Friday, August 31, 2007

A breath of fresh air

Today I installed the new K&N X-stream air filter. Woopee! Oh, and for what it's worth, I finally installed a throttle return spring. Two as a matter of fact. One can never be too careful when expecting the throttle to slow down on some turn in Mexico.

The exhaust system arrived today and when I have time I will install it. Other than the fact it's larger than the original that came on GT350s it's exactly the same design. Nothing More than exhaust pipes with some very open glass packs that exit out the side of the car in front of the rear wheels. I have a suspicion it won't be much quieter than the open headers but that's a good thing, right?

This evening I just relaxed after a very long week. I sure will be glad when my son in law returns to take over so I can get back to what it is I love doing. Right after I was done installing the air filter I noticed some guys checking out some guy's Eleanor next door at my friend's Mexican restaurant. While they were looking under the hood I decided to start up my engine and let it breath. It wasn't long before they came over to see what all the thunder was. I felt bad for the guy in the Eleanor.... Well, not really. ;)

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin... RAWHIDE!

This build is at the point that is reminiscent of the same excitement as we had recently when our grandson Tyler began to walk. At first it was "Boy am I excited... When will he crawl?" Then it was, "Why does he only crawl backwards?" Then, "How much longer?" and now it's, "How in the hell can we keep him out of stuff!"

It's comforting knowing that Lucky is almost ready to "walk" and before long hopefully the key word will be "Run" and what could be more of a run than 3000 kilometers of twisted road in Mexico? There really isn't too much left but on the other hand time isn't one of those commodities so tension is still high on the list.

Today I will be driving over to DELTA BAY MUSTANG to pick up a few goodies I have ordered and new set of VINTAGE wheels to try out. It seems that when AMERICAN RACING had the new Torque Thrust D wheels cast they changed the molds slightly which has resulted in the off-set being off more than half an inch. Once I get the new wheels I will be able to confirm this. If there's one thing I hate it's wheel rub. The last thing I need is to be going into a corner at 140 and lose my focus by being distracted... "What's that noise?"

Since we are required to have both American and Mexican insurance yesterday BAJABOUND.COM took care of all our Mexican insurance requirements for the tow rig, trailer and car so that's one more important item taken care of. Their service was excellent and they really took good care of me. I had to laugh... When taking cars across the Mexican border it's ok to tow a trailer but nobody is allowed to take two cars if they are both owned by the same person. They are concerned that one may be left behind in Mexico so I registered Lucky in my son's name for that reason. What cracked me up was when the insurance lady told me I will need a "letter of permission" from my son saying it's ok for me to take the car into Mexico!!! Now that's putting the shoe on the other foot. "Hey son, can I please take the car for a drive? I'm just going out for a few days and I promise to be careful."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Alive!

The unreal 289 installed in the GT350R finally comes to life. It's been a long time coming, and boy is it sweet to hear. Take a look for yourself...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Out with the bad and in with the good

Anthony my office manager (son-in-law) has been gone since Monday so I haven't had much time to work on Lucky but today I did find time to install the new motor mounts and while they look cool, more importantly they are built like a couple Army tanks and ready for war. Even if they could break, because of their design the motor can't go anywhere and with this much horsepower that knowledge is worth it's weight in gold.

Don't worry be happy

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The weakest link

All this time I assumed my factory motor mounts would work fine but after seeing how much Lucky has to offer without even putting him in gear let alone really opening up the throttle I had second thoughts. After all, any fisherman worth his salt knows his line is only as strong as his best knot. For that reason I just ordered a set of PROTHANE MOTION CONTROL polyurethane motor mounts. Prothane offers a wide variety of motor mount styles. In all cases, their mounts are designed to limit the travel, reduce the chances of breakage, and put the power to the wheels.


We know just how he felt when he took a deep breath and said, "Stand Back..." Today a few of us gathered at the shop with the film crew to hear Lucky come to life and I must say it was very cool. There was gas fumes, noise, flames all the ingredients it takes to make grown me all giggly. I hadn't noticed until my son pointed it out but as the car is still sitting on the lift waiting for the tires, every time I goosed the engine the entire car moved around on the lift. As we were leaving I could see the car had shifted about 5 inches to one side. I couldn't help but think of Frankenstein and the terror he was about to unleash upon those whom he would come into contact with. Yes, I feel as if we have created a monster.

