Category: vintage racing



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Probably all of us, or maybe just some of us can look back on some awkward moments.  For me at least they generally are of the beautiful plan gone horribly wrong category. as a case in point I offer the following example.

My first experience with a GT1 car was a sobering one. Having raced a ITA Mercury Capri for several years with indifferent results I had to take the plunge.  One of those times when you know you shouldn’t do it but everything works out so you can. An acquaintance had a Thunderbird bodied stock car chassis that he was about to give up on trying to make work. At the same time a guy walked up to me at Summit Point and offered to buy my car. So he became the proud owner of an ITA Capri, and I became the owner of a GT1 car. Well almost. To get it to where I could afford it, a lot of parts were not included. But with the help of my best friend, and a patient wife it once again became a car.

The first time it was out on the track was a drivers school, held in a monsoon, at Summit Point. The second was my second drivers school.  These revealed a couple of things in graphic detail. One we had a really good engine. Two the brakes, from a late-model stock car, were marginal. Marginal with a capital M. Lastly it was a pig. The handled was so bad I didn’t have a clue on how to make it better.

So, rather than address the handling I bought myself some brakes. Straight from the bigger is better school of thought (low buck edition) I bought the entire front brake setup from the #31 Mike Skinner Sprint Cup car.  They had run it at Sears Point that same year. A great deal, 2 giant Wilwood calipers, about 10 rotors, several sets of hats, and bunches of sets of brake pads. All for a reasonable, it seemed, price.

So we redid the caliper brackets, bolted everything in place, bleed the brakes and awaited our next race at Summit Point.

When the time came we loaded the car, drove the 126 miles to Summit Point, unloaded the car and awaited our turn to get out on track. When that time came we went out on the course feeling that this time it was all going to be good and we would be a contender.

That good feeling lasted for maybe two laps of practice. It became apparent to me that some thing wasn’t right. The car wouldn’t accelerate like it should, and the brakes were weird. So I pulled into the pit lane, my friends came out to see what was wrong, and after a short conversation we agreed I would go out and try it again.  It immediately became apparent that we had a major problem. The engine for all its power would barely move the car along pit road.

Finally after some head scratching and oohing and wtf’s? Somebody put their hand on the center of the front wheel. Wow! It sure wasn’t supposed to be that hot. So even to the rookies that we were it was obvious that we had a brake problem. After taking the front wheels off we were able to push/pull the car back to the pits. Obviously too hot to work on we went to find help. Fortunately a fellow competitor was not only able to diagnose the problem as a stuck front caliper but point us toward someone who had spares. (Of course we didn’t, after all we’d just gotten the brakes).

So now came the process of fixing the problem. Once they had cooled sufficiently the calipers were removed from the car. Before the pads were removed, a block of wood was inserted between the pads. Then an airline was put onto the fitting where the brake line attached. A slight puff of air and the pistons pressed the pads against the wooded block. Than the wood and pads were removed so that the pistons could be removed from the bores.

So now we had to correct the problem. The old seals were removed, and the pistons lightly sanded, LIGHTLY sanded, with a fine emery paper. New seals were placed on the pistons, which were then reseated in their bores. Calipers were bolted onto the front uprights and brake pads installed.

No more problems, and a very valuable lesson learned. Always check, no matter what the pedigree, new or used. And spares are necessary whether you need them or not.

So if you want to avoid a similar situation give us a call at (804) 921-0902 or visit our store at http://www.roadraceparts.com

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So, its almost the middle of February now, and the racing season is just about to get started. Now before anyone gets too excited I know that in some of the warmer climes they have already done a few races.

Baucom Motorsports Mustang

John Baucom and the Baucom Motorsports Mustang. You may recognize the name on the hood.

So what are your plans for the year? Are you going to compete this year, and if so to what extent? Seems like quite a few cars have been built over this past winter. If reports are accurate there were quite a few TA2 cars built. Whether all on them will race in the Trans-Am remains to be seen. Certainly there are other venues that they could be raced in. In addition at least two chassis builders are building cars which could be eligible to compete in either SCCA GT1 or Trans-Am.

Both of these are good signs and maybe it means that either the economy is doing better or people have gotten tired of sitting on their money and are going to come out and play again. We intend to put forth a stronger effort this year than we did last year on multiple levels.

BTW: before I forget, I spoke with a professional chassis builder last week about his plans. He is going to submit drawings of a new chassis to a sanctioning body. Why is that news? Because currently there is only one approved chassis for the class. I wish him well, he does good work and competition is always good.

