His buddies called him Soupbone. Primarily, because of his size, 6’4’’ a tall gentle giant. For the past year and a half, he had been wrestling the unwanted visitor known as Cancer. No one knows how they will respond if or when they have the diagnosis, but when the dark secret is revealed, you either fall or fly.
For two years he wrestled the beast. Through back pain so debilitating it had him bed ridden, the times where he could not walk. Sleepless nights beside his beloved wife that would make the normal person shelve one’s sights of living, but his tiny wife would squeeze his hand in the middle of the night and assure him he had years to live.
Before his condition had been revealed Soupbone had been toiling over his restoration of his old race car. A ’29 Model A Roadster powered by a Y Block V8 he had massaged into a contender at the tracks in his youth. Time, that enemy of youth had drained the miles and years one ¼ mile at a time and had torn away the zip of the once powerful roadster, but Soupbone had it in his mind that he still had a winning combination and was on the rebuild when his diagnosis read red across the board.
Cancer. Malicious. The silent killer.
One night, after he was into his chemo program, he walked out to his shop and took it all in. 47c had been partially disassembled and was scattered across his work benches, the floor and upon his long stalled ’63 Galaxie project. He wondered how the hell he could ever put it back together. Time and his notion for a heavy left foot had taken a toll on his old hot rod. His lower back was starting to ache again when the door to his shop opened and his tiny wife was there.
“Bear, I know you better than anyone alive. I feel that with the cancer that is raging inside you, well, you feel hopeless.” She paused. Her brown eyes shimmered under the shop lights. A tear rolled down her left cheek. “But, you have to know, you have been through worse. You are a survivor. A fixer. You put life into things that many have abandoned. I think that if you channel that strength, that gift of reviving things many have left for dead into yourself, you will succeed.”
His lovely tiny misses walked up to him and they embraced. He tried with all of his might to hold it together, but eventually melted down in her embrace. She always had her way of giving him strength, drive to conquer what he feared.
Bear kept that a memory locked into his mind. He even wrote his wife’s words down and would look at them as he went through all of his treatments and as he would toil over 47c in his shop.
Bear lost his hair, he shed body mass and at times felt that he was not too far from cashing it all in. But even as his body battled the demon C, he would walk out to his shop every night and attempt to accomplish one more thing on the checklist. As the results began to show in his favor, so did the progress on his roadster. Bear felt, at times, he and 47c were kindred spirits, both just battling to stay alive, one helping the other to make it another day.
Bear’s numbers dropped and with his drive to end his suffering and drive to kick cancer’s ass, he did. It was not easy. But he had the passion and yearning to live just one more day. To see the moon, stars, see that amazing sunrise. To kiss his tiny wife, hear his grandchildren laugh and another thing, to drive his roadster.
April 27th the news arrived that he was cured. The cancer was gone, and he was given a good bill of health.
Dawn cracked the skies with cherry blossoms and daffodils. Honeybees were hunting for pollen and as the sun climbed the skies, the hills surrounding Buena Vista awoke and reached for the warmth. Bear walked out to his shop, climbed into 47c and strapped in. He bowed his head and smirked. It was a routine he had done since he built the old Ford decades ago and here he was as an old man doing the same routine. Cinched the belts, glanced in the rearview mirror, a few stabs of the throttle, flick of the wrist and –whirr-whirr-Whirr-VAROOM! 47c fired up and the garage was alive with the rapport of the Y Block sending her music through the short headers. A quick stab of the throttle, clutch engaged, and Bear was off.
She watched as he drove out of the garage and headed into the hills, smiling all the while.
She watched her survivor, fighter, partner drive his old roadster and as they raced out of sight, she knew he was cured.
—Dedicated to every cancer patient out there.
You can do it. Fight. Be Strong. Cancer sucks. Long live the survivors. If you love the artwork reach out to Gary Campesi.
For the second year in a row, the Salem Roadster Show saw record crowds, and along with attendees being treated to the Best of the Best, they also got a second show to attend, and the opportunity to see 5 amazing and diverse vehicles compete for the inaugural Pacific NW Emerald Award.