My son says, "I just love it when my ear drums bleed." Stay tuned folks, soon we will post some video of Lucky making himself heard. Ahhh, music to one's soul.

In the meantime here is some similar video to hold you over so you'll know what to expect... I love the part where he says, "It's a brand new rebuilt carb."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What does the future hold in store?

Well, if there is anything to Jon's theory with respect to our fortune cookies then Lucky's future is beginning to look pretty good according to the fortune cookie I got last night at dinner. It said, "SOMETHING ON FOUR WHEELS WILL SOON BE A FUN INVESTMENT FOR YOU!" Regardless of what happens, this whole adventure already has been a good investment. It has already reaped many rewards, camaraderie, hard work, satisfaction, excitement, thrilling, sensational, emotional, and more. It has brought friends and family together for a common goal and dream and it holds what could be days of danger, breathtaking, over-whelming, inspiring, soul stirring, bloodcurdling and mind blowing days to come. If all of that isn't getting a good return on an investment I don't know what is.

Today I finished all the brake work and bled the brakes with MOTUL 600 and have an awesome pedal and some very impressive brakes. I can't wait to try them out and will then need to recheck everything for leaks and wear, etc.

I also finished up the majority of the wiring in the engine compartment, filled up the radiator with RED LINE WATER WETTER and water. I sure hope nobody else is using coolant in their cooling system. Coolant is NOT something that should be used in a race engine on any surface where racing is going on since when it leaks it can't be seen and is very dangerous. Most racing organizations will not allow it to be in any car taken out in a race.

Then I topped off the oil, filled the transmission and the rear end and checked for leaks and everything looked great. Afterwards I installed the starter and starter cable and brackets. I also put some fuel for the first time into the fuel cell and turned on the pumps and checked for leaks. Considering how complex the fuel system is (for a non-fuel injected engine) I am pleased to report there was not one single leak. I also made some changes to the billet throttle rod to improve what they said was the best linkage available.

Hopefully the tires will arrive Monday of Tuesday and both sets of wheels have already arrived. I still have lots of wiring to do inside the car for various devices. In the meantime Anthony stayed this afternoon and helped me hook up one of the two ignition boxes because tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM Jon and I the filming crew will be at the shop to film the first attempt to fire him up. Since I saw the engine come fresh off the dyno with the timing and carb already set and then I personally installed it into the car I am positive it will fire up with no problems whatsoever... even so I can't wait. After all, listening to an engine run on a dyno that took me months of research to design is exciting but seeing, smelling, feeling and hearing it run for the first time in the car is... well let's just say, it's the best thing there is to a racer's senses. And don't forget, it will be with open headers. BIG TOOL MAN GRUNT... Oh Ohhh Ohhhhh!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting it right

Today I tried on my new K&N air filter but they sent the wrong base so that will have to be reordered. In the meantime it was a fairly productive day. I finally finished up installing the hoses from the breather caps to the catch-can and the radiator overflow hose as well. Another job that's almost complete is the installation of the new rear end and posi-track with new bearings and WILWOOD brake calipers and rotors. All I need to finish the brakes is to get a couple fittings tomorrow and then bleed the brakes and check for leaks.

Then I began finishing up some wiring by routing the wires for the fuel pressure gauge. I still need to install some wiring for miscellaneous things on the dash such as the tach, the ignition wiring, speedometer and rally computer.

Two is better than one

During the last year I have really enjoyed researching various ideas for this car and once in a while as I surf thru thousands of photos looking for ideas once in a while I notice some things albeit small still very worthwhile. Often these subtle touches are things or changes the old veterans made that helped and all too often they are things many newbies might not even notice.

