Phoenix Feb 2007 HSR-West Race Recap
Had a great weekend out at PIR. This was the first time returning back to Phoenix since hurting my motor last year at this track. The #33 Roadster really did well this year running strong all weekend. We finished 5th in class with some really fast movers in our run group, and a very large field.
We drove up Friday day and arrived at about 4:30PM. I had been in contact with Troy Tinsley a fellow WCZR member who is local to the Phoenix area and he was kind enough to save spaces in the paddock area to park our trailers earlier in the day. Parking this year was a tough as the turnout was approximately twice as large as last year with over 172 entries compared with less than 100 last year.
Troy, a very accomplished driver, who has been an instructor at PIR, turned really quick times in his ITS 240Z less than 3 seconds off the fastest cars in our run group, that were heavily modified race cars. Troy was kind enough to take a few minutes and explain the finer points around the track, and his advice was right on target. Troy also critiqued my line and I saw my lap times steadily drop over the weekend.
We ran three times on Saturday and twice on Sunday. Saturday morning brought out a solid warm up and I got acquainted to the track again. We were out first thing in the morning, and had made several changes to the setup of the car so I went easy to see how the car was doing.
Les Cannaday (Classic Datsun) had installed my 4:88 gearset with a Detroit locker and had replaced my front brake pads and adjusted the rear brakes. The gearing change was immediately noticeable. The positive lockup of the Detroit locker really put the power down, and the car really hooked up. The gearset was a huge improvement over my 4.37 gears and gave me the acceleration off the corners that I needed, and got the car up to speed quickly on the banking.
The brakes were a bit of an issue. I battled a rear brake bias problem and no matter what changes we made, I had too much rear bias locking up the rear brakes on several occasions throughout the weekend. We adjusted the bias control with little effect and then adjusted the rear shoes off the drums, so that I could get a little less rear brake.
Our second run was to set the grid for the qualifying race and we got the car working really well despite the brakes and were turning 1.23’s. on lap five I went too hot into turn 1 coming off the banking and spun the car, and stalled. It took 15 to 20 seconds to re-fire, but I did get going again and finished down in the pack for the qualifying race. In addition, my alternator came completely detached from my motor and lodged itself in my
engine compartment (thank goodness). With this I also, threw the belt and started to overheat at the end of this session. Fortunately, we had an hour and a half to fix the problem and Les went to work and got me all fixed up for the qualifying race.
In the qualifying race we ran really strong out of the box, laying down my fastest lap time on lap one with a 1.22.3. This set the Grid with DuaneNorman in his 510, followed by Jim McAdory in his 510, then my roadster, and an Alfa Guillietta right behind me.
Sunday’s warm-up was uneventful. I worked on my shift points and brake points to be prepared for the trophy race. The car was working great and the brakes were finally working better.
Sundays trophy race was fantastic, we grided up and were quickly out on the track, with our warm-up lap done we lined up for the start and got a late green flag, and were off, two wide through turns one, two, three and four, sorting out into turn 5 and through the carousel into 7 and 8. I was on the inside of turn one and carefully picked through a little traffic by 6, andpicked up several spots. I set my sites on Duane and his 510 about 60 yards ahead of me with the Alfa filling my mirrors through the infield. On lap two I started to work on getting around Duane on the banking but he protected his line and followed him into the infield into lap 3 and around to the carousel where I got a run at him going into turn 9 and accelerated along side, just below him on the banking. We both raced hard around the oval, but I had the better line and was able to pull away from him at the end of the straight down into one, and by the end of lap four the Alfa had gotten past Duane and was leaning on me again filling my mirrors in the carousel and at turn 9 until the banking where I would pull away from him, just to have himcatch back up in the infield. We continued this for 8 or 9 laps when I
downshifted too aggressively into first gear on the entrance into 9 and pitched my roadster sideways. This was enough to let the Alfa by but I gathered it back up before Duane could catch me and was off going around
the banking with Duane looking to get back around me. Duane and I battled out the last several laps with him trying to get under me coming out of the carousel (turn 6) but unable to get to the point where he could get around me. At this point I had to maintain a defensive line around the track so the Alfa was able to maintain enough of a lead that I couldn’t track him down to catch him in the final three laps of our trophy race. At the end of lap 12 or 13 a Sunbeam Alpine ventilated its block at the end of the straightaway dumping oil on the track and ending any chance I had of catching the Alfa.