Dont forget to give us a call or email if you need anything for your car. Check us out at http://www.roadraceparts.com. If you dont see what you’re looking for we are constantly adding stuff. Brake Caliper seals and kits for Alcon and brembo will be added today, Performance Friction in the next little while.

Safety Spring for Centerlok type wheel nut. In stock today

Safety Spring for Centerlok type wheel nut. In stock today required in the Trans-Am series. Their price $10.00 each. Our price $9.50

 


Every once in a while you get reminded that you should keep your mouth shut. But I will get back to that later.

First, what did you think about the Nascar race in Phoenix yesterday? Seemed to this very casual observer to be the usual mileage run at Phoenix. I’m sorry but it doesnt seem to be a lot of “racing” going on, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. If I am, then somebody please point it out to me so I can look for it next time.

What is surprising is the number of engine failures. Whether they can be blamed on the EFI system is questionable to me, the factories have been using fuel injection for decades and don’t seem to have a problem.

But I know that running a fuel injected engine out of gas causes all kinds of problems, would have thought that Nascar drivers wouldn’t be cutting the engines off now. Probably wont after yesterday.

Did anybody else hear the transmission “we have a problem” right before Kevin Harvick slowed down with a couple of laps to go? Who said that/ Was it Harvick? Or somebody on the team? If the team, how did they know? Hmmm.

With Marussia and HRT finally getting their cars on the track that means that all the teams have presented their 2012 challengers. Melbourne isn’t far away, and some people, particularly Ferrari, have a lot to do.

 

BTW: Aurora must be having problems getting rod ends have had inquiries from all over the world for their product recently.

Rush had his problems last week and so did I. Seems like Kenny Wallace is crying the blues about his team cant afford to race, and he wants to race,etc. That they can put a car on the track for only $100,000 per race. So some people came up with a website to race money to help Kenny race.

Where it went wrong is my having the audacity to question whether $100,000 a race for a car that had no chance of winning was the best use of a companies assets. Should have kept my mouth shut, because I got flamed for that one. Justifiably, perhaps so. However I would like to know how big the check was from those that flamed me. Regardless a lesson learned.

Good news is that F1 is about as is the club racing season!


The has been a fairly interesting thread over on the GT1DA.com website recently. In the forum section an individual posted that, in essence, it was time for the SCCA’s GT1 class to be returned to the amateurs. That the class had been hijacked by the Trans-Am racers and had become so skewed that no amateur had a chance of winning. In the article he, to my surprise, named Tony Ave and Jim Derhaag as being the main perpetrators of this theft.

While I found it a little difficult to follow, it appears that he had three main complaints with the rules. One. The weight breaks were such that you had to have a 358 engine to compete. Two. The cost and complexity, of adjustable sway bars. Thirdly. The cost of a three link rear suspension, where the upper link extends up into the driver compartment.

Then, in a move that I really dont understand, he complained about the cost of a HANS device and the requirement that it be made mandantory. These were all items which he suggested should be rescinded for the good of the sport and the financial well being of the competitors.

Now I have no idea how you feel about this matter, or if you even care. To me however it appears to be so same old argument. “Racing is too expensive for the average competitor, and something needs to be done about it”. And you know that is correct. However, there is no turning back, once the technology is out there you cant do a Vulcan mind meld and force people to unlearn it. Short of that its probably a thing where if you cant afford it, you need to look for an alternative.

I do think that the SCCA and similar groups should examine ways to reduce the costs to the competitors. At the same time we dont want GT racing to become a spec series. If you really want to see out of control costs look no further than Nascar. There with basically a spec car series, teams are spending increasing amounts for really small returns. Why? because in a spec class it only takes a small advantage to seperate the winners from the losers.

In GT road racing, we are fortunate to have vintage racing. There the older cars can still be competitive with their peers long after their time of glory has passed them by. Maybe instead of trying to keep the times from changing, those who would advocate that, should give vintage a try.

But to quote Dennis Miller: “thats only my opinion. I could be wrong”.

 


First my apologies for not having the time to write something this past week. I wont bore you with the details, but over the years I have come to realize what it is about work that I hate so much. It just takes way too much time.

So with that out of the way, just a couple of things to quickly comment on.

The news that two drivers who arguably made their name driving for Roush Racings Trans-Am program are returning to the series. Interestingly enough it will supposedly be in the TA2 class. In addition I had a conversation with a friend who was building a TA1 chassis. I say one because he is going to instead build a TA2 Camaro. As I listened to his reasoning it was hard to find an argument against it. As much as I love the “big” cars, it makes more sense perhaps to go down the TA2 route.

