Monday, April 30, 2007

Let's get wired!

Today I installed literaly every single inch of the wiring in the car with all new factory wiring harness's all the way from the front headlights back to the taillights and everything inbetween including under the dash and the engine compartment. There were a few new smaller items as well such as the voltage regulator and starter relay including all new fastenters so there will be less chance of any electrical shorts. To tell the truth I have been dreading this job for sometime but now that's it's all done I must say it wasn't bad at all. But then again, considering there was absolutely nothing in the car it should have been easy.

While I was working on the car Jon brought by a box of goodies consisting of the new state of the art communication system. I took them to IMPACT ENGINEERING to get the dash bezels cut so that we could begin getting them installed so that we can analyze where to route the harness's and other realted equipment.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"That's Frahnk-en-steen"

Yes, even Dr Frankenstein had days when nothing went right. As he gathered all his parts to assemble he had to make sure every little detail was attended to so that his dream of the perfect living, breathing, specimen would perform exactly the way he hoped it would. In doing so he would prove to the world he was the the creator of all things great.

Well, that may be a little overboard but in a way we are attempting to do the same as Dr Frankenstein in that we are attempting to breath life into a real monster, one that will show the world that FORD's are the creator of all things great. Hey, it's a car thing... Gotta have some fun and poke some jabs in where I get the chance. LOL.

Even though a lot has been happening in the last few weeks it has seemed like one of those dreams where you are trying to run but you are going nowhere. As the clock ticks and guys begin saying things like, "There's only 184 days until the race begins." it's normal to begin to worry. In reality as of today it is only 165 days until we join Gerie Bledso's convoy to head south but who's counting? But even more important to me is that I need to have this car finished so we can test in August. That's only 120 days from now. That way we can give the car a good shakedown, dial everything in and test all navigation and radio equipment. But then again I have learned over years of building cars for various races that the beginning always starts off slow but then as things get moving everything begins to fall into place and it all comes together. I am the kind of guy that hates to get out of my sequence of the time line I have laid out. Each part of the build is being done at a specific time for a specific purpose and there becomes a rhythm to it all. Change that rhythm and it's like the drummer loosing his place and the whole song goes right down the crapper! Had it not taken the first body shop so darn long I could have had a LOT of other things finished by now. But that's behind us now so it's on with the show and the good news is nothing has suffered any attention to details or quality as a result.

Today we installed a lot of new parts including the firewall insulation, the heater core and box (which required some modification due to the roll cage thru the firewall) and all of the defroster hoses and ducting and controls. Then we installed the FLAMING RIVER steering gear box and column. After we finished that in went the complete new set of clutch and brake pedal assemblies and rods topped off with a very cool CMC purpose built racing dual master cylinder and all new brake lines and fasteners.

As each item gets checked off the "Things to do list" I have to write down 3 more to do or at very least more parts or fasteners to locate to give it that "California's Best" touch. Today I realized the "Keeping it on a budget" mentality just does not work in the same sentence with "Racing". My wife told me, "The next time I hear you tell me you are going to build a car on a budget, I'm going to hit you in the head with a hammer. Maybe then it will sink into that thick skull of yours that it never works that way." Then she made me promise to take her out for dinner.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Christmas came early this year

In order to do the job right when you order parts for a project like this one you need to do lots of research. Just ordering the first thing that you see in some one's catalogue or because some one's buddy tells you it's "good stuff" doesn't mean it will stand up to what we are about to put Lucky through. This typically means all too many times getting stuck on the phones talking to some kid that hasn't quite gone thru puberty yet who is attempting to sell me parts as he keeps saying, "Bro, this is really sick stuff. A friend of a friend of my X-girlfriend's brother used this bitchin stuff and he said it's really rad."

