Day 1 At The 2017 Great Race

The 2017 Great Race started today with about 120 cars entered.  This is quite an event.  It is hard to describe the Great Race – it is an experience as much as it is a rally.  It seems that there is always something to do.  In the last few days we have traveled to Washington, DC, took the AutoTrain from Lorton, VA to Sanford, Florida, drove to Jacksonville, Florida, had dinner at the Jacksonville Zoo, got the car scrutineered and we participated in the Trophy Run rally on Friday, which is a good practice or warm-up before the main Great Race starts.  Thanks go to Harald von Langsdorff, David Wells, and Paul Henshall for getting the car ready.

Harald von Langsdorff’s 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SLC

Today was the official start of the Great Race.  Thousands of people came to downtown Jacksonville, Florida to see the start.  Hundreads of others lined the streets as we left Jacksonville after the start.  We were even flagged off by Big Daddy Don Garlitts, one of the greatest drag racers of all time.

Starting Area Activity At The Great Race In Jacksonville, Florida

With respect to the start of the competition we had six controls today and we had very good scores on five of them.  Fortunately we get to throw away the results from one control today.  We have no idea of our overall position at this time, but there are a large number of experienced teams.

We are pleased with our start and look forward to the rest of this rally which ends in Traverse City, Michigan next weekend.

If you have any comments or questions, then leave a comment below or send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net


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Day 4 At The Paris To Prague Rally

Day 4 is now in the books.  We have made it to Linz, Austria.  Tomorrow we will go into the Czech Republic. From a competition standpoint today was a good day.  We are getting better and our significantly lower scores show this.  We have moved up into 6th in the Overall standing but remain 3rd in our class.  Our class is for newer classic cars with engines larger than 2,400cc.  The rally has four classes, but our class is quite competitive as three out of the first 6 cars are in our class.

I am the navigator in our Mercedes-Benz 230S (our engine has been enlarged to about 2,800cc, hence we are in the over 2,400cc class) so U thought that I would show the navigation/timing setup in the car.  This is shown in the photo below.

My Navigator’s Office

Although we have a Monit rally computer and GaugePilot rally computer.  I only use the GaugePilot.  I use it in the Twinmaster display mode which essentially functions as a Halda Twinmaster would, except that it can be calibrated to a finer level than a Halda Twinmaster.   For timing purposes I use the Brantz Rally Timer.  I have a remote interval zero unit on the GaugePilot and a remote start/stop on the Brantz Rally Timer.  This setup seems to work well.

One of the cars that is ahead of us is the MGB Costello V8 shown below.  This is a special shop built MGB which has plenty of power and handling.

MGB Costello V8

Another car in our class is the lovely Jaguar XK120 shown below.  This car sounds very good and has the performance that you would expect from a Jaguar.

Jaguar XK120

The roads continue to be great and the weather is quite hot.  Today we started from the foot of the Eagles Nest, but due to time, we declined to go up to the see the summer residence of Adolf Hitler.  Those that did go said that the view was spectacular.

I look forward to tomorrow.

For more information, then check out the event’s website.  Click on the link below.


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Day 3 At The Paris To Prague Rally

Day 3 of the Paris to Prague was a day of scenery – great scenery.  We started the day in St. Gallen in Switzerland and ended the day in Kitzbuehel, Austria.  It was a very good drive.  In the morning we went to a very significant Rolls Royce Museum for a short visit at a very large collection of the grand British marque.

The photo below, taken in the parking lot of the museum shows an excellent Triumph TR2.  This particular car was rallied very successfully by Maurice Gatsonides.

This Is A Very Impressive Ex-Gatsonides Triumph TR2

From a competitive point of view we held our positions.  I had said in a previous post that we were 2nd in class, move final results from yesterday showed us to actually be 3rd.  Today we remained in 7th position Overall and third in class.  I think that we can do better as the rally progresses, but we will see how it goes.  I am enjoying navigating for Michael Eatough in his strong Mercedes-Benz Fintail.

