Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You better wake up boy!

Building a race car is an amazing process of planning, ordering parts, coordinating the entire project and more but the dream of all of the above rules out over all. Speaking of dreams, last night I dreamed I had forgotten a very important part of the build process on my car. In the dream I found myself in Mexico with a car that wouldn't handle properly and no matter what I did something was wrong. When I woke up I was trying to recall what it was in the dream that was wrong. Not being one that believes that dreams are anything to be concerned about I just laughed it off. But as I was having my morning cup of coffee all of a sudden it hit me... I FORGOT TO RELOCATE THE UPPER CONTROL ARMS!!! I couldn't believe it. Relocating the upper control arms on a Shelby race car is just about as important as putting fuel in the Space Shuttle.

It's a well known fact that possibly the single most important modification Shelby did to the 1965 GT350 was relocating the upper control arms. The overall result was one of fantastic results. Actually Shelby wasn't responsible for the design but in fact Klaus Arning, a Ford Suspension engineer designed the 427 Cobra and GT40 suspensions to be used in unison with a four-link independent rear suspension. It turned out they decided not to use the independent rear suspension but the design was then turned over to Carroll Shelby who put it to good use. To this day many Shelby enthusiast are under the belief that all Sheblys used this modification which is far from correct. Another falsehood is that more is better so many made the modification using various dimensions but the correct measurement is extremely important to the driver that knows how to achieve optimum performance.

Like I said, I don't believe in mysterious or complex reasons as to interpretations of dreams. On the other hand I do believe that somewhere in my sub-conscious my brain was saying something like, "Hey stupid... wake up, have some coffee and get your butt down to the shop and fix your screw up. After all, we're not driving a Chevy." LOL.

So today I was able to remove the upper control arms and make the correct modifications and then reassemble them to the correct location.

More good news is that a special parts delivery arrived yesterday which was the original Shelby dash panel and lights that will handle all the new gauges that will be here later this week. That will make it possible for me to get a major amount of work completed on the dash instrumentation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Getting started off on the right foot

It's always important to keep a sharp eye out for new drivers and as a family man I feel it's very important to get our children and grand children started off in the right direction so today on my grandson's birthday we went for our first ride together in his new set of wheels. If you look closely you can see Tyler sitting between my legs navigating. All in all the test was a good one and now all we need is a bigger hill. I have promised to keep an eye out for any good hills in Mexico. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TYLER!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Keeping track of time La Carrera Panamericana Style

Since someone brought it up and seeing how it is related I thought it only fair to mention the famous TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph (Click on "Carrera").

The “Carrera Panamericana” was an epic race that was started in the 1950s and attracted many of the leading drivers of the time. Juan Manuel Fangio, the famous Argentinian driver who was Formula 1 World Champion five times, won the race in 1953. To pay tribute to this unique adventure, in 1963 TAG Heuer launched the Carrera Chronograph that combined refinement with the spirit of sport. It was an immediate success. It has been modernised but still retains its sober elegance. The Carrera perfectly embodies the vibrant memory of the era of “Gentleman drivers.”

Carrera is Spanish for "race", evoking the famous Carrera Panamericana rally in Mexico. Big name drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon wear it, and while the TAG line is full of iconic motorsport-inspired timepieces (like the square Monaco popularized by Steve McQueen in Le Mans), the Carrera
Automatic Chronograph Tachymetre is many driver's favorite.

And speaking of Juan Fangio, for the real connoisseur try this on for size. It's an original watch worn and then given by Fangio to his #1 mechanic. This 1950s Vetta manual watch is silver with a silver face, two subdials, and was worn by Fangio, and then later gifted to his friend and mechanic. It's inscribed at the back - Para mi amigo, companero y mecanico "Jungo" Justo Perez este presente de todo corazon 10/8/58 Juan Manuel Fangio. The front is marked "Cuervo Y Sobrinos, Habana", which was a famous store in Cuba specializing in high end watches. This was the year Fangio drove the Maserati 250F, having also raced for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Lancia. This is an incredible piece of automotive history - perfect for the car or watch enthusiast. In case you're wondering it's also been sold. See, you snooze, you lose.

