Once again we were back at the “Race on the Base” a weekend on North Island Naval Base, Coronado.
This year was a little different than years past, a week prior, we were preparing the car and pulled valve cover to adjust the valves only to find pieces of metal sitting in the top of the head. It turns out that the valve springs had been eating through the spring cups that sit under the springs. Les Cannaday squeezed out every extra minute of his schedule (getting half a dozen cars put together for Coronado) to pull the head on my Roadster, and Monty from Machine Tech in Oceanside spent his Sunday rebuilding the head on my roadster and installing Chevy hardened spring cups and valve seals. Les got my car back together and also cleaned out and rebuilt my distributor, as we found a bunch of corrosion in it, and it needed some attention.
Thursday we drove down to Coronado and set up our Pit area. This year was special with a dozen Datsun’s invited we had a big field of Japanese racers. HMSA was kind enough to let us all pit together and we set out setting up our pit area, and preparing for the weekend. This also included a drive through downtown Coronado. Mic and I at the appointed hour loaded up the roadster and headed out to join up with the parade and we were one of forty cars that graced the streets of Orange Avenue via police escort. We parked off of Park Avenue for a few hours and then proceeded back to our pit area on North Island. Driving through town and back I noticed that my roadster was running a little rough, but did not pay that close attention to it, instead preferring to get out and back from downtown Coronado. Little did I know that this would figure heavily into the race weekend ahead.
Friday morning came and we got out to the track and set up the remaining aspects of our pit area. We also prepared my car to go out on the track and run the Friday warm-up session. I got out on the track and underway and under full throttle with a load, we had a distinct misfire, and we were down on power. After a few laps I brought the car in when the misfire did not clear itself and it was clear there was something else causing a problem.
We immediately looked at the distributor, borrowing a spare black box distributor from Steve link, and comparing both to see what the differences were. We rebuilt the distributor again, and still had the same problem. We swapped parts out of both distributors and still had issues. We tried every possible option and finally threw in the towel Friday afternoon and would look at this the following morning.
That evening Steve Knoll, Mic and I joined an invite only party on the base adjacent to the admiral’s quarters for a pleasant evening with our hosts and a little BBQ. Steve came down from the Monterey area to take photos of the event and spend time with racing friends. Steve, a former member of Group 44 enjoyed the event on the runways of North Island and took many wonderful photos. www.laprecord.com
The following morning we had our customary drivers meeting and we headed back to the pits to figure out what was wrong with my roadster. We now were looking at other options. We swapped the MSD box, checked connectors swapped more parts between the distributors and nothing seemed to work. Rob from the Z Garage had come down for the races and jumped in with both feet, I was involved, Aaron from Les’s shop was looking at this and although Rob started to find the problem, we looked another direction until Monty and I sat down lined up TDC on the motor, and found that the rotor on the distributor was off by 20 degrees and was moving away from the number one cylinder when it was firing. So cleaning out the distributor had exacerbated the problem by freeing up stuck parts and causing this problem to get bad enough that it actually became a problem. Swapping parts again between the two distributors gave us what we needed and the next thing you know we had a working car. Unfortunately we missed our 9AM warm up and had no lap times so we would be gridded at the back of the field for the qualifying race that was now about an hour away.
We buttoned up the car, and prepared to get a good run out on the track. We got out for this session and the Roadster was running very strong. Coming from the back of the field I passed several cars and felt that things were working well, when I passed Ken Matice in his 510 and got back on the gas and my Roadster started missing again, but this time it was worse.
I raised my arm and pulled off the track, drove back to my pit and removed my driving gear in disgust. I opened the hood to find that the #3 plug wire had come unplugged from the distributor and had caused this problem. Fortunately this was an easy fix and not what I had dreaded… some other more serious problem.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and I drove my Roadster over to the Motul lubricants display and put my car on display for the rest of the afternoon.
Sunday came and we got out to the track, suited up and ran a flawless morning warm up. Again the little Roadster was quick and I was pleased at how well it was running.
