Steve Alander's '81 model 242 sedan, thought to be the country's only racing 242. Alander finished a strong fifth.Photo by the author.
Steve Alander's '81 model 242 sedan, thought to be the country's only racing 242. Alander
The museum boasts one-third of a million sq ft of more than 15,000 International Tank and Cavalry artifacts dating from 1509 to present. And, yep. Naturally, the Swedes are represented. If you're not at VIR for a Volvo event, you'll need to see the Swedish tanks here, instead of on the racetrack.
And speaking of local color, stop at Aunt Millie's in Milton, N.C., when you're at VIR. This unassuming spot serves up pizza which compares with some of Chicago's finest, and proprietor Gwen McGuire is intent on creating the Seneca Lodge of VIR, just outside the racetrack property. You can help create a legacy.
HSR offered me the opiton--at no extra charge--of participating in two race groups for the weekend: the Volvo-only group, and assignment to their normal race group for each car, depending on age, unique car preparation, etc. I enthusiastically opted for inclusion in Group 3, as well as the Volvo group, allowing for six sessions on track on Friday, four on Saturday, and three on Sunday. What a racing bargain, and what a great way to get a jump-start at new track.
Alander's B-230 engine; just another reminder of why Volvo racers compete in IT.Photo by the author.
Alander's B-230 engine; just another reminder of why Volvo racers compete in IT.Photo by t
Turned out #122 was essentially a rolling chicane for the Porsche 914-6s and 911s of Group 3, but I got a lot of seat time, especially the first day on track. And, my god! did those Porsches blow by me. But by the end of Friday, I was feeling like I at least knew my way around the track and had selected a line for each corner. Keeping to it was now going to be the trick. And, of course, driving with at least one eye on the mirrors at all times, especially whenon track with Group 3.
By the end of the day, my times had dropped to the vicinity of 2:30 for the 3.27-mile course. Certainly not spectacular, but not bad, considering it was my first weekend on this very challenging technical course. The full course has three sets of esses, (the Snake, Climbing Esses and Roller Coaster) substantial change of elevation, and at least two full speed sections. For the Porsche guys there are more than two, of course. I'm talking about an old Volvo here. Charging at full speed into the dip just before the incline that becomes the Roller Coaster, my heart was in my throat for most of Friday. My mind kept saying, "Wait to brake. Wait to brake," and my sphincter kept saying, "NOW! NOW!"
(Go to www.virclub.com/track_info/track_layout.html to see the full course map. You will find that VIR boasts a website second to none in motorpsports.)
Kevin Ahlquist of Minnesota trailered his recently completed '68 model 1800-S to earn concours awards from Volvo Sports America .Photo by the author.
Kevin Ahlquist of Minnesota trailered his recently completed '68 model 1800-S to earn conc
Meanwhile, Duane Matejka of Foreign Auto Tech (www.volvo-1800.com) was turning in times around 2:18, driving the fastest old Volvo in the country. So I could see I definitely had my work cut out for me to keep finding seconds on the track. It's great that Duane gives us something to shoot for, you know?
Duane is probably the winningest Volvo racer in the country, as five-time Champion of the Volvo Historic Series. He was joined this weekend by Sam Moore, the legendary IT-B racer, and two-time IT-B National Champ who hails from North Carolina. I've watched Sam race at Road Atlanta, where his red '72 142-E sedan blew the doors off assorted VW Rabbits and other IT-B types.
Eat your heart out, Enzo! Volvistas assembled here this weekend swear this is the Ferrari Enzo always had in mind, but never quite pulled off.Photo by the author.
Eat your heart out, Enzo! Volvistas assembled here this weekend swear this is the Ferrari
John Parker (email@example.com) of Syracuse, N.Y., driving one of the country's fastest P-1800 Volvos also made the trip. John exhibited the P-1800 supercharger set-up he has created for street Volvos, designed to let older Swedes terrorize the rice rockets in stoplight derbies.
Steve Alander, of Naples, Fla., brought the only model 242 Volvo racing in the country. Most of the familiar faces from prior Vintage Volvo Grans Prix, and some new ones. Unfortunately, we lacked most of the West Coast contingent who had been able to travel to Watkins Glen. Our mututal loss.