Click here for other inspirational driving watches.

But we all know ROLEX is the indisputable king of wristwatches.

La Carrera Panamericana... The Board Game

While running the La Carrera Panamericana is no game and not for the light hearted, there is still a way to put your skills up against other drivers as you travel the Pan American Highway through Mexico. It's the 1950s CARRERA PANAMERICANA MEXICAN BOARD GAME! Well, they're very hard to find but it looks like keen fun to me. You can rest assured I will be looking for one while in Mexico. (As if I'll have time to go shopping. LOL) I saw one for sale on eBay but one hundred dollars plus shipping seems a tad high even though it has got to be more fun than Monopoly.

The description is as follows; Rare and original board game includes: board, five tiny plastic cars (game chips) and two dices. The 13 x 13" board features beautiful graphics of racing cars, drivers and the cities and small villages visited by the drivers during the road race. Made in Mexico by an unknown manufacturer under license by the organising commitee of the race.

I aslo found some very old collectable La Carrera Panamericana post cards of the original Lincolns which would be a nice addition to anyone's collection.

Finally we have tail lights!

This morning I finished installing the spindles, strut rods and sway bar and even the rear shocks. I am still waiting for the spring perches to be powder coated so I can finish installing the front springs and shocks. And check out those snazzy looking strut rod bushings in the top photo supplied by MAIER RACING ENTERPRISES. They're not just for looks. They allow the entire strut to move freely but lack the usual play that even polyurethane bushings have. For years I have built front ends on Mustangs but NEVER have I felt the front end suspension "work" like it does on this car thanks to Mike Maier's advise and products. Typically the front end of a Mustang gets the job done quite well but they usually feel like something that was meant to be part of a D-8 bulldozer. On the other hand the front end on this car feels more like a work of art or as if it was built to go on the space shuttle. I can't wait to be on the receiving end of the steering wheel once it's ready to dance. Hot damn!

It was nice to get some smaller items finished as well like the door sill plates to cover the wiring, some brake hose safety brackets and even the headlight switch is in and plugged into the wiring harness. And better yet the taillight lens are installed. YEAH!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rosana Rosanadana where are you?

Today as soon as some of my parts came on the UPS delivery I was on a roll getting things done one after another. First I made a new harness for the FUEL SAFE fuel sender as well as wiring for the dual electric fuel pumps that will run from the fuel cell area all the way to the dash. When I was finished with that I finished installing the heater control cables to the heater box. Then I finalized the installation of the WILWOOD RESIDUAL PRESSURE VALVES between the brake lines and the CNC master cylinder.

For some crazy reason I was excited about getting the new taillight housings and seals installed so that I could install the taillight lens and bezels. Everything was moving along perfectly and the last thing I had to do was install the eight tiny screws that hold the bezels onto the housing and wouldn't you know it, there were no screws in the kit. If that wasn't bad enough they are some special headed screw that even the hardware store didn't have in stock. Damn... so close and yet so far away. By the way, never walk into a shop full of guys and say, "I need a screw." Once again I was on he horn with DELTA BAY MUSTANG and once again Tom said "No problem." and once again Lucky sits with no taillights. Rosana Rosanadana of Saturday Night Live fame said it best, "It's always something."

Out with the bad and in with the good

Today was a good day since I got some basic jobs done on Lucky. It all began with removing the old front upper and lower control arms as well as the spindles and strut rods. Then I installed the new Maier Racing Enterprises upper and lower control arms. In the meantime the spindles and strut rods will be bead blasted and prepped for reinstallation along with the new rotors and bearings. Hey, now we're cooking with gas!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Might as well check out the celebrating too

After all, racing is all about tradition you know.

Let's take a ride together in the La Carrera Panamericana

I don't know about you but it sure looked like that navigator held up more than three fingers to the driver. HANG ON! LOL.

Does anyone know what time it is?

Remember that great song by Chicago - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? As of this evening there are only 80 days until I want to have the car ready to test at Thunderhill Raceway.

There are only 122 days before test day at Sears Point (Infineon).