I finished 5th in class turning a 1.21.9 my fastest lap of the weekend, with the Alfa turning his best lap of 1.22.0.
Lessons learned: Even with the 4.88’s I could use about 200 more RPM on the banking and going into the carousel. Next time out at Phoenix we will change the RPM pill in the MSD box. I can improve my times with less rear brake bias and a better entry off the banking into turn 1
California Speedway Mar 2007 Route 66 Classic Race Recap
Fun weekend at California speedway with the largest number of Datsuns I have seen on the track since I started racing. There were well over a dozen Datsuns, mostly 510’s a few Z’s and one roadster.
We arrived Friday afternoon and pitted across from the first group of garages. We unloaded, got the car though technical inspection and prepared for the following day.
Saturday morning we pulled the roadster out of the trailer and found to our surprise that #33 was only running on 3 cylinders. We swapped out the spark plugs, and that had no effect. An examination of the distributor cap found a cracked and burned cap. We then headed off to the local Napa Auto Parts for a replacement and forfeited our morning warm up run on the track.
Saturday afternoon’s run was much better, with the new distributor cap in place and the roadster running at its best I started at the very back of the fifty-two car field for our qualifying round. As the green flag waived I took off passing cars left and right and laying down my fastest lap time at Fontana with a 2.17.7 over Three seconds faster than my previous best. I qualified 28th behind Sue Hasseler and her C sedan 510. Sue turned a fastest lap of 2.17.4.
Most of the rest of the afternoon Sue and I passed jabs back and forth. Something about getting beat by a girl or something. So the stage was set for another epic Datsun battle at California Speedway.
Saturday afternoon we went to meet Al Unser, we joined a group of 75 for an hour of questions and answers of the three time Indy 500 winner. Al and his wife were back this year to promote their scholarship fund and museum.
Sunday morning was uneventful, we fired up the roadster for our morning warm up and got out on the track and ran the car well, working on shift points and brake points.
Some of our Datsun colleagues did not fair as well. Steve Link’s very fast B Sedan 510 suffered not one, but two broken transmissions and a motor failure ending his run Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon we lined up on the track with the largest field for a flag race, forty cars. Of those cars there were six Datsuns, five Dimes and the #33 roadster. We got our warm up lap in and lined up for our rolling start. Right away the power advantage of the roadster was apparent as I passed Sue Hasseler right at the start and pulled away down into the first turn where the better handling of the 510 came into play. Sue was right behind me looking for me to make a mistake along with another 510 (John Labine’s white 510) right behind Sue looking for any opportunity to get around #33. We battled closely for 4 laps with my roadster pulling away on the banking only to get caught up on the infield with the better handling of the 510. On lap 4 Sue found the opening she wanted and got around me only for me to catch her on the banking and pass her again. At the end of the straight we got a full course red and then black flag due to another 510 behind us spinning and hitting the wall on the infield head on, and ending our race on the 5th lap. We hope that the 510 driver is okay, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
I finished 27th, just ahead of Sue in 28th and John in 29th place overall. We had a great time and Sue has vowed to get me back.
Things to work on. We had some success with the brakes but are still battling issues with the brakes on the car. I got a lot of fade late in the qualifying and flag race that we will be working to correct along with some more work on the balance bar set up in the car.
Next race event will be Laguna Seca in April, hope to see a few of you there.
