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June 2019

2019 Volvo Nationals at VARAC’s Vintage Grand Prix at Mosport-June 2019

By P&B Motorsports No Comments


Oh Canada!

Wow! The Canadians really know how to throw a party and call it a racing weekend. And Volvo Nationals was privileged to be part of the Vintage Auto Racing Association of Canada’s (VARAC) 40th Anniversary at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

14 vintage Volvos from the newly minted Vintage Volvo Racing Association (VVRA) showed up from near and far. We were slightly disappointed that our friends Kevin Michael (PA), Sam Moore (NC) and Irv Stein (PA) had to bow out at the last moment, but probably not nearly as disappointed as they were.

Stephanie Barnes from Calgary, Alberta took the “Loose Odometer Award.” We were glad she did because she kept us laughing throughout the entire weekend, even including during the downpour that greeted us Thursday night for our VARA picnic under the su … uh … deluge. No matter, our Canadian hosts Peter Lambrinos, Leon Lok, and Bonnie and Dan Reynolds, fed us, beered us (Peter’s wonderful home brew), and got us together for a sun dance that worked wonders for the rest of the weekend.

The Thursday picnic hosted by the Canadians was, ahem, a little soggy. Beer and burgers helped.

This was my first running of Mosport. My friend Steve Bonk cautioned me that this particular track has done the ultimately nasties to quite a few drivers, so I had this on my mind as I took to it Friday morning. It’s a very very fast track, not particularly technical in my mind, with several blind, off camber corners, two of them falling away as you sweep left. Moss Corner is the only tight three-part 2nd gear hairpin. By the time Saturday had rolled around I was pretty comfortable and told the crew that if one ran only Mosport, we might be able to go 4 or 5 years without changing brake pads.

Speaking of crew, we had two newbies with us who added greatly to the mix. Our Volvo friends David and Joyce Irvine from Shelbyville, MI, came along not as wrenches but as true professional videographers. David and Joyce were our Scandinavia traveling partners last summer and are the leaders of the Great Lakes Chapter of VCOA.

The crew. Joyce Irvine, David Irvine, David Farrington, Suzanne Farrington and Joy Perry

Joyce and David did not get their hands greasy, but they put on miles walking from location to location for some of the great video you will see here. So, while Joy Perry was dealing with her normal race coordinating duties, David Farrington was handling in-car video, data acquisition, and still photography, and Sue Farrington made sure I could see out the windows, the Irvines prowled the track and paddock with a very professional video camera and microphone. You will see their driver interviews periodically in the future.

There’s a real contingent of street Volvo enthusiasts that come to Mosport. We felt appreciated because we could see their enthusiasm both with their paddock visits and presence in Turn 8. Our paddock was home to not only our Volvos, but a significant contingent of horseless carriages that are just flat-out gorgeous.


The cool air was good for 1 Red in the Saturday morning session. With 123ignitionusa Ed Madak’s help, I figured out on Friday that I needed to write an advance curve program to my new fancy-dancy tunable 123 distributor (so that its internal rev limiter was set at 7400 rpm instead of 6000.) Then we were really dialed in. [Note to those thinking about a 123 – this is why you buy your distributor from Ed and not a place that may sell them and then leave you on your own when you have issues.]

All the Volvos were running in VARAC’s Group VH4, along with about 15 other marque cars. VH4 is for cars running lap times over 1:45. On Friday afternoon I qualified at a time that put me on the pole, and then ran Race 1 on Saturday morning. Here’s a short video of Race 1.

When the results sheets came out there was a lot of heavy-duty laughter at my expense among our cluster of Volvo drivers. Turns out VARAC does “bracket racing.” At the driver’s meeting I had heard something about “breaking out.” I said, ‘What’s that?” Answer: when you go too fast. I sort of dismissed the idea of going too fast. Where I come you go fast, and then you try to go faster.

I was penalized four frickin’ laps for running four of the 12 laps faster than 1:45!  My 122S buddy Ian Lok with whom I had a great race did the same. We got the privilege of being relegated to either Quebec or Saskatchewan (anyway,  wayyyy back) for that. Gary Jebsen was listed as the winner with a best lap time of 1:45.088. He got to start on the pole for Race 2 and won. Ian and I got to practice our passing but never caught sight of Gary or Bob Criss. The Volvos put on a show.

Sunday morning, we ran the Volvo Nationals 2019. While we are still trying to figure out the Greek Gridding System that Peter Lambrinos conjured up (Leon Lok said it must have something to do with goat races), Bob Criss started 4th, I was 5th and Ian Lok was 6th.

Here’s a rather long video of the Volvo Nationals. We were able to utilize some of the video that the fans took.

Not sure what happened behind us after we clawed our way around 1, 2, and 3, but we had a great race. Ian’s Mosport experience, his driving expertise and very capable 122 prevailed. Watch his style in the video – no brake lights and it was NOT because they don’t work. At the checkered I caught up to Bob on the last lap and then … well, you have to watch the video. Great fun among friends!