Its good to see that Williams F1 was atop the time sheets yesterday at Barcelona. That team which is has fallen from the top of the sport to mid pack certainly needs to have a good year. A note of caution creeps in though when you remember all the years that they were really fast in winter testing. Unfortunately as soon as the season started reality reared its ugly head, and they went straight to the mid pack. Hopefully this year will be different.

Now that Nascar has returned to Daytona, how do you feel about it? Is it living up to the Barnum and Bailey style hype, or will it quickly return to the ho-hum of recent years?  If you take away the wrecks in the Bud shootout, it was hard to find excitement. I must admit seeing Kyle Busch save it a couple of times was pretty amazing. How much of that was the car high centering on the banking?

Lastly, as most of you know, a fair amount of competitors buy hand me down Nascar parts. With the introduction of EFI the supply of carbs will be finite now. So if you can find a good road racing carb for a reasonable price, you may want to snag it.

As I said a quick burst, but I warn you I should be able to find more to write about this weekend.


As many of you the V8 StockCar Series has been around for, I believe 9 years. That makes it one of if not the longest consecutively running road racing series in this country. As I mentioned we will be doing a series of articles on all the respective classes in this series.

But before that I want to give a shout out to their season opener next weekend at Sebring. If you get the chance, get down there and check it out. They put on a good show. I’m upset because I want to see the tube frame Falcon that Tommy Riggins built!

Crane Cams V8 StockCar Series kicks off 2012 at Sebring

The Crane Cams V8 StockCar Road Racing Series will kick off its’ ninth season at Historic Sebring International Raceway February 11 & 12 running with the Central Florida Region SCCA. The Sebring event will be the first round of the “Winter Heat”, with round two the following week at Palm Beach. Some thirty plus competitors in our four classes are expected to compete for points, bragging rights, and prizes. The Porterfield Enterprises V8 GT-1 classes features some outstanding drivers and machines such as four time series champion Dave Machavern in his Heritage Motorsports, Tommy Riggins built, silhouette 1963 Ford Falcon, multi time V8 Series winner Charles Wicht in his Rocketsports Corvette, Larry Beebe in a Tony Ave prepped ex Trans Am Mustang, Ray Webb in a Riggins Chassis Corvette, V8 winner Robert Borders in his C6 Corvette, George Prentice in his winged Monte Carlo and more.
The LG Motorsports V8 GT-2 class should be a battle between the Goldin Brothers ex Grand Am Rolex Mazda RX8 driven be Keith Goldin, Ed Braswell’s
ex World Challenge Corvette, and the giant killing Mazda RX7 of Bill McGavic. The Goldin Brothers’ Mazda was constructed by Tommy Riggins and competed for a number of years in Grand Am, including several Rolex 24 appearances. Braswell has a very fast Doug Rippie Built Corvette and he will be tough on his home course. McGavic led the class points battle most of last year, but was unable to make the ARRC championship race costing him a chance at the title. Despite being way underpowered compared to the big bore cars in the class, McGavic cut competitive lap times using the nimble handling and great brakes of his lightweight racer.In the Howe Racing V8 GTA class, 2011 Champ Randy Walker will be on hand in his brand new Howe Racing built Camaro. V8 StockCar rookie of the year Cameron Lawrence will be bring out his Mike Cope Racing prepared Impala. Cameron has been competitive at every track he has raced at during the past year and grabbed a podium finish in the TA2 class at the Trans Am finale at Road Atlanta. Georgia’s Ricky Sanders is entered in his PitBoxes.com Monte Carlo and he will make some noise. Alabama’s Bobby and Roger Reuse will fly their beautiful new ARP bodied Camaro’s and either is fully capable of taking the win. Veteran stock car road racer John Goodson will have the only Ford in the class in his 2010 Ford Fusion. Newcomer Mike Wilson will bring out his ex ASA Delco racer to test the the 12 hour circuit. Hall Robertson returns in his #62 Farner Barley & Associates late model type Monte Carlo. The spoiler in this class this weekend could very well be Tony Ave, the reigning SCCA Trans Am Champion, who will shoe the #167 Boden Masonry Monte Carlo owned by Larry and Debbie Beebe.

In the PitBoxes.com V8 SPO class Paul Breehne will debut his Ford Mustang, actually the same championship winning chassis from last year rebodied and prepared by Mike Breault at PMS Motorsports. Expect a good battle between Breehne and Lee Arnold in his Impala late model for the class honors.