Laguna Seca April 07
My New Years resolution was to run my Roadster at Laguna Seca this year. My wife Gretchen was aware of this and when we heard about the HMSA track day, falling a few days before my birthday she thought would be a great birthday gift.
After California Speedway I reviewed my lap times from our previous outing and felt that the roadster was not working as well as it could, especially in the infield. I felt the change to Porterfield pads from Carbotech pads were not beneficial. I felt that I was running out of brakes at California Speedway with fade at the hard braking zones, and that the handling of the roadster was erratic at several locations on the track. After consulting several sources I elected to change to KFP Magnum brake pads (gold compound)1 and benchmark the suspension settings to get a reference point to work from.
We adjusted the panhard rod again, this time with me in the car, and set the toe and camber to balanced specifications. We found that we had a half inch of toe out, and different camber settings on each side of the car. We were hopeful that these changes would at least give us an idea where the car is and where we needed to go.
With the suspension adjustments set I was concerned about the noise restrictions at Laguna Seca. Even with the “unlimited sound” conditions at Laguna for this track day there are still low sound requirements, and with the 3” open exhaust I was concerned that we would exceed the 92db sound maximum for the small bore group and be lumped into the large bore cars.
I took the roadster down to Wholesale Tube Bending and had Frank modify the BRE header to solve several exhaust issues that have been nagging me for a while. We modified the header tubes so that we could get additional ground clearance and tire clearance. Frank did a masterful job reworking the header and exhaust. He built up a 2.5” exhaust system with resonator to cut down on the overall volume of the exhaust without effecting the power of the car. With this complete we were ready to head off to Laguna
Mic Halbert was kind enough to join me on this run up to Monterey, and help support my racing effort. We left Monday morning and drove up through LA with horrible traffic, and windy driving conditions slowing our pace getting to Laguna until late in the afternoon, but in time to get the car tech’d and pit with Tim Arnett and his 2000 Roadster.
I met Tim briefly at Palm Springs (my first racing event), in November of 05. Unfortunately Tim’s Suburban had been broken into and his driving gear was stolen the night prior to that event. So he went home early without running his car.
Tim and I have passed emails back and forth since we met. We generally discuss aspects of Roadster racing. Tim’s engineering background and practical racing experience has given me insight to the nuts and bolts of racing and I have learned much from our conversations.
This event was our opportunity to meet again and race on the track together. It is very seldom that I get an opportunity to race with another Datsun roadster, let alone a similarly prepared car. I was excited to see how my car would do.
Tuesday morning came, and Mic and I were out at the track in good time for the drivers meeting. The weather was perfect, a beautiful sunny day. The paddock (which had been fairly empty the day before) was now more than half full. The cars that showed up for this HMSA event were nothing short of amazing; Aston Martin DB1’s, several vintage Maserati’s and Ferrari’s including a 250GT SWB. Big Porsches, including several cars from the Canepa Designs collection, Jag C types, Morgan’s, MG’s, Ford Cobra’s and many more.
We were in Group 1 and got out on the track in good order at approximately 9:00AM for our first run of four. Tim and I had discussed doing a couple of lead and follow laps as I needed to bed in my new brake pads and Tim had graciously offered to show me the fast way around the track.
As we progressed around the track at a low speed my brakes seemed very sketchy, and only got worse to the point I could slow down but not stop my car. Clearly my brakes were overheating and off gassing. After 3 laps I came into the pits briefly to let the brakes cool down. After 45 seconds to a min I went back up to the starter and slowly went around the track with a little better braking but not enough to continue and I elected to exit back to the paddock. Sure enough, my rotors were blue and I could smell hot brakes.
We elected to see how the brakes were after the second track run and then either pull the pads in favor of the Porterfield pads or, if the brakes improved leave the KFP’s in the car.