Sunday afternoon’s race came and again we were gridded at the back of the pack. Our time came to be called out to the track and the pre-war cars were called out in our time slot… We prepared anyway and headed out to the pre-race grid and lined up. There seemed to be some confusion with the volunteers running the pre-grid area and they were quite rushed. We were hustled out onto the track before everyone was on grid, and several cars were lined up behind us because they did not make it out to the grid in time. There was a flurry of getting belts on, Hans devices on etc. in order to make it out onto the track.
We did our warm-up lap and got the green flag. I was in first gear and got a really strong start, passing 6 cars on the outside at the start until a red TVR started moving over and cut me off. I then moved inside of turn one and two and passed the TVR and was right behind Bud Byrnes in his Elva. Bud kept me at bay as a few other cars pulled off because of mechanicals. Dan Haney’s 510 lost a half shaft, and Ron Carrico lost his clutch. Coming up to the front straight Bud was having issues with his Elva and I passed him going down the front straight and started to look at Ken Mattice in his 510 that was now right in front of me. Slowing down to go into the chicane on the back straight Bud dive-bombed in front of me, drove through the chicane and then he raised his arm and pulled off the track. I now went back to work on Ken. Ken was faster in the race than he had been in the previous morning warm up. It took me a few laps to finally make a move on him that would stick, and I got past him in turn 3, from there Wayne McAtee in his 510 was about 150 yards ahead of me and I started to close down on Wayne. Sadly, I did not get that chance as I got the indicator from the started that there was one lap left and it was not enough for me to track down Wayne. We finished the race in 22nd after starting in 40th. We turned very competitive lap times and made the race. Because of the confusion on the grid we were ahead of Jim McAdory and Bill Pritchard, Bill’s best time was the same as my best time and Jim was right behind Bill. Adam Carolla came through the field and passed me, along with a yellow Lotus and BMW 2002.
It was a challenging weekend, and ultimately a successful one and we will look forward to next year!! R
We had a great weekend at Auto Club Speedway, formerly California Speedway. This year the weather was balmy and comfortable, unlike the 110 degree weather we endured last year. This made for great racing conditions, and fast lap times.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, set up our garage area and started to prepare for the weekend. Making the cursory checks of water oil etc. we prepared the car for the following day. Unfortunately while talking with friends in the garage I managed to skewer the end of my finger while re-attaching the spring to hold the dip stick in place. As I calmly spoke to my friend I freed my finger from the curved end of the spring and was glad that I just had a tetanus shot, as I managed to shoot the spring about a quarter inch into my finger.
We wrapped up preparations for the car including passing tech and gassing up the car for our early Saturday AM start.
That evening Les Cannaday, Bill Pritchard, Jim McAdory and I went out to Chevy’s for dinner and called it an early evening as I was in Group 1 and would be out on the track first thing Saturday morning.
Saturday morning’s drivers meeting went well and we proceeded out on the track for our timed practice. This practice would determine how we were gridded for the qualifying race. We got out and turned a quick time, less than half a second off my fastest time at this track, the cool weather clearly keeping lap times low. I was pleased as I felt there was a little more in the car as our tire temps were indicating that a few alterations would allow us a little better traction.
We got back to the pits and watched the under 2.5 trans am cars run in their own group. Normally these cars are in our group however, Jim McAdory and Les Cannaday were able to put together a sufficient number of these cars to allow for their own run group. It was great to see so many little tin tops run, with at least a dozen 510’s, a 610, a few Alfa’s and a few BMW’s.
We were back out on the track at 1:00PM on Saturday for our qualifying effort. With the times we set in the morning we were gridded 7th in a 18 car field. I got a strong start and passed a black 914 Porsche (Ron Carlock) and turned some solid lap times with this Porsche on my tail all the way through. Two of the faster cars out front tangled and were black flagged, one other had a mechanical so at the end of qualifying I was in 3rd and Ron in his Porsche was 4th. The battle was now set for Sunday as Ron and I were very closely matched.
Saturday night we had dinner with HSR and Bill received his most improved driver award from last season. We adjourned to go over and see our friend Jon Peterson, and the Rolled Taco Racing Syndicate. We spent the better part of an hour and a half hanging out with Jon and his crew bench racing and enjoying a rolled taco.
