Portland Vintage Racing Festival 2018

It has been quite a few years since I have been to the historic races at PIR. So this year my friend Terry and I decided to go. We got there early in time to get a great parking spot, in the shade because it was going to get hot.

I, myself, like to tour through the pits or paddock before the cars get on the track. The showcases of the day were vintage Formula 1 and Trans Am cars. Of the Formula 1 cars there were Brabham, Tyrrell, Shadow, Lotus, McLaren and several others. Also Trans Am cars such as Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes. These were more modern bodied cars not like the old ‘67, ‘68, ‘69 and ‘70 Mustangs and Camaros that I remember of the original Trans Am cars.
Also racing were your typical selection of ‘60s and ‘70s sports cars. In different race groups there were Alfa Romeo, Porsche, BMW, Lotus, Jaguar, Volvo, Corvette, Camaro, Mustang, and a ‘65 VW Bug. Also formula cars such as Titan, Winkelmann, March, Swift, Lola and a gaggle of others were making great music on the track.

I always go for the underdogs so it was great to see a ‘65 Bug on the track mixing it up with the sporty type car. By the way, if you did not know I am a proud owner of a 1965 VW Bug named Vincent Wendall.

Also mixing it up with the V8 cars was a 1964 Studebaker Daytona. It was great to see it run with the Corvettes, Mustangs, a Porsche and a Ford Falcon.

Actually, my most favorite car there was a 1970 McLaren Can Am car. Beautiful red, big block, staggered velocity stacks, big tires and the deepest rumble sound.

The modern Trans Ams were smooth and fast until Greg Pickett looped his Mustang in turn 9. Now I know your going to say turn 9? I am old school in the old configuration of pir and it was turn 9 then. Now it’s turn 12. You know, the big sweeping right hand turn coming on to the front straight.

Geoff Brabham was the grand marshal of the festival driving a ‘72 Titan FF MK6B. I thought the most unique named car is the “Pooper” a 1953 Porsche powered Cooper. This was like one that Roger Penske drove back in the day. The weather was clear, the sun was hot and the racing was great. A great day overall even if it did take me three and a half hours to get home when it should have taken an hour and a quarter. Portland traffic!

Racing on the Rouge

Getting up a ‘0’ dark hundred on a Saturday morning, I am heading to my old stomping grounds, Grants Pass. I am going to the Boatnik. The Boatnik is a four-day festival over Memorial Day Weekend. The festival has a big parade, golf shootout, brewfest, carnival, 5K run, concert, white water hydroplane races, drag boat exhibition, and sprint boat exhibition on the Rogue River. I have been involved with sprint boats since the start in the Willamette Valley and here I am heading south on I-5. The sprint boats are part of the big Boatnik parade. I asked if I could ride in the back of one of the tow rigs in the parade. Hundreds of people line the main street, I waved and took photos.

After the parade all the sprint boats were towed to a boat ramp just down river from the main festival at Riverside Park. Here we unladed the boats and got ready to go for the day. For all you gearheads who don’t know what a sprint boat is, let me explain. Sprint boats, or as they are sometimes called, jet sprints, started in New Zealand and Australia. These boats are “unbelievable”! 14 feet long, custom aluminum hulls with V-8 Engines. The hulls are fitted with full roll cages. The engines vary from small block Chevys with carburation, to big blocks with fuel injection, to aluminum big blocks with twin turbos. The hulls differ depending upon the manufacturer or if they are custom built. There are different classes depending upon engine size. The horsepower ranges from 600 hp to 1500 hp with speeds well over 100 mph and 0-60 speeds in as little as 3.5 seconds. These boats were built to turn sharp and fast with up to 7 Gs through a 90 degree turn.

A sprint boat would normally race on a track made of ditches 15 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The track is made of islands and predetermined course through the islands. This is where the boats need to go. It’s a timed event with only one boat at a time on the track. The driver goes through the course with directions form the navigator and hand signals as fast as he or she can.

This race is a little different, there are not ditches, just a river with a current. The course the boats go through is determined by buoys set up in the river.