This morning I was looking at some photos taken back in 1955 when Volkswagen sent a team of VW Bugs to run the La Carrera Panamericana. There was something in one of the photos that caught my eye and it put a grin on my lips. I was all excited about my dual pickup and coil set-up on my car thinking it was pretty innovative for the La Carrera Panamericana until I saw this photo taken when the winners car was stripped after the event to see that it conformed to the regulations. Note the twin coils fitted to the fan housing to allow a rapid change over in the event of failure. Whoever said we can't learn from history obviously didn't know Jack about racing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

El Regulator

Finally today I was able to put the finishing touches on the fuel system by installing the by-pass regulator and then finish installing the fuel and return lines. The main purpose of have a recirculating fuel line is to help eliminate vapor lock which is a common occurrence on cars running the La Carrera Panamericana. Keep the fuel moving so it never sits near a hot exhaust or engine and it stays cooler thus eliminating vapor lock. Regarding the fuel system, all that's left is to hook up the wiring for the fuel pressure switch to the fuel pressure gauge then all I need to do is put some petrol in the tank and check for leaks and set the fuel pressure regulator.

Later in the day I found some time to install the new rear-end and posi. All that's left for the rear-end is to install new seals and the axles and the trick Wilwood rear disk brakes. Then it will be time to bleed the brakes and check for leaks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Actually Brace Lucky would be more like it but less dramatic of a title. Today I installed the TCP Shock Tower Brace Kits. During cornering and braking most car's chassis have a tendency to flex a great deal, allowing unwanted changes in overall handling performance. TCP's Shock Tower Brace kit is designed to help eliminate unwanted flex. A stiffer chassis provides sure and predictable handling during the most demanding of situations like many of those found both on the race course as well as in Mexico.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Could I interest you in the wine list this evening?

I just got finished ordering the air filter that will fit the bill perfectly for Lucky's engine/hood design. It's a K&N X-STREAM Assembly which allows the Shelby hood scoop to work more efficiently by allowing fresh cool air to enter thru the lid rather than from the side of the air filter which is naturally hotter.

Also on the menu this evening we have a nice combination of exhaust as a side to compliment that robust header selection made earlier. Would you like to let that breath for awhile or shall we just pour it wide open? The exhaust will be JBA tuned exhaust that exits out the side of the car just before the wheels the same as the original GT350 R-Models did.

Put da lime in da coconut an shake it allll up...

Finally 14 quarts of Mobil One went in Lucky's belly today and he's almost ready to shake up. In my opinion there can be no substitute when it comes to Mobil One. I have used it for the last 25 years in every single race engine I have owned from go-carts to Vipers. During the years that I ran Pro-Sedan Mazdas I found that most teams were lucky to get one full season from an engine which added up to about 50 hours per season. That would allow them to run one series for the year with a few practice sessions. With the help of Mobil One not only would my engines run the Pro Sedan series but in fact the endurance series which was good for another 150 hours per year and then there was teaching and test days as well which added another 20 hours per year and if that wasn't enough I would finish up the year with either a 12 hour or a 25 hour endurance race to boot! And by the way, not once did I ever have an engine failure. (Knock on wood) These cars won the majority of the series and races as well and I honestly believe that Mobil One was the second single biggest factor to their staying power and my engine builder being the first.

Then I finished up the front brakes by installing the four piston calipers and brake hoses and a secret brake pad made for us by Raybestos which we have ran in several 25 hour endurance races. Not only do they work great but we have never had to change them when others we used like Hawk and Porterfield had to be changed twice during the same length race on the same track. Then I finished up building new fasteners for the front brake duct hoses.

Today there was a pleasant surprise when some of my new Torque Thrust D American Racing Wheels arrived. There has been a serious back-order of the specific wheel I wanted and they had been waiting for their order of over 30,000 of them. I placed my order for these over 9 months ago and for months every time I called to check status on them I was told, "Sorry, there still not here." As you can see from the photo Lucky sits higher than most GT350's but that is by design until we return back from Mexico. There are numerous speed bumps in Mexico called TOPES along the La Carrera Panamericana route and they make speed bumps in the U.S. look like they just don't exist. Hit one of them too fast and good-bye headers, oil pan and suspension. What little handling that will be lost if any will be more than made up by horsepower and time. And believe me when I tell you I speak from experience, when you see a warning sign in Mexico that says TOPES, I am talking catching air!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just keeping with tradition

In 1901, Henry Ford understood the importance of winning automobile races. On October 10 of that year, Henry brought a car of his own design to a one-mile horse racing track on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. He was there to compete in a "sweepstakes," a head-to-head race against a man named Alexander Winton -- one of, if not the most famous racecar driver of the era, and who also happened to run his own successful automobile manufacturing company.

