12 JULY, 2009

We arrived home about 2:30 this afternoon.

I am still floating on air! 

Where to begin......We arrived at the host hotel Saturday afternoon in sunny, Pooler GA. There were several Corvair folks already there and not too much later most of the "usual suspects" as Brian O'Neill likes to call us showed up. Parking was a challenge but, we all managed. Others can tell that story. The Jamison is a very nice hotel.

As usual the BS sessions with old friends and the impromptu car show and inspections began in the lot. Later on in the evening I was introduced to the Corvair racing legend, James Reeve Jr. Mikey Levine said he was going to coax him into attending the Time Trial event.

There he was and I was shaking his hand and not sure what to say! Yeah, you heard that right. I was almost at a loss for words! What a thrill! Little did I know, this was not the really exciting part. That was to come later at the track. 

So now it's early Saturday morning and after breakfast we headed out to the track which is less than a 20 minute drive from the hotel. We minded all of the local small town speed limits but, there is a story about that and I'll let him tell it. The place is notorious for busting out of towners. Clickit or ticket! 

Finally, we get into the track, unload and set up camp. Chuck Sadek had his trailer parked beside us and we set up the BBRT HQ ( Bohunk Brothers Racing Team ) as it were. The morning was cool but, it got warm and humid later in the day. I heard the temp was 92. Sitting in the race car in the hot pits waiting to go out it felt like 192!   

Since I had my new set of LaForge long step tube headers on I was really curious if I would bust the track sound level of 103 DB which is measured toward the end of the main straight 50 feet off the edge. The only mufflers I had were a set of 5" Supertrapps with a bunch of discs. Also I had done some more carb work and changed my toe in on the front to some toe out. The big question for me was, would the new disc brakes I installed work. Turn one at the end of the main straight is a great place to find out! On my first time out I basically bedded the pads and discs by running some easy laps and braking hard, harder, hardest then, brought it in to cool to ambient. I can report they worked very well and got better as the day wore on. I didn't get flagged for noise either so the Supertrapps worked also.  

Mike Levine brought his really cool Crown mid-engine V8 Vair to the event and James Reeve was co-driving it. We all saw and heard that car at the Mitty. Mike came by our camp during the 11:00 to 12:00 quiet time ( Sunday morning ya know! ) and in general conversation said, We need to get James in a six cylinder Corvair. That statement didn't really soak in at the time. Mike headed back to his area and I went back to prepping the car. Suddenly, it dawned on me. He was fishing for someone to let James drive their regular motored Corvair! Damn! What an opportunity!

I had seen James over at the snack bar having lunch earlier so I hot footed it over there and asked him if he would like to drive my car. I wasn't really sure what he might say. I said it's the Sunoco car. He said oh, sure, he'd be delighted. He said he would be over after he finished lunch to "try it on" to see if he could fit in it. My heart sank as I wondered if he could. Most of you know what I look like but, James is very slender and about a head taller than me with long arms and legs.

It was not to worry as he had no trouble with the driving position and seemed to fit okay. After giving him a tour of the car he left to get his driving suit. 

Yikes! I have got to get the car ready for him. Now I started thinking about the what if's! It has been so reliable for so long, now would be a really bad time to break, not to mention embarrassing! What if he stuffs it? I really didn't give that much thought. Hell, it's James Reeve! A Corvair racing legend! I don't care! 

I don't know if anyone was watching me but, I was jumping around the car like a mad cricket! Check this, check that, fuel, etc, etc. As I was anxiously watching for James to show up I spotted Ron Fedorczak, the CORSA photographer walking by. I stopped him and told him what was about to happen and he might want to get a few shots. Also I had my wife Janet standing by with the camera.

Finally, James walked up dressed in very period correct drivers uniform, gloves, original head sock and a pair of seasoned ( really old! ) driving shoes. Only his helmet was relatively new. What a sight! It was like time travel. And he's going to drive my car! 

After getting him belted in and an explanation of the switches it was time to get on track. He hit the starter button and thank God it fired up! As he was going toward the hot pits I ran over to the fence to watch. I was giddy with delight! My good friend Warren Holt from Cleveland who was standing with me probably thought I was going to pass out. I was excited!

After a lap or so James got into it. What a sight not to mention the sound of the Sunoco blue car flying down the main straight at full song! And the legend James Reeve is at the wheel! Oh, I forgot to mention I removed the Supertrapps to see if it would get the sound guys attention and, the guy who made the headers, Dennis LaForge was there to hear his handiwork for himself. I don't know how many laps he ran before they black flagged him. Yes, they black flagged him! The call was aggressive driving and being too loud. Yeah, LOUD! I loved it!

I think the aggressive driving may have been on the back section where Mike Levine in his V8 Vair "accidentally" caught James and got to messing around a bit. Some old racing habits just don't fade away. 

When James came back to the pits he had the proverbial grin on his face. He liked it! My first question was, what did he think of the handling? After musing for a moment he said he could not think of anything bad to say about it. He stated that it was a very familiar and comfortable feeling. It was like putting on an old shoe. He said all the sounds, feel, power and sights were like he remembered. He knew exactly what the car would do. He said it had been so many years since he had driven a Corvair race car. He was thanking me over and over for letting him drive it. I was floating on air! I thanked him! It was a privilege for me to have him drive my car. 

I now have over 500 plus photos to edit down to a manageable lot. I have taken a cursory look and I do have the photo evidence of the black flag incident. I'm sure they just forgot it was only a time trial....right!


Rick Norris
#36 Sunoco Corvair

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