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All Aluminum Tour

Pretty Peyote

Peyote came back from Horizon Racing looking like it just rolled out of Bill Ames’ garage in 1959. We decided since Peyote was approaching it’s 50th birthday that it should be restored to look as close to what it did in 1959 as we could manage. Tony did a magnificent job and I couldn’t be happier.

This is the last post from the All Aluminum Tour website. In fact, this post didn’t exist–just the pictures. From here I have a lot of work to do. I have a huge library of the history of Peyote, both from previous owners and my racing from 2007 on. I’ll add to this online record as I can. I want to get as much as I can stored in one place instead of scattered around my shop and in my head.

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All Aluminum Tour

Vinnie Comes Home

November 2008
My Vincent has been away a long time. The bottom end bearings were toast and I didn’t feel competent to replace them. Crankshaft work is notoriously tricky on a Vincent, as is nearly everything. Remarkably complex motor. So I brought it to a guy who does a lot of motorcycle restorations. He hung onto it for about two years and didn’t get much done. I took it back from him and brought it to a specialist and it took another two years to get it back. But at least this time it’s back together and runs nice. Still needs a few things done but it’s nothing I can’t handle.

It’s a pretty thing.

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All Aluminum Tour

Tony’s Nose

After I dropped Peyote off the stands and discovered a bevy of new problems the air kind of came out of my sails. Tony Garmey and Horizon Racing to the rescue. I asked Tony if he’d be willing to “finish up” Peyote, which has to be the worst thing you can ever ask a talented fabricator and mechanic like Tony. When I was a motorcycle mechanic my nightmare was the guy who rebuilt his motorcycle but now wanted me to “finish up” by doing little things like getting it to start.

Who knows what crappy work lies inside? How could a guy who can rebuild his engine not be able to time it? And if you touch that little tar baby and something goes wrong, guess who is now responsible for making it right?

To my surprise,  Tony was willing to do it. So Peyote is at Horizon Racing, getting it’s rear suspension sorted out, the extreme camber in the front right corner fixed (hey, it hit the wall dummy, didn’t you think the upright might be bent?), and the very ugly fenders I made replaced. As any of you alert readers recall, I was nervous about making the fenders. With good reason: they looked stupid.

If you need work done on your race car, you can’t go wrong talking to Tony. He does everything right. There’s a good reason SOVREN just voted him Mechanic of the Year.  Here’s a couple of pictures of the nose Tony has mocked up in carboard. Looks wonderful. He’s even willing to do what he can to save the original tin.

>>Update<<

Peyote is coming along nicely at Tony’s shop. I haven’t been up to visit the ailing patient, but Tony sent some pictures. Pretty cool looking.

A bit too pretty for Peyote, though this is exactly what I was aiming for when I made those ugly fenders.

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All Aluminum Tour

AA Recap to mid-2008

9 July 2008

There has been a lot going on, and I haven’t posted here for a dogs age. I’m going to start again since I’m doing stuff to both Peyote and Peyote’s little brother–the Ambro 001 that I’m calling Mescal.

For those of you saying “Huh” I should explain that Bill Ames, the guy who built Peyote teamed up with his friend Dewey Brohaugh about a year later (roughly 1960) to start building fiberglass bodies to sell–a popular thing in the early sixties (Devin, Kellison, Meyers, etc.). When the first body came out of the mold they built a car for Dewey from a TR3 donor. This is that first car.

So why did I buy a car so similar to Peyote?  Mainly because I was thinking about building one anyway. I have an Ambro body that I bought a few years ago, and I used to have a spare frame (before Peyote needed it) and a lot of TR3 and TR4 parts to construct a modern Ambro. the owner, Doug Karon, wanted a pretty aggressive price for the car, but considering what it would really cost me to build a fake, the original seemed like a rational deal. OK, yeah, I paid way too much for it, but that’s done.

Since Peyote was still not ready for the Northwest Historics and the Portland Historics (I took it off the stands and was disappointed to find the suspension was seriously screwed up) I decided to race the Ambro and get a benchmark at the two tracks I race at the most: Pacific Raceways and PIR. To make a long story short, I found that the car was very heavy, didn’t handle very well, and lacked power. But it was pretty.

I turned a respectable time in the main race at Pacific Raceways, starting the weekend with times in the low 1:50’s and finishing in the 1:45’s. At Portland I did better yet, determining that the tire pressures I was using for Peyote (About 15 PSI cold) was way too low for a car that weighs 250 pounds more to start with  (1800 vs. Peyote’s 1550) and a driver that has somehow gained 15 pounds since leaving Maui (might be all that food I ate).

I started in the back of the pack, turning 1:40’s and after a lot of tire tweaking and a new set of Hoosier Speedsters running 24 PSI and a bit of tweaking, got down to 1:35: something finishing 5th or 6th overall. Still five seconds slower than Peyote, but a respectable showing.

So now Mescal is disassembled in my shop. There are a lot of simple things I plan to do. First is to put that original body into storage and mount the new one I bought. It’s at least 200 pounds lighter. I can’t lift the original nose by myself, and I had to drag the rear body section off the car–can’t lift it at all.  Clearly it’s the first body they built and they must have thought they were building a sailboat. Or maybe “If a little glass is good, more is better. Lots of glass and LOTS of resin. It’s weak and heavy, and it’s also original, so I don’t want to take a chance of damaging it.

Next is reworking the roll cage. The cage is similar to Peyote’s except for the way the rollover bar and bracing works. It has all the weight of Peyote’s cage with fewer benefits. The rear end of the car is as floppy as a stock TR3 frame–which is EXTREMELY floppy. When I put a jack under either rear corner I can lift the wheel way off the ground before the other wheel even comes up on it’s springs. With Peyote, if one rear wheel lifts the other comes off the ground with one more pump on the jack.

Also the car was lowered by extending the shackles a lot. That’s got to account for some of that rear end wobble. It feels like the car has a hinge in the middle. It’s got an ugly panhard bar setup that can go away, but it needs radius arms. The Armstrong shocks have all the damping of a screen door closer.

In the front is a plumber’s nightmare–a secondary radiator, remote oil filter, and lots of plumbing for the accusump. All that can go away. I like to plumb the accusump directly to the oil gallery. The second radiator supplies water to the #4 cylinder. A worthy idea, but one that can be accomplished with one pipe instead of a tangle of plumbing and an extra radiator. I can probably eliminate 100 pounds in the engine bay.

It’s also got an overdrive transmission. Lots of people love these for race cars. I’m not one of them. A four speed dog box is more my style and will probably drop another 30-50 pounds.

Finally the motor lacks beans. I can fix that. I’m tempted to ditch the SU carbs, but I might keep them just for historical reference. I hate ’em, and I have a nice set of webers on the bench–tanned, rested and ready. But they might stay there.

I’ll shoot some pics of the guts, and post some pictures from the races next time.

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All Aluminum Tour

AA Back To The Future

14 December 2007

I’m making pretty good progress on Peyote. Okay, it’s more like three steps forward, two back, but it’s coming together. I made a set of decisions that were kind of painful. Mainly, that I would try to use as much of the damaged body as possible since the frame couldn’t be saved. It’s a kind of silly thought, since Peyote has been reskinned at least three times that I know of–four if you count Peyote MkI, so it’s not like I’m preserving much of the original body (though there are three pieces of metal that I’m fairly certain come from the original incarnation). But the body skin from the roll cage forward is from the Peyote that I’ve had so much fun with over the past eight years, so I’m determined to save as much of that mojo as I can. Turns out of course that saving original bodywork with a new frame is twice the work of simply reskinning, but I’m glad that I’m trying to do it.

Here’s the new frame with some rear skin on. The old rear skin was too thin and oil-canned badly. I made this out of .040 aluminum and rolled a little crown into the aluminum with my new english wheel. You can barely see the crown but it makes the panels much more rigid and makes the entire structure far stronger. I’m not very good with the wheel yet, so the metal looks like an aluminum bag full of walnuts, but for now it’s done and in place so it’s going to stay.

Original nose skin laid in place. As you can see, there’s not a lot to work with here, but I’ll make it come together.

My el cheapo harbor freight English wheel. I reinforced it with a lot of added steel and it’s still one fourth the cost of any other source I found. It’s amateur crap, but hey, I’m an amateur.

Borgeson steering shaft with telescoping section–no more Zulu spear pointed at my chest. I did a very careful job building the steering. I’ve had an incident in the past when the steering wheel got disconnected. Not fun.

The “wideboy” chassis. These tubes used to be straight back to the rollbar which resulted in a seating position tilted to the right. Just like my politics–rigid, but uncomfortable. Now I can put a seat in that points down the track instead of driving down the track sideways.

I checked”everything” on the front suspension for bends and cracks, found one lower arm was bent, no cracks. When I installed the suspension the right side (the one that hit the tire wall) I could feel binding and the lower arms moved apart when I stroked the suspension. Turns out the lower trunnion axle was bent. So now I’m waiting for a new one. Late TR4-TR6 trunnions (with 3 degrees of caster) are not interchangeable side to side, so my big stack of TR3 suspension stuff was worthless. I do, however, strongly endorse caster in TR3/4 race cars.