Ford's 2,200-pound car was powered by an opposed, two-cylinder, 538-cubic inch gasoline engine that turned an impressive 900 rpm and produced an estimated 26 horsepower. Nobody gave Ford much of a chance to win against his more experienced rival driving a proven and more powerful car. Nobody, that is, except Henry, his wife Clara and Ed Huff, whose race duties included ride-along moral support for Henry and inward-leaning ballast in the left-hand turns.

This was quite literally a go-or-go-home scenario for Ford. Financially, he was on the rocks. His first automobile manufacturing business, the Detroit Automobile Company, had just ended in failure. He needed money for a new company he had planned. He knew that if he had any shot at winning over his potential investors, his car had to win this 10-lap race. To the roaring delight of the large crowd on hand -- mostly there to see Winton -- the underdog Ford won. The investors were impressed and the Henry Ford Company was born. A year later, after a dispute with his investors, that company also closed its doors, but only after Ford had the assets in place for his next, more enduring effort, the Ford Motor Company.

It was the most important victory in the history of the Ford name.

Starting with that first sweepstakes victory, and continuing on to this very day, winning automobile races has been a key part of the global business model for Ford Motor Company. A brief glance at the history book will show you that Ford has won in seemingly every important form of racing there is, or ever has been and racing in the La Carrera Panamericana is no different. Fords and Lincolns have ran, won and even dominated the La Carrera Panamericana multiple years at a time. We are not looking to dominate anything with the exception of our own ability and have a good time doing it but we do have every intention of honoring one of the greatest races in the history of motorsports with a living legend.

Patience is a virtue

I should have been a plumber, the Super Mario Brothers would be proud of me if they saw all the plumbing I did on Lucky today. First I made and installed all the oil cooler and remote oil filter hoses and fittings. Then I mounted the power steering reservoir and have it ready for when the pressure hoses arrive for it. Then I installed the dual coil set-up and hooked up the high tension wires for that. Once that was all finished I installed the front screen to protect the radiator from what ever is flying around in Mexico and then finished it all off with the grill. It will not be long until the engine can be fired up but I prefer to wait until I have the drive shaft installed as well as the power steering hoses and the knock sensor and adjustable timing control.

Funny how some things seem more ascetically pleasing than others when building a car and some things have special or hidden meanings. I am proud to say that for years I raced some of the best prepared RX7's in the U.S. winning many major races and my son even took one worn out one and won last years national championships with it. Needless to say I have a fond place in my heart for them. While I was researching everything I would use in building Lucky I decided to use an MSD dual pickup distributor which uses two coils should one fail. The very second that I knew I was going to use that set up I knew I was going to use the very coil bracket that is used on first generation Mazda RX7's. And it's looks pretty darn cool if I do say so myself!

Then if that wasn't enough excitement for one day Jon tells me Santa came early. When I got to Santa's house (The truth is Jon is Santa) Jon hands me our new team driving suits, shoes and gloves.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Mr Eduardo Leon's (owner of the La Carrera Panamericana) office notified us that the Carrera has reached its limit of 100 cars and registration is being closed. Because of the large number of participants, space in the Carrera hotels along the route is getting tight. The luxury hotels are sold out completely. This includes every one's favorite, the bull ring hotel (Quinta Real) in Zacatecas and they will stop taking any more hotel reservations soon.

Fortunately TEAM CALIFORNIA'S BEST has already secured hotels in all the stops along the way for both Piloto and Co-Piloto as well as the crew.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

So what do you eat when building a car for La Carrera Panamericana

Next door to my facility where I am building Lucky there is one of the best Mexican Restaurants in Mountain View. This evening while I was working on Lucky the owner of the restaurant stopped by to check out the car. When she found out I hadn't eaten my dinner yet she ran over to her restaurant and came back with Chili Colorado, beans, rice and tortillas. Yummy!

Today was an awesome day with a sense of accomplishment! Oh sure you may laugh but let me tell you even though it may not sound like I did much I felt a large sense of relief when I was done today.

I had to laugh when I opened the box with the new radiator cap and read FOR RACING USE ONLY on it. Heaven forbid anyone should get caught with one of their daily driver.