In addition to the Crane Cams V8 Series points event the weekend will also feature the Nordic Camaro Cup. The Camaro Cup is a European Professional series that includes Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnusson and Grand Am driver Nic Jonnson in tube frame Camaro’s similar to our V8 GTA cars.

The Sebring weekend will be a spectator event and non SCCA members will be admitted for a very nominal charge.
The following weekend the series will move to Palm Beach International Raceway with the Historic Sportscar Racing group as will the Camaro Cup Series.

The V8 Series thanks it partners, especially our new title sponsor Crane Cams. Other partners are:

SCCA, Porterfield Enterprises, LG Motorsports, Howe Racing, PitBoxes.com, GoPro, RaceTalkRadio.com, Sunoco, Hoosier, Goodyear, FiveStar, RaceCar Engineering, RacingJunk.com, Roehrig-Enders, GrassRoots Motorsports Magazine, SafeRacer


Some of you may know that “the lump” is a term used to describe the engine in a car. Normally it refers to a race engine. That huge mass of iron, aluminum, titanium, unobtanium and who knows what else that resides under the hood of the car.

For most of us, I dare say we really have no idea what is inside of that big piece of metal. We rely on people who, because they are “engine builders” , tell us all kinds of stories about how complicated they are, how every piece is hand polished and machined to .00000000001 of an inch.  And of course since so much is involved it is a bargain indeed, regardless of the price. A price which no rational person would pay, and makes us live in mortal fear that the wife will discover. Having listened to many of those stories both as a former racer and a parts man for quite a few years, today I just smile.

So I thought I would share with you the tale of a couple of engines in my experience. Now what is special about these engines?  Not a thing. Two engines from different stages of my racing career, if you want to call it that. Just two collections of metal that started life at a couple of Ford plants somewhere in the world.

The first one was a V8, size and engine builder omitted to protect the innocent. Or maybe the guilty. But this was my first experience with a Gt1 car. And of course i had read all the stories and articles about the powerful Gt1 cars. So I had a local engine builder who specialized in short track cars build it. The only thing left from Ford was the block itself. One of the proudest days in my life was when I picked it up and paid the bill.

First let me say that we were/are amateur racers, and everything we knew could dance on the head of a pin. That thing was a pain from the day I got it. Constantly ran hot, not a lot of power,  despite the engine builders claims, or maybe I didn’t know what to expect, etc. On one occasion when we shut it off it was running fine.  When we next cranked it up it was missing, checked – bent pushrod.  Finally at its last scheduled race before it was to be replaced, the oil pressure began to drop,  and 10 laps later we drove it into the pits and retired. My brother looked under the hood and said “you might as well shut it off you have water coming out of the breathers”. When pulled out  and inspected, the webs in the block were busted in three places. needless to say was a great conversation piece and I still have some paperweights I think.

The other was a V6 Ford. We pulled this out of a juck car we bought for $200 to use the engine and transmission. Put it up on a stand, and scapped all the oil and dirt away so we could pull the pan off. Pulled all the rod and main bearings out. Didn’t measure anything, and replaced them with new std. bearings. Torqued everything back down, put the pan back on, and put the engine back in the car.

This engine ran  through the drivers school at Daytona and Charlotte. At Charlotte it got so hot, (idiot owner and friend had forgotten to tighten down the hold down clamp on the distributor so variable timing) that we finally had to put it in 4th gear, hold the brakes and choke it off. Did I mention that it had water running out of both exhaust pipes?

So we let it cool down, found every plastic pepsi bottle we could, filled them with water, put 2 cans of Bars Leak in the radiator and drove it the 200 miles home. After a couple of stops it sealed up and ran fine. Shaved both cylinder heads and it was as good as new.

Now this was no race engine of course, and didnt pretend to be one. But every time after that when the hand built race engine blew up or screwed up, we put that engine in and kept racing. You just couldn’t kill it. In fact a friend now has the car, and has had some more exotic, modern engines built for it.  But you know what he does when they go bad? Yep, back in goes that same old motor.

And the moral of this is that sometimes things exceed your expectations. Or, maybe you don’t know when you are well off.

Are you ever amazed how the old family cruiser keeps running after all this time? Remember the days when nobody had a car that made a 100,000 miles? Well I do.


lotusf1

If you follow motorsport, this is a bittersweet time of year. Until the Daytona 24 hours there is almost no racing, and in fact precious little testing. Therefore up passes for news is generally pretty uninteresting, and obviously was a streetch on the authors part.

The exception to this is the constant flow of information about the two largest racing series in the world, F1 and Nascar. Before anybody starts to aim their digital flamethrower in my direction, let me say that I know F1 is far and away the king of motorsport. And as you look at the news articles you can see why.

