Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting ready to shift gears

Today I picked up the transmission from my trans builder and it's all ready to go. After tearing it down he asked me why I rebuilt it since everything inside of it looked perfect. I told him you can never be to careful, after all it had been sitting around for a long time and besides I wanted to change the input shaft to the design that best suited my racing needs.

After talking to my engine builder today I am hopeful that we may be testing it on the dyno this Thursday. (fingers crossed) Once I start installing the engine and transmission things should start to happen quickly.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


When I was 18 years old I remember that old painting in a storefront window and it stuck after all these years. Now some 35 years later I have to agree.

Some of my fondest memories are ones that by comparison aren't all that old. They are memories of special moments spent with my family. Spending quality time with my wife and children has always been one of my highest priorities in life and ones that have paid off ten fold. The times that have been spent teaching, sharing and handing down family traditions seems to be the most rewarding of all time spent anywhere. For the same reasons I find that when I return from an adventure regardless of what it was, be it a hunting or fishing trip, a racing weekend or whatever, sharing all of what took place with my family makes it all the more meaningful when I see the excitement on their faces.

Today my grandson, Tyler Gene, is 14 months old and we went fishing, something I have waited for since the day he was born. I must say there were times when I asked myself if he would like it, hate it or could just care less. I just hoped for the best that he was going to enjoy it. I had the same concerns when my children were his age and just like Tyler, not only did they enjoy it but in fact loved it. I have to say, that for me it was one of the best times ever and God willing I look forward to many more. I can't wait to return home and begin sharing this upcoming trip to Mexico for the La Carrera Panamericana with all of them. Hopefully someday Tyler will sit on my lap as we look thru old photos and he will say, "Hey Grandpa, there you are driving Lucky in Mexico."

Less than 3 months and counting

A friend sent me a how-to video that shows how other teams manage to get their cars built in time for an important race and this video even includes a white car with two racing stripes too boot. 23 Skidoo! I'm not sure if there's a lesson to be learned here or but I must say I loved the part when they played the theme song from Love Story.

Friday, July 27, 2007

History lesson; Origin of The Racing Stripe

Three C4-Rs were entered by the Cunningham team for the June 14th running of the 1952 24 hours race. In the dramatic moment shown, the flag has dropped at 4 P.M. and the drivers are running to start their cars. Car #1 was driven by Briggs Cunningham and Bill Spear.

Ford dominating the 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford's GT40 Mark IIs finishing 1-2-3.

This print celebrates Phil Walters’ second victory at Watkins Glen. Here, Bill Spear’s Ferrari 375MM and Walters’ Cunningham C-4R duel for the lead under threatening skies on the very fast Baker hill Road section of the interim Glen circuit. Walters commented that this second track was “a course for brave men”.

Have you ever wondered where racing stripes originated? Many auto enthusiast will tell you they were to make it easier for the crews and fans to tell the cars apart especially when teams had multiple cars in the same race. Then there is the old wives' tales that the older drivers made new drivers apply a stripe to their cars, so as to mark their lack of experience. If a new driver could prove themselves to be a clean driver they would be allowed to race without the stripe. Obviously anyone who had a stripe was subject to mockery and sarcasm.

Now the facts.... Years ago when auto racing became an international pastime many race cars body styles were similar in appearance thus difficult to tell exactly who was who. Colors were agreed upon in the early days of auto racing and standardized in the Code Sportif International (International Sporting Code), Appendix I, of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA). The color was associated with the nationality of the car's owner; hence, an Italian car raced by an Englishman would be painted British racing green.

This was a way for the cars to be identified as to country of origin, and here are just a few examples.

Red = Italian (Think Ferrari)
Green = British (Think Jaguar)
Silver = Germany (Think Mercedes)

The FIA no longer requires that race cars follow this color code. Their web site states explicitly that Formula 1 cars, for example, are exempt from national colors.

At the time, white with blue stripes was considered to be the American road racing colors in international racing so when Peter Brock came on with Shelby it was determined that all the 1965 GT 350's were to be painted white in color. Brock had an idea... One of his first cars was painted white with two wide blue stripes. It was painted this way as a tribute to the Briggs Cunningham road race cars of the 1950's, which also raced in Europe. This is where Lucky's white base body color with twin blue Le Mans stripes that are forever linked to the 1965 GT350 came from and we will proudly wear those colors to represent the United States.

Class dismissed. Let's go racing!