On the list of things I got done today are the fan belts, alternator wiring harness installed, heater hoses, radiator, radiator hoses, oil cooler mounted and ready for plumbing, transmission finished including the installation of the shifter and shifter linkage and finally the clutch linkage. Yes, Lucky actually has a working clutch now. YIPPEE!!! Then I installed the spark plug wires but I still need to install the wiring harness for the distributor, the knock sensor and the adjustable timing control and then install the dual coils and wire them up.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Great day to be outside

Today was a beautiful day, so nice in fact I decided to work on the car outside. After I placed an umbrella out by the car I finished up the install of the power steering pump and now all it needs is the hoses and the reservoir to be installed. Before I did that I wanted to plan where a few other things will be fastened that will be effected by the routing of those hoses. Some of those items include the oil cooler lines that run from the engine to the fender-well where they will attach to the remote oil filter and from there go to the engine oil cooler in front of the radiator. Also located in that area will be the two coils and coil splitter that make it possible to run a MSD dual pickup distributor. At the same time I finished the alternator install and pulley alignment and belts.

At the same time that I was figuring out where each part will work most efficiently I made a list of special fittings that I needed to complete the engine oil cooler installation. Then I drove to South San Francisco and picked them up. If all goes well I may have time to begin that project tomorrow.

Beat on this, cut that, bend those....

Yesterday afternoon we worked on the car until 12:30 at night and installed some various hose fitttings on the intake manifold and the water temp sender as well as the oil pressure sending unit. We also finished bolting up the power steering pump leaving just the hoses for that. The alternator is on too but needs a bushing to properly space out the hi-po pulley for alignment with the rest of the pulleys which I will get today.

The next undertaking was to begin installing the transmission and shifter. The transmission went right in but when it came time to install the new shifter I found some modifications were required. We have decided to pull the transmission out to give eaiser access to make those modifcations to the area to allow sufficent clearance for the shifter.

Speaking of the shifter boy am I excited. This shifter is the same road race shifter used in many high end race cars and it is by no means the same basic shifter that I have installed in countless numbers of cars over the years. It is unbelievably well built and does not use the ordinary plastic bushings and cotter pin type fasteners typically found on Hurst linkage. Instead it uses extra big linkage that are machinced with threads and saftey fasteners complete with hardened metal bushings. This is all topped of with a shorter than usual shifter that has a very short throw and feels more like something that would be used on the space shuttle than on a race car. Then it also has a handle to prevent an accidental shift into reverse and the whole shifting process feels awesome! We will continue the shifter modifications on Saturday but the extra effort is going to be well worth the trouble.

Last night as my son was helping me I couldnt help but laugh while remembering making similar modifcations to my first 57 Ford back in the 60's when I was younger than my son is today. I remember even back then thinking how much I wanted a Mustang that I could make these sort of changes to and now here we are side by side. I wonder what cars he dreams of?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up late but worth the effort

My son dropped by late this afternoon and we worked on the car until about one in the morning. I really enjoyed having him around and we made a lot of progress. So many "little" things take so much time when you want it "perfect". Most parts of a car will simply bolt on and for most daily applications that would be good enough. But I tend to try things on, step back and analyze them and I keep asking myself, "What if....." and that's when I start making things stronger, more clearance, re-route hoses or wires, etc and so on.

At any rate we removed the other headers and installed the new ceramic coated Tri-Y headers and now the clutch linkage is absolutely perfect!!! These are the exact same headers Carrol Shelby used on the GT350 R Models and they are known for there outstanding low end torque for quicker launches! They also make it easier to get to the spark plugs and it will even make things better for the spark plug wires as well. During the process of installing the headers we installed the Lakewood Scatter shield and the McLeod clutch which need to be installed while one header is loose. The bottom line is it turned out much better. We did install the transmission but only for a moment because I want to have it out of the car while assembling the new Hurst shifter and linkage since it makes for a much better job of getting the adjustments exactly perfect.

After that was out of the way we installed the new carb and then began bolting up the power steering pump so that we could shim it up so that everything is now perfectly aligned with the pulleys. Then we hung the alternator brackets. There are two large threaded holes in the cylinder heads that are going to require some sort of step-down so I will pick those up tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spoke too soon

Well there's lots going on. First of all I watched a video of one of the well prepped cars that was built for this years La Carrera Panamericana and the driver was excited because his car was ready some 70 days before the race but while he was testing he wrecked the car and the entire driver's side of the car was out to lunch. Too bad and we're looking forward to him getting it ready in time.

