Monday, July 26, 2010

World Land Speed Record Formula One 2006 Honda RA106 "Bonneville 400" Sells For £51,000

Nose art on the Honda-BAR Formula 1 "Bonneville 400" which was a Formula 1 car specially prepared to exceed or hit the 400 km/h speed mark for a measured mile going in a straight line over a seven mile course [ctrl-click image to launch a Dutch language YouTube video of the effort and record-setting event]. Image Credit:

World Land Speed Record Formula One 2006 Honda RA106 "Bonneville 400" Sells For £51,000

Line Item: Bonhams Catalog for Silverstone Classic Auction held July 24, 2010 -

114The Formula 1 Land Speed Record-holding, 2006 Honda RA106 'Bonneville 400' Monoposto Chassis no. to be advised Engine no. to be advised£51,000

The Formula 1 Land Speed Record-holding, 2006 Honda RA106 "Bonneville 400" as pictured in the Bonhams catalog - On the first two days of running, Honda get astonishingly close to their 400km/h (248.56mph) target but just missed out. Image Credit: BBC

That's $78,667.2837 in today's Bonneville Salt Flats dollars.

Not much attention has been paid to this historic sale. The listing of this unique piece of Motor Culture history only became posted on the web a couple of days before the auction in a post by Arman Barari in Motor Ward (a Blogger site from England).

To add perspective to the achievement of this open-wheel racing car ... in 2006, this top-of-the-art car went to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah during Speed Week and set out to post a World Land Speed Record for a car of this type, traveling over a measured mile on two passes, within a one hour time period.

Driver, Alan Van Der Merwe as he climbs into the cockpit of the "Bonneville 400" at the Salt Flats during Speed Week 2006. On day three, the Honda did average 400km/h for a mile, but the aggregate over two runs is under that at 393.61km/h. Image Credit: BBC

This excerpted and edited from a Bonhams Press Release appearing in Motor Ward -

The record attempt got under way on Monday 17th July 2006 in the best possible manner; Alan van der Merwe achieving an average speed of 220.571mph over two runs through a measured mile on the seven-mile straight to set a new record for a Formula 1 car. By the time a damaged differential (caused by driveshaft failure) brought proceedings to a halt on the Thursday, van der Merwe had broken his own record, leaving the mark for the flying mile at 246.908mph (397.03km/h) and that for the flying kilometre at 246.983mph (397.481km/h). Although the average speeds just missed the 400km/h target, the team at least had the satisfaction of seeing it exceeded on one of the runs.
Reference Here>>

The speed attained on this controlled run - on a salt flat surface in a specially prepared car caught me by surprise - remember, 246.983 miles per hour.

Auto Club Speedway (Formally California Speedway) track configuration. This is the site that holds the world land speed record for a closed course. Image Credit: Will Pittenger/Wikipedia (2008)

The speed records for the fastest qualifying and the fastest "at race" lap speeds at the Auto Club Speedway (formally the California Speedway in Fontana, California) are not too much removed from this mark. On October 28, 2000, during CART qualifying, Brazilian Gil de Ferran, driving a Penske Racing prepared Reynard with Honda engine, set the track record for fastest lap at 241.426 mph (388.537 km/h) ... this was also a world speed record for the fastest lap of a closed course.

Moreover, Canadian driver, Greg Moore during the 1997 Marlboro 500, driving a Forsythe Racing prepared Reynard 97i with a Mercedes engine, posted an "at race" speed record of 236.38 (380.416735 km/h). A rumor had PacWest driver, Mark Blundell posting a 237.00 mph plus mark during this same race, but no evidence could be found.

The "Bonneville 400" as it sails into the sunset - Since 2006 the Honda record-breaker has not been run and still bears salt stains in places. The transmission remains un-repaired and thus the car is sold as a non-runner. Runner or not, this is a uniquely historic Formula 1 car, worthy of a place in any motor museum or private collection. Image Credit: BBC

These records were set on pavement, yes ... but with corners - and the "At Race" mark was set with other cars on the track competing in the race. The "Bonneville 400" is really not too impressive ... but this photo and the selling price (it was only expected to fetch between 10,000 and 20,000 Pounds as opposed to the actual auction selling price of 51,000 Pounds) certainly are.

