2018 SALEM SHOW AND SHINE CAR SHOW

I have been to and entered a lot of car shows over the years. I always ask where does the entry fee and all the proceeds go? Some of the answers I get are we have not determined yet, a charity, or a good cause. This show was for a great cause. Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Oregon chapter. From what I saw the veterans did a lot of the work. Everything from registration to coffee and doughnuts, to help parking the cars.

One thing I really appreciated was the respect shown. When the Color Guard presented the flags and the national anthem began everyone stood at attention, removed their hats and showed their respect. It was really great.

Now on with the show. You name it and it was there. I have not seen a DeLorean in a long time. When I saw it I thought where do you get the fuel for the flux capacitor? Just a reference to the movie “Back to the Future.” When was the last time you saw a ‘67 Rambler American. It looked bone stock on the outside with a beautiful orange/gold paint job. But the killer is it has a 401 V8 engine with 2 Holley 4bbl carbs. There was a beautiful ‘84 Chevy Monte Carlo, custom paint, lots of chrome and hydraulic suspension.

Three other cars that caught my eye were a Porsche, a Cadillac and a Corvette. The 1955 bright red Porsche 356 Speedster was flawless. Looked all original and I think it would be a kick in the rear to drive. Also in the line of vintage vehicles there was a 1951 Cadillac four door, all original, grey in color with a back seat big enough that I could crawl in there and take a nap. Now on the other end of the spectrum was a 2006 Corvette. This car is the best of both worlds. A great looking show car, but the driver Larry Holt races it also. The Silver State Classic Challenge is a timed open road race for 90 miles in Nevada. In 2017 Larry averaged 124.996 mph with the highest speed up to 165 mph. I asked Larry, “What it was like out on the open road?” One of the things he said was, “don’t forget to breath.” I’m breathless just thinking about it. With three WWII airplanes flying overhead in the clear sky and knowing that we are helping our veterans, it was a great day.

Grand Prix of Portland 2018

They say you can never go home again. That is not always true. You can go home, only things have changed. Home for me is Portland International Raceway. For 23 years I was involved with the Indy Car races at PIR. In 1984 I volunteered as a technical inspector. My job was to help weigh and measure the race cars. Another part of the job was to keep track of the pop off valves for the turbochargers of the car I was assigned to. As an observer I had the privilege of going just about anywhere. This included the paddock area, the pit box and even the race team tent and trailers.

During the race I was in the pit box, off to one side, out of everybody’s way, observing the pit crew in action. During the pit stops, I would be checking the number of crew over the wall, number of tires that were being changed, fuel and several other things, for instance if the race car runs over the air hoses.

I had a great time over 23 years meeting crew members and owners and drivers. The only thing I regret is the rule I was not allowed to have a camera, so no photos.

Fast forward to 2018. I am at home again at PIR this time with a camera. I am here as reporter and photographer for Roddin’ and Racin’ NW Newspaper. As a photographer, I had just about the same privileges as before. I could not go into the race teams trailer and tent area without permission from the team. That also goes for the pit box. However, I could go anywhere else. The main rule was not to take any photos of the race cars if certain body parts were off the car, unless you get permission from the team.

My plan was to do a follow up story about Alexander Rossi, the NAPA driver. I did a story earlier this year when Alexander visited the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville. Alexander was, of course, much busier preparing for the race than he was at the museum. So I concentrated on his pit crew.

It was great watching these guys in action. Just like true athletes they would stretch and limber up before pit stop practice and before the race. I asked nicely and got permission to be in the pit box. Here I am 11 years later, standing in the corner of the pit box at the pit wall. It felt great, just like old times. As I stood there I watched them remove a coil over shock, take it apart and change the spring in less than a minute. Amazing!

During the times of hot pit practice, Alexander would bring the car in at full pit speed, just like during a race. The pit crew jumped over the wall, changed 4 tires, got a full tank of fuel and then off he would go. It was like watching a ballet, the smooth fast motion, every crew member on their toes doing their jobs precisely. As Alexander took off out of the pits, it reminded me of how Little Al would leave the pits in a cloud of tire smoke.

In the time leading up to Sunday’s race I have never seen such a large crowd in the paddock area. It was very much a family event. Parents and their children were looking at the race cars and talking to crews and drivers. I even saw one of the drivers kneeling down to talk to a little guy on his level, face to face, and autograph the hero card. It was great.
While going through the paddock area I talked to one crew member about the body part that covered the front shocks. The cover was made of carbon fiber and the vinyl decal weighed just as little as the body part, they are that light.

Sunday, I was invited to the NAPA hospitality chalet. I took photos of Napa guests with Alexander. As he was leaving, I had a moment to ask a few questions. Simple questions, such as how do you like Oregon?

“I love it.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“I don’t know.”

Who is your favorite driver?

“Lewis Hamilton and Kyle Bush.”

Now that is two different ends of the spectrum: Nascar and Formula 1.

As I watched the race from the chalet I thought you can go back home. The view from the chalet was great, but not as exciting as being in the pit box as the cars come in for a pit stop as I did 11 years ago. I want to thank the guys from NAPA and Alexanders pit crew for a great weekend. Alexander weekend was not so good. He finished eighth after leading the race. Yellow flags did not help him. Takuma Sato was the winner of the race this time.

Oh yes, you can go home again, as long as you expect things to be different.

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.