Meanwhile back at the shop it seems I spoke too soon regarding the quality of the Doug's headers. While in fact they did fit easily into the car there was a major problem. When I tried to install the clutch controls there was no way they were going to work. When I called their tech line I was unfortunate to have the displeasure of speaking with possibly one of the rudest punks that I have ever talked to. I won't waste my time quoting him however I will say I have had more intelligent conversations with farm animals. In all fairness I did call back and spoke to their higher powers and they are looking into the matter. It will be interesting to see how Doug headers handles customer satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In Total Control

Today my power steering pump kit was shipped from Total Control Products and it will be one of the next few goodies to be installed later in the week. It is a racing version of the same pump used by NASCAR teams and makes for a very sanitary install. In place of their blue cloth type hoses we will be using braided stainless hoses and special fittings.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fits Like Cinderella's Glass Slipper

WOW BIG FELLA! That's right, Lucky is looking pretty cool tonight and just like Cinderella's slipper, Lucky's engine couldn't have been a more perfect fit. Aside of the usual need to change a few fittings and order a different clutch equalizer for header clearance everything fit like the proverbial glove. Regarding the DOUGS HEADERS, I must say I was really impressed with the fit. I have installed so many sets of headers in mustangs that I could do it in my sleep. Typically most of them require some modification in order to fit but these went in so fast I kept thinking I must have forgotten something. It sure says a lot about DOUGS HEADERS quality. WOW!

Check out those awesome looking valve covers. They are special built to allow plenty of room for the custom built roller rocker arms and the tall breather tubes have baffles to prevent blow-by at high speeds like the original R-Model GT350's.

BIGGGG Toolman grunt... Ohh Ohhh Ohhhhh! Even though this weekend was the first of two dates I wanted to test the car I gotta say I am feeling pretty chipper tonight. In the mean time my son and fellow teammate is up at Thunderhill racing and race directing this weekend. As Jon would say, we are living vicariously thru Will this weekend. Tomorrow I will install the carb and a few other things and if I have time I will finish changing the rear-end over to the new lightweight assembly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

This is where the whip begins cracking

I remember a phrase my high school coach often used... "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going." According to my calculations IF I am going to have Lucky ready to test at Infineon on September 22/23 that will only give me 43 days. IF I need any changes or modifications that will only give me 9 more days which will leave me exactly two weeks rest up and get the trailer and truck loaded and ready. Then we will hook up with the rest of the convoy headed for Mexico. If all goes as planned we will begin shoving the engine in tomorrow and in the meantime I thought you might enjoy some of the crowd Lucky has gathered over the last few days.

I won't bore you with details but due to the usual "Family & Business first" and opening our new corporate office earlier this year I have not had as much time to spend on Lucky as I had hoped. It's the same old thing us racers go thru no matter how much time we have before the next race. We always end up putting the finishing touches on the car the night before we leave for the track. For crying out loud... This project began over a year ago so how much time does it take to put a race car together anyway? All you have to do is find a body, do a little body work, do a little paint touch-up, build a bad-ass motor, shove it under the hood, bolt up a four-speed, connect that to a rear-end, connect a few wires, put in some glass, a seat and a steering wheel, fill'er up with some fuel and fire it up. What's the big deal?

Well, it sounds easy but to be entirely honest with you there are some that will tell you the only reason it takes so long is because I will not build anything short of perfection. Sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield so then again there is the fact I am never able to sleep as long as I am thinking about "What if?". Then I get up and begin doing some more research until I have in my mind what the absolute best plan of attack is. I must admit I live for this stuff. Jon and I as well as out teammates already understand that the reward for this sort of dedication and sacrifice far exceeds any $25 trophy they could ever give us. The real reward is looking back and asking, "Remember the time we...."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Suture.... Scalpel.... QUICK.... Duct tape!