The second outing was much better, the pads still were not all there, but were much better, and I was able to get out and run with a quick little MGA. We battled back and forth, with him out-braking me into turn two and I could out power him going up the hill to turn six. Each lap we would trade locations back and forth. I couldn’t run too close to him because I was still concerned with the brakes. After that session the brakes were still off-gassing and my rotors were still blue, but at least we had brakes I expected the brakes to continue to improve.
Tim turned some impressive laps but towards the end of our second run his car came up lame, running on three cylinders on the last couple of laps. After a little detective work we found that Tim had thrown a rocker on the number three cylinder, and although that was a easy fix, the lash pad had gone missing and was presumed to be down in the oil pan. Unfortunately neither one of us had a spare! In addition, Tim’s starter had worked loose and needed attention.
Enter Will Campbell, Roadster enthusiast. Will took the time off from work and had come down from Napa to see the roadsters run and take some photos. The moment that we found trouble with Tim’s car, Will donned a pair of overalls and was actively working with Tim to remedy the issues with Tim’s car.
We took a break for lunch and HMSA put out a great lunch for the racers in the VIP suites adjacent to the start finish line. We enjoyed a first class lunch while watching the big IMSA Porsches run around the track. HMSA puts on a truly first class event.
I went out alone for the third run on the track after lunch. I tracked down the MGA again and then pulled away from him as my brakes were now working well. I got a little better feel for the track and felt the Roadster was working as it should, for the first time all day.
I came back in with Will and Tim finishing up on Tim’s roadster, and although they had fixed the starter the lash pad was incurable. Tim elected to take his car out running on three cylinders for a photo op and finish off the day.
Tim and I went out on the track last and turned some respectable times even though Tim’s car was down on power. Again, a big statement to Tim’s driving capabilities, he was able to get around the track quickly and show me where I was giving up time under braking, slowing down too much. We drove around and finished the session, with only one car passing us during the last run of the day. Although this was not a timed and scored event Tim carried a stopwatch in his car and said that we were turning 1:55’s.
On a personal note; Laguna was the first place I drove a race car on a race track and it is a magical place to me. 15 years ago I went there with several co-workers and drove formula Fords at the Russell Racing School. I have been bitten by the big ever since. Going back 15 years later, Laguna Seca still has that mystical feeling, with its challenging road course that wraps around the hills of Monterey; beautiful weather, green rolling hills, fast cars and the smell of high octane racing fuel. It just does not get any better than that. I can’t wait to go back.
Things to work on: Next time we are out, will be in June, back at Fontana, and that will be the acid test for the new brake pads. We are going to add some brake cooling ducts and see if that helps the brakes. I also intend to work on the brake bias adjustment on the brake pedal as it still binds up occasionally. I need to get some hardware to allow us to get more camber in the front of the car. We are still pushing a little when I go to turn in for a corner…
Fontana June 2007 Recap
Prior to this track event we made a number of changes to my Roadster to improve the rear suspension of my Roadster. Joe with Toptech suggested the following changes: Raise the back of the Roadster, and add traction bars and remove the backing plates on the front brake rotors and rework the balance bar. Mic Halbert reworked the balance bar on the brake pedal. Les Cannaday sourced and rebuilt set of early Roadster leaf springs and Rob Walker fabricated and installed a set of traction bars. We also replaced my tired Hancook tires with a fresh set of Toyo RA-1’s. We also removed the rear swaybar and changed the front airdam to a shorter version of what we were running. This was also the “acid” test of the KFP brake pads we had installed prior to Laguna.
We got to the track on Friday afternoon, got unloaded and after a bit of confusion with which garage space we were assigned. Got the car set up and ready to go and closed up for the evening ready to go as we were the first group on the track in the morning.
Saturday morning we got to the track and found that the battery in my Roadster would not start the car, so we jumped it and got it started, gassed up and Mic went through the checklist while I attended the drivers meeting.
