Carl McLelland and 61/FF/79

2004 Season


Willow Springs Report

Hi All,
The season finale and last race report of the year.....
This trip started on a strange note... I was traveling alone since Lynne was staying home to help her daughter; about to deliver twins at any second. A strange feeling, there being nobody 'in the right seat' to talk to and share the trip and many experiences occurring over a race weekend. Thursday night I parked in the Coso Junction rest stop, then finished the trip down to Willow Friday morning.


With Lynne I always park (and pit) up near turn one so she can sit in the motorhome and watch me race. Since I was "solo" this weekend I found a close, level spot in the pits that just happened to have a 110 outlet right there! I was able to run everything in the motorhome that's electric and never had to fire the generator. And that made it very nice since it was in the 80's during the day and I could let the air conditioning run.. Of course being 'solo' meant I was responsible for my own cooking! Somehow though, I survived the weekend.


After cracking a brake rotor at Reno-Fernley two weeks before I had new rotors and all new pads to seat, so I thought I would buy an hour or so of track time Friday. When they said it would be $75 for the car, $75 for the driver and $75 for the insurance...... well; I found I could do about 20 laps around the west end of the pits..... got those brakes seated just fine and saved myself $225! I was trying a new, different pad. Dave Bean has discontinued carrying the Hawk Black pads and has gone to a pad called "Panter". Basically I think they've replaced the metal in the pad with ceramic. I know that were $100 more than the Hawk.. and as it turned out they were quite impressive.


OK; I got the brake pads seated, got through tech, visited with Ed and Sally (Swart) and helped Ed unload his Shadow (formula 1 car) from his trailer and unpack his gear.


HSR-West always has a "wine and cheese" get together on Fridays. Lynne has always prepared a "snack tray" (had to write snack tray cause I don't know how to spell "or-derv's"....), and since she wasn't going to be there she sent all the accoutrements for ME to prepare the snack tray! That was easy enough.... make up the tray and "play in the food" and arrange it real pretty like. But this gets better! (Remember... I was a good cop, fantastic accident reconstructionist and unbeatable race car driver, but the only reason I know the difference between the stove and refrigerator is because you can't keep beer cold in the oven!!). Sally had made a crab dip, then left home without her chopped almonds. She had Ed stop at a store along the way and bought some, but they still needed to be roasted! So here I am, volunteering assistance, and since I have a motorhome 100 feet away, tell Sally to "grab her nuts and we'll go roast'em!" Now admittedly, I'm one heck of a mechanic, but........ Ya'know, I've just never tried to light the pilot in an oven before......... Well, I succeeded after probably using all the butane in the lighter we had; and we finally "got Sally's nuts roasted"... but it waaaaas a challenge there for a while!


The 'get together' went well. I'm not personally aware of anybody who had to take an ambulance to the E.R. (Maybe my cooking sent a few folks to Urgent Care by private car, but they didn't say anything the next day!).
Of the six race groups this weekend the formula Fords were group six, so we got to sleep in every day. First (untimed) practice session I head out onto the track, and while everything on the car was running to perfection it was one of those sessions where I felt 'like a square peg in a round hole'. Maybe because I was unsure of these new brakes... anyway, I went slow and easy in this first session. Second session I "up the ante" some and qualify 8'th with a 1:40.813, or a lap average of 89.3mph. By noon it was getting pretty warm, and while it had been breezy since dawn, the wind was blowing pretty good now. It was quite unnerving to come down the hill into turn eight and all of a sudden get this big Blast of wind and have it push your front end 2-3 feet sideways across the track.


Turn nine is a turn you either go through very slowly, or you do absolutely perfectly. If you try and go fast... or are not on the correct line the track is going to bite you Hard! This is a right hand corner you are entering wide open..... You are 'turning right', but at the entrance to this corner you are turning right from the left edge of the track. I know this is hard to picture..... Turn 8 is a flat out right hand sweeping corner: by flat out I mean your 'redlined' in your top gear. As you exit turn 8 you let the car run out to the left side of the track. Your starting a turn-in for a right hand corner but your still drifting left. It is a very "unsettling feeling and an uninviting desert" that's looking back at you right now..... just begging you to bobble a millimeter so you can come "spinning out into the sand and rocks"! The 'problem' is that you have no room for error. If you find you have a little understeer going, or run across a little patch of oil and get the rear end out a tad, or you get too far into the corner without the proper drift and slip angle.. you have no place to correct it! Hence.. you do it right every time(!!); the alternative being either driving the corner very slowly or seeing how big a dust cloud you can generate! I've got no "macho-ego" here.... Each and every time I exit turn nine I heave a silent sigh of relief...... I cannot think of any corner on any race track I've ever driven that has the "pucker factor" as does turn 9 at Willow.


By the start of our qualifying race, 1545... (3:45 p.m.), the sun was really low to the west. If you were in a more conventional car it wouldn't be so bad. In a formula car, with your eye level about 24 inches off the pavement, the early afternoon shadows have a real strange effect on your depth perception. Again, it's hard to explain if you have not driven one of these cars, but alter your visual references, or "que's" by just the slightest amount and the track looks completely different! One time about mid-race, I "got lost" somewhere in turn 8 and 9. I lost all my visual que's.... The result was slowing waaaay down, lest I misjudge where I was in the turn, with the result of going off track VERY fast and VERY dangerously!
Otherwise.... Topper Chasse', driving the pace car, gave us a fantastic start! Topper had us (me..) at 4800rpm in 1'st gear (rolling start) when the green flag waved. I was on the outside of the 4'th row alongside Phillippe Reyns (Lotus 51C), and got a good jump on the start! Phillipe 'had a wheel' on me going into turn 1 so I gave him the corner and stuck to him like a "bad habit"(!!); giving him no breathing room as I pushed him into turn 2. Someone ahead of us bobbled in turn 3 which slowed down everyone else.. but there's no passing here! Up around turn 4, down the hill into turn 5 and 6, then traffic started thinning. As usual, Phillippe started pulling away through turn 7 and 8; I held my ground through 9, then he pulled me (as expected) down the front straight. From turn 1 to turn 6 I caught up to him, but again, he pulled me down the back side. This must have been the point where I 'got lost' in turn 9 because Philippe was 1/2 the front straight ahead of me when I exited turn 9. I "nibbled" at this lead throughout the race and closed on him enough to finish the race 1.6 seconds behind him.
In the meantime, Steve Kupferman in a Mk6 Titan was 'showing me no mercy'! Steve closed up enough that a glance in the mirrors yielded "nothing but red"!! Steve never got by me, but beating him was no "gimme"! I finished 8/10's of a second ahead of him for a 6'th place finish.


But that wasn't the only problem! I only have a 3 gallon fuel cell in the Lotus and Willow is a track that you drive with your foot on the floor 90% of the way around. Two laps from the end, as I was exiting turn 2 (a wide, uphill sweeping right hander taken flat out in 3'rd gear) I started running out of gas! It's a horrible feeling to be runnning strong, then suddenly your slammed into the belts when there's no power..... and it seems like forever before it starts running again! (The fuel gets pushed into the left side of the cell so it 'runs dry'.... only after exiting the corner and your {coasting straight} can the fuel get back to the pickup). Steve was right there and almost capitalized on this, but I held him off. (Hooo Boy... could I use a "checkered flag" right about now!) As we come down the front straight there's the 'white flag' (last lap)! Now, if Steve didn't see the 'white', and if I can just pull off my 'magic trick' one more time........ True to form I run out of gas exiting turn 2. Steve could have made the pass under braking going into turn 3 but he didn't! (Maybe HE was running out of gas as well!?!?) Anyway, I held him off going into turn 3, and there's "nobody alive" faster than me in the turns 3 through 6 series, so I held him off to the finish! I knew right then and there I was going to have a problem on Sunday.......


Saturday evening was the annual awards banquet and Ed presented me with a very nice silver platter for the Lotus Sports Championship! (Thanks Ed.... as I've said many times from the winners circle this year...... "You've got the best show in town!!")


Sunday morning, the Lotus Challenge race was immediately after the group six warmup practice. Since I feared I wouldn't have enough time to run practice, refuel, then get on the grid for the Lotus race I decided to forego practice.... This turned out to be an error.


I started on the inside of the second row with Phillippe on the outside of the front row. The green flag waved and we're racing! I enter turn 1 side-by-side with Phillippe! No mercy today!! HOWEVER..... Phillipe had run warmup and got his tires up to temperature. I had not! I found myself slipping toward the outside (toward him) which required that I lift slightly; else he and I "get up close and personal"..... Into turn 2 and .... same scene, take two! I was slipping BADLY and again had to lift to keep the car on the track! Now you wouldn't think that tire heat would make that much difference in a 940 pound car, but just the opposite is the case... The lighter the car the more critical the tire heat and the harder to build that heat because the car is so light. It took me two full laps to get the tires hot enough to stick and by that time Philippe "was in another time zone"! I finished the race in third place (second in class)..... this being the only Lotus race of the season I didn't either win the class or win overall!