During the early 70's while I was at Stanford University I was very fortunate to become acquainted with both Dr Christiaan Barnard and Dr Norman Shumway both whom were involved with the pioneer days of the first heart transplants in humans. The first heart transplant in human beings was done in South Africa in 1967 by Dr Christiaan Barnard and the patient only lived 18 days. Most of the research that led to successful heart transplantation took place at Stanford University under the leadership of Dr Norman Shumway. Knowing how involved I was with automobiles I used to tease Dr Shumway about his profession. On several occasions I asked him why doctors couldn't fix everything on humans considering we have not changed in design in thousands of years. On the other hand mechanics are expected to know how to repair anything that ails a car and as we all know cars by design change every year.

The truth is they were both truly great guys and I was blessed simply for having known them as friends. It's important to realize both of them were so much more than doctors it seemed and they always asked questions... "What does that part do? Explain to me how it works." You couldn't help but think they were always looking for something new to replace the human heart with. And even more amazing is to realize how far we have come today because of the two of them. The last time I saw Dr Shumway was at his home in Palo Alto about ten years ago when I picked up his car to work on it.

Today as I brought my engine back to the shop to reunite it again with Lucky and I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to show it off to those two awesome guys. I am sure they would both be smiling like I was as we started preparing the empty cavity in the front of Lucky in an effort to hear him come back to life again.

On another note I would like to mention something ironic. While I was reminiscing about all this my phone rang only for me to learn my shop foreman's father had suffered a serious heart attack and was in surgery. On behalf of California's Best Team and business and our employees I want to send our best prayers and thoughts to him and his family and wish him a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Grab this

Having all of the horsepower in the world won't do us any good if we can't get it hooked up when we need it. That's where McLeod clutch discs come into the picture so we are hooked up with one of the best known clutches in the world of racing. It's McLeod Industries and they are located right here in California. Thanks to the help of McLeod Industries in order to get Lucky hooked up we will be using a state of the art racing clutch pressure plate and disc which is made up of organic, bronze, aluminum, and Kevlar. That's right, the same Kevlar used in bullet-proof vest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Now things are getting REAL interesting

You have no idea what an awesome day today was. It began with a trip to my office for a few hours work before driving over to pick up a complete new posi-traction rear-end with axles and the whole enchilada. Then I drove to my engine builder's shop to watch a few dyno runs on Lucky's new power plant. Keep in mind I have been waiting for this day for almost a year now since the engine was literally one of the first things I began researching when this whole adventure began.

When I got to the engine builders place they had already made quite a few break-in runs and inspections before actually performing some dyno testing. I stayed out of the road (as best I could) while they continued testing the engine with various racing fuels and then some additive and octane boosters. The bottom line results were an accumulation of many many hours of research, questions answered by some of the biggest names in the racing world, some trial and error, a little luck and lots of prayers not to mention a lot of experience from one of the best engine builders in the U.S.

Keep in mind this IS NOT A STROKER and even more amazing is per the rules it has cast iron heads and a 500 CFM carb. If I had not seen it on the dyno with my own eyes I would not believe anyone telling me what an amazing power plant it is. If anyone were to tell me 10 years ago that a 289 could produce over 500 horsepower I would think they were drinking too much. But the bottom line is this engine has 503 horsepower with 385.2 foot pounds of torque at 6713 RPM. Even though we will not be pushing it that hard since it has so much low end torque which is the way I wanted it, my engine builder tells me it will run at 7000 RPM all day long.

On the hour drive home I was so excited as I was day dreaming about what had just taken place that when I looked down at the speedo on my truck I was being a very bad boy. And for the record, some of the items you see in the photos (like the crummy plug wires for example) are for the dyno run only. But check out those trick rocker arms and shafts complete with ceramic bushings instead of needle bearings the very same ones used in today's NASCAR engines.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hurry up and wait

My engine builder told me yesterday that if all goes well the engine will go on the dyno early this week.

Does anyone know what time it is?

One very important part of doing well in the La Carrera Panamericana is knowing when to be where. Confusing? Well, not really but it will take some getting used to but Jon and I are quick learners. In the past Jon and I knew to be at three places on time... the driver's meeting, the starting grid and the impound after taking the checkered flag.

But now we have to learn there is more to timing than just drivers meetings and checkered flags. For this race not only will there be be meetings but we will be asked to go like hell from point A to point B and then not get to point C too early or too late and this goes on all day. Being someplace too soon has never been in our vocabulary so we will get some help the best ways we can.

