Category: vintage

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.

Spindle for Centerlok

Rear Spindle for Centerlok

What an interesting couple of days. As most of you know we have focused most of our efforts on the Trans-Am style cars. They along with F1 are our first love, and we really want the series to succeed.

However in the last couple of days we got a call from the organizer of another series. This series also races full bodied cars on road courses. After some discussion we have agreed to start writing on a monthly basis about the cars in that series, as well as some other information. Hopefully by Monday we will have some more information to share on this.

When we founded a few years ago our first customer was a fellow from California by the name of Russ Thurber. Over the years we have cooperated with Russ in selling several racecars out in California, as well as some other parts.
Recently Russ returned to a business he had operated “back in the day”. He had opened a business call Vintage Racing Tees, which offers a range of racing themed tee shirts with a nostalgic twist. These are all printed in facility there in Ca. and shipped directly to you. Check them out at (a little secret- we will soon be selling them on the website or directly at selected tracks in the southeast)

So you have my apologies for being a little slack in posting. We will get back on track this weekend.

One of the great pleasures I have every other month is reading “Motorsports” magazine. As many of you know this is an English magazine, which as the title implies focuses on motorsport, primarily F1 and vintage. Interspersed of course with interviews and to a lesser extent with the other racing series on the continent and throughout the world.

To finally get to the point, I am always intrigued by the articles where some ex mechanic has started a shop from nothing and now its full of these great old cars. Now I’m not naive enough not to realize that the mortality rate of these businesses is extremely high. But still….

Have you ever thought about doing something like that? Assume for a minute that it was viable. What kind of plan would you make? What’s the first thing to do? Find a customer first? Staff? Building?

It just always seemed to me that this would be one of the ideal ways to be involved in motorsports. Of course assuming you wouldn’t starve.

Now lets see… The chassis is due back around Christmas, the shop is just about cleaned out…….

One of the interesting things in the marketplace today are the chassis. As we all know vintage racing has become more and more popular in recent years. As a result there are probably very few significant cars that haven’t been brought back out of “mothballs” as it were.
But the chassis may be a different story. Chassis in the sense that some teams built spare chassis. Others copied a favored cars chassis. And in some cases a project was started and then stopped for any number of reasons.
Now some of these have been completed and run as club racers. Others however still sit as they were the day the project ended. So what do we do with these things. The purists will insist that they aren’t vintage cars. Others however say they could be finished as intended and run in the vintage and historic races.
Whats your opinion?

View of the naked cockpit - Riley chassis TA car circa 2010Well, congratulations to Tony Ave, the 2011 SCCA Trans AM Series Champion! With his win in the second race at Brainerd yesterday he clinched the championship.

So lets take a look at these cars, again. Its interesting that many of these cars have been around a pretty good while. And that in one way or another they all go back to a common theme. The tube chassis built by Pratt and Miller back in the day. That was a quantum leap from the unibodies and stock car chassis that had gone before. In one fell swoop those were obsolete.

Before you go any further let me say that the following is MY OPINION, based on conversations with professionals. And hard to quantify given the constant changing of tires and car weights, engines, etc.

Even today I think most people would say that the Pratt cars are the Cadillac of all the modern TransAM cars. Now I know that some people will say, “NO!” that Rocketsports cars were the dominant cars. But I disagree. Rocketsports became the organization that P&M had been, and still are, but they weren’t better.

But the P&M car was one that was for the expert, not the average driver. And this led to the Riley and Scott, which was more comfortable for more drivers, and in the right hands just as fast.

And of course dont forget the many cars that Pancho Weaver built that were successful as well. These even more than the R&S were for the bulk of the competitors.

And I don’t mean to overlook the Roush cars, which had more success than any of them. But they had the benefit of more testing, more data collection than any team before or since. And, of course, absolutely first class fabrication and maintenance. They are deservingly collectors items today.

These were just the most widely known of the chassis, there were and are others. Peerless,Riggins, and  some teams built their own, particularly backup cars, and then the chassis Tony Ave is building has to be considered.

I invite any opinions or discussion you have about the subject.

Next time we can talk about the hardware. Transmissions and engines.

John Baucom's Mustang at 3Rivers. Note the "Roadraceparts" decal on the door

John Baucom's Mustang at 3Rivers. Note the "Roadraceparts" decal on the door

I suppose the question we all ask ourselves, and our buddies is:”What’s going on?” On the surface a pretty innocent question, asked every day.
But for racers in general, and road racers in particular, its asked a lot in the hope that somebody has the answer. What is the current state of motorsport as well as its future. Will it continue as it has been or will it die off, will it change into something we dont recognize? I have yet to find someone who has the answer.
But for my two cents worth, I think its going to go in two diametrically opposed directions.
(1) I think that there will be an increasing tide of “green”. This will probably be led by the manufacturers. And will be more the current ( of the time) production cars.

(2) A continuation of the traditional race cars, as we know them today. These will continue for the foreseeable future as we baby boomers move through this cycle of our lives.

In upcoming blogs we will have some comments on the current generation of cars, their technical specs, and a report on the TA race at VIR.

Seems like there is no way to escape the fact that there are still only 24 hours in a day. Remember when computers were going to free up so much time we wouldn’t know what to do? How did that work out for you?

Anyway we had to farm out the work on the GT1 chassis we had lying around. Sent it to a friend to put the body on it, and get all the brackets welded on it. Seems like at my age theres just not enough light for me to be able to see.

I know that he wont be done in time to race it this year, but maybe next year we can get back out on the track again. Perhaps even find a young whippersnapper who wants to give real racing a try.

Now to finish the rest of todays tasks.

Chassis front

For several years I have had a bare GT1 style chassis lying around the shop. And admittedly I have been trying to sell it. Well, to be candid, I wasn’t exactly overrun with takers.

So after some deliberation I decided to go ahead and build it into a vintage GT1 style car. So after some consultation, I sent the chassis to Scott McLearen of 2M Engineering to lay the ground work.

First let me say that although I have the parts to make it into a true TA style, centerlok hubbed ride I choose not to yet. The reason being that I may use it for track days, or rentals first. And its cheaper to use 5 x 5’s. I can always swap to the centerloks.

Scott did a great job of fabricating the suspension and getting the car up on its wheels. He made brand new control arms and uprights, all the links, and trailing arms, etc. No used parts in the suspension at all.


Now I get to try my hand at fitting the body. The body I choose, is the correct one for this vintage of chassis, an 1987 Mustang carbon kevlar piece. This particular body was used, as you can see on the #65 AER car in 88. Still has the four National event win decals in place.
I’m just finishing trimming out the steel roof, required for these bodies. Mounting begins next week.

If you need good fabrication, or assistance at the race track I strongly recommend Scott.

Front Bodywork