Someone needs to clean this shop. Ah well, back to it. More pictures later. I’m getting kind of frantic, I only have until Jan 3rd, and there are a few days in the middle when I can’t work–like Christmas, and a trip to Yosemite for a ridiculously decadent dinner put on by a good friend.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA New Bones

27 November 2007

I’ve been super busy, I thought this time before the holidays would be nice and lazy, instead, I’m working my tail off. I don’t know if I’m going to have Peyote back together before we leave for Maui. I’ve got the new frame done. Now I need to paint it and start building. I tried hard to save the old frame, but it was just too far gone. And once we cut some of the tubes to straighten the TR3 part of the frame I discovered that the original roll cage to frame welds were not well penetrated, the tubing wall thickness was a bit on the skimpy side (.860 everywhere), and the rust monster had been hard at work. I’m glad I never stuck this thing on its lid. I’m pretty certain the roll cage would have collapsed, or at least been compromised, in any kind of rollover.

The new frame weighs about the same (28 pounds heavier). We went down a little on the tubing diameter (to 1 1/2″ from 1 5/8*) and used .134 wall for the roll hoop, brace, and driver’s side intrusion bars. The rest is 1 1/2″ .860 wall. I made the driver’s compartment a little bigger by cheating the side brace out with a curve at the end, and added footwell intrusion protection. My little friend in the Corvette demonstrated how important that is. Another inch or so and my feet would have lacked wiggle room.

Yes, there’s a TR3 frame under all that tubing
It’s not exactly a birdcage–more like a bearcage
A little jog to accommodate my girth
The skinny tubes support the body. In the original Peyote these were made of conduit. That might be a little lighter but a pain in the butt to bend precisely and to weld.
Temperature guages. How cool is that? I generally just splash some temperature indicating paint on to show if the transmission has been toasted.
Gorgeous transmission, inside and out.

Thought you might also like to see the new transmission Tony Garmey (Horizon Racing) built for me. It’s almost too pretty to stick in a car. Dog box guts. I like the little temperature gauge labels. Much prettier than my usual splash of temperature sensing paint.

5 RESPONSES TO “NEW BONES”
Brother Dave Says:
December 14th, 2007 at 3:21 pm e
Just so you know that someone is STILL paying attention.
I couldn’t tell but is that a new subframe too? Lots of welding and fabrication. Are you doing it all freehand or do you have a jig of sorts?
Speaking of MOJO and keeping it in place, I’m positive this latest Peyote revision will be as fun, and as forgiving as the last one.
And speaking of keeping on, when is the Infineon (sp?) race? I need a plane ride.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Watkins Glen Epilogue

Thanks for all the supportive emails and comments, and the offers of rides at both Road America and Sovren’s Fall Finale. I’m not taking anyone up on that kind offer. I’m not comfortable racing other people’s cars, but most of all, now that I’m on the way, I’m pretty excited about being home. Four months in the front 16 feet of a trailer is a long time.

One phone caller was not so pleased, I heard from Carl Jensen, the competition director of SVRA. He was pretty pissed that I said in my post that it was the stewards that would be making the decision about any sanctions (they don’t, he does), that I expected politics would be involved, and the reason I hadn’t heard any result was so the decision to do nothing could be announced after everyone was safely gone.

Not only did Carl make his determination before the end of the race weekend, but he also came looking for me to tell me about it. It must have been fairly late on Sunday, I was at the track until almost noon. The decision was a penalty for the Corvette driver, none for me.

I took another look at what I said and how I said it. I was talking about my assumptions. They weren’t unreasonable, but they were wrong. I’m not going to change the article because then this apology wouldn’t make sense: I’m sorry Carl, I shouldn’t have sold you short. And I should have come looking for you or called before I made assumptions about how you run your show. Thanks for getting in touch with me and giving me the chance to set it straight.

I don’t know what penalty you assessed, and I don’t really care that much. I remain unimpressed at the character and integrity of the driver, but how you deal with him is your business. All the best.

Incidentally, the sour ending aside, SVRA runs a pretty neat event. All the races went off on time until it started raining insanely hard. The off-track re-enactment tours were great fun, very well coordinated and handled (I know firsthand how hard that is), the registration and logistics were flawless and painless, and they got people pretty much into the right groups (though I’m still wondering about those MGA’s in group four). Watkins Glen is definitely one of my favorite tracks to race. Next time I’ll try to bring a little more horsepower so I don’t give away so much in the straights.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Punted at Watkins Glen

“Nooo, you idiot” I groaned as the Corvette bashed into Peyote’s left rear corner, pivoting the car sideways onto its massive bumper. I slid along sideways at sixty MPH and I stared up the hood five inches from my elbow. The big car was pushing me towards the tire wall. I had just enough time to think “you jerk”, and then I hit the wall. Peyote’s right front wheel smashed into the rubber, aluminum crumpled and I could actually see the wheel move backward as the suspension mounts bent. I knew the All Aluminum Tour was over.

Rewind.

SVRA’s Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix is a big event at a big track–Watkins Glen. Tony Garmey says Watkins separates the sheep from the goats. I’m not exactly sure what that means–Kiwis talk like that–but I get the drift. Diane and I left Limerock Monday night and got to Watkins Glen on Wednesday, only to discover they wouldn’t let us in until Thursday morning. We used my iPhone to find a nearby campground and found one near Bath, NY, which turned out not to be as close to Watkins Glen as it looked. Once we dumped the trailer we spent the afternoon driving around Keuka Lake and had an excellent dinner at the Esperanza Mansion, a remarkable place overlooking the Lake.

We got back to the campground after dark, and as I was backing the truck close to the hitch my phone went off, distracting me for a second. Crunch! I gave the new electric jack a bought a few weeks ago a good whack. I made temporary repairs the next morning and made the hour long journey to the track. We set up in a good area with electricity and water, and I tried to repair the jack. After a lot of fiddling I gave up and used the iPhone to find the nearest RV parts store. You guessed it–Bath, NY.

Driving back from Bath the second time in one day we passed a KOA campground about half a mile from Watkins Glen. Perhaps Google Maps isn’t quite ready to replace the yellow pages.

On the plus side, we had a nice lunch in a tavern in Hammondsport and got to see this great Curtis seaplane being launched. Hammondsport is where the Curtis museum is, and it’s one of the cradles of aviation. Not much else there but some beautiful old buildings and a nice lake. I guess that’s quite a lot when I think about it.

I got to help launch this thing–only because I was the tallest guy on the dock and could catch the wing when the plane got blown around. The guys launching it were pretty casual about the whole thing–lots of crunching noises when they started pushing it off the cradle that would have given me a heart attack if it were mine. I don’t know if there was any damage. This plane must have taken a huge amount of effort to restore. The pictures don’t do it justice. I’ll put the rest in the gallery I’m building that will hold all the pictures from the trip.

Lots of Friends of Triumph pals showed up at the track–some racing, some spectating. We’ve really appreciated belonging to the FOT on this trip: We have friends everywhere. In the trailer next to us was Steve Groh–a FOTer and fairly new Triumph Spitfire racer. Down the pit road a few spots was Henry Frye–always a pleasant guy to have around, and his wife Helen immediately bonded with Diane. Bill Dentinger and Bob Wismer were pitted far away from us though I saw them both at the drivers meeting. They were having clutch problems. I rode my bike around looking for them to offer help, but couldn’t find them. I ran into Cornell Babcock when I was doing tech. I don’t know of any direct family connection, but we both have the same nose, we both race LBCs, both of us love TR3’s, and we both think it’s important that our trailer has three axles. How much of all this stuff that makes us up is learned and how much is hardwired into our genes?

Cornell was driving his meticulously prepped TR3. Rich Rock brought us some sweet corn and a huge delicious tomato. Our Philly FOT buddies Ed and Bruce showed up–they’ve been to at least five of the twelve races we completed on the All Aluminum tour. What a great bunch of folks. Please forgive me if I forgot to mention your name–it was a long and eventful weekend. And of course, my memory sucks.

Thursday I got on the track for a timed practice and a qualifier. I was running in Group Four with a lot of big iron–Listers, a very fast Chapparal, a blisteringly fast and very well driven Lotus 11 Le Mans, various other sports racers, some corvettes, and inexplicably, a cluster of MGA’s and Big Healys. My times were okay–2:29 the first time on track, 2:22 the second. I figured I could get down to 2:21 (as I did the first time I was at Watkins Glen for the HSR event in early summer) and perhaps even to 2:20. My times were putting me in the front of the pack–third if the relative times held up. Watkins Glen is a horsepower track but Peyote makes up time in some of the corner combinations and I can carry a lot more speed than the big cars do coming onto the straights. For example, from the exit of turn one to the “bus stop” chicane Peyote is flat out in fourth, threading a very precise needle with not even a lift. Most of the big cars brake for at least two of the three turns between, especially the scary bridge turns with their big steel rails and no runoff. I noticed the Lotus 11 wasn’t braking either, though his light weight gave him more horsepower parity.

Thursday night we did a barbeque in our pits and invited everyone hanging around. Lots of roasted sweet corn, a big platter of fat slices of local homegrown tomatoes (“only two things that money can’t buy, true love and homegrown tomatoes”) with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (Diane said the fresh Mozzarella I bought a week ago was spoiled-I’d have tried it) and some chicken. People hardly touched the chicken–they filled up on corn and tomatoes. I think it would be easy to be a vegetarian in the summer.

On Friday morning my brother Dave was in the paddock when I climbed out of Nero at 6:00. He’d gotten to the track about four ayem. He had enough fun at Limerock to make him want to take the long drive from Boston to Watkins Glen. I think he’s got the bug pretty bad. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a vintage car sometime soon. I should probably tell him how much all this stuff really costs. It ain’t the car, buddy, it’s everything else. And the cars aren’t cheap.

