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Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:15
by bertvorgon
I believe rallying was doing ok in B.C. at the time. I tried a few and never stuck with it. I always had new navigators and we would get tricked by some of the rally notes or just plain get lost. One thing I did do though was be a worker on the Columbia Autosport Clubs “BLUNDERBUSS “rally. I was 2nd lead car, which meant I got to follow the rally master ( Bob Garnet, he also co-drove the Brabham BT29 Formula car at the slaloms with Allan Rae) as he set up check points. If he had an issue, then he would get into my car. The rally started at Brentwood Mall, at 4:00 P.M., then would make its way across the Border and run all the back roads of Washington State, finishing at 7:00 A.M. at the Blaine coffee shop. What a blast I had, we drove like crazy all night, to stay ahead of the rally, meeting others who were a checkpoint volunteer, they would follow us to the check point. There were a lot of crazy things that happened, to many to tell here. One though was the rally master’s Capri DIED in the middle of the night, so he jumps in my car. Then, a few hours later, I blew a tire, so had no spare. I drove like hell to get some time on the rally and we hit an all night truck stop at Marysville, to fix the tire, where we had to do it ourselves, See picture! I cannot find anything on the Net about it at all. Maybe Byron or his dad knows of it. We had serious rally cars show, guys in white jump suites with clip boards, stop watches, HALDA TRIPMASTER’s, decals on the car, talking some secret code about check points, TSD, etc..

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:18
by bertvorgon
B.C. at the time was a bit of an anomaly in the CDN motorsport scene, as the governing body was at war with the other governing bodies, trying to take control of Motorsport in Canada. We got away with all sorts of stuff here, as the Mother ship was 4,000 Miles away. You would not believe the flack we got when they found out our slaloms were so fast. They of course threatened to pull our insurance if we did not slow things down. We fudged things for awhile and really the timing of having to move to another smaller site worked out quite well, as they headed to re-commission the airport for small planes in 1983. People today do not have any idea of the politics that went on both with Motorsport in BC and Canada as a whole in the 70’s.

In the early 90’s, NISSAN Canada came on board to sponsor motorsport across Canada. They offered a $500.00 cheque for class winners of older Nissan products, of which our 510’s of course came under. After my first win in 1991, I wrote and asked them if they had any swag they could send out for my “team”. Wow, a huge box of shirts, hats, decals, cloth jacket patches, pens, lights, etc showed up on my doorstop, very cool. Even though they ended the financial support program in 1994, when they had financial cut-backs, I still received my boxes of swag till 1997 when they emptied the warehouse to me. I still have some stuff left to this day. Shell Oil stepped up also for a few years, where they paid for my fuel bill. I think there may a few pictures lurking about with the Shell Oil emblem on my air dam.

We also did lots of advertising for the slaloms, with flyers being printed and distributed to most of the performance shops, dealers and parts supply businesses.

I ended up as a Solo Instructor for many seasons, which gave me years worth of seat time…in other people’s cars and my own. Our classes really taught people theory and practical use of their cars, even if they never continued on in racing. We would break the course down to four sections to practice, lineal slalom, steady state cornering, high speed transition cornering, and then a braking zone. We would let the students do a run first thing in the day, after walking the course. Then, we would do the class for the day. Then they would get to do a full on course run at the end of the day. I can think of no one that did not make a dramatic improvement in time. I like to think I gave some people some very good survival skills in driving too. It sure has saved me a few times over the years.

As Solo grew in popularity, it was decided that some of the new, out of town clubs would hold a points slalom, that would contribute to the Series Championship in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This led to what I in my own fantasy world called the “Travelling Circus”, which I likened to the F1 tour at the time. It was during these wonderful out of town weekend trips that the CANNONBALL came to being. I have written about this before, as I was heavily criticized for organizing these high speed drives. It was just our core group of racers who would form up Sunday afternoon, whether it was in Courtenay, Vernon or Kelowna, and we would just high speed convoy back to Vancouver. Traffic of course back then was very light, we would either come back via Vernon to Kamloops through Falkland, or, back over the Hope/Princeton. We only lost one engine over the years ( TR7 hatched a motor ) and had a pickup truck of hillbilly’s, who tried to follow us outside of Falkland, over-cooked a corner. At the height of the Cannonball period, the group leaving Vernon lined up literally like a starting grid at the race track, pretty funny really! You can ask CHICKENMAN (Richard), who is on this site, as he was one of the original Cannonballer’s, about some of these drives. One time he and I were blasting back from Vernon, back to the Trans Canada through Falkland and the long twisty downhill to the Thompson River. Once we got onto the Trans-Canada we wicked it up to 90-100 MPH, just a nice cruise. I had an early radar detector and was in the lead, when it started beeping. We instantly turned the wick down to the speed limit when an RCMP cruiser came over the next crest. That bugger knew we had been blasting along so he hangs a u-turn and follows us all the way to Cache Creek..at the speed limit...for over 20 miles.....CRUD!

