SCCA Track Night At Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park

On Tuesday June 30, 2015 I attended the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Track Night at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut.  This was an event were people could bring their street cars out for some brisk driving around the road course at Thompson.

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There Was Lots Of Activity As The Cars Got Ready For Track Night

The Sports Car Club of America has scheduled multiple track nights this summer to provide opportunity for non-racers to get a sense of what it is like to drive their car on a race course.

Track-Night-In-America-Logo

People who take part the Track Night must be 18-years old, have a valid driver’s license, wear a helmet, and the car must be in a good working condition.

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There Was A Wide Variety Of Cars Show Up

I was at the Track Night at Thompson,along with Chris Regan, representing the Rally Board of the New England Region of the SCCA.  We were reminding the racers and car enthusiasts that in addition to track activities, the SCCA offers rally cross and road rally events as well.

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This Triumph Spitfire Stood Out Among Many High Horsepower Cars

 The drivers that signed up for the Track Night were subdivided into Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced groupings.  The cars took a few familiarization laps before they were turned loose on the track.  The cars shown below are coming back to the pit area after some familiarization laps.

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Cars Returning To The Pit Area

As I was watching the cars circulate the Thompson track, which were almost all standard off-the-shelf street cars, it made me realize just how fast and how good the current cars sold by the car manufacturers are.  The Corvettes and the Mustangs have very high horsepower engines, great brakes, tires with good grip, and handling packages that must approach those of many, if not most, race cars.  The performance is amazing of the cars that can be obtained from the car dealers/manufacturers by those who select the right options and who can afford to write the check.

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Corvettes And Mustangs Were Common And Fast

There were a number of very impressive cars on the track.  While there were many well driven fast cars, I must say that there is something about hearing the sound, nay roar, of a big V8 engine being vigorously exercised.

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The Owner Of This Camaro Enjoyed His Time On The Track

There were a number of imported cars that were fast and well driven as well.  The Japanese-market Nissan Skyline shown below was a great example of a fast imported street car that was participating.

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A Nissan Skyline

In addition to the cars on the track, some spectators showed up with some very nice cars.

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A Cobra Replica, A NSX, And A Mustang Decorated The Parking Lot

One of the more interesting spectator cars was a very nice Acura NSX.  These were and continue to be very attractive cars that are not commonly seen.

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This Acura NSX Still Looks Up-To-Date

The cost of the SCCA Track Night is $150 per entrant and this allows three 20-minute sessions on track, as well as access to SCCA driving instructors. Admission is free for those wishing to hang out and enjoy a day at a race track.

The remaining 2015 schedule for Track Night at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, located at 205 E. Thompson Rd. in Thompson, Connecticut is as follows:

  • July 9 (Thursday) 3pm to 9pm
  • August 6 (Thursday) 3pm to 9pm

For more information or to register, visit www.TrackNightinAmerica.com

 

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2015 Great Race Final Results

The 2015 Great Race ended at the Santa Monica pier on June 28.  It was a very close event and the winners were not known until the last day.  Once again the overall winners were Howard and Doug Sharp in their 1916 Hudson Hillclimber.  These guys are very good at these rallies and while some may say that they won because they enjoyed the benefits of an old car, I say good for them, they drove a car was about 100 years old!  Think about that – they drove a 100-year-old car more than halfway across the country with times equal  and better than the newer cars!!  They had the oldest car in the rally.

GR1 Hudson 1916 (1)

Howard & Doug Sharp Drove This 1916 Hudson To The Overall Win As Well As The Grand Championship Division Win

In addition to the Overall win, the Sharps won the Grand Championship Division made up of teams that have won this event before.  The top three teams in the Grand Championship Division are listed below.

2015 Great Race Final Standings/Results of The Grand Championship Division

  1. H & D Sharp
  2. Reeder/Stone
  3. Gardner/Hastert

The Expert Division was won by Knowles/Gentry in their 1932 Ford.  The Expert Class is made up of teams that have had top finishes in these events.

GR66 (1)

Knowles/Gentry Won The Expert Class In This 1932 Ford

The top three finishers in this class are listed below.

2015 Great Race Final Standings/Results of The Expert Division

  1. Knowles/Gentry
  2. J & S Hudson
  3. S & J Hedke

The Sportsman Division is made up of those teams who do not qualify for the Grand Championship or Expert Divisions.

Car 42

Klinger/Reckow Won The Sportsman Division In This 1917 Peerless

The Sportsman Division is the largest class in the Great Race.  The top three Sportsman Division teams are listed below.

2015 Great Race Final Standings/Results of The Sportsman Division

  1. Klinger/Reckow
  2. D & B Epple
  3. J & L Goode

The Rookie Class is made up of teams that have very little experience in these rallies.  Some of these teams are obviously very fast learners.