Dave and I went to breakfast at Tobe’s in Watkins Glen, leaving Diane to catch up on her sleep. Friday I was only on the track once, but the times counted towards qualifying. I pushed hard and did 2.23. The front end was pushing pretty hard. Time to look for new tires. I also checked the camber and found the left side had about a degree too much. The class rules at Limerock required me to switch to rock-hard vintage Dunlops and the bias ply tires require that I set the camber to zero, so I probably miscounted when I switched back. The big horsepower cars were giving me fits–they’d eat me up in the straights and then tiptoe through the turns. sometimes it felt like we were barely moving. There are a few good places to pass, but most of them lead to chutes where I’d just get re-passed on horsepower anyway.

Friday evening they do a re-enactment of racing on the old Watkins Glen road course. There were more than 500 cars registered for the race and they only take 150 for the enactment. I wrote an eloquent plea for Peyote’s inclusion that turned out to be unnecessary–they had less than 150 cars apply.

Diane wanted to go, but Peyote has no passenger seat. I tried to make a case for fabricating something on top of the fuel cell, but the tech guy just kept saying “so you’re telling me you want your passenger to sit on the fuel cell?!?” Fortunately Henry Frye had an empty seat in his car since Helen didn’t want to go. Diane snapped up the opportunity and went to buy appropriate accessories–goggles and a leather helmet. Cute.

Diane and Henry in his TR4

Peyote looks kind of little. We had a police escort from the track to downtown, then we parked the cars on both sides of the main street so the crowd could look over the cars (and I could grab a brat–a damned good one), we did two laps around the track with a police escort and then headed right back to the track. Slow in some spots, but fast enough to get the adrenaline going in others. The guys that did this fifty years ago with minimal safety equipment had enormous courage–or little imagination.

There were 50 thousand people on the street. The sidewalks were packed. Along the route, there were people at every place that might have a little drama. One group had a table set with a white tablecloth, nice wine glasses (looked like a Cabernet) and a nice cheese and fruit tray (at least as far as I could tell from my 50 MPH vantage point).

I made the mistake of wearing shorts–there’s a lot of heat coming up the footwell of this little car. I was roasted by the time I got back to the track.

Saturday we had a warmup in the morning and a qualifying race in the afternoon. I got two new Hoosier Speedsters for the front (two was all that Woodman had left), scrubbed them in in the morning session and felt an immediate improvement in the handling. In the afternoon we had a qualifying race. I was gridded third behind the Chapparal and the Lotus 11, with a wad of Listers, Devin SS’s, and Corvettes behind. When the pace car turned onto the straight the pace was glacial. I really needed to shift to first, but didn’t dare because I’d run the risk of getting smacked when I had to shift right away. The starter waved a very early green and we were off. A lot of cars passed me as I tried to accelerate, but I went to the outside going into turn one and passed all but John Harden’s Lister and a white Corvette. The Chapparal and the Lotus were wailing away out of reach. I settled down to try to pass the two big cars that had gotten by me.

Of course, it was nearly impossible. I was bottled up behind them in the turns, going painfully slow, and then they’d pull ten car lengths on me in the straight and I’d have to run up on them again. It’s hard for a momentum car like Peyote to get daylight on a point-and-shoot horsepower car at a track like Watkins Glen. Every corner complex is followed by either a long chute or a straight.

I kept working on them, but I was somewhat resigned to finishing behind them since they were bunched together and much too wide to pass as a pair. But since they were battling each other they were slowing more than usual in the corners, and the Corvette was sliding around a lot. Behind us was a Lister and Devin that we had pulled a good lead on, but they started catching up. I don’t think we were turning anything better than 2:25, maybe even slower. I knew if the cars behind us got within five car lengths that they’d pass me on the straight.

On the last lap, the cars behind were still closing, but I reckoned I had enough lead to hold the position. As we entered the long carousel-like turn after the chicane, John’s Lister pulled a good lead on the Corvette, and the Corvette driver blew the apex by at least five feet, going very wide. I kept my speed up, tucked inside him and passed. As we entered the left-hander they call the chute I turned in for the apex and saw the Corvette coming straight at me. He smashed into Peyote’s left rear corner and the car immediately pivoted onto the front of his car. I watched his big ass ’57 Corvette with the hood at my elbow push me through the corner sideways until I crashed into the tire wall, crunching the right front corner.

I sat stunned for a moment, then got out of the car, and walked behind the wall, pulling off my helmet and gloves. When the driver of the Corvette came behind the wall I said: “what the f@*k was that about”. He said, “that’s what I want to know.” I stared at him and started to reply but the corner worker stepped between us and started asking me questions. Either the corner worker was looking the wrong way and didn’t see the wreck, or he saw murder in my eye and was defusing the situation. Either way, I realized I’d gain nothing by talking to the guy–anyone that can hit a car in the rear end and then pretend it wasn’t his fault isn’t anyone I need to talk to.

Not only did he wreck my car, but he could also have killed me, all because he didn’t want to get passed, pure and simple, and tried to bully his way through a hole that wasn’t there. A particularly stupid move since there’s no way I could have held him off in the uphill straight after the boot.

They took me in an ambulance to the medical center and checked me out thoroughly–I hit the wall hard. On the way to medical, I saw Diane walking fast towards an official, looking pretty frantic. I tried to get the EMT to stop so I could reassure her, but they said they needed to get me to the med center. I checked out fine and they released me once my blood pressure came down. I caught up with Diane close to the paddock. She started crying when she saw me but calmed down pretty quickly.

The tow truck was pulling out as we walked to the paddock. Peyote had already been unloaded. The car looked so forlorn I got a lump in my throat. Twelve events this summer, on tracks we’d never been on, racing with people we mostly didn’t know. Never a scratch, and the little car performed so gallantly against overwhelming competition. Now it was over because of ruthless, reckless, talentless driving.

I have no problem forgiving errors in judgment, I make too many of them to be stiff necked. But I’ve got this silly honor and integrity hangup. The guy never apologized, didn’t even have the guts to say something noncommital like “sorry your car got damaged” or “glad you weren’t hurt”. Instead, he did his best to make the stewards believe it was my fault. He knows he’s lying, and I know he’s lying. Of course, by now he’s lying to himself too.

I’ve been on the guilty side of an incident like this about ten years ago, and though it was a less clearcut than this incident (I hit a Lotus 7 in the right front fender of his car when I couldn’t brake in time as he turned into a chicane on the start), I stepped up and apologized. How could anyone not? Even paid for the guy’s damage though I think it’s wrong to do that and I’d never look for it–we all assume the risk of damage or injury when we choose to race.

I’ll fix my own car.

The stewards didn’t “decide” on their action, which I take to mean they wanted everyone cleared out before they decide to do nothing. They were already making noises about “mitigating aspects” when I talked to them, despite clear evidence like a big punt mark in the back of my car, the fact that my car got pushed a couple of hundred feet down the track on the front of his car (kind of hard to get there if you’re side by side), a video from Doug Karon’s Devin, and lots of people that saw the incident. Of course, I know “witnesses” see what they want to see and there’s always another story, but this one is pretty clearcut. I assume politics will take the forefront.

They were even talking about my duties as the passing driver and whether or not I had completed the pass before I turned in. Excuse me? I get hit in the back end hard enough to push my subframe into my tire and we’re talking about my pass? My pass was over in the previous corner, the Corvette was the overtaking driver. End of story.

David surveys the damage.

“Did you complete your pass”? Is there some other way to get in front?

free bumper ride

bent frame on the right front from hitting the wall

If I did such a bonehead thing I’d expect to get suspended, but this guy has run with SVRA for years and I’m just a guy from Oregon that they may never see again. They’re the ones that will have to race with him, I certainly wouldn’t set a wheel on a track with him again.

A lot of folks dropped by to sympathize. It started raining like heck and I couldn’t get Peyote into the trailer until I cleared it out. Made me feel bad looking at it sitting in the rain, all crushed up, but I decided to wait until the next morning to load up. Burt Levy came over to cheer me up. He told me he had known the guy for years and he was a stand-up guy. I told him you couldn’t prove that by me and opened a bottle of nice provencal Rose’. We sat and shot the shit, talked racing and the tracks I’d been to on the tour. The bottle magically emptied, and so did another. I wound up going to dinner with Diane, my brother David, Henry Frye and Helen. The food tasted like sawdust. I don’t think it had much to do with the cook.

It rained like hell all night. I couldn’t sleep much–too worked up. David got wet in his tent that attaches to his Aztek (AZTEK!). We were a pretty sorry sight the next morning. took Dave to Tobe’s again, then I got Peyote loaded up, packed everything, and we hit the road, headed home. It was raining hard when we left. Thunder and lightning–old testament stuff.

I’m not particularly upset about missing the last two races. I’m not even that upset about Peyote–I can fix it, and I will. What I’m really chapped about is the simple lack of honor and integrity. I expect it, from myself, from other drivers, and from any organization that claims to have rules. Even the ancient Greeks understood that for an organization to survive its rules had to be enforced without regard for status. (yes, Kas, I’m listening to the Greek civilization CDs on the way back home). When people weasel around and refuse to take responsibility for their actions, they just make me want to puke.

Anyway, the racing part of the tour is over. I’m making my way back across the country to lick my wounds in Portland. we’ll do a little sightseeing on the way back and stop in Geneseo to pick up my motor from Uncle Jack. I’ll let you know what I see on the way.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA 30 Babcocks

9 Sept 2007
Well, not all Babcocks, but thirty relatives showed up at Limerock to watch Peyote and I do our thing. I’m originally from Boston, and the only black sheep to actually leave the east coast permanently. So my brothers, sisters, and Mom planned to come to see me race, and it blossomed into a mini-reunion and campout with wads of nieces and nephews as well. My daughter Cassie and her two boys James and Shea drove down from Michigan.