Matt Ward of Grants Pass took home the amazing eagle sculpture trophy and a check for $1500, with his candy apple red 1964 Chevy C10 pickup. The multi-faceted voting structure of the award came down to one point between the top two competitors, with only Wards vehicle being identified as the awards winner. Sponsors of the award: Weston KIA/Buick/GMC, Precision Body & Paint, Roddin & Racin Magazine, Better Car Shows, The Insurance Garage, PDX CarCulture, The Salem Roadster Show, Amazing Creations, along with five randomly selected exhibitors, five randomly selected attendee to the show, and a professional car show judge were all given ballots to rank the five contenders from 1 to 5. Those scores were then tallied, and the lowest point total took home the award. When the award was presented, Ward shared how the build was in memory of his Son Bobby who had passed away. Even the show promoters Bob Symon and Greg Roach did not know the winner until the envelope was handed to them to open. It was a touching moment, and the other four contenders all embraced Matt’s win.
During the award ceremony, Bob and Greg also made two significant charitable donations to two worthy charities in attendance. Vince Castronovo with Wake the World Oregon was the first recipient. Wake the World takes kids in foster programs, or who have a parent that is incarcerated, out to local lakes for a day of fun on the water. The impact of what they do is tremendous, and Vince was humbled to receive the donation. The other donation was presented in a unique way. DJ for the show Russ Strohmeyer was called up to read the next charitable organization, only to learn that it was his own Brent Strohmeyer Memorial Foundation that provides scholarships to young people with average grades in school, in an attempt to give them the opportunity for a college education. The foundation is named after his Son Brent who was an active car kid that was killed in a car accident.
Once again attendees were treated to a whole new batch of 100+ cars in the Jackman Long Bldg, has it was completely packed. The comments on social media after the show were all in appreciation of being able to go to a show and not see the same cars over and over again, and for the quality of the vehicles. Kudos to Bob and Greg for making their annual trek up and down the west coast in search of new cars to be the Best of the Best.
Next door in the Columbia Building was a whole new show! The Salem Unique Street and Car Culture Show was a huge hit, and had exhibitors leaving with a big smile on their faces, and the attendees were happy with the opportunity to see vehicles that they normally would not see in an indoor show. Presenting Sponsors Carolina Kustoms and Stereo King both had great displays highlighting what products and services they had to offer. Both said they would love to do it again. Carolina Kustoms unveiled their latest build, a really cool second generation Nova named Root of All Evil, along with a first gen Nova convertible that highlighted the quality and type of work they are capable of offering their clients. Stereo King had just about everything you could install in a vehicle for audio, security, and even remote vehicle starting. They have a really cool Viper and Dan Coburn’s Impala in their display, showing off the work they have done on each vehicle.
The show had everything for everyone. From RacinTuners, lowriders, rat rods, classics, modern muscle, motorcycles and even an electric bicycle from Lux Performance. One of the surprises of the show was the presentation of the Vintage Air “Young Builder Award” to a young lady with a white Mazda RX-7. Vintage Air Dealer Dave’s Car Stuff explained that it was a new award given to someone 23 or younger, and will be given out around the country. Dave through the Salem Roadster Show was fortunate enough to be the first in the nation to present it.
Thanks to the local clubs that were represented in the show, and helping to bring that unique mix of rigs; Pacific Style, Columbia River Camaro’s, the Uniques Car Club of Oregon, the Outbreak Car Club, The Impala’s of Portland and Oregon Coast, Devin Hoskings from the Red Door Meet, and all of their friends that came to support them.
Bob and Greg would like to thank all of the sponsors, vendors, exhibitors and attendees. It’s really impressive how they still seem able to top each previous year’s show. Be on the lookout for info on next year’s show at www.salem-roadstershow.com. And be sure to check out the You Tube channel of Rides Done Right for upcoming videos and interviews from the show. You can also find photo galleries of both shows on www.pdxcarculture.com.
In my last column I mentioned that the New Coronavirus would send a ripple through the automotive industry. It has done that and at press time we now see that it is sending ripples across all industries, all around the world. Indeed, at press time, it has just been declared a worldwide pandemic! This publication is due to hit the streets by April 1st. And it will be no joke by then. Good luck to all of you.