Here is a list of distinctive national colors assigned to vehicles taking part in international competitions.

Code Country Colors Numbers;

A Austria Body & Bonnet: Blue # Black on White background
B Belgium Yellow # Black
BR Brazil Body & Bonnet: Pale Yellow
Chassis & Wheels: Green # Black
C Cuba Body: Yellow
Bonnet: Black # Black on White background
CDN Canada Body & Bonnet: Red with wide lengthwise White stripe from front to rear # Black on White background
CH Switzerland Body & Underframe: Red
Bonnet: White # Black
CZ Czech Republic Body: White
Bonnet: Blue & White
Underframe: Red # Blue
D Germany Silver-grey # Red
DK Denmark Body & Bonnet: Silver-grey
National flag as a lengthwise stripe on bonnet # Red on White background
E Spain Body, Chassis & Springs: Red
Bonnet: Yellow # Black on Yellow background or White on Red background
ET Egypt Pale Violet # Red on White background
F France Blue # White
FIN Finland Body: White
Bonnet: White with two Blue stripes shaping a Latin cross # Black on White
GB Great Britain Green # White
GR Greece Very Pale Blue with two White lengthwise stripes on Bonnet # Black on White background
H Hungary Body, front: White
Body, rear: Green
Bonnet: Red # Black
HJK Jordan Body & Bonnet: Brown # Black on White background
I Italy Red # White
IRL Ireland Green with horizontal band of orange all around Body & Bonnet # White
J Japan Body & Bonnet: Ivory White with Red disk on Bonnet # White on Black background
L Luxembourg Body & Bonnet: Tricolor lengthwise stripe (Red-White- Blue) from front to rear # Black on White background
MC Monaco Body & Bonnet: (Gold Blue cross-stripe on Bonnet) # Black on White
MEX Mexico Body & Bonnet: Gold
Blue cross-stripe on Bonnet # Red on White
NL Netherlands Orange # White
P Portugal Body & Bonnet: Red
Underframe: White # White
PL Poland Body & Bonnet: White
Underframe: Red # Red on White
RA Argentina Body: Blue
Bonnet: Yellow
Chassis: Black # Red on White
RCH Chile Body: Red
Bonnet: Blue
Underframe: White # Half Blue and half Red or all Red on a White background
S Sweden Body & Bonnet: Lower part Blue, upper part Yellow (Three cross bands of Blue on top of Bonnet) # White
T Thailand Body & Bonnet: Pale Blue with Yellow horizontal band around Body & Bonnet
Wheels: Pale Yellow # White on Blue
U Uruguay Body & Bonnet: Pale Blue with large Red band around the lower part of Bonnet # White on Black
USA United States of America Body & Bonnet: White
Underframe: Blue # Blue on White
ZA South Africa Body: Gold
Bonnet: Green # Black on Yellow

NB: The use of distinctive colors of nationality is compulsory when the supplementary regulations of the competition require it. These colors are determined by the nationality of the competitor.

P.S. For those countries ignored by the FIA when the national color standard was abandoned, CART could make provision to reserve the colors of their national flag where there was no conflict with an existing standard. Colombia is an example which falls readily to mind.

Closer and closer

Today I managed to complete the entire redundant fuel pump system that is located in the trunk near the fuel cell and then I turned them on and actually heard them working. All I need to do now is to finish fastening the braided fuel and return line that runs all the way to the engine compartment and then put some fuel in the tank so I can check every single fitting and connection for leaks. Of course all these will be checked and re-checked after a run on the track.

I also ordered the FLUIDYNE engine oil cooler and a thermostat and radiator cap so it will be here when the engine comes hopefully next week. I have to say the people at FLUIDYNE where extremely helpful with technical advice. After they found out all that Lucky was being built for both now and later they decided to build a special oil cooler. The one that they built will hold almost three times as much oil as the ones that originally came on GT350s but it will also be stronger and smaller to allow more air to flow across the FLUIDYNE radiator as well.

One last item that came today was the OPTIMA battery. These batteries are simply incredible when compared to any other battery. For example, even a good quality battery has an average of 500 cranking amps but the Red Optima battery has an awesome 980 cranking amps not to mention a 110 minute reserve for an extra piece of mind. Race cars can never have too much voltage. The Optima has many advantages but one of them is the fact that it's spill-proof, even if the case is physically ruptured. Even though the battery is mounted in a safe battery box in the back seat area of the car it's comforting to know it's one less safety issue to worry about.