It was at this time that I started writing for the club(s) newsletters: “TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO”…the rolling dyno being both the mountain roads of B.C., and, my car, as it developed and morphed into a bit of a highway monster.

http://www.the510realm.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=5956

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:22
by bertvorgon
Another issue that was raising its ugly head was the start of Sunday shopping. As consumers marched off to buy useless junk from offshore, we lost some of the best racing venues. Half of the parking lots we got to use were HUGE, where I would at times be at the top of third gear, sometimes 4th! The other thing that was really cool was that we would have spectators, at times, thousands of people. Boundary Bay would have basically the racers, some hanger-ons, and the odd spectator who would wander out to watch. I must admit I liked the cheer of the crowd when you laid down a good time. Over those early years we used, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Lansdowne, Britannia Beach, Whistler, Cypress Bowl ski parking lot, Haney, Chilliwack, Tsawwassen, Sears in Burnaby, New Westminster College, the P.N.E./Hastings track parking lot, Kelowna, Vernon (usually 2 days), UBC-B lot, Simon Fraser University, Squamish Street Race, Westwood (giant slaloms and sprints), Bellingham Gran Prix street race through old town, Boeing Space Centre in Kent WA., Seattle International Raceway ( giant slaloms and sprints) These out of town events, especially in B.C., were what led to the high speed drives that we called Cannonballs. I was a big fan of Car& Driver in the 70’s, and Brock Yates...”nough said!”

http://edbolian.com/the-original-1971-c ... l-article/

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/th ... ed-feature

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:23
by bertvorgon
In 1983 the airport was re-opened and we then had the use of a much smaller lot, shared with the Professional Drivers training area, for the Police, fire and ambulance. That was finally shut down as even that area was taken over. The scramble to find a suitable lot spanned years so Solo saw a downturn till Pitt Meadows Airport has come along.

The Golden Age of slaloming was over, the days of fourth gear slaloms done, residing now as a few pictures in albums and fond memories for a few of us.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:23
by bertvorgon
One last fact that some may not be aware of is that Boundary Bay had a major drag strip there for awhile, with some very big races there. I even ran my 1972 wagon there after I put the turbo on it, turning 16’s in the quarter, which was quite fast for a small car then. I can still remember sitting at the tree, a monster drag car next to me ( bracket racing) and not even being able to hear my engine running or be able to THINK…..at one point I thought my windows were going to crack. I did win a few drags though.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:33
by bertvorgon
Westwood to me at the time was just a cliquey club of car people on a power trip, who never looked forward into the future of Motorsport in B.C.. It was Andy Field who really introduced me to the world of racing. In 1972 he was a sales person for BRASSO DATSUN, where he sold me my bright yellow 1972 wagon, complete with mag wheels and heavy duty clutch. He at the time was running a B-Sedan 510 at Westwood ( The ex-“510 EXPRESS” )and invited me out to watch him race.

Well, was I ever stoked about seeing my first road races and decided to attend a Sports Car Club of B.C meeting for first timers, etc.. Man, was I treated like crap, instead of welcoming a new young guy and offering some suggestions as to a more appropriate car than a wagon ( hey, I was green behind the ears) all I got was criticism. I have written before about how I got hooked into the Slalom world, will post that up again if you like in this thread.

