April 27-29, 2012

We arrived back at Corvair Alley around 11:00 AM today. It was a beautiful day, uneventful trip. Not sure what time we actually left but it was early. We clocked around 1130 miles total on the BRD. (Big Red Dodge)

Everything is unloaded but not sorted, truck is clean but race car is just as it came off the track Sunday afternoon. It will take a bit more time to pretty it up!

She's sitting there looking kind of like a successful prize fighter, beat up and bloody but victorious!


I kind of like to just gaze at her and think about the great week end of racing and friends.

I'll not try to tell the overall story here, as others will do it better, just my take on the whole event. They can tell theirs.


Back at last year’s Mitty Mike Levine and I was talking and he said, let’s see if we can get ten Corvairs here next year. I said I keep a file with most of the known race cars so I'll make a list of the possible participants. It totaled around 20 cars. I also said our major task will be to keep the interest up through the winter months and keep those that will come to race and watch up to date on the event. That's when I started the first email that evolved in to the Weekly Updates. I did not realize just how many people were reading them until the Mitty! Everyone thought I organized this mess! Thanks for the compliment but, I am not that good.

I woke up at night worried about where we could all park together and how much of a Chinese fire drill it would be. Well, we did it with the help of HSR and some phone calls from people who know people!


It will take a few days for it to all settle out and the excitement to wear off not to mention bodies to heal but, this has been the most memorable Corvair event I have ever been fortunate enough to participate in. I thought my first Mitty in 2009 with seven of us was a big deal and for the time it was. The following years have their moments like a broken crank in 2010 and my best running car last year in 2011.

This year was almost like a Corvair mini convention for racers and fans. There were a lot of familiar faces and some new ones too. Some I only knew from email and the Corvair sites. More than a few folks said it was nice to put a face with The Lone Haranguer!


The weather was typical for this time of year in the Atlanta area. We had some rain, cool mornings and blazing sun in the afternoon. The humidity wasn't real bad but it certainly made an old fat guy in a quilted three layer fire suit sitting in a hot race car sweat a little but, all that goes away when the green flag drops. Ask anyone that races!


As is my habit I like to run the Test and Tune sessions on Thursday just to get comfortable with the track and the car. I guess I had become a little smug about my good fortune of not having any major issues (except a broken crank) with engines and they all ran well while others around me were having major issues. It had to happen sooner or later. During my last test session the car began to slow down then, quit completely. I heard nor felt nothing to indicate eminent failure. After being towed in we put the car on the stands and I made the decision to use the backup engine so I could make my races. It also meant I would miss practice on Friday.

We spent most of Friday and Saturday morning swapping out my engine. Of course I didn't do it alone. Two of the best Corvair pit monkeys in the business, Barry Ellison ( he even brings his own favorite tools!) and Paul Fox were on hand to lend a much appreciated hand and help an old guy out. Also my old high school buddy Clete Hash lent a helping hand too.

Dave Edsinger came over to do the timing with his dial back light. After some slight mods to the distributor he pronounced it good to go. Since I missed the morning qualifying and practice session I would not get on track until our first race at 3:00. The old motor did not run as well as it should. It would not pull more than 5500 RPM at first and it was slow getting there. We put a few more degrees of timing in it and waited for the afternoon race.

I started somewhere near the back along with Bob Storc who was also on a weak back up motor. I really didn't care too much about racing with the other cars but racing with another Corvair was fun! We traded the lead several times and had some great racing. I managed to get by Bob on the next to last lap I think on the back straight when he missed a shift. By the time we came back to the pits I was soaked with sweat and out of breath! It was great!

I placed 7th out of 12 Corvairs that started the race. I couldn't wait until Sunday’s race.


As I stated before this was the best Mitty ever for me but, there was another very personal reason. Two of my old high school buddies came to watch and cheer me on plus help in the pits. The three of us had not been together in fifty freakin years! One of them, Joe, flew in from California. He was here in 2010 also. The other, Clete came up from Charleston SC. I am such a lucky guy!

After Saturday's race we all went to the La Prilla Mexican Restaurant in Oakwood. I was thirsting for a couple of Margaritas! There just happened to be a Mariachi band walking around the tables and playing. I asked if they knew Rocky Top. Yep! When they began playing it my wife Janet jumped up and began to clog (mountain) dance. We had the attention of our section! To top it off one of the out of town (Iowa) customers enjoyed it so much he asked her if she would do it again if he got the band to come back and play it again. They did and she got him out on the floor and tried to show him a few steps. Just another quiet evening with Team Norris!


Sunday rolled around and we had to wait until 2:00 for our race. I suited up, fired up and headed to the false grid. Although it was hotter on Sunday I didn't seem to notice it as much. I sat there thinking all the excitement of the week was about to end. Then, it was time to get on track and see if my little engine that tried could do it again. My oil temps were really high during Saturday's race so, I quit looking at the gage. It was going to go or blow!

Finally the green rag fell and we were off. My grid position was ahead of Bob (Storc) in the number 35 ex Larry Claypool Stinger. In the first two laps Bob managed to pass me and pulled away. I just didn't have any acceleration. Then, for some unknown reason the engine began to run better. I could now go to a hair past six grand. Still slow on the uptake but better than it had been. I'm not sure where I caught and passed Bob but I did and never looked back. It seemed like the white flag then the checkers came out too soon. It was all over in seven laps for another year. That was one of the best races I have ever had. To be fair to Bob, it was his first time at this track and he was running vintage legal 13" tires. I was not and my car was handling better than ever. I managed a 6th place out of the 9 Corvairs and ran my best lap to date! (1:52.652)

Bob is a good driver and a great guy as were all the Corvair racers.


There it is folks. I'm sure I left out some things but, I need at least a week of rest! 

Let's do again next year. I want to be seen in 2013!


Rick Norris
#36 Sunoco Corvair

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