Electricity is a topic mentioned often in this column. Specifically, how it will be affecting our future automotive industry. Here is a little something from GM. We are all aware of how complex electrical systems have become in all cars. GM has developed an electrical architecture that includes over 1 million lines of code. It is currently in use in C8 Corvettes and others. By 2023 this plug & play type of architecture will be shared by all GM vehicles.
This leads us into GM’s “EV Day.” This was a special event for GM to announce their commitment to future electric vehicles. They announced that they believe in global warming and a renewable electrical grid. Their plan is to invest 20 billion dollars between now and 2025.
They seem to be most excited about the new battery they will be building which will include less Cobalt and more nickel. They call it the Ultium. They announced that they will be tripling the number of charging stations at all GM facilities. They announced the new Hummer EV coming in 2021. They announced their new Cadillac, Lyriq. However, at press time we are now hearing that production of that car will be delayed due to the coronavirus.
Some insiders felt that GM’s EV Day announcements were more lackluster than they had expected. After all, Tesla is already years ahead of them in this game. We will see.
Speaking of Tesla, the MuskFather has just announced the implementation of their Track Mode V.2. Word is this performance upgrade will lay siege to many race cars on road courses everywhere. Of course the one I have whimsically named the MuskFather is indeed Elon Musk. He may well become the most well-known man on the planet, the way he is going. I must admit, the more I look into this guy, the more impressed I become. I will have plenty more to say about him in future columns.
Announcing the Indy Autonomous Challenge. This will be a competition between leading University teams developing autonomous self-driving racecars. In 2021 they will compete at the Indianapolis Motor speedway. The prize will be $1000000. DARPA has a hand in this.
Now for news of the latest merger in the Motorsports industry. Race Winning Brands (RWB) has acquired Manley. They own JE Pistons, Diamond Pistons, Wiseco, K1 Technologies and Dart, among others. (RWB) is a portfolio company of Kinderhook Industries LLC.
We will finish this column with news from the UK. A family driving in a Tesla Model X was saved from a 400 year old falling tree by the automatic braking feature. A family traveling in a Tesla Model X in the opposite direction on the same street was also saved from the same falling tree by their automatic braking feature.
It is what it is. Be safe everybody!
‘nuff said, Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
March 7th & 8th, the Oregon State Fairgrounds will play host to “The Best of the Best”, with the 14th Annual Salem Roadster Show. 100+ of the best classics; hot rods, street rods and customs will be on display, and as it has been for the previous 13 years, they will be showing for the first time in Salem.
Owners/Promoters Bob Symons and Greg Roach attend cars shows from British Columbia to Reno each year, personally inviting the best of the best to attend, and everyone leaves with an outstanding Salem Roadster Show “Show Award Winner” embroidered jacket. The unique non-judged format of this show, allows the entrants to share their great vehicles with the general public, without the stress of dealing with the formalities of having the car judged. And as you have probably seen throughout the car show world, the Salem Roadster Show jackets (along with honor of the personal invite) are a sought after prize, and beat the heck out of a dust collecting trophy.
With record breaking attendance (up over 30% in 2019), the Salem Roadster Show has proven that it’s one not to miss each year. With a great vendor mix, and great music by Russ Strohmeyer, there’s always a lot to see and do. But that didn’t stop Bob and Greg from looking for other ways to attract more guests, and even higher end builds.
