Carl McLelland and 61/FF/79

2005 Season


Reno Fernley

Hi All....
I planned on leaving for Fernley about 0830 Friday morning. Pat Caine was going out to pit me, but he had to come back to town early... something about a football game!?!? (Pat, you need to work on those priorities!!) I had hooked up the trailer to the motorhome earlier, and when I opened the garage door Pat was parked in the driveway. He followed me out and we 'ran the gauntlet of I-80 construction', arriving at the track right at 0900. Compliments and appreciation to Diana, the road course manager, who comp'ed me for an hours testing. Pat and I unloaded the car then he took a "EEE" shoehorn and squeezed me into the cockpit. I lit it off and out I went.
The new steering wheel felt really strange for the first 30 minute session I ran. I could barely reach it. After coming in I extended the steering column out an inch or so, then serviced the car and went back out. It felt much better: just completely 'natural' to me now. I may even extend it out another 1/2 inch. Other than that, the car felt PERFECT: ready to race!! I was using a 5500rpm redline for these two sessions, which made this track quite easy to drive.. It was 'no lift' (except to feather the throttle at 5500rpm) from turn 15 to turn 5, downshift to 1'st gear then no lift from 5 to turn 11. Downshift to 2'nd gear for turn 11 then downshift to 1'st at 12, up to 4'th gear then back to 2'nd at turn 15, then "repeat as necessary" until finished!! If you have received previous 'RFR' reports then you should understand the track. If not.... well...... get your race car out here! Your missing a supurb facility.
The extension bringing the track to 4 miles was supposed to be ready for this weekend, but the paving schedule was pushed back due to our past winters weather and higher priority (highway) paving, so we were still on the 2.3 mile circuit. I found out that when Brian Redman was here for the HMSA races in April he spent a few hours with Rich Cable; helping him "tune up" new track layout. Hmmmmmmm, I just wonder if the new extension is going to have a "Porsche 917 Mulsanne straight"!! Anyhow, they are scheduled to start paving a week from Monday, so I'll have to get out there for a 'test and tune' day as soon as it's completed..
After my second track session I treated Pat to a 'burger and fries' at the tracks "choke-n-puke". He then departed for town and his 'football game'. I put on my "tech inspector" hat and spent the remainder of the afternoon drooling on some very expensive and nicely prepared cars. As always, Bert Skidmore, owner of Intrepid Racing in Sparks, NV, was there with a "trailerload of treasure". I planned the afternoon to 'scrutinize' this treasure, which consisted of inspecting and signing off a Lister Jaguar, an Elva BMW sports racer, an Iso Grifo LeMans car, a McLaren Mk10 formula 5000 car, and my favorite of the bunch, a Ford GT40. (As I told Bert later in the weekend, if he could figure out a way to "bottle the sound of that GT40", I personally would buy five gallons from him!!)
Friday had been quite windy, and the primary difference on Saturday was wind and occasional showers. Sunday turned out to be warm, light winds and clear skies: a "chamber of commerce" day in Fernley, NV.
OK, on with it..... Mike Goo, my friend from the Sheriff's Office who takes the professional quality photographs came out Saturday morning. Mike, as usual, had a gadget bag full of equipment... I can't wait to see his photo's!!
For Saturday I raised my redline to 6000rpm's. The crankshaft in the engine has over a year and a half of racing on it now and I'm trying to treat it as gently as possible. There are three more race weekends after this one before teardown, so I'm being as careful with it as I can.
Lynne wasn't feeling well so she drove home to get away from the noise of the track and get some rest before coming back out Saturday evening, so I pressed Mike into "double duty" as both the "CarLynne Racing cameraman AND pit boss"! Double thanks Mike!! It's "possible" to do it by myself but infinitely easier having a pit crewman.
The two practice sessions were anti-climatic since I had the two 'warmup' sessions the day before. I mounted my new tires so after a couple laps to run them in I was now going through turn 1 at 6000rpm's and no-lift. Exhilerating!! Due to a smaller than usual formula car field, and even smaller sports racer field they included the Elva BMW, McLaren F5000 and Mk10 Genie (Can-Am) in our group. Racing a 950 pound, 115 horsepower formula Ford against such power moguls as the Elva, McLaren and Genie would prove to be interesting. Reno Fernley, albeit a very fast track, is definately a drivers track. A prime example of driver's skill making up for a huge horsepower advantage.
The start of the qualification race I was inside second row, directly behind the McLaren. Needless to say, from the green flag to turn 1 he had "become but a memory"... I was 2'nd into turn 1, followed by Adom Moutafian in a Merlyn, then Steve Thayer (Lotus 69) and chasing him was Steve Hoogs in another Merlyn. A gaggle of Titans, a Winklemann and Brabham BT16 completed the formula cars, then came the Elva and Genie.
I was kind of shocked to arrive at turn 5 and find the nose of the Lotus about three inches off the gearbox of the McLaren. Hmmmmm, maybe this isn't going to be such a runaway after all! From turn 5 all the way around the circuit I was easily able to make up for in cornering the advantage he had in power. Alas, by the fourth lap he finally started pulling slowly away, and I was passed by Adom, 'Steve and Steve', and Tom Kreger in a Titan. On the last lap I lapped the Elva and Genie, for a sixth place finish. (After this race the Elva and Genie both moved to large bore production where they would be a little more competitive).
