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 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.
I had three cars entered for the 2014 Portland Historics, held July 11-13 at Portland International Raceway- the freshly re-done 700, the Koepchen 2002, and the Luigi CSL.
Right from the very first lap of practice on Friday the trouble began.
First to go down was the 700. On my very first warm-up lap in
practice the left side barrel separated from the block. Not knowing the cause, or if any internal damage was done, we decided it was best to park the car for the rest of the weekend.
Next up was the 2002. This car is pretty quick, however, the Group it was running in was made up of ‘B’ sedans from the 60’s and early 70’s, and since Datsun was the featured marque this year there was a whole bunch of very fast Datsun 510’s up from California in my group.
I was able to qualify well, about mid-pack, and ran both races on Saturday without incident.
Sunday morning I went out for the warm-up session, and the motor did not feel right. Jim started to check the engine and found it had no oil pressure.
At first we thought that the drive gear had come off the oil pump shaft, but it turned out to be much more serious than that.
The motor went down to Terry Tinney and he found that the chain tensioner for the cam drive chain had broken and dropped down into the front of the timing chain cover. There it lodged in the chain and broke the crankshaft.
So we had 2 major engine failures. But wait there’s more.
That left me racing the CSL. You may remember that we had brake issues in Sonoma that almost caused me to wreck the car. Those issues reared their ugly head this weekend as well with similar results.
Jim had changed the brake fluid to a higher temp fluid. But the problem showed up again during my first qualifying race. Going into the chicane on the opening lap I almost wrecked it again when the front brakes didn’t work.
Jim put on some heat shielding for the next race, but still the pedal went mushy after a few laps.
The cherry on top of the sunday came on Sunday when a thunderstorm came through just before the flag race for the CSL. Since I don’t have rain tires for the car I was forced to sit it out.
Not a very fun weekend to say the least.
I did get some fun video though. Here are the links. First is the video from the 2002:
I entered the twins for the PNW Historics at Pacific Raceway in Kent, WA. They ran in Group 4, and I drove the #34, while Terry Foreland drove the #35.
The weekend was a lot of fun. There was a great turn out of cars and a great crowd. SOVREN put on a great event!
The last time I drove the car I had trouble fitting my legs under the steering shaft so that I could operate the pedals cleanly. Jim moved the shaft up quite a bit, so now I fit the car much better.
My lap times improved each session, which was gratifying. The car handles quite well, and the brakes work. The biggest problem I had was that I was running out of gear about half way down the straight. I had to feather the throttle from start-finish all the way down to the brake zone for Turn 2.
For Race 4 I started to just lift off the throttle fully when I hit 8,000 RPM. This was happening just at the turn in for Turn 1. I would then mash the throttle again and by the time I was back up to 8,000 it was time to brake for Turn 2.
I think all the feathering I did in the first 3 races may have contributed to the head gasket starting to leak in Race 4. We decided to park the car following that race before anything expensive happened.
Here’s the link to 3 videos I did about the weekend. The first is a promo for SOVREN. The second is the in-car footage from my car. The third is in-car footage from Terry Forland’s drive in the #35 car in the USRRC Seniors Tour race.
I ran the mighty Willis Wonder and the Koepchen 2002 at the David Love Memorial race at Sonoma with CSRG.
The Willis ran in Group 1 with about 28 other production and sports racers from the 50’s and 60’s. The Willis had about 2 decades on the next oldest car in the group!
She ran well, and it was the first time I have tried the Dunlop vintage tires. I loved them. The car really settled down, especially the rear end, which had been very squirrely with the Blockley tires.
In the Sunday feature race I started 20th out of a field of 28 cars, and finished 13th. I had a race long battle with Marc Hugo in a 1954 Porsche 356A.
He was quicker than me through the Carousel and up to turn 7. I was quicker out of the slow corners and down the straights. We traded positions sometimes twice a lap. It was great fun.
The Koepchen 2002 ran in Group 8, a mixed collection of small and large bore sedans prepared to early 1970’s specifications.
The challenge I faced this weekend was back to back races all weekend. I had to jump out of the Willis and into the 2002. The race stewards promised to hold Group 8 long enough for me to get safely buckled into the car.
That word did not get down to the pit lane stewards, and I ended up having to start at the back of the group on Saturday afternoon’s race after qualifying 6th.
I was frustrated, mad, and began racing like an idiot. Needless to say, that sort of situation cannot end well; and it didn’t.
Fortunately I was not hurt, and the car can be repaired.