An exciting new feature at this year’s show will be the presentation of the first “Pacific Northwest Emerald Award.” Five of the special invite vehicles will vie for an amazing trophy crafted by Scott Adams of Amazing Creations. The trophy which stands better than 2 feet tall features an amazing eagle sculpture sitting on a crafted wooden pedestal and base. There will be two of the awards, one going home with the lucky car owner (along with a large cash prize), and the other will be a perpetual award with the winners name added each year, that will be displayed at the various award sponsors place of business. Scott of Amazing Creations, a craftsman specializing in custom RV remodeling, couldn’t resist the opportunity to be on board and wanted to build something very special and memorable for this award. This year’s Emerald Award Sponsors include Precision Auto Body & Paint, Weston KIA/Buick/GMC, The Insurance Garage, PDX CarCulture.Com, Better Car Shows (Medford Rod & Custom Show), Amazing Creations, and Roddin’ & Racin’ Magazine.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, Bob and Greg are adding a whole new element to the Salem Roadster Show with the Salem Unique Street and Car Culture Show, taking place in the Columbia Hall right next to the Jackman Long Building. Your $13.00 admission fee, gets you into both great shows! So start out your 2020 car show season with something for every car lover, and the entire family at the Salem Roadster Show, “the Best of the Best.” For more information visit www.salem-roadstershow.com
Salem Roadster Show Owners/Promoters Bob Symons and Greg Roach were looking for a way to reach out to other segments of the car culture, and what it would take to bring them to an indoor car show. Something that would attract segments of the hobby that build and love their modern muscle cars, tuners, mini and full size trucks, racers, rat rods, and anything else that motor heads were passionate about.
So they reached out to Lonnie Thompson from Carolina Kustoms, and David Jothen, Owner/Publisher of PDXCarCulture.Com and PRS Hall of Famer. Lonnie who along with the Carolina Kustoms team has become nationally known for their truck builds, including the amazing 2018 SEMA Best Truck Winning 40 Ford pickup known as 40 Shades, brings a unique prospective to the hobby and show, that is far more in touch with the younger crowd than most. The first people Lonnie reached out to were the folks from Stereo King, who along with Carolina Kustoms will be the presenting Sponsors of the inaugural Salem Unique Street & Car Culture Show. David immediately began the marketing campaign and reached out to a variety of car groups both formal and informal. Throwing out the challenge for them to select the “Best of the Best” of what they bring to the hobby. “It can be a street car, but it has to be something worth paying money to see. Not just something with a wheel swap and a model of the car on the air cleaner”, Jothen shared. So far the response has been amazing, with even some of the old hot rodders inquiring about participating with some unique builds that they have, or are working on.
The goal behind the show is to reach some folks who may not normally come to an indoor car show. There is a pretty solid group that attend each show annually, but how do you reach those who either are on the fence, or don’t bother, because they aren’t interested in the type of cars that are normally shown? You do that by giving them what they want to see, cars that they can relate too. Cars that are modified versions of what they are currently driving, or would like to. So what you will see at this show is some really cool street modified versions of modern muscle cars like Camaro’s, Mustang’s, and Mopars. You will see what the younger crowd is doing with some amazing import cars, referred to as Tuners. The modifications and horsepower that they are putting on the street is mind blowing, along with use of LED lighting and audio. You will see a variety of trucks like you’ve never seen before. From slammed minis and full size trucks, to one’s that you could almost walk under. And don’t forget the Rat Rod’s and traditional hot rods.
Somebody else’s rust, matte finish and spare parts, made into someone else’s imaginative build. And anything else that’s a part of this great hobby called cars that we all love.
Like the Salem Roadster Show, this will be a non-judged event, but the participants will have the option to choose between a button up work shirt, or jacket with the Unique Street & Car Culture Show logo on the back.
This show will offer something for everyone, and hopefully will become a can’t miss show like its partner the Salem Roadster Show. For more information, you can email HYPERLINK
“mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
As most of you are aware, there are “general admission” car clubs. Marque specific car clubs, model specific car clubs, there might even be color specific car clubs that I’m not aware of. One of the members of the car club, of which I am a member, Trick ‘n Racy Cars, also happens to be a member of one of the Model specific clubs that are out there.
Ford introduced a kind of “Ute,” an Australian term, for a pickup/car way back in the thirties if I’m not mistaken. Those “Utes” were built in Australia and weren’t routinely exported to the US. In 1957, Ford introduced an American version and called it a “Ranchero.” It was built on a car chassis using passenger car components for the body but with a single seat (bench seat) passenger compartment and a pickup like bed/box. The quarters were like the car quarters and in fact just like the station wagon quarters.