We had to share the river wit drag boats and the small wood outboard powered hydroplanes. So, when they were done we set up the buoys and were ready to go. The boat ramp was down river a ways from where the course was. You could see the spray of the boats as they went around some of the buoys. There was about a dozen sprint boats there so everyone went out at least four times. There was only one boat that had to be towed back.
This was an international event. There were boat teams and drivers from Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, and Australia.

We were done on the river; all the teams will be on the river tomorrow. I had a great time but now I’m heading home for a family get together. If you get a chance on Memorial Day weekend head to Grants Pass for the Boatnik. Also, if you want to see sprint boats in action you can go to Youtube under “sprint boats.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI: An evening at World of Speed Motorsports Museum

I can’t believe it. Alexander Rossi in Wilsonville. I am there. The doors are to open at 6:00. I was there at 5:30. I expected a mass of people, after all, it is Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi! There was only one other person there. At 6:00, the doors opened and by then, there were a lot more people. I bought my ticket and entered paradise. The marque display was Porsche 911 cars.
The Porsche 911 is a beautiful car. In race form, with wide wheels and tires, with it’s aerodynamic body work and flared fenders and wings it’s gorgeous. The 57 racer that was driven by Portland’s, Monte Shelton was there.

I met Ron Huehli, the curator of the museum. In 2017, Ron drove the number 26, a 1966 Lola at the vintage race at the speedway. The Lola was originally raced by Roger Ward, who came in 18th in the 500, in 1966. Mr. Huegli was kind enough to show me around the facilities. We went through the area designated for restoration, the shop area where auto repair classes are held and storage for cars not on display. In that area was stored Rolla Vollstedt’s first Indy car he built. The Offy powered car rain in the 1965 Indy 500. It was driven by a northwest driver, Billy Foster of Canada.
Enter Alexander Rossi. He said that he was glad to be there. He would be starting in 32nd positions in this years 500, not 3rd like last year. Would be challenge. He seemed positive that he could work his way up through the field.

Now question and answer time:

What is the difference between Formula 1 and Indy cars?

“Formula 1 is more robotic. As a driver you have to optimize the package that you have. Where you have no adjustments to the car. In Indy cars, you can adjust spring rate, roll center and dampeners, all within the rules The Indy cars are more of a driver’s car and how much the driver wants to win.”

Do you prefer to hand out with Formula 1 drivers or Indy car drivers?

“Indy car drivers. Indy car drivers are real people.”

Have you seen the PIR track yet?

“No, not yet.” “We are concentrating on the 500.” We are excited to come back to Portland.”

What is the difference your own car and an Indy car?

“My Honda Pilot goes from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds.” “It’s a different environment. In the Indy car, you are in the zone, concentrating.” In the Pilot, it’s about comfort.”

Any speeding tickets?

“Why, yes.”

What’s a normal day?

“Wake up. Go work out. Go to the Honda Development Center. Work on the racing simulator and practice on the different tracks. Or, go do whatever my manager has arranged for me, like a cooking show, in my own kitchen.”

What other forms of motorsports would you like to drive?

“I am very fortunate to be able to drive Indy cars, here I’ll stay.”

Having raced Formula 1, today, would you rather race at the Grand Prix of Monaco or the Indy 500?

“I would, 100 percent be at the Indianapolis 500. There is nothing better than the Indy 500.”

What was the first car you drove when you got your driver’s license?

“I might get in trouble for answering that but, it was a Chevy Silverado. The team I drive for, Andretti Motorsports, that car is powered by Honda. Some competitors have cars powered by Chevrolet. Now, we are a Honda Family.”

After winning the 2016 500, coasting across the start-finish line, coming to a stop, you sat in the car for a long time?

“I got to hear the crowd as I coasted around turn 4. Getting a chance to listen to the crowd cheering was very very special.”

There were other questions but, I thought these were an example of some of the good questions. Now, off to the “meet and greet.” There are over 200 people there. Among them was Tony Wilson, Founder of Wilson’s NAPA, with about 20 stores throughout the Wilsonville Valley and the Columbia Gorge. Also, my former boss for 18 years. After I got Alexander’s autograph, I asked him a question about what happened on the second qualifying attempt?