In the past Mic Halbert has volunteered to help me with the preparation of my car, but this weekend he had a prior commitment, so Aaron from Les’s shop came out to help out. So to show thanks for his help I took Aaron out for a couple of bourbons and had a chance to get to know Aaron a little better.
We retired, and were up early Sunday to run the Sunday morning warm up. We tried a higher tire pressure setting this time out in the car and the Roadster was loose. This was not a timed event, just an opportunity to turn some laps. Ron Carlock followed me for a few laps then I let him pass and I followed him looking for opportunities, and working on my brake zones, and shift points.
Our trophy race was at 10:30AM and we got out to the track in good time and were ready to go. We put down our pace lap and got the green flag, and immediately several of the fast movers from the day before came up through the field, since they were relegated to the back of the pack due to poor qualifying. Ron’s Porsche wound up behind me as a black Alfa and red cabriolet zoomed past. I caught the Alfa and out-braked him going into turn 3 onto the infield only to have a light blue/green 914 run down the inside of me into turn 5. On cold tires exiting turn 5 the Porsche got really loose and crossed the track sideways recovering just before he ran out of track…and pulled away from me. As I exited the next turn I pointed the black Alfa by and he disappeared into the distance leaving me and Ron Carlock to battle for position. Coming up onto the banking Ron made his first move pulling past me on the banking, just past start finish, but he left room for me to pull underneath him and beat him into turn 3 onto the infield. I carried though the infield with Ron right behind me and a missed shift coming back up on the banking gave Ron enough room to get past me and stay ahead of me through the next infield lap.
Back up on the banking and Ron couldn’t pull away from me as I was tracking him down. I got around him in turn two only to have him come under me in turn 3 and cut the corner. I had the faster line and re-passed him in turn 4 to take the lead again. Going down into the hairpin turn I went too deep and locked up the brakes and came within a foot or two of driving off the end of the track, but this was enough of an opening for Ron and he passed me again. I quickly recovered and was right behind Ron looking for an opening to get back around him. Again I caught Ron on the banking but this time he had a little distance on my going into turn 3 only to bobble in turn 4 and I passed him again for position. I carried the lead again all the way through the infield and back up onto the banking, with Ron on my tail.
The next lap was fairly uneventful as I had a little cushion between us and I ran a clean lap. Ron made a move on the following lap again catching me and just passing me just past start finish only to have me drive under him in turn two and regain the lead though the next lap and back up onto the banking. Once we were up on the banking Ron tried again, and again I drove underneath him through turn 2 and was again in the lead going into turn 3, and through the infield. Up onto the banking again and the white flag was out for last lap, and again Ron tried to catch me up on the banking. This time he went really high up the banking and was not able to catch me and I felt that I had put the race away as long as I was clean though the infield. As soon as I lifted off the throttle and shifted out of 5th gear, the motor kept revving and I immediately slapped the two switches on the dash killing power to the car and shutting off the fuel pump. On the last lap my throttle return spring broke, jamming itself into my linkage and holding the throttle open. I attempted to restart the car and see if the throttle worked loose but it did not. Ron Carlock passed me in turn 3 on the last lap and finished 5th overall and second in class. I finished 6th overall and third in class.
It was a fun race and Ron and I had a great discussion in the pits after the race, we both had a great time and will look for each other again out on the track! Next time Ron & his Porsche will not be so lucky. Video of the trophy race can be found in the In Car Video section of my blog!
VARA Route 66 at California Speedway 3/2010
Mic and I drove up to Fontana early on Friday for the 7AM drivers meeting and on the way up in the middle of nowhere on Hwy 15 we had a blow out on the trailer. The passenger side rear tire disintegrated and we pulled over on a wide shoulder and put on the spare I had purchased the day before! This put us back about 30 minutes, and we stepped into the drivers meeting a little late.