These Rancheros were produced from 1957 through 1959 and in 1960 downsized it to be included in the newly introduced “Falcon” line. And through out the entire run, the Ranchero got “passed around” to be built on several different chassis sizes all the way up through 1979.
All of these Rancheros are unique and stylish, in my opinion. In particular, I like the 1957 Ranchero and though many don’t share my affinity for the 1966, Falcon based Ranchero, I like that one too.
A group of Ranchero lovers started the Ranchero Club, dedicated to any Ford based commercial vehicle from 1952 to the present. Specifically supporting 1952-1961 Couriers, including Canadian Meteor Sedan Deliveries up to 1961, 1957 – 1979 Rancheros, including Canadian Meteor Rancheros, Australian Utilities from 1946- present and Argentine Rancheros, 1961 – 1965 and Courier Sedan Deliveries, including Australian Falcon Sedan Deliveries and Pinto Panel Deliveries, that’s a lot!
2019 was the year for the 26th Annual Northwest Ranchero Round Up, which was held at and sponsored by Hillyer’s Mid-City Ford in Woodburn, Oregon. The Round-up was a three day event and it included, a road trip to the Burger Hut 50’s Café, in Hubbard Oregon, a trip to and a tour of SMS Auto Fabrics, in Canby Oregon, (503-263-3535) a purveyor of … all things auto upholstery related dating from the 1940’s through the 2000’s. Of course, a show, a short trip to the World of Speed Museum, in Wilsonville Oregon, and their annual meeting and banquet, where the next year’s annual Round-Up is scheduled or at least the location is designated. Fun was had by all. Bellingham Washington will be the location for the 2020 Round-Up.
She sat up in bed and looked around. Outside, a slight gust of wind kissed the side of her home and waltzed down the valley. Jo Ann shook her head. She knew she’d heard her name. It had been nothing more than a whisper. It was probably her imagination, but then, there is was again, “Joni.”
Jo Ann rose, donned her robe and walked to her window. It was a cold Valentines Day morning. The showed it was 3am; frost glistened on the roof of the garage and on the lawn down below. Through the window of the garage there was a light which at first, was a concern to her but then, very faintly, she heard… music?
I Love, I Love, I Love my calendar girl
Yeah, sweet calendar girl.
I Love, I Love, I love my calendar girl
Each and every day of the year.
January, you start the year of fine
February, You’re my little valentine
She hurried down the stairs, across the foyer, and into the garage. Her daily driver Tahoe was bathed in the glow of headlights from the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air parked in the rear of the garage. From the original radio, Neil Sedaka sang away.
Yeah, yeah, my hearts in a whirl
She looked at the Bel Air and remembered their first date. Romance isn’t forced, but like some beautiful creation, it is grown. Hot summer days as a newly married couple, they would chase the moon to the coast, then wander back inland and watch as the sun rose above the Cascades. She smiled as she remembered her oldest son as a toddler standing up in the front seat.
“Joni… It’s been a while my love.”
She cocked her head and sitting in the driver’s seat, she saw Con as a young man, smiling at her. Jo Ann hurried to the passenger side, opened the door and sat down. As she closed the door, she caught a glimpse of her own reflection in the side mirror and, to her amazement, she was young again! The song on the radio changed and Buddy Holly began to sing “Everyday.”
Suddenly, the outside world was bright and sunny. Con and she were chasing a back road through the Washington countryside. He nodded toward her and she scooted close to him. He put his arm around her, and she held his hand with hers. And so, it went as they rode along. No words; just being close and in the moment. Con smiled at her and pulled the ’57 to the side of the road.
“Joni, as beautiful as this Chevrolet is and has been to me, you’re still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had in my life.” Happy Valentines Day, my love.” Con smiled at her, leaned in to get closer and was gone.
Jo Ann was alone in the Bel Air. On the radio, Johnny Ace sang…
Forever may darling our love will be true
Always and forever, I’ll love only you
Just promise me darling, your love in return
May this fire in my soul dear, forever burn
I love you too, Con. Happy Valentines Day.” She whispered. She switched of the radio, turned out the lights and exited the bright red ’57. Closing the door gently, she allowed her fingers to run gently across the side panel, her hand coming to rest on the rear fin for a moment. She closed her eyes and sighed before walking to the door of the garage. She turned off the lights in the garage and hoped for a ride again next year.