#122 arrives in Danville with the Clampett's gear still aboard. Truckers on I-77 offer thanks.Photo by the author.
#122 arrives in Danville with the Clampett's gear still aboard. Truckers on I-77 offer tha
During Saturday's sessions I began to experience some minor difficulties with the car. First a stalling condition developed in sharp right-hand corners. This provided the opportunity for each and every car in both race groups to pass me coming out of the signature Oak Tree turn at the far south end of the course.
On prior occasions a broken carburetor part had caused these same symptoms. Sure enough, I found and replaced the broken part. But the condition persisted. Later I found more carburetor parts needed replacement. Sputtering at high speed also suggested perhaps the points need replacing. In the heat (literally 90*F or so and 90 plus humidity) of a 5-min. paddock stop between back-to-back sessions, I was unable to successfully swap and reset points, so missed the Volvo Qualifying race on Saturday afternoon. Okay. I'll start the Volvo Feature Race on Sunday from the back of the pack.
My car (#122) plows through the dust cloud kicked up by Mitch Duncan(#78) in minor off-track excursion. Bystanders held their breath, but the incident produced a bit of excitement and no shunt.Photo by Shoot To Thrill Photo.
My car (#122) plows through the dust cloud kicked up by Mitch Duncan(#78) in minor off-tra
Saturday afternoon wound up with a Monsoon, literally. Several inches of rain fell amid heavy winds reminiscent of Elkhart Lake in the fall. There, I commonly lash the canopies to the race car in order to keep them in this county. Same at VIR. And the adjacent motorhome. And extra stakes in the ground. And all the spare race tires I normally keep on the trailer. And somebody was trying to tell mr they don't have all that much wind in the mountains of Virginia. Not!
Sunday dawned bright, sunny and predicted to be hot. By race time it was in the mid 80s and the Volvo types were sweating and pacing around nervously. Me included.
Duane Matejka (#1 )posted a 38.9-sec. victory over second-place finisher, John Parker (#177). Rich Conklin (#68) of Long Beach, Calif., finished third. Interesting note here: Parker built Conklin's P-1800 for him, so two Parker-prepped cars were in the top three. Not bad, eh? And Sam Moore (#26) went on to finish fourth. Keeping in mind that his IT-B car runs a stock Volvo engine, this is a very strong finish, indeed, against cars whose engines are permitted under vintage rules to take maximum advantage of technology available in the '60s and early '70s. One hint: look for telltale signs of Bob Griffith!
Mitch Ducan (#78) spins back on track after a minor agricultural excursion and kicks up a major dust cloud in VIR's sandy soil. No harm; no foul.Photo by Shoot To Thrill Photo.
Mitch Ducan (#78) spins back on track after a minor agricultural excursion and kicks up a
Ordinarily, when racing a vintage Volvo you're one of only a couple at the track that weekend, competing against British, Italian and German cars. While Volvos are known for mechanical reliability and consistency, a funny thing happens when the Volvo racers all face each other--maybe we overreach a bit. In any case, more mechanical failures occur than at any other time in the season. Just six cars finished the race.
Though I 've been developing the car more in each year since 1996, #122 was less reliable for this outing than any in the last few years. Starting from the back of the pack, the throttle would not work freely during the pace lap--more carburetor problems. After only a couple of laps in the race, I found myself running on just one of the two carburetors, and knew the wise choice was to retire. My first mechanical DNF in years with trusty #122. As they say, "That's racing."
And just in case you're wondering, the weekend was terrific!
(Race results are available at: http://www.hsrrace.com/04_vir/results/G10_Volvo.pdf)
Shot from Friday's practice session showing VIR's trademark lower esses, The Snake. I'm (#122) leading Tremmelle White (black/yellow P-1800) and Jim Stem (blue/white 142-E) followed by Mitch Duncan,(#78).Photo by Shoot To Thrill Photo.
Shot from Friday's practice session showing VIR's trademark lower esses, The Snake. I'm (#
Close-up of First Place medal awarded to Duane Matejka for yet another Vintage Volvo Gran Prix win. Some folks are beginning to think the real race is among everyone gridded behind Matejka, who just consistently runs away from the crowd.Photo by Irv Gordon.