That means there are only 147 days until the car will be on a trailer headed for Mexico to run in the 20th anniversary running of the re-born La Carrera Panamericana.

But who's counting?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If I had half a mind and if I thought it would do any good I would be screaming and as the picture shows this is what I would like to be doing to someone today. I have been waiting for three weeks for some parts which for the most part are semi hard to get. I was calling the (supposedly)Mustang specialty shop on a regular basis and each time I was told, "Your order was sent and some things are back ordered." or I was told, "I will call them and check with them and I promise to call you back later." Finally I called on Tuesday and they said, "Hey, we lost your phone number but your parts are in." You mean the same one I gave you about a dozen times? So I drove down this morning to pick everything up and what a joke. What was supposed to be an 80 part order turned out to be about 5!!! Then they had the nerve to tell me, "The rest of the stuff is still on back order."

I went back to my office and got on the phone with MUSTANGS PLUS and ordered all of the items they had to offer. Then with the rest of my list which was either hard to get, Shelby specialty parts or obsolete parts I gave Tom a call at DELTA BAY MUSTANG. As simple as that every single one of my parts are on their way. This guy Tom (The Good) is as awesome as they get and unlike the typical sales attendant that all too often answers the phone at these places Tom really knows his stuff. I LOVE it when I can begin describing a part and he knows before I'm finished what I'm talking about. If you need any Mustang or Shelby parts call Tom at DELTA BAY MUSTANG

The last thing I did was call the other place whom we will call "The Bad" and cancel my original order.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

One of the most dangerous races in the world

Phil Hill was the first American driver to win the 24 Hours of LeMans. He was the first to win the 12 Hours of Sebring three times. He was the first to win a modern Formula One Grand Prix race. He was the first to win a Grand Touring race in Europe in an American car. And he was the first American to win a World Championship. Needless to say Phil Hill has won a few races. Last year Phil told me that the La Carrera Panamericana was the most exciting race he ever ran, even more exciting than the Millie Miglia. Now that's a mouthful.

Recently in a interview with FORBES.COM, one of my best friends, Jerry Kunzman, executive director of the National Auto Sport Association, said that auto racing is safer than it was, particularly since the 2001 death of racing legend Dale Earnhardt resulted in more cars being fitted with improved head and neck restraints. But the sport still takes about three lives per year.

"Oval [track] racing has big groups of cars together, so a mistake by one driver could mean 20 getting into an accident," Kunzman says. He adds that open road racing, while more spread out, has more configurations and angles that could cause a crash and typically carries a higher risk of rollovers.

The Indianapolis 500 has produced 41 deaths since 1909, according to the race's Web site, while the NASCAR circuit has suffered ten fatalities since 1989, though none have occurred since Earnhardt's death.

Competitive thrill seekers aren't all 20-something Mountain Dew-chugging climbers, jumpers and extreme skateboarders. The top four finishers in the last Iditarod, the renowned 1,150-mile dog-sled race across Alaska, were all over 50 years old.

What makes them take on such risky endeavors? Dr. Samuel Putnam, an assistant professor of psychology at Bowdoin College in Maine, says thrill seeking behavior is mostly genetic, and that signs of it--from climbing the highest tree to swinging as high as possible on a swing set--can be recognized from very early ages.

"There is a gene that seems to be associated with adventure-seeking behavior," says Putnam.

One of the most exciting aspects to the La Carrera Panamericana is the simple fact there is so much adventure to be found. Unlike any racetrack while running the La Carrera Panamericana you will find no guard rails, no bails of hay and no corner workers with a flag letting you know there is trouble ahead. On the flip side of the coin you will find lots of deep canyons, cliffs, a few washed out roads and there is everything imaginable to hit that you can think of both solid and liquids.

Success or failure all boils down to the driver and the navigator becoming one with each other, the car and the road. Once you fire up that engine and the green flag is removed from your windshield there is nothing you can do regarding the countless hours of details that have gone into preparing the car to this point. Having the ability to put all that behind you has a lot to do with how well the car was set up and how well engineered the car was designed. Thanks to my crew, navigator, and the guys at IMPACT ENGINEERING Jon and I can rest assured that we are in as safe a car as can be found. From this point on it's just men and machine and the sixth sense that great drivers instinctively have from the time we are born.

