Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Road America Report: Please Boycott Ferrari Products!

Road America was the 7th race of the ALMS season.  I attended the race with family last weekend, the second year in a row that we have gone to the track to watch the Corvettes race. Both Corvettes performed very well and after 3 hours of the 4 hour race we were running second and third with comfortable leads over just about everyone except the wicked #45 Porsche.  As the final hour drew to a close a full course yellow gave the opportunity for the GT cars to pit for fuel and new tires.  Team Corvette chose to fuel up, while the BMWs and others chose to run to the end without stopping. This decision proved to be fatal due to an ill-timed yellow flag.  Both Corvettes lost position with only about 10 laps (20 minutes) to go.  Charging hard, both cars improved their position and with only 2 or 3 laps left to go they had advanced to positions 3 and 6.

One of the nice things about Road America is that you can wander the track to watch the race from a variety of vantage points.  As the final laps approached I decided to go to Turn 14, the last corner before the start/finish line.

On the final lap I was confident that Jan Magnussen would finish in third place, behind BMW and Porsche, but ahead of the 01 Ferrari.  Then on the final turn of the final lap I watched in horror as  the Ferrari cut into the infield, clipping the corner, and hitting Magnussen from behind and spinning him around.

"I passed the No. 56 BMW in Turn 1 with a move similar to Laguna Seca where I towed up behind a prototype," Magnussen said. "He went to the inside and I followed. Suddenly the prototype stopped, I flat-spotted my tires and lost a lot of speed. Joerg got by, so I was still in third and I was going to try to salvage a podium finish, which would have been good for Chevrolet in the manufacturer championship. Then in the last corner, Van Overbeek drove into the back of my car. I'm very disappointed, and I'll leave it at that."

Magnussen's incident with the No. 01 Ferrari is under review by race officials.

I am so upset that I am boycotting Ferrari products and asking all my friends to do the same!  So, please don't buy a Ferrari, OK?

The manufacturer standings with 3 races left (Baltimore, Virginia, and Atlanta) have Team Corvette still in 1st place with 126 points followed by BMW (116), Porsche (103), Ferrari (100), and Viper (18).

The driver standings have the four Corvette drivers still in the lead with Gavin/Milner at the top (105 points), followed by Magnussen/Garcia (88).


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cary's Ultimate Small Block Crate Motor

I installed what I believe to be the Ultimate Small Block Crate Motor in Nan's 56.  However, you can't buy this engine; you have to assemble it from a few GM Performance parts.

My requirements were:
  • The engine had to be fuel injected;
  • It needed to fit the stock Corvette Motor mounts
  • It had to run smoothly enough to support power brakes
  • It had to have at least 400 HP
A logical way to meet the first three requirements is to purchase the GM Performance Ram Jet 350.  This is a good engine and has the very nice Ram Jet Fuel Injection system.  The GM Part number is 12499120; the price is about $5,750.  It is rated at 350 horsepower with a hydraulic roller cam, 1.6 to 1 ratio roller rockers.  The disadvantages of this engine are that it has cast iron cylinder heads and the crankshaft has two bolt main caps.

An alternative to the Ram Jet 350 is to buy the Fastburn 385 engine (P/N 19201331) and install the Ram Jet Fuel Injection system (P/N 12498032).  The chart below shows the comparison.  So far (knock on wood) the Fastburn 385 with the Ram Jet FI unit starts easily, runs smoothly, and has lots of power.


Component / Measure Ram Jet 350 Fastburn 385
Crankshaft Main bearings 2 bolt 4 bolt
Cylinder heads Cast iron Aluminum
Intake valves 1.94 2.02
Exhaust valves 1.50 1.55
Compression ratio 9.4 9.6
Intake lift 0.431 0.474
Exhaust lift 0.451 0.510
Horse power 350 385
Torque 400 @ 5500 RPM 385 @ 3800 RPM

How to Remove a Tank Sticker

You will recall last month that Danny and I dropped the gas tank on the 67 Stingray and found the "tank sticker".  The Order sheet is about 6 1/2" wide by about 8 1/2" high.  Mine was 45 years old.  The paper was extremely flimsy and I was afraid that by removing it I would tear it to pieces.  I now have a three step fool-proof method to remove a tank sticker:

STEP 1:  Find a Friend who collects Wine labels.

 I explained my situation to Linda Lukasiewicz, my Coaster-riding buddy.  Linda suggested using a product that many people use to preserve the labels from their favorite wine bottles.  The product is called "Label Lift".  The clear labels have a sticky surface on one side.  Linda suggested that I try using the label removing product on the tank sticker. 

STEP 2:  Find a Friend who has Very Steady Hands.