—Dedicated to Connie and Jo Ann Toedtli
I’ve always referred to it as: “My hot rod motor”… To call it “junk” or a “junkyard anything” would be inaccurate. From the beginning, it was built with decent parts… it just wasn’t “race stuff.”
The iron block may be the first V-8 I ever owned. Something my volunteer builder procured when he was assembling the engine for my first Modified around ’94. Or it could be from the complete engine I bought off the bulletin board at Knecht’s in Cottage Grove, OR. “Hear it run on the dyno!” the index card proclaimed. It was built as a backup by some IMCA racer’s dad. I guess they didn’t need it. I’m quite certain the rotating assembly came from that IMCA motor. The iron “202” cylinder heads were a sponsorship from Roger’s Automotive in Auburn, CA. The Vertex mag was purchased directly from the manufacturer when I worked for Competition Specialties.
I managed to land an engine sponsor my second year in a Sprint Car and the hot rod motor was relegated to a spare. I’m happy to say that my race engine (built by Rick Guest aka R&G Machine that advertises in this paper) never missed a beat so the spare sat idle for the next five years or so. It wasn’t until my buddy stuck it in my Super did it breath life again. I ran the car a couple times in Banks, OR (there were non-engine related issues) and again it was mothballed.
In 2007 my neighbor and fellow Sunset competitor Tommy Moreno was making a run at Rookie of the Year with a talented Stock Car graduate piloting his Sprint Car. Pat Canfield had won a Feature about mid-season and was well ahead in rookie points when the team barfed their only engine with two races remaining on the schedule. I volunteered the use of my hot rod motor and Moreno and Canfield didn’t hesitate. They extracted the engine from my Super and plugged it into their Sprinter. The following weekend at Sunset, Canfield peddled to third or fourth in the Main Event and within a week or two had a similar finish over at Madras. The team was able to clinch top rookie honors and wound up with a top five in the overall point standings as well. Afterwards Moreno cleaned, wrapped and returned the engine to me. It sat on the end of my workbench for another eight years.
In 2015 Bernie and Jimmy Voytek prepped my Super for competition with West Coast Vintage Racers and reinstalled my hot rod motor. Unfortunately the club had moved away from dirt track racing by the time I was ready to participate. The Voyteks convinced me to give asphalt racing a try so I towed the Super to Roseville, CA for the West Capital Alumni Assn. races on Halloween of ’17. We had a blast that weekend but battled overheating problems each time I took to the oval. Bernie suggested I might have a cracked cylinder head and sure enough that turned out to be the case.
I ended up buying another vintage race car for the full on racing engine that came with it. Bernie located another set of iron cylinder heads, similar to what I had, and installed them on my hot rod motor. I brought the engine home and slid it under my workbench. This time it wouldn’t sit idle for long…
The 2019 edition of the Wingless Sprint Series was winding down when I received a call from a friend whom I know from the NW Old Time racers group. A biker friend of hers, “Rhino” was crew chief on a Sprint Car and they had blown their only engine with two events remaining. Turns out I know Rhino and his brother-in-law Lance Hallmark. I explained to Hallmark exactly what I had and told him he was welcome to use it. One of the races remaining was the HPP Wingless National – A two day show at Cottage Grove with an inflated purse. It was imperative that the team participate in that as well as the season finale at Willamette, if they hoped to maintain their ranking in the points. Hallmark picked up the engine the night after we spoke. He plugged it into his Sprint Car the next evening and Friday night called me from the racetrack in a panic. He had adjusted the valves and the engine would not fire. He had already missed warmups, qualifying and his heat race- all that remained was the Feature. In frustration, Rhino had already thrown in the towel and taken a seat in the grandstands. Fortunately I was able to get ahold of Bernie and put him in direct contact with Hallmark. With the valves reset to Voytek’s specs, the hot rod motor sputtered to life and Hallmark joined the starting field in the 22nd and final starting position. In short order, Hallmark familiarized himself with the limitations of his new power plant and began to move forward. By the conclusion of the race he had broken into the top ten.