I just got off the phone with the engine builder and he is hopeful that the last of the parts he needed have arrived today. If that's the case the engine should be ready to go on the dyno next week.

Last week I received Lucky's new horns. That's right, a race car in Mexico without horns makes just about as much sense as a bull in a bullfight without horns. Most race cars don't require horns although I could sure tell you some funny racing stories about cars that did have them not to mention a few that should have. On the other hand they might just come in handy to let someone know we're right on their tail and then there is an occasional burro to contend with. The horns that I chose are the same ones the bad boys doing the pro rally circuits prefer. They are HELLA and believe me, these things let you know something is about to happen.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ethyl... fruit of the vine.

Since the engine is due any day now I figured I had better get off my butt and get the fuel system finished. Today I re-installed the bulkhead with it's larger fitting for the fuel pick-up and then fabricated some of the hoses and installed some y-blocks for the HOLLY fuel pumps in the trunk. Next I need to finish installing both the pickup and the return hoses from the trunk to the engine compartment and the filters.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It won't be long now.

Today I dropped by DELTA BAY MUSTANG and picked up some goodies including some custom valve covers with Trans Am vent tubes. I also ordered some long wheel studs and nuts, new engine pulleys and a special set of plug wires made specifically with Mexico in mind. After I was done visiting with Tom I took the parts over to my engine builder and spent the afternoon over there bench racing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One grain of sand at a time

Today I called my engine builder to check on things and one of the guys that works there told me my engine was all built and next on the dyno. Talk about excitement! I began clearing my schedule and making plans so I could drive up tomorrow and watch the dyno runs but this afternoon when I called back and talked to the engine builder himself he informed me that one of the parts was wrong and so he was still waiting for some replacements for them.

I have had the American Racing wheels ordered for 4 months and I was told they would be here today but when I called to check on them I was told they would not be here until the second or third week of August. DAMN!

In the mean time I managed to get some more work done installing the fuel pumps and some braided hose. I also had to take apart the top of the fuel cell in order to change a bulkhead fitting to a larger size. Then I drove to South San Francisco to pickup the new fittings. Everyone of these "little" projects getting done just gets me that much closer to hearing it run... one grain at a time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Famous Quotes Then and Now

I guess it's time to drag out the old maps and dust off Spanish for Dummies since I can't pronounce any of the names of the cities we will be passing thru. It's bad enough trying to ask for directions let alone if you can't even tell someone the name of the place you're looking for. At any rate here is a list of the places we will be headed as we head back north during the 20th Anniversary running of La Carrera Panamericana. The final 2007 route will be: Oaxaca, Tehuacan, Puebla, Queretaro, Morelia, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, and Nuevo Laredo.

It's interesting to note that we will be racing thru the Sierra Madre mountain range, the same mountain range where the novel The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre took place with the great Humphrey Bogart. As great as that movie was what I find even more interesting is some of the more famous quotes from the movie simply because they are the same quotes that can be heard during the La Carrera Panamericana even to this day. Here are just a few......

Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?

Hey you fellas, how 'bout some beans? You want some beans? Goin' through some mighty rough country tomorrow, you'd better have some beans.

Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.

We've wounded this mountain. It's our duty to close her wounds. It's the least we can do to show our gratitude for all the wealth she's given us. If you guys don't want to help me, I'll do it alone.

You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.

I love what it says on the Warner Brother's poster. It sounds more like it was a movie about the La Carrera Panamericana than looking for gold. "The nearer they get to their treasure the farther they get from the law! HIT A NEW HIGH IN HIGH ADVENTURE!"

Home field advantage

I have been told that we are not allowed to pre-run the course but with over three months until this years race the videos prove some teams from Mexico have already built their cars and are in fact setting them up and are in the process of testing on the actual route we will be running on. It just goes to prove the home field advantage is hard to beat but it sure as hell isn't going to stop us from trying. I know one thing for sure... They better be a lot faster than they are in these videos.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

La Carrera Panamericana get-together in San Francisco

Ok, so it wasn't a big get together but it was a fun one. Meet Tom from Dover Brothers Racin who resides in Michigan. I had a great time talking about cars and ham sandwiches while we took in a few random site around San Francisco and enjoyed a nice lunch. Tom is the one with the Morgan baseball cap, not the one with the lease.

