Hopefully 2017 brings me some better luck as I’m ending 2016 with two broken race cars. The “deal” I got buying my Van Diemen Formula Continental this summer ended up not being quite the deal. Quite a few more issues than expected, but hey, that’s racing. And today at the New Year’s Eve SFR SCCA member’s free test day at Thunderhill, I grenaded another diff in my Datsun. Sometimes racing old cars gets a bit frustrating, so I guess we’ve just got to remember the fun times 😉
Last weekend I had a few buddies racing at Sonoma Raceway with 24 Hour of LeMons, what a scene! 182 cars took the green flag on Saturday morning, and an incredible number were still running come Sunday at sunset, one fifty plus. Team Geritol (aka Team Blue Light Special) had a few issues, but still had the old Rabbit running at the end. A seized right rear wheel bearing caused an extended pit stop on Saturday that took them out of their Class title hopes, but they fought back for a top 120 finish 😉 An amazing Honda 600 and a couple of Vanagons were also pitted nearby.
The Van Deimen made it’s maiden voyage with me this weekend at SFR SCCA’s final race of the season at Thunderhill Raceway. It sure was nice to join up with my Group 4 brethren once again after a year’s absence from them. Following a week long flog to get the car ready, my buddy Art and I took it up for a test day and to get a new logbook issued. Lots of little issues every session – oil leaks, hydraulic leaks, electrical gremlins, etc, but at least the chassis and drivetrain “seemed” pretty solid. SCCA Tech made getting a new logbook issued for this car a pain in the butt (who would think that Halon fire bottles are now illegal?!?), but that’s the price to play I guess.
Racing however proved to test the car’s limits, with overheating issues occurring after a few laps each session. But while we were on track, we were at least able to keep the FC leaders in sight for a couple of laps. First time out with a new car is always a test of skill, patience, and yeah, your wallet. Hopefully next time out will be a bit better…
Photos by Privateer Racing
This week I made a new seat for the VD with a two-part SFI foam kit that I bought from the Speed Seat Factory. Gayle and Jody run Speed Seats out of their shop near Milwaukee, they specialize in building custom seats for their customers, but they also sell DIY kits. They will spend plenty of time with you via phone and email coaching you through the process, as you’ll have plenty of questions for them. I spent half a day prepping the cockpit – covering sharp edges, sealing off gaps, cutting foam inserts, getting the pour bag ready, etc. Then I had a couple racing buddies give me a hand with the mix and pour (you could get by with one, but two helpers makes it much easier). After letting it set up, removing the plug, and a couple of big cuts, it was time to start the next phase. This took the most time as it requires inserting and removing the seat MANY times to get the trimming and shaping done right. Now that it’s close, I’ve gaffer taped up the exposed foam sections and will try it out for a weekend before attempting to make the cover that comes with the kit.
I’ve been working on getting the Van Diemen ready to race again. I needed to relocate the battery and fire bottle to make room for a new seat I’m going to pour next week. Had to do a little plumbing/wiring and make a new cover to go over them. I’m gonna make a trim color change while all the body work is off, and add a few old livery details for fun too.
This week I picked up a 1993 Van Diemen Formula Continental from a fellow SFR SCCA racer who parked it a few years ago. No “big” work required, just the usual new car stuff. Battery, belts, seat, tires, some re-wiring and plumbing clean-up issues, etc, I hope to have it out at the track by year’s end. The car will race with SFR in FC, at least until I can dig a few other older FCs out of the woodwork and start a CFC Class. I’ll also race it with the west coast Vintage clubs in their Wings & Slicks group.