After the drivers meeting we dropped the trailer and unloaded the trailer into our garage space. We were pitted between two 510’s, Wayne McAtee’s C Sedan and Ken Matice’s B Sedan. There were close to a dozen Datsuns all parked together in the #3 garage, and another 8 or so out in the paddock. For a total of at least 20 Datsuns.
Once we unloaded, we headed out to Motul to pick up supplies for the event. I ordered a case of brake fluid, diff fluid, car cleaner and MoCool. We were quite popular as I handed out the majority of these items to racers at the event, keeping a few of each for our racing effort.
We were out on track for the afternoon session and it was glorious, the weather was cool and comfortable with a slight breeze. The roadster was in top form. We installed the 4.38 gears prior to the event and thought I would see if the torque of the two liter would pull the car around the track vs. trying to run a lot of RPM.
We were running solid 2.09’s, 2 seconds off our fastest time at California speedway.
Friday evening we finished up at the track and headed out to Chevy’s Mexican restaurant with Kathy and Steve Smith. We had a nice evening and wrapped up early and turned in early. Saturday morning was more of the same. Drivers meeting at 7 followed by a good warm up, queuing up for the afternoon qualifying race. Based on warm up times we were slated 20th out of 50! I got plenty of chances to work on my passing skills as there were a number of cars really running slower times out on the track.
All morning, the sky looked threatening, as we were pulling out to the grid for our afternoon qualifying race it started to sprinkle very lightly and then stopped. The sun popped out and we ran our qualifying effort in the sun but with really dark clouds coming from the south west. I did not get a particularly good start off qualifying race, but managed to pick up a couple of spots on the start, and kept a sports racer behind me that turned a 2.06 lap time in practice.
Two cars got together in the turn 9 hairpin a few spots ahead of us and were out, and a BMW C sedan that was right in front of me lost control and started to spin one way then back the other in the 12 & 13 turn complex collecting up a cone under his car as he did so. I lifted when he came back on track, as he was still out of control, he gathered it up and continued through turns 14 through 18 with the cone under his car, and so I gave him some space. Right though the middle of turn 18 the cone extracted itself which caused me to take a wider line through turn 18 going up onto the banking.
I kept my foot down and continued on, glad that I did not collect the cone or the tires lining the outside of turn 18.
The rest of qualifying was uneventful, other than the smell of rain in NASCAR turn two a few times. We qualified 17th, and made a few little tire pressure adjustment notes for the race on Sunday. 10 minutes after coming in, the skies let loose and the next group hustled for rain tires.
The Datsun Gang celebrated Jon Wilkins Birthday in the garage, with cake margaritas and lots of good racing stories.
There were a few casualties on Friday and Saturday. Steve Link lost a motor in his Z when in swallowed a valve and Larry Hassler broke his cam into 4 pieces. Despite that everyone was in a good mood…about 12 or 14 of us went out to dinner at a local Mexican dive and were serenaded by the local DJ/Karaoke singer. At one point Chris Horn got up and sang Karaoke…so you know it had to be a good time 🙂
It rained all Sunday evening and into the wee hours in the AM. We were scheduled on track at 9:45 and by then the track was clear and still damp in a few spots but dry enough to race on. Morning warm up was good, but COLD. There was a steady breeze from the west and again the skies looked like they could open up at any second.
We wrapped up the morning session, and the changes we made to the tires seemed to be to working well. At lunch time, I put Mic out in the roadster for the lunch time drive around, and enjoyed a relaxed pace.
Sunday at 1:30 we were out on the grid for our race, and lined up ready to go. We got formed up and I got a great start dropping down to the apron and picking up several starts with a good run, only to be swarmed going into turn 3 into the infield. It got a little dicey as we were 3 wide going into the turn 3/4 complex, and I was the car in the middle!! I was not happy with the car to my right as he took a wild ass path to run me down through turn 3.
Fortunately there was no contact, and I kept at it, I found myself alone on the track trying to catch a little Alfa but he was a little faster through a couple of sections and I could not run him down.
I finished 17th, right where I started.
Special thanks to our new sponsor Motul, decals have been installed on the Roadster and we are looking forward to our next event, The Mitty at road Atlanta in late April.