Tom had lots of helpful advice on what to expect and believe me it's all welcome advice too. What I enjoyed most about Tom today was his upbeat outlook racing in last years La Carrera Panamericana. Several times he mentioned how much he enjoyed not only the build process and the racing but in fact the culture, the country and the people the latter of which seemed to hit home the most. A true gentleman and someone who will be most welcome at any event I look forward to meeting him again and hopefully his teammate George as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stopping, Scattershield and San Francisco

What could those three things have in common you ask... simple just read and learn. Today I installed the front brake cooling scoops, rotors and wheel bearings and then checked all moving clearances on the calipers, braided brake lines, etc. I also began installing the fuel pump mounting plate and some fuel line fittings just to get a sense of how and where to mount them. It seems like what should have taken an hour turned into a days project. Thank God I love what I do.

I also began getting my LAKEWOOD scatter shield ready to install as soon as the engine is back.

I am looking forward to tomorrow for some time to just relax even though my kids are out of town for the weekend and my wife will be gone all day shopping. Tom who is one of the team members from DOVER BROTHERS RACIN and I will be meeting in San Francisco for lunch and what could be more relaxing than lunch and talking racing with a fellow racer? Tom and his team mate George ran last years La Carrera Panamericana but this year they are taking the wives on holiday. Smart move guys! However from the sounds of things they will be ready for a repeat next year. Tom and his wife are here in San Francisco for the week and I thought it would be great to show Tom around the city while we talk about the La Carrera Panmamericana. Hmmm, I wonder if Tom has seen the movie BULLITT? Better buckle up Tom. LOL.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Remove all the guess work

One of a La Carrera Panamericana engines worst enemies is detonation. It can occur at any time and if its left uncontrolled, severe engine damage may result as well as performance. Many racers tend to say, "I can hear the pinging or feel what's going on and adjust accordingly." However, the pinging noise may be hard to hear or recognize due to loud racing exhaust or excessive road noise not to mention we will be wearing helmets and focusing on the road. The MSD Engine Knock Alert listens to what's going on in the engine for us. When detonation occurs, it relays this information to us via a warning light. An extremely sensitive Knock Sensor is used to "listen" to the engine.

On the other hand just knowing when detonation is occurring isn't going to stop it. To take full advantage of the Knock Alert Lucky will also have an MSD Adjustable Timing Control. This way, when the Alert is showing detonation, I can simply retard the timing with the dash mounted control knob of the Timing Control until the Alert shows that the detonation is gone. So when we're driving through the mountains and the Alert light all of a sudden shows heavy detonation I will simply reach over and retard the timing until the Alert shows that it is safe. This way, I won't have to slow down to a snail's pace or worry about hurting Lucky's engine. Once we get over the peak, I can return the timing to the preferred setting for more power and go for it.

How to keep cool at 160 miles per hour

No, Jon and I will not have air conditioning however you can bet both of us know all too well how critical it is to keep our brakes as cool as possible. Lucky's brakes both front and rear utilize the same cooling ducts used in all R model GT350s. The front apron of the GT350 R model's had openings that attached to large cooling ducts that allow outside air to help dissipate heat from the brakes. All of the cars run by TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST utilize the same set-up.

Pumping Ethyl

Most basic auto repair manuals describes the typical automobile fuel system as a basically simple affair. It starts with a fuel pump and some hose that pumps fuel to the carburetor and that's about it. Well, there is nothing "typical" about Lucky's fuel system. Here is just some of the plumbing required to wet Lucky's appetite.

As you can see from the above photo fuel systems and delivery are something to be taken very seriously on high performance race cars. (Picture courtesy of Bret Haller and TheUnlimitedClass) One of the major problems that La Carrera Panamericana competitors running at the various altitudes that range from 11,000 to sea level is how they manage air/fuel mixture, pressure, temperature and so on. Common problems are too rich/lean, flooding, bogging down and so on. There is a heartbreaking video of a beautiful Daytona Coupe that literly burnt to the ground as a result of a flooded carburetor during the La Carrera Panamericana just a couple years ago. Yes, the same one as in the above photo. Those and a few other good reasons are exactly why I brought in one of the leading carburetor experts in the United States to handle our carburetor needs. Bobby Oliver of Competition Carburetion in Sparks Nevada is a very exciting guy to talk to and one who really knows what he is talking about. In fact he builds the restrictor carburetors for the NASCAR teams that run the two barrel carbs like the one we will be using. And it gets even better, Bobby is an expert in high altitude fuel management and in fact his facility is in Sparks Nevada where everything is built and flow tested on a carb dyno of sorts which is at high alltitude.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Holy Crap Batman!