At least with such an indifferent group in the Sports Car Club people, we could get Westwood for whole weekends with no strings attached. Can you imagine now trying to do what we did?! Insurance, liability..Hah! The Club would buy a cheap beater car for the weekend(s). We would head up Friday night and campout, ready to hit the track in the morning. After a day of fun on the track, we would get a camp fire going and cook something over it, then proceed to drive “Mr. Guts” into oblivion. It is amazing how much abuse a motor will really take before it croaks. Somehow there were alcoholic beverages and other things consumed during the dinner hour, that made the Mr.Guts experience all the more hysterical. We did bolt in some good seat belts and wore helmets.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:40
by bertvorgon
With my 510 at Westwood, I really had TIME to both learn suspension and what handling was all about. It did not take long to learn that the INTERPART suspension was crap; basically it was just the Nissan Heavy duty springs painted orange as it turned out. The anti roll bars were ok of course and that was the beginning of figuring out that our 510’s really needed SIGNICICANT roll control. We never had one issue in all those years at Westwood. We had some very fast cars in the club but also drivers with a head on their shoulders, so none were about to throw something into the weeds. Most of our faster cars were hitting close to 110 to 115 MPH on the straight, heading to the Hair Pin. At the end of our time at Westwood, when it closed, I could hit 130 MPH at Deers Leap, and got my car ( my 73’) into the 1:15’s for lap time, not too shabby for a Solo car. I had my best race ever with Dave Humphries in his Specialty Engineering prepared HL510 road race car till my brakes went bye, bye.

Westwood did get some high profile, professional races there, Trans-Am, Formula Atlantic, NASCAR WINSTON WEST SERIES, Series Points meet for Canada, even some early F1 cars. The list of top level drivers was huge who ran here, Michael Andretti (qualifying record 58:795), Hiro Matsushita ( race lap record 59:705), Peter Gregg, Ludwig Heimrath, Jacques Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg, Bertil Roos, Ted Prappas, and on.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:47
by bertvorgon
Just a note for picture #12, for you race car Historians. this car was originally built by NORTHWEST RACING, who used to be just up the hill from Specialty Engineering. They use to do all the collision repair for Datsun when the cars came off the ship, as the cars were unloaded not that far from their shop.

I touched base with Andy as I was writing this article, to just get my facts straight, so this is a direct quote: Some of you will recognize a lot of these names for sure!

"My racing 510 was built by Northwest Racing (Mike Connors and gang). It was originally the ‘510 Express’ which was equipped with a Datsun 2000cc engine (from the Datsun 2000 sports car) and driven by Don Lamont (who actually sold me my street 510!). Northwest converted it back to a 1600cc for me so that it could be raced in CASC as a B sedan. Otherwise, it would have been an un-competitive sports racer!!! I had lots of fun and success with that car at Westwood from 1971 to 1973 racing against the likes of Bob Stevens (awesome, much better prepared 510!), Loren St. Lawrence (BMW 2002) and Mike Rocket (Triumph Vitesse). In reality, they were all quicker than me but in the rain, I at least was competitive!!! "

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:51
by bertvorgon
A few times we ( the Specialty Gang) went down to Portland, to watch the IMSA races, where I saw Paul Newman get 4th place in the Bob Sharp 300ZX Turbo, Don Devendorf, John Paul Jr, Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood, and a cast of others, drive some of the fastest race cars I had ever seen. They would just EXPLODE onto the straightaway, still laying a patch of rubber with 14”-15” wide tires and hitting 175 MPH at the end of the straight. Watching them coming into the braking zone really was like seeing multi coloured missile’s coming at you! Devendorf said his car was making close to 600HP.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 13:52
by bertvorgon
When my involvement with Specialty Engineering came about, there was a private practice night, where road race licences were not required, so I got to tuck in with them. This is when my existing car was in its early stages of the major suspension re-design, so it did not take me long to get very dialed in and also coupled with that was getting my motor where I could do full on race speeds and not have it melt down, which holds me in good stead to this day. I wish wide bands had existed then.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 14:00
by bertvorgon
The competition in all the Solo classes was extreme to say the least, some very good drivers populated the classes 5-10 deep in some. For me, after going to Modified Class, Dave Christie in his 510 ,and Sam O’Young/Mike Boyle in the Honda Civic, made some of the best racing ever, with our times split over .200th of a second. Dave and I finally blew the Honda away in 1991 and they sold the car. The new owner was never competitive with Dave and I after that.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 14:07
by bertvorgon
I guess my involvement in the 70’s changed dramatically towards the end. I had gotten my 1972 running like a champ, I had put the 1800 in it and moved to “Prepared” class. It was on a fateful Sunday cruise on the Squamish highway, in 1978, that it came to and end, cut off by a young guy in a mile high 4 x 4, ultimately causing me to take major evasive action, which ended up rolling the car…end of one nice 1972 turbo 510.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 14:15
by bertvorgon
I bought the car back from ICBC (our insurance provider for you non locals) and it was at this point in time my life long association with Andy at Specialty Engineering started. He offered for me to bring the wreck to his new shop, strip it, get another 510, and we would start again.

