A Triumph Story From South African Rookies At The 2014 Mille Miglia

Just a few days ago, I posted some notes that I made about timing and navigation for rookies at the Mille Miglia rally.  After that post, I became aware of a story in a wonderful South African car magazine called “Classic & Performance Car Africa” about a rookie South African team that drove a Triumph TR3 in the 2014 Mille Miglia.  I contacted the editor of “Classic & Performance Car Africa”. Stuart Grant, who gave me permission to reproduce the article in the magazine in its entirety.  For more information about “Classic & Performance Car Africa”, go to their website www.cpca.co.za

Mille 1A

Page 1

Mille 1B

Page 2

Mille 2A

Page 3

Mille 2B

Page 4

Mille 3

Page 5

The purpose of me posting this story is to present a look at this wonderful event that many of the competitors see.  The Mille Miglia is a challenging event on many levels – just getting accepted to compete in the Mille Milia is difficult.  And once in the event, it is not all just cruising through the Italian countryside in the warm sunlight.  Note that despite the difficulties that the rookie team experienced, the author of the story would like to do it again.

Thanks again to Stuart Grant and the folks at “Classic & Performance Car Africa” for allowing me to re-produce this story.

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My Saab 99 Heating System Repairs

As some might know, I recently purchased a 1979 Saab 99.  I have spent the last couple of months going through the car assessing and fixing up things that need to be done or I would like to be done.  This has been not easy as I had hoped.  I have found out that there are three ways to do things – the right way, the wrong way, and the Saab way.

Saab 99 July 2014 (1)

My Saab 99

The other thing that I am beginning to think is that in the Saab world, the Saab 99 appears to be the forgotten car.  I think that getting parts for the much older Saab 96 model or the newer Saab 900 model would be much easier.

When I bought the car, the previous owner told me that the defrost system did not work, but that he had not looked at it and did not know what the problem was.  I assumed that the problem might be a problem with the fan.

When I began to investigate this after I bought the Saab 99, I noticed that there was something missing on the air distribution side of the heating system.  I did not know what the missing piece or pieces looked like.  This made it difficult when I called up salvage yards (BTW there are not many Saab 99 cars in salvage yards these days) asking for a part or parts for the heating system that I had little knowledge of.  After some time, I was able to determine that there was one major air conduit going from one side of the car to the other that I did not have.  Surprisingly, I found the part about 30 miles from my house.


The Missing Saab 99 Air Duct

When I saw the missing part, I wondered how anyone would forget to re-install this part!  It’s not like it would have slipped under the front seat and have been forgotten.  And why would you chose not to re-install this part, thereby foregoing the ability to drive the Saab 99 in the winter.

Starting with an intact dash/instrument panel, this air conduit has been very difficult to install.  The conduit fits high under the dash, therefore I had to remove all of the switches on the dash, as I had to get over most of the under-dash wires.  I also had to lower the steering column.  The picture below shows my temporary steering wheel support system using my ice hockey stick just before I dropped the steering column.


A Work In Progress

The portion of the lower dash with the fake wood needed to be removed as well.  I also had to add some hose clamps to the flexible air lines going to the side windows.  Last night I was finally able to get the air conduit installed.  This required patience, determination, and profanity.

I can now focus on getting the electrics in good shape and sorting out the reason why the horn does not work.  I am also preparing the interior for the installation of rally navigation equipment.   I hope to get my Saab 99 on the road soon.

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My Granddaughter Eliza Ruby Johnson Safely Arrives!

Yesterday I became a grandfather!  My daughter Laura gave birth to Eliza Ruby Johnson, a wonderful little person.  We all were quite anxious about this for months.  Eliza weighed just over 7 pounds and all are doing well.

Laura and Eliza Oct 27 2014

Laura and Eliza

My son-in-law Mike is a car guy and I knew that he would be right for Laura when the first time that I met him was in a car rally and later when he drove up to our house to pick Laura up driving a Porsche 944.  I hope that the car gene was passed on the Eliza.

Mike Laura and Eliza Oct 27

Dad, Mom, and Little Eliza

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Mille Miglia Timing and Navigation Notes For Rookies

Last year I put some notes together about the timing and navigation issues that rookies would encounter at the Mille Miglia rally.  While I have never had the opportunity to compete in this spectacular rally, I have been a keen observer and student of the Mille Miglia for many years.  Maybe someday I’ll get the opportunity to take part in the Mille Miglia, if someone is looking for an experienced rally navigator.  It seems to me that many of the teams that take part in the Mille Miglia have little rally experience, therefore I thought that these teams could benefit from these notes, and as a result, I decided to post these notes on my website.  As these notes were prepared based on the 2014, rules there might be changes needed for 2015 if the rules change.