I decided to attend on Saturday night when the big money was being offered. Hallmark had continued to make adjustments in gearing and engine cooling throughout the day, to improve the marriage between his car and my engine. He gave us a thrill before dusk by winning one of the three preliminary heats. Based on that win and Friday night’s finish, he was slotted seventh for the fifty lap Feature. Race sponsor Mark Herz grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag but within four cantos, Hallmark seized the point. He had clearly adjusted his driving to maximize his car’s potential- limiting his slides through the turns to maintain forward momentum. Before long he had opened up an insurmountable lead and no one was closing. Then disaster, a back-marker got upside down in turn two bringing out the red flag. We figured our Cinderella Story had ended as only a couple of lapped cars separated Hallmark from some hotdogs up from California that had threaded their way through the field. But when racing resumed, Hallmark again began to pull away and it was easy to see why. He wasn’t scrubbing off speed in the corners or breaking the tires loose on the straightaways. By contrast the second and third place entries were at opposite lock coming off the turns and fishtailing on the straights. When the checkered flag fell, Hallmark was again leading by a large margin.
Modest in victory, Hallmark called my engine a “Torque Monster” and revealed had he’d never turned more than 5,900 rpm! He and his crew invited me to join them on the front straightaway but I declined. Hallmark deserves all the credit for his win. Bernie Voytek just smiled like the Cheshire Cat. He estimates that my engine has a lowly 11 ½ to 1 compression ratio and makes between 400 and 420 horsepower! If more people had known our secret, I’m sure the celebration in the pits would have been larger.
Race engine builder Brian Crockett was attempting to assist Hallmark when he discovered that the motor had a hydraulic lifter cam. After he congratulated Hallmark he remarked: “You guys just set race engine technology back thirty years!”
But then again, it isn’t a race engine… it’s a hot rod motor.
When was the last time that a ‘racing’ movie was nominated for an Academy Award? Let me help you out, it was 1966. Grand Prix was a huge Formula 1 themed cinematic epic. Filled with (a pretty cheesy) romance, groundbreaking filming techniques, and eye-popping racing sequences, the academy recognized it with a nomination and subsequent award in the following categories: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Effects.
It’s been 54 years. A handful of motorsports movies have come out. Driven certainly was not going to be winning any awards. We got closer with Rush back in 2013 with a couple of Golden Globe nominations, but let’s be honest, that wasn’t stacking up against the chops of other big blockbusters that year.
Starring Matt Damon as iconic builder Carol Shelby and Christian Bale as a prickly racer Ken Block, this is an incredible true story of speed, revenge, and good ol’ American angst. It is funny, emotional, and above all- passionate. Sitting and watching it on the big screen- as everyone should- you find yourself tensing up and rolling with the curves of Le Mans. Similar to Grand Prix, this tale is beautifully filmed- though director, James Mangold had the aid of 21st-century special effects.
As far as accuracy, some notes might be elevated for the Hollywood glamour. Did Caroll Shelby take Henry Ford ii aka ‘the duce’ for a joy ride in one of the prototypes, rendering the heir to the Ford fortune into a blubbering, crying mess? Maybe not. Did Block and Shelby have a first fight in the front lawn of Block’s Southern California home? Does anyone know? Most importantly, did Caroll Shelby not use car doors? No seriously, the entire movie he hoists himself of the driver’s seat of the vintage Cobras that are sprinkled throughout the movie. He doesn’t once use a door to handle time.
Without ruining it for those who have not watched yet, some best scenes include Block’s in-car commentary, Matt Damon’s description of driving Le Mans when Ford representative comes to visit and the final scene with the wrench.
In light of Ford Vs Ferrari’s recent nominations, local theatres will likely put it back on the big screen- it is wholeheartedly worth the price of admission to see it in full larger-than-life form. The academy awards are Sunday, February 9th on 5p on ABC We might just see it bring home some hardware.