The 'Pacific' formula Ford series race was the last race of the day.... or you could also consider it "the main event". You can immediately sense my 'dismay', considering the my fuel problems from the day before, and the fact they would most likely extend this race a couple laps. This they did; and the two extra laps they gave us required I reduce my 'redline' to 5000rpm about 3/4 of the way through the race in order to have enough fuel to finish! (Too short a race to even consider a pit stop for fuel). As it was, I was 'out of gas' in turn 2 on the last 3 laps and 'out of gas' in turn 9 on the last 2 laps; which netted me a 7'th place finish........


This was the HSR-West season finale'. Next race is mid-February at Phoenix. I had considered running CSRG at Thunder Hill the end of this month and also HMSA at Laguna Seca in November, but I reconsidered. This is the completion of three full seasons in the car and rather than 'squeeze in" a couple more races I've decided to take the four months that are open to tear the car down to bare frame and do a restoration of sorts on it. Magnaflux all the suspension parts, re-inspect all the frame welds, make a few improvement on things I've thought about but haven't done, freshen the engine, etc... And see what I can "invent" to extend my fuel capacity to avoid the problems I had this weekend.


I hope you've enjoyed this past year of race reports. Here's hoping next season will be as exciting as this one was. More importantly; that each and every one of you continue to enjoy the best of health, wealth and happiness! There is a possibility that Lotus Cars USA may change the Lotus Challenge series to Elises only; guaranteeing HSR-West a fixed number of entries and eliminating the 'vintage' Lotus' from the series. I've also been looking at either a formula Mazda or Atlantic car; either of which would be a big change from what I'm racing now. (Kind of like going from the Alpine to the Lotus three years ago). Either of these cars would enable me to race SCCA which I'm not interested in doing; continue racing with HSR-west, but neither car would be legal for HMSA or CSRG. Lots of things to consider.... the future is definitely not going to be boring!!
Adieu.............
Carl


Reno Farley Race Report

Hi All,
This is going to be a little different than my 'usual' race report. It's also going to a few more folks than I usually send it to; hence the ("BCC" blind carbon copy) address instead of a long 'chain' of email addresses. I'm going to start this off with a heartfelt THANKS to Cris Vandegrif, owner of HMSA (Historic MotorSports Assn), who put the event on. Over the years I heard lots of "horror stories" about HMSA and their 'ultra-conservative' approach to historic racing. This was the first HMSA event I've ever run, so there was a bit of trepidation in entering although the opportunity to race at Reno-Fernley Raceway (RFR), a First Class facility that's only 34.9 miles from my driveway was something I just couldn't pass up. (Imagine.... towing the race car trailer for Minutes instead of Hours to get to the track!!) Thanks also to Rick Cable, owner of RFR! "Ya done good, buddy! It's a pleasure to know you and race at your beautiful and ever improving facility". Although my 'participation' was limited this weekend I look forward to racing with HMSA and at RFR again in the future!
HMSA does not do any timing and scoring. They retain the philosophy of historic racing as the opportunity to 'go fast and enjoy the car', with the object being 'gentlemanly racing' and any form of "aggressively-reckless driving" being grounds to 'put you on the trailer'! Cris, I think you've got the equation pretty well figured out!! Now please educate the management at CSRG because they are "getting wrapped around the axle" and losing sight of the fact that they exist for the drivers and not the other way around.


OK, as I wrote in my 'pre-race report', I launched off "CAT-3". (Lynne drove her car out in case she got called upon for 'emergency grandma duties')! "Maverick and Goose" (Sparks P.D.) took my left wing until I hit the freeway, then they 'bugged out' and "Iceman and Slider" (Nevada Highway Patrol) took my wing as far as Patrick, guaranteeing me 'safe passage' through "Mig Country"! After Patrick I pulled the throttles back and enjoyed an easy ride out to the track.
Arriving at 1100 hours I anticipated being the second or third person there. Imagine my shock to see the place "abuzz" with activity. I set up at the far south end of the pits, unloaded and got everything set up, just in time for my 'pit chief' (Chip Buell) to arrive. I got the car through tech and paid for an hours track time; figuring all I needed was to refamiliarize myself with the car since I had not driven it for three months.


Out I went for the first track session. Nice and gentle, easy on the car (and driver), and just settle into a smooth pace and start slowly working up your speed. As I passed the start/finish line on my third lap I glanced down and noted the tachometer was reading 7000 rpm (in fourth gear)!!!! WELL, so much for refamiliarizing myself with the car!! I suppose, "Cletis", we could take this thing outta' afterburners now(!!) and concentrate on what your doing!?!?
It was HOT and Windy! I was getting a lot of 'lift' and 'turbulence' coming up through turns 7 through 12, and again on the front straight. It was bumping and pushing me around quite a bit. So let me tell you about this track. As I previously mentioned, I was at 7 grand in 4'th at start/finish; and this was with my Thunder Hill 4'th gear! (In other words, a FAST TRACK)!! Turn 1 through 4 are a set of esses that (at least for me) remind me of the esses at the old Riverside International Raceway. "Not quite a straight line" and blindingly fast. Turn 5 and 6 are two 90's to the left. You can take them as one continuous turn with an extremely late apex, or 'double apex' them for passing. Up the 'back side', turns 7 through 11 are progressively increasing radius 'esses' that (at least in a formula Ford) you only had to 'lift' (off the throttle) for upshifting! Approaching turn 12 there's a little 'bend' that's just enough to really mess up 'straight line braking'. Turn 12 itself is a 90 to the right, but it has a great runoff so it's really a fast corner. Turn 13, the "horseshoe" is the one that I had not really figured out. It's banked 20% so you can run around the top then dive into the apex, or for passing just stay low and 'tough it out', then 'rocket out' of the corner. In either case, proper-aggressive application of the 'enthusiasm' (throttle) has you popping out the top, aimed at the little right hand 'kink' called turn 14. Grab 3'rd gear then 4'th as you drop off a little hill and approach turn 15. This is a really, really fast 90 to the left leading onto the front straight. There's a TON of runout for the 'hot pit' entrance, so you can really COOK in this corner!! (Rich, pay attention... this corner needs a name and here it is! I hereafter refer to turn 15 at RFR as "LOTUS CORNER"!!).


During this session I started 'dueling' with a 427 Corvette. (During 'open practice' all 'cars' are allowed on the track at the same time whereas during actual race practice and racing the cars on track are restricted to specific types of car or groups). This "plastic tractor" was so fast; I would enter the front straight about 2 feet behind him, and he would be "in a different time zone" by the time we reached turn 1!! Then, by the time we reached turn 8 or 9 on the back section I would be closed up behind him with enough time to "pull out my flask for a little nip" before we exited turn 15 back onto the front straight! Finally, as we entered the "horseshoe" I said "nuff o' dis", blew by him and didn't see him till I later entered the pits. Same story for another "plastic tractor" that came out to play...... ALAS, "David may beat the piper, but along came Goliath"!! Here came a Mk6 McLaren (Can-Am racer), and he blew by me so fast I thought I was parked and was half tempted to 'climb out of the car'!!


I drove till I figured I was about out of gas, then pitted. I had another 1/2 hour session awaiting me, so after cooling off and servicing the Lotus, I went back out. This time, Chip put a clock on me and I ended up with a fast lap of 1:31.2 before Steve Hoogs (running right in front of me in his Merlyn formula Ford) broke his crankshaft and pushed the #4 connecting rod through the engine pan; oiling up the track pretty badly, so we were done for that session. (1:31.2 was an average lap speed of 94.5 miles per hour). (A friend put a clock on me and timed me at 1:30.0 during Saturday morning in practice, for an average speed of 95.8 mph).


Thus ended Friday's testing. After a fabulous pasta/shrimp casserole my wife fixed, we watched the "Friday Night Drag Races". These are drag races put on for 'friendly' racing. No points, trophies, awards... just fun! Let me tell you, Rich, the officers of the Reno and Sparks Police Departments, not to mention the Deputies (of which I'm retired from) of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office appreciate what you are doing! Your taking them 'off the street' and putting them 'on the track' where they are safe: and I "God Bless You" for that.... Hopefully some of this 'youthful exuberance' will manifest itself into some serious professional racing in due time! In the meantime, your making the highways safer, and THIS retired cop appreciates your efforts!!


After a Truly Good Nights Sleep (maybe I should do my "Doctoral Thesis" on this.... seems I sleep fabulously in the motorhome when it's parked at a race track), I awoke to a cold and 'not as windy' Saturday morning. Following drivers meeting, my group (group 1) was first out. Chip "bolted me into the car", and away I went. As I mentioned, it was cold, and the brakes and tires were taking time to warm up. About half way through the session I was entering turn 12 when I heard and felt a "WHAP" through the car! As I exited the corner I stayed off the throttle. Oil pressure OK, water temp OK, engines running OK and no unusual vibrations, noises, engine smoke or other things to alarm me, so I continued the session.... (Maybe I ran over a rock and it got tossed back into the car body and that's what I felt and heard!?!?). I did note a slight brake pull from the left rear brake, but no other problems....


After ending the session I started my 'pre-flight inspection' for the next session, and that's when I discovered........... I had a great big crack in the left rear brake rotor!! I scoured the pits; even drove into Fernley and checked the auto parts stores........ but no brake rotors that could be used on the left rear of a Lotus 61. ALAS, my weekend was finished!! damn, Damn, DAMN!!!!! BUT, as they say, that's racing!! Bearing in mind, the only part that will fail at the track is the 'Spare Part' you didn't take with you from home..... you can rest assurred I've left home for the last time without spare rear And Front brake rotors!!.