I don't suppose anyone has an old 2000 de Ferran/Penske laying around somewhere?!!!

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We've lost another good one ... Larry Watson

Larry Watson's 1958 Thunderbird, the first panel painted custom car. Larry painted the car with six coats of pearl over a fine metallic silver base. Larry didn't tint the pearl with transparent mixing black toner that eliminated the cloudiness, and he thought the car turned out too bright. Larry thought the bright look made the car look way too large, so in order to fix it up, Larry taped the panel lines of the bird with 1-3/4 inch tape and shot candy apple burgundy over it. With this paint job, Larry had invented the Panel Paint Job. Caption & Image Credit:

We’ve lost another friend. Larry Watson Passes Away
Ccontributed by Dave Robertson & James Groth - July 21, 2010
(Dicken Wear for Astor Classics) Services July 31st in Westminster, CA.

Another one of the legendary leaders of our hobby has passed away. Larry Watson, the kid who changed the way we paint customs (and hot rods), died of cancer on Tuesday morning, July 20.

Watson was born in 1939 and grew up in the Los Angeles community of Bellflower. By the time he was in high school, his talent was already emerging and Larry was gaining notoriety among his friends by 'striping their cars.

He was still a teenager when Watson's House of Style opened in Long Beach in 1956 and had already built the '50 Chevy, now known as Grapevine, that has become one of the world's favorite and most famous customs. His panel-painted '58 Thunderbird, '59 Cadillac (fresh from the dealership), and '57 Cadillac quickly followed the Chevy into custom car history.

Larry Watson's 1950 Chevrolet - The Grapevine was sold to Phil Swaggart of Eugene, Oregon in 1959. The car stayed in Eugene until it was destroyed in the mid 1960s. Caption & Image Credit:

Exposure at local cruise spots like the Bellflower Clock drive-in brought Watson local attention, and exposure in numerous custom car magazines of that period stretched his fame to the rest of America.

After his remarkable start in the '50s, Watson was not left behind by the changes brought by the 60s, and continued to innovate. By that time, he had already created or perfected many of the paint styles and techniques that are copied today. He has been credited with inventing scallops (to cover up some paint runs, as the story goes), panel paint, seaweed flames, and lace painting. He experimented with new looks including fades, veils, and cob webbing, and new materials including metallics, candies, and pearls.

His influence and his talent never faded. When Ed Roth's Orbitron was discovered and restored in 2008, Watson-who had painted several of Roth's customs, including that one, in earlier years-was consulted regarding the correct paint, based on his personal recollections of the original formula.

Two years ago, Watson paired up with the equally legendary Gene Winfield to host the first Winfield and Watson Custom Car and Hot Rod Gathering. That successful event was repeated in 2009, and the third annual Gathering has been scheduled for October.

Larry Watson left many impressive accomplishments and undoubtedly had more to do. His loss, like his legacy, is great.

Dave, Larry & Matt at Astor Classics in Anaheim, CA.


Below are the Pics from the "Checker Past" (Art Astor’s Museum) event where I had him come and hangout -- about 1 year ago -- He didn't tell me he was suffering.

Larry and Friends at Art Astor's Auto Museum.

Services are scheduled to be held on July 31st in Westminster, CA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Driven To Race" Screening In Pasadena At The Action On Film Festival

Driven To Race - A feature length, documentary film, Driven To Race follows ambitious, young male and female drivers (and engineers - pictured, Kate Gundlach - now fulltime with the Star Mazda racing series) Peter Dempsey who struggles to find enough funding to stay in the race - even as he’s winning races; 17 yearold American John Edwards, the youngest person ever to win an open wheel race in North America (at 12 years old!); JC and Kristy Kester - the only brother sister team in professional racing; and 28 year-old Charles Hall who was on the verge of a promising career in Europe before a major auto accident kept him out of racing for nearly 2 years. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

"Driven To Race" Screening In Pasadena At The Action On Film Festival

Cargo Productions, in concert with MAZDASPEED Motorsports, have created a documentary style film depicting the process, competition and commitment of drivers, teams, sponsors, and culture displayed through the course of a 12 race season in an open-wheel automobile racing series.

Nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sports Documentary, Driven To Race is screening at Action On Film Festival. 9:45 PM on the 24th at the Regency Acadamy Theatre, 1003 East Colorado Blvd (@ Catalina) in Pasadena, CA 91106. Tickets are 10.00 at the door or 8.00 if they purchase on the Action On Film website. Here's a link to buy tickets in advance HERE>>

For the record - Cargo Productions produced the film independently and had complete creative control. Mazda USA and MAZDASPEED Motorsport was pleased Cargo Productions chose one of the many racing series Mazda has a commitment to for automobile technology and driver development, but did not fund or influence the film. It is largely due to this distinction, Driven To Race stands on its own as one of the best documentaries about a competitive pursuit, any competitive pursuit, ever made.

The "Premiere" screening was held for a select group of invitees to the 2010 MAZDASPEED Motorsports pre-season media gathering held at the The District @ Tustin Legacy about a month ago to rave reviews. The evening was introduced by Mazda Sr. VP Robert Davis who gave an update as to what was new and expectations for the 2010 racing season and the famed MAZDASPEED Motorsports ladder series development and participation.

Joel Miller, one of the racers featured in "Driven To Race" and whos mother was credited with the title of this excellent docu-film effort. Image Credit: Andersen Racing

One of the key players in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear 12 race season featured in "Driven To Race", was upcoming driver from Hesperia, Joel Miller. Joel drove at Long Beach last April in the next rung up the ladder for open-wheel motorsports, the Firestone Indy Lights Series ... this is first season on this platform toward his ultimate goal of getting a fulltime ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Some of the most notable reactions to Driven To Race are as follows:

This excerpted and edited from Automotive .com -

Movie Review: Driven to Race by Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Cargo Productions

Posted March 15 2010 04:18 PM by Joel Arellano

The film showcases what happens to each team as they compete through the requisite twelve races. Director Brian Spillane breaks the two hour film into bite-size chunks, each focusing on a particular driver or aspect of racing. Hall, for example, had been involved in a horrendous non-racing auto accident that shortened his legs. Driver John Edwards, on the other hand, enters the series one race short.
In my opinion? Cargo Production did a bang up job in providing an insider’s look into the little documented world of “grassroots” racing. I found the film entertaining, highly educational as well as absorbing. Both serious racers as well as the general public will enjoy the film.
Reference Here>>

This excerpted and edited from The Motorsports Report -

“Driven To Race”

... or The best Documentary that every wannabe Race Driver should see
By Dicken Wear - The Motorsports Report - Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Driven To Race”, is by far one of the best documentaries ever made about open wheel racing, and where the world finds these new up and coming drivers.
Many movies, some with major stars and multi-million dollars budgets, have failed to covey to the viewer what this great independent film has accomplished, on a budget that most productions would have spent on “Craft Services” (snacks) .
The people at Cargo Productions hit the nail on the head. You only hope it will be this good, but above all else, this is the real story of what it takes. Luck, Money, Talent, Desire and Dedication.
Reference Here>>

For our money here at The EDJE, we could not have become more informed or entertained about all of the surrounding aspects of what it takes to be a part of the disciplined pursuit of motorsports competition.

Driven To Race is a must see (and when it is available on DVD or Blu-Ray), must have film to view and share over, and over as it is the best effort of its type to ever be produced ... a hallmark of honesty, information and entertainment!