Okay gals and GearHeads, are you relaxing during the slow part of the season? Well there has been no let up in the news of the automotive world, such as the C8 Corvette. So let’s call this the year of the C8 and without further adieu, dive into the inner workings of the C8 as promised last column.
Tadge Juechter, Chief Engineer over at Chevrolet had a recent convo with the guys over at Autoline. Here is a few key takeaway points he shared; this goes back to about 2005 when they were working on the C6 ZO6 Corvette. The weight of the supercharger resulted in 52% front weight, when they started musing about what a mid-engine car would be like. They began their studies which ultimately resulted in a 60/40 weight split rear to front.
They had to start with a clean sheet of paper to design this new car from the ground up, starting with the transaxle. They went out and bought a Ferrari and tore it all down to look at everything. They had to design a suspension system that would result in neutral steering along with comfort as well as performance handling.
They had to make some compromises such as the center of gravity (CG) which is higher than the earlier Vettes. This came from replacing the transverse leaf springs with coilovers. All of this along with the transaxle resulted in a heavier car. They had to go with an automatic transmission because they just could not find anything else out in the world that would do the job for a manual gearbox. But they did provide this unique dual pedal neutral which will allow the car to coast when you push in the pedal.
Moving into the cabin, they faced a number of challenges. They designed extra tilt extensions so a 7-foot guy could get in there. They built in roomy storage compartments front and rear along with custom luggage.
And we will now introduce the word of the day: squircles … Yes, Elmer you heard that right. This has to do with the design of the squared steering wheel. It gives the 7-foot guy the legroom along with the ability for the short guy to view the heads up display (HUD) over the steering wheel.
They had a number of acoustics challenges to overcome. With the engine in the rear, there was a lot of noise emanating from all of those belts and pulleys up front. Of course, all GearHeads want to hear the roar of that power plant back there. This resulted in innovative approaches to sound architecture, starting with a back window twice as thick incorporated into a reinforced structure that would act as a sound barrier. What is even cooler is that the rear window can be lowered independently to provide that flow through ventilation.
Next came some really innovative design work incorporating air ducting to maximize the acoustics of the intake and exhaust notes. Then of course, everybody knows that GearHeads like to rock out in their rides. Placement of the Bose speakers presented quite the challenge. They managed to come up with the loudest system yet. So pick your poison drivers and riders.
Construction of the entire car resulted in many different composite materials in and out. Then not to forget European sales and of course, the Aussies. But no problem, they simply had to tool mirror image parts to create the right hand drive.
Now let’s take a look at some of the funky stuff. There is the GPS hydraulics. Wherever you encounter such things as steep driveways where you might scrape your front splitter, you can program your hydraulic suspension to raise up the front of the car for clearance at the touch of a button. Your GPS will remember 1000 different locations.
Then it appears that the Chevy engineers took a page out of the Tesla build book by developing their over-the-air software updates. A 24-hour hotline is monitored by the engineers. When any car develops a unique problem they will receive the readout and develop a fix within a 24-hour window.
So there you go guyz and galz. A few key takeaways from the borning of the C8 Corvette. As this world-beating sports car continues to win Car of the Year awards, their debut on the racetrack is approaching. We will see it at the 24 hours of LeMans. I am quite sure there will be a crowd.
As 2019 came to a close, we recognize the passing of more Motorsports pioneers such as, Junior Johnson, Bill Simpson and Bruce Crower. We are all marching to the same place.
There is a ton of new news coming down from the electrical vehicle (EV) front. But we wanted to give an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle front and center this time around. Oh, and is an electrficationable future in line for the C8? I’m afraid so.
I would like to leave you with a few tidbits from the legislative front. The RPM bill has been reintroduced for 2020. If you want to help us all out, you can go on back over to the SEMA site And send word to your congressmen. They have another template there , that you can easily fill out and send. Also this marks 5 years since the United States Motorsports Association (USMA) was formed to help with these issues.
Then we have US Representative Debbie Dingell who is introducing the Electrify Forward Act, designed to use billions of tax dollars to move electrification forward in the Auto industry. Just thought I would dangle that in front of y’all.
Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld