Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

This weekend I made my maiden visit to Portland Int’l Raceway for the 2014 HMSA Portland Historics, with Datsun being the featured marque. Over two dozen Datsun 240Zs, 510s, Roadsters, 710s, and even a GTR Skyline showed up to support the first ever major U.S. Historic event spotlighting the venerable Japanese manufacturer. Mr. John Morton of BRE fame was the event Grand Marshall, and he regaled us with great stories of how he got his start in racing during the HMSA-hosted Saturday night dinner and award ceremony.

The driver-friendly, 2.0 mile, 12 turn track has a dragstrip front straight, a curved back “straight”, and a fun complex of corners connecting the two ends. HMSA and the local SCCA track workers ran a nice, organized three-day event, featuring a practice, qualifying practice, two heat races, a warm-up, and Sunday flag race. Friday and Saturday saw record high temps testing car’s and driver’s cooling systems alike, while we raced in the rain on Sunday. Combined with a 12-hour tow each way, it made for a long, yet very enjoyable, weekend.

I battled some brake and axle seal issues with my recently purchased Datsun 710 race car on Friday and Saturday, but with the help of my pit crew and fellow Datsun racers, I had things in order for Sunday’s flag race. Thunderstorms and lightning filled the skies for race day, and while some groups raced in a drizzle, some raced in a deluge. Most racers stuck it out, but I was suprised by how many packed up and left in the rain. My B-Sedan/2.5 Trans-Am group got lucky with just light showers, but it still made for an exciting session on DOT cheater-slicks. I got to learn a new track, see some new cars, and make some new friends this weekend. We finished 6th in a group that started with 24 competitors, so I’ll call this Oregon adventure a complete success!

Eagle Mk 5 Datsuns at PIR Datsun pits HMSA award ceremony #73 pits S&H Pink Stamps v8 sportsracer Nissan GTR Skyline, RHD The un-Datsun Gulf Porsche 911 and pitbike

You see the coolest pit bikes at the races…

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Well I still don’t have the motor back for my Crossle, alas my plan to race T-hill with SCCA this wknd was a bust. So I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day than to visit my buddy Phil Mendelovitz who was racing at the Sonoma Historics! He brought his beautiful IMSA 240SX and his Ginetta G4 to run this weekend, and he even had extra crew passes for me and my wife (entry tickets are $35/each these days!). Great weather, great friends, great racing, just what weekends were made for. Historic Trans-Am, Can-Am, IMSA, just lots of cool cars and some really cool vintage transporters to boot.

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This weekend was VARA’s 2014 British Extravaganza at Buttonwillow Raceway. Great turnout of Historic racers, as well as the usual All-British car race. I brought out my new ’74 Datsun 710 race car for its first outing, as the motor repairs for my Crossle are not yet complete. It may have been premature as I had lots of teeting problems on the 710, but we finally got some fast laps in on Sunday afternoon. Special thanks to Scott and Gus for helping out with a transmission R&R Friday night at the track.

Lagonda Historic race carCrossle 55Lightning McQueenDOH!

More two wheel distractions, a three-day trip to Moab for some awesome dirtbike riding. Now back to working on the race car…

White Rim Road

This weekend VARA held its annual High Desert Challenge race at Willow Springs Int’l Raceway. The club had about 110 entrants that ran in five Groups, and while the skies were clear, the winds blew hard and cold on Saturday. Luckily Sunday was warm and calm, and the lap times improved across the board. Instead of the usual Two-hour Twilight Enduro, this year the club ran a Relay Race. Three teams of five cars competed against each other, with each car racing two laps. The ‘baton’ was a waving flag as one team member entered the hot pit signaling the release of the next team member. While the team’s composition was designed so that each team would have the same overall time, the finish wasn’t as close as expected. Personally I suspect some sandbagging and judge tampering ;-) The usual Saturday night camraderie followed as we made our trailer into a make-shift potluck dining hall to stay out of the cold.

The Wagon’s new owner competed in his rookie race weekend, earning his rookie stripes quite well. His lap times fell every session, he held his line when being passed, and suprised a few regulars with some good moves on the track. Congrats to Team Villata, and I’m happy to see the wagon went to the right home. The Crossle didn’t have quite as successful of a weekend. We ran fine until the Sunday’s points race, where during a good battle with Roy Jones in his Winkelmann, I started losing oil pressure and pulled off the track. Probably lost a crankshaft bearing or two, we’ll find out this week.