The sad part was that I had warnings that I was driving over my head, and I even said to myself that something bad is going to happen if I don’t take a deep breath, slow down, and just enjoy the race.
I learned a lot from this mistake, about myself, and about what circumstances can get me to act this way.
The car is being repaired, and it will be on track again later this summer.
We ran our first event of the year last weekend (3/22-23). It was the HMSA Spring race at Laguna Seca.
It was a bittersweet weekend for us. I made the trade with Jeff for the Jagermeister CSL. In exchange I got 2 1971 BMW 2002’s with Trans-Am history.
The weekend went very well for me. The only problem I had was adapting to the car. The pedals did not fit well at all, and I could not heel-and-toe at all. The pedals lined up in such a way that when I tried to roll my foot over to blip the throttle, my foot got jammed between them.
I ran in Group 3, which was made up of 29 of the best and fastest B Sedans on the West Coast. There were a bunch of Datsun’s, BMW’s and Alfa’s. It looked like a Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge grid from the early 1970’s!
I qualified 8th for the Saturday race, and finished 8th. My best lap time was 1:48.8.
That meant I started 8th in the Sunday feature race. Starting 9th was Adam Carolla in his fast, ex-Bob Sharp Datsun 610.
At the start he latched on to my rear bumper, and stayed there for the first 7 laps, giving me all I could handle. He finally retired with an engine problem.
On the first lap I was following Steve Link’s 510 Datsun very closely when he suddenly slowed coming out or the Rainey Curve. It was all I could do to avoid hitting him in the trunk. He said later that he broke a half-shaft.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, and I ended up finishing 7th. My best lap time of the race was 1:47.6, which was an improvement from Saturday.
Terry Forland drove the second 2002 all weekend. That car is not as well developed as the #34 car, and despite his considerable driving skills, he was never quite able to match the #34 car. He ended up finishing 11th on Sunday.
It was a great weekend, and a great way too start the 2014 season. We won’t be back to Laguna Seca until the Rollex Reunion races in August.
Here’s the link to the video from my YouTube channel:
As a young man I spent many summers hanging out at Road America watching some of the biggest names of the day racing some of the most spectacular cars of the period. It left an indelible mark in my memory, and a craving to be on that track in a race car some day. But it would be decades before that dream became a reality.
I never got to race on that track while I lived in the mid-west. The last race I attended there was a combination F-5000, Trans-Am weekend in the early 1970’s. A few years later I got married, moved west and thought I’d never get the chance to drive Road America at speed.
However, last summer Mary and I made the trip back to our old stomping grounds, and I finally got to race on the track I had always dreamed about.
Its a long drive from Amity, Oregon to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. We left in our RV on Sunday morning, July 14, and planned to arrive Wednesday afternoon, July 17.
We headed east out of Portland and up the Columbia Gorge on I-84, turning north at Tri-cities. We made our way up 395 to Spokane, and then headed east on I-90 through the Idaho Panhandle into western Montana. Then the long slog the length of Montana, North Dakota, and down through western Minnesota into the Twin Cities.
We spent Tuesday evening at some old friends house west of Minneapolis, and left early Wednesday morning for Elkhart Lake, arriving about 2:30 that afternoon.
The Koepchen 2002 had been hauled to Road America via Mont Tremblant by Racecraft, so we just needed to find their rig in the paddock. Not as easy as it sounds. The paddock at Road America is huge, and it was full of participants and their rigs. After checking in and getting our credentials we found a paddock steward to help us locate our crew and car.
Thursday and Friday were spent learning the track. It was quite a thrill to drive out onto the main straight for the first time. Road America is a big, fast track, and it took a while to get comfortable going through some of the high-speed sections. Here’s some video from practice:
I qualified in the top 10, which is a testament to the great job Terry Tinney did on the motor. Road America is a horsepower track, and we were getting 125 mph down the three straights. Not to shabby for a box!
My Group was the first race on Sunday. I was lined up 5th behind Vic Skirmants in his quick 356 Porsche. At the drop of the flag I was able to get by him down the back straight. I was also passed by an Elva, but he made a mistake at the Kink and damaged his car.
Vic and I traded positions for the entire race. I was quicker down the straights. He was better under brakes, and through a couple of turns.
On the last lap we caught some lapped traffic, and I got held up through the kink. Vic got just enough of a gap that I couldn’t catch him on the front straight. It was a lot of fun!
Here’s the video of the race:
After a great weekend we loaded the RV and began the long trek back west.
The track was everything I hoped for, plus a lot more. As you watch the videos, look at the park-like atmosphere they have created. No wonder it is such a racer and fan favorite.