Close-up of First Place medal awarded to Duane Matejka for yet another Vintage Volvo Gran
Art Banks drove his Master's Class P-1800 all the way from Southern California to preside over the concours judging at VIR on behalf of Volvo Sports America.
Art Banks drove his Master's Class P-1800 all the way from Southern California to preside
VIR's thoughtfully shaded false grid area makes all the difference to drivers fully suited up in race gear awaiting word to proceed onto the track. At 90*F and high humidity, spending 15 or 20 minutes in the shade instead of direct sun means drivers are able to maintain significant body fluids before they hit the track. Lose too much fluid in this heat, and the driver risks dehydration, loss of concentration and perhaps even loss of consciousness under race conditions. Not good!Photo by Bill Webster; courtesy of Mark Hershoren.
VIR's thoughtfully shaded false grid area makes all the difference to drivers fully suited
Celebration time in the paddock area as Gary Hershoren's model 122 (car #29) fires up after Jim Blett, owner of Swedish Car Service in Coopersville, Mich., pulled an all-nighter, literally, driving engine parts from northern Michigan to be installed by these happy celebrants, putting #29 back on the track. Hershoren eventually took Second in Class in HSR's Group 2 race on Sunday, and sixth in the all-Volvo race. Left to right: Jim Blett, Mark Hershoren, Bill Webster, Brooks Townes.Photo by Bill Webster; courtesy of Mark Hershoren
Celebration time in the paddock area as Gary Hershoren's model 122 (car #29) fires up afte
P-1800 convertible owned by Ohioan Tom Badetscher in the concours. Another model the Swedes always meant to make, but never quite got around to it.
P-1800 convertible owned by Ohioan Tom Badetscher in the concours. Another model the Swede
Volvos have a fine and wonderful history at VIR. Quote is from Gordon Warren's article in the North Carolina Region, SCCA's "Bulletin" ca. 04/63.
Volvos have a fine and wonderful history at VIR. Quote is from Gordon Warren's article in
News photo from 1963 showing early Volvo P-1800 racer Art Riley (#94) leading Jack Crusoe's Alfa in a back-and-forth match that kept the crowd on their feet for 61 miles.Original Photo credit: Gerald Eckstein; courtesy Nick England.
News photo from 1963 showing early Volvo P-1800 racer Art Riley (#94) leading Jack Crusoe'
I've been racing my 1968 Volvo model 122-S two-door sedan at vintage events since 1996. Purchased as a "street rod" in Southern California, the car has received improvements each year aimed at gaining reliability and vintage performance. Most of my racing is in the Mid-west, often with VSCDA, the Vintage Sports Car Driver's Association (www.vscda.org), but I attempts to drive at least one new track each season, and VIRginia International had been on my "must do" list for years.As for the red/white checkered flag design of the graphics on #122, I swear the folks at Ralston-Purina have been aggressively pursuing me with offers of sponsorship. However, I steadfastly refuse sponsorship, preferring to maintain my amatuer status.Photo by Merit Gest.
I've been racing my 1968 Volvo model 122-S two-door sedan at vintage events since 1996. Pu
Racer John Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org) brought his supercharger setup for older street Volvos. After over 2 years of development, Parker claims one day owner installation of the kit, 30- to 50-hp with reliability and driveablity on a stock engine, a price "under $3,000" and the basis for a 200+ bhp performance in an older Volvo. Show that one to the local Boxer owners!Photos by Irv Gordon.
Racer John Parker (email@example.com) brought his supercharger setup for older street
Mitch Duncan (#78) runs a vintage version of Volvo's twin-cam B-23 engine, originally developed for RallyCross in Europe. According to Duncan, Volvo's Competiton Dept. went to Cosworth for a cross-flow head in the early '70s, and built up this early 16-valve overhead cam engine, winning the European RallyCross Championship after the engine was homolgated.
Mitch Duncan (#78) runs a vintage version of Volvo's twin-cam B-23 engine, originally deve
Naturally, the French officials overseeing the series then changed the rules, and only a few engines remained. Mitch is fortunate enought to have two of them, but, of course, the parts are made from UNOBTANIUM. It just looks like a modern 16-valve B-23. It really isn't.Photo by the author
Naturally, the French officials overseeing the series then changed the rules, and only a f