I got back to the car, got the car out on the track and what a difference, the KFP pads were better than I could have expected with no fade even under the most brutal conditions. I found that I was braking too early for my turn in points and lost time on a few spots on the track due to early braking. The handling on the car was much more predictable although the turn in seemed better making a left hand turn vs. a right hand turn. The Roadster was much more predictable though as I found later in the day when I pitched the car a little sideways and it was not the abrupt breakaway that I had experienced before, rather a nice controlled slide that I could easily gather up and continue. During this prequalifying run I had John Morton in the 27 car go around me and I went to school on his line. John is very smooth with a fast line around the track and he easily pulled away from me in Adam Carrola’s #27 light weight Roadster.
We got back to our pits, did our usual maintenance in preparation for the afternoon run. We did discover that we are losing a little more oil than normal from the rear main seal and will be watching that going forward.
The afternoon session was much like the morning session where we were gridded up and ran with other cars that turned similar times I was a few cars behind Hector Cademartori and almost caught him during this session but missed a shift going up onto the banking and that slowed me down so much that I could not reel him back in by the end of the session. For the race I was now gridded right behind Hector for the race, just like last year…Sadly, John Morton was having issues with the 27 car during this session and while the Roadster was running, it was much slower and I got a run at John and was able to get around him. A couple of laps after I passed John, he headed into the pits.
Looking at the time sheets I noticed that we were going slower from one session to the next, so I figured that I would focus on my driving style and not thrash so hard on the car and really work on being smooth. The Sunday morning warm up, although not timed felt smooth and fast. I was ready for the rematch with Hector.
For some reason thought that our race was at 11:30. We were actually supposed to be out at 11:00, at 10.55 Ed Johnson came by and asked why we were not out at the grid!! Mic quickly got me into the car, and although I missed the warm up lap, I got out on the track at the tail end of the field. I started running down the slow cars and working my way through the field. I got around several cars and could see Hector just a short distance in front of me, but as I went into the hairpin turn on the third lap the left spoke on my steering wheel (which had been damaged prior) broke!! With a broken steering wheel, I slowed down and exited to the hot pits, and then back into my garage, I was done for the weekend.
So Hector has “won” this round. I will be looking to get him back when we are back at California Speedway later this year.
A couple of things I noticed with the Roadster. The shorter airdam made a lot of difference on this track, because of the high speed aspect of the track. When we go back we will have the larger airdam on the car for this track to lower the amount of drag under the car. Although the handling is much better with the back of the car slightly higher we will need to work on balancing the handling on the left and right side of the car to get it to be consistent left to right. The proper gearset for this track is a 4.62 for the Roadster and I will continue to look for that gearset.
VARA Las Vegas 07 Recap
The VARA weekend at LV was a good one, although it started out a little rough. The drive from San Diego was uneventful, getting into Vegas at 5PM on Friday…
Friday night we got rain, wind and a healthy dose of lightning and thunder. We woke up to a soaking wet track and more rain clouds on the horizon.
We got through the drivers meeting in time to call out the first group when the skies opened up again and it rained hard for about an hour, ruining any chance at a morning run on the track. Things cleared up at about 10:00 AM and the track was dry enough to run about 12:30PM. We were group 5 (the last group of the day) and one of the cars in group 4 dumped oil on the track delaying our run and making portions of the track very slippery. That with the lack of rubber on the track made it very slick when we finally got out to run.
On my second lap at speed I went off track in turn 2, gathered back up, got back out and ran the rest of the session sliding all over the place, turning really slow times.
Sunday night it sprinkled and threatened to rain a few times, but we were fortunate and it did not rain too much on the track. Group 2 was out running when we got out to the track on Sunday morning.
I had a good run Sunday morning with good grip and a clean track. I dropped almost 5 seconds and did a quick turn around to run the Datsun-Porsche Shootout, where I shaved off another 2 seconds, and got my first checkered flag and won my class.
After lunch Group 1 went out, and again someone blew a motor and dumped oil all over the track. Fortunately there were a few groups in front of us that cleaned off the track prior to our trophy race.