What A View!

These few photos show some photos that I was able to take at breaks along the rally route.  These photos really don’t do justice to the views that are seen in person.

If You Like Mountains, Then You’ll Like Austria

Tomorrow the rally will start at the famous or infamous “Eagles Nest”.  The weather this week has been wonderful and I hope that it continues tomorrow as well.  For more information, then check out the event’s website.  Click on the fill below.

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Off To A Good Start At The Paris To Prague Rally

We have just concluded the second day of the Paris To Prague Rally.  We are now overnighting in St Gallen, Switzerland.  Michael Eatough and I are quite pleased with our progress to date.  We are currently lying 7th Overall and 2nd in our class.  Given the experience of many of the teams in this rally it is a good start.

Lunch Break At A French Lodge

The weather has been quite hot which was quite a change for me based on our long New England spring that we had this year.  The people, the cars, the roads and the rally staff have all been wonderful.  Even the traveling medical staff were helpful to me as the doctor helped me with a nasty cut that I had on my right hand index finger.

Our Mercedes-Benz Has Worked Well

Time does not permit me to go into more details, but things are working out well and we expect to get better.  I look forward to the remaining days of the rally.


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At The Paris To Prague Rally Start

We have now arrived at the start of the Paris to Prague Rally.  This has been quite a journey for me.  I flew from Boston to London Heathrow Airport where I was met by Michael Eatough.  From there we drove to Chantily, France for the start of the rally.  As a civil engineer who often works on tunneling projects, I was interested in the tunnel between England and France.  With this trip, we took the train under the English Channel. The picture below shows the approach to the train.

Approach to the Channel Train

The first opening in the train provide access to the second deck on the train, while the second opening is for the main deck.  We were on the main deck, in fact we were the second car loaded onto the train.

The Euro Tunnel Train

The Approach to Entering The Train

We entered the train and drove through the train to the front carrying car.

Driving Through The Train

When you get to the designated parking area the cars are parked nose to tail and the doors between the train cars are closed.  There are no seats available on the train.  You can remain seated in your car or get out and walk about the train car.  We got out of the car and talked to the other people who were in the train car.  The people at the back of the car were motorcycle tourists heading into France.

The Rally Car Parking In the Euro Tunnel Train

The crossing takes about 30 minutes.  The view is terrible, but the service and speed are great with the Eurotunnel .  I would recommend this as a great way to get from England to France. After the crossing we continued to Chantily, France to the Auberg De Jeu De Paume where we were staying for the start of the Paris To Prague Rally.

There Is A Wonderful Turf Horse Racing Track In Chantily, France

The photos above and below show the grandstand building.

Entrance To The Grandstands

Adjacent to the track are very opulent horse stables from the early days.

These Are Horse Stables

Nearby the horse stables is a chateau located on a pond.  This is now a museum, but we did not have the time to tour through the building.

A Chateau On A Lake

Chantily is a wonderful place to visit, but we came here for the car rally.  During the last few days the rally cars have been arriving.  The Bentley below is an example of some of fine rally cars.

A Bentley Preparing in the Paris To Prague Rally

The rally gets underway tomorrow and I will be posting some stories about the rally as the week goes by.

For more information about the Paris to Prague Rally, check out the Rally Round website at the following address:


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Paris to Prague Next Week

I am leaving later today for London to start my participation in the Paris To Prague Rally.  I will meet up with Michael Eatough in London, then we will drive to Paris for the start of the rally.

In looking at the entry list, I can see that there are many interesting cars and people entered into this rally.  And the route looks good as well.  I plan on updating this website with some progress reports during the rally.  There are a number of interesting and challenging aspects to this rally for me which I look forward to and want to share with those who might read this website.

