NECC CORVAIR OLYMPICS
July 31, August 1, 2, 2008
By Rick Norris
Yee-ow! What a great event!
Three days of flogging Corvairs in the middle Indiana corn fields and the hot Indiana sun and humidity! No rain, sunny skies and the extended Corvair family. Hot motors, cold beer and no fist fights!
To me that is what this event was really all about, family. Yes, I looked forward to running my car amongst others of its kind but, I most enjoyed seeing all the familiar faces and talking with everyone. (What, me talk?) For me and I suspect others it filled the void of not attending the National Convention. No matter how tired I was, I looked forward to the impromptu lawn chair meetings and some cold adult beverages in the parking lot after each event, even after the dinner Saturday night!
Day one was the track event at Putnam Park Road Course in a beautiful and well maintained pastoral setting. The staff was very professional and personable. I think they liked Corvairs. Hey, what’s not to like? My car ran well but, just after I stated it hasn't thrown a belt it did. Actually ripped it in half so the silicone spray came out and the belt problems went away. It is so cool to be out on the track with nothing but Corvairs running around. There was a few odd non Corvairs present but I ignored them.
During practice I got out of control entering turn 10 which we were warned about but I stayed on track and ended up headed the right way with no caution flag. However, a few laps later I decided the grass in that area needed some trimming. I didn't do a 180, just slid nicely off track in a four wheel drift and motored smoothly back on and to the pits for a look see then, back out. Hey, as Parnelli Jones said, "If you aren't out of control you aren't driving fast enough"!
After practice for some reason unknown to me I decided to lower the tire pressures. Wrong move! During my timed runs the car was not handling as well as it did in practice. After looking at my 50 series tires it was obvious they did not like the lower pressures. At least I know what NOT to do now. Also I think my left rear shock had come loose at the bottom but it was not discovered until Saturday at the autocross. It's a learning process and like all racers I'm sure I could have knocked several more seconds off my time if I had not done this or had done that but, I was pleased overall with everything. Some small personal goals were met.
We stopped along the way during the return trip to eat then, it was time for the
“Lawn Chair Nationals” and bench racing out in the parking lot!
Day two was at the storied Muncie Dragstrip which is located 60 some miles from Indy amongst more corn fields, imagine that! It's an old but decent facility. I did not enter the drag event but went as a spectator and took pictures. Really wish I had now. I was afraid I would hurt the car I guess. It was another warm sunny day and the ice cream sandwiches at the snack bar were a tasty treat along with all the usual suspects.
I think the folks there enjoyed seeing the Corvairs go down the strip. It was a treat to watch those of our brethren that regularly drag race Corvairs in they're natural habitat. Especially fun was watching Billy Bruce in his little black early model with a turbo and automatic running in the 12 second range! There is nothing on that car that isn’t required to run!
Also fun was watching Brian Sibenick do burn outs in the water box both with his
drag Vair and his V6 water pumper. Of course, Seth ran his four wheel drive Suby
rental piece too! We were expecting “John Farce” to show up in his Corvair funny
car but he developed an oil leak! Again, Janet and I stopped on the way back to eat
then, back to the hotel and round two out in the back lot!
Day three was the autocross was the autocross which was held at old Bush Stadium in downtown Indy. At least it was a short drive from the host abode compared to the 60 mile hike to both Putnam Park and Muncie. Bush is an old stadium scheduled for demolition but the parking lot is great for an autocross. Again, there was nothing here to change my dislike for big cities and all the traffic problems but, all the events started early which avoided most of the traffic.
The lot was decent and the layout was Corvair friendly as was to be expected since Warren LeVeque and company laid it out. Some shade could be had around the edges and the cold water was free and plentiful. It was certainly needed.
I worked a corner of the peanut or “Tweety”section during the first round with Dave Edsinger, Barry Ellison and Ned Madsen. Unfortunately for them they were a captive audience and I did my best to entertain them. There are no old jokes, just new people! I think the best entertainment from our vantage point was watching Andy Kinzelman flog and toss his early model around with glee and a big grin on his face.
We had five timed runs and my best time was on my last run. The first run I got lost and the second run I crashed through the garage cones doing exactly what Warren said not to! I finally settled down on my next two runs and got clean times. Like everyone else I was tired so I decided I was not going to run the fifth time but, the ever large and in charge OIC or "Officer in Charge" his High Holiness, El Supremo Hisself, General Bullhorn, Brian O'Neill convinced me that if you paid for five runs you will take five runs! That last run turned out to be my best one, even though my left rear shock was adrift as the bottom bolt was missing! I did not know this until Chuck Sadek mentioned it back in the parking lot. I was too tired to look but not too tired for the third round of back lot BS and beer!
When we got home Sunday afternoon I unloaded the car I checked it out. No real damaged done other than some missing paint so I replaced the errant bolt while the chore was on my mind.
A huge THANK YOU goes out to the NECC, the Indy group, and everybody involved in putting this event on and making it such a big success. I will look forward to doing this again. No matter what kind of Corvair you drive you are missing a real good time if you don’t do the next one!
I'm already signed up and paid for the Summit Point gig in October! See ya’all there!
#36 Sunoco Corvair