Saturday afternoon Chip fixed some snacks (I call them snacks cause I don't know how to spell "or-der'ves") and by the time those were consumed "who wanted dinner"!? BUT, I built a fire in the bar-b-q, and fixed some steaks that would put "The Outback" to shame. Following that, Chip and I went over to the '1/3 mile Clay Oval' and watched the folks race "who only turn left"! Let Me Tell You........... this was some serious, good racing!! These guys were not kidding around!! In a word, I was IMPRESSED!!


As Chip and I headed back to the 'road course' pits the first of a few dozen rain drops fell. Again, I slept the best nights sleep I've had in some time. Sunday morning was partly cloudy, but someone had Finally found the "Wind Switch" and turned it off. I regretted not being able to participate in the days racing; but... those things happen. Several friends, Rich and Sandy Davis and Don Stephan came out and we enjoyed an afternoon of fun and friendship; watching the days races.
HMSA had invited not only a historic motorcycle road racing club to participate this weekend, but also the NASCAR road racing group. Let me tell you(!!), those former NASCAR stock cars don't begin to handle like a sports car. Thus, to equalize their relative lack of speed on the corners they must (obviously) be making it up on the straight!! Picture if you will; I'm taking my (941 pound) Lotus 61 down from 130 or so to about 100mph as I enter turn 1... Those NASCAR boys are doing about 155-160 down the straight and probably pulling back to about 90! THAT'S GOTTA BE A RUSH(!!) to drive one of them!! (Rich Davis.. you listenin'?? I'm ready to drive one for one of your sponsors!).


SO, all good things must ultimately end....... For everyone else, it's home and back to work tomorrow. For me, it's back home and unload the car tomorrow! What!?!? No Job!?!?! Well, gosh, fella's........ MY badge say's "Washoe County Sheriff's Office..... RETIRED!!".


Aside from that little 'barb', it was a fun weekend in spite of breaking the car. Here's looking forward to Willow Springs in three weeks........... Y'all take care and hope to see/hear from all of you soon!
Carl


Southern California Historics Race Report
Hello All.......
Lynne and I arrived home a while ago and I just got the motorhome and trailer put away. This, the third annual "HSR-West Southern California Historic Sports Car Festival" was the best yet! For those of you who are racers and Did Not Come........ well, it's Your Loss!!!!! As I've said many times this year while standing on the podium and talking into that microphone suddenly thrust into my face....... "Ed (Swart, President of HSR-West) runs the best game in town!!!" I thought long and hard about titling this report "The Price Of Admission", as I'll explain shortly. Suffice it to say..... the sight and sound of being 'on-track' and playing with a 1995 Formula One Ferrari alone was worth "the price of admission"!! Read on...........................


After an uneventful trip to Fontana, CA from Sparks, NV (except for strong quartering head/crosswinds), we arrived at the track right at 1300 hours Wednesday afternoon. The 'guard' at the gate (unquestionably a graduate student of "Modern Rocketry!!") asks as we pull up "what are you here for?" As I'm telling him "HSR-West Races" I'm thinking I should say "Well Dang, Cletis...... AH Got's A Traila Full'a Junk...... Ain't Dis Da Dump!?!?". BUT, I remained "politically correct", kept my mouth shut, and motored off to Registration. Following hugs, kisses and greetings from all the "HSR Folks", we get the paperwork taken care of, and we're off the find the perfect pit location. I was going to park the rig in our 'usual spot', but the track has blocked the fence, so we went all the way to the east end of the pits where we could watch the end of the front straight and turns one and two from the 'air conditioned comfort' of the motorhome!! Now for those of you yet to race at California Speedway let me tell you..... At my age I'm 'reasonably certain' I'll never set a record for being the 'oldest rookie' at the Indy 500! That said, I'm equally certain that California Speedway will be the closest I ever come to an "Indy Facility"! This place is so massive, so everbearing, so F A N T A S T I C that I truly consider it an honor to be able to race here!! Imagine... not "just pits" as a place to bring your car and work on it between races...... we had 110 power, water, and even CABLE TV in our pits!!!!! (And I haven't even mentioned the garages yet, have I!!). Anyway.....
The weather was typical Southern California..... low stratus and overcast (and cool) in the mornings; burning off to very hot and equally humid in the afternoons! ("Yo Lynne; ice down another case of that there bottled water..... It's gonna be another hot one!!!").


Thursday is for untimed, open practice. It's broken down into four groups in an attempt to keep the cars on track relatively equal in performance. But first, let me tell you about this place. Calif Speedway is a two mile banked oval; primarily intended for Indy cars and NASCAR. The corners are banked 17 degrees. The back straight is straight and flat, and the front straight is a big 'curve' (so the people in the grandstands can see more of the track) and is banked 11 degrees! As you come out of turn two (on the oval) you go into a shutoff (braking) area, then turn into the infield for the road course. This is a VERY difficult, very challenging road course! Everything from wide open everything the car will do corners to decreasing radius first gear 'hairpins'!! Again I say, a VERY challenging (and equally fun) course to drive!! OK, back to it. Practice Group Four was all open wheel cars... everything from Indy cars and Formula One cars, Formula 5000, Atlantic, right on down to Formula Fords. Thus, it's both fun and challenging to be on the track with cars that will pass you at well over 200 miles per hour while your doing a 'paltry' 150 or so!!


I had decided to limit myself to very conservative 'power bands' in the Lotus; in an effort to learn all the finite details of this facility and extract as much out of the car as I could without 'wearing it out' at the same time. Oh yea... I "lit the afterburners" a few times just to get my blood pressure and respiration up to normal, but I played a very conservative game of it!!
OK, practice session two..... about half way through the session and I'm feeling very comfortable with the car and the track. I'm under heavy braking as I enter the hairpin and the corner workers are giving me the "faster traffic" blue flag to indicate someone is coming up behind me. I had seen a red car "growing in my mirrors" so I assumed this was what they were referring to! As I exited the hairpin I intentionally went wide and signalled for him to pass on my right. As he did I 'tucked in behind him'.... Imagine if you will, here I am in a Lotus 61 formula Ford: a 'purpose built, single seat, open wheel race car', and I'm suddenly about 10 feet behind a 1995 Formula One Ferrari that is turning about 12,000 rpm as he accelerates to about 16,000 rpms!!! Needless to say, he pulled away from me at about the same rate a 'normal male' would pull away from a female who just informed him of the 'social disease' she is presently carrying!!!! None-the-less, and I'm certain all of you have watched Schumacher on ESPN or Speed Channel and seen what those cars are like, but let me tell you.............. I HAD THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!! (Hopefully as you read this you've also flown airplanes.... It was like the first time I flew a Northrup T-38 Talon {Supersonic Trainer}....... closest I ever came to an orgasm in an airplane... and at that moment the closest I ever came to an orgasm in a race car!!!!!!!!). But that's not all...... As I reached the end of the straight I CAUGHT HIM!!!!!!! Seems he was having some sort of problems and the car was acting up on him!! I momentarily thought to myself....... "DAMN{!!!}, WHY don't I have a camcorder in the car!??!?!?!?!?!" If I had the camera I'd pass him..... just to let the world know I could pass a F1 Ferrari!!!!!!".


Alright!! Back to "reality"!!!! I finished practice having thoroughly refreshed my (all 12 or so of them) brain cells on the layout of this track and how to get this car around it relatively quickly. Now it's time to get the car seriously tuned and ready for qualifying practice.


On Thursday I had limited myself to a 5000rpm redline until "I felt like I could get out and walk as fast.....". I 'bumped' that up to 5500rpm until I felt the same. At that point I felt 'ready' for the rest of the weekend.... (Hey, nobody ever won during practice or qualifying. It's only "Sunday" that counts!). Friday I gave myself 5500 again for 'untimed' practice and 6000 for 'timed' qualifying. One of my 'goals' for this track was to break two minutes for a lap time. I 'qualified' at 2:00.645 so I knew I was 'in the ballpark'. This time put me in 15'th place (inside of row 8) for Saturday's qualifying race.
Friday evening and we attend the banquet for all the drivers and crews. I was one of the HSR-West competition driving instructors at Phoenix in January, and I'm chatting with one of my former students: Jim Elliott, owner of the original, one and only, OLE YELLAR!!!!! Imagine my excitement, enthusiasm, exhultation and (bursting) EGO when Jim offers to let me drive the car on Saturday!!!!! I quickly accept, then after several cocktails (and a LOT) of soul searching I decide to hold off for another event... preferrably Willow Springs in October. Reality dictates (and rightfully so) that I should "learn this car" in a low pressure environment rather than in the face of a green flag!!! (For a photo of the car, click on the following website: http://www.tamsoldracecarsite.net/EricHauser.html  {Eric Hauser is driving the car through the 'esses' at Riverside Raceway in the 1957 Riverside Grand Prix. Following him and the eventual winner is Bob Oker [a lifelong friend and who's widow, Ila, I call "Mom"]} driving an Aston Martin DBR2).