The trophy race was thrilling, I had a great race with a CS BMW 2002 getting him on lap two and then holding him off until lap 6 where I missed a shift coming off the fast sweeper and going a little wide through the “S” turns at the north end of the track. It gave the BMW a chance to get around me, and he did…after that he opened it up and I couldn’t quite catch him. I shaved another second and a half turning 1:42’s.
Next time I go out there I will be sure to have my 4:88 gearset in my Roadster and I should be able to turn 1:40’s or better. I finished 3rd in class of six cars and had a great time.
From the Desk of Tim Arnett:
Hey Race fans here is the latest race report. Unfortunately I was not driving, so I had to live vicariously close smelling the nitro and race fumes. Ron Carter a Datsun driver from San Diego wanted to hire me for the weekend to help him run His 1967 Datsun 2000 Roadster at the Coronado Speed Festival in San Diego on Coronado Island Naval air base. It would be quite a trek as I am in Northern California, however as this was only the second Datsun to get into a prestigious Spectator Vintage race events put on by Steve Earle in the past ten years. I thought it would be good for the Datsun marque to give Ron support to try to have a good showing. So with some hectic scheduling around a Daughters wedding I got the clearance to go.
On Friday morning I departed with the plan to miss the infamous LA traffic and sail on through to San Diego. Ha was I in for a letdown. The traffic got moving from stop and go status in all of three spots from the North edge of LA civilization at Castaic down to the Coronado Island. Uck, a long trip. Once at the island I was stopped at the gate by nice professional military police. They wanted credentials to let you in the gate, however the credentials were at Registration at the track that was set up past the gates on the base. They said they had that problem all day and let me on through with some directions to get to the track with some turns and then go out onto a taxi-way.
With what looked like miles of concrete airfield there was not much of a reference point past some buildings dotting the landscape. It was not quite as bad as God’s chosen people wandering in the desert for forty years, but I tried hard to do a good impersonation. I wandered on to at least one helicopter flight area I did not belong on thinking uh oh Toto, were still not in Kansas. I worked my way back to a vast expanse of concrete that had some cones and looked promising. There were no signs as they were still setting up for the weekend, so unless you had been to the event to know where you were going, it was a great challenge. Clicking my heels three times and then following the orange cone lined road hopeful locating the auto racing version of Kansas at that moment in time. I figured the hard part was almost done. Ha. I did find Ron’s car, but not the car he was racing, his 240 Z race car that was on display for the weekend. After a valiant try I let the male intuition go, gave up and called Ron to come and get me to lead me in. After a few minutes he rescued me from what turned out to be a car show area vs. track event pit area. We went to Registration, but it was cleaned up and gone, so I would have to try again Saturday morning.
Ron was able to run the test sessions on Friday and said the car was good, however stumbling in some corners, so an adjustment of float levels in the carbs was put on the to do list for Sat am. Ron’s friend Mic was also there to help for the weekend, so the three of us headed off to a wonderful dinner gathering at the Admirals home on the base for the entrants. Mic had been in the Navy in the special forces, so he knew the Admiral on a first name basis and talked to him for a few minutes. Ron’s sister in law had given access to use their condo that was across the street from the new Padres baseball stadium. This was great as it was close to the track, so after dinner Mic headed home, and Ron and I went to find the condo. It was a lovely place up on the sixth floor, with a corner balcony and a view into the stadium. After a wonderful visit we wound down our male bonding time and headed to bed. I think we were beat as we both were out for the night and slept great.
Saturday morning we picked up coffee and a breakfast sandwich on the way to the track to get ready for the day. Mic and I went over the car and adjusted the floats before that morning warm up session. Ron headed out and he and the car looked great on track. He was able to pass a few cars, and only a few of the really fast front runners passed him during the session, so it was looking good that he would have a great race. That was until he pulled off before the end of the session with smoking rear brakes. Back in the pits we found the brakes were literally smoking hot, so Ron had developed an inverse speed secret of the dragging brakes. We checked the car over and went to lunch to let the brakes cool to work on. The good news was the fuel stumbling problem seemed to be resolved and Ron said the engine was running great.