“I had a low line and it took all I could do to keep the car on the track.”

On Sunday I watched the greatest spectacle in racing, watching Alexander move up through the field. Driving smoothly, he was passing cars on the outside, dodging wrecks, and working his way into the top 10. At one time he was leading the race, then he finished in fourth. Great job of driving especially since he started 32nd.

I’m looking forward to watching him race at Portland International Raceway in the September Grand Prix of Portland.

Fall in the Fifties

The 50s in the Fall Car Show in Lebanon has been put on by the Rollin’ Oldies Car Club for the past 27 years. The club was formed in 1990 by founding father Harry Carter. Today the club has over 120 members as well as several lifetime members. Those who are host cars do not compete for trophies. The show is open to all ages and groups of vehicles.
This year was one of the biggest shows with over 236 assorted vehicles. With that many cars it took up pretty much all of the space of the beautiful River Park which has been the site of the show since the beginning. The only exceptions were when the park was being revamped in some way.

With cars from all over we were treated with oldie, but goodie, sounds from Russ Strohmeyer of Stro’s DJ Service.
The Rollin’ Oldies Car Club is very active in Lebanon. The show has been at River Park from the start. With donations from the club, for example, there has been a new flagpole installed at the park.

Other donations are unique to the needs. Lebanon is home of COMP-Northwest Medical School. The club has purchased medical bags for the student doctors to help them out with expenses. Other moneys go to scholarships for LBCC Auto Shop students, different charities like soup kitchens and the Oregon Veterans Home, also in Lebanon.

Just about every car show has a raffle drawing. This show had some great prizes. The most unique prize I have ever seen was a case of toilet paper. The guy who won that was very happy!

“Rocketeer” Rich Bailey brought his blown alcohol dragster. Rich not only races the dragster, but he displays it at shows, too. This year, after a summer of racing he finished 5th in points, racing at tracks throughout the west coast. Between races he has shown the car at the state fair and several car shows throughout the state, which helps his sponsor Burgerville of Albany and Capital Auto Group of Salem. Not only does it look great, but it sounds great. “Let’s fire this beast up!” is something you always want to hear at a show. Rich and his crew did just that. He started the dragster and, yes, it did sound great!

“Ava”, a love story…After WWII a young man bought a new car, a 1946 Desoto coupe. He dated a young lady from Redmond. Back then to date a young lady you needed an escort, but this Desoto did not have a back seat. The escort had to follow in another car. So, there was more alone time for this young man and his young lady friend. You may think the young lady’s name is Ava, but the car’s name is Ava. Jim bought the car new in 1946 and drove it all the time until 1972. He married his lady friend and they lived together until Jim passed away from cancer. Before he died he put Ava in a heated garage, up on blocks for the next 42 years. In 2017, Jim’s wife passed and the family sold the car to Ray and Dianne Lancaster of Salem. Ava is all original. A 236 flathead six cylinder automatic top shift transmission.

Without the back seat the trunk is huge, big enough to sleep in. Only 531 were made. Now there is a new love story with Ray and Dianne Danny Petersdorf from Salem has owned his ‘59 Pontiac Catalina for over four years. The car is all original except the interior having been redone. Everything else done on the car is “age correct” including Danny’s hairstyle—a purple mohawk—cool! I know they had different hairstyles back then, including mohawks, but maybe not purple!

A true custom, Dan Pullen’s 1949 Chevy Fleetline. Back in the 50’s you built customs from parts of different cars. Dan did just that. He has owned the car since 1987. The car has been chopped, lowered with air bag suspension with a 4 bar rear end. He took parts from a ‘57 Chevy dash, ‘62 Cadillac taillights, ‘57 Chevy grill bar, and an Olds windshield. Dan did all the bodywork himself. He did a great job of splicing and dicing which turned out to be one of the smoothest bodies I’ve ever seen.

Founding father, Harry Carter, who is no longer with us, would be very proud of what the Rollin’ Oldies have done over the last 27 years and what is in store for the next 27 years and longer.