Saturday afternoon and I'm on the grid for the start of the Qualification race. Alongside is my old friend and racing nemesis, Phillippe Reyns in a Lotus 51C. Phillippe and I have had many, many wheel to wheel battles over the years and I'm certain this one will fare as worthy as all the rest...... Holy smoke.... am I about to find out.....


Saturday afternoon is brutally hot and humid as we exit onto the front straight. The pace car exits onto the hot pit lane and a green (track) light followed by a green flag. I was a little behind the power curve but quickly accelerating. I've got a Crossle' (Club Ford) in front of me and I 'cling' onto him for a 'tow' into turns 1 and 2. It works, but Phillippe has also grabbed a tow from someone and we arrive at turn three (the turn into the infield road course) side-by-side. In my mirror as I turn in I see Steve Kupferman in his red Titan and he isn't sticking around either!! Explaining the start of a formula race is really beyond description. My friend and fellow Alpine racer, Roger Davis, openly says I 'have a death wish' for racing open wheel cars. The truth of the matter is: it's 'akin to entering 5 p.m. L.A. freeway traffic at full throttle, with no brakes and a blindfold!!!
A couple corners and the traffic is starting to sort itself out. Phillippe is ahead of me and Steve is 'tailing me', sticking to my backside 'like a bad habit'! I put my nose alonside Phillippe a couple times to pressure him, but he doesn't bluff easily and I back off and fall in trail. (Phillippe is a cardiologist in his 'daytime' job... so maybe he doesn't bluff easily!?!?). Out of turn 23 and onto the front straight. A piece of paper would have trouble fitting between Phillippe's Lotus 51 and my 61, and I let him 'tow' me down the straight and into turn 1..... I'm pulling 6500+rpm and the car is really "dancing" on the banking...... We're having F U N !!!!!!! (But dog gone, that wall sure looks menacing at the speeds we're traveling!!!). As we come off the bank and go into the brake area for three I spot something with Phillippe! I file it into one of my 12 remaining brain cells for 'later action' and head into the infield.


Another two laps and under braking going into turn 5 I 'capitalize' on my prior observation and pass Phillippe............ Now the "Hunter" becomes the "Hunted"!! I easily lead until we're on the front straight and it's a 1+ mile drag race....... Both of us arrive at the braking area for turn 3 side-by-side!!! (This is going to be no easy victory!!). Another lap of this and Phillippe takes the lead in turn 2. Well, now at least I can relax and 'breathe' a little. I chase Phillippe for several more laps, and suddenly as we're passing the start/finish line there's the white flag (one more lap)!! I start to make my move on Phillippe, then back off....... save it for tomorrow when it really counts! I qualify for Sunday's Pacific Formula Ford series race in 13'th place (inside of row 7) and, on a positive note, I've achieved one of my goals...... I finally break two minutes; turning a fast lap at 1:59.731; an average speed of almost 90 miles per hour for the entire course!


Sunday is actually two races for me: the aforementioned Pacific series Formula Ford race and the Lotus Sports Challenge race. The Lotus Challenge is the first race of the day and is formed up of four classes of (all) Lotus cars: Elises, production cars, sports racers and formula cars. Now I've beaten the Elises at Phoenix International Raceway but Calif Speedway with the lllooonnnnnggggg banked oval and straight has taken away my 'performance edge' of being a nimble, hearty racer! 200+ horsepower versus 115 horsepower is about to 'tell the tale'! I start on the inside of row two, behind two Elises and alongside Doug Warneke in a VERY potent Lotus Super 7. There's the green flag and I 'tuck in' behind Doug and get a 'tow' around to turn 3! Into the infield and approaching turn 5 I 'give it my all' and pass Doug on the inside! What I have to do is build enough lead that he cannot overcome on the oval. I ask all that my '61' has to give and it's enough!! Next lap we enter turn 3 side-by-side, and I have the advantage going onto the road course. Again I ask my '61' to give all that it has, and this time I have about a second on Doug as we soon enter the front straight. I hold him off again, and now start pulling slowly away!! And..... I see that I'm starting to ease up toward the Elise in front of me!!


All too soon I see the checkered flag as I go down the front straight; finished third overall and winning the formula car class! Unknown to me is that Phillippe has a nagging electrical problem that is stunting his performance so he's never a factor in the race. A shame because he and I have waged some spectacular battles in the past!! A trip to the winners circle, then it's back to the pits to prep for the Pacific race.


I cannot say the 'Pacific' race is anti-climatic by any means. While I'm normally a 'slow starter', I get a phenomenally good start and find myself soon running 'alone' in 8'th place. Throughout the race I can see the yellow Winklemann of Ed Smith slowly inching his way toward me! The last two laps finds Ed breathing down my neck and I'm rapidly running out of 'tricks' to fend him off! For once I'm really happy to see the white flag (one more lap)!!!!! I somehow manage to hold Ed off until we're out of the final corner and onto the front straight! I 'over-rev' the Lotus this one time and manage to hold Ed off; beating him by a mere 0.399 seconds(!!!) and an 8'th overall finish!! I also 'better' my goal and turn a fast lap of 1:57.292..
"Mom", Bill and Barbara Oker came out to spend the day with us and watch the races. We have a great visit, renew love and friendship and part after much too short a time as close as we ever were!! About all I can add is to say "thanks........ you made my day!!"


And that's the "Historics" report. Different from the usual report, but then a different race. Attached is a photo of the Ferrari, and the 'result' from the Lotus race! Thanks for 'indulging' my story telling. I hope you found it interesting, if not at least a different perspective on the races. Most of all, I hope to see all of you at the next races!!!!!
Carl



Thunderhill Race Report

Well, Good Morning!!!
It's Monday morning, the Lotus and all of it's accoutrements are back home and put away...... all in one complete, whole, operating piece I'm happy to say, and now it's time to start prepping for the Southern California Historics in seventeen days.
Lynne and I departed around 10 a.m. for Thunder Hill last Friday morning. Plenty of time to get there, but I was (1) working tech inspection for HSR this weekend and (2) we were taking a different route, so I wanted plenty of time..... The "route of flight" was US395 north out of Reno to Hallelujiah Junction, then westbound over Highway 70 to Oroville, and finally highway 162 to the track. The 'plus' is that it turned out being ten miles shorter than I-80/I-5, but......... Highway 70 was like 130 miles of Turnbull Canyon Road!! Now had I been "in the Lotus" instead of trailering it with the motorhome, it would have been a fun drive!! But by the time we reached the track I was exhausted from 'so much driving'! Needless to say, I "suffered" ten extra miles and took I-5/I-80 when we came home last night.


We got set up and all unloaded, and I had Ed Swart 'tech' my car while I tech'ed his car; a B.O.S.S. (Big Open wheel Single Seater) Atlantic Chevron. (Ed has a new engine in the car... 2 liter Cosworth Ford. He had 1/2 hour of dyno time on it and this weekend was to be a 'break-in', preperatory to a round of 'big name' historic races throughout the midwest. Unfortunately he got exactly four laps on the car in practice, then in the Saturday qualifying race he was in third place entering turn one on the first lap when he swallowed a valve; destroying a {what..... 10-15 thousand dollar engine!?!?!?!?!}). Ed wasn't the 'happiest camper' in the pits the rest of the weekend.....


Thursday, the day before we left, I got this 'wild and crazy' idea...... I took my bicycle down off the wall in my shop, ran down to the bicycle store and bought two new tires for it. Came home, cleaned it up and installed the new 'skins', and had "transportation" for the weekend. Worked to perfection!! I was able to get all over the place and not wear out my legs walking!! (Oh, sometimes I'm just soooooo clever!!)


Friday evening after dinner I was 'so jazzed' over the performance of my 'wheels' that I decided a lap of the track was in order! As I exited the 'hot pit' onto the start/finish straight and started up the hill into turn 1 quickly came to the realization that this was 'more like work' than I originally thought!!! I made up for it on the downhill run into turn 2 and 3, but when I started 'uphill' out of turn 3 toward 4 and 'the cyclone' (turn 5) was again wondering if this was such a good idea!! As I reached my "brake point" for turn 5 I decided a "closer recon" was in order, so I got off and pushed the bike "while I studied the grade/superelevation and braking action" of the track!


Coming down the cyclone into turn 5 and 6 was a piece of cake, but as I again started uphill out of 6 I decided to complete the "recon" another day and took the access road back to the pits and parked my bike!
Saturday morning I was, as usual, up at 0600 and went out and prepped the car. I 'tech'd' a bunch more cars before and after drivers meeting, then 'suited up' for my first practice.


I stuck to my 'game plan' meticulously developed at Vegas last month, and restricted myself to a 5500rpm redline for the first practice, then 6000rpm for the second qualifying practice and the qualifying race. The car felt good but I, as usual, felt like a 'square peg in a round hole', having not driven the car for a week. I got the 'kinks' worked out pretty quickly though, and was getting back in the groove when I came down the back straight into turn 14. The corner worker was frantically waving yellow and 'debris' flags.... Hmmmmm, the 'energy' he's expending means he's either (1) a brand new, highly motivated corner marshal or, (2), there might be something on the track that will get my 'undivided attention' if I don't first give it my 'undivided attention'!!! Well........ I don't know the corner marshal's experience level, but, it looked like someone had decided the exit of turn 14 and entry to turn 15 was a good place to deposit multiple gallons of engine oil; not to mention bits and pieces of what may have just recently been the 'inner workings' of a racing engine!!! As I came down the front straight we got a checkered flag ending the session..... Good call since I wasn't going to get any more speed worked up on the last mile or so of the track!
The second, qualifying practice session went clean and smooth. I gave myself another 500 revs so the car was a little faster and happier. My qualifying time put me in 11'th place for the qualifying race..... a good starting position: the back of mid-pack so I've got lots of people to 'play with' come race time!