Twenty-one adults and nine kids. What fun. It was great to see them all, but I didn’t get to spend as much time as I hoped to catch up because…

…Naturally Peyote had its first serious mechanical problem of the entire trip. The quartermaster clutch and Saab throwout bearing I use in Peyote packed it in.

I assumed I was screwed, but I asked around the paddock to see if anyone knew where I could get parts. It turns out J.R. Mitchell of GMT racing had some–at his shop in Danbury, about 40 miles away. Off I went, and amazingly they had exactly what I needed. What a shop by the way, and what a great guy J.R. is.

I started to reassemble the clutch but a helicoil in the flywheel backed out. I fiddled with the helicoil trying to reuse it, but in the process, a second helicoil backed out. Turns out I had a bit of metal stuck in the third thread of one bolt. A little more pit scrambling and J.R. helped me find a guy that had a full set of fine thread helicoils and insertion tools. My only regret is that J.R. is on the wrong coast for me to give him regular business–not that he needs my piddling custom, his shop is full to the rafters with exotic iron.

I replaced all the helicoils and found the bolts wouldn’t thread into them.

Quit for the night, mumbling and cursing. About 1:30 AM I woke up realizing I hadn’t chased the holes with the helicoil tap and crud in the threads was shrinking the minor diameter. Sure enough, chased the holes, refit the helicoils and the bolts turned smoothly in. I was in biz. Sort of.

I had lost reverse a few weeks earlier, and since the transmission was out I decided to pull the cover and see what was happening. I could immediately see that the reverse shaft was floating around. In the Limerock swap meet that was going on a few steps away was the very knowledgeable owner of Quantum Mechanics, a transmission shop that specializes in old British stuff (those of you that know my lame compensatory circumlocutions know that I can’t remember his name). He told me my wayward reverse shaft meant the retainer that holds the layshaft and reverse shaft in place was probably broken. I swiped the one from the spare transmission I have (which was otherwise useless since it’s set up for a different clutch and a conventional throwout system) and got that replaced, though the extraordinarily helpful but unnamed owner of Quantum Mechanics told me the retainer usually breaks because the layshaft outer bearing is going bad. Pleasant thought.

When I put the transmission back it wouldn’t press home the last quarter inch. I pulled it back out and could see that the center hub of the clutch was very close to the diaphragm spring. The throwout bearing pilot tube was fouling it. Inspecting the broken clutch parts showed that was the case with it as well. And the pilot tube showed hard rubbing wear.

Turns out I didn’t space the throwout bearing guide bushing appropriately when I assembled the transmission to the engine, and it was pressing hard on the hub of the first clutch plate (I use a quartermaster double plate 7.5-inch clutch). Over time the hub broke away from the plate and I had a single plate clutch that dragged a lot. Somewhere in the middle of all this, the throwout bearing came apart too. With all that stuff screwed up the clutch still worked middling well through more than fifteen events until Friday when the splines spun out of the second hub.

Bingo–a box full of neutrals.

I changed the spacing of the annular bearing, put it all back together, took a long cold shower in the Limerock shower facilities, and drank a bunch of beers.

Good thing they don’t run on Sunday. What first seemed to be a one hour job took all of Saturday afternoon and almost all of Sunday.

I took brother Bob down to the local lake to let him try my Starboard Stand Up Board. He’s interested in learning to do it, and I think it would be good for his balance issues and general health if he could manage to stand on the board. Bob had a tumor removed from his auditory nerve on one side and it’s played havoc with his balance. Turns out he can do standup paddling just fine, in fact, a local reporter caught his maiden flight on Video. I was so pleased for him that I gave him my Starboard SUP board and paddle.

Monday morning I prepped the car and did the warmup. It ran fine though it shifted a little rough. For the feature race, I was gridded dead last (19th)–no qualifying time on Saturday. I figured I’d have my work cut out for me, lots of high horsepower and high-performance cars in Group four. A very fast Elva, lots of Loti, two birdcage Maseratis, three Listers, a Lola and Peyote’s big brother, the Filson Falcon as well as a few other specials. I got a decent start, passed a Tipo 61 and a Lister coming into turn one, and started working on the field.

I had to pass most of the cars twice, since most had more beans than Peyote. They’d be too far ahead at the end of the straight to pass them in turn one, so I’d chase them down in the tight stuff and pass them about turn three or four, then they’d repass me in the straight, but I’d be close enough to repass in turn one, then I’d have enough lead by the time we got back to the straight so they couldn’t repass. In this “ahead three, back two” manner I worked my way up steadily until I got to John Harden in a Lister. I was all over his tail but couldn’t slip by. He admitted to me later that he was “getting a little wide” in the corners. I absolutely don’t blame him, I wouldn’t make it easy for a bucket of bolts like Peyote to pass me either.

While John was holding me up, Mike Silverman in another Lister caught up and started working on me. Since I couldn’t go fast where I was faster, he finally got me in the straight. John wouldn’t let Michael by either, and on the last lap I repassed Mike and took seventh place. I actually hesitated before I passed Mike. I know he would have been tickled to beat Peyote. I must be getting soft. He’s improving dramatically as a driver and there will come a day when he kicks my ass. Of course, I should point out that in the end, I DIDN’T cut him any slack.
A very fun race and a good result for a thoroughly broken car. The turn workers invited me to their party after the race. I thought it was because of all the hard work I did, but it was really because they liked Diane and Sam. Figures.

I couldn’t have gotten all that work done (and redone, and redone) without my two brothers, who helped out all Saturday and Sunday. Even though it turns out that their memories and organizational skills are actually worse than mine. Hard to believe.

It was really fun having all the family there. I wished I could have spent more time with them, or had more time to talk with all the Friends of Triumph folks that dropped by, but I was elbows deep in busted Peyote all weekend.

After the race, I went into Nero to change into shorts and came out to a huge crowd of cheering Babcocks. I guess they liked the show. Thanks for coming you guys, I actually misted up for a second there.

Bah.

ONE RESPONSE TO “30 BABCOCKS”
Brother Dave Says:
September 10th, 2007 at 6:52 am e
I learned a lot about historic racing at Lime Rock. First, it’s a whole lot of fun. With friends, competitors, other racers, joining together for advice on how to fix things, help to locate parts, offering encouragement, and even grabbing the occasional tool to help put a injured race car back together…..it’s a close group, with lots of great people…….but as Bill wrote, they still won’t cut you any slack on the race course.

Secondly, having been a mechanic in a previous life….I sort of enjoyed thrashing with my brothers for two days of replacing a destroyed clutch, installing helicoils, fixing leaking hydraulic lines, and removing/installing a transmission around a half dozen times…….well the last one I could have handled better just once, but when a racing car burps parts, it always seems to be one thing leads to another.

Historic racing seems to be exactly that…racing one minute, fixing the next, and then racing again……going to have to talk to my wife about doing some of this, should I ever hit the lottery!
And lastly….despite the roughness (some will say ugliness) of Peyote, this crude little race car draws a big crowd…..most want to know what it is…..some who recognize parts (like the subframe, or the engine) want to know how it goes. To that my answer is “it goes pretty good” Bill will tell you it’s the car that is the reason it runs well, but because he won’t say it, I will, “Bill drives extremely well, and is a talented driver” He and Peyote consistently take on more powerful, more sophisticated, purely designed race cars, and not only give them all they can handle, but also beats their $500,000 exotics pretty regularly…..which as you can imagine, pisses them off a great deal.

So to a little underpowered 4 cylinder ugly Peyote, and to a brother that is all of the above other than 4 cylindered, but drives his car with enthusiasm, courage, enlarged testicles, it was a blast to race with you, thrash a transmission alongside you and Bob, and spend the weekend with an excited, extended family, getting most of the hillside above the Limerock esses cheering for not only #222, but for the underdog driver in his little exciting race car.

See you in Watkins Glen…..but we’ll save that story til later.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA The Good, The Bad, And the Awful

29 August 2007
So we left the Chicago Four Seasons on Monday, headed for Limerock Raceway in Connecticut. Last time I saw Limerock I was about fifteen and it was a dust bowl as I recall. Pretty spiffy looking now. The roads leading south out of Chicago are not exactly scenic, we drove to Indiana to pick up Nero and Peyote, then headed for Connecticut. I wasn’t particularly sleepy or hungry so we pressed on, finally stopping in the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio for dinner at a Lebanese place. It wasn’t bad, but I ate a little too much. So once we hit the road I started getting the nods. We were on a toll road, so there wasn’t much to choose from for places to stay. We finally wound up stopping at a travel plaza and just crashing in Nero. Sometime in the night the parking lot filled with big diesel, including one that parked about ten inches from Nero, idling it’s engine all night.

You don’t want to crash out in these places. The combination of diesel fumes and noise woke me about 4:00 AM. I wiggled out the door–there was literally no space to open the door and get out of the trailer. I pulled out then shoveled Diane and Sam into the back of the truck. I briefly thought of “tagging” the truckers window–something terse like “asshole” spelled backward. Then hit the highway. This all felt like deja vu all over again (yeah, I know it’s redundant, it’s a joke). Nero’s first trip to Sears Point started the same way.