Please tell me I didn't just read ONLY 99 DAYS UNTIL THE GREEN FLAG! Or should I start singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall?

There have been several issues come up with regard to octane, a few special parts and so on all of which are to be expected. My first reaction is one of panic but the truth is it's all part of building race cars and certainly to be expected. That's just a few good reasons why I built in some safety margins in my time-line. The last thing I am going to do is rush any part of this build. There is still a possibility of getting it to the track to test on August 11/12 if the engine is finished withing a reasonable time. The truth is, it would be very satisfying to hear this baby run before then but if not it's no big deal. One of the unique facts that surrounds this build is believe it or not, Lucky will be legal to drive on the street! Can you believe that? "Hello officer... is there a problem? Oh that... You mean the roll cage, racing seats, fire system and all this neat stuff... you mean you don't have all those in your car?"

Today I picked up the big majority of items that I needed to build and install the custom fuel delivery system that will feed Lucky octane nectar from the Gods. It will be a redundant fuel delivery system utilizing not one but two FRAM fuel filters and HOLLY fuel pumps in the event something should fail. Included in this system will be two high volume fuel pumps and filters which will be regulated by a fuel pump regulator and a sender that will tell the fuel pressure gauge in the cockpit exactly what's going on. The regulator will also allow fuel to recirculate back to the fuel cell and it will all be neatly fitted together with stainless steel aircraft type braided fuel line and AN fittings. The majority of this system will be mounted on a custom built plate which will be mounted in the trunk near the Fuel Safe fuel cell.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Remembering Lucky

(Edit) A fan sent in this photo this morning. Thank you Steve.
Today has been special and I have been smiling all day. Not that I am not usually smiling but I have been smiling for a special reason. Many fans of this blog will remember that Lucky the race car got his name in memory of a very good friend of mine whom I grew up with in a small town on the coast of Southwestern Oregon and his name was Lucky as well. Unfortunately due to a tragic accident Lucky was taken away from us all too soon.

Well, this morning I received an email that made my day. It was from none other than Lucky's oldest daughter Sheila and what a nice email it was. She wrote how grateful she was to read the blog that's a fitting tribute to her father and how touched she was. Funny but as we talked I learned that one of my friends is her uncle and I hadn't even know after all these years. We both thought it interesting that even though they didn't know of the blog until recently that they had bought a new car which you can see in the photo with a paint scheme very much reminiscent of the one Lucky will soon have. Almost ironic isn't it. Sheila has a sister by the name of Shawnna and a brother by the name of Micheal James (M. J.) and while I have not had the pleasure of meeting them I am looking forward to in the future.

Having grown up since we were just little boys playing together right up until we went out on our own as young men we shared many great times together too many to count. However there is one such story that stands out in my mind that I would like to share... Growing up in Southwestern Oregon we were lucky to enjoy some of the best fishing to be found anywhere. One weekend Lucky and I decided to head down to the world famous Rogue River where we camped out. I had a pup tent that we used to camp out only a few feet from a stream called Lobster Creek that runs into the Rogue. It had been a very good year for the salmon runs and I had already caught my limit and Lucky was still trying to catch his last one to complete his limit. For two buddies getting away from home for the weekend and relaxing when the weather was warm with my favorite dog Ginger, life couldn't get any better.

There is a bridge that crossed the Rogue River near Lobster Creek and a family that was camped out across the river had used it to come over and see how we were doing. As they came into our little camp area where we sat fishing Lucky began to grin and whispered something about judging by their looks they just had to be from California. Bermuda shots, Hawaiian shirts, sandals and so on. They had about six children three of which were theirs and the rest were friends and sure enough Lucky was right since it turned out they were from Los Angeles. This was their first ever camp out and they had never been to Oregon and they were having a blast.