But every now and then somebody does something to make you sit up and take notice. This time it was Caterham F1,one of the newer F1 teams, formerly known as Lotus F1. But lets not get sidetracked as to why they are Caterham, and the former Renault team is now Lotus. I can explain, but I wont.

As you may recall, every year all the F1 teams unveil, or launch, their new cars. And this is one of the highlights of the winter doldrums. To finally get to see your heros and the all new car which will, hopefully, win the World Championship. Its the motor racing equivalent of when we were kids getting to see the new model Chevy/Ford/Dodge. Remember those days, when the cars were brought to the dealership all covered up so nobody could see them? Well, those days are gone, but not the F1 launches.

I digress however. So why if this happens every year was I impressed by the Caterham launch? After all these things happen every year, and they have been done in every type of location from exotic to mundane. From elegant and understated to way over the top. In fact, I was beginning to believe that the only way they could come up with something different was to shoot it out of a cannon and land it in a bunch of Hooters girls.

But instead they did something so different, yet simple that you have to wonder why nobody (that I know of) had done it. They simply announced that their launch would be the first of the year, AND it would be on the cover of F1 Racing magazine. Only the most widely read F1 magazine in the world. And of course they would follow with Facebook, and other digital media.

Of course some people got their issue early and the news was broken a day early. Which I’m sure caused a lot of crocodile tears at Caterham. And now ScarbsF1 has a great analysis of the car, F1 racing had a article to go along with the photos, etc.

All of this is just a long winded way to say that in a time where we wring our hands and blame the economy for every ill in motor sport what was this worth? In the name of full disclosure I must admit that I have been impressed by this teams PR savvy ever since its inception. That said,how much uncontested FREE publicity did those guys get from just having a simple idea? If you were a potential sponsor what would you think of such out of the box thinking.

So, if you’re out there trying to get somebody to help you with your racing, and your by the numbers presentation isn’t working, maybe you need to think about a different approach.


First let me say I do not know Patrick Head at all. Therefore I am absolutely not qualified to speak about him, and I wont. That said I have followed his career indirectly as it pertains to Williams F1.

Years ago as I  followed F1, Williams wasn’t my favorite team for a number of reasons, then in the era of Michael, I saw them as somewhat of the villian against my hero in his Ferrari. Lately however I have found myself increasing pulling for them as their fortunes have flagged. Maybe its that root for the underdog thing. And of course, because Patrick head and Frank Williams “were” Williams, I was rooting for them as well. But now he’s moving on to other pursuits, the alternative energy field, I understand. And that caused me to think a bit. (always a dangerous habit of mine at best).

In all those years, I bet not once did the crowd cheer for Patrick Head, or any of his peers. They are not the ones whose name is called in victory circle, who kisses the beauty queen, or unless something goes horribly wrong, gets their name in the paper.

But it is men, and women, like him that have made todays motorsports what it is today. They are the ones who put the speed in racing cars, and for that matter make street cars that at 100,000 miles we think of as just being broken in.

NOT ONE of those hero drivers, and or crew chiefs, can make their car go any faster than the laws of physics allow. AT THEIR BEST they can only come as close as possible to the limits that are imposed by the design. Who was responsible for the straightline speed of the McLaren a couple of years ago? Was it Lewis Hamilton, or the engineer that thought up and pursued the “F duct”? And the  jump in downforce despite the conventional wisdom that the rules had reduced it? Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, or some engineer that created the “blown diffuser”.

So what is the point of all this? Nothing, no more than this. If it wasn’t for the people, like Patrick Head, and the unsung, untold millions before him, we would still be drawing on the walls of caves. And there will be millions after him pushing the rock further up the hill. But for me, I just wonder who is out there tonight working on their dream, the idea that’s going to turn motorsport on its ear. And I hope I’m around to see it.


Scott Murphy at VIR 2008

Just a quick note to announce that the agreement to help provide information on the V8 Stock Car Series. As many of you know this one of, if not the longest consecutively running, non club, road racing series in the country. This will be the ninth racing year, and despite the economic conditions it appears to be stronger than ever. Currently they have four classes, and in addition will be running with the Nordic Camaro Series. These cars, based in Sweden, and featuring at least two ex F1 drivers, promise to put on an outstanding show.

So beginning later this week we will be running an article each week on one of their classes, as well as the rules, car types etc. Race results and links to associated articles will come as appropriate. It ought to be an exciting season.

So I encourage you to check out their website at http://www.v8stockcar.com