By: Rick Norris

I decided last year that if I could, I would run the “Mitty” again. As it so happened I did but, it was a different outcome this year.

We loaded up and headed out for Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

Another beautiful sunny day at Road Atlanta! Spence showed up around 3 PM and we saved a space for him. It is very crowded this year and people are jockeying for pit space. There are some really big rigs with multiple car displays.

There are way more interesting cars here than last year. The Formula 5000 cars are really cool with the small block engines that really crack when they blip the loud pedal.

Lots of old NASCAR rides too. Can you say LOUD! There are a lot more interesting cars this year. Race car overload!

My best friend from high school came in today all the way from California to watch me race and take in the whole spectacle. He got me interested in sports cars way back when all I knew was hot rods. Also my son-in-law from Cleveland will be here tomorrow. I bought him a track ride in my car if he can fit in it. He's really tall.

I guess we'll have some more Vair folks by Saturday such as our all around pit monkey Barry Ellison.

The Corvairs are popular as usual. It seems that a lot of the other race teams have stopped by to admire us. I've not seen this much activity this early.

It has been a treat to not have to do anything with the cars. I have visited all the spectator areas around the track which gives you a different perspective of the track especially watching the cars practice today. We are having a great time socializing as usual.

Tomorrow we get to play. Mike Levine said we need to get in a good lap as that’s what they will use if qualifying is rained out. This should be fun. There are over 60 entries in Group 2. It might be crowded out there!

Again has been another beautiful day at Road Atlanta.

Today we had practice by groups again and as I said before we have a lot of cars in Group 2. I went out with the plan to run fairly fast in the morning and make a best run in the afternoon to use if qualifying is rained out.

Well, I forgot to silicone the belt so, I was careful not to rev it too far or downshift hard. All went well and the belt stayed on. I had to slap myself when I got to racing with someone.

About half way thru the practice run a car spun out and we all got the black flag to come into the pits while they removed the car. I sat on the grid and fried in my three layer fire suit and full face helmet while waiting but, we finally got the go signal. Seemed like it ended too soon but, the car was running well.

In the afternoon practice I decided to step it up. I remembered to silicone the belt this time too. Again I was running well and chasing an Elva. I know I was cutting some good laps then the black flag came out again as another Porsche spun out and couldn't restart. I went to the pits with the rest of the crowd to wait it out again. The pit steward came up to me and said timing couldn't get a transponder signal on me! Crap! I went back to my pit to check it out. The transponder had a green light which says its working or at least has power. I went over to the tower to check with timing and see if they had the right transponder number for my car. All checked out and the lady said she got a signal for my last lap which was under caution and at a slow pace!

I guess I'll see if it works tomorrow during practice and qualifying.

Spence also had a transponder problem. Speaking of Spence he went out for practice but came in after several laps with his car smoking badly from blow by. He thinks it’s a dead cylinder again.

Mike Levine had some problems with his dry sump oiling system but thinks he has it fixed and will be okay for tomorrow.

The way it looks I may be the "Last Corvair Standing"! (Boy was I wrong!)

It has been a fantastic time so far, very different from last year. Tomorrow will be the biggest day with lots of people. The place is packed now so it will be interesting.

It had to happen.

The Sunoco Corvair finally broke. We think it’s the clutch/pressure plate. (Nope!)

I was having a real good run in practice this morning when it started to sound funny then, vibrate like a Maytag washer on spin cycle with an off center load. It had been grinding when shifting to fourth which got worse.

I made it around to pit road and our pit area. After checking the engine I jacked it up to see if maybe the transmission bolts had backed out as I had replaced it back home. That's when I saw the oil leaking out the bottom of the bell housing. The transmission bolts were tight though. The oil was definitely engine oil.

I fired the engine and it ran but, not well. I did a compression test which showed low cylinders but nothing bad. I am now a spectator as I said I would be if anything broke that I couldn't easily fix. I'll deal with it at home.

Since I signed on for the whole week end we will stay to cheer Mike on and enjoy the spectacle that is the Mitty. There is a lot to see this year.

Also, I forgot to mention some Corvair folks that dropped by plus a few others. Billy Bruce and Ken Arnold came by yesterday. Bob Coffin and Barry Ellison showed up this morning. Today Tim Suddard stopped by to check out the Sunoco Corvair. Tim is the owner/publisher of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine and they have several Corvairs in their stable. He had some guy named Adam Carolla with him. I think he had a TV show called the Man Show...GGG! Think girls jumping on trampolines He's a car guy and has some vintage Datsun’s which are featured this year at the Mitty.

The weather has been great and it did not rain today. Only a twenty percent tomorrow so, we'll be there for Mikey.

As predicted a lot more people showed up today. It is really crowded but loads of fun.

As usual it’s more about the people and I am having a great time. I’m a little disappointed about not being able to race but happy overall.

What a great long week end it has been!

No rain to speak of and no break in the racing activity.

Loved watching and HEARING the Formula 5000 cars with screaming small block Chevy's. The wonderful aroma of race gas and the roar of the engines, it don’t get no better’n this.

It hit 91 degrees at the track today and it was greasy according to Mike Levine. Mikey again waved the Corvair racing banner. He ran today on worn out tires and managed a nice spin into the pea gravel at the end of the back straight. I'll let him fill in the details plus he has video of it which Eli, Mikes son will post.

Spence and his wife Clare hung out all day but, headed for home when the rest of us were packing up.

My best friend from High School Joe Mudd had dinner with us and will fly back to Cali in the morning. It was such a treat to have him on my crew. I worked him hard too! We hadn't seen each other for thirty plus years.

I don't feel too bad about not getting any timed laps as my transponder was not hitting. Still think it’s their system. (Not!) At least I did get a bunch in until the breakage.

I'm now anxious to get home and tear into it.

We arrived home in the early afternoon and after unloading the car and truck I just had to put the car up on the stands a begin drive train removal. I had to know for sure what the problem was.Actually, I was progressing better than I expected and got the drive train out and on the floor. I removed the diff cover and checked out the gears. All was fine.

I split the transaxle from the engine, pulled the clutch and flywheel off and got a good look at the seal. It was chewed up as I expected. I grabbed the clutch shaft, stuck it back in the crank pilot bearing and wiggled it around…Hey, that’s not supposed to move like that! That confirmed the crank was broken so now it was engine tear down time. I was anxious to see how much damage was done to the innards.

After getting the block split I was happy to see the crank was still in one piece but, hanging on by a thread. It had cracked around the clutch end between the no. 5 & 6 cylinders. I have a new crank ready to go in so, we’ll be back in business before long.

All in all it could have been a real disaster but, the luck of my Irish saved me again. Considering it still ran and I had just passed pit road when it happened plus, I had to drive all the way around the track to pit and keep up enough speed to keep the fast guys from running over me I was damn lucky! We’ll get’em next year.

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