I resolved not to get the same lousy uninspired chain restaurant breakfast. So about 7:00 AM I started looking for restaurants and finally found a likely looking place called something like “Mama Jeans Home Cooking”. It looked right. The room had a robust looking group of farmers having breakfast. The placemats advertised two separate county fairs. I sensed a good breakfast. Then the food came.

I haven’t seen such an uninspired mess since Mackinac Island. Instant Oatmeal. Biscuits from Costco or someplace like that. Overcooked eggs. Corned Beef hash straight from the can, and not a good can. Frozen “homefries” warmed in cheap cooking oil.

Mama Jean needs her butt kicked–she’s too lazy to cook water. Diane was going to ask for peanut butter for her English muffin, but in the dirty restroom a plunger was shoved into a big plastic tub that previously held “Economy Peanut Butter”. Yum.

How did it happen that people came to accept warming prefab crap as suitable restaurant fare–anywhere. How much effort does it make to make a great breakfast? Why would anyone go to all the work of running a restaurant and not do it well?

We left the food mostly untouched and headed down the road grumbling. We talked about ways to improve the simple food scene in America. Maybe a rating system that helps good places thrive and bad places die. Diane suggested a name for the effort: Simple Quality. I like it. I’m starting to plan to build a website to enable that–probably something wiki-like that lets people praise the good and condemn the bad. I don’t like to just bitch about something and not try to fix it. I don’t care about chains or fast food–they can’t improve beyond the mediocrity embedded in the three-ring binders that run the places. I’m talking about places run by people who might have something to contribute to better experiences.

Like the HUGE surprise that lunch was. We were hungry of course, so when we saw a sign for a historic district in the town of Milford, PA (which is very close to Middle of Nowhere, PA.) our interest was cautiously piqued (Gatlinburg is too recent a memory for it to be other than cautious). One establishment that was tastefully advertised was a historic Inn/Restaurant called Hotel Fauchere. We drove through the town, noted several interesting-looking restaurants, and parked Nero on a shady street with beautiful houses and a stately city hall. Everything looked carefully cared for except one very interesting-looking structure that stood boarded up and condemned.

Hotel Fauchere proved to be an elegant-looking Italianate building. I thought it looked stuffy and dreaded over-sauced pseudo-french cooking. The entry of the hotel and all we could see of the formal main dining room reinforced my impression. Diane was more optimistic, so we entered and took the elevator down to Bar Louis, expecting heavy faux antiques and a hamburger menu. To my astonishment the restaurant had a light contemporary feel, engaging artwork on the beautifully paneled walls and pleasant, comfortable furnishings. The feel was integrated, detailed, clean and pleasant.

The menu was straightforward but promised good ingredients. Locally smoked ham, artisan breads, french fries with truffle oil. I had a Croque Monsieur which is nothing more than grilled cheese and ham–but what a sandwich. Wonderful brioche bread, the ham was as good as the menu promised, cooked perfectly so the outside of the bread crunched and the inside melted into the cheese. The truffle fries were crisp and delicious. Diane had mussels and handmade potato chips that were amazing.

A simple meal, cooked extremely well. A little good wine, some great coffee, and we were off again, marveling at the difference between lunch and dinner. Truth is, you could do that anywhere. The only difference is the effort. If you’re ever within fifty miles of Milford, PA it would be worth the trip: WWW.HotelFauchere.com . From what I can see on the website, the main dining room looks pretty spectacular too, and the rooms appear comfy. If they’ve put the same effort into the rest of the hotel that they put into the small dining area (and why wouldn’t they) then it should all be great.

We continued on towards Limerock, enjoying an increasingly scenic ride. The area around Limerock is really pretty. We found some farmers markets on the way in that we’ll be hitting before the weekend. Beautiful big tomatoes, squash, string beans, fruit, nice looking sweet corn. I’m going to try to get some very fresh corn though, it starts changing as soon as it’s picked.

The track looks beautiful, but the layout is really simple. I’ve heard people say Limerock is challenging. Doesn’t look that way to me, but we’ll see. We got a good paddock space. We’re camping in Nero, enjoying this cozy and simple space. What a great trailer.

Good night.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA What I’ve Learned So Far

29 August 2007
So it’s 3:54 AM and I’m compelled to write. I woke up at two with all this stuff in my head. The only way I’ll get some sleep is to reel it out of my mind and onto “paper”. Driving around the country endlessly is a serious education. Most of what I’ve learned I don’t like much. We have a wonderful country and we’re doing a lousy job with it.

I’m going to excuse one group from this rant: Farmers. Great job guys. Not only are most farms beautiful, but they also appear to be run with pride, not only in the product but also for the land. Remarkable, I’m honored to have seen your work.

The rest of you I’m not so impressed with. The level of mediocrity in most of the US and Canada is simply stunning. Mackinac Island. where we took our grandsons for a little vacation, is a fine microcosm of it. Here the bar is set so low it’s a tripping hazard. And yet the usual whipping boys–chain stores and strip malls–are completely absent. Instead, there’s a wonderful environment going to waste with hideous food, lousy accommodations, silly practices, pathetic marketing, and copycat merchandising.

The hotel we stayed at has food that would embarrass a prison. I don’t know who is cooking the scrambled eggs, but they manage to make them taste like overdone dehydrated eggs–and I had better-tasting examples of those sitting in Tonkin Bay on the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Here we are in the land of Dairy, and the cheese is the cheapest, nastiest pre-shredded plastic looking crap I’ve ever seen.

Is the assumption that these are just tourists we’ll never see again? A performance like this guarantees it. We haven’t had a single meal here that honored its basic ingredients in any way. But it’s not just the food. They’re silly about everything, and no one appears to think or take initiative. In ninety degree weather, the heater in the pool was on full blast. Bicycles are the basic mode of transportation, and somehow they’ve fixed the price so high that people only rent them for short periods (clearly a manipulated price–anyone that broke ranks would own the market). The horse taxi system is impenetrable–I never did figure out how to rent one. I tried to hire an idle taxi to take us back to our hotel and he could only take us half way. Then he parked and sat. He was still there fifteen minutes later. And the price to take us halfway was the same as taking us all the way. Hello–I’d pay more to go where I wanted to go.

The streets are full and the stores are empty of customers. Nothing to buy. The most dispirited, copycat crap I’ve ever seen. How many fudge shops does a half mile commercial area need? Five? Ten. Did anyone answer 14? I gave the boys twenty bucks apiece to buy something to remember the trip. Took us hours and they wound up with stuff they could have gotten anywhere. Not because they are so fussy, but because even a ten-year-old kid can tell when he’s looking at crap.

I’ll bet the average length of stay on the island is declining. There’s not much to do and the food sucks everywhere. I don’t mean that it’s the usual mediocre mid-America crap–it’s a lot worse. I’m a guy that likes a bratwurst as much as anything. I had one at the hotel. Eight bucks for a petrified little dried up thing cracked down the middle, that must have sat on the back of the grill for an hour and then got nuked. Stuck in a stale bun and hidden with sauerkraut. You can’t complain when you’re presented with such a bad level of performance, you just leave. They have to be in the ballpark to justify a complaint, otherwise, you’re just wasting breath. We cut our stay short by a day, should have left sooner and looked for something better.

I’m not sure how it happens, but performance only seems to go in two directions: Spiraling up or spiraling down. When people settle for “good enough” the downward spiral starts. I remember when food on the Oregon coast was about as bad as you can find anywhere. Then one day I found the Blue Sky Cafe in Manzanita. Spectacular food, prepared with love, genius, and unstinting effort. We ate there every time we could, and so did everyone else. The town seemed to blossom around this single restaurant. Of course, the talented lady that ran it burned out, and it’s a shadow of its former glory, but the bar went up and up.

Without that example to follow and seek to improve on, the food quality everywhere on the coast has started to decline again. It’s hard to get a good meal there now. Maybe there’s more to it than the Blue Sky Cafe, but I know for a while the Oregon Coast seemed very special, and now it’s not so much.

Portland and Seattle are examples of an upward spiral. As the bar rises, the consumers get more educated. They require more effort, more talent, more quality to serve. The expanding market attracts talent, but even more important, chefs and waiters and even fry cooks learn to be better, to respect their ingredients, to balance, to try harder. You can get a better meal in a greasy spoon like “Stepping Stones” in Portland than you in most of the “upscale” restaurants I’ve found in all of the Midwest.

Here’s the exception: Marie Catrib’s in Grand Rapids. Diane and I went there for breakfast one morning and wound up driving fifty miles back to the restaurant TWICE from the racetrack. Not because it was fancy, or fussy. It was simply excellent. Fresh ingredients, prepared with care and attention. We finally met the owner and congratulated her on a spectacularly good restaurant. She said “we don’t make a lot of money from this place, but we love it. We make the food we like to eat, that we want our grandchildren to have”.

See–it’s a simple thing.

By the way, when we went the first time the restaurant was nearly empty–it was a late breakfast mid-week. But we thought “my god, don’t the people around here know how good this is”? On subsequent visits, we waited in line for a table. People aren’t stupid. Lazy maybe, but not dumb.

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All Aluminum Tour

AA Grattan and Grandkids

27 August 2007
This is out of sequence, I wrote it last week but didn’t post it.

We had an interesting race weekend at Grattan. The track is fun, bumpy and swoopy with lots of elevation changes and some interesting corners. The weather looked threatening, and ultimately cut my participation short, but we had a good weekend.

My daughter Cassie joined us at the track, along with grandsons James and Shea. They were camping in a tent, which seemed like an iffy proposition considering the threatening weather and Cassie’s bad back. But it’s less than an hour to their house, so it wouldn’t be that much challenge if it didn’t work out. As it turned out, Cassie’s back was fine and their tent was snug.

