Twenty-four of us and some guests gathered for a great time at the Mitchells' home on Arcadia Road this night and what a place it was! There were a dozen or so British Cars parked around the garage, too.
First off, Allen Calcote got us all together and quieted long enough to discuss the trip to Townsend. The ABCS convoy had 8 cars in it for the trip and there was some minor excitement along the way. By all reports, Townsend was bigger and better than ever this year with sunny, hot weather. "Sunburn City", as Sam Chandler described it to me earlier! There also were reportedly in the neighborhood of 200 cars in attendance this year, so Townsend is becoming the major British Car event that it rightly deserves to be.
Ben Bailey's proposed schedule for upcoming drives for the rest of the year was discussed and a copy of this is enclosed with this newsletter to be sure everyone has at least one. Ben and Margaret Calcote, Club Secretary, worked very hard on this schedule so keep it where you can refer to it often for details of where the drives will meet and what the destinations will be.
The June meeting will be back at Rush Street Grill and will feature a little car show of our own right in the parking lot there. We should have an interesting guest or two also at that meeting, so be sure you come and bring a British Car if you can.
As for the meeting, you couldn't find a better setting or nicer people to have one with! The Mitchells' lovely farm complete with llamas was a real treat for us all. Gerald has the best garage most of us had ever seen! Within this garage reside four Jaguars, one Cadillac and a Mercedes. The Jaguars included one V-12 E-Type, an XK-150, an XK-140 (my own personal favorite, although still a 'work in progress') and an XJ-6.
All six of these cars are housed in the nicest garage you have ever laid eyes on and most of us developed severe cases of covetousness right away. I noticed Ben Bailey was even asking questions about the burglar alarm! I think lots of us were interested in that detail as well. You have never seen a garage so neatly kept in your life with things actually found where they were supposed to be. That kind of organization is hard for some of us to imagine.
Not only all that, but there was a great dinner as well served right there in the garage where most of us wished to be anyway. I can't think of another occasion when the ABCS has had such a great time and been treated as nicely! Thanks for your kind hospitality, Gerald and Rebecca. We all enjoyed it thoroughly!
I have become the Club SOB Joe Bowman
Yes, my transition to the dark side is complete...I fully expect to be shunned at all future meetings for I have become the club SOB....
No, I have not given up on my Jaguar XJS....I have slowed down working on it though (I use the term slowed down very liberally - parked it in the garage without a desire to touch it would be much more accurate). I have rented a garage for it, bought the necessary tools and should begin work on it this month - that is if I can find the time. You see, I think I have reached my quota for pain and suffering.
If anyone ever wanted an XJS, I have one I could part with...a trade for something simple like a Spitfire would be nice...funny that sounds just the opposite of how this story began...nearly a year ago. I am in the process of buying a house and it does have a garage so maybe my Jag will finally come home to me -albeit on the back of a wrecker but since that is the 9only way that I have seen it move in a year so it will seem "normal" to me.If I have it at home, at least I can go into the garage and sit in it from time to time and smell the leather...ah, the joys of Jaguar ownership. I have located several places that do strictly XJS work in the Knoxville area and if I don't have any success with fixing it myself it will either go there or I shall resign my self to converting it to carbs. An expensive process and everyone has warned me that it messes with the everyday driveability of the car...you have to ditch the A/C...but since I never get to drive it now, getting to drive it without A/C seems like a small price to pay. (The $4,000 for the Weber carb conversion ISN"T a small price to pay; however so I still have to give that plan some thought.)
In the meantime, I am busy racing my Hyundai....
Last time, we ran the North Course at VIR - VIR is segmented into three road courses - the North Course - a 2.25 mile, 11 turn course - the South Course - a 1.6 mile course with 11 turns - and the Long course - the traditional 3.25 mile 19 turn course. The North Course has series of turns that are very similar - a lot of back to back esses or series of sweeping left and right turns...the elevation on it also changes over 200 feet as you go around the course. It is very tire intensive.
As readers of the previous columns know, last month was my first time at a high speed event. I did fairly well - leading my groups most of the time. But, I admit I didn't know that much about race driving. Towards the end of my sessions in April, I spun out. Didn't damage anything but my pride.