Saturday afternoons race (still using a 6000rpm redline) saw me start fifth: the Titan that beat me earlier not making the grid. The start had me fifth entering turn 1 and we were all bunched up behind the McLaren by turn 5. This made for some interesting early laps and I got around Steve Hoogs on the inside of turn 12 (the "Horseshoe"), then passed Adom going into 15. They both repassed me on the front straight since I was restricting my redline, and as we entered turn 1 had a great three way battle and close racing. The next three laps they pulled away on the straight and I was running a comfortable fifth behind the McLaren, Lotus 69 and the two Merlyn's. Then, as I exited turn 6 I saw the Lotus 69 sideways and half on/half off the track, with his nose piece lying about ten feet away! He had spun in front of Adom and as Adom passed clipped the nose of the Lotus. Hoogs pitted with a vibration in the rear of his car so I finished second behind the McLaren.
Sunday morning was clear, calm and warming nicely; all indications of a perfect day for racing. I went out for warmup practice and used 5000rpm for a redline. All I wanted was to put a heat cycle in the tires and brakes... afterall, you can't win practice!
The first race I started on the pole. The McLaren had requested to start at the back to give himself a couple laps to warm his tires then "catch us" rather than 'hold us back' until he was fully up to temperature. Adom was not found to be at fault in Saturday's "Oops", so he was back in the field, as was Steve (Hoogs) with a new left rear upright. Green flag and I led the first lap and a half. I was now giving myself 6500rpm on the front straight and 6000 the rest of the track. None-the-less, but Steve and Adom passed on the front straight, and entering turn 1 on lap 3 we had a great three way chase going! (If 6000rpm in turn 1 was "exhilerating", try it at 6500!! It was a "heart-stopper"!! I pulled it back to about 6200rpm's through turn 1 since a higher speed wouldn't get me by Steve and Adom, and I could more than make up for it under braking at turn 5.) We dueled one another.. I passed Adom under braking at turn 11, then passed Steve on the inside of 12 (the "Horseshoe"). They both passed me back on the front straight, then we continued the battle for the next lap and a half.
Exiting turn 6 Steve went wide so Adom made an inside pass. I couldn't tell if Steve drove back into Adom or if Adom slid wide and into Steve. It was apparent they were going to get together (which they did) and I was quite busy making myself an escape route! I got around both of them and into the lead, which I held to the end, the McLaren having pitted following a spin.
The 'final race' for formula cars proved interesting. With so many of the fast formula Fords out I was starting again on the pole and "Great Grandpa" Ed Smith in a Winkelmann on the outside of the front row. Bill Fogle, driver of the McLaren came over and chatted before the race. He said he was starting at the back again and giving himself a couple laps to get his tires 'really heated up' before he 'started charging'. For this race I was planning a 6500rpm redline and "whatever I could get out of it" on the front straight..
At the green flag Ed jumped me by about a car length. I was 'inside' for turn 1, a left hander, and while I knew I could easily go through it without lifting, I  was prepared to give the corner to Ed if he maintained that slight lead. I heard him lift so I stayed in it, retaking the lead at turn 1. After starting the third lap I could no longer see Ed behind me, so I eased back to a 6000rpm redline until I needed the rest of the power band. I kept looking for the McLaren, figuring when I saw him closing I would call on the rest of the 'rev range' in the Lotus. It was not needed.... Bill had apparently damaged something in the front suspension of the McLaren during his spin in the previous race and was now experiencing a vibration at higher speeds, so he kept the car reigned in..... After leading "pole to pole" I won with about a 20 second margin, followed by Ed, then the McLaren.
After loading up the Lotus I visited with old (and new) friends; bringing a great end to a great weekend of racing.
In a few minutes I'll be heading out to the shop to unload the car and prep it for it's next race; this weekend at California Speedway. Following that I'll get a "big break" (two weeks) before the next race at Willow Springs.
HMSA has dedicated this race weekend as a Memorial Race "for all who have gone before us". Heavy in my thought's was the recent passing of my good friend "Topper" Chasse'. And while I would like to take 'personal credit' for my finishes this weekend, I know that not only did I have Topper 'riding shotgun' all weekend, but with Virgil Kilpatrick (our M.R.O. Chaplain) putting in a good word with the "Chief Steward" upstairs, I knew I had "The Lord On Board"!
Thanks to all of you for 'putting up with' one more race report....
Mike just sent a couple photo's, so here ya go...
Anybody know who this guy is!?!??!? (At least he "looks the part"!)
Early in the qualification race. Being passed on the front straight by Steve Thayer in the green Lotus 69 followed by Tom Kreger in a Mk6 Titan.
I think this was taken right after Steve Thayer spun in turn 6. I know that's not my dust..... Of interest, Mike must have been using his "5 million millimeter" gyro stabilized telephoto lens. The cement plant you can see in the background is on the northwest end of Fernley..... about six miles away!!
At speed.... out of turn 15 and onto the front straight....

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