One place we have gone for advice is to a very good friend of ours who we have enjoyed racing with for years. Her name is Tammy Hull and not only is she one of the directors with the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) where we are also directors but in fact Tammy is one of the winners of the famous Targa Newfoundland. Since the Targa is considered to be one of the highest ranked rallies in the world who better to ask for advise than her. Even if she is a girl. ;) Thanks Tammy, we really appreciate all your help.

One thing my team mate Jon pointed out is that if you look at any well prepared rally car more than likely you will find one key piece of equipment as standard equipment..... A TERRATRIP Rally Computer. Since Jon is the navigator and because he has a very good technical awareness of all things electronic he performed all the research for our navigation needs among other chores. The unit Jon ultimately chose is nothing short of the latest and greatest device know to rally racing. (Big tool man grunt Uhh Uhhh Uhhhhh!) It is the NEW TERRATRIP 303 PLUS. This new model has new features, easier data entry, new display indicators and a completely new ergonomic facia design. It also has an optional Remote Display Head that can be switched to show the driver/navigator either speed or interval distance.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pulleys And Wires

There's not much a guy can do when waiting for the engine. Oh sure you can twiddle your thumbs, look thru the catalogues finding more ways to spend your money, or help the little lady clean the kitchen.... NOT! I chose to pick up some items I knew I was going to need. One thing I picked up today was a set of plug wires I had ordered. They are MOROSO ULTRA 40 RACE WIRES, the most powerful and RFI/EMI resistant ignition wire available for racing today – bar none! From dual-mag Fuelers and high-compression Comp Cars, to the demands of Nextel Cup Racing, Moroso Ultra 40 establishes a new standard for ignition wire performance that has the competition scrambling to catch up!

They have a Kevlar® core, four times stronger than other aramid fiber cores which allow them to increase the tensile strength of the wire while reducing its center diameter and that enables them to increase the surrounding insulation, resulting in greater dielectric strength.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have seen guys build expensive engines only to hear about engine misfires created by nothing more than a plug wire. Many times it's simply because they didn't spend enough time making sure they are never going to get near a hot header but more often than not it's because they let the "B" word interfere. Taking into consideration the rough duty this car will require for a race like the La Carrera Panamericana with high ambient and engine temps, the better the plug wire the less need to worry about them.

Speaking of high temps I also picked up a special set of pulleys for the water pump, crankshaft and a very special pulley for the alternator. Another reason for this special set of pulleys is because Lucky is going to have power steering thus an extra belt groove for the power steering belt. The water pump and crankshaft pulleys are made from billet aluminum but the hi-po alternator pulley is made from solid steel. The hi-po alternator pulley was an original piece of equipment on the GT350 R model engines and it is considerably larger in diameter than stock pulleys. The purpose of the larger diameter was to reduce an overcharging alternator at high speed. Many have rookie engine builders/racers have made the mistake of buying the same size pulley with the exception that they get it in aluminum to make the others on the engine for that "trick" look. The big problem with that is aluminum alt pulleys allow the fan belts to slip and who wants that when you're doing all you can to keep the engine running cool. Not us.

While I was picking up the other goodies I had ordered I found out my 3 inch wheel studs had come in as well. These are the exact studs and nuts found on the original GT350 R models to help quick change and safety.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Enjoy this video

CLICK ON THE SCREEN TO VIEW VIDEO See some of the towns, some racing and some crashing, all of what makes the La Carrera Panamericana what it is... considered by most drivers to be the most grueling race in the world by far.

It's official!

Well at least according to the State of California it is. Lucky is officially a licensed vehicle soon to be street legal to drive on the public highways. Amazing isn't it to think that you could soon be driving down the freeway and have a car pull up beside you with a 12 point roll cage, a 500 plus horsepower small block, racing seats, and it's all legal. (Well, almost but we're not going to point out those little oversights now are we?)

Like the car, I wanted the plate to make some sort of statement so instead of saying GT 350R it says, GF 350R. Can you figure out what the GF stands for? If you can, then you're going to love the GT strips that will go on the side of the car.

For the last couple weeks Lucky has been enjoying some company. When I see the two of them sitting side by side I can't help but wonder what they would be talking about if they could talk. Two awesome cars in any one's book and a lot of great stories I'm sure and many more in store.