Again, Driven To Race is screening at Action On Film Festival. 9:45 PM on the 24th at the Regency Acadamy Theatre, 1003 East Colorado Blvd (@ Catalina) in Pasadena, CA 91106. Tickets are 10.00 at the door or 8.00 if they purchase on the Action On Film website. Buy tickets in advance HERE>>

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, July 16, 2010

NASCAR In Portland: ALMS & History Are In The Mix

The Garage/Paddock of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway. Image Credit: Kevin W. Green/NASCAR

NASCAR In Portland: ALMS & History Are In The Mix

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway was a stock car race for the ages. For only the second time since 1986, a NASCAR sanctioned automobile race was held on the dragstrip straightaway and Festival Corners of Portland International Raceway this last weekend on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Twenty-Seven former NASCAR "Cup" (not to be confused with the Car Of Tomorrow) and Nationwide Series specification full-bodied 600 HP stock cars took the 12 corner, 1.98 mile road course for what turned out to be a very historic and eye-opening race that ended in a NASCAR "Green/White/Checkered" rule Yellow Flag parade.

David Mayhew after he won his second straight Coors Light Pole Award at Portland International Raceway Sunday, topping his own track record with a lap of 75.426 seconds (94.503) around the 1.98-mile road course. This was Mayhew's third pole of the season and fifth of his career. He held the previous mark at Portland with his pole time of 76.328 (93.386) last year. Image Credit: NASCARHomeTrack

As for history, one could not overlook the fact that Hershel McGriff showed up, qualified, and ran the complete scheduled 125 mile/63 lap (extended to 65 laps on the G/W/C) race as he had in 1986 (where he won the race), 2009 (where he defended his championship finishing 13th and set the record for the oldest person to compete in a NASCAR sanctioned event), and now in 2010 where he re-set the NASCAR record for the oldest person to compete in a sanctioned event at 82 years of age.

Hershel McGriff climbs out of his K&N Pro Series West Park Corporation Chevy after 65 laps of strong competition at Portland International Raceway. Image Credit: NASCARHomeTrack

Hershel did not qualify all that well at P23 in a field of 27 cars, but this did not stop him from working his way up through the field of drivers who could have been his grandsons. The race featured four caution periods for collisions, oil on the track for transmissions letting loose, and stalled cars but by LAP 32, McGriff worked his way up nine positions through to P14 where he was ready to pass and exceed his previous race finish of P13. This would have been the case if it were not for a right-front flat tire on LAP 38, after a Green Flag Restart on Lap 36, bringing Hershel into the pits and dropping him back to P17 where he held station throughout the rest of the race.

Patrick Long (45) leads David Mayhew (17) and Blake Koch through the corner. Image Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images - Clairity Media

As for the American Le Mans Series influence on this NASCAR event, one could not miss the standout performance of the red #45 Speed Wong Dodge, once fielded by Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Sprint Cup team, driven by Patrick Long.

Long is best known for his teammate skills driving for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3-RSR against exotic sports cars of the American Le Mans Series. What is he doing in a Dodge? ... let alone shaking down a field of stock car specialists with a dominating performance that actually had a few heads turning in that he looked like he was in a different class. It was reminiscent of watching Tiger Woods, in his heyday, ripping through a field of top class golf pros in a major tournament.

Green/White/Checker ... Yellow Flag finish for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway. Image Credit: NASCARHomeTrack

At one point, on this somewhat short, 1.98 mile course, Patrick Long pulled away from his P2 starting position and led the track record breaking pole-sitter, David Mayhew - 75.426 seconds (94.503), by over 10 seconds (10.98 seconds) before his first pitstops. At one point, Long was shuffled all the way back to P15 during a Yellow Flag caution period ... and on the first lap of a LAP 36 Restart, Patrick pulled the red #45 Dodge up nine places in just one lap!

Patrick Long showed off his road-course expertise, dominating the BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway Sunday. Image Credit: NASCARHomeTrack

“I wanted to have a really good balance in the car,” Long said of his No. 45 Speed Wong Racing Dodge. “We went very different, or unconventional, in our set-up. I think it was really the edge that we needed. With that, we had unbelievable tire wear. That Speed Wong car [owned by Daryl Wong who also fields cars to race in the ALMS from his shop in Orange County] was just hooked up.”