Friday, May 18, 2007

How loooow can you goooo?

Even with tiny little 14 inch tires and without the shock absorbers bolted in now that the rear suspension is in place these photos clearly show that the car is considerably lower than it was with the old suspension and it's going be even lower when the front end is back up where it belongs. If you look at the photo on top you can clearly see that Lucky's height is exactly the same as the GT350 R Models in the Shelby American factory photo from 1965. Poor ole Lucky had seen some rough times it seems. He had worn out old leaf springs with leaf spring helpers added and when we removed the original shackles three of the four were broken. Now Lucky is beginning to feel and look like a young tiger that's crouched ready to attack as his rear end is now settling down where a GT350 R Model belongs. It won't be long until his rear claws crab a bunch of asphalt and spring out with a roar.

I have some more secrets planed for the suspension since there are some serious obstacles waiting for us in Mexico and we will not be caught with our pants down.

Houston... We have ignition. Vroom Vroom

Funny but it seems I find more satisfaction in some of the small issues more so than I do large ones. For example, I know that my engine will be nothing short of perfection and I know my suspension is exactly what the doctor ordered for our application and again, nothing short of nirvana. On the other hand there are many nights I wake up asking myself, "How should I hook up that thing-a-ma-jig? Which way should I run the hoses or hey, what if I did it this way?" Many times I find myself contemplating various ways of designing a better mouse trap only to settle for what has worked so well and tried and true. The same thing was happening with my many ideas for the ignition/starter switch. I thought of various switch boards found in all the regular catalogues. Then I wondered about various locations that I had seen in other cars or articles ranging all over the car from the dash to the console area and even overhead for a few seconds. It's true what they say about us Virgos. Nothing short of perfection will do and it often drives me crazy but usually the end result finds me extremely satisfied. In this case the simplicity of a simple but efficient bezel located where the original ignition switch used to be seems all too perfect. Like I said, the smallest things seem to be the most satisfying.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Honey, does my rearend look big to you?

Whatever you do, when asked this question, NEVER answer. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't. By choosing not to reply at least they have nothing to hold over you when you eventually return from the hospital. But if you still feel the need to say something then try saying, "Ya know the that big rear end in my GT350 is from a Lincoln Versailles and there is nothing better built than that beauty." As you can see from the photos we got the rear end, the racing leaf springs, shackles, shims and bushings installed this evening and a fair amount of the Maier Racing adjustable panhard bar installed as well.

Earlier today I took off for GOTELLI'S SPEED SHOP in South San Francisco. Gotelli's has been more like a home away from home for me since the early 70's when the guys all took as much interest in watching me wind up a motor as much as I did a story or two and boy did I have a few. Some things never change. Known as "Terrible Ted," Gotelli was an often-outspoken, no-nonsense racer and one of the sport's best mechanics. He founded the still-standing Gotelli Speed Shop in 1961 in South San Francisco, began his racing career behind the wheel in 1955 with a '29 Ford A/Modified Roadster that he drove to track records at numerous Northern California tracks, but was better known as a team owner and tuner. He gave many drivers the opportunity to showcase their skills in his Gotelli Speed Shop entries, including Jim McClennan, Bud Barnett, Glen Leasler, Jerry Card, Denny Milani, Roy Thode, Kenny Safford, Norm Wilcox and myself.

As well known as Ted was he never mentioned the fact that he was one of the pioneers from old dry lake racing that eventually led to what is known as the NHRA as we know it today and he knew everyone personally that had played any major role in the sport. When I was about 18 years old one day I was telling him about a problem with an engine I had and he told Ted Jr to get "Ed" on the phone. So before I knew it I was speaking to "Ed" and told him what I was trying to do and so he told me how he would fix it. As I hung up I looked at the guys on the counter and said, "That old man is crazy as hell. Who in the hell is Ed? He doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground." About that time the guys all cracked up and as I turned around good old Ted was standing there chewing on his short old cigar with a look of disgust on his face. As he turned to walk away he said, "Go ahead and tell this idiot who that crazy old Ed is." The guys all began laughing hysterically as they all said in unison, "That crazy old man was Ed Iskenderian !" Ted is missed but the guys at the store still take care of me to this day and you can't find a finer bunch of guys in a speed shop anywhere. While I was there I picked up my Edlebrock water pump along with my flywheel and some other trick parts and headed off for the North Bay where my engine builder is.