Well, when we went back this month, I was very apprehensive about how I would perform. The South Course is very different - it is a fast course with two long straights - a 4000 foot and a 2000 foot. However, it is very curvy too with the main straight beginning with a right hand hairpin and ending with a right hand hairpin. This leads to a short straight with a 90 bend at the end. The bend isn't bad, but the track drops 50 feet in 200 feet at the bend. You actually can't see this turn until you are half-way through it.
This leads into a series of downhill esses and then a sharp left. A short straight and then a hairpin right. Up a hill and then a long sweeper left that also drops off 50 feet or more through the apex. This leads to the 2000 foot straight and then a sweeper right to the right hair pin. This hairpin swings under an old Oak Tree and onto the main straight.
Well, there you are. A very fast course with rather abrupt transitions. On the North Course you drive each section of corners very similarly - that is esses and followed by sweepers ect.; however, on the South Course the transitions are very abrupt. It requires much more detail and finesse to do well. We had one day to learn it which included four sessions.
In my first session, I started out with an average speed of about 45 and added about 5 mph each lap. I was very worried about spinning out and thus cementing my reputation as "that Hyun-DIE guy". I managed to get the line down for about seventy percent of the track; however, there were three areas where I didn't feel like I did so well.
The first turn off the main straight was a diminishing radius turn and actually represented two distinct turns. I was trying to make it one complete turn and therefore was turning in too early. After the session, I found out most people had this problem. I mastered the left hand blind drop well - you just ran the car right, got you braking and shifting done, and when you reached the end of the pavement on the right, you throw the car as hard as you can left which lines you up with the left side of the track after you crest the hill (which is right in the turn so you can't actually see the turn). However, this turn leads into a series of downhill essess which I felt that I was going too fast in - by the second turn in the essess I kept wanting to brake. Breaking in the turn is a big NO-NO as that's one of the things that contributed to my spin.
I would come out of the last S corner OK and make the next hairpin fine which led to an uphill and then a sweeper left which also had a drop. For some reason (maybe it was all the skid marks on the right side of the road where people had run off here...or maybe it was the pre-run instructions which included a lengthy dissertation about if you did this turn wrong you would run off the course to the right and then if you over-corrected you would skid back across the track out of control and hit the tire wall on the left...and maybe it was because someone had done just that the day before)..anyway, the point is that this curve scared me. I kept braking before it and managed to drift through the curve and line the car up just right - but it was because I was going slow. The final two turns I had down OK and then back to the main straight where I would lay on the power and run the car up to 85 MPH to regain some of that speed I had lost from braking on the left turn.
The next two times I ran, I had instructors ride with me. The first worked on explaining that this diminishing radius turn at the end of the straight should be driven like two turns - .turn slightly to the right, point the car off track to the left, and right before the end of the pavement, hard right apexing past the center of the turn....the car will keep on going left if you lay on the power and you will drift out to the edge of the left side of the track if you do it just right....
He also showed me that I could straighten one of the downhill esses to make a short (50 foot) braking zone to control my speed after the blind downhill left. But the oddest part of all...I had been running the course entirely in third...was that he wanted me to upshift to fourth and run up the power on the long fading sweeper left that I was afraid of. Imagine this, I am in a car, on a race track, approaching a curve that I can't see, knowing that I am afraid of that turn...and he wants me to accelerate! I am a good, if not terrified, student and so I did as I was told...and with each lap I got faster in that turn.
The third run of the day, I had another instructor who showed me that I could shift at Oak Tree...into second before the hairpin...and come out of it under power...I would go into this hairpin around thirty in second and shift at 45 to third just past it...before I was coming in around 30 to thirty five in third...and leaving it about forty as I waited for the powerband to come up. By shifting into second at the hairpin before the straight...I was able to run the car up as fast as I wanted to in the main straight. By the end of it, I would be doing 85 to 90...
The final run of the day, I ran alone with my new found and hard won knowledge of the track. I was able to stay with the BMW Z3's in the group. there were three of them and I stuck with them all the way. Imagine that, my Hyundai being competitive with them. I even got a compliment from one of the Z3 drivers after the session who is also an instructor. They said that I had a good line and was doing very well.
In contrast, seven other cars ran off the track that day. three of them were instructors and should have known better. One was even my first instructor. He ran before me on my third run of the day, they had pulled him in and were still giving him a talking too as I did my run. Kinda made me feel better about my performance in April. I was no longer looked upon as the threat to everyone else's five and six figure sports cars. (While I was there, there was a Dodge Viper Daytona GTS, a "regular" Viper, two competition Mustang Cobras running, a factory built ERA tube chassis 427 Cobra, a Ferrari EP333 race car and a whole lot of Porsches Turbots running).
I am going to a two day race school on June 3/4 where I will get a certificate to allow me to run up in speed. Next month when I return to VIR I will be in a speed group that is an average of 85 MPH with passing in the straights. There I will get an idea of what my Hyundai is really capable of as they let you run up to 100-120 at the end of the main straights (car will go 113 MPH all out) and you can pass and be passed. Last weekend, I was still restricted to no passing which does not really give you an idea of your true performance. Stay tuned and we shall see how it goes...
In the meantime, here I am writing in a British car newsletter about racing my Hyundai...I have never even drove a British car to one of our meetings (my cars don't seem willing to assist me that that most basic of all car operations...running). And, so, sadly, here I stand before you in full realization that I have become the club SOB -Some Other Brand owner. Oh, I am not yet willing to give up on My Jag. I have at least $10K burning a hole in my pocket. Let's see how I can spend it.
Oil Changes: Men's and Women's Versions
Instructions for Women:
1) Pull up to Jiffy Lube when the mileage reaches 3000 since the last oil change.
2) Drink a cup of coffee.
3) 15 minutes later, write a check and leave with a properly maintained vehicle.
Oil Change $20; Coffee $1;
Instructions for Men:
1) Go to auto parts store and spend $50 for oil, filter, kitty litter, hand cleaner and a scented tree.
2) Discover that the used oil container is full. Instead of taking it to recycle, dump in hole in back yard.
3) Open a beer and drink it.
4) Jack car up. Spend 30 minutes looking for jack stands.
5) Find jack stands under kid's pedal car.
6) In frustration, open another beer and drink it.
7) Place drain pan under engine.
8) Look for 9/16 box end wrench.
9) Give up and use crescent wrench.
10) Unscrew drain plug.
11) Drop drain plug in pan of hot oil: get hot oil on you in process.
12) Clean up mess.
13) Have another beer while watching oil drain.
14) Look for oil filter wrench.
15) Give up; poke oil filter with screwdriver and twist off.
17) Buddy shows up; finish case of beer with him. Finish oil change tomorrow.
18) Next day, drag pan full of old oil out from underneath car.
19) Throw kitty litter on oil spilled during step 18.
20) Beer. No, drank it all yesterday.
21) Walk to the store; buy beer.
22) Install new oil filter making sure to apply a thin coat of oil to gasket surface.
23) Dump first quart of fresh oil into engine.
24) Remember drain plug from step 11.
25) Hurry to find drain plug in drain pan.
26) Discover that the used oil is buried in a hole in the back yard, along with drain plug.
27) Drink beer.
28) Uncover hole and sift for drain plug.
29) Discover that first quart of fresh oil is now on the floor.
30) Drink beer.
31) Slip with wrench tightening drain plug and bang knuckles on frame.
32) Bang head on floor boards in reaction to step 31.
33) Begin cussing fit.
34) Throw wrench.
35) Cuss for additional 10 minutes because wrench hit Miss December (1992) in the left boob.
37) Clean up hands and forehead and bandage as required to stop blood flow.
40) Dump in five fresh quarts of oil.
42) Lower car from jack stands.
43) Accidentally crush one of the jack stands.
44) Move car back to apply more kitty litter to fresh oil spilled during step 23.
46) Test drive car.
47) Get pulled over: arrested for driving under the influence.
48) Car gets impounded.
49) Make bail: Get car from impound yard.
Parts $50; Beer $25; Replacement set of Jack Stands $75; Bail $1,000; Towing Fee $200;
To this, ABCS member Sam Chandler adds: You could also add attorney fees, court costs, increased insurance premium, cost of enrollment in alcohol drivers education counseling, expense of losing license for awhile, and the 5 bucks you lost playing poker with the gents in the drunk tank.