I will never forget the look on the wife and husband's face when they asked Lucky how the fishing was and he held up a salmon. They got so excited Lucky and I couldn't help but laugh. And if that wasn't enough for them when I took them over to the small Lobster Creek and showed them the salmon swimming up stream they almost burst at the seams! They just could not believe their eyes and the kids were beside themselves. As Lucky and I sat by our fishing rods I could hear them getting more and more excited and even getting to the point of a frenzy. All of a sudden I heard some splashing and the wife and kids yelling so Lucky and I turned to see what was going on. I will never forget what I saw until the day I die. Here was the rather large man... Ok, so he was HUGE, dressed in sandals and a loud Hawaiian shirt running right up the middle of Lobster Creek chasing a half dozen salmon upstream. As his wife and kids ran along side of him on both sides of the bank like Superman himself he takes a flying leap into the air and crashes head first right in amongst those huge salmon! Lucky and I were about to die laughing and when he stood up holding a huge shiny, squirming salmon in his arms I couldn't believe my eyes!!! Lucky and I almost couldn't breath. His wife and kids where screaming like a raving bunch of lunatics as he waddled out of the creek with that huge salmon flopping it's tail in his face. When he dropped the salmon on the bank all 8 of them jumped on that salmon to keep it from getting away as it flopped around on the bank. Then he began doing some kind of dance while swinging his arms over his head and yelling, "We got a salmon! We got a salmon!" It was reminiscent of a tribe of natives in Africa having just taken a wild elephant.

While Lucky and I were still cracking up the big guy came over and asked if we would show him how to clean it and tell him how to get it back home without spoiling. I began to tell him that if he got caught with that salmon he would go to jail. His wife and him looked shocked and didn't understand. "Why can't we keep it? We caught it and it's ours." The wife asked. I explained there are laws to protect the fish and the laws not only include having a license and salmon tag but you must "legally" catch them by using a fishing rod. Further more it is illegal to catch fish in that part of Lobster Creek anyway. They looked sadly defeated and humiliated as the kids stood there with pouted lips as he released the salmon back into the creek. He looked as if he felt like he had let his kids down that only minutes ago thought he was Superdad.

As they began to walk away with their heads hung low and the kids almost crying Lucky said, "Hey, what do ya say we give'em one of ours so the kids won't think their ole man let'em down." I called them back and we told them to go down to the little market along the river and buy a salmon tag and come back and we would gladly give them one of our salmon. They didn't walk, they ran back to their side of the river and a short time later returned with their tag and an ice chest to claim their salmon. Once again they were all smiles and I can still remember the whole bunch of the kids blowing kisses to Lucky and me off the Lobster Creek Bridge as mom and dad carried their prize back to camp. Lucky and I laughed for the next two weeks straight remembering that crazy dad run right up the middle of that creek splashing water to hell and gone with all those salmon swimming for their lives. Lucky laughed and said "I bet they never saw a grizzly dressed in a Hawaiian shirt before!" It just seems to me that everyone that ever met Lucky was indeed just a little luckier for having known him.

Monday, July 16, 2007

If you want to win... Eliminate doubt

When guys like Shelby prepared cars to win races they didn't allow themselves to be distracted and the records show they sure as hell didn't do things half-a$$ed. It's that same way of thinking that has put TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST on the podium time and time again.

Today was the day that I had planned on starting the process of overhauling my top loader transmission. Every time I was headed into the shop to begin the tear down either the phone would ring or someone needed me for something. These are the types of projects that I enjoy doing as long as I can give them my undivided attention. The last thing I want to hear down in Mexico is, "Well, it almost lasted." But at last destiny took it's course and the phone rang one last time... "Hey Gary, this is Dave. (engine builder). I need a special part and I understand you have it." Well, as it turned out I didn't have it but Gotelli's Speed Shop in South San Francisco did since I had ordered it last week. But that was the only excuse I needed to change my mind as to how the transmission was going to be dealt with. Since it was already 1:00 PM and it was going to take me an hour to drive to San Francisco get the part and then another hour to drive from there across the Oakland Bay Bridge and over to the engine builders I decided to get a move on.

As I was getting ready to leave my office I began asking myself how many times will I get distracted like this in the next few days? Then I began thinking... I know I'm a darn good mechanic but how confident am I that I am as good of a transmission guy? Then I asked why would anyone go to the expense that I have on this project and then try to cut corners just to save a few bucks. That was enough to change my mind and I loaded up the transmission and all the brand new parts. Then I delivered them to my transmission specialist who is a true master at what he does and told him to get it ready.

So after all was said and done, I got the part to the engine builder, went over some issues with the new engine, delivered the transmission to someone that will make it perfect and eliminate any doubts on my part and still got home to an awesome dinner cooked by my wife. It's important while on a long racing trip like this one to be able to lay there at night knowing everything is good to go. Life is good.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's time to get my shift together

Today all of the parts needed to overhaul the top-loader transmission arrived from DAN WILLIAMS including the new NASCAR style shifter and linkage. Now all I have to do is tear down the one I have and install all the new goodies and I'll be standing around with a transmission and no place to stick it. But as soon as the engine arrives it won't take long to find a place. The LAKEWOOD Scattershiled is detailed and ready to go.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What me nervous? Naaaa.

