekend was 1:59.3. Here’s the link to the video of that race:
This was also my first opportunity to drive the Chevron B16 I purchased over the winter. We had to make some modifications to the car so I could even fit into it. We trimmed the bottom of the dash for my knees, took out the dead pedal, and put some spacers in the drivers side window to give me a little more head room.
My objective for this first race was to just get comfortable in the car. It is significantly different than driving my other cars. It is a purpose built race car with a lot more speed than anything else I own.
This Chevron has a BMW m10 motor in it. It produces about 220 HP and is very tractable. It pulls hard from about 4,000 RPM up to its red line. The brakes are phenomenal, much more effective than any of my other cars. It has amazing amounts of grip, yet is quite neutral and predictable in the corners.
The weekend following Sonoma we went to Laguna Seca for the HMSA Spring Event.
I had another great race with John Murray in our 2002’s. I was able to beat him this weekend by out braking him going into the Cork Screw and holding him off for 6 laps. A lot of fun!
The Chevron and I continued to get to know each other. Unfortunately I broke a half-shaft in the car during the race and had to retire.
At 10:50 all drivers are to be in their car, strapped in, and ready to go. The pace car leaves the grid at 10:55 and after 1 pace lap the green flag is dropped and the race begins.
There were a number a pretty fast cars (and trucks- see the video) that chose not to qualify in the rain. They started at the back of the field, but by Turn 4 of the opening lap they were coming up through the group I was racing with. It got pretty tight a couple of times.
After 2-3 laps I settled in and just tried to drive the car smoothly and consistently. Our goal was to make sure we finished, and I didn’t want to be stupid or break the car in my first stint.
All in all I drove 5 stints during the race, including the start and the checkered flag. It was quite an honor.
I had raced my 2002 at Thunderhill just a few weeks before this event, so I was very comfortable in the E30.
For the 25 Hour race they use a by-pass of Turn 5. It is a blind rise over the shank of the hill. There is quite a camber change as you go over the rise, and it gets worse the more you are to the right. The fast line is staying left, but when the fast cars come by we had to move right for them.
Just over the rise the track takes a hard, off camber, right around the base of the hill. It’s quite a handful, especially in the dark.
Our race went smoothly until my 10:00 PM stint. About 45 minutes into it morning. I was driving the car just shut down. The lights and everything stayed on, but the motor would not run. I coasted to a stop under the bridge on the back straight. Fortunately not to far from pit in.
After a short wait while the pace car picked up the field, I was towed back to the pits and the crew set to work diagnosing the problem. I went off to bed for a 4 hour sleep before my next scheduled stint.
When I got back to the pits the car was back out on track logging laps. The high pressure fuel pumped had failed, and it had taken about an hour to find the problem and fix it.
Mary had volunteered to act as cook for the team. She had prepared meals ahead of the weekend and warmed them and set them out for the team. We also had a table full of snacks, fruit, and drinks that she kept ready for the entire event. Her efforts were greatly appreciated by everyone on the team. What a gal!
Our race settled down again after the fuel pump replacement. We were able to do about 90 minutes on a load of fuel. The rules state that you can only change one tire during a pit stop unless you take the car behind the wall. We had developed a schedule of changing one tire about every 3rd or 4th stint. The system worked pretty well for us.
Everything was going great until our pit stop and tire change about 2 hours from the finish. Unfortunately one of the wheel studs broke off. We debated whether or not to fix it and continue. We were far enough ahead of the next car in our class to stay ahead of them even if we stopped.
At Mary’s urging the crew fixed the stud and I hopped back into the car and drove it to the finish. It would have been a shame not to drive the car under the checkered flag. It had taken about 30 minutes to fix.
We finished the race 36th overall, but 2nd in our class! To keep that finish we still had to pass tech. Seems like a no brainer, except for the fact that we had filled in a tech sheet that qualified us for our class and now those items would be checked thoroughly by the inspectors.
Fortunately we passed without any problems, so we got to keep our finishing position.
What a fun event! I can’t wait to run it again. It is the type of driving that suits my style and skills to a tee.
Following this event our trusty E30 was put up for sale. While it was very reliable, it was pretty slow. We got beat by a Honda Fit! We all want to run the event again, but with a better chance to place well.
Currently the team is looking for another, faster car.