Saturday night she moved it under Nero’s awning just in case it rained. About four in the morning the awning was making nasty noises in the wind, so I got up to change the angle more downwards. I discovered the awning was bellied with rainwater so I carefully lowered one corner and the water poured in a torrent onto the ground. I thought it was all gone, so I lowered the other end a little less cautiously, and got ten gallons of ice cold water right in the kisser. Soaked me to the bone and left me gasping.

When we arrived on Friday our paperwork said we were running in Group 2, with the Triumphs and Porsches and such. That sounded great to me, a big part of this trip is meeting fellow Triumph fans, particularly the FOT (Friends of Triumph) which is an internet organization of people who race Triumphs. I practiced all Friday with group two and discovered I would have a good race in the group, with a Lola and an extremely fast Porsche 356. My times were mediocre but I knew I’d be bringing them down. The Lola was running away from me on the straight, but I figured even that would improve as I figured out how to carry speed on the last corner exit.

Turns out the paperwork was wrong, they really wanted me in Group 6, but I talked my way into staying with the guys I’d practiced with. I knew I’d have a good race in that group.

On the last practice on Friday, I swapped cars with Tony Drews, driving his fast TR4. I struggled with the car and it’s overdrive, winding up in the wrong gear more times than the right. The car felt solid but didn’t have the quick turn in that I’m used to with Peyote. I suspect I turned lousy times though I passed a few cars. Tony was relatively unimpressed with Peyote. I think he expected a lot more of the car, but his times were very good (his Mom had a stopwatch on him). It takes a couple of times on the track before the odd dynamics of Peyote start feeling good.

On Saturday I qualified third with greatly improved times. In Saturday’s race I got a good start, went on the inside at the first corner and got past everyone. I held first for a few laps, aided by the Porsche and the Lola battling out who was going to chase me down. I got a little lead, but once the Lola got free it evaporated in half a lap and he was right on me coming onto the straight. I coaxed every bit of exit speed out of the corner, but so did the Lola, and at the end of the straight, his nose was inside and in front of mine at the turn in. I could have braked a bit later and possibly snaked him on the outside, but a pass was inevitable so I decided against taking the chance.

I stayed on his tail for three laps, hoping for a mistake, but his driving got smoother and smoother as he extended the lead to a few car lengths, so I figured on second. That’s about when the Porsche started really chewing on my tail. I’m not used to that from a 356. There are some fast ones in the Northwest, and if I’m off my game or they’re having a good day they can make a race of it with Peyote, but it doesn’t happen often.

This guy was a very good driver, smooth as glass, and the car was extremely quick. He was all over me for the last few laps, and in a good position to pass me down the straight for the checker, but Peyote had him by a car length. I’m fairly certain he thinks I was blocking him, but that thought never enters my mind when I’m racing. I was just pedaling as hard as I can. Peyote slides around a lot, and I certainly never cede a corner–you gotta take it. Our times were within a few hundredths of a second, and more than a second faster than qualifying times, so we had a hard race. But I’m sure he was planning to avenge his car’s honor the next day.

Unfortunately, he never got the chance. We woke up to a soaked track on Sunday, with every indication being that the rain would get worse as the day wore on. I’m not racing Peyote in the rain on this trip. First I’m not carrying tires for that, and second, I don’t want to take a good chance in whacking the car into a wall just to drive slowly around a greasy track.

Sunday morning I put stuff away in Nero and we watched movies on my computer with the grandkids. Wonderfully cozy and snug on the couch with two grandkids and lots of blankets watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” ,”Herbie the Love Bug” (the original version) and “The Absent-Minded Professor”

Most everyone decided against racing, and the Paddock started clearing out. When the group two race was called there was only one guy on the grid–Bill Dentinger and Ol’ Blue, his trusty Triumph. We went to the fence and watch Billy drive around sportily. They gave him a checkered flag for the victory lap which he took proudly and smartly. The corner workers got into it, giving him full on flag waves at every station. Very cool.

So now it’s off to Chicago to drop Diane off at the airport for her Girl Trip. I’m going to miss her. I’m staying at the Four Seasons to mitigate the pain, though the pain of Four Seasons prices will be pretty acute at checkout time.

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All Aluminum Tour

AA Surfing Chicago

24 August 2007
I’m in Chicago for a few days, waiting for Diane to return from a “girl trip” to Colorado. I’m holed up at the Four Seasons which is a short distance from the beach on Lake Michigan. So I planned to do a lot of paddling. Turns out that you can’t launch a surfboard from the beach that’s right at the north end of Michigan Avenue. I carried my Starboard 12’6″ down the tail end of the “Magnificent Mile” past Bloomingdales and Chanel, the Hotel Drake and onto the beach. Walked across the sand, tossed the board in and jumped on. I planned to paddle out to the breakwater and perhaps the big water intake that’s way out in the lake–they looked interesting. As I paddled I heard faint noises behind me, turned around and saw a flotilla of lifeguards in rowboats chasing after me, rowing as hard as they could. Of course, I was pulling away like they were at anchor.

But I turned around and paddled back to see what all the excitement was about. I don’t really want a run in with the Chicago cops–they have a certain reputation. I figured that might be a possibility if I dusted off their lifeguards.

Informed by a breathless kid that a park about four miles away was Montrose, the only beach that allowed surfboards, I went back to the Four Seasons, got my truck and Sam the Gay Dog, and headed there. Turned out to be a good choice. It’s a good place to paddle and there’s a dog park on the beach so Sam could get a run, try to screw every dog he saw ( Sam is actually more indiscriminate than gay), roll in dead stuff and run around in the water.

Turns out people windsurf from this beach quite a bit. Next day I went back at about eleven and rigged my Superfreak 8.0 after a half hour of paddling. The wind was shifty but strong. I don’t have a wetsuit or a harness with me. Turns out Lake Michigan is pretty frickin’ cold when you descend past the top few inches. I sailed a pretty long time considering I didn’t have a harness. I was about to quit when a new bunch of windsurfers came out and started asking about my board. They were all on fat Starboard boards with big slalom sails. I sailed with them for about an hour, then the wind started picking up and a rain squall went by.

The wind shifted to straight offshore, so I had a pretty tough time getting back, with the wind climbing steadily, and big gusts occasionally stretching my arms to the limit (okay, probably past the limit, my shoulders hurt like hell today). I was wishing for a harness and gave up on trying to get where I wanted to be and just aimed for shore. As it turned out, a fortuitous shift in the wind gave me enough angle on the port tack to get back to exactly my launch point. I pulled the rig out and started stowing stuff as the wind continued to rise.

I had just got into the truck and headed out to look for lunch when the wind rose suddenly to near hurricane force. I found a restaurant, ordered a beer and some ribs. and watched the war outside. The wind came up to a level that shook the building. Trees started falling. The rain was so heavy it looked like someone was playing a firehose on the windows.

I sat there warm and dry, contemplating what my evening would have been like if I hadn’t headed in. I figured I’d have been in Michigan by midnight. Long walk back. I hope the other windsurfers did okay, they were headed out further when I decided to head in. I told the lifeguards they were still out there when I left the beach. I assume they’re okay–nothing on the news about them, and the storm is headline news in Chicago.

First Minneapolis when the bridge went down, now Chicago when a violent storm knocks down trees that have stood for fifty years. Hmmm.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Amazing Car

12 August 2007
I really have my doubts about writing this–I’m feeling a bit superstitious about how good this trip has been going. But I’ll knock on wood and toss some Heineken over my shoulder.

Okay, that didn’t work very well.

What an amazing car Peyote has been. I can’t think of another car that could have done this expedition with such grace. Not only is the car welcomed anywhere, and our paddock constantly visited by people fascinated by the car and its history, but it’s performed beyond anyone’s expectations. Even mine and I started off amazed by it. It’s pretty much flogged every competing car it possibly could have beaten, and many, many cars that it should not have stood a chance against.

I really wish I understood why, but the more people know about making cars perform and handle, the bigger a mystery Peyote is. There is nothing about it that should enable this level of performance. Nothing all that trick in its motor, nothing magic in the suspension, it’s not light or sleek. It’s just fast.

Beyond that, it has stayed together while being driven at its limits for more than fifteen events–at least 5o races, qualifiers, warmups, test and tune days, and practice sessions–probably more like 70. It raced all last year without major work, and all of the All Aluminum Tour thus far.

In all that time it’s used up four sets of tires. Two sets of Hoosier Vintage TDs last year, a set of Hoosier Speedsters and Hoosier DOT radials for the last half of last year and most of the AllAluminumTour. I got a new set of Speedsters at the Kohler at Road America, and I suspect they’ll last past the end of the tour.

Most of the stuff that caused problems were my own silly mistakes: Mounting a fan using the stock through-the-radiator mounts (wore a hole in the radiator), mounting the same fan in the mouth of the radiator air inlet (blocked off airflow and caused overheating).

One throttle cable broke, the driveshaft bearings went south, I changed the oil a few times, swapped out a couple of gratuitous sets of spark plugs that were probably just fine, at Brainerd it needed to have a clutch hydraulic line repaired, and that’s it. The bins of parts I brought with me remain untouched. Not so much as a set of points, a condenser, a distributor cap. Sure, I’m chasing a high-speed miss that bugs me, and reverse gear is toast. But it is still race-ready, still competitive, still running as fast and hard as anyone could expect it to.