This is brings up the reason why I would like to thank the guys at MUSTANG PLUS for the awesome service they have given me. It's just this simple, I call, they answer, I ask my technical questions and if they don't have the correct answer they find out who does. If you ever need good quality parts and service for your Mustang this is the place to get it. I have enjoyed speaking to one of the owners of MUSTANGS PLUS as well and speaking from personal experience he is the kind of guy I enjoy doing business with and I guarantee they will be hearing a lot more from CALIFORNIA'S BEST. As you can see in the photo above every time a package arrives at my office from MUSTANGS PLUS I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. (Now if I could just get them to help sponsor a part or two... Or three, or..... )

Today while I installed the fuel cell and other miscellaneous parts Anthony, my son-in-law and office manager prepped the floor before installing a special flooring coating using a technique that we developed at CALIFORNIA'S BEST. Based on our many years of winning endurance race experience one of the problems we have had to deal with is the high heat inside the car that can effect the driver's physical condition especially during hot weather racing. This also helps to seal out exhaust fumes as well. I had to laugh today as Anthony had to work within the tight confines of the cockpit without painting himself into a corner. Tomorrow I will be installing a new firewall insulation pad that will also help reduce heat transfer from the engine and exhaust.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Crank it up and let's ride

I have been working on Mustangs since the very first 64's came out and just as cool are the memories of having the battery charger hooked up so I could listen to Wolfman Jack late at night as he played Mustang Sally. And just like the Mustang that song is a classic that never gets old.

TRIVIA: Wolfman Jack orignaly got his start by working at a radio station accros the border down in Mexico. The station was heard over a large part of the states and as he became so popular he was asked to work at a well know station in Soother Cal. The rest is history. So what have we learned today... All great things (like fast Shelbys and great music) either start or end up in Mexico. Class is out now let's get back to work on the car.

Just venting

Today I installed the wiper motor and linkage and pivots and then I installed the new quarter panel vent windows which gives me a little more vision during a race.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quality Control Inspection

Today we had our first inspection by none other than Tyler Gene the quality control inspector. He performed a very thorough inspection and left no nut or bolt un-drooled. But in the end after his diaper was changed we passed with flying colors. Thank you Tyler. Grandpa loves you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Time Machines


Speaking of time machines, today I read something that might happen in the auto world that is nothing short of simply amazing. One of the greatest cars of all time was the Packard and the Packards played a major role in the history of the La Carrera Panamericana and now there is a very good chance the Packard will make a comeback. Can you just imagine seeing a new Packard entered in the La Carrera Panamericana? These are thoughts that race car drivers only dream of.

From CLASSIC CAR.COM here are what they have to say...

Resurrecting the Packard

If the folks at the Packard® Motor Car Company have anything to say about it, it will be. The intention is for the new Packard to feature a 460-horse 525 cubic inch aluminum V12 engine with 520 ft.-lb. of torque. The New Packard Project has been in the works for some time, and the most recent news is of October 2006, when the company reported a funding proposal was nearing completion. More photos and specifications are available at the Packard Motor Car Company website. No word on potential MSRP, but the company indicates the car will compete in the ultra-luxury segment.

Knights in White Satin

Today was an exciting day for Team California's Best. It started out by seeing the completeion of the car being painted and things just kept getting better from there. Here are a few shots of how things looked today. The color is the original Shelby GT 350 Wimbledon White and the LeMans racing strips which will be added later by IMPACT ENGINEERING will be the original Guardsman Blue.

For no reason at all when I saw the car today a favorite 60's song, Knights in White Satin by the Moody Blues popped into my head. When the car is returned to IMPACT ENGINNERING for the blue racing strips I may just tell them, "Paint them Moody Blue." LOL. Tomorrow the car returns back to our shop to begin installing some really neat stuff. What am I talking about..... I have to install EVERYTHING!