It was good to see the guys at the engine builder as well and I had time to hang out for a while to check out the progress on the engine and see some parts fitted as well. I also took them some items for the engine like the new "tall" valve covers and other misc goodies.

After I left my engine builder I headed off to meet Tom the owner over at DELTA BAY MUSTANG who had invited me to come take a tour of his shop. Little did I know what I was getting into. No sooner than I got there I remembered exactly how I felt when I was a kid in a candy store. Oh... My.... God! The owner Tom was busy on the phone so in between calls he simply said, "Make yourself at home and have a look around and while you're at it take a walk out thru those doors back there and take a look at some of my toys." In less than five minutes I had to ask for a blank sheet of paper to start keeping a list of things I needed him to get ready. I couldn't help but think this is how a heroin addict gets his first fix for free and then it's going to cost and cost and cost. Tom and his wife Zee are the sort of people you like from the very first second you meet them. Trust me when I tell you these photos in no way do their awesome place justice as they seem to have every single Shelby part a guy could ever want and better yet it's all first cabin quality. And for those parts Tom didn't have he went out of his way to get. There were several obsolete items I needed and he just made them appear. Many thanks to Tom and his lovely wife Zee for making me feel so at home. By the way Zee, what time is dinner?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Running on a treadmill

I often ask myself why people run on a treadmill when they can run outside. Peresonally I hate it when I am trying to do something and feel like I'm getting nowhere. Isn't that the defintion of a treadmill?

That's the way I have felt for the last couple days. Trying hard but getting nowhere. But finally today a few more pieces of the puzzle came together. The battery box is finally installed as well as the main battery cables up to the engine compartnment as well as the saftey/kill switch. I also made a cool looking face plate and installed the main ignition and starter switches.

Then it was off to Maier Racing Enterprises to pick up almost all of my front and rear suspension. Talk about a kid in a candy store. (Tool man grunt) Tomorrow some of my crew is going to help remove the old rearend and leaf springs and install the new ones. The new rearend housing is all cleaned and painted as well as all new axle bearings. Depending on how late we work we may find time to install the Maier Racing adjustable panhard bar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We've been noticed

I would like to thank our friends over at THE GARAGEBLOG.COM for recognizing our blog and for the awesome welcome they have extended to us. Be sure and visit them at THE GARAGEBLOG.COM where you will find lots of first rate articles, photos, stories and videos of what we all love... cars, cars, and more cars.

After all these years

Remember a while back I mentioned one of the cars that had the unfortunate luck of getting up close and personal with a vulture that came thru their windshield at a high speed. I recently found a photo of that very car as it sits on display to this day in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart Germany .

Here are three of the most famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars in history. At the far left is the 1952 300 SL race car was Mercedes-Benzis first post-war racer, and in that year Karl Kling and Hans Klenk drove this car to win Mexico's grueling Carrera Panamericana. The windshield bars were added after a Turkey Vulture flew through the windshield. In the middle is the famous #722 300 SLR roadster that Stirling Moss and navigator Dennis Jenkinson piloted to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia, departing Brescia at 7:22 a.m. (hence the number), and setting a record that was never broken. On the right is a 1955 W196R streamliner like those that Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling powered to a 1-2 victory at the Formula One race in Reims.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I am beginning to understand just how he felt

It was the White Rabbit in Alice And Wonderland who said. "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date."

As I sat down in my den tonight to relax I began doing some calculations in my head but it didn't take long until I had the calander in front of me and pen in hand. As I did the math the word safari came to mind. Safari is an old Swahili word meaning a long journey and indeed it seemed at the time like it was in fact going to a long journey and such a long time to wait. That was September of 2006 and and here it is already in the middle of May!