Mic and I scrambled to find the problem and to get the car ready for the qualifying race that afternoon. After a bit of troubleshooting I found the rear brakes were under pressure, and once you opened the line to relieve the pressure the brakes worked. The car had a mechanism to convert the brakes to dual master cylinders under the dash that looked a bit cluttered. I worked on the mechanism for awhile to make sure the pivot bolts were free to move and the problem seemed to go away. After deglazing the brake shoes and finding and patching a broken spring in the rear brakes Ron took the car for a test drive. Sadly the problem happened again, but that was better than finding out on track.
After inspecting the brake system the only other item in line was a Wilwood rear brake proportioning valve that was behaving like a one way check valve. I removed the unit and ran off to a couple of the semi’s of shops I know looking for a coupling to bypass the unit. I could not find anyone at the track with a plumbing connector. I cleaned the unit and we could bench test it to flow ok, so it was reinstalled to test again. Unfortunately the problem was still there and we were getting close to qualifying race time. There were a couple of temporary fixes that could have been done to get on track, however Ron made a decision to miss the session and do the repairs correctly. So Ron headed off to find an auto parts store while I continued searching in the paddock. Ron won as I never found a part at the track. He missed the session, but the car was repaired and ready to go for Sunday. As this was the qualifying race, your finishing position established your starting position for the Sunday race, so that meant Ron would start at the back. Based on his performance it looked like it would be a fun race for Ron as he was faster than many of the cars ahead of him, so he would have some passing to do, and racing opportunities when he caught up to cars of comparable speed.
Ron treated Mic and I to a stellar dinner in Old Town at El Zapato or such for our evening excitement. We sat on the patio and swapped stories and tried to get some stories out of Mic. I know there is an incredible book to be had from his experiences. Not just in the military, but he had been a F1 cycle factory rider in his youth for Bultaco prior to the Military service. The tid bit we did get was as a story of him and a few other soldiers clearing a hotel to rescue a group of Americans taken hostage in a Southern Hemisphere country. The part he liked was after clearing all the floors and getting to the top where the Hostages were he jumped into the room and with a big smile hollered “Room Service”. Hard to believe the ability to keep a sense of balance or humor in such a life and death situation. It gives me a warm feeling of gratitude about our service men and women protecting our country here and abroad.
Back at the track in the AM we grabbed some breakfast and double checked the car over and warmed it up for the practice session. Mic was busy itching his back, it turns out a piece of shrapnel had worked it’s way out of his back recently and the wound was itching. Yikes, talk about adding an apostrophe to his stories! Ron headed to grid and got lined up first to go out. Once on track he and the car looked great, and we could not see any signs of problems. He was able to pass a few Porches and Alfa’s and ended up having a battle that looked like it was of epic proportions with an Alfa GTV that he did not get by before the end of the session. After the session for the debrief Ron commented that the carbs and engine was running great and the car “had more HP like it used too”. I guess the secret of the dragging brakes had been around in past events to notice that the car was running like it used too. He also mentioned there was some understeer after about half way through the session. So we checked tire pressure and temp and made some adjustments to hopefully help during the race and checked the car and got it ready for the race.