I now had a supply of Label Lift product (thanks to Linda) but needed a steady hand to apply the labels without tearing or disturbing the tank sticker.  Nan carefully put two labels on the top surface and smoothed out all the air bubbles.  We let them dry overnight for a good seal.

STEP 3:  Peel the tank sticker off!

The next morning the tank sticker was firmly attached to the sticky side of the Label Lift, and we were easily able to peel it off the gas tank!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bill Hatch: 55 Years with his Original 1957 Corvette

How many people do you know who purchase a new Corvette and then drive it for 55 years? I know one – my neighbor, Bill Hatch!

In July 1957 Bill, a native Californian, and recent graduate from the University of Southern California (class of 1955) had secured a good job as a high school English teacher and basketball coach at Monrovia High School in Monrovia, California. Because Bill’s 1950 Ford convertible was showing its age he decided it was time for his first new car. Intent on purchasing a 1957 Chevy, he visited Bates Chevrolet in his home town, Arcadia, California. The dealer asked Bill if he would consider purchasing a Corvette rather than a Chevy. Bill was unfamiliar with the Corvette but agreed to take a look. The dealership had three new Corvettes: white with a red cove, red with a white cove and black with a red interior. Bill liked the looks of the black car and took a test drive. The car was a dream to drive and was the perfect ride for a single guy in the Southern California beach cities. But could he afford it? Bill’s beginning salary in 1956 was $4,600 per year, including the stipend for his coaching assignments.
Bill’s 57 Corvette was delivered with the basic 283 engine with a three speed transmission. It was optioned with the wonderbar radio but came from the factory with no heater; Bill figured, “Who needs a heater in LA?” The optional hardtop was included, but there was no convertible top; Bill figured, “Who needs a convertible top in this great So Cal weather?” The price was $3,400, about $600 more than the Chevy Bel Air. Bill rationalized that a basketball coach deserved a sports car and made the purchase by making a down payment of $2,000 and financing the balance at $83 per month over 36 months.
Bill used the car as his daily transportation commuting to work on weekdays and visiting the beaches of the greater Los Angeles area on weekends to join his friends in beach volleyball pickup games. Interstate Highway 5 was brand new in 1957 and the Corvette put its non-stop high-speed access to good use. Bill was still driving the Corvette as his only car when he met his future wife, Marylyn, in 1958. Marylyn had cruised in her girlfriend’s 1957 Thunderbird but she had her first Corvette ride on her first date with Bill in 1961. Romance blossomed into true love, and ultimately marriage. Bill and Marylyn left for their honeymoon in 1962 in the Corvette. Leaving the wedding reception, Bill noticed that their travel bags were just a bit too large for the trunk of the Corvette, so Marylyn’s Dad removed the cardboard trunk liner to provide a bit more space. Off they went for a memorable drive up the California coast to San Francisco, then east to Lake Tahoe, then through the beautiful Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park. The steep and narrow road to Tuolumne Meadows at the time was gravel, and Marylyn remembers Bill driving slowly to keep from chipping the Corvette’s paint job. Bill remembers the gas prices were only 29.9 cents per gallon.
In the early years of ownership Bill and his fraternity brothers enjoyed excursions throughout Southern California in their 50’s cars. One fraternity brother owned a 1957 Porsche sports car. Bill and his friend once rat-raced the new cars from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead. The Porsche was faster in the turns, but was no contest for the Corvette on the straighter stretches.
Marriage led to a family (two daughters) which frequently leads to the concern for practicality. In so many households small children and a Corvette are incompatible and the next thing you know, a Corvette gets sold.  Bill confesses that from time-to-time he gave consideration to selling his cherished sports car but each time he discussed it with Marylyn she would talk him into keeping their first date car.
Bill and Marylyn’s loyalty to each other, their family and the Corvette is reflected in other areas of their lives. Bill inherited a 1964 Chevy Impala from his Aunt in San Francisco. It has become the garage mate of the Corvette. Over the years they fell in love with Western Europe, taking frequent vacations there. Their favorite trip was in 1980 with a six-month itinerary which included buying their second new car – a VW Vanagon – and using it to tour 10 countries. The Corvette was safely guarded by Bill’s parent’s desert home. And, yes, they still own and drive the Vanagon! Bill is also loyal to his USC Trojan football team and I am lucky enough to go with him to a game each year in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Now, 55 years later, Bill and Marylyn are happily retired in the beach city of Carlsbad, California. They are grandparents to three beautiful girls each of whom takes turns riding in Grandpa’s Corvette. The Corvette is still running as well as it did on the honeymoon now with 159,164 miles on the odometer. Bill is still driving the car on a weekly basis. Other than two engine overhauls, one fender-bender, and a re-paint, the car is stock as a stove and a pure “survivor”.