It seemed like the formula Ford race should have been retitled "Clash Of The Titans" since the field must have been half Titans(!!), but, they are the fastest of the late Monoposto cars so they are very popular.
My young friend, Bud Sturgis, qualified on the pole in his (Club Ford) Crossle 45. Bud had won the 'Club Ford' class (second overall) at Vegas in April when I won the 'Pacific class' and third overall. (A Ralt RT4 was the overall winner). I've attached a photo of the Vegas victory circle with the Ralt, Bud's Crossle and my Lotus, with the three of us.... Bud was so excited when the photo was taken he was threatening to give me a kiss..... until I threatened him with an "early discovery of the prospect of life after death" so he just 'mocked' the kiss!!! Bud is a rapidly developing driver and I predict he is destined for big achievements in the racing world!! And while I'm 'off the subject', Bud arrives at the track with his parents and girlfriend..... and a spotless, obviously well maintained and prepared car. Racing is a family event for them, and they are a pleasure to know and race with!! Bud is negotiating to purchase a 'Star Mazda' (pro series formula car). This would be a good career move for him and I wish him success! (Photo credits go to Bud's Mom).


OK, back on track....... It was hot, hot hot when we formed on the grid for the formula Ford qualifying race, and they held us too long 'on a board' before we finally taxied onto the track. I don't know about the others, but I was at 210 degrees, and if I get too hot the car won't cool itself down, so I had to lay back some trying to get the temperature under control. I did to some degree, but the water temperature was never happy for this race. I also quickly discovered my brake bias was out of adjustment. Discovered that on the second or third lap as I came down into turn 10. Olivier Sermet was putting the pressure on me in his Dulon. Since I was restricting my redline I was pushing the brake points and corners to their extreme. I came down into 10 and got on the binders and started shifting down to second. At the same time I could feel the rear brakes taking over and trying to tell me (and the car) that it would be happier going through this corner backward!! Well, that's not the best way, so I got off the 'binders' and induced some overster to reduce my velocity, but Olivier really closed up.... Half a lap later he got around me and slowly pulled away on the straights so he and I were done for the day.. I think I finished 11'th; exactly where I started.


Sunday morning was clear and windless... a perfect day for racing. In adjusting and setting up the car for the days 'festivities' I cranked in a whole bunch of front brake bias.... then went out for warmup practice.... HEY!!!!! the car has front brakes again!!!!! (What was Buddy Rice's average speed for the "Indy 450"??? 89.240mph??? Gosh, he's just lucky I was at Thunder Hill yesterday!!!! Imagine the uproar if us "HSR-West formula Ford racers" had been there to steal their thunder!!).
OK, first up was the Lotus Sport Challenge...... A kind of 'lopsided' event since the turnout for this weekend's races was so poor. (With the Memorial day weekend, CSRG at Thunder Hill two weeks ago, the Wine Country Classic next weekend and the Southern California Historics two weeks after that a lot of racers didn't come out to play). My main competition was to be a Lotus Elise who had lapped about six seconds faster on Saturday. My 'game plan' was to be about 6" off his rear bumper as we passed the checkered flag, then make my move!! You see, at Thunder Hill, the finish line is about 200 yards PAST THE CHECKERED FLAG station!!!! Not everyone knows this!! If he would (unknowingly) lift off the throttle as he passed the checkered flag while I'm still flat out, I might just nose him out at the finish!!! That was the plan, but an even more important rule in racing...... you have to finish to win!! The Elise blew something in his electrical system and never got off the starting grid! I led "wire-to-wire" in a race with no competition. Thirty more points toward a hopefull overall championship in the Lotus Sport Challenge series.


Before the featured race, the "North-South Challenge" (Pacific series) formula Ford race Lynne and I had lunch and watched it rain at Indy on TV.....


The start of the formula Ford race and I nose out Olivier going into turn 1. I pass a Winkleman in turn two, and it's the Titan in front of me for the next challenge. Traffic is really jamming up at the Cyclone, though, so the traffic behind me is really bunching up to make a pass. I pull away from the Winkleman but Olivier sticks to me like a 'bad habit'! He goes 'inside' me in turn 14 which causes me to lose momentum, but now he's not accelerating! As we enter turn 15 I pass him back. I lose sight of him as he pulls into the pits. I pull away from the Winkleman and start closing on the Titan in front. I'm giving myself 6500rpm on the front straight ONLY, but still have to lift by start/finish. I close on the Titan in turn 3, and watch him spin merrily out of my way and "go exploring in the star thistle".... Bye Bye........


Next is another Titan and I slowly close the gap on him...... same scene, take two... except it's turn two....... Bye Bye.......
I start after the next car in front of me, but as we progress I detect a slow climb in my temperature. I 'pull it back' to 6000 to keep the temperature under control. That's keeping me stabilized just over 210 degrees, but the Titan and Winkleman behind me are starting to close. Dog gone it... just when a checkered flag would be nice!! I figure I can hold off the Winkleman but not the Titan, when, as we reach start/finish there's the white flag (last lap)!! OK.... Just Be Cool..... Forget the brakes, just oversteer the car in the corners.... scare him into staying behind you!!!! HEY... IT'S WORKING!!! Almost too good, though!!! I almost go 'desert exploring' in turn 10 and he closes up, but I hold him off for the dash down the back straight. It's worked the last time it has to on this day! Out of turn 15 I "turn up the boost"..... give myself 7000rpm for second, third and fourth down the front straight! The car runs like perfection, I hold him off, and finish in fifth or sixth place!! (When I removed the nose off the car to load the car into the trailer I discovered what must have been 100 or so butterflies, bugs, flying insects... you name it...... clogging the radiator!! NOW I know why it was running so hot!!).


Alright.... that's the Thunder Hill Report. A fun, low pressure weekend! Again I have to say, lots of competitors could'a/should'a come out to play! Ed Swart runs the best vintage racing events I've seen yet. For what it's worth, I've got the formula class sewn up in the Lotus Challenge and I've got a good shot at the overall title. Ed told me this weekend that Lotus may pull out of the challenge series which would make this the last year of the Lotus Challenge. I would hate to see that happen, but, 'ya play your hand the way its dealt'!


Y'all have a good one and here's hoping to see you at California Speedway the 18'th through the 20'th for the So Cal Historics........
Carl



Las Vegas Race Report

Hi All,
After breaking the crank and taking myself out at Fontana in March I was really looking forward to, and fearing the worst, at Las Vegas this past weekend. Also, Kevin Roth, one of my friends and one of the Chaplain's with the Sheriff's Office; said he would say a few words 'over' the Lotus after I got it back together. Kevin must have had a good long conversation with the "Chief Steward" upstairs......... Read on..............................


This past month has been a blurr: only having four weeks from Fontana till Vegas and while I was building a new race engine from scratch I was also working full time as a contract EVOC (emergency vehicle operations) instructor for the Sheriff's Office. Did I mention that I was also negotiating to trade in the old boat for a new one?? Yep, it was a busy month!!
Lynne and I got on the road later than usual, arriving at our RON spot in Tonapah just before dark. Following a good dinner and great sleep we were back on the road Friday morning; arriving at Las Vegas Motor Speedway about 2:45 in the afternoon. Parked directly in front of us outside the gate was a 427 Corvette with Colorado plates on the trailer. Turns out the fellow was there meeting another long standing race friend of our's, Roger Davis and his lovely wife Jill. As soon as the gates were opened to us we made it a threesome in our pit: my Lotus, Roger's Alpine and Harley's Corvette. Harley's wife, LeeAnn joined us later that evening and we six had a very pleasant race weekend!!


After unloading the car and getting it through tech I filled the radiator and cranked it. Started on the third stroke and not a 'puff of smoke' nor drop of oil on the ground!! It sounded sweet, happy, ready to stretch its legs and race!!


The "outside" road course at Las Vegas has been improved upon since I last raced there. V A S T I M P R O V E M E N T S!!!!!! It's a much faster, busier, and quite techical track now. On the back stretch and front straights I was getting about 120 miles per hour, and also using first gear on five of the corners; so quite a busy 2.5 mile track.


Unfortunately for Ed Swart there were only 77 entries, so all the formula cars had been grouped together: everything from the usual pack of formula Fords plus two Ralt RT4's (formula Atlantics), a Tyrrell (formula 1) and a Lola (Indy Lite). (I say unfortunate for Ed. He's a super guy and as far as I'm concerned runs the best vintage racing organization I've seen yet. I would really like to see HSR-West take off big time... They sure put on a good race weekend). Oh yea... all of us guys with only one seat and no fenders were in group 3 (of 5) so we were 'in the middle' of everything all weekend.