After the car was ready to go we headed out to lunch and to check out a car show that was also at the event. Wow, what an amazing car show. I will have to admit the guys and gals in Southern California seem willing to spend a lot more money on their cars than we appear to up in Northern California. I talked to a guy with a 1964 Chevy big car and he told me he had the car in paint shops for three years and three paint jobs to get the brown color and ghost flames to look the way he wanted it. Very impressive quality of the paint, but it was beyond my comprehension as to being on the car it was on. There were at least ten cars I would guess had over $250K in them to make them nice street rods. Oh, yes, there was a fleet of Ferraris and Porsches and other clubs, but I have to say I felt sorry for those owners as, hey, who even noticed them with the quality of the muscle cars and street rods that were there. Ron had his 240 Z BRE recreation race car in a display right at the entry to the show and it looked simply amazing. Ron had built that car to race, but when done it was too nice, so it has been in the magazine and show car circuit for a few years probably getting more press than any other Japanese car I can recall, but hey it led to his purchasing the Roadster to have a “beater” race car to use. I say that with sarcasm as it too has won some shows, or should have as it is probably the second cleanest Roadster race car I have seen behind one that has about a 60K restoration I know of.
Enough of the drooling time, as it is off to the races for Ron. The base did a fantastic job of putting on a show for the spectators complete with some helicopter flight displays and some F18 Hornets doing fly by’s to get your attention. The event was held in conjunction with Fleet week as part of the tribute to the support the Navy personnel. Ron was actually gridded almost last, not last as expected as someone in a Lotus must have had worse luck than Ron during the qualifying race. Wow what a group of small bore production cars. Well “production” might be a stretch as the grid was Ginetta, Lotus 26R, Ginetta, Lotus 26R, repeat for the first four rows, then a Ford Escort RS that came with a Cosworth BDA four valve engine, then the more normal production cars such as Porsche 911’s 914-6’s, and Alfa’s, then the lone Datsun. Sweet. What a field to watch head out behind the pace car.
With the toss of the Green flag about all we could see was cars not three, but four abreast heading to turn one, wow. Ron made it through clean and had picked off an Alfa. Over the next couple of laps he dispensed of a couple of Alfa’s, then at the back chicane two Porches and a Lotus 26R got over exuberant and did a trifecta of spinning off track. So it still counted as three passes and Ron was up about five with progress looking good. After a couple more laps he caught the Alfa he had done battle with in practice and started working on trying to pass. A couple of the faster cars that had spun did eventually work their way back and got through the Datsun/ Alfa battle Ron was embroiled in. After that it was just exciting to watch Ron get next to the Alfa, but then have to back off as the Alfa would chop across the track trying to keep Ron at bay going into the next corner. Great cheering stuff for us fans. A couple of the really fast leaders did manage to catch up and pass before the race ended. A Ginetta was the winner with a fairly large margin over a Lotus 26R. Ron did not get a pass to stick so he ended behind the Alfa. So I would guess Ron ended a little back of mid pack of entries, and more importantly as we were on a Military base, Operation code name SOAR was a success. “Stay Off Administrators Radar”. We hope this put a little chink in the no Japanese entries armor for future events.
Sadly in some of the other groups it looked like a bit of politics as the no contact rule was enforced in what appeared to be a bit inconsistent manner. Ole in a Buyers Volvo special from Monterey pulled off the side of the track to miss a competitor that had hit a tire barrier, then he was hit by a Mazerate Bird cage who did not get stopped. Ole was told told his event was over due to contact, even though it appeared he had done nothing wrong the explanation given was if he had not been there he would not have been hit, and of course the $2M plus Bird cage was left in the event. I also noticed a lot of polishing and fender beating in the Trans Am group after their qualifying race, and they all were on grid, oh well.
Ron had a huge showing of visitors as this was his “home” track so to speak as he lived near by. I was only able to meet about half of them as so many passed through between being busy working on the car. There was also Alvin and a the Group of Datsun Z car guys and gals who rented a van and came down from the SF bay area, so there was a great turn out in support of Ron and the event.
I packed up and headed off. My Daughter is attending Nursing school in San Diego and had a recent pet trauma, so I took her out to get a replacement pet and dinner hopefully perking her up before making the trek home. Fortunately Sunday night traffic in LA was not near as bad and was only bumper to bumper in three spots, seeming almost free flowing after the pass through on Friday. So it appeared to be a wonderful success overall! Hope you enjoyed the story. Tim