I would like to take this time to thank the guys at Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting of San Jose, CA for going so far above and beyond the call of duty. I still feel as if it's all a dream and you guys way outdid yourself. I am impressed and keep in mind I have been in this business for a lot of years. Not only did they beat everyone else's price but they beat their own deadline BY A WEEK! Even though I kept telling you "It's just a racecar." the quality is outstanding. Thanks guys!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What to expect at La Carrera Panamericana 2007 LOL

There is more to prepare than the just car

It's something drivers would rather not have to be concerned with however being prepared doesn't mean you can overlook some issues that could possibly arise. Once again it's what I call "What-if racing" and it's just one more reason why we need to be absolutely certain that our car can take whatever Mexico, the weather, wildlife, donkeys and even Mother Nature dishes out.

It's times like these that you want to have all your affairs in order so in the event of one of the above your team members will know exactly what is expected of them so they can each take care of their perspective duties. Each member of the team should have phone and insurance numbers for each other should the need arise. This is one more reason why blood types and allergies are on the car, helmet and driver's suit.

In all fairness, not every unexpected wild ride results in the need to do anything more than thank God, have a beer and begin with the tall tales... "Did I ever tell you about the time......" For example, when I was 16 years old I took a ride off a cliff while racing along the Rogue River Canyon that found me still inside my car some 375 yards just inches from rolling over into the deep side of the river. There was not a single door left on the car, the top had completely crushed me in-between two padded seats and the entire time two loggers where trying to extradite me from the car I was yelling, "How does my car look from out there? Will my dad be able to tell I had an accident?" I walked away without so much as a bruise but not all wild rides end with such prosperity and triumph.

The photos above were taken during the 2005 La Carrera Panamericana as North American Coordinator Gerie Bledso and navigator took a hairy ride that resulted in too many end over ends to count. Once again it shows why safety should never be anything short of perfection. Picture courtesy of Bret Haller and

Not only did Gerie Bledso's experience help to make the La Carrera Panamericana a safer race as a result of lessons learned regarding safety equipment but also resulted in some equipment rule changes and Gerie continues racing to this day even as I type this post. Gerie has been instrumental in helping us prepare for the upcoming La Carrera Panamericana and has never tired from the barrage of questions I dish out. Team California's Best would like to thank Gerie for being the outstanding gentleman racer that he is not to mention his involvement with the National Auto Sports Association (NASA).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You can never over-do saftey

The other day while I was visiting the body shop to check on my car there was another customer also checking on his Mustang. He walked over to my car and told me he had been checking out my car. "Seems to me you have way over-done the roll cage. Isn't that a bit over-kill?" I smiled, grit my teeth and asked which car was his. He took me over to a very nice Mustang and it was very clear that he was very proud of it. He went on to say, "I have driven this baby since 1966 and except for a few new pieces of chrome and the paint it's purrs like a kitten." I leaned in looked at the speedometer and it read 81,000 miles and then I asked if we could look under the hood. After he opened the hood I began to realize why the roll cage in the California's Best GT 350 R looked a tad overkill and I smiled and said, "That's a great looking six banger you have there. Pretty fast is it?" He closed the hood and said, "You'd be surprised."

When it comes to over-kill with anything related to safety... there is no such thing. The photos above are a beautifully prepared GT 350 that has ran in the Targa Newfoundland and was running in the Chihuahua Express in Mexico that is taking place this week when driver Tom Silver had a brief encounter with a mountain. As you can see, the car was destroyed but due to a good roll cage and great safety equipment the drivers are out of the car posing for a photo. On the other hand, if they would have had the guys's red mustang with the six banger neither the mountain nor the car would had suffered any damage at all simply due to the fact that the six banger's rubber band can only be wound up so tight. LOL. But seriously I have learned over the years that the less a driver has to worry about during a race the better off he is. Thanks to IMPACT ENGINEERING the last thing I will have to worry myself about is safety. Over-kill may be their middle name but over-priced they are not.