Mille Miglia bg-splash

The attached Mille Miglia timing and navigator notes are of a general nature, assuming that the competitors are only using the car’s standard odometer and trip odometer, along with a simple clock and stopwatch for timing.  The use of specialized rally equipment would change the approach to certain aspects of the navigation and timing approach.  If someone reading the notes has questions on the best way to use other specific rally equipment at the Mille Miglia, then please send me an email at shanna12 at comcast dot net and I will try to answer any questions.  There are no limitations on the timing equipment permitted to be used at the Mille Miglia, so my advice from a competitive perspective, would be not to take a knife to a gunfight.  I know that it is a major accomplishment and honor just to be selected to take part in the Mille Miglia, but who wants to go home saying that they finished in the 353rd position? (other than those who finished lower than the 353rd position, I suppose)

I had some specific questions about the rules, so I sent an email to the Mille Miglia organizers, but I only got a response saying to refer to the rules as published on their website.  As a result there are a few unresolved issues in the attached notes.  I am sure that these could be resolved at the rally site before the rally starts by asking officials there any questions that you might have.

To see the pdf file of the Mille Miglia timing and navigation notes that I prepared click on the link below:

Mille Miglia Rally Notes Revision 1

Please contact me with any questions, comments or further information about the timing and navigation notes for the Mille Miglia rally.

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Interesting Photos From New Zealand

Jim Blumenthal has sent me some more pictures from one of his business trips, where Jim manages to combine business with pleasure.  You might recall that Jim recently sent me some pictures that he took at the Brooklands Museum during a trip to England.  Now Jim is on a business trip to New Zealand and Australia.

While in New Zealand, Jim attended a local race track. At that track they were having a “pursuit sprint” race. I am not familiar with this type of race or track day activity, but apparently ten cars start in the race, two at a time, separated by about 7 seconds and they race each other. Usually it’s only the two cars racing each other, although other cars do catch up occasionally.  They run for 2 laps and then have a cool down.  This seems like a good way to enjoy a racing experience without the intensity of being surrounded by multiple cars.  The picture below shows the cars lined up ready to go.


Line Up For The Pursuit Sprint Race

The red car at the front of the line appears to be a street car, complete with lights, turn signals, and what looks like a license plate or number.  The car behind the red car looks like a Lotus 7 clone, such as a Caterham, but I recall from my time in Australia a few years ago, that there is an Australian version of the Lotus 7 clone, but the name of the car escapes me as I write this post.

While at the race Jim was able to go for a ride in their pace car.  This would especially interest Jim, as he frequently drives the pace car at SCCA races in the New England Region.

Jim also sent me a couple of pictures of a street car that he saw in New Zealand.


Look At That Engine!

image2This car Must Be A Handful To Drive

I know that Jim has a couple of other sites to visit on this trip.  One will be the V8 Super Car Race in Brisbane, Australia.

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USA Time-Speed-Distance Rally Dash From 50 Years Ago

This past week Rick Beattie, a very experienced and capable American rally navigator sent me an image that was published in Car & Driver magazine in November 1962.  This was an article discussing the dash of a Saab that was campaigned by the rally team of Roger Bohl and Allan Kalb in time-speed-distance rallies in that era.  The setup shown below was as the team had used in a recently completed running of the 500 mile long Berkshire Mountain rally where they had a score of 18 seconds over this distance which had 20 checkpoints.

Old Time Saab Dash Rally Setup

Rally Dash From 50 Years Ago

The following is an identification of the equipment that they used:

  1. Digital time-of-day clock
  2. Driver’s odometer
  3. Wakmann chronograph
  4. Avion adjustable odometer
  5. Dual electric odometers
  6. Two band radio to pick up CHU and WWV time signals
  7. Controls for digital odometers
  8. Speed reducer
  9. Thomas Mark X rally computer
  10. Switches to operate many devices and lights
  11. Cable driving the Thomas rally computer
  12. Cable driving the two Avion electric odometers
  13. Electrified clipboard with two lights
  14. Curta calculator
  15. Helphos spot light

With all of this equipment, it  seems that it would be very difficult for the navigator to operate them and still provide route instructions to the driver.  This dash is a clear demonstration of the development of time-speed-distance rallies in the USA where the emphasis has been on precision timing.

This photo makes me think how lucky USA time-speed-distance navigators are these days when we have many of these functions combined into one piece of equipment.  Another thanks to Rick Beattie for sending me the image of this rally dash.  I am always interested in information about rally navigation equipment used in the past, so please forward to me any interesting rally navigation information that you might have.

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My Rally Board Set Up For A Time-Speed Rally

In response to a question about the rally board that I used in the recent Pumpkin Run rally, I decided to show the set-up that works for me.  As I navigate in other people’s cars I must have a set up that can move from car to car as easily as possible without relying on mounting equipment on the host car.

IMG_8787 labelled


Rally Board Set-Up For The Pumpkin Run Rally

The short distance time-speed table that I discussed in a post yesterday is taped to the clipboard on the right under the Route Instructions.  The clipboards are secured to the rally board by nut and bolt connections for firm but easily changeable configurations.  For this rally I installed a frontal board on the rally board to provide a good close mount for the Performance Chart and the allowable analog clock.  These items must be close and highly visible for this type of event.

My rally board set up is quite flexible, as I have different equipment mounts and I use plenty of industrial grade Velcro.  I frequently mount odometers, rally computers and clocks on my rally board depending upon the rules of a specific rally.  It works well for me.

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