The first (untimed) practice on Saturday morning I self imposed a 5000 rpm redline: running in the engine while learning the track. For those of you not experienced with formula cars, we sit very, very low to the ground and the Vegas track is FLAT(!!). It is a very hard track to see the corners until you've learned where they are and found 'brake points', apex markers, 'aiming points', etc. For me; it's a weed growing by the side of the track here, a flagpole on a building there, and all sorts of 'visual clues' to maintain orientation. Really hard to explain, but if you've been there, you understand.
The second (timed) practice Saturday went better than the first, and I gave myself another 500 rpm on the redline; using 5500 for a redline for the remainder of the day. There was one fellow in a Ralt RT4 that wasn't having his 'better day'. The car was so fast in a straight line that if we entered a straight together, by the time I reached the next corner he would be so far ahead of me he was in another time zone!! Three corners later I'd be alongside him and the corner workers would be giving HIM the "faster traffic" flag!! (Great EGO booster!!!! Being in a formula Ford and being the "faster traffic" for an Altantic car!!!). Anyway, Bud Byrnes and I got on his tail and stuck there like a bad habit, and FINALLY both of us got around him. Once we were a couple corners ahead he never caught us during the session. My best lap was 2:07.336, to qualify me 8'th for the 'qualification' race. (Bill, I talked to Ron Carrico at Vegas. He bought himself a Zink formula Ford).
For lunch Saturday Roger fixed his world famous Bratwurst dogs...... They are SOOOOO GOOD!!!! I think I ate four of them!! Hardly fit in the Lotus for the afternoon race!!


At 3:00 p.m. it was time for the 'group 3' formula race. On the front row was the Lola (Indy Lite) and Tyrrell (F1). They made it all the way to turn 4 before succeeding in occupying the same real estate at the same time. That darn Ralt got ahead of me at the start, I passed him back in turn 2 and 3, then he passed me back (under full course yellow) out of turn 4. (The corner people didn't see the pass). A full lap under full course yellow then they red flagged us and brought us into the hot pit. Man, let me tell you..... IT WAS HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT out there in the blazing sun!!!!! Fortunately, Roger Davis came running up with an umbrella and cooled me down a little. "Bless you, my son!!". One of the 'starters' also came down the hot pit and gave everyone a bottle of ice cold water. Sure tasted good at the time, but when it hit the 'tummy' I was begining to wonder if that was such a good idea!! Just as I was starting to feel a little 'queezy' we went back on a 5 minute board and suddenly I was too busy to think about something as mundane as barfing inside a full cover helmet!! (Oh Gross!! ahhhhh hahahahaha!!). Anyway, after another warmup lap we went Green, and the race was back on! Self imposing such a 'low' rev limit really makes you work hard, and if anything, made me practice finesse and technique. I ended up finishing 8'th, which put me on the outside of the fourth row for Sunday. It also qualified me for the pole position for Sunday morning's Lotus Sport Challenge. (My best lap was 2:08.569, but everyone elses laptimes suffered from morning; primarily due to the heat and race interruption).


After the last race Saturday I bar-b-qued steaks for Lynne and I and Roger and Jill. It was a super good dinner. (Oh man.... I'll NEVER fit in that Lotus in the morning!!).


Sunday morning I went out for warmup practice, and kicked the redline up to 6000. I discovered my 'lower speed' driving on Saturday was paying off now.. I really knew how to drive the track with the added speed I was giving myself now.
10:40 a.m. and I was 'on the pole' for the Lotus Challenge. Lon Walters (Lotus Super 7) was alongside on the front row. After pretty soundly beating him at Phoenix in January I knew he was eager to even the score! Well, he might 'have the inside' for turn 1, but Baby.... I'M CONTROLLING THE START!!! Topper Chasse', driving the pace car, always gives you a fast warmup lap and a fast start. Today was no exception...... I came out of the last corner in first gear and Topper headed off into the pits. I 'picked it up a moment then backed off', forcing Lon to do the same..... As I came back on the power (full throttle now) he was 'off the power' and there was the green flag!!!!! (Fantastic!! it worked to perfection!!). I had a wheel on him entering turn 1. Down to turn 2 (a 150 or so degree right hander followed immediately by a 60 degree'er to the left). I knew I was too hot going into 2 and sure enough, the back end started around on me! I got the rotation stopped and straightened out the car, but Lon got by me! Well, sport fans, this race ain't over just yet!! At the end of the back straight where you transition from the 'old course' onto the 'new course' he was about 2-3 seconds ahead of me. Good, gave me a lap to study him a little and start putting the pressure on him! As we went up the back side on the next lap I could tell he wasn't slowing enough which made him constantly 'chasing' the car rather than 'driving' it. When we got to the 180 at the north end of the track I knew I had him. He went into it too hot which meant I was cornering and 'gettin' outta Dodge while he was still in recovery mode! He tried to put the "habeus grab'as" on me a few corners later, but when that didn't work I started pulling away, to finish First Overall with a 2.9 second lead! (Best lap was 2:06.875).


12:00 p.m...... "High Noon" (Me and Gary Cooper, out in the middle of the street, hands just above the grips of our "six guns", ready to face our adversaries....... OOPS, Wrong Script!!)...... "High Noon" and I was on the outside of the fourth row........ There's the green flag and we're off!! Although that darn Ralt was in front of me I just didn't even consider that he had more than twice my power. I just blew by him going into turn 1 and never saw him again! Next I put the squeeze on Bud Byrnes (Lola T204). He obliged by 'spinning out of my way'..... Bye bye Bud!! Next on the roster was Ralph Carungi (Lola T202). Ralph was kind enough to spin out of my way in the 180/90 part of the old course.. Bye bye Ralph. Bud Morrison (Caldwell D9B) gave me a run for the money. I remember passing him but now cannot remember where. Matter-of-fact, I don't even remember seeing the white flag! I came down to start/finish, giving the starters a cursory glance, and GOSH.... They're waving the checkered!!


I thought I had finished 3'rd, and even though they tried waving me into the winners circle I drove right by and stopped in my pit (about 100 feet from the winners circle). One of the guys came running up as I climbed out of the car. He was yelling "your supposed to be in the winners circle!!". (But WHY!?!?!?). He pushed the Lotus back over there while I took my helmet off and threw it in the seat of the car! Only when I got over there did I discover 'my victory'!! I wasn't third, I was first!! My first WIN in a Pacific Formula Ford series race!! (Third overall and first in class). (Best laptime 2:03.826).
Roger fixed the 'Brats' for lunch again! As luck would have it... now that I"m through driving for the day I can eat all I want...... There's only three of them for me!!


I got the Lotus all loaded and the trailer buttoned up and had time to watch Rogers race. Having raced an Alpine on this track before I could sympathize with Roger! Darn near every corner is either too fast for second or too slow for third; leaving you 'between gears' at almost every 'major' corner! And as luck would have it, Roger's ignition died on his last lap!!
Harley went out in that 'big beast' Corvette and won his class in big bore production!
Lynne and I drove to Scotty's Junction where we spent the night, then finished the drive home this morning. A total of 449.5 miles each way, actually making Vegas closer than Calif Speedway and slightly further than Willow Springs.
So once again, that's the 'race report'. For us it was certainly a 'good recovery' from Fontana last month. Next "issue" will be Thunder Hill the end of May. Those of you who live in the area; stop by and have a 'cold one', take a look at the car and the new boat. Those of you who are racers..... there is no excuse for you to NOT BE at Thunder Hill with HSR-West the end of May.


And lastly, those of you who are friends and race fans....... mark your calendar for June 18-20, for the third annual Southern California Historic Sports Car Festival at California Speedway!! Especially those of you who live in Southern California; I expect to see each and every one of you there!!!!! (blue and yellow Lotus 61 with #247 on the sides). (Be there, or Luca Brassi will be knocking on your door, "making you an offer you can't refuse"!!).
Stay safe!!
Carl


Fontanna Race Report

Hello All,
It's that time again for another 'race report'. Lynne and I are "home from the trenches", bloodied, battle worn, beaten up, overworked, overstressed, kicked around..... but since we're both retired........ Lovin' Life!!!!!

We got out of Sparks around 1115 last Thursday. A little late, and kind of windy, but on the road none-the-less. Made the RV park just south of Lone Pine shortly before dark, then after an excellent dinner and good nights rest finished the trip to California Speedway, arriving at 1330 on Friday. Now this is one racing facility that simply "awes" me. I don't know how else to express it, but standing in the paddock there, or sitting in the Lotus looking across the pre-grid at the grandstands....... Well, I'll probably never get to Indy, but if Indy feels anything like this place............


Got the car through tech inspection, unloaded, and ready for practice on Saturday morning. As hot as it was I can't tell you why I put the tonneau cover on the car before going to bed, but I did. Good thing I did because the car was covered with 'dew' in the morning, and the cockpit was completely dry! Jumped in, fired it right up, taxied out to the pre-grid, and then headed out for the first practice session. The car felt good, but then I had just raced it two weeks before. The big thing I was concerned with was fuel pressure. My newly installed fuel pressure gauge had a steady eye as the car warmed up and we went progressively faster..... And the fuel pressure got progressively lower until reading zero.