I found my 1973 that had just been traded in from the original owner, at a VW dealership. Over the winter, I built the 73’, with Andy building me my first 2 liter and hit the races hardcore on 1978.The one thing I then regretted was trying to keep the stock wheel wells, just not enough rubber on the road. I did ok but the lack of real handling was a handicap, which by another turn of fate, changed dramatically again in October 1983.
On that fateful weekend, Saturday was to be a sprint for us Solo guys in the morning and later that weekend it was the 7 Hour Enduro, of which the whole Specialty team was running and I was crew chief!

I cannot remember which run I was on but I came up out of the hairpin at warp velocity and according to some qualified witness’s, faster than they had seen most race cars. I went into the S’s and hit the bad dip there, which caused the rear to pitch up and get light. I tried to correct but I was GONE…doing a huge spin into the infield and hitting the first tire wall at 80MPH, which spun me around, scrubbed off some speed and put me into the second tire wall at maybe 20 MPH, coming to a dead, smoking stop. ARGGGGGGGGG….

I was so embarrassed; I had come to rest opposite one of the main spectators sections on the fence, all my friends watching and some of the Specialty gang. I thought I had just destroyed my car.
It got towed back to the pits and I had to put it out of my mind and now concentrate on the Enduro, and I mean focus. This Enduro is a story unto itself, but, short story…we were in second place 5 minutes before the end, after 7 hours of racing, only car ahead of us was a Sports racer driven by Ross Bentley. I went over the pit wall and gave to GO sign, two laps later no 510. The engine had hatched itself BIGTIME, on the straight, in an almighty explosion. We were done, the carnage from that weekend has become legendary, as has the consumption of a lot of YUKON JACK that night..

For me, and again total thanks to Andy, he looked my car over, said it was not that bad, the tire wall actually absorbed a LOT of energy as I hit it a glancing blow, taking out fenders, passenger door, few other bits and crinked the rad support, that little wrinkle is still there to this day, a reminder of how close I came to writing the car off.

The forensics on the crash were determined to be lack of suspension travel on the rear, both due to the stock bump rubber still being in place and just too soft a spring, hitting the big dip with great speed, pitching the car up and the toe out got me. That is why to this day I harp on getting the rear toe corrected, so the “mother” NEVER toes out, and that the suspension has enough travel to NEVER bottom out..PERIOD!
It was a blessing in disguise, as it prompted me to get very serious about running proper race tires and doing the quantum jump in spring rates that you all enjoy to this day. Through the winter of 1983-1984, we flared the car, put the real deal springs in (at least for me), gave it a re-paint, built the 1 1/8” front bar and a few other demon tweeks. At this same time, Tracey’s, Georges, Collin’s and Trevor’s 510’s all got the same front air dam treatment, some with the flares and basically the same suspension. We rolled three of them out to Westwood at the same time, for a test and photo op. Our first foray into aerodynamics worked very, very well at high speed for the time. Andy also in that time frame built the “Killer Colt” with a fuel injection system designed by a local electrical engineer, Chris Dumont. That car made well in excess of 400+ Hp and which Andy got the car into the 1:06’s in qualifying at Westwood.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 14:18
by bertvorgon
We will leave this story here, basically the middle of the 80’s to the 90’s, with my car running C-Modified class with great competition. I won back to back seasons for 1984, 85’,86’ and 87’. I then decided to really focus and set my car up for Knox Mountain, determined to beat the time of the guy that beat me in my first foray, and, I then saw the sub-two minute mark as my ultimate goal.

Re: Old racecar pictures

Posted: 08 Oct 2016 14:20
by bertvorgon
Into the 90’s saw the formation of the 510 Club of B.C. and the resurgence of interest in the 510. We had some of the best full on races at our track days, intense Solo competition and a key focus with a few of us as we tackled Knox Mountain.

With Westwood closing and the end of the out of town slalom events, the formation of the 510 Club had a core group of enthusiasts that filled the void of the high speed drive. Our early club drives have become a bit legendary, as they were Cannonballs.

The Duffy Lake Tour saw some of the best high speed drives in the early years, but, as traffic and new speeding laws came into play, they too have marched on into history.