Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Racing at Barbagallo

Been a bit busy, time for an update. We had to be at the track pretty early for sign-in and drivers meeting on Saturday, even though our first race was not until after 11. Sunday we could sleep in a bit with no morning meeting.

On the start grid for Race 1
I was a little concerned with the first race since I last did a standing start in 2010 at Goodwood. Missed seeing the grid number 14 on the pavement, so started a little deep. I got a little wheelspin even though I was trying to be careful with the gearbox. Lost a few places on the start, plus more on the first long straight. Those Ford-engined Juniors are quick. I worked my way back up to a battle with Robert Buckley (Golford), Ian Phillips (Lola Mk2) and Max Pegram (Gemini Mk2). I finished 16th with a bit of attrition up front. No issues with the car at all.

Race 2 (8 laps): Starting in 16th. Bogged a bit at the lights. An Elfin stalled from 9th, and no one hit him. Got by the Gemini on the outside going into 1. Passed the Lola on the exit of the last corner as he went wide. That put me in 13th at the end of lap 1! The Gemini and Lola were fighting amongst themselves so I was able to get away. They started to come back at me by the end, but ran out of time. Three of the others that had jump-starts got 30 second penalties and #3 Lynx also had an issue on lap 5 so I ended up in 12th.

Sunday was a sleep-in day without a drivers meeting. It was good to see traffic backed up getting to the circuit. That meant there was a decent crowd trying to get in. The downside was we could not park in the infield near the garages.

Race 3 (8 laps): Starting in 12th. Decent start. Got by poor starting #150 Elfin, #26 BT6 & #167 Golford before Turn 1 (9th), which put me right behind JR. At the end of the 1st lap, #150 had recovered, #61 got by (previous race jump start penalty), down to 11th. #150 stopped on the next lap (10th). The recovering #3 Lynx gets by (11th), but I can still see JR and his battle as they slowly pull away. #39 Koala also goes by mid-way through the race (previous race jump start penalty). So I finish in 12th again.

Race 4 (10 laps): Starting in 12th, right behind JR. Everyone brought their A-game this time. No bad starts in front of me (#36 BT6 was too good, getting a jump-start penalty). A big slide going onto the back straight made me lose touch with JR. #150, #26 & #23 get by after a couple of laps (15th). Then #40 (16th) and #69 (17th). I was finding it slippery with the high temps of the afternoon. Then #167 (18th). On lap 7, someone blew an engine in Turn 1 and laid down a strip of oil. Two others went off into the gravel trap (15th). Being careful through Turn 1 allowed the Lola to get back at me (16th). If you hugged the inside of Turn 1, you could stay out of the oil. If you went even a little bit too fast, you would slide out. On the 9th lap, I got balked by a backmarker in the yellow flag zone, which allowed the Gemini back to me. He went down the inside of the last corner, but I got him back on the exit. I managed to hold him off for the last lap.

End result was a 4th overall in the Rear Engine Drum Brake class.
 After the awards were handed out, it was time to load the container.
Loading up
Now it is vacation time. We are staying in Perth to see the sights until Friday. Then we fly to Adelaide for more time off. We have to be at Sandown in Melbourne on Thursday Nov 3rd afternoon for container unloading.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Practice/Qualify Day

Today was the official start of the event. Scrutineering was different. I just had to give them my log book. They will return it at the end of the weekend's events. To get a wristband, I had to show my FIA license and sign in. I will have to sign in like this every day of the event.

We had two 15 minute practice sessions, and one 10 minute qualifying session. The first practice felt pretty good. Could concentrate on lines and braking points, rather than what was over the next rise. On the cool down lap, the engine started sounding funny, like a really big exhaust leak. No signs of any external problem. Pulling the spark plugs showed a problem with #4.
Electrode insulator missing
The ceramic insulator was gone from the centre electrode. Looking through the spark plug hole, I could see some damage to the top of the piston. We decided to pull off the head to check how bad it was.

The second problem was immediately obvious.
Blown head gasket
The head gasket was blown between cylinders 3 & 4. Not sure which happened first, the plug or the gasket. There was dents and other marks in the piston and the head where the insulator pieces were trapped. Dave scraped and filed the marks to reduce any chance of hotspots forming. New gasket & new plugs. All done with 10 minutes to spare before the second practice session. Many thanks to Dave for the hard work.

