The last race of the season for my 24 Hours of Lemons team was at Thunderhill in Willows, California. Willows is within a reasonable driving distance from central Oregon, so Nick and I hopped into the M Roadster and made a mad dash down US 97 and I-5 long before the sun rose, with a pre-dawn breakfast stop in Klamath Falls. It was fun to actually drive there as opposed to fly and drive the tow vehicle – as well as a bonus to bring Nick along. We arrive around 10 am on test & tune day…
November 11, 2012
July 26, 2012
Racing cars is a lot like smoking crack. One hit of the stuff and you’re hooked – and then you can’t get enough.
I’ve loved every minute of racing with my Clowntown Roadshow team mates. However, I’m the sole team member living and working in the Pacific Northwest, with the rest being in Northern California. While I’m very in-touch with my team mates via our Facebook group, and I always volunteer to pull tow-duty on the SoCal races – I miss the weekends wrenching on the car, and have been unsuccessful in convincing my team to think about coming north for events in the northwest.
I advertised myself as a “driver for hire” on the 24 Hours of Lemons forums for any team in the PNW planning on running the Pacific Northworst Grand Prix in Shelton, WA. I had a few teams show an interest, but a group of “newbies” from Shoreline, WA seemed the most eager to have me along, so I joined their team. They had a car, and a lot of enthusiasm, but only three drivers. All had young families and hoped to make it a big outing. Nick had his Freshman Orientation the two days before the event, so I brought him along to round out the family atmosphere.
The event was at the brand new Ridge Motorsports Park outside of Olympia. Nick and I awoke at O’dark:thirty Thursday morning to drive to Corvallis – spent all day and the next attending welcoming lectures, parental-panic-soothing seminars, class registrations, and advanced placement tests at Oregon State University, before making the dash Friday night (with a stop in Portland for dinner with friends) to Olympia. Saturday morning dawned wet and gloomy – yes we were back in western Washington! We arrived at the track, paid our fee, and lapped the paddock looking for our team. I noted that street cars were lapping the track, and since we could not find our team I steered my car out onto the pit lane and decided to see this new track.
July 8, 2012
Buttonwillow last December (The 2011 Arsefreezeapalooza)
Infineon in March (The Sears Pointless)
and now, Buttonwillow again for the 2012 Arsesweatapalooza.
The Clowntown Roadshow completed our third Lemons race, and our very first true 24 Hour event. We did “good” in that we all had two shifts at the wheel, and didn’t irreparably break the car. We made a bunch of mistakes, but also did some things right, and all had a ton of fun.
I flew down to the Bay Area last wednesday, and spent Thursday at Facebook HQ attending some meetings before hopping in our team tow vehicle – an un-airconditioned early 90s Ford F250 with utility bed, and driving south for Buttonwillow, which is near Bakersfield in SoCentralCal. Yes, it was HOT. Insult to injury was the 100+ minutes I spent in stop-and-go traffic due to some construction on I-5 about halfway there. I survived (barely) and enjoyed the combination of the best Carne Asada (I’ve had since La Hacienda in Arlington, WA) and the worst Motel 6 (ever on the planet) in the non-town of Buttonwillow, California. Friday was a practice day, and we had too much fun lapping the track, then put the car through Tech & BS Inspection – passing both easily. We enjoyed a team dinner at a small Italian place in Shafter, CA. Since I noted the place was owned an run by some Thais I ordered a Pad Se Ew off the back page of the menu and was blown away by how good it was. Pro Tip: If you dine at Giovannis in Shafter, go for the Thai!
Saturday at 10 am the race started. We ran the #15 config for the terminally curious. I volunteered to take the first shift to avoid the heat of the afternoon. Unlike previous Lemons races where the start is laps and laps of full-course Yellow the green flag flew on my second or third circuit of the track. At the start I was a few cars behind the infamous Rolling Chicane Limousine, this race in the guise of the Titanic. Thankfully I was able to pass it just past the start-finish line.
Our little ’89 BMW 325i E30 wasn’t the fastest car on the track though. The field contained several faster cars, mostly BMW 3 & 5 series machines, along with a few fast oddballs like a 4th generation 300ZX and the Model T GT, which you can see passing me below:
May 15, 2012
As some of you know, digital.forest was acquired earlier this year. While my payout as a stockholder wasn’t “retire now” in scale, it has allowed us to upgrade the Goolsbee fleet. First and foremost I set out to buy Sue a cruiser to help her sore back and smooth out her hectic driving schedule with something super-comfy. We test-drove a lot of mid-range machines, and she settled upon a Mercedes-Benz C300. It took me a month or so to find the right one, at the right price. She now enjoys a 2009 C300-4Matic. It is hands-down the best car we’ve ever had in the Goolsbee garage. VERY comfortable, and drives super-smooth.
This means her 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD is now for sale.