You’ve got to love a car like this. We’ll see how it does for the rest of the tour, but I’d bet it will continue to amaze me, right up to the CSRG race at Sears. What a car.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA I’m in Hell

Well, not really, but I’m not used to being so constrained. You pretty much need to watch kids all the time or they’ll disappear and go play with an electrical distribution panel or find a circular saw somewhere. I don’t remember my Mom worrying this much about us–she’d shove us out the door about age two and say “be back for the first day of school”.

I don’t know why that seemed so safe and acceptable then. We played cowboys and Indians in the back of Ringers Playground, on rock outcroppings that people would use for technical climbing today. We dug boards for our forts from salvage piles full of rusty nails and ancient drainpipes. Tetanus? That was probably the least of it. And as the Catholic church has amply demonstrated, there were plenty of predatory perverts around back then, there must have been secular ones, they couldn’t all have gone to seminary school. For that matter, I wonder when all the Protestant “youth pastors” are going to start showing up in court. I always thought those guys were strange. And what about all those weird “assistant scoutmasters”. But all I knew about was the occasional flasher, and that you shouldn’t take candy from strangers. I don’t think the word got around much.

Okay, I’m wandering, but now for better or worse we’re suspicious of anyone that takes more than one glance at the kids, and we want to shield them from all the hideous crap that I did to myself and others (like nearly burning our house down with terrible regularity, and electrocuting myself at least once a month).

James is easy–one word and he’ll back off from whatever he’s doing, though Diane had to remind him twice to stop leaning on big, buzzing box clearly marked “High Voltage”. Shea seems to have the survival instincts of a lemming. If you yell at him while he’s doing something potentially dangerous he’ll immediately try to undertake the most dangerous scenario. Tell him a lamp is hot and he immediately grabs the hottest part. He’ll run full speed down a steep ramp with a stone wall at the end, doing crazy feet and wagging his head to minimize any control skills he might possess. Climb to the least stable part of any structure. Leap in front of horses, wagons, and bicycles.

I feel like Spiderman, constantly deflecting falling beams, grabbing up falling bodies in mid-air, intercepting bicycles with my body. So if you bump into me at the race track next weekend, and the happy-go-lucky Bill seems a little haggard and haunted, don’t be concerned. I’ll recover. I’m not raising these kids, this is just a vacation. Ha. Ha. A VACATION.

For right now, however, I’m trying to decide if 1:20 is too early for a Martini.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Faster Grandpa, Faster

Okay, time for a beer. Maybe two. I love these kids, but…

We were a little lazy this morning, got up around nine and went to the Breakfast Buffet. Diane and I aren’t getting our fifteen bucks worth. Fruit and a bowl of oatmeal is probably not part of the model. But it’s easy, close, the boys like it, and it doesn’t require cleverness or decisive action, which I’m pretty damned short of right now.

We went to Fort Mackinac, which has an interesting history, including being the first fort taken by the British in the war of 1812, without a shot being fired. The British showed up with about 300 local Indians reinforcing their relatively small force and showed overwhelming strength to the 57 Americans holding the fort. They surrendered and were sent to Detroit, which seems like inhumane punishment these days.

I was reading the history plaques in detail, which of course meant Diane and the kids abandoned me and went to go DO something. So I’m a history nerd, sue me.

By the time I finished Diane and the guys were down on the parade grounds being drilled as volunteer militia. They marched around smartly (well, sort of smartly) and then the real fake soldiers did a musket drill, though they actually used cartridge breechloaders. Can’t be a stickler for historical accuracy at a tourist trap, it was close enough. Made a satisfyingly large noise and lots of smoke.

A quick and (surprise, surprise) mediocre lunch in the tea room and we were headed for the playground in heavy duty heat. Bad idea. James got a bit listless and uncomfortable though Shea ran like an Eveready bunny. back to town by horse taxi, then off to the hotel pool for a soaking in highly chlorinated water and little kid pee. Hey, I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. 85 plus degrees and they were still heating the pool. Is anyone paid to think?

We took the guys back to the room, basted them in the hot tub, then into the shower (bath for Shea) and off to dinner at the hotel’s fancy restaurant. I know, that sounds really stupid, but I reserved a table off by ourselves in the garden. James enjoyed it thoroughly, Shea tolerated it and didn’t disassemble anything. We had a nice meal that didn’t include tater tots for the adults.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Looking For Adventure In Whatever Comes Our Way

Get your motor running, head out on the highway…

So we’re in Mackinac Island, pronounced Mackinaw, as is the nearby Mackinaw City and the nearby Mackinac Bridge. Huh? Hey, it’s a genuine regional idiosyncrasy, one of those oddities like Regular Coffee in Boston (coffee with cream and sugar) that the endless boring strip malls and chain restaurants aim to stamp out.

Screw them. I like it. Smells like an adventure to me, and I’m always looking for it. It’s why I’ll risk ptomaine in a greasy spoon rather than eat in an Applebee’s. Of course up here in the land of deep fried pickles and cheese curds you’ve got to be on guard. Double up on the Lipitor and eat all the fruit you can find. Vegetables? Light yellow carrots boiled to submission and swimming in butter just like Mom used to make just doesn’t qualify as a vegetable. Neither does creamed spinach.

Mackinac is pretty cool. We’re staying at the Mission Point something-or-other: Inn, resort, spa. A nice little place though odd in its customs and a little tacky in its old age. But I like it pretty well. No air conditioning–just thousands of scruffy box fans. Probably like Monterey–it’s never hot enough at night to justify AC. And the fans probably keep down the bugs. Brriinng, splat. The leading edges of the fan in the doorway are brown with chitin and bug guts.

Most of the hotel food around here is “all you can eat” buffets, and from the people in the dining rooms, I’d say they can eat a lot of that deep fried cheese covered broccoli (“look, Margie, I’m eating vegetables”). I am NOT making that quote up.

Diane and I ditched the kids at “kids club” from nine to three. We rented bikes and rode around the island. A pleasant cruise of about nine miles. It would be nothing on a modern bike but it was a decent workout on a big fat single speed coaster-braked cruiser. We came back to the hotel and I took my Starboard SUP out for a cruise. Paddled down to the main harbor–about a mile, then out to a lighthouse, and back to Mission Point where I found Diane calling from the shore, anxious to get to our haircut appointment.

My hair has reached critical length. Since it only grows in wispy tendrils on top, when it gets long I start looking like a lumpy version of Doc in “Back to the Future”. Unless it gets wet, then it looks like I’m aiming for a bad combover. I needed a major buzzing.

Of course with Diane’s conservative sense of timing we were more than early enough to have lunch first, so we pedaled to the Grand Hotel, a huge white pine pile that looks like a major conflagration waiting to happen. Most of these turn of the century all-wood hotels are long gone, to termites, maintenance or limited local fire departments. The Mackinaw FD must be pretty darned good–luck alone couldn’t account for all the huge wooden houses that have survived here. I suspect they aren’t horse powered.

The Grand Hotel charges twelve bucks admission for you to eat in their restaurants or trod their hallowed ground. It’s a pretty impressive place, and the charge might be a good idea to keep the riffraff out (which Michigan seems to have in particular abundance), though if the two guys in front of us that happily whipped out their credit cards to pay the admission were any indication, it’s not really working. It’s also not keeping out the hordes of badly behaved kids in the dining room.

Okay, I have a question. Why is it the hugely fat kids that are yelling, pushing each other, and taking handfuls of toothpicks to jab each other with, while the healthy looking kids are behaving politely? I know I’m stuck on this subject, but it keeps getting shoved in my face.

The buffet at the Grand Hotel was pretty impressive, and you could put together a healthy and tasty meal. Lots of salad stuff, big tomato slices with basil, balsamic vinegar and buffalo mozzarella. Oysters on the half shell, asparagus, shrimp, lots of fruit. Of course, there was also lots of deep fried and over-sauced stuff as well, and a huge dessert selection that was mobbed with people who should never, never, ever touch cheesecake ever again.

James and Shea behave remarkably well at the table–what I’d expect from James, but a surprise from Shea. then again he’s never nasty or intentionally misbehaving–he’s just easily distracted and zooms beyond hyper without a backward glance. It might just be relative behavior. Compared to the two miniature walruses whose parents were blithely letting wrestle between the tables, Shea is a model of deportment.

After our haircuts, we picked up the guys from Kids Club–they had a great time–and rented bicycles for them. Or rather a bicycle for James and a tagalong trailer for my bike for Shea. We went around the island for the second time and stopped for dinner at a bistro. Honest, it was called a Bistro.

We had just gotten settled when an incredibly obnoxious foursome sat at a table near us. The most irritating member was a loud, foul-mouthed female (I’m not calling her a lady, and I’m much too nice of a guy to call her a cow). They got progressively louder and I started fuming and Diane tried to keep me from telling them off. Screaming “fuck” when you’re ten feet from a couple of kids isn’t a good way to stay on my good side. I was just about at my limit and was ready to push my chair back when Shea lost his lunch–dramatically and comprehensively. Actually, it was dinner and a big serving of Superman ice cream an hour or so before. Superman is blue, red and yellow. Mix in a hot dog and too much ketchup and it’s pretty spectacular. By the time I got Shea back from hosing him off in the restroom our friendly foursome was gone–they didn’t even finish their beers.

If I had only known in advance I would have figured out some way for him to spew in the cow’s lap.

Of course, there were unintended consequences, like the poor lady at the table on the other side of us, enjoying a quiet glass of wine, who spent fifteen minutes with a menu three inches from her nose like a shield while Diane cleaned up. Diane has a pretty tender stomach too, I’m surprised she didn’t join the festivities.

On a positive note, I didn’t finish my chicken–look at the calories I avoided. And the funniest reaction was from James. He looked a little blue in the gills at first. Diane said “go to the bathroom and Grandpa will help you”. He said “No, I’m okay now” and resumed eating. Diane said that almost pushed her right over the edge a second time.

This grandparent stuff is tough.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Yoopers

We’re headed north through Michigan farmland to spend a few days on Mackinac Island with two of our grandsons, James and Shea. James’ full name is Christian James Patterson but when he was four he decided his name would be James. Not Jim or Jimmy: James. If you called him Christian he’d say very politely “you mean James, Grandpa”, but he absolutely insisted on being called James–still does at age ten.

Diane says Shea, who is four, is like a car alarm. “Bweep, bweep, boop, boop, boop, yamahamahama” constantly making some kind of noise and trying to climb on everything. He likes to wander away and give Diane minor heart attacks. I think Diane is going to have him fitted with a shock collar. Fun and sweet little guy though, even if Diane is drinking a lot more wine in the evenings than normal.

Michigan is like a painting, beautiful, but nothing there. Unless you’re really into corn. The demand for ethanol must be having a big economic effect, there’s corn everywhere you look. Pieces of land that were probably fallow for 30 years are covered in corn.

We started looking for a restaurant, drove probably 60 miles before we found one. It offered “all you can eat Tacos”. One was all I could eat. What was I thinking, Mexican food in Michigan? The place was packed, the food sucked. Really sucked. Really. Sucked.

I sound like a disgruntled yuppy fussbudget. I’m not. I just like good food. I think a Burgerville hamburger is a damned good meal. I lived on beans, rice, oatmeal and corn tortillas when I was broke and living in my van. I butcher my own deer and elk, catch my own steelhead and salmon. I love a good hot dog. But shit is shit.

I’m also certainly not skinny–6’2, 240 pounds. But holy cow, most places I go in mid-America I’m a skinny fit dude. People in Michigan seem to be topping the scale–they are enormous. I got a fair amount of flack for saying Americans are fat (though it’s patently obvious to anyone that leaves either coast) but brother Bob (who also gave me flack) sent me a link to a very spooky set of maps showing the percentage of people that are obese. More than 25% of the people in Michigan are obese and the percentage is rising fast. I’d say 60% are fat. Never saw so many fat kids in my life. I’m not talking chubby, I mean fat, as in the “hardly can walk” kind of fat.

We’re in St. Ignace this morning, the gateway to the UP or Upper Penninsula, where the locals call themselves “Yoopers”. Sounds intelligent. We’re taking a ferry from here to the island. No cars on Mackinac. Horses, bikes, and walking. Should be interesting. Just a had a truly hideous “homemade” breakfast. I’m taking my Starboard on the ferry (I hope). We forgot the camera, but I have my cell phone, and I’ll try to do better about shooting pictures.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Bunch of Old Liars

7 August 2007
I had a great experience before I picked up Diane at the Minneapolis airport–I went to a meeting of the Old Liars Club, a bunch of racers that have been getting together in Mendota Minnesota for lunch once a week–for the last 46 years!

Diane was scheduled to fly in about two PM, and the restaurant the OLC meets at is close to the airport, so the timing worked out very well. I hauled Nero and Peyote out to the restaurant and parked on the street. I hung out with Howie Wold in the bar until the group convened. Amazingly, two of the guys that showed up that day had driven Peyote back in the sixties–Scotty Beckett and Tony Kinnaird. The other guys at lunch were Dick Lind, Tom Countryman, and of course Howie Wold. They all had great stories, and even though they’ve probably all heard each of them a hundred times, they humored me by telling me about Peyote, the guys that built and raced it, and their racing buddies. What a bunch. No wonder this car is so special, the people were just amazing. I wish I could have met them all. Unfortunately, while cars can be immortal, the people that make them special are not.

I could have hung out all afternoon, but Diane might have been a bit put out. We finally had to stop talking and go out to show them Peyote and Nero. I think they were relieved to see that it’s still a pretty grubby, rough looking pile. Unfortunately, my sweaty driving suit was in the hot garage section with Peyote–I hadn’t had a chance to get to a laundromat. Maybe it added some period authenticity.

Nah.

I think they also like Nero pretty well. It fits Peyote so well, a little funky too, but it performs a lot better than you’d think it would.

I had a great time, then raced off to the airport to pick up Diane. What a neat day.

Thanks, Howie and the rest of the OLC.

Categories
All Aluminum Tour

AA Racing at Brainerd

6 August 2007
Peyote has a lot of history around here. Many of the people that stopped by said something like “I never expected to see that car again–I remember Peyote from when I was a kid”. far fewer people asking what it was–many of them knew a lot more about the history of Peyote than I did.

Here’s a news flash: Howie Wold was at the track on Sunday and told me that real Peyote was actually involved in the building of Peyote MK II!! The car had already been named Peyote after a friend of Bill Ames made the comment “where you guys on drugs when you built that?” But Bill’s girlfriend took a trip to Mexico and brought back some Peyote buttons as a joke. I guess these guys were always up for anything because they ate some while they worked on Peyote MKII. They woke up the next morning sprawled all over the garage.

BIR is a surprising track. It’s kind of the middle of nowhere, Brainerd is a rundown mid-sized town with nothing I could find to recommend it. The surrounding area has been strip-malled to death, there’s nothing but chain stores and restaurants, no local culture at all. Nearby are some very nice lakes, but that’s it. then there’s this track, with as much infrastructure and sophistication as Road America. Not what I expected.

The track itself is interesting. There’s a super long dragstrip straight (slippery in the staging area) that leads into very fast turn one. I think even modern race cars can take it flat out. Turn two was also flat out for Peyote, though it was a bit bumpy and blowing the line could result in an excursion to the woods. After turn two there’s a chute into three, which is a tight 130 degree right hander that I took in second gear. Lots of sliding and throttle steering. Then a long chute to turns four and five that are almost close enough together to treat as esses–but not quite, then a long chute to six which is tight enough to use second at the exit. Long chute to 7 and 8. Seven is almost flat out but you need to set up for eight, so I braked a little at the entrance to get a better exit from eight. Turn nine is flat out under a bridge, but the exit of the turn is a wall which puts a big penalty on blowing the line. Long chute to ten, which is tight enough for good passing except that it leads onto that long straight again, which means you want good exit speed. All of the cars I was playing with had a lot more power, so I got passed in the straight a lot, but I’d get them back in turn one or two when they lifted or braked.

Once I got the line down in the first practice I was able to go flat out through 1 and 2 as long as there was no one on the line in front of me. I told people it was that third testicle I grew at Mosport. Actually, it felt pretty safe, Peyote does high speed turns very nicely and it feels magical. The tail comes out a little bit, the steering gets a little light, and you watch the apex come sideways, but it’s all very predictable (as long as nothing breaks).

I heard that anything close to two minutes was a good time, the best Peyote did was 1:57:7something. That qualified me in the top four or five, though for the final race on Sunday I was gridded seventh because there was a little crowd of fast cars doing 1:57. Cool, lots of folks to race.

The two fastest cars were a brutally quick Shelby GT350 and a March sports racer. Then there was Bob Youngdahl’s Porsche-powered Elva, another Elva, a Whale-tale Porsche with a huge wing added, and a couple of other sports racers. I got a decent start but got outpowered up the straight, there were a lot of cars in front of me. Fortunately, they were all taking a classic wide entrance to turn one and lifting. I stayed flat and went up the inside, passing a whole knot of cars and getting into third place. That didn’t last, a few cars caught me in the chute between one and two and then were too deep into the turn for me to repass when they braked. I got by a couple of cars in the tight stuff and was back into third, but then I couldn’t pull out enough lead to stay in front down the straight. We went back and forth like that for several laps, but I was getting ahead of the pack later and later in the lap, which meant they were getting farther ahead at each lap. For a while I could still stay in contact because I’d catch up in turn two, but we got into traffic and I lost contact with Youngdahl. So I battled with the lady in the Whale Tale for a while. As long as I could draft her for part of the way down the straight I could stay in touch. We had some good corner battles, but she finally got away from me down the straight. I think I finished fourth.

Nice track, nice weekend, good people. But now I get to pick up Diane at the Airport and go have some fun with two of my grandsons. On Monday I’m going to the Old Liars Club in Minneapolis for lunch–a bunch of guys that raced in Peyote’s era. Should be fun. Then I pick up Diane and head for Michigan.

3 RESPONSES TO “RACING AT BRAINERD”
Rozier Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 12:04 pm e
B:
“…I told people it was that third testicle I grew at Mosport…”
That, my friend, is not reporting…that is art…
Whoa…
B.

cassie Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 3:05 pm e
dad,
love reading your blog, need to add more pictures.
the boys are looking forward to seeing you guys – keep asking when you’re getting here.
its been a trial…lol can’t wait to see you both
love
c

Gary Says:
August 6th, 2007 at 7:12 pm e
Hey,
I was cruising east on Hwy 29 between Abbotsford and Wausau and passed an old Airstream that someone had augered a hole into the back…as I am passing I see an older dude with a windsurfer, a bike and some other toys loaded on the truck……I had to jump on the “allaluminumtour” site and see what this was about. Cool adventure!!!!!
I am heading over to Michigan on the 17th but to take in the NASCAR race. I will watch for you on the road again.
Good luck keepin’ the “vintage aluminum rod” racin’ across the finish line!
Gary