The second practice was shortened due to the clutch needing adjustment and a red-flag shortening the session.

Qualifying was also interrupted with a quick red flag. That put me in a bit of traffic, but all the fixes stayed fixed. I will start the first race in 15th out of 22 qualifiers.
Qualify Results
I will have to talk to timing/scoring in the morning regarding car #72. I am pretty sure there is only one Dreossi Special in the field.

The day ended well after working through the issues. Racing starts tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

To the end of Day 1

Dave & I departed from Detroit on Oct 17th at 5:38pm.

Leaving Detroit
35 hours later, we got off a plane in Perth Australia via LAX and Brisbane. The LA to Brisbane was the longest at 13.5hr in the air. With crossing the date line, it was Wednesday afternoon by the time we got to Perth.

Today was the first day at the track. We had to be there by 8am to meet the BioSecurity inspectors at 8:30. Australia is very sensitive to invasive species, disease and pests moving into the area. The other drivers, JR (Lotus 18) and Travis (Ralt RT1, Chevron FB), were there already. The two other cars are not running this weekend. Those drivers are expected at Sandown.

The seals were cut by the agents, and the doors open to reveal all the cars in good shape. 'No new dents in the container' was the comment.
The Dreossi was front and center (likely due to the roll bar height). And out she came.
Dreossi with boots
Back at GMT, the tires were wrapped in stretch-wrap after washing to prevent any further contamination while loading the container.
The 4 for this weekend
A couple of containers had arrived at the paddock while we were waiting for BioSecurity. In case you wondered how the containers were handled, they have self-unloading trailers down here.
Unloading a container
Dave & I checked over the car and prepared it for running. We had to bleed the brakes since I hadn't had the time before shipping back in August. Tire pressures set, fuel in. Ready to go.

Today was a Test & Tune session at the track. I ran 3 sessions, 15 min each, to get used to the track. Barbagallo is 1.5 miles around, with only 2 left-hand corners (only 1 of significance). There are pretty significant elevation changes, with a big uphill in one of the left-handers, and downhill braking going into Turns 6 & 7. Turn 1 has a bit of a camber to it so if you go too wide, you lose grip and slide out. Not the fast way around. Started to get comfortable by the 3rd session, ready for practice and qualifying tomorrow.
Main straight into Turn 1

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Adventure Begins....

How do you ship racing cars to Australia? You need a container modified to hold 6 cars.
One of the containers at GMT
The container is owned by one of the drivers going south. I delivered the Dreossi Special to GMT Racing on August 13th.
There are 2 other Formula Juniors (Lotus 18) that are going too. Some work is still needed :)

There is also a Brabham BT36 Formula 2,
a Chevron B17B Formula B, and a Ralt RT-1 Formula Atlantic (I didn't see them at GMT).

The container was filled on August 17th and shipped to New York for loading on the ship August 25th. The routing from NY to Perth was not direct due to costs. There was a scheduled stop in Singapore to change boats. You can track a ship using AIS (Automatic Identification System) if you know the IMO number. The tracking did disappear while the ship was passing Somali.
Sept 13 just south of Crete
In the Suez Canal Sept 15
At the dock in Singapore Sept 28
The ship arrived in Perth today!!!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Plan

Goodwood Revival 2010
Formula Junior was an international race class that ran from 1958 through 1963. The oldest and largest FJr organization is Formula Junior Historic Racing Assoc.(FJHRA) based in the UK. There also are groups in Australia (AFJA), New Zealand (NZFJR) and North America (FJHNA).

With the 60th anniversary of the beginning of FJr coming up in 2018, FJHRA has organized the Diamond Jubilee World Tour 2016-2018. The races in South Africa and the initial European rounds have been completed. 101 FJr cars raced at Brands Hatch in July. The racing continues in Australia in the fall. Early next year, the winter rounds are in New Zealand. The summer of 2017 will be spent in North America before returning to Europe for 2018.

When the idea of a World Series started to be discussed, my interest was piqued. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I decided to retire in September 2016 after much soul searching and do the AUS and NZ rounds of the series.

Discussions with other NA FJr owners developed to judge interest in sharing shipping arrangements. There was a lot of initial interest that slowly dropped away I think due to the time commitment required. Hopefully they will all come out to play for the NA races.

The organizers of the biennial Tasman Tour came up with a logistics plan to ship containers from various places in the world to Australia. They also will look after all the moving of containers between the race tracks in Australia. The races will be:

The container will be shipped to Auckland NZ after Sydney. Shipping within NZ has not been finalized yet. The NZ races will be:

Some Background

I have been racing vintage cars since 1981. Started with a '57 Berkeley B60, shared with my mother. That's my father's '32 Morgan trike beside me on the grid at Shannonville.
On the grid Shannonville May 1981
In the fall of 1983, my father bought the Dreossi Special from Cam Beatty at the Varac AGM.
Mosport 1984
My Canada Class race car was built by Cece Simmons and Ray Dreossi in their garage in 1961.
It was designed by Cece to encompass experience gained in building/racing his first Canada Class car in the late '50s. He wanted a light and efficient chassis. Some of the concepts included low frontal area (smaller diameter front wheels), mid-engine layout, and lightweight materials (aluminum monocoque). He enlisted Ray to help build the new design after seeing Ray running his TR3.

Canada Class was a race group that existed in Ontario from the mid-50's to the late 60's. It was a class for home-built cars with very few rules. For 1962, maximum engine displacement was 800cc overhead cam, 1000cc overhead valve, 1000cc 2 stroke, or 1250 side valve. The engine had to come from a car that retailed in Canada for less than $2500. Minimum weight of 750 pounds. Body could be single or two seater. Parking brake was required.

There was overlap between some of the open wheel Canada Class and Formula Junior rules. FJr engine limits were 1000cc for 794 pound (360 kg) minimum weight, 1100cc for 880 pound (400 kg) minimum weight. FJr ran as an international class from 1958 through 1963. They progressed from front-engined in the beginning, to mid-engined with drum brakes, to the final configuration of mid-engined with disk brakes. More info can be found at Formula Junior. I run my car as an drum brake, early rear engine FJr as there are not very many Canada Class cars still running.

The Dreossi Special was built from parts from many different vehicles, all modified in some way.
  • Engine - BMC 'A' series (AH Sprite), 948cc block now at 1011cc
  • Gearbox - Fiat 600 Multipla with close-ratio gears
  • Rear suspension - Austin Mini 850 front uprights upside down w/7" drum brakes, fabricated SS upper A-arm, transverse leaf spring as lower link, 13" widened Corvair rims with bolt circle adapters
  • Front suspension - Standard Pennant front uprights w/7" drum brakes, fabricated SS upper A-arm, transverse leaf spring as lower link, 10" Mini rims with re-drilled bolt circle
  • Steering - shortened NSU Prinz rack & pinion
  • Radiator - Fiat 850 mounted in front
  • Monocoque - F86 Sabre external drop tank
Sabre drop tank
Car History:

  • Raced by Ray Dreossi in Ontario
  • Purchased by Bob Attrell from Ray Dreossi (never raced)
  • Sold to Trevor Welowszky in 1979, restored by David Millband, raced through 1981
  • Raced by Cam Beatty in VARAC at Mosport and Shannonville in 1982 and 1983
  • Purchased by Dave Elcomb in the fall of 1983
  • Raced in VARAC at Mosport, Shannonville, and Waterford Hills by Dave, Scooter, and Doug Elcomb
  • Wrecked in May 1986 at Mosport corner 2A by Doug Elcomb
  • New tub constructed from a Sabre jet tank located at an aircraft scrap yard in Uxbridge, Ontario
  • Returned to racing at the VARAC Vintage Festival at Shannonville 1993
My Tracks:
  • Mosport
  • Shannonville
  • Mt. Tremblant PQ
  • Waterford Hills MI
  • Grattan MI
  • BeaveRun PA
  • Pittsburgh Schenley Park PA
  • Indianapolis Raceway Park IN
  • Mid-Ohio
  • Watkins Glen NY
  • Loudon NH
  • Lime Rock CT
  • Brands Hatch UK
  • Goodwood Revival UK
  • Spa-Francorchamps Belgium
  • Circuit Of The Americas TX