How does one summarize the “event of the century” if you are a Volvo fan? Not easily. I think maybe I have finally recovered enough to do this.
This all started 16 months earlier when Ray Freiwald and I got together with Volvo trucks president and fellow 1800 racer, Goran Nyberg, at The Hawk. Goran was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of getting together all the Volvo racers we could find. It turns out there are about 90 of us on this continent, so convincing more than a third to be part of an event is downright respectable. The convincing factor was, without a doubt, coming up with $20,000+ to help with transportation.Thanks to Volvo Car USA, Volvo Trucks, ipd, and Volvo Penta for contributing to that fund.
We had 33 race teams in the North Paddock at Road America, which turned it into Volvo City. Volvo Club of America was there with us for their 2016 National Meet. Corporate Volvo, now known as Volvo Car USA, had an enormous tent with their displays – new cars, Heritage Cars (our ’73 ES was one of them) and enough to keep anyone busy. The Volvo Executive Team was there as well.
Lex Kerssemakers, President of Volvo Car USA was part of the action in the paddock and got the feel of a vintage 1800 race car, (David Farrington photo)
Mike Dudek, owner of iRoll Motors and P and B Motorsports sponsor, flew in from California to help
with the VCOA National Meet (David Irvine photo)
Most of this will be a pictorial post, but I will say a word about the all-Volvo race that took place on Saturday. There were Volvos ranging from nearly bone stock 544’s from the ‘50s to current SCCA-running 1800s. The latter are much lightened with fiberglass panels. Bruce Ackerman brought what I would call a tube frame GT3 car that is about as trick as I have ever seen.
David Irvine photo
Bruce Ackerman (California) SCCA prep
The consequence was that we knew lap times were going to be wildly different, so we created 6 trophy classes for the race.
I was in the “Vintage 1800” class. Josh Rodenbush and I had a great race. His car was classified for the weekend as 2A, slightly faster than my 2B. Turns out VSCDA was right. While I led a bit more than half of the race, Josh jumped ahead in Turn 1 on Lap X. I had one opportunity to regain the lead, but it was risky, and I have drummed in my head “If you are not sure it will be a safe pass, don’t do it.” Josh and I raced to the finish line together, with the timer saying that he beat me by 0.05 seconds.
Volvo Race Results
1st Overall: Rob Keller, Algonquin, IL. 1968 1800S (2032cc, Group 8-Class G70)
1st Vintage 1800 Class: Josh Rodenbush, San Francisco, CA, 1966 1800S
(2000cc, Group 2-Class A)
This has taken way too long. How many excused would you like? First there was the dead Dell computer. There there was the new dead Dell computer. There there was a number of board meetings … well, so be it!
VSCDA’s 31st Blackhawk Classic may have seen the largest assemblage of vintage racers ever to occupy Father’s Day Weekend, an amazing 160 cars of all stripes. This on a weekend where SVRA was holding its Indy event just down the road. Considering the track time and cost on the lesser known venue of Blackhawk Farms Raceway, we should not have been surprised.
For our P and B Motorsports team, it was a mixed bag weekend. #1 Red ran flawlessly and we had some really good lap times, but the Sunday Feature Race got a little bumpy.
An opportunity for Crew Chief Buettner to show off his body working skills
It’s always a risk, and by comparison with some of the things I’ve seen this was a pretty minor occurrence, but it’s the first time I’ve been in a situation that arguably should have been avoided. It took a couple laps for me to get back to the mental space I needed to be in, but we still finished well.
The Swedish Pavilion had all the usual suspects plus a new addition. Tim Detwiler caught the bug from hanging around with us, mostly helping out Jeff Babcock. Organizing the Volvo Nationals I’ve learned of a number of Volvo race cars for sale. Long story short, I put Tim in contact with Pennsylvania Bruce Saunders and we now have another 1800 in our fold.
Fresh from PA, a new 1800 part of the Swedish Pavilion
Tim did not race but got to spend some time playing with the car in the paddock with all sorts of useful and useless advice. He has since gone through the Midwestern Council school and it looks like we are going to have a new strong competitor being part of gang.
A highlight of the weekend was rekindling competition with my friend Cana Comer. The arrival of Briggs Comer, now a bit less than a year old, caused Cana to take a two-season hiatus from the track. Far as I could tell, the stint at being a mom instead of a race car driver did not slow her down much. OK, in all honesty, not at all. No doubt Colin Comer is never going to hear the end of Cana’s beautiful little Bugeye matching the times of Colin’s equally gorgeous screaming ’66 GT350 Mustang.
Here’s Cana, and my position seems to be consistent.
Here’s a little video of some of the more exciting time of our Saturday Sprint Race.
And finally some pictures that represent some of the weekend.
The Group 1 boys were really out in force over the weekend. And Bill Goulette’s J2 MG Group 1 car won the Dad’s Day Handicap Race by about 10 ft. over Colin Comer’s GT350! The handicap race starts cars at different times based upon best lap time (slowest cars first). In theory all should finish the race at the same time. Bill set a blistering pace of 63.339 mph. Colin’s 84.291 mph was not quite enough.
South Haven, Michigan. Five miles from Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline. April 30. Why did we come back from sunny Arizona???? Or for that matter, Race Engineer David Farrington was asking himself why he had left the warmth of Chattanooga. 460 and rain. The tulips were not blooming. What’s to be expected? But racin’ called.
The 2016 season opener for VSCDA and P and B Motorsports started out with some pretty miserable weather but the results were anything but. We had a fresh 2L power plant that seemed to run well enough on the shop floor. No time to take it to the dyno to see what it had. But the first outing laid testimony that it has IT!
GingerMan serves as the spring driver’s school for VSCDA so there were a goodly number of cars sporting X’s on their paint for the weekend. At least one of those – a Mini no less — gave us a real run for our money.
We had a whopping 137 entries for Spring Brake
Jeff Babcock and Alex Christopher completed the Swedish Pavilion for the weekend (David Farrington photo)
Cold and rainy conditions prevailed for much of Saturday. We got a couple dry sessions before the rain started falling for the Group E Qualifying session, keeping a number of the cars in the paddock. For over a year we’ve been hauling around a brand new set of Hoosier H2O rain tires; time for their inaugural run. David Farrington softened the rear suspension and out we went for Qualifying. While they were not magical, they did allow us to put ourselves near the front of the grid for the equally wet Sprint Race. Maybe they even kept us on the track, albeit a bit loose at times.
The driver has to make himself look useful, right?
On a cool, rainy day, an enclosed trailer, a generator & an electric heater makes for some good company. L-R are Alex Christopher, Ray Freiwald was crew for the weekend, Jeff Babcock & Jim Perry. (David Farrington photo)
Rain makes for interesting photos, if nothing else (David Farrington photo)
The #37X Mini was on the pole, with our #1 Red beside him for the Sprint. As the green flag dropped I put the pedal to the metal and powered away. We were able to hold that position until “Dr. Dreadful” Rick Gurolnick caught up with his bathtub Porsche 356 about 2/3 way through the race. I should have known that Rick would take the inside line, even in the rain. He got past me in Turn 1 and while I was able to run with him I was unable to keep enough traction to catch him, so we placed second by 1.281 seconds.
Here’s a bit of the Sprint Race action.
While the rain subsided on Sunday, it remained frigid. Nonetheless we were able to stow the rain tires for a fresh set of Speedsters. Gridded 3rd to a Lotus 7 and the Mini, I was able to get a good jump at the drop of the flag and once again found myself in the position of having no one in front of me for 11 of the 15 laps.
Ron Soave (Sprite) and Don Dickey (MG B) kept the pressure on me (despite Soave having an accelerator pedal that seemed to have my name written all over it by jamming into his floorboard). But it was Manley Ford’s lightweight Super 7 (gridded 30th of 39) that prevailed in the end and once again I took the “silver,” by 0.476 seconds. It’s hard to complain about any of this because my best lap time beat my previous best by almost 5 seconds on a relatively short two mile track!
Manley Ford leads us through traffic (David Farrington photo)
It took a bunch of cameras and some creativity to make this video interesting.(Forgot to turn on the data so no speedometer or tachometer.)
All in all it was a good weekend outing for us. If the car continues to perform as it did at GingerMan this should prove to be a very good season. And maybe I will get more practice running up front with a clear field.
Spring Brake Team P and B Motorsports
There’s always something interesting at a vintage event
Our 2015 season began at one RA (Road Atlanta) in April and was completed at the second RA (Road America) in September. Another successful season – no blown motors, no bent metal, no black flags. And overall a good season with consistent top three finishes in Class.
The finale was the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival. Except for a little rain in the darkness of Friday night/Saturday morning (we can say that, we were in the trailer Friday night; the tent-dwelling Farringtons might beg to differ with the adjective “little”) it was a spectacular weekend.
The prep leading up to this race had promised to be as easy as I have ever had. Only needed to bleed the brakes. And of course I waited until Monday before the race to do it. Trouble was that I found I had no rear brakes when I got ‘done.’ Seems it was time to rebuild the rear master cylinder, and of course I had no spare AP Racing rebuild kit. That’s what overnight shipping is all about, right?
Never a dull moment.
David and Sue Farrington flew into our “new” INTERNATIONAL Appleton airport Thursday night.(air freight directly from Thunder Bay to Appleton, just what I need). It’s always great to have the effervescent, always positive Suzanne in our midst.
Sue’s sister Rachel Durfee came over from Madison. I think I need to send Rachel a P and B Motorsports T shirt! (John Tuteur photo)
The featured marque this year was Jaguar, with a smattering of really nifty Allards along for the ride too. The Jaguar show outside Turn 5 was beyond impressive. So let’s take a look at the weekend in pictorial form.
Over 80 Jags came from around the nation for their national show and shine
Joy and I helped out during registration. It’s a great opportunity to meet people and see all the problem-solving that goes on behind the scenes. Makes one appreciate what our single VSCDA staff member, Laura Hire, has to deal with.
The Friday night Team Dinner featured an Allard show
Maybe they all have history, but this one seems to have a bit more than others
Alex Christopher had plenty of help (?) dealing with a cracked head
It was a picture perfect evening for the annual Saturday night Gathering on the Green at the Osthoff.
The Gathering provided time for relaxed conversation. Here’s VSCDA’s Laura Hire, Joy and Alex enjoying the company.
Jaguar legend Bob Tullius entertained us at the VSCDA banquet.
Chuck Rydberg and his Jaguar XK 120 – one beautiful machine (David Farrington photo)
Photo op – Perry and Jongen on the grid (David Farrington photo)
Todd Jongen filled Jeff Babcock’s mirrors in Turn 5 (David Farrington photo)
Joe Brabender and Alex Christopher overtake the sole VW at Canada Corner (David Farrington photo)
Mark School and his Saab really put the pressure on Ray Friewald in Turn 6 (Phil Koller photo)
Race Control at Road America. No one gets away with much with this sort of scrutiny.
This GoPro test resulted in an interesting perspective (Sue Farrington Photo)
Group 1 guys may not be the fastest of the weekend but they are the most photogenic … (Phil Koller photo)
… and Bill Stelcher’s ’29 Ford was at the top of the heap. (Phil Koller photo)
I had my best lap time in our Sunday Group 2 Race: 2:49.725. Here’s the video along with some commentary and self-assessment.
Perhaps the best race of the weekend for us was the Sheldon Cup, one of the special races for cars that have a typical lap time of 2:45-3:00. Falling pretty much in the middle of that range, I ended up pretty much where one would expect, in the middle. But it was a good race as this video illustrates. Tony Drews had some really great video that allowed me to watch myself from the perspective of another driver. You can see that at https://youtu.be/AxgwER_Cy6E.
Tony graciously allowed me to use some of his footage to be part of my own video of the Sheldon Cup. Thanks Tony! Here it is:
So what is ahead as we go into the down period? Well, both motors will be stripped down, inspected for wear and new rear main seals installed. The Group Race video will show why that’s necessary. All the calipers will be rebuilt. The front master cylinder will be removed and get new seals. The transmission may get a new front gasket. I have a stock Volvo M47 transmission that needs to be gutted, the case reinforced, and then the salvagd straight cut gears from a couple broken ones installed to create a spare. And we will prepare a new motor to be installed in Cameron Lovre’s 444 as we prepare for April’s Chihuahua Expess rally.
Mid-development photo of Can’s 444 that we will be running in Mexico in ’16.
Never one to sit idle, I’m happy to say I will be deeply involved in planning nexy year’s ELVF — the Volvo Nationals: Swedish Speed and Style!
Should be an interesting “off” season.
And as we sign off on the 2015 race season I want to express deep gratitude to the myriad of folks who have helped this all happen.
And espcially these individuals:
Joy Perry, P and B Motorsports Race Coordinator and spouse
David Farrington, P and B Race Motorsports Race Engineer and email buddy
Dave Buettner, P and B Motorsports Crew Chief and consultant
Phil Koller, P and B Motorsports Photographer
Doug Senk, P and B Motorsports Crew and Northern WI Volvophile buddy
Steve Blom, Competition Specialists and P and B Engine Builder
Duane Matejka, R Sport Engineering and P and B Advisor On Call
The Hawk International Challenge with Brian Redman 2015
As far as track time goes, The Hawk is not exactly at the top of the list. When you are at an event with 550 cars you don’t expect to have just too many sessions, nor very long ones. But The Hawk is a party beyond any other. Personally, because it’s in one of only a few real “racing towns,” it’s even better than The Mitty at Road Atlanta..
We showed up at noon on Thursday and enjoyed the scenery and a bit of relaxation. And we got to meet our newest Volvo buddy, Goran Nyberg, who came with his three kids plus one boyfriend (a daughter’s, not Goran’s) all the way from North Carolina. The kids were visiting from Sweden.
Most of our cars started as someone else’s; Goran’s came from Richard Schnabel several years ago, but it has been improved upon, without question.
Goran Nyberg came to play
The Three Vänner of the weekend — Perry, Nyberg, and Freiwald
And Goran is F-A-S-T. (Plus just one hell of a nice Swedish guy with a strong Volvo affiliation.)
Friday night’s Race Car Concours in downtown Elkhart Lake is just about beyond imagination. The race cars get a police escort into town to park along the street sides. The path downtown is lined with parade spectators.
Crowd control in Elkhart Lake?
Here’s our Fox Cities Sign Country friend, Travis Pfrang, with his beautiful ‘Vette.
In the early 20th Century Elkhart Lake was the playground for Chicago. The city has retained (and even enhanced) its charm. Siebkins Resort and the Osthoff play strongly in the history and natural beauty.
If you have read Burt “B.S.” Levy’s fictionalized account of road racing in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, The Last Open Road, no red-blooded male can walk past the lake without envisioning Buddy Palumbo and Sally Enderle cavorting on the beach in the moonlight.
Elkhart Lake beach on the left, scene of …
Live music at Siebkins reving up the crowd on a spectacular evening.
The Hawk itself is a ‘see and be seen’ event that attracts people from everywhere. It’s a spectator’s delight with just about every type of race car imaginable. Vendors come out to add to the ambiance and automotive attraction.
A modern Morgan
A group of Cobras, including No. 99 that Rollie Stephenson has had since he was a kid (he’s a late middle aged kid now), was on hand to share space with Tesla.
One of two LaCarerra cars on hand. This behemoth actually ran with Group 8!
The Hawk includes a Sports Car Concours on Saturday night. The Brabenders won first in class with their P1800A, beating out Ferraris and others!
Oh yeah, about the racing …
I had a new first experience during qualifying on Friday. On the second green flag lap as I downshifted entering Turn 1 the rpm’s jumped. It only took a microsecond to realize that the throttle was stuck open. I did my version of trail braking around 1 and jabbed the gas petal, freeing things up for Turn 3. But the problem returned as I approached the tight Turn 5 so I slapped off the ignition and rolled into the exit straight off 5.
At first we thought the cable had stretched and caught up on the linkage, so we tightened it. Of course, it can’t be that easy. While Doug Senk was cranking down on the nuts that squeeze the cable the shaft broke. Our 5 minute job turned into 90 minutes, including borrowing Jeff Johnk’s drill and creating a new shaft.
Then on the next outing – Qualifying — it happened again! I rolled to a stop on the access road outside Turn 5, jumped out and, with the help of Jim Stephenson, Mark School and Amish John, found that there was binding in the linkage with a wide open throttle. It must have looked a little bit like the Keystone Cops. It’s a mystery why this would show up all of a sudden since that had not been a problem at Blackhawk, and I had not touched the carbs since.
So how did the weekend turn out? Not bad. In Sunday’s late afternoon Feature Race we placed 3rd in class, behind Brian Davis’ Elva Courier and Goran’s ’65 Volvo 1800. Goran had me beat by a handy 7 seconds per lap! I’d like to use my friend Cana Comer’s line “Don’t get used to it,” but 7 seconds is a tremendous difference …
Ray Freiwald’s drive train gave up on him late in the qualifying race on Saturday, so at the end only 2 Volvos were running, and that was only thanks to Goran’s ingenuity of finding a tractor top link at Mill’s Fleet Farm to replace the nice aluminum trailing arm that broke on him. Now it’s a real ‘Swedish tractor!’
Seems I am not the only one that spends time doing this stuff!
Overall it was a great weekend. And now we have a bit of a break. Speaking of brakes, I need to figure out why I have a pedal that goes nearly to the floor at inopportune times, like at the end of the fastest straights on the course. Never a dull moment!
Here’s a relatively short (6:53 min.) video of the Feature Race. Sorry I cannot get the video to synchronize properly with the data so there is no speedometer or tachometer.
And check out the September 2015 issue of Classic Motorsports, p. 7 to be exact. (Thank you, Mueller Motorwerks.)
Sometimes things start off well and go all to hell. Sometimes things start off all to hell and turn out well. The Blackhawk Classic XXIII was pretty much of a mix of these two.
Built in 1967, Blackhawk Farms Raceway is 1.9 miles long, flat as a pancake, and has the very best facilities bar none. Owners Paul and Carol Musschoot have really put a lot of money and effort into it. The chalet serves as an eating area on the lower level, with a very nice spectator tower above. The grill is 3 steps from the chalet, and the food is good. The shower/rest rooms are clean, showers far better than the “name tracks” we have attended. Grounds are meticulouslymaintained, and camping, be it with a tiny tent or a motor home, is welcomed without additional charge. Each year improvements are made.
Alex Christopher (L) shares some quality time with Blackhawk owners Paul and Carol Musschoot
Following Spring Vintage we decided it was time to find the source of the oil leak and elevated coolant temperature. Suffice it to stay that once one starts heading down this path it becomes a long one, with lots of twists and turns.
Off came the head and down to Competition Specialists it went. The almost inevitable call from Steve Blom came: “Jim, you have a really beat up exhaust valve seat. And the guide is completely destroyed.” This after only three race weekends! Crap.
Well, that was the only good head for that block, and it needs to come out anyway to search for the oil leak. We have two weeks. Wait! Make that 4 days given all the other commitments. Crap. Life became very regimented. Again. Still.
Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward came up from Milwaukee and we lifted Block A from its moorings. Not much sign of a leak from the engine, but there was a transmission cover bolt standing very proud of its seat. And that confirmed Race Coordinator Joy Perry’s sharp olfactory observational skills that we were throwing Mobil 1 gear oil from the top of the ‘new” Sellholm tranny. The bolts went to the drill press for safety wire holes.
Racer’s Best Friend
And those bolts ain’t goin’ nowhere again!
The car ventral surface (that’s biologist speak for bottom) got a good pressure washing and new coat of Ford Gray paint.
While I was at it, I decided now was the time to get rid of the very heavy driveline spacer made necessary by the ‘new’ Sellholm transmission. Off went an Amazon drive shaft to Appleton Crankshaft to be shortened. Of course that’s not as simple as it sounds because BOTH halves need modification and then because it’s a two piece shaft, it has to be sent out to be balanced. (Don’t trust Internet ads that say “We balance two-piece drive shafts.”) $423 later we had a shiny dandy looking correct length driveshaft.
Might as well replace the clutch while we’re at it — after 2.5 years and knowing what it has gone through, it must be time. The new Tilton disk and pressure plate arrived from Pegasus in time, Of course, it can’t be just that easy — the new one has a slightly different profile and also, most ominously a different number on the pressure plate, A call to Pegasus ended up in a call to Tilton, which ended up with a consult with their fabricators, and eventually the message that it was indeed the right plate, that the numbering was now a serial number and not a PN. Geez, why cannot they say that up front and save everyone some angst?!
Motor B had been lounging in the trailer for over a year, awaiting its turn. This is the one that was the original creation from bottom to top by Competition Specialists. Thanks to help in my absence from Crew Chief Dave Buettner, we got ‘er done in time to get to Blackhawk Farms for the annual Father’s Day Blackhawk Classic.
As we sat waiting for the track to open for us to cross into the paddock we watched the late morning practice session. Our three Volvo buddies Jeff Babcock (122), Joe Brabender (123) and Alex Christopher (92) were out putting their Swedish Iron through the paces.
On the last lap Alex came around trailing a plume of white smoke., When I got to the paddock Alex’s hood was up and the guys already in discussion. Removal of the valve cover revealed a broken roller rocker . Unfortunately, that was not the extent of the damage as a look inside the cylinder with our ‘protoscope’ showed lots more damage. Well, one did not need to even get in quite that far …
Uh, something doe not look right here. (David Farrington photo)
I really admire (and am jealous of) Alex’s ability to face adversity. While he was disappointed that his weekend had ended before it really even started he made a great weekend of it nonetheless. Class act. VSCDA helped out in this regard too; they refunded much of Alex’s entry and race fees. Thanks VSCDA.
I got out onto the track for the afternoon practice sessions. The new motor had only 20 minutes of break-in run time on it. so I took it easy. But I could tell she was really rarin’ to go! In fact, after the session I texted Buettner that we had one sweet motor.
That feeling held up until the cool down lap of the second practice, when very suddenly I lost a cylinder. So now it was my turn to look for issues, and once again it was found under the valve cover.
No. 4 exhaust valve spring
Now, I carry just about every spare imaginable. But “my kingdom” for this too!
… which, unfortunately, was home on the shop pegboard.
And my buddy Duane Matejka sent me this so I can duplicate it. This is a mechanical engineer’s work at his best! (Well, maybe that’s just a little overstatement.)
R Sport Engineering Valve Spring Compressor
I need to give credit here for some really wonderful help that managed to find a way to reinstall a spring to get us back on the track., I went to Autozone and bought a valve spring compressor make for the wimpy stock springs. Ray Freiwald suggested stuffing a rope in the cylinder with the piston at TDC to prevent the valve from falling into the cylinder. Then Dennis Birkholz and Mark School spent hours trying different things, and after a good night’s sleep Dennis used a channel locks to compress the new spring, and Scott Barr suggested wrapping a small hose clamp around the whole mess to keep things from flying apart. Wahla! It worked!
It looked a bit like an operating room late into the night.
So how did it all turn out? Pretty darn good! On both Saturday and Sunday we finished first in class and on Sunday second overall, behind only the insanely fast Bugeye of Colin Comer. In the Dad’s Day Handicap Scramble (staggered start with slower cars first) I set a personal Blackhawk best lap and ‘beat’ my buddy Colin, finishing 3rd overall.
Here’s the video of the race that really counted.
Next up: The Hawk with Brian Redman at Road America.
And here are a few bonus pictures …
This racin’ is a tiring business! Jeff Babcock (David Farrington photo)
Colin Comer, in his usual position (David Farrington photo)
Doug Senk was there to help out whoever needed help. (David Farrington photo)
Mark School gave me one heck of a run for my money with his Saab Sonnet on Saturday (David Farrington photo)
Wisconsin + Early May + Lake Michigan = Unpredictability
Spring Vintage at Road America is an SVRA event. Tony Parella and his crew were out making people feel welcome. The tech sessions were serious, the anticipation for a good weekend high.
P and B’s Race Engineer David Farrington flew in from Chattanooga, picked up at what we old timers still call Billy Mitchel Field by our Transportation Coordinator Sam Seward and handed the keys for a TR6.
1st in Class 3DP
Meanwhile, our Race Coordinator (AKA Joy Perry) is addicted to weather, or more specifically, weather forecasts. I start getting the reports a week ahead. As the week wore on this year, I said. “I don’t want to hear it. Tell me if it’s good. otherwise I don’t want to hear it!” But I hear it anyway.
We pretty much had it all. Saturday was beautiful. But the most notable was Sunday morning wind off the big pond 20 miles east of Elkhart Lake..
Spring at Road America. Where’s the tower????(David Farrington photo) Because Road America has decided to get sticky with competitors camping by their rigs, we decided to drive home Saturday night and enjoy the comforts of home. We left Larsen in sunshine and 70’s and arrived at Road America to fog, wind, damp, chilly. Ugh. But it could have been worse!
You’re really not interested in that, are you?
OK, we had a good weekend. The field was not as deep as in the past; given SVRA’s push, that’s a bit surprising. Too expensive? Too iffy with respect to Wisconsin weather?
Groups 1, 3 and 4 were combined. 1 is the very slow group (there was only 1 car in it) .4 is a whole lot faster than 3, so we got to hear the road of Chevy V8’s as they blurred by on the back or front straight. Group 3 was where the action was for the most part, and we were in the thick of it. More or less.
I never really know exactly how to refer to our car. Farrington calls it No. 1. Something about that bothers me; maybe it seems presumptuous. Well, anyway, the car ran well all weekend, and here’s what I think you might be wanting to know: We placed 1st in class in both the Saturday and Sunday races.
We had lots of friends stop by, including one of our major sponsors. Because the car was running well there was enough down time to really enjoy the weekend, as you will see in the large photo gallery below.
Nothing like having a P and B Motorsports sponsor come to see what is being supported! This is Louise Googins of Googins Advisors, Inc. (David Farrington photos)
One has to finish in order to come in 1st. On Saturday, On Saturday Pat Star (Class 3DP) and his Morgan had me beat handily. He was racing hard with Dawn Meyer in her Class 3EP ’61 MG but on the next to last lap he suffered ignition issues and, well, I did not. So we ended up 1st in our class.
The only other Volvo there was our good friend Ray Freiwald. Here’s a bit of trackside video of our racing on Friday. (Video length-33 sceonds)And here’s a little of the action (and inaction) on Saturday. Note the beautiful blue sky! (Video length-55 seconds)
CAPTIONED PHOTO GALLERY
No visit to Elkhart Lake is complete without a visit to one of America’s most iconic racing watering holes, Siebkins
Joy does her 1950’s impression of a Coke Girl.
New Glarus Brewing Company (their beers are not sold outside Wisconsin) has a knack for brew names, and Siebkins has a knack for displaying them.
Race Engineer David Farrington holds courts with Louise Googins, or is it the other way around?
Jim Slapikes brought his new 1800 creation. This started as a basket case, and Jim got into it before he realized just how deep he was, but it turned out great.
The Sign Countycrew makes these events into a real family affair! Always fun to watch them.
Saturday night dinner in the cavernous Road America Center, home of America’s worst acoustics.
SVRA honored Gordon “Duck” Waddle for his decades-long service to our sport.
More video displays around tghe track allow spectators to keep track of the action on the various parts of this 4 mile track. new this year is a screen rotation that shows standings.
Racing and fishing, especially when one is from Montana, is not a bad life. (Phil Koller photo)
Racing can be very very stressful.
Ray Freiwald and Dale Schmidt catch up (Phil Koller photo)
Must be nice to have a modular car like Rick Phrang’s.
Race photographer/videographer (new job title, only slightly more pay) Phil Koller on the other end of the lens.
Some people arrive in a little more style than others.
One has to see structural beauty here – Gunnar Phrang’s Camero
When Jeff Johnk is contemplating, he sees his daughter Jessica. Does the middle of the steering wheel have any philosophical significance? (Top David Farrington; Left, Phil Koller; Right, David Farrington)
Next up, Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway on Father’s Day Weekend. We should have a full complement of Swedish Iron there. Guess I need to get out into the shop and work on that “minor oil leak.”
Here’s a brief report on VSCDA’s 2015 inagural event at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, MI. Based upon our experience there last year we had packed our down vests and knit hats. Coming from balmy Atlanta, we were pessimistic about the accuracy of the weather forecast for anyplace that was a fly-rod’s cast to Lake Michigan in May. Leaving 70 degrees of Indiana, I reported the temperature drop as we drove along the sand dunes of far western Michigan. It hit 51.
But it was not snowing. Or raining.And there was a great turnout.
This Renault brought lots of smiles, and images of old-time picnics
We were the only Volvo running this year, even thought there was a record turnout. The weekend is referred to as “Spring Brake” and starts with driving school, so there are a goodly number of cars with X’s behind their numbers. One of those was a car that is very familiar – a nice 356 Porsche dubbed ‘Dr. Dreadful” owned an [normally] operated by Rick Gurolnick. The mystery of the X was solved when we learned that Dr. Dreadful’s 17 year old daughter had gone through the school over the weekend with Dad’s car.
Robbie’s “X” did not describe her lack of experience. Youth has its advantage, and she’s gonna be a force to be dealt with. She good and not afraid to keep her foot in it or make a move. After a couple sessions with her — chasing her, I hasten to say, and truthfully, unsuccessfully, around the track I teased her and Rick that I could see that this was not going to end up as a once car family.
Robbie Gurolnick on the grid
Here’s what Rick had to say about the weekend:
Thought you might like to share a great “bucket list” event I had last weekend: 17 year old Daughter Robbie Gurolnick took the VSCDA vintage school, passed and raced the weekend in my 1960 Porsche 356 Roadster, her first time driving the car anywhere, some 30 years after I started in it. And she rocked it! I picked Gingerman as a place for her to start in a rear engine car as it has generous, easy runoffs. They had races Saturday and Sunday. Out of about 35 starters she gridded 6th and finished 5th on Saturday with some great dices and a couple racers coming over to shake hands and congratulate her. On Sunday everyone was gunning for her, but she gridded third and charged on the start up to second and a lap later was heading for first when the car lost midrange and went flat – Darn! (Not an exhaust leak – I checked that earlier during practice – but maybe a failing mag pickup in the distributor or dirt in the jets). Ironically the GoPro mount broke and got run over by one of the following cars – including the SD card – so no videos. Anyway we had a wonderful time, everyone was as nice as could be and very welcoming.
Robbie and Rick Gurolnick, proudly displaying Robbie’s diploma
Sometimes I wish I were a father.
Race Coordinator (aka my dear wife) Joy Perry was the only formal P and B Motorsports crew for the weekend, and we got on pretty well. Jim Blett, Volvo engine builder/Jeff Babcock 122 crew member came over from his central Michigan home to lend assistance and also delivered a B20 block/crankshaft for Jeff’s next engine build. We were happy to have him, and were able to pick his brain of the considerable knowledge he has as a crew member on a previous LaCarerra Paniamerica team (since we — that’s the royal “we” – are building a 444 competitor for the 2016 south-of-da -border-down-Mexico way races).
The weekend was pretty uneventful. People behaved themselves. One of my Driver’s Committee comrades remarked that it was early in the season and people did not want to risk messing their cars up so soon.
The Brits celebrated the Queen, or at least celebrated something
As usual, Group 2 was the largest of all, with 39 entrants. At the head of the pack was Colin Comer with his screaming 1959 Bugeye Sprite. Colin pretty much ran away from everyone in every race he was in. He chose to sit out Sunday’s Feature Race, given that it’s about as much fun to run alone as it is to do a track day.
I, on the other hand, did not have that problem. Starting on the inside of the 4th row I had a, ahem — interesting first half lap with a Mini beside me. Now I have a thing about Minis. That is, I loathe don’t like them. They remind me of bees around my head irritating me. That Mini buzzed me good going into the technically, ahem – interesting — Turn 4. I saw enough metal next to my door that I, ahem – decided – to take a brief agricultural excursion. I watched the back of the pack go by and re-entered the track.
Because I had been carrying around a track radio all weekend as part of the Driver’s Committee I imagine what was being said: “Control, Turn 4, 1 Red four wheels off … has re-entered track.” (“Watch ‘im.) But since this was a race there was no black flag infraction, so I started making up time.
Turns out I may have had the best race ever, especially with John Hagen’s and his ’63 TVR. The video will show you all of this; I will save the outcome for you to discover. But I will say that there was only 0.08 seconds between me and the higher finishing car in my class.
So we’re in preparation for SVRA’s Spring Vintage at Road America May 14-17. Yep, this week. I feel I am living, breathing, eating and sleeping raced car prep.
Keep ‘em rolling, and we’ll see you on the flip side of Spring Vintage.
If there is ever an excuse for a party, the Mitty is great one.
You may recall that all last year we struggled with an intermittent ignition miss. Struggled might be just slightly and understatement. More like, “What’s with this g-d – car????”
Two significant winter changes took place, and at least one of may have them solved that issue, but I am not saying which because I don’t have a clue. Sorta like your local car dealer: “We’s got no idea what’s wrong wit your car madam, but we’s gonna replace everyting and charge you until it sure does go away, or you do.”
Sam Seward, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin (OK, Bayside) Volvo chauffeur who lends his 1800 to Race Engineer David Farrington each time he comes out, and a semi-regular visitor to the P and B Motorsports shop, has been pointing out every chance he gets that his fancy distributor is really the cat’s uh, meow. Yep, meow. So I made contact with 123ignitionusa.comand we now are major 123 fans and advocates. This is really state of the art, with the only moving parts being the shaft and rotor.
123 distributor. Ain’t she a beauty?
I want to recognize Ed Madak who is the U.S. distributor of the 123. I had some difficulty, and if there was ever a person who epitomizes “customer service” it is Ed. He responded to text messages in minutes, and walked me though the rather atypical installation.
We also have a dandy new head that our Whidbey Island Volvo guru Phil Singher at VClassics spec’ed out for us, using his secret formula for flow and power. When the old one finally came off the good folks at CompetitionSpecialists Racing Engines noted a tiny crack in one of the ports. Phil’s incorporates years of experience, including the build for the La Carerra Panamericana class-winning Apple Farmer Racing team’s 122 Volvo.
Bottom line, we got ‘er runnin; and gunnin’. Which is a good thing because over the winter I thought I might be losing a crew member due to his frustration with my inability to get it right. Some people are soooooo sensitive.
So on to the Mitty 2015. Is there ever too much of a good thing? It was jammed with entries. Road Atlanta did not help with double booking a track day with load-in day for us, so there were some pretty testy people sitting in haulers and some pretty harried HSR staff workers trying to make nice.
Crew Chief Dave Buettner drove 11 hours from Pine Island, Florida in his Winnebago to join us. And Wednesday was a beautiful day … until the microburst right about the time we were settling down for a good night’s sleep took the Eazy Up for a rib-snapping ride (“This product is meant for shade only. Self destructs in breezes exceeding 3 mph.”).
We’re looking for new shade now.
Let’s do the Thursday Test Day! See what we can do and play with the carb jetting. Groups 2 and 3 tested together. With over 70 cars on a 2.5 mile track, it’s bound to get messy. All three test sessions were cut short by the black flag all. Pretty much what we tested was our patience.
Volvos attract each other. And so do their owners. Melvin Hodges II brought this nice 122 by, and we created yet another new friend. (David Farrington photo)
Friday was a beautiful day with good track time. Both qualifying sessions resulted in new personal bests for me, and placed me second in class for Saturday’s races. I entered the evening feeling pretty hopeful. Did I mention that the Mitty is a good excuse for a party? They line up a s—t boat load full of sponsors and treat the teams to some southern hospitality of food and drink. Tim Stoddard from Classic Motorports, one of the big-name sponsors, was on hand to introduce BMW legend Boris Said. BMW was the featured marque. Could that be why Buettner came 11 hours?.
HSR’s James Redman (yes, Brian’s son)brought a group by to look at our car. (Dave Buttner photo)
Also as usual Farrington was making children’s days by inviting them to sit in a race car.
This young lady was thrilled (David Farrington photo)
The paddack was in a highly visible corner and thus the car had a lot of people coming to check it all out. Farrington even parked his ES behind #1 so it could also have admirers. (David Farrington photo)
And then the rains came. The tinkle on the roof of the motorhome was persistent from 10 p.m. throughout the night. My mind’s eye could see the river of water flowing across the track at Turn 5. So as Saturday dawned grey and wet, we decided it best to stand pat in favor of going out on a very wet track. And the gods were once again with us, because all day on Friday the announcers had said they were taking credit for the great day and Saturday was going to be someone else’s fault. But the skies broke and Saturday just got better and better. Accu-Weather was watched and the rain tires came off.
Andrea Nichelson and her husband Alan from California stopped by. Andrea loves 1800s. Nothing quite like a pretty woman who loves 1800s.(David Farrington photo)
Hot digity dog, we is goin’ raicn’ boys. And then the car crapped out.
So Saturday evening was one of those “We don’t wanna be around Jim” evenings. Neither did Jim, but I’m stuck with the SOB. We fiddled a bit and I tried to drive it around the paddock and on the access roads but the myriad of slightly inebriated race fans acting like slightly inebriated race fans did not help the cause. I.e. I could just imagine one across the hood in my personal testing session. And what the inside of a Georgia jail cell looks like.
