Andre and Fiona
Mosport Raceway, VARAC July 2010. Andre Rousseau and his Fiat 124 named 'Fiona' have someone's eyes on them...
Last weekend I raced with VARA and SVRA-West at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, about 50 miles west of Las Vegas. The raceway is part of the Spring Mountain Resort and Country Club, home to four race tracks, condos with race garages, clubhouses, the Ron Fellows Official Corvette Driving School, with expansion underway for a lake, hotel, casino, etc, wow, what a facility! We raced on the 3 mile, 20 turn combo of the west and south tracks. Turnout was good at over 120 cars, while the Formula Ford group I ran in had 16 participants. I was pleased to run in fifth place most of the weekend, the Crossle ran great and the new seat made driving so much easier. The fast four guys have been racing against eachother for years and I’ve got a ways to go before I’m a worry to them
During Saturday afternoon’s race my Go-Pro camera case broke off from the rollbar mount at the hinge (in the future I will be using a tether). After the races were over for the day I went out for a track walk with a couple buddies and hunted for the carnage. The case, camera, camera back, battery, and SD card had all parted company and spread themselves over about a 30 square yard area on the outside of the Turn 5 hairpin. Amazingly, after reassembly, the camera still works! Unfortunately the footage ends about 10 seconds before the dismount, it must be the camera version of post-concussion memory loss. The camera case did its job, the camera has a couple nicks on it but the lens is scratch free.
Here is an awesome organization I just found out about – HP Heroes. They are a group of vintage racers who are building modified race cars for wounded combat veterans . They are located in West Virginia, and while they volunteer all their time, they are seeking sponsorships and donations. Hard to think of a better group to donate to.
So after much research into custom seats, I decided to go with the Motorsports Southwest EIS foam seat kit for my Crossle 40f. There are several options out there: custom formed seats can be made out of creafoam beads (like a motorcycle helmet liner), old-school A-B foam, or the new-school SFI certified foam that I chose. Personal seats can be made for you at a shop, or you can buy a kit and do it yourself. Pro builds cost $1500-$2500, while kits run about $300-$500. My DIY project took me two full half-days to complete, with day one requiring the assistance of my racing buddy Tim Arnett to help with the set-up and pouring, and then a couple long sessions of cutting and shaping to finish things up.
I purchased the XL kit with a Long seat bag, for reference I’m 6′, 175# and the seat goes from my knees to my helmet. I probably could have gotten away with the Lg kit and standard bag, but I’m glad I ordered the bigger kit as it gave me extra room for mistakes during my first-ever seat attempt. The kit comes with a nomex cloth cover, but I will race my first weekend without it to make sure I’ve got the shape right. Since this is my first custom seat I don’t have anything to compare it to, but the MSSW kit was very complete, came with excellent instructions, and I’m pleased with the result.
Here are the required tools for shaping your foam seat, an electric carving knife (supplied in the MSSW kit) and a Surface Forming tool. Seen here is the additional piece that goes above the fuel tank and fills the gap behind my neck. I poured the seat with the bodywork off and with me not wearing my HANS and helmet so the foam would fill this area during the pour. I then cut off the top 3-4 inches of the seat in one piece with a hand saw so it could be easily removed for car fueling.
With the help of my fabricator Paul Moore, I now have a Laguna Seca compliant muffler system for the Crossle. I bought a used Burns Stage 2 muffler, and along with a nifty custom support bracket, I’m now ready to roar at 92db. The neighbors can’t even hear my late night tuning sessions anymore
On Dec 29 the SFR-SCCA (San Francisco Region) held a free test day for club members at their club-owned Thunderhill Raceway. I was able to take advantage of the fine weather and plentiful track time as I just renewed my SCCA membership and race license for 2014. Since I have never raced at T-hill, it was good timing to learn the track and test out a few repairs to the car. It was cool to see the three wind turbines that, along with the track’s solar panel system, make the facility grid neutral. T-hill’s alternative energy story.
Happy Holidays from the Racing On The Cheap team. Hopefully Santa could fit that new race engine down the chimney and into your garage.
Starring our own Ken Blasko and Jeff Ireland. Video by Petrolicious.
Willow Springs Int’l Raceway (aka The Fastest Road in the West) is located at 2400′ above sea level in Southern California’s Mojave desert, and is prone to some unfavorable racing conditions. It’s kind of like that fickle best friend that you have a love-hate relationship with, one day you want to move in together, the next you never want to see them again. At the track it can be 100+ degrees, or it can be snowing, or the sandblasting winds can be blowing 50 knots. But on that special Saturday when the morning practice temps are in the 40s, the afternoon races are in the 70s, the skies are a piercing blue, and the winds are as quiet as a mouse, you lay down your best lap times ever and you swear that this is your favorite race track! But this was my first experience at Willow in my FF, and the sight lines are completely different sitting so close to the ground. Several corners drop off to the outside and it took me a while to get comfortable using the whole track again. Faster lap times will just have to wait for my second visit (but I may never see weather like that again…).
Well VARA got lucky and enjoyed one of those special weekends for the finale of its 40th anniversary season. With a good turnout of over a hundred competitors, and a Saturday night spaghetti dinner enjoyed by all, this was truly a fine race weekend. On top of the usual run groups, VARA hosts a different Challenge race each event, and for the November event it is the Ford-Chevy Challenge. This year, the race was run as an Australian Pursuit, with the cars that ran the fastest qualifying lap times leaving the pits in an incrementally delayed start. The idea is that all the cars will finish the race at the same time. With more than 20 entrants, it led to a very exciting finish with 17 cars finishing within a minute of each other, and the Checkered Flag coming down to a 0.7 second gap between two cars that had a lap time differentials of over 18 seconds! Congrats to Ken Davis for the Challenge win in his 2010 Chevy Corvette and the second place finish to Don Saueressig in his ’66 Sunbeam Tiger.
What epitomizes vintage racing in general, and VARA specifically, is the familial and congenial atmosphere in the pits. Everyone pitches in to make sure a broken car gets back out on the track, and you regularly see whole families working and racing together. The Eric Ford family is one of these that you will find regularly in the pits with VARA. This weekend there were four generations of the Ford family hanging out together. Eric races his 240Z, as his son and daughter share racing duties in a BMW 2002. His grandkids are climbing around the cars helping with waxing duties, and his parents keep a watchful and appreciative eye on the whole team. To keep this wonderful sport alive, we all need to follow in the Ford’s footsteps and get the next generations involved.