After coming in I checked the spark plugs, and nothing to indicate that anything was wrong. The plugs looked good, the exhaust looked good, the car had run fine..... so why?????


Second (qualifying) session same story with the fuel pressure. Now I'm really perplexed, and the offers for help include everything from scraping the electric for a mechanical fuel pump to doing a "Voodoo Dance" around the car while holding eagle feathers in my hands!!


Third time out is the qualification race. I'm off to a good start till several cars spin in front of me in turn 3. I thread my way through them and I'm doing a good job of holding them off for a few laps....... till the fuel pressure is again at zero! I back off the throttle and find that staying under 6000rpm is just bringing the needle off the peg. OK, it hasn't blown yet, so lets stay in at reduced power.... Oil pressure and water temperature are great considering what the air temperature is..... I end up finishing seventh in the Pacific Formula Ford qualifying race... even at reduced throttle settings!! I might add, my lap times before I slowed were enough to grid me on the Pole Position for the Lotus Sports Challenge..... 3/10'ths of a second ahead of the next fastest qualifier: a Lotus 23B sports racer. (I even qualified faster than a Lotus Elise!!).


BUT, we were going to solve the fuel pressure problem no matter what! I tore the fuel system apart, removed the fuel cell, drained it, probed down inside but not a hint of foreign debris to clog things up, all the fuel lines were blown out and no debris, carb filter checked and clean.............. I was really starting to get annoyed at this problem. Note: I had replaced the (1 year old) electric fuel pump with a new, higher pressure and higher capacity pump, and this simply shouldn't be happening!! For some unknown reason, just before I reinstalled the fuel cell, I turned on the electric pump. Can't tell you why except I was curious if it would show any pressure on the gauge when there was no fuel to be pumped. Well...... guess what..............
The pump clicked normally for about 3 seconds, then STOPPED CLICKING!!! A pretty astute indication that the problem was electric, NOT fuel!!!!!! I removed the old fuel pump switch and installed the spare switch I carry. Switched it to "ON" and the little bugger just pumped it's little heart away!!!!!!! I put the system back together, fueled the cell and turned the pump on.... The needle went straight to 7psi and didn't waver a millimeter!! Fired it up and it sat right on 6psi; again not moving a millimeter!!!! Third try, I drove it around the pits........... stayed on 6psi without any movement!!!! HORRAY...... I think the problem is C U R E D!!!!!


I didn't sleep so well Saturday night... Mainly thinking about Sunday's races, and starting on the pole for the Lotus Challenge. I get up Sunday morning and go outside to start prepping the car...... It's COLD, overcast, and so foggy that you can't see the grandstands from my pit!! I get the car cleaned up, noting the "grunge" from a fellow racer who broke a crank and blew the side out of his engine during Saturdays race while directly in front of me!! Big Mess!!!


OK, we're first out for Sunday morning 'warmup'. The track is cold and somewhat wet, so I"m careful... warming the tires and car in stages. I take the car up to 6200rpm on the front straight and through turns 1 and 2. The fuel pressure doesn't move from 5psi.. which I'm prefectly happy with!!!!! I back off to 6000rpm, and at that speed (probably 3 seconds per lap slower than racing speeds) I feel like I"m out for a Sunday drive. I recheck my shift, turning and braking points.... everythings COOL!!!! I just 'sit back' and enjoy a couple "Sunday Morning Laps"..... and I"m "cruising" through turn one (at what...... 130mph??).... when all of a sudden:
Ka-BLAMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I de-clutch and shut off the ignition, then shift into neutral. Oil pressure was 50psi and water temp was right under 180, fuel pressure 5psi.... everything was perfection! I coast all the way to the turn 3 flag station and stop there.. Heck, the flagman didn't even have to leave the station, I was five feet away form it!


I get towed back to the pits, pull the engine cover, and note that by rocking the car with it in gear, the crankshaft goes "Clunk..... Clunk"...... While I haven't torn down the engine yet, it's pretty obvious that the crankshaft is broken! SO, my record for the Pacific series remains unblemished..... one failure to finish and two failures to start! The Lotus series is better, with an overall win, a class win, and now a failure to start. I was sure looking forward to a good duel with the two 23B's and the Elise!!


Dave Mericle came out Sunday; fortunately arriving soon enough to see the 'fatal' practice session. We at least had a good visit following that and watched some good racing...... And one other guest....


I had just come in from the first practice session Saturday morning, was changing out of my drivers suit when there was a knock on the motorhome door. Holding my suit around my waist I looked out, and who was standing there?? Remember from the SCCSCC and POC days back in the early/mid 60's: the fellow who was blindingly fast and blindingly spectacular, in the red '62 Porsche Coupe with the day-glo orange wheels!?!? YEP..... Non-stop from Waco, Texas..... There stood Speedy!!!!!! With the exception of Bob, Ila and Bill Oker; the oldest racing friend and co-competitor I know.....
I had known, and known of; Speedy (Maurice Livingston) prior to 1965, but the time was summer of 1965, my first Porsche Owners Club event after buying the '57 Speedster. I was at Adams Go-Kart track in Riverside, and I had just spun a rod bearing in the engine. I was wandering around the pits, wondering how I was going to get the car home, etc, etc, when Speedy came up and asked me why I wasn't out on the track? When I told him what had happened, without batting an eye, Speedy asked me if I had a towbar? "NO"........ "Do you have a car to tow with?" "YES"........ Again, without questioning whether he would ever be repaid, would ever see his equipment again, without questioning my trust or integrity..... said "After the racing is over I'll drive you to your house so you can get your car, then you follow me to my house to get my towbar so you can come get your car home". Our friendship grew from that day on.......


I've had a few "Hero's" in my life: people who, for one reason or another, said or did things that influenced my outlook and demeanor in life, and without question, Speedy was one of those people. Speedy taught me that it's not the color of a persons skin that's important, it's the color of his soul! Speedy visited with a lot of old friends this past weekend. I was touched and honored that he visited with me first!!


So once again in my 'race reports' I saved the best for last. As much as I would have enjoyed standing in the winners circle yesterday; for one fleeting moment I once again got to visit with a dear, dear friend....... Yes........, there is a God!!


Thanks Boss!!
Carl



Phoenix Race Report


Hello, My Friends......................
In my "pre-departure" report I mentioned being possibly "over prepared"... I think I had at least one of everything in my shop loaded in the trailer. Now I suppose that wouldn't have been 'too bad'..... but I'm still trying to figure out why I needed "ten downrigger balls" (at ten pounds each)....... No... not really... it just seemd that way!


We were "launched off CAT TWO" at precisely 12 oclock noon. After initial trimming and cruise climb configuration set and checked (2500rpm/62mph) we settled down for a scenic drive to the Tonopah rest stop about 15 miles west of the metropolis of Tonopah. We 'slept-in', and didn't launch until nine oclock the next morning. Late afternoon had us in Kingman, AZ, so we spent the night in a comfortable little RV Park. Wednesday had us at Phoenix Intl Raceway by 3pm, but through a mix-up with the track didn't get inside to park and set-up till nearly dark.


It turned out I had to disconnect from the trailer, which meant I first had to unload the Lotus out of the trailer, park the trailer, disconnect, move the motorhome, get the M-H leveled and plugged in to electric, then roll the Lotus back over to our pit. In retrospect, I probably did such a good job of parking everything because I couldn't see where anything went..... just "park by braille"!!


Thursday morning I was over to the classroom, to be an instructor in the HSR-West racing drivers school. It turned out my two students were both "re-treads", having competition experience with other clubs, or in the past and now obtaining HSR competition licenses. One of my students was the new owner of the original "Ole Yeller 1", the other a fellow whom I had not seen since the early/mid 60's when we were both street racing on Turnbull Canyon Road in Whittier, CA. (Rick, you remember the guy who lived in the 3'rd house from the end, on the right, where Beverly Blvd became Turnbull?? His name is Ron (don't remember the last name and my papers are out in the motorhome). He had a El Camino truck back then.... Beat LaPierre down the hill once when he was driving his folks P1800! I introduced Bill to him. For that matter, I also introduced Bill to Jim Ellis {owner of Ole Yeller}). Anyway, both my students did good and I signed them both off at the HSR-West reception Thursday evening.


It was really nice to see all the HSR-West crew after the last race of the 2003 season last October, and especially nice to see that our really, Really, REALLY good friends Roger and Jill Davis arrived safely form Salt Lake City!!
Friday morning it's clear and cold, and we're second group out! OH..... did I fail to mention...... we had the two liter formula cars (the 1600 twin cams and two liter formula Atlantics) sharing the track with us for the weekend?? Well...... The first "sign of trouble" I experience is discovery that I've probably put on a couple pounds since the holidays and retirement!!! Now, the Lotus fits me like spandex to begin with..... this day it was akin to putting "ten pounds in a five pound bag"!! ANYWAY..... I "slither" down into the car, then squirm around for a bit getting everything squeezed in where it belongs....... crank the old girl up, and taxi out to the pre-grid.


The first couple laps it's a combination of ice cold asphalt and the "monoposto speck CAST IRON DUNLOPS"!!! Going down the back straight into the sweeper (turn 3-4 if you were running the oval) and I feel like my "new" gold crown is going to get vibrated out of my mouth!!, not to mention the 'total lack of tire adhesion'! But, finally, the tires start warming, the driver starts warming, and I actually see the water temp hit 180 degrees! Toward the end of the practice session I start detecting a vibration under braking in turn 2, and also on the sweeper.