The Chihuahua Express is a practice run for the upcoming La Carrera Panamericana. Team California's Best is glad to know both Tom Silver and navigator David Fuss are safe to walk away and talk about an awesome adventure they had in Mexico thanks to good safety equipment.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Body shop update

If you have been keeping up with the progress of this build you will remember my frustration with the lack of progress by the last body shop and how excited I was to run into a long lost friend who was one of my prior body men from long ago. He told me the car would be ready in about two weeks which really got my heart pumping and I droped the car off last Thursday afternoon. On the following Monday morning I stopped by and he told me he was going to shoot the paint on Tuesday and I got even more excited even though I asked him to wait a few days because I had ordered all new front fenders, headlight buckets and other body pieces. Today while I was dropping off the final body pieces he asked me if it would be ok if he painted and finished it on Monday. In front of some of his customers I yelled, "FIRST YOU TELL ME THE CAR WILL BE READY IN TWO WEEKS AND NOW IT'S ONLY A WEEK AND YOU'RE FINISHED! WHAT KIND OF A PLACE ARE YOU RUNNING HERE?" Needless to say we all had a good laugh. How refresshing it is when someone goes out of their way to perform. I AM STOKED!

The suspense(ion) is killing me.

When it came to choosing the suspension for this project the decision was a simple one. Having known Bill Maier since the early 70's there is one thing I have learned about him. He puts his product where is mouth is... In the winner's circle. We kid each other about having known each other since the Civil War since Bill used to supply parts for my 68 Shelby way back when and in later years we built several Mustangs for my daughter and son as well using Maier products. Best of all with regard to Maier Racing is the fact that when you talk to them they take all the time you need to make sure you have a complete understanding as to what their product will do for you and that you have an absolute understanding of how it works. Even better is it's not some lawyer speaking engineer that you're talking to... It's a racer that's been there done that and you never get the impression they are simply trying to impress you. Gotta love that.

Bill and Mike Maier of Maier Racing known for their extensive line of fiberglass, have been tuning chassis to better handle the high demands of the race track for some 40 years. While Bill made a name in Trans Am racing and fiberglass products, Mike is a racer on his own and SCCA AutoX Champion has developed a superior line of suspension products. The result is a comprehensive line of suspension components that portray an informed and applied new perspective to performance driving of Mustangs!

Influenced by Bill Maier's Racing career, the company has always been heavily involved in the racing scene with a product line supplying a wide range of race parts. Maier's knowledge of the racing industry has allowed for it to pull composite and suspension designs directly from race applications for use with high performance street cars. For this reason Maier is known as a supplier of superior performance parts. Maier doesn't go to the racing tech books for information because Maier is the source of the information.

Currently Maier designs and manufactures composites and suspension products for 1965 - 1998 Ford Mustangs. These products are designed for both racing and street use.

Maier manufactures both obsolete and new products carrying everything from the newest suspension designs to the impossible to find original Shelby reproduction panels.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Viagra for cars

It seems there is a pill for just about everything nowadays. Need to loose weight? Take a pill. Got aches and pains? Take a pill. Can't sleep? Take a pill. Too many bills? Well, there's almost a pill for everything. The good news is no matter what problems you have with a race car there is no way to make things better than to simply dive in and fix what ails you. Hey, if a small blue pill can stiffin up someones chassies just think what a big blue one could do for a race car!

Taking a late model car and adding on some performance goodies is a lot of fun but taking a 40 year old bucket of rust and turning it into a bad-ass monster is a labor of love. There were some that saw my car when I brought it home and asked "What in the hell are you going to do with that!" and they saw a beat up old car that should have been dumped in some river bank. What I saw was one of the most beautiful cars that ever graced the La Carrera Panamericana.. One that just begs to be opened up full throttle and that will create music to any auto enthusiast ears. Building this car is nothing short of ecstasy and every little challenge that pops up just gives me just that much more satisfaction as we bring out fire and metal to restore what years of exposure to the elements took away. I look forward to the challenges of various types of exposure that lay waiting in this years La Carrera Panamericana.

Here are some "Before & After" photos of just a few such repairs.