Post-race tech commences on David Mayhew's car with the tire Brian Wong's Speed Wong Racing #89 car (race winner Patrick Long's team mate) in the foreground at the BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125, Portland International Raceway. Image Credit: NASCARHomeTrack

It is not known which 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series race Patrick Long will race in next but the win earned Long, who led a race-high 51 laps, a secure starting position in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

As for the ageless Hershel McGriff, he is expected to show up with his blue Park Corporation #04 Chevy Impala SS, qualify, and race in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, the weekend of September 11-12, 2010.

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, July 15, 2010

IZOD ICONIC decision for 2012: From hot cars ... to haute cars

General view of the IZOD IndyCar Series chassis strategy announcement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on July 14, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images North America/Clarity Media

IZOD ICONIC decision for 2012: From hot cars ... to haute cars

The decision for the future platform and competition in the IRL starting in 2012 was a PUNT. Nothing new here than the Ol' Boys Club sticking together without disturbing the apple cart that has been around since 2002.

This excerpted and edited from Pressdog -

Random Reaction Quotes Pushed Out by IndyCar

By - July 14, 2010

From IndyCar PR --


INDIANAPOLIS (July 14, 2010) – Quotes from selected IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, team owners, manufacturer representatives and other officials about the 2012 car strategy unveiled by the IZOD IndyCar Series (in alphabetical order):

“The ICONIC group has come up with a smart way of bringing diversity and a new look to the 2012 IndyCar while keeping longtime partner Dallara, who has the expertise and an incredible amount of knowledge of the technical specifications of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Obviously as a team owner, I will have a lot of questions regarding this new concept, and I want to be reassured that the new rules around this car will guarantee a good operating cost control and a good open competition in between teams. It is also good to see that the state of Indiana is behind the project.”
-- Eric Bachelart, Owner, Conquest Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series

“Everyone at IZOD is very excited about today’s announcement because the chassis decision encompasses all of the characteristics that attracted us to the IndyCar Series as a title sponsor. The design represents innovation, speed, technology and performance, all of which are attributes of the IZOD brand. The new car, with the extra 100-horsepower push-to-pass capability, will create even greater moments of speed and competition, which is unbelievable. And the fact that they were able to accomplish all of this while keeping the costs contained and the drivers safe is a real tribute to the ICONIC committee and their forward thinking. We think this will bring the sport to whole new level of competition.”
-- Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Phillips-Van Heusen, parent company of IZOD brand

“This is a great day for all of us in the IZOD IndyCar Series. I couldn't think of a better manufacturer than Dallara to make the Safety Cell, and, of course, make that product in Indiana. Add to that the fact that there will be development around that cell is fantastic. It's what fans and competitors alike have been wanting, and in 2012, we will have exactly that but at a much lower cost than what we are running now. In most aspects of life and business, it costs more to get what you want, but somehow the ICONIC committee has managed to achieve the right product at a substantially lower price. I can't wait for 2012.”
-- Alex Lloyd, Driver, Dale Coyne Racing, IZOD IndyCar Series

“A lighter car is more nimble, makes it easier to pass people. With the turbo engine, you can increase that power to pass a lot, and make for better racing anyway, and more horsepower makes it tougher to drive. There’s more mistakes, more opportunities to pass. You couldn’t have asked for anything better. We have a one-make chassis now, and now we’ll have a common tub, which is safe. And you’re able to design your own bodywork.” (Can you imagine going 240 mph at Indianapolis in a car like that?): “I love competition, I’m not sure that it’s necessary to go 240 again. This year, gee, we were going 228, and it’s getting up there. I think it’s something you have to wait, see and watch it develop and see what horsepower works best where, because with a turbo you can adjust that. The thing I like is it will take its own direction with the design because it’s open.”
-- Will Power, Driver, Team Penske, IZOD IndyCar Series
Reference Here>>

My favorite quote came from Tony Purnell,, a member of the committee that formulated the new rules, as he summed up the decision in a challenge to those various participants: "So come on, Ford. Come on, GM, Lotus, Ferrari. Come on, Lockheed. Come on, Boeing. Come on, you engineers working in small technology businesses. We want you to rise to the challenge." Yea, right ... General Motors is still a government operation, and the others really would not want to put lipstick on someone else's frame (pig). It would be hard for any of them to develop "skin" in the game.