As of today it is exactly 30 days until the day I had hoped to test on. There's not much left but it sure would be nice to have another two months to do it in. Yes, I have a safety margin for other test days so it's not like the end of the world however it would be very rewarding to hear Lucky all fired up on the day that I actually wrote in the time-line that I wrote out some time ago.

Besides installing the rest of the navigation equipment (which could be done even after the testing.) I still have some dash work to take care of and test. The overhaul kit will be here in a few days so I can rebuild the toploader transmission. Today I spoke to the engine builder and he is waiting for the carb and the rocker arms so hopefully the engine may be ready in a week or two. (On hands and knees praying.) Then I will bolt in the seats, seat belts and window nets. In the next week or so I plan on installing the redundant fuel pump system and lines to and from the engine and fuel cell. I should be receiving the brake mounting brackets and the new rear end in the next week or so as well. At that time I can install the front brake cooling ducts. Then all I have to do is install the front windshield and take the car back to IMPACT ENGINEERING to have some things addressed and welded. A couple of new sets of wheels should be here this week and the tires can be ordered in another week or so.

After the testing is completed any issues found will be addressed and then the car can be taken to have the racing stripes painted on and the side GT stripes can also be installed. Then I will install the fire system, some horns, navigator's foot rest plate and so on. So as you can see, there's nothing to worry about. Rightttttt.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Meet Lucky the mascot

Anyone crazy enough to enter a race that starts at the border of Guatemala, then drive as fast as you can along public highways with no guard rails, dangerous cliffs, sharp curves, roaming livestock, barren desert, overgrown jungle and washed out roads and then party each night, then get up early and do it all over again for 7 days straight needs someone who is up to the challenge. All this will require members who are quick on their feet, intelligent, and good looking. That is why we decided to invite Lucky himself along to get things off to a good start. Here is Lucky with his demonstration on how he intends to drive the La Carrera Panamericana.

Who said it won't rain?

Today I accomplished two what most would call minor projects but when you are involved in a race (any race) let alone one that starts at the border of Guatemala and last until you get back to the United States some 7 days later NOTHING is minor.

One such task was finishing up the electrical system for the heater. Now before anyone starts asking questions like, "What kind of a race car has a heater?" let me tell you that I attribute lots of good reasons why a race car, especially a car designed for endurance racing should have not only a heater but defrosters to boot. God willing this will not be the only endurance race that Lucky will star in and there are several races TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST utilizes a heater/defroster. Besides the obvious reasons of needing a defroster in the humid and rainy jungles found in the southern parts of Mexico near the Guatemalan border and other races like the 25 HOURS OF THUNDERHILL which takes place in December during what some call the monsoon season, there are other factors. One such reason is that a heater helps an engine hold a larger amount of water which helps keep the engine running cooler especially since over-heating is a common problem at the altitude which cars run during the La Carrera Panamericana. Any winning endurance team will always give high priority to visibility and ways to help an engine run cooler.

Another "small" project I dealt with today was building a better mouse trap so to speak with regards to the power steering hoses. As I mentioned in an earlier post over the years I have removed power steering from many of my Mustangs but for such a long race with so many turns MAIERS RACING has advised me to run a custom power steering setup. Since Mustangs are not known for having reliable power steering hoses I designed and then had some hoses built that will not fail. The good thing about power steering on a mustang is that should it ever fail you can just keep on driving. Sort of like a built in back up plan.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lucky has a new friend (Can Lucky come out and play?)

I sure hope we don't get in trouble. The other day I placed an ad in the paper to sell Lucky's rear end and boy did that ad get a lot of response! Check out Lucky's cute new little friend that dropped by to check out Lucky.