Considering the car still needs a dash with gauges, battery cables, fuel pump and hoses, all susspension, all windows, fenders, hood and trunk, seats, seat belts and window nets, navigation and radio equipment, oh yeah and don't forget the engine, transmission, shifter and rear end, exhaust, radiator, hoses, belts, trailer maintence, and God knows what here are some interesting numbers...

There are only 92 days until we are supposed to be testing at Thunderhill.

There are only 134 days until we are supposed to be testing at Sears Point.

There are only 159 days until we leave with the Coyote Convoy on our way to Mexico.

Keeping in mind I made myself a promise I would have the car COMPLETLY finished and ready no later than the end of September to help the stress and "What-if" factors, that means there are only 142 days left. Like the saying goes in Adam Sandlers movie The Waterboy...
"You can do it."


From the desk of Gerie Bledso, North American Director of LCP.

This may be the biggest Carrera year--at least for the norteamericanos--since the mid-1990’s. We have a healthy contingent of fifty (maybe more) coming down to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the modern La Carrera Panamericana. We will continue to sign up participants until the organizers say “no mas.” Interest in Europe has been running high as well, but we have no information about actual entries. Almost half of the fifty entries are new guys (sorry, no women drivers). The best represented states are California, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Arizona. Other states include: New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Michigan, Georgia, and, of course, the U.S.V.I. Maybe two guys from Canada will join us. Six or seven Porsche 356s have signed up. A stock 356 may run in three classes: Original Pan Am (OPA), Sports Menor, or Historic A. The more heavily modified Porsches will run in Sports Menor. Cars that are mostly stock may run in Historic A or OPA.

Not counting any 356s, eleven cars have signed up for Original Pan Am. This class almost died out a few years ago. Obviously, it’s back. This should be the premier class, honored above all. Historic A and B entries are thin this year, but Historic C has nineteen so far. We have no word on the concept of a Historic D for supercars or extending the manufacturing eligibility date to 1967. In fact, the rules have not yet been promulgated for 2007.)

Historic C will be dominated by Shelby GT-350s and R code clones this year, along with their cousin the so-called Falcon Monte Carlo. Three, maybe four, of these special Falcon replicas are entered. Fifty or so were made--mostly of fiberglass-- in 1964 to rally in Europe. With their light weight and 400 horsepower 289/302 engines, they are now the car to beat in Historic C. Last year, one piloted by “los Vikings” (Sweden) finished second overall and would have probably won the whole event, if that were possible, had not the last speed stage--the track in Monterrey--been canceled “because of darkness." (Thus another Carrera legend was created.)

Let's get rolling

Today I finished installing the metal brake lines that run the full length of the car and began tearing down the Lincoln Versailles rear-end that Jon and I picked up several months ago when this project first began rolling. (No pun intended.) The axles will be sent out for new bearings and some other parts will be hot tanked before bead blasting and eventually paint.

I also found time to install the battery box and install the vent so no battery fumes will evern enter the cockpit.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Highs & Lows

Today is one of those mixed emotions day. Life is often like being in a boat at sea in that there are moments we are up and there are those when we are down. Racers are like everyone else in that we share the same highs and lows. All of our emotions are gauntlets we must endure and the race cars must take a back seat at times while we reflect on what really matters... Our Family, Our Friends, Our Health and Our Beliefs.

It's ironic that as my wife and I celebrate our first grandson who is 11 months old taking his first steps on the same day that my brother is morning the loss of his first grandson who was supposed to turn 17 but was killed when he hit a tree while doing over 100 miles per hour this last week. Our prayers are with my brother and my nephew and their families.

Another downer is the sad news that one of our outstanding team members will not be able to join us for this adventure to Mexico and he will be sorely missed as a result of some back pains. Speaking of irony, on the other side of the gauntlet is the fact that his absence has made it possible for another favorite team member to share in the adventure. Mike, thank you for your sacrifice and all that you bring to the table. You will not be left behind and in spirit you will be with us every mile of the journey.