For more information on this rally check out the Rally Round Paris To Prague website by clicking on the following link:

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More Wayne Kelly Stories

Several weeks ago I got an email from Denny Quirk who said that he would send me some stories about Wayne Kelly, fine Canadian racer, race car builder, and a Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame member. In previous posts over the years, I have included some stories and information about Wayne Kelly, so Denny knew that I would be interested in more Wayne Kelly information.  I was pleased when Denny sent me the promised stories.  I have included Denny’s email as he sent it:

“First, a bit about myself.  I’m a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Communications Electronics specialty.  I was a member of Motorsport Club of Ottawa (MCO) from 1958 to 1973, President in 1971 and 1972.  I raced a Riley 1.5 from 1958 to 1963, and also did quite a bit of rally navigating, including five times in the Shell 4000 (1963, ’65, ’66, ’67 and ’68.  I functioned as a CASC Racing Steward for several years, including at two Formula 1 races in 1969 and 1970.

Wayne Kelly was a GCA Tech (Corporal rank) in the Air Force.  GCA stands for Ground Control Approach.  It is a radar system (now obsolete) which was installed alongside runways at Air Force airfields.  Using it, a ground operator would talk an aircraft down to a safe landing, even in impossibly foul weather.  Wayne was qualified in the repair and maintenance of this system.

Wayne was posted to 2 Fighter Wing, Grostenquin, France in 1957 or 1958.  (This was back when we had four fighter bases in Europe, two in France and two in Germany.)  He must have been about my age, which means he was only 22 or 23 when he was posted there.  As you know, he did some racing, and he spent a lot of his spare time at the Porsche factory.  He became fluent in German.  He was on a first name basis with Ferry Porsche.

He was posted back to Canada, to CFB Trenton or CFB Uplands (I’m not sure which) in 1960 or ’61.  While in France, he had a very close friend by the name of Don Hacker, who was a Flight Sergeant airborne electronics specialty.  Don was commissioned as a Flying Officer in 1961 and posted to Ottawa to an engineering position in Air Materiel Command HQ.  I had been working there since 1958, and the two of us soon became close friends because of our common interest in motorsport.  In fact, Don and I were in the 1963 and ’65 Shell 4000.  More importantly, Don introduced me to Wayne Kelly.

I remember seeing Wayne’s car (the one with the Porsche engine) while under construction some time in the period 1961 – 1963.  You describe it as “based on putting a Porsche engine in a Lotus 23”.  Sorry to have to correct you, but that vehicle never saw the inside of the Lotus factory.  It was built entirely from the ground up by Wayne.  The front half of the car was a more or less faithful copy of the 23, while the rear part, while adhering to Lotus design where possible, was customized to accommodate the Porsche engine.  I know the foregoing is hard to believe.  The fact of the matter is that Wayne was a mechanical genius.  Incidentally the car was known among the cognoscenti as “The Milk Shake Special” because of Wayne’s sponsorship with Dairy Queen.

A word about the Porsche engine.  I very much doubt that Wayne could afford such an engine on a Corporal’s salary.  Do not quote me, but my belief is that Ferry Porsche gave Wayne the engine as a gift.  Getting it across the Atlantic Ocean is another story.  Wayne could charm the tusks off a bull elephant, and I have it on good authority that the Commanding Officer of CFB Trenton was a great fan of his.  As such, he was apparently instrumental in bringing the engine to Canada as an unauthorized piece of cargo on an Air Force North Star aircraft.