There nothing short of worrying about Wisconsin politics that keeps this good ‘ol boy awake more than a car that ran well one day and then acts like it’s been parked with the mother-in-law for too long the next.
Porsche City. But the Mustang won.
Our Sunday race was not until 3 p.m. so I had plenty of time think on it and stew. And by golly I ain’t telling you what took care of the problem, but the problem got taken care of. Sometimes it’s best just to not tell the whole truth, lest you all know what a complete dipshit I can be.
You’ve read that some F1 cars used the engine as a structural element holding the car together?
Now here’s the way to change a motor! (David Farrington photos)
Thanks to my Saturday non-start, Sunday’s race began with no one in my rear view mirrors, but we had one hell of a good time changing all of that. I had listened closely at the drivers’ meeting about how no one sitting as a back marker at race start should jump on the gas when others in the front were just getting the green flag at the front. So coming under the bridge I did just what I needed to do – jumped on the gas while the others were just picking up steam at the front. Hey, I take advice. Here’s the video.
All’s well that ends well, and I managed third in class and another personal Road Atlanta best.
I love Road Atlanta. I love the big courses. I love the warm weather and southern friendliness, and the way HSR treats the entrants. Life can’t get much better folks. Next weekend we are on to Michigan and GingerMan Raceway. Stay tuned.
Where’s the Crew Chief Shop Teacher when you need him?
We got a nice surprise when Sports Car Digest used us as part of thier April 30 Mitty Report too!
Oh, and lest I forget, I want to point you to the blog of next year’s great adventure creator, Cameron Lovre, who is putting the pieces together for the Chihuahua Express and La Carerra Panamericana Volvo 444 that is going to thrust us into fame and fortune with wins in the 2016 Mexican races. (Not only does is this turkey building a kick-butt car, he writes better than I do too.) Take a look at Cam’s most excellent blog at SwedishRelics. I relish the opportunity to drive it fast….
“Have a nice day!” That retail shopping phrase is usually returned to its sender by “I already have – I woke up!” I guess it’s my feeble effort brought on by the late great John Fritch’s comment several years ago at Road America when, after being introduced and welcomed, he quipped at his age it was good to be seen anywhere. So assuming that I continue to use that smart aleck refrain (and if I can’t, I won’t care what you think), my intention is to have a nice 2015.
Since last you read, lots of water has gone under the bridge or over the dam. Lots of snow has fallen. Lots of plans have been made.
While I have been struggling a bit to deal with a new head, we are anticipating the opening of the season at Road Atlanta’s big party called “The Mitty” in late-April. It might be fun to run there if there are not monsoon rains filling the gully at the entrance to the Esses. But we’ll deal with if needed.
Here’s the anticipated 2015 schedule:
April 23-26 – HSR Mitty Road Atlanta, Braselton, GA
May 1-3 – VSCDA Spring Brake GingerMan Raceway, South Haven, MI
May 16-19 – SVRA Spring Vintage Weekend Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
June 19-21 – VSCDA Blackhawk Vintage Classic Blackhawk Farms Raceway, South Beloit, IL
July 9-11 – Racecars and Pacecars, Iola Old Car Show, Iola, WI
July 16-19 — The Hawk with Brian Redman Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
September 17-20 – VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festiva Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
Only one significant long trip this year, but here’s some additional news – we may be able to extend the season by racing in the Southwest as we are going to spend part of the winter in southern Arizona. For the first time in my life I will be living, at least temporarily, in a HOA. I’m getting the old folks lingo. HOA is a Home Owner’s Association, one of those places where everyone inserts their nose into your business and decides that you are deviant just because you have a race car that has no muffler that you want to start up at the late hour of 7 p.m. when they are just settling down for the night. Gosh, it’s almost as bad as having someone’s dog make a deposit on your lawn. Or putting solar panels on your roof 150 feet in front of the artist neighbor whose view you have soiled. All will end you up before the firing squad. Good thing – the musketeers are too old to see and are just as likely to shoot themselves.
Deep Winter 2015-16 Home of P and B Motorsports West
Ah, but there is better news. My Volvo buddy Cameron Lovre from Portland, OR, drank the Kool-aide that I past beneath his lips last summer and got out his drill, Sawzall, flaring tools … and has torn asunder his perfectly fine ’57 Volvo 444 to convert it to a race car for us to throw around the roads of Mexico in 2016. Yep, we’re headed for the land of bandidos, marguaritas, sopapillas, and muchachas muy hermosas to run the Chihuahua Express next April and, assuming we and the car survive that, the LaCarerra Panamerica in October.
Some people just can’t stay out of the car … Cam in his slightly younger days (Cameron Lovre photo)
Here’s the 444 just before the surgery began. (Cameron Lovre photo)
There are only a handful of wrenches that I will trust my own car with; Cameron is one of them. Whether I trust him with my life as we alternate roles as navigator and driver in these events I have not decided. Saving grace – Cam is married to a real Italian woman who will kill him if he does anything to kill us. Come to think of it, I don’t think she would discriminate in my favor either.
We need to keep this gal smilin’ (Cameron Lovre/David Farrington Photo)
Cam’s not only a great wrench (not to mention one of the few guys I can count on for a full hour, he’s also a very entertaining writer who has done his own blog about ‘our,’ ahem, adventure. You can find it at http://swedishrelics.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-volvo-444.html. Come to think of it, Cam’s blog is a illustrated seminar in how to build a race car. Maybe I need to read some …