Five steps to good steering

Now Lucky's steering column is completed except for one last support bracket and brace. Today I installed the GRANT racing steering wheel along with a GRANT steering wheel quick release. This combination is exceptional for several reasons. First and foremost the quality of the quick release is far beyond any I have ever had. Regardless of who made them, every steering wheel quick release I have ever had has always had some movement/slop but there is none to be found with this one. Another outstanding feature about this specific application is that the spline bolts onto the shaft instead of needing to be welded like most others. By being bolted on instead of welding I can change the upper steering shaft bearing or turn signal switch should I ever need to and furthermore I will never have to worry about the weld breaking. Don't laugh, I have seen it happen. Most race cars do not require turn signal switches but in this race it does and using the factory switch really simplifies and sanitizes the entire installation.

As for today's title, what does all this have to do with five steps you ask? While I was typing this post my 11 month old grandson, Tyler Gene, just took his first steps. Not only did he take his first steps but I was lucky enough to get it on camera! Just think, today his first five steps... Before long he will be driving a race car. Thank God for this little gift from Heaven.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Grab a hand full of this

Today besides some miscellaneous and minor details I installed the rear valance as well as the rear quarter panel extensions. Be sure and notice the inserts that I installed in the rear vallance so that a licsense plate will be installed. I still have to chuckle everytime I remember per the rules this will be a registered and legal car that can be driven on public highways.

On other topics today I received a call from Mike Maier from MAIER RACING ENTERPRISES. Mike had built me some custom spring saddles where the coil springs seat onto the upper control arms complete with bushings so that they will work the way good suspension is supposed to. Almost all suspension when new is too tight thus has a difficult time freeing up the suspension to perform up to our standards. When it comes to good race suspension free moving is good... Loose is bad. VERY bad. Mike's father Bill Maier used to build a similar part back in the days when he ran the Trans-Am circuits but before releasing them to me Mike built a prototype and installed them in one of his autocross cars and went and ran some races over the weekend. He says they are the hot set up and after he puts some finish touches on them like lube fittings they will be ready next week along with the entire front and rear suspension package.

Included in the all inclusive custom built package will be;

Shocks front and rear.
Upper and lower control arms with reinforcement.
Front and rear sway bars.
Spring saddles.
Strut rod bushings.
Front coil racing springs.
Rear rear leaf racing springs.
Rear adjustable panhard rod assembly.
Urethane bushing kits throughout and new U-bolts.
Shackle kits.
Adjustable rear end angle alignment shims.
And a few more goodies but if I told you everything then I would have to shoot you.

Why is it for every item I finish I have to order 10 other things?
Along with these miscellaneous parts will be the original Shelby Quick Steer idler and pitman arms used on the original GT350 R model Shelbys and powered by a Coleman Racing power steering pump system.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Have you ever wanted to smell like a Mustang? LOL

Introducing Mustang - The New Fragrance for Men: Bold. Daring. Legendary. Real Men Inspire and Drive Today's Fragrance Market -- Available Nationwide Beginning July 2007
NEW YORK, May 07, 2007 -- Aramis and Designer Fragrances, a global leader in the Prestige Fragrance industry and a division of a subsidiary of The Estee Lauder Companies, announces its partnership with Ford to introduce Mustang, a new men's scent that embodies the spirit of today's man: strong, confident and driven. Mustang, the new fragrance for men will launch in July 2007 to retailers nationwide and rollout to mass merchandisers and chain drug stores in August 2007.

"We are so excited to be launching a fragrance with Mustang, an American icon that today holds international recognition and an undeniable established reputation. This fragrance will bring the Mustang man to life while remaining true to the core values and classic tradition of the Mustang brand," states Robin Mason, Vice President, Global Marketing for Aramis and Designer Fragrances.

The Mustang fragrance exemplifies the allure of the Mustang man - bold, daring and legendary. The heart of the fragrance, a fusion of pipe tobacco and cedarwood, evokes a daring ruggedness. The legendary masculine notes of amber, fir balsam and patchouli complete the fragrance, giving the scent an appealing aura for all men.