My memory is a little shaky, but I have some recollection of Wayne campaigning the Milk Shake Special in the 1963 racing season.  In February 1964, I was posted to a Pinetree radar station at a godforsaken location called Pagwa River, in northern Ontario.  I had heard that Wayne was going to be competing at the Nassau Speed Week in December 1964, and so my then-wife and made plans to be there.  Apparently Wayne had been approached by a racer by the name of Grant Clark, who I knew well since we had gone through high school together.  Grant was well known in the racing world through driving with BMC sponsorship.  Apparently Grant made Wayne an offer.  If Grant was allowed to drive The Milk Shake Special in the feature race at Nassau, Grant would bankroll the transport the car to Nassau and back, and pay for accommodation for Wayne and his wife, not to mention their air fare.  Wayne could compete in a preliminary race.  Wayne insisted on bringing along a buddy technician by the name of Paul Wollner who was a fellow GCA Tech and who was very familiar with the car.  Grant agreed, but would not spring for an extra hotel room, which meant that Wayne, Paul and Wayne’s wife wound up sharing a double bed.  I never did find out what the source of Grant Clark’s funding was. 

Anyway, my then-wife and I showed up at Nassau on schedule, and found Wayne OK.  I got to tow the Milk Shake Special with my rental car on the end of a piece of rope from the barge which transported the race cars to an unused hangar by the race track, and we were able to assist in the pits during the races.  I don’t remember too much about the races – I seem to recall it raining off and on all day.  Wayne didn’t finish well – he may have spun out.  I do recall Grant Clark coming into the pits after about three laps, complaining that he couldn’t get comfortable – he was after all a big man.  We did an instant rebuild of the seat, replacing cushions with pieces of scrap plywood, and sent him out.  He finished the race without further incident and actually did quite well – I think he may have finished third overall.

I can’t leave the subject of the Nassau Speed Week without telling you about a racing incident which was funny beyond belief.  As you may or may not know, the feature race of the event was known as the Grand Prix of Volkswagens.  It was a 20 or 30 lap race of bog stock Volkswagens.  No modification was the rule, enforced by a compulsory teardown of the top three finishers.  This race (and indeed the entire event) used to get a huge amount of publicity in the racing world, and as such, attracted a whole bunch of VIPs.  Entered in the GP of Volkswagens were two very well-known luminaries, namely A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney.  Given the light-hearted atmosphere surrounding the event, everyone wondered what they might be up to.  We soon found out.

During the practice sessions, it soon became apparent that Dan Gurneys car had been “breathed upon” since he was turning laps about 3-4 seconds faster than any other Volkswagen, including Foyt’s.  Came the race, and off they went.  Completing the first lap, Foyt and Gurney were nose to tail, with Foyt in front.  In fact, as we were quick to realize, Gurney was actually PUSHING Foyt down the straight.  This pattern persisted for the entire race, and so it wasn’t too long before the two of them were leading the pack by a wide margin because of Gurney’s extra horses.  Needless to say, Gurney was disqualified on teardown, and the organizers reluctantly had to declare Foyt the winner.  After all, he hadn’t broken any rules.

I was at Mosport when Wayne was killed.  I didn’t see it happen, but a close buddy of mine did.  Early in Wayne’s race, there was an incident on Turn 1 which caused the ambulance to be sent out.  The next lap, Wayne, being Wayne, apparently headed into Turn 1 at close to full speed, even though the white flag must have been showing at the S/F line.  The ambulance was sitting on his line, and he ran right into the back of it and was killed.

A few days later, I visited his wife in Ottawa.  (I’m having trouble with her name – was it Marlene?)  We had become good friends in Nassau.  I was astounded at how placid she appeared.  I had the distinct impression that she had felt for a long time that he wasn’t going to live to a ripe old age, and she felt thankful for the time that they had together.  I would love to see her again – do you know whether she’s alive or dead?  If the former, do you know how to contact her, and if so, could you let me know?

A word about Don Hacker, the guy who introduced me to Wayne.  Don is around 87 years old but still hanging in as far as I know.  He lives in Sidney BC.  If you would like to contact him regarding Wayne’s time in Europe, let me know and I will see if it’s OK with him.

I haven’t proofed the foregoing.  Hope there aren’t too many goofs.


Thanks to Denny Quirk for sharing these stories about Wayne Kelly.  Wayne Kelly seems like he was the type of person that everyone would like to know.

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