Update on Luigi CSL Restoration/Prep

Here is the car at the Nurburgring in 1976 during the German round of the European Touring Car Championship. It sat on the pole but had an engine failure during the race.

We have begun the restoration/race prep of the Luigi CSL. We have decided to return the car to the same livery it wore in 1976, the year it won the European Touring Car Championship.

The first order of business was to remove the wide Group 5 fenders and the front air dam that were installed in the 1980’s.

Castrol Green
Grinding down through the old paint and bodywork revealed all the old layers of paint from former days. Automotive archeology at its finest.

It was interesting to grind down through the old paint and bondo and find all the old layers of paint the car wore through its racing career. Down at the very bottom we found the black/green/red paint from its original Castrol livery.

When we removed the front air dam we found that the front valance was in need of some repairs. We want to make the new air dam removable to aid in loading/unloading the car from the trailer and need a solid base to mount it.

Valance Repair
Here is the finished valance repair.

The old valance was cut out, and a new one was grafted in.

Once the old fenders were removed and the valance repaired, the engine was taken out and shipped down to Terry Tinney for a freshening. The car was then taken to the painter’s shop.

Jim Froula from Racecraft, visited the CSL recently at the painters.

He said that there is not too much progress to report except that they have stripped all the paint and filler from both sides of the car and it’s in amazingly good condition underneath all that mess that was there. No rust and only the slightest indication of contact at each front corner.

The fiberglass parts turned out to be a real disappointment. They are nowhere near close to fitting.

Trying to fit the disappointing fiberglass parts.
Trying to fit the disappointing fiberglass parts.

The rear flares are about 2″ narrower than the fronts, but the shape is okay so making them a little wider will be easy.

The front flares are just wrong in every way. The good news is that the fiberglass guy we have on the job can make anything so I’m confident it will look right in the end it was just a hurdle we didn’t expect.

The main reason for Jim’s visit  was to get really detailed about how the flares need to look, how much gap to allow around the tires, how far they need to protrude from the fenders, how they need to be attached, etc.

Luigi Castrol RR 3
Here is the look we will be trying to achieve. This is the #3 Luigi car from the race at SPA in 1976.

They  reviewed a whole bunch of photos, made a bunch of notes and measurements and they now have some clear guidance on how to proceed. More importantly they are still confident that our schedule is realistic and promise to meet our date for the Sonoma Motorsports Festival in May.

Jim has have allowed a month after painting to reassemble everything and maybe even get it out to a track day before we head south with it.

On the engine side of things. The injection pump and injectors are out to the specialist that will thoroughly clean them out and make sure they are flowing properly.

Terry Tinney should have the motor disassembled and inspected early next week so we’ll have more information on any issues there might be there.

How This Blog Came To Be- Part 3

Jerry Orr leading the pack at Lake Phalen. Notice the different driving styles based on drive wheel location.

While participating in an auto cross event held at Brainerd International Raceway during the summer of 1970 I met a man named Jerry Orr. At that time Jerry was the president of the International Ice Racing Assocation. The IIRA held a series of races during the winter in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario.

He told me about how much fun it was, and how much I’d learn about car control, race strategy, and car preparation. Mostly he talked about the fun.

I decided that I would give it a try with my trusty NSU.

The IIRA ran 3 classes broken down by engine location and drive wheel location. The fastest cars were front engine/front wheel drive. There was also a class for front engine/rear wheel drive, and rear engine/rear wheel drive. These were further divided by engine size, making a total of 6 classes.

The rules governing tires were very strict. You were allowed to run studs, but only 13 studs per foot of tire circumference. But there were studs, and then there were studs. Needless to say, the studs you used were a critical factor in how fast you went.

Regular street studs were not competitive. A tire shop in St. Paul, who were also running a Corvette in the series, had developed a conical stud that worked much better. They had a lot of power to put onto the ice, so they worked hard at developing the studs, and then selling them to the other racers.

My arch nemeses, the Archer brothers and their Renaults.

The NSU would run in the rear engine/rear wheel drive class, along with an assortment of VW’s, Simcas, and a couple of Renault Dauphins driven by a pair of brothers named Archer out of Duluth.

At that time there were fairly large fields, and the races were 2-3 hours long. My first event was in Brainerd, and it was cold! How cold was it? Air temp was -25, and wind chill was -35. We left our tow vehicle running all night outside our motel so we would be sure to get to the event on Saturday morning.

This is the starting grid from the event at Brainerd in 1971. Quite a mix of cars. Notice the studs on the out-turned wheels.

The NSU was air cooled, and in the interest of weight savings I had removed what little heating system it had to offer. I regretted it that day! I finished 3rd in my class and won $15 which about covered my gas bill driving to the race.

I ran in Duluth (DNF), and the biggest event every year, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival race on Lake Phalen. This race always drew big crowds. We had been running the NSU with a single carb, and decided to switch to the dual 38 mm Webers from the autocross engine.

Jerry Hanson was very successful in any type of racing he ran. Here he is at Menominee, WI in 1971. Lots of understeer.

What a difference that made! I was able to motor by the Renaults down the straight, and that caused the Archer brothers some apoplexy. Unfortunately these carbs also had a problem with icing up and I ended up DNFing while running second.

The start! Just follow the taillights in front of you and hope he stays on track.

That spring I sold the NSU, something I still regret.

Here’s a link to the current IIRA web site. To get an idea of what this racing is like, take a look at some of the videos.    http://www.iceracemn.com