Volvo Nationals 2019 Podium – Bob Criss (2), Ian Lok (1), Jim Perry (3) (Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports photo)

But hey, I had the fastest lap! Does that count?

Screen shot from Race Monitor on iPhone – only one screen of results shows up (Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports photo).

Some parting thoughts on our first Canadian racing experience:

  • Ontario’s highways make our interstates feel like corduroy roads.
  • The whole approach to vintage racing is the same as we experience in the USA except everything is said with a smile instead of … well, the U.S. stewards seem to have a different way of letting drivers know who is in charge.
  • The friendliness of all the Canadians makes one feel like family.

These are the people who made it happen. The publicized, interceded, got sponsorship, provided shirts and awards, and were just all around great.

Bonnie Reynolds

Peter Lambrinos is like a brother to me, one that has his own Canadian flagpole.

Canadian flagpole. Look closely at the base.

Not sure about this bracket racing concept, but I cannot wait to be with my Canadian Volvo fraternity again.

Thanks to Volvo Canada, Castrol, DRD Distributing (that’s Dan and Bonnie Reynolds, BTW), Peter Lambrinos, Leon Lok and VARAC for a great race weekend!

(David Irvine photo)

Vintage Volvo racing Association 2019 Volvo Nationals Drivers (David Irvine photo)

Next up for us is the July Road America Weathertech International Challenge with Brian Redman. But already on the horizon is the 2020 Volvo Nationals – July 2020 at Portland [Oregon] International Raceway.

2019 Run Up

By P&B Motorsports 6 Comments

Flowers!? In a racing post? Hey, else what would you expect from a guy with a Ph.D. in botany??

The irises are blooming and the trees are in full leaf in Wisconsin. Must be time to go racin’!
We left AZ and arrived back “home” (I’m getting confused where that is) about a month ago and have been in the race prep mode almost every day since. We made the decision to not push it by trying to be ready for Spring Vintage at Road America this year, which was a smart move; I went down to the track to do some business and they were under a fog delay. You gotta love Wisconsin spring.

Ready to go. Flyin’ the flag.

So today was load-up for our trip northeast to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park east of Toronto for VARAC’s Vintage Grand Prix and the Volvo Nationals 2019.
Have a new motor on the stand. Originally I had intended to get it in for this race but despite all the parts being at Competition Specialists Racing Engines last fall, the lawmaker Murphy interceded.
The racer’s preferred Volvo B20 block is relative rare, having been used for only about a year in the late 1974 Volvo 144s and 1975 240s. These had main bearing caps that were more stout than those used in the 1968-73 B20s, and they  have an 8-bolt crankshaft — the flywheel is attached with 8 bolts rather than 6.  Over the course of the winter I did a group buy from Tinus Tuning in the Netherlands of new, lightweight racing flywheels, including an 8 bolt for my new motor. In 2012 I had purchased one of  these more rare blocks and stuffed it under the bench for the day when I needed a new engine. And that went to Competition Specialists last October. It got bored and prepped for all sorts of new internal goodies, but at one of the last steps, line boring for  the crankshaft, it was discovered that the main bearing caps were apparently  from some other engine, i.e. the bearing-to-block match necessary was not there. So we had to start all over with a different block.
The guys at Competition Specialists did a great job but even at that the new motor arrived just a couple days ago, and I would have been running a brand new power plant that had zero testing time on it. I made the decision to stick with the one that is in the car, so I am going to the Volvo Nationals 2019 race with what I consider a backup motor. It ran well after I threw the rod at the ELVF last September. Hopefully it will carry me for this race.

Lying in wait

Pretty, huh? Now to get some ARP bolts to hold it in place …

Competition Specialists fashioned a new timing marker too.

On the other end of the car, I decided I wanted a backup 4.56 limited slip rear axle. Last fall I bought a Yukon Gear ring and pinion set.  Dave and I spent maybe 12 hours at this . Lots of fiddling around. We start with an “open” carrier, then replace the spider gears with a spring and block arrangement that turns it into a limited slip (or positraction, as you may know it). Dave has done the ring and pinion setup before but I am just learning. It’s complicated, lots of measuring and placing of shims. I have watched countless You Tubes.

Lots of messing around here

One other change also has been made — Ed Madak at 123ignition USA converted my distributor to a Tune+ model. I will be able to watch and change the advance with my cell phone.

Screenshot of my smartphone. Should be able to watch advance in real time.

Advance curve. Rev limiter set at 7400 rpm

We’ll be gone about 9 days. The worst part of it is being separated from Doppler that long. I know that’s a little ridiculous but he’s really important to me on a daily basis. We’re going back to PA to stay with the Farringtons to their new home, and then stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Already have the Volvo Nationals 2020 planned for Portland International Raceway in Oregon.
See you on the flip-flop!