Christopher finished school at the end of the winter quarter, and is now preparing for law school. Since he loves the car and learned to drive in it, I’m giving him the TDI. It for him will be like the ’80 Diesel Rabbit I drove when I was his age – a great, reliable, frugal first car.
“How about Chuck? What does he get?”
I wanted something fun for my new commuter car. My drive to work is actually quite enjoyable – a choice of twisty two-lanes, largely without traffic. I love to drive roofless. I like to shift my own gears. (In hindsight, I’ve never owned a slushbox for *my* daily driver.) I don’t need more than two seats. I didn’t want to spend that much. I started surfing Autotrader and eBay for used cars meeting the above criteria. After filtering out the Miatas (sorry – while I know they are GREAT cars, they are also nearly ubiquitous) my searches turned up a good selection of interesting cars. MR2s. TTs. S2000s. 350/370Zs. Boxsters. SLKs. Some 911s and Corvettes. Even a Jag (Holy depreciation Batman!)
After the wonderful experience of hucking the ClownTown Roadshow’s old E30 BMW around the track now twice – with every lap bringing a grin to my face, I figured I owed a look at the Z3/Z4 line of cars. A coworker at Facebook loaned me the keys to his 2006 M Roadster while I was in Menlo Park for meetings several weeks back and halfway through the drive I decided this would be my next car.
I decided upon a color & trim choice (blue exterior, grey/wood interior) and went hunting. Autotrader turned up a few, as did eBay, but then I was referred to a car broker in the Bay Area. The idea is you tell them what you want, and about what you will pay. I knew what I wanted, and my shopping gave me an idea of what the fair market value of these cars are now, so I laid it out for the broker. He found me one in SoCal within a few days, and now the car is mine. Totally painless process. I highly recommend it over trying to buy on your own.
The car is a 2007, has ~33k miles, and is REALLY nice.
While I’m not a huge fan of the Z4 styling, the M version seems to tone down some of the more outrageousness, while upping the “ultimate driving machine” bit. It is very much a modern E-type: Classic “long bonnet, short boot” styling. Minimal interior, maximum driving pleasure. High horsepower & torque straight six. Laughable cargo space (though easily 3X what the Jag has!)
I’ve only has it a week, but every mile has been grin-worthy. The miles per gallon can’t touch the TDI, but the smiles per gallon is way past the redline. I can afford the gas now.
April 1, 2012
I was making digital copies of some old Bishop family slides for Sue when I stumbled upon some old Kodachromes of mine from my college days. I found this photo and had to chuckle. I was on a climbing road trip from Texas to Colorado (a trip I made many times) when a bolt fell out of my VW Rabbit Diesel in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. Despite looking for well over an hour, I never did find the bolt. My solution was to chock the alternator in-place with… well… a CHOCK.
A Chouinard Equipment #7 stopper if I recall correctly.
I limped into the next town, stopped at a NAPA, where they had no metric bolts, but I was able to make do with an SAE bolt (which eventually caused the alternator mounting hole to bell out before I could find a proper metric fitting in Denver.) I seem to recall having to have a machine shop enlarge the hole after a while – but that came later. I had forgotten the whole episode until I saw this photo.
February 26, 2012
After the wild success of the Southwest Oil Leak 2011 E-type Tour, we’ve all decided to do it again. This time we’re heading up to the Pacific Northwest in September 2012, touring Oregon & Washington. Here is a rough map of the proposed route:
We’ll be following twisty back roads, avoiding freeways, and looking for great scenery and awesome roads. Overnight stops will occur in Bend, Hood River, McMinnville, and the Oregon Coast. Highlights will include:
- The Oregon High Desert
- The Columbia Gorge
- Mt. St. Helens
- The Oregon Wine Country
- The Everegreen Air & Space Museum (home of The Spruce Goose)
- The Oregon Coast
- Crater Lake National Park
What the NWOL Tour is: Fun, Friendly, Fun, Low-key, Fun, Low Budget, and Fun.
We all arrange, and pay for our own food, fuel, and lodging. A no-frills tour with the emphasis on FUN.
What the NWOL Tour is NOT:
Expensive. THERE IS NO ENTRY FEE. It is a group-organized thing – the amount you spend is a factor of how you want to travel. Some folks bring a tent and camp out, others stay at luxury hotels. HOW you spend is up to you. The route is picked with a range of lodging option available.
A Race. We’re taking a leisurely tour through a scenic area. No points are awarded for arriving first.
A Rally. No timing, scoring, or checkpoints are involved. If you are looking for a great rally in the same area, check out the Northwest Classic.
Fully Supported. We have no sweep truck stuffed with professional mechanics – just your fellow “leakers” and whatever tools they carry. Make sure your Jaguar is in good running condition before coming on the tour, and be ready to fix it if it breaks. Last year’s SOL had a few minor mechanical problems but they were all taken care of by the participants themselves. Bring your cell phone and AAA card!
If you and your Jaguar would like to come along (we’ll consider other makes, if you’re a fun person!) let me know and I’ll add you to the electronic mailing list for the event.