"Today's man has a presence that is strong and confident with an innate masculinity that does not go unnoticed. He's a guys' guy, yet is both modern and authentic," says Trudi Loren, Vice President, Corporate Fragrance Development Worldwide for The Estee Lauder Companies. "Mustang captures these qualities by infusing a blend of warm ingredients into a dynamic signature scent." "Aramis and Designer Fragrances is a global leader in the industry and we are proud to partner with them. "It is a great partnership when you can bring together two companies that are so strongly rooted in American culture as our two companies." The bottle and packaging created for Mustang complete the vision of the new scent. The bottle is simple and sleek, but masculine in shape. It has a graphite cap and collar with a silver hot stamping and the Mustang Pony logo on the label. The outside packaging is a graphite metal reusable "Collector's Tin" with the iconic Pony logo.

Beginning in July 2007, Mustang, the new men's fragrance, will be sold in the U.S.

Mustang is one of the greatest automotive sales success stories of all time.

Nearly one out of every two sports cars sold in the United States is a Mustang, and remains one of the hottest-selling cars in America. It's also America's best-selling convertible.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I got a hot scoop for you....

Today I finished installing the side scoops as well as the functional rear brake ducts. All Shelbys had the side scoops but very few were in fact functional. They are a great help in cooling the rear brakes. You have no idea how hard it is to take a three and a half inch hole saw and begin cutting a hole right in the side of a car with a brand new paint job on it and if that isn't enough then I had to perfectly align and drill holes to attach the side scoops as well. Whew... am I glad that's done successfully!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Something old... Something new

I have said it before but keeping up with today's technology is really something. I remember as a young boy what was considered high tech as opposed to today's high tech and all I can saw is Wow! It's amazing how far technology has brought about so much horsepower in such few years. And it's even more amazing when you realize that back in the 60's if you wanted horsepower you just built a bigger motor. Nowadays it's clear to see the bigger is better mentality is all but history. Instead of finding heavy boat anchor big blocks many high performance engines are of a far smaller caliber many of which have far more horsepower than was to be found in the big blocks of yesteryear.

The horsepower department is not the only area that has succumbed to the advances of technology. Everything from stopping power, tire quality, suspension and anything else imaginable have been improved upon. But then we must also take into consideration the time old tradition of respect for the works that got the ball rolling. It was those very same big blocks that tore up the tracks that got everyone's adrenaline flowing and in turn got some folks asking questions like, "Hmm, what can I do to make this thing just a little faster than the other guy?" And don't forget records. Records are the icing on the cake. They are how the score is kept and what good is horsepower if it doesn't serve a purpose or make a statement? A few years ago a friend of mine asked Carroll Shelby if the Viper would ever be as famous as it's predecessors like the GT350, GT500 and the AC Cobras. His reply was, "Absolutely not. The Viper is one hell of a car and one I am proud to have been part of but it will never make a statement like the Shelby's from the 60's have. Back then there was a sanctioned race being run almost every weekend where the bragging rights between Ford, GM and the rest were being put to the test. This was war and as the records show the Shelby's made the statement and took those bragging rights many of which still stand to this day. Since there are not the numbers of races that there used to be, the Viper will never make such a statement or deserve such honors. The Viper is just a hot rod, it's just that simple." Having owned a Viper GTS coupe at the time Carroll said that I must say it was a little hard to swollow. That is until it sunk in as to who just said it and who am I to argue?

Since I am one of the few original owners of a rare Shelby GT500 I respect the tradition that accompanies the name and am more than proud to look back at my personal involvement with the Shelby heritage and history. At the same time I can't think of a car that has been more exciting than the GT350 that I am presently building. While the majority of this car is built on the exact same foundation as was the case back in the 60's, much of it is finding little items here and there that bring out the real beast using today's technology. Old school meets new school if you will. I have a suspicion that guys like myself share many of the same dreams and visions that Carroll Shelby did. When I close my eyes not only can I hear my little white GT350 screaming at 7000 RPM but I can see the road from the driver's seat as the windy, twisty mountain roads of Mexico go flashing by in a blur. I can't help but know that Carroll is smiling with all the satisfaction that any one man can ever have.