I finally finished wiring up the fuel sender to the FUEL SAFE Racing cell. While I was at it I installed the spare tire mounting bracket which was designed and built by IMPACT ENGINEERING that is required to race in the La Carrera Panamericana. Most spare tires found in GT350's were located in the back seat shelve area however due to the complex full roll cage which another IMPACT ENGINEERING design found in Lucky it will be a lot faster to get the spare out should we need it. Besides, I don't think Jon or I will be keeping our luggage in the trunk anyway.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Taking time out to smell the roses

I can't help but laugh at times when I realize this whole adventure is on about the same time-line as my grandson Tyler Gene considering both are just a little over 1 year old. Between all the excitement of the build of Lucky and the excitement of watching Tyler grow both of which seems to be at lightning speed I can honestly say each is an awesome experience. Needless to say of the two Tyler is our highest priority but what's even better is that Tyler loves race cars and he has literally grown up around Lucky. We all enjoy Tyler Gene and he has made our lives rich and even Tyler makes gramps take time out to smell the roses. (And a weed or two.)

But Lucky has even more friends to make yet since my navigator Jon Emerson and his wife also has a new bundle of joy at his household of about the same age and she is destine to make a lot of fellas hearts throb.

What good would an exciting life be without someone special to share the experience with? Yes, we are blessed men.

You can never read too much

One of the ways I relax is by enjoying other blogs and God knows there are a bunch however I have found what I consider my favorites. There are too many to list however there are a couple that stand out in my mind. One such blog is HEMMINGS AUTO BLOGS. I would find it hard to believe there is a single auto aficionado who is not familiar with the Hemmings reputation. While some teenagers were sneaking a peek at their ole man's Playboy I was getting yelled at for not returning my dad's Hemmings back to his favorite recliner. If you needed anything auto related, Hemmings was the place to look and still is. Click here for a sample LUCKY REPORT which mentions Lucky's progress.

Another favorite blog of mine is THE GARAGE BLOG. Not only is this a great place to read about everything that goes somewheres between slow and fast but this blog is based out of Canada which seems to offer some awesome "up north" viewpoints and personalities as well. You can also keep up with Lucky's status at THE GARAGE BLOG as well by clicking here; LUCKY REPORT.

While it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see feature articles about Lucky and the adventure that is unfolding for TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST, there is so much more to be found in these great blogs so be sure and check them out.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hey... Put a lid on it, will ya!

Now not only does Lucky have a hood but now he has hood pins as well. Do you have any idea how painful it is to take a drill to a perfectly brand new hood and hope like heck your measurements are dead on? Talk about "pucker power."

After the hood was on I really wanted to take the car for a spin but since the motor wasn't back yet we had to grab the first thing we could find. You know what they say, When in Rome do as the Romans do but since we're headed for Mexico....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Landslide Buries Bus in Mexico

Today there was a tragic accident when a busload of at least 40 passengers was buried by a landslide which resulted in the deaths of over 26 passengers so far. The bus was headed for Tehuacan which is where we stop for the first night of this years La Carrera Panamericana.

Soldiers and rescue workers recovered 26 bodies from the bus but held out little hope of finding survivors. Frantically digging through tons of earth and rock, hundreds of soldiers and rescue workers braved threats of additional slides to pull victims from the bus which was believed to be carrying between 40 and 60 passengers. The state's chief of ambulance services told the Televisa television network that "All are dead," but did not explain how he knew that. He said workers had only gained access to a small section of the bus. One official said, "All the mountains are risky. ... It's nature."

Authorities are considering dynamiting the rest of the mountain once rescue efforts end to avoid future landslides, saying its "current condition is a great risk."
Heavy rainfall across Mexico this week has triggered flooding and landslides that killed several people.

Update; So far, all but two of the 32 victims -- aged 6 to 48 -- have been identified, Puebla's state government said.

California's Best Racing Team would like to offer our sincere condolences to those families who lost loved ones in this terrible accident.

Just a little trim on the top please.

Today I finished installing the upper spring perches with full bearing movement which also allowed me to finish installing the springs and Bilstein racing shocks. After they were installed I installed all new tyrod ends, drag link, power steering ram and control valve. I also installed the "Quick Steering Idler and Pitman Arm" designed specifically for the 1965 GT350 R model Shelbys. This combined with the Flaming River quick ratio steering gear box and the TCP power steering pump system to be installed later will give the ultimate control that can be found on any Mustang. For years I ran Shelbys and Mustangs minus power steering and for the most part felt comfortable with it. But when you are intimately involved with a handful of car while dealing with an unexpected slippery road let alone a amorous burro it pays to be "quick" on the wheel and that's exactly what Lucky will have.

I also found time to finalize the installation of the adjustable proportioning valve lines and re-routing as well. Last but not least we installed the small bit of door trim chrome moulding. As my wife would say, "Not to be too overpowering but just enough to make a statement." LOL.