I think about this when I get off the track. Everything is set up on the suspension..... Only thing to change is tire pressure. I talk to Philippe Reyns. He says he uses 12/14psi front/rear, and it's worked perfect for him! THAT'S a tough one for me...... seems like too little air in the tires..... but..... I end up going to 13/15 for the timed qualifying practice. The car is much improved, but still a hint of vibration...... For the next session I soften the shocks one click all the way around. I also..... yea, finally did it, dropped the pressure to 12/14.


Friday evening was the catered dinner; held in the Jaguar demonstration tent on the south side. Really good lazagna......
Saturday morning was a little warmer. I mount up for morning 'warm-up' practice.... Deja vu...... AM I BACK AT WILLOW???? I push the starter button and NOTHING!!!!!! I end up missing the practice while I pull the starter (yea, the freshly overhauled one!). It seems to be very dry so I oil the thing up and test it. I find by tapping very lightly on the case while the starter solenoid is engaged It will crank. Great, problem solved!! Now all I need to do is have someone along with a hammer to help me get started!!


Lou Meyer and his son, Louie, arrived from Yuma and spent the weekend transiting between Roger's pit and my pit. Lou is the "World's Guru" on Alpines, and the man who supplied many of the parts that kept my car running over the years. Lou was also celebrating his upcoming promotion to Marine Master Sergeant!


Bill and Barbara Oker arrived in the nick of time, just as I'm getting the Lotus all put together. A little "OJT", and Oker is now an "ASE" trained, hammer weilding, "Lotus starter whacker"!! Roger and Jill prepared their 'World Famous Renouned Bratwurst' for lunch!! Tight fit or not... I 'forced' myself to enjoy several of them before toddling off for the formula car qualification race. Into the Lotus I go, squirm around to get everything where it's supposed to go (hey.. it's getting easy now..). Master switch ON, Ignition ON, Fuel Pump ON, Starter DEPRESSED, Tap The Starter and we're running!! Taxi out to the pre-grid; and I have to shut down! A Porsche has played 'bumper tag' with both walls coming off the sweeper, and made a frightful mess of the track! "Dang, Cletis...... Good thing I had Bill take the hammer with him.. to re-start me!!"


My qualification time was "less-than-stellar", and I'm starting in 14'th place.... outside of the 7'th row. As we come out of the last turn and the green flag waves, "the world turns white" as everyone hits the 'absorbant' on the track from the Porsche that had 'deposited' it's innards all over the track while re-arranging it's sheet metal on the inside and outside track walls!! I think to myself, "Wow.... just like the old days of desert racing on a motorcycle!! I can't even see the front tires!!". The "start" is driven by braille, and finally things clear as we enter turn 1. I've let the pack get by me, but I don't care..... I still have all my paint properly distributed as when I arrived at the track days earlier. I don't remember that much now. I think I finished 9'th. At least, I started on the inside of the 5'th row on Sunday. Nothing that really stands out; except the tire pressures are Perfect!!


Roger fixed the 'brats' for lunch, and Lynne and I were doing the dinner. Jill had brought a stack of the finest steaks in Utah, and we 'combined forces' to put on a feed!! In attendance were Lynne and I, Roger and Jill, Bill and Barbara Oker, Lou Meyer and his son. We also invited Philippe and Franswah (sp) Reyns to join us for dinner, and we had a feast that would have made the finest steak house in Phoenix proud!! 'Expected' was the bottle of champagne that Roger had; to toast Lou's promotion and recent return from Iraq. 'Unexpected' was the second bottle of champagne that Roger had brought to celebrate my recent retirement from law enforcement! Darn; musta' been something in the air that night..... had to keep blowin' my nose and cleanin' my glasses!! (No matter what else I may have or want in this life, I have truly been blessed with the people who call me "friend"!!).


OK, back on track...... did my best to get Philippe "all liquered up" since he was driving his Lotus 51 this weekend... .and running about a second faster than I was! Don't think I was very successful.... At least I wasn't getting into the car on Sunday with a hangover!!


Sunday morning and out for a quick warmup. I 'beat the starter into submission' while Lynne holds the starter button. Get it running, climb in, and away I go. Never fast on Sunday morning.... just make sure everything works OK. Come back in and fuel the car.... get ready for the Lotus Sports Challenge.


The Lotus Challenge is for Lotus cars exclusively. It's broken down into four classes: production cars, sports racers, Elises and formula cars. Last year I won the formula class in the Lotus challenge... I'd like to do the same again this year. We taxi out to the pre-grid. I'm starting in sixth position. As we come onto the front straight for the start I remind myself that this is the first race of the day and the track is C O L D!! Don't be the first person to the scene of the crash!! There's the flag, and everyone it seems leads me into turn 1!! "Cold track..... cold tires.......Heck with it!!... Just GO!!!!!!" I start working my way toward the front, but I'm also afraid we will run out of time before I can get ahead! I chase Lou Walters (Super 7) for two laps and seize my opportunity; passing Lou on the inside as we enter turn 1. I 'gotta hustle' to pull away between here and turn 4, then do the same around 6/7/8 so I can hold him off on the sweeper and front straight...... I do it, and now I'm off after Philippe Reyns (Lotus 51). At Las Vegas last April Philippe and I traded the lead throughout the Lotus race with him beating me by less than a tenth of a second. I certainly wanted to 'even the score' , but he had been faster all weekend and I had my work cut out for me. The next lap I held even with him, but I had to catch him if I was going to beat him! Then, as I approached turn 9, the 'hairpin' leading onto the back straight and sweeper, I saw that Philippe and David Hatch (Super 7) were both stopped in the track at an 'awkward' angle...... an indication that they had succeeded in occupying the same space at the same time! A momentary glance; neither car looks seriously damaged, just hope the drivers are alright. I can see Ed Carden up ahead of me and I'm guessing I'm closing at about 1-2 seconds a lap. Now to hang in there and not run out of time! Two laps later, as we exit the hairpin, Ed is about 100 feet ahead when I see him pull to the left side of the track. Something is wrong, but I'm not "sticking around" to find out what! As I come down the front straight I look at the flagman and think.... "OK, a checkered would be nice about now!"....... But, no checkered, so we stay in it! I had to run three more laps before the I finally got the "black and white"!! YES!!!!!!! Lots of class wins in my days, but my very first OVERALL WIN!!!!! Now I've got to admit one more thing.. During all my years of flying; every time I was in a single engine airplane, over water and beyond gliding distance of land, the engine would go into what we called "Automatic Rough", meaning your mind would create innumerable creaks, bangs, pops and other noises indicating the engine was about to destroy itself!! Of course everything ran perfectly... it was just your mind playing 'head games' on you! Gotta admit, I could hear everything from tires blowing to rod bearings going!!!!


After the cool off lap I'm waved into Winners Circle to come up onto the podium. I received a first place trophy from Ed Swart and also a bottle of champagne for the overall victory. The announcer sticks a microphone in front of me and wants a 'blow-by-blow' of everything...... which I'd be happy to give him, were it not for the fact I've got to get the car fueled as I'm next out for the group two race!


SO, I push the car over to the pit, fuel it, check the other fluid levels, and try to start it. MORE starter problems!!!!! I roll it out into the street, climb in and get a couple fellow to push me. I'm off for the group 2 race........ When I get on the pre-grid I see that someone has "tested the coefficient of restitution", not to mention the "A" and "B" Stiffness coefficients, of their Porsche race car against the wall between the pits and front straight. Well, the wall won.... leaving a big mess to be cleaned up! Worse.... I'm going to have to shut my car down! I wave one of the grid workers over and explain I'll need a push start. Fortunately.... no problem!!


When the time comes it's switches ON, pop the clutch in 2'nd gear, and it's running like a Swiss watch!! Come around the sweeper and again go IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) due to the crud on the track! NO Green, so another warmup lap! This time we come down the front straight for a good start, and I'm F I N A L L Y in the groove!!! The car and I have finally "bonded" and we're like a fluid motion on the track! I'm steadily moving up on the other cars, then...............................
As I downshift into 3'rd gear as I come up on turn 2 (1'st gear corner) I observe there is 'no increase in RPM' when I "blip" the throttle to shift....... I shift into neutral and detect the engine is still running (about 2000 rpm), oil pressure is good, water temperature is good, tachometer "tattle tale" is at 7400rpm so I haven't over rev'ed the engine and broken something....... then I realize the throttle pedal is "on the floor"!! I coast off the track and roll to a stop behind the flag station at turn 4, so they won't have to wave a yellow flag for me, and that's how I end the race!! I was running fourth at the time!!!
Next race will be at Willow Springs the first weekend in March. As usual, the preparation of the car starts first thing tomorrow morning.


That concludes the Phoenix report. A lot more happened during the 16 days Lynne and I were away....... We visited with my friend Lou Meyers in Yuma, spent two days touring the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, AZ, then drove to Vegas for my reunion of Army Air Traffic Controllers from Vietnam. A busy two weeks!!
More in a couple weeks.............. until then...............
Carl
 

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