Car 19

Stahl/Hull Were The Rookie Class Winners

2015 Great Race Final Standings/Results of The Rookie Class

  1. Stahl/Hull
  2. BR & M Whisenant
  3. Haas/Schramm

I followed the results of several other teams.  My friends Brian Blood/Steve Keller drove a 1969 Saab 96.  These guys are a good rally.  They finished 26th Overall and 10th in the Expert Division.  The problem is that near the front of the field in this rally almost all of the teams are good.

The other team that I followed was the 1939 LaSalle of Sweezey/Labier.  Sweezey is almost a neighbor of mine as his lives in Mansfield, Massachusetts, just a few miles from me in Franklin, MA.  The Sweezey/Labier team finished 29th Overall and 14th in the Sportsman Division.

The scores and standings of the top 45 cars in the 2015 Great Race are show below.

2015 Great Race Final Standings For The Top 45 Teams

2015 Great Race Final Results

The 2015 Great Race was a very successful event and from the reports that I saw everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

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1967 Pontiac Firebird: Pontiac Enters The Pony Car Market

The pony car market was established when Ford introduced the Ford Mustang in 1965.  The Ford Mustang was so successful that the other North American car manufacturers all wanted to have their own “pony” car to compete against the Mustang.  Pontiac’s response was the 1967 Pontiac Firebird.  In many ways the Firebird was similar to its General Motors cousin, the Chevrolet Camaro, but there was no mistaking that this car was a Pontiac.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (1)

1967 Pontiac Firebird Convertible

This particular Firebird appears to be a base model convertible.  As I recall this era, that despite the sporty nature of these pony cars that was an attractive part of the advertising campaigns, many pony cars from all manufacturers were sold with the base 6-cylinder engines.

Looking at this particular car, it can be seen that there has been some body work done on the left front corner, but in general the car is in good condition.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (2)

The Fit Between the Chrome Front Bumper And the Left Front Fender Is Poor

There were five different models of Firebirds in 1967:

  • Base Firebird
  • Sprint
  • 326 V8
  • Firebird HO
  • Firebird 400

The base Firebird model had a 230 cubic inch inline 6-cylinder, single-barrel carburetor, overhead camshaft engine that produced 165 horsepower.  The Firebird Sprint also had the same 6-cylinder engine as the base Firebird, except that it had higher compression and was fitted with a four-barrel carburetor.  These Pontiac 6-cylinder engines were the first engines that General Motors had produced with overhead camshafts.  The Pontiac engineers and marketers thought that these more sophisticated engines might attract buyers who might otherwise be attracted to European cars.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (3)

1967 Was The Only Year That Firebirds Had Side Vent Windows

There is little visually to distinguish the base Firebird from the Sprint model except that the Sprint models have an identifying emblem just behind the front wheel well on chrome rocker panel cover.  This particular car does not have such an emblem, indicating that it is the base model Firebird.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (6)

The Firebird Design Has Nice Clean Lines

The 326 model had the Pontiac-only 326 cubic inch V8 engine fitted with a two-barrel carburetor that produced 250 horsepower.  The “HO” model also had the 326 cubic inch V8 engine, but it had a four-barrel carburetor that helped this engine produce 285 horsepower.  At the upper end of performance was the Firebird 400.  This was the same 325 horsepower 400 cubic inch V8 engine that was installed in the 1967 Pontiac GTO.

Firebird 1967 Advertisement

The hood emblem on the Firebirds shown below shows that General Motors was proud of the overhead camshaft engine design.  In addition, the reference to the engine size in litres instead of cubic inches was unusual for North American manufacturers in that era, which further indicated that Pontiac was trying to attract buyers who might normally buy a European car.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (4)

Hood Emblem Indicating That The car Has An Overhead Camshaft Engine

This car was fitted with an automatic transmission.  From looking at the shifter it looks like it has the 2-speed automatic transmission, however a three speed automatic transmission was also available.

The interior of this car also fits the basic model image of the Firebird.  Note that the radio is a simple AM radio.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (7)

The Interior Of This Firebird Is Roomy, But Basic

When I was a teenager, one of the local fellows had a 1967 Firebird Sprint with the three-speed floor shift transmission.  It was a noticeably quick car and it would turn the tires in the shift into second gear, which we found surprising with the 6-cylinder engine.  The car had V8 performance from a 6-cylinder engine.

Pontiac Firebird Sprint Convertible 1967 (5)

The Car Has An Automatic Transmission

In this inaugural year for the Firebird, Pontiac did a great job with this car.  In the 1967 model year Pontiac built 82,558 units of this car in the hardtop and convertible models.  This car continued with only a few changes into the 1968 model year.

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Tim Winker’s Report On The Trans-America Rally’s Visit To Duluth, MN

Tim Winker is a self-described motorsports junkie who has competed in endurance rally events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  Tim lives in the Duluth, Minnesota area so when the Trans-America rally was in the Duluth area Tim went to take a look at the rally.  Tim saw my post about me meeting up with the rally in Old Forge, New York and he offered to send me a report on his visit with the rally in Duluth.  The following report and photos are Tim’s report.

They snuck into Duluth with little fanfare, but hardly unnoticed. How could you not help but notice an older Jaguar sedan with numbers on the side? Or a 1963 Ford Falcon with the distinct rumble of a V8? Or a parade of 1960s era Mercedes Benz roadsters? Or Bentleys and Rolls Royces covered with dirt from a hard day’s drive?

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These vintage cars were all a part of the 2015 Trans-America Challenge, a rally tour across Canada and the United States organized by the Endurance Rally Association of Great Britain. This is the same organization that put together the Around The World In 80 Days event that visited Duluth in 2000. Upcoming ERA events include the Alpine Trial in Europe, and the Sahara Challenge in Africa. The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is on the calendar for 2016, as is the Rally of the Incas in South America.

The Trans-America tour left Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 7th, and will arrive in San Francisco, California, on June 28th. The short route between those two points is nearly 4000 miles, but the Trans-America crews are not taking the short route. Instead of driving on freeways or major 2-lane roads, much of the rally course uses lesser traveled byways, including timed Regularity sections on twisting gravel roads. There are four “Rest Days” built into the schedule, but few teams get any rest. Instead they work on repairing their cars and doing laundry.

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The rally arrived in Duluth after their longest driving day, 711 km (440 mi) from St. Ignace, Michigan. Several cars needed repairs, some just needed a good once over. A team from Malaysia driving a 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II talked the guys at London Road Car Wash into staying late to give their thoroughbred a bath.

The oldest car in the event is a 1927 Bentley 4 ½ LeMans with a 4.4 liter engine. The newest, a 1977 Triumph Stag with a 3.0 liter V8 engine. All manner of predominantly British and German cars pepper the field, with a handful of American muscle cars tossed in for fun. A trio of Volvos and an Australian Holden rounded out the entry list.

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A squadron of workers runs with the rally, one team running a day early to make sure the chosen route is still viable, several manning checkpoints along the way to keep rally crews on time, and a detachment of mechanics to deal with on course repairs and arrange for towing if necessary. The mechanics’ right-hand drive Toyota Hilux pickups are well equipped for minor emergencies such as broken fan belt, blown hose, or other repairs that can be handled on the side of the road. In the evenings they help teams with more serious repairs such as rebuilding carburetors, replacing shock absorbers or welding broken suspensions.

One car arrived at the Inn on Lake Superior on a rollback; a Ford Mustang Boss 302 . The engine had lost power and they decided it would be better to keep from blowing it up. It was suggested to take the car to Archer Racing near the Duluth airport, where the diagnosis was not good: worn out rocker arms and bad rod bearings for a start. That meant an engine rebuild and the Mustang was out, at least until repairs can be made.

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The team of Richard Martin and Travis Cole left Halifax aboard a 1936 Alvis Speed 5. It suffered a blown head gasket on the first day, so the team arranged to ship the Alvis back to England and rented a car to stay with the rally. They checked the ads at every stop in hopes of finding a suitable classic car to complete the trip. They purchased a 1972 Datsun 240Z in Buffalo, New York, and set about to turn it into a rally car. Thought the body and drivetrain seemed to be in good shape, the Z having spent most of its life in California, it wasn’t exactly up to the rigors of a cross-country trip. They had ordered shock absorbers and other parts to be shipped to the hotel in Duluth and set about replacing the shock absorbers. They were able to install the front struts in the parking lot while a light rain fell. By the time they reached South Dakota the rear struts, driveshaft and halfshaft u-joints, and fuel pump had been replaced. The bearings in the differential were singing as they made their way toward Rapid City and a rest day, but they decided to rely on a flatbed tow truck to carry them the final few miles from Sturgis. A local salvage yard said they had the proper differential for the Z, but it turned out to be from a 260Z, not a 240Z, so it was necessary to replace all of the subframe as well.

The T-A Challenge headed to Grand Forks on departing Duluth, with several timed Regularity sections on back roads along the way. A couple of those sections utilized forest roads near Lake Itasca that have been used for the Ojibwe Forests and Headwaters stage rallies. The Headwaters Rally had used some of the same route the previous weekend.

Official reports, photos, and links to competitors’ updates can be found at www.endurorally.com.


 

 

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The 2015 Great Race Is Underway

The 2015 Great Race is off to a good start.  There was some pre-event rainfall, but that has been replaced with sunshine.  A great deal of interest was shown in the Great Race in 2015 and the event filled up very quickly.  This is a good sign for the event’s continued success.

Great Race 2015 Route

The cars have now made it as far as Amarillo, Texas, therefore from the map above it can be seen that the competitors are approaching the halfway point.  From the reports that I have seen, the cars have been enthusiastically greeted all along the way.  As all of the cars were made in 1972 or earlier there is always interest in these cars.

Great Race Enters Amarillo

George Gordon/Robert Nerad Cross The Stage End Line In Amarillo In Their 1940 Ford Convertible

This year there were a significant number of entries from Japan.  This is interesting as these entrants have brought some Japanese market cars with them for the Great Race and one competitor brought a Toyota 2000 GT.  I have not been to the event this year, nor did I find a driver who needed a navigator, therefore I have included some pictures that I took last year when the Great Race started in Maine.

GR11 Thunderbird (1)

Two-Seat Ford Thunderbirds Always Look Good

The results below are the cumulative scores for the top 10 cars after the first two stages.  The scores in this rally are always impressive considering that no odometers of any kind are allowed.

2015 Great Race Cumulative Scores After The First Two Stages

RANK CAR# DIV YEAR CREW TOTAL FACTOR SCORE
1 42 S 1917 Klinger/Reckow 0:11 0.670 0:07.37
2 66 E 1932 Knowles/Gentry 0:10 0.810 0:08.10
3 91 E 1933 J & E Fredette 0:14 0.815 0:11.41
4 38 E 1964 G & J Martin 0:12 0.970 0:11.64
5 29 E 1937 Haverty/Pusey 0:14 0.835 0:11.69
6 70 S 1936 B & C Croker 0:15 0.830 0:12.45
7 60 E 1940 J & S Hudson 0:15 0.850 0:12.75
8 2 G 1932 Graf/Bell 0:16 0.810 0:12.96
9 82 S 1934 D & B Epple 0:17 0.820 0:13.94
10 27 E 1928 R & A Dinges 0:18 0.780 0:14.04

As can be seen in the above scoring summary, the older cars have a lower factor.  The total timing error is multiplied by the factor, therefore a good older car is desirable.  Many of the top cars in the event are from the mid-1930s.

GR38 Ford Coupe 1938 (4)

This 1938 Ford Coupe Has Been Very Successful In The Great Race

For more information on the Great Race check out their website by the link provided

http://www.greatrace.com/

 

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Lastest Eastern Counties Motor Club Historic Review

On about a monthly basis I get the Eastern Counties Motor Club’s Historic Review.  The recent edition is quite interesting as it covered some historical racing at one of their regional race tracks at Snetterton.

I was particularly interested because the main race was won by a driver in a Sadler race car.  Sadler race cars were built in Canada in St. Catharines, Ontario in a small race shop run by a young Canadian engineer, Bill Sadler.  Sadler built and drove a few very good race cars, then abruptly gave up racing, went back to school to study electrical engineering, graduated from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) with a Masters in electrical engineering then went to work in the aeronautical industry for years.

Sadler MkIII

A Sadler Race Car

I have attached the latest Eastern Counties Motor Club’s Historic Review.  Just click on the attached pdf file below.

E.C.M.C. Historic Review 2015 06 Special Supplement

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Harald von Langsdorff Is Selling His 1951 Mercedes-Benz 220B

My friend and frequent rally driver, Harald von Langsdorff, is selling his 1951 Mercedes-Benz 220B.  This car is for sale via an auction on the Bring-A-Trailer website.  I have provided a link to that website at the bottom of this post.

HvL MB 220B 1951 (1)

1951 Mercedes-Benz 220B

This car is in excellent shape and I know that Harald has been regularly updating this car over the years.

HvL MB 220B 1951 (2)

The “Suicide” Style Front Doors Make Entry & Enter Easy

Inside, outside, top and underneath, this car is in great shape.  I know that Harald does not do things in half measures and this car had been very well treated and cared for.  Harald has owned this car since 2008 and I doubt that this car has even spent one night outside since that time.

HvL MB 220B 1951 (3)

The Car’s Interior Is In Great Shape

This particular car has better performance than most Mercedes-Benz 220B cars of this year.  The original cylinder head was replaced with a later 220S Ponton unit featuring dual Solex carburetors. This improvement gives the car a significant power increase up to around 95 horsepower – an almost 20% increase over the stock 1951 Mercedes-Benz 220B output of 80 horsepower.

HvL MB 220B 1951 (4)

This Car Has Been Fitted With Twin Carburetors

For more information about this car and to place a bid you can get to the Bring-A-Trailer website by clicking on the following link.

http://bringatrailer.com/listing/1951mercedes-benz-200b/

 

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