Basically, the IRL is looking to create a fashion show reality series entitled "Dress This Italian Pig" (I thought this was to be an American open-wheel racing series with the development of drivers and technologies originating on this continent). The only competition will be between Target and Penske being able to continue to sell the other teams ... last year's dress.

Swift Engineering, a California corporation known for its work since 1983 in aerospace, aviation, automotive and motorsports engineering and design, had this "Spec" thing thought out right. Create a car that would be true to the concept of Open-Wheel racing ... unlike the Delta Wing/Lawn Dart ... yet work the aero package to reduce the effects of the after-draft air "mushroom" and allow the cars to run safely, and more closely nose-to-tail. This "Mushroom Buster" concept, first introduced to the IRL in Concept #66 with the final version in concept #70, would increase competition on the track and allow drivers to do what we watch them do ... win through skill.

At least this decision to allow anyone to dress up a Dallara chassis matches up to the sensibilities of the title sponsor ... IZOD, a fashion icon brand. This does not, however, increase the driving competition on the track ... the "Mushroom Buster" concept would never be able to be applied consistently. If I were a driver, I'd want the car following my car to be able to be booted off of the track due to the Mushroom Effect when it was following me at 15 miles per hour (if not 14 mph). In this regard I see the decesion by the IRL ICONIC — Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective — Advisory Committee as promoting chaos when a specification series is what they have ... given the fact there is only one chassis manufacturer.

One of the major problems with very small, light automobiles is that they can be unsafe in a collision. The Smart solution is the Tridion steel safety shell. Image Credit: ©1998-2006 DaimlerChrysler via How Stuff Works

This decision feels a little like having a "Smart Car" frame dressed ... in a new skin.

Haute Couture anyone?

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hershel McGriff Takes On Chuckwalla Valley Raceway For A Shakedown Run

The Money Shot - "Wheel Up" - This image was captured on July 11, 2010 while Hershel McGriff was taking his first runs in his new 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series campaign car during its first Shakedown Trial held at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR). Turns #8, #9, and #10 are a series of curves designed to mimic the challenges posed in the famed "Corkscrew" at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Turn # 9 is an off-camber right, left-hand turn that drops off into the strong right-hand turn #10. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Hershel McGriff Takes On Chuckwalla Valley Raceway For A Shakedown Run

A funny thing happened on the way to perform a photo shoot of the West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for the class of 2010, held on July 2, 2010 at the AZUSA Greens Golf Club ... I met Hershel McGriff.

Oh sure, Parnelli Jones was sitting at the same table with other presenters, WCSCHOF members, inductees and Master of Ceremony - Vice President/General Manager Iowa Speedway, Craig Armstrong. They were all there to usher in and honor the 7th class of 12 inductees (many posthumously), and the two hour ceremony was truly an honor to just witness ... but I met Hershel McGriff.

We were talking after dinner, before the ceremony and the subject came up about race tracks in the southwest. I told him that I had attended a track opening last April and that this track was very well designed. The track is located between Blythe and Indio off of California Interstate 10, and is called the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR). The funny thing was that Herschel then asked me if the track would allow him to make his first shakedown runs in the new car he had put together to compete in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series campaign. He mentioned that he was running short on time and it would be of great service to be able to check out the car before he hit the track in Portland to race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Bi-Mart Salute To The Troops "125" event held the weekend of July 17-18, 2010.

Well, I had talked with the President of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Micky Grana, back in April. I had also met his wife Aimee and so I figured, why not? Just give it a go!

Micky was gracious enough to have a conversation with Hershel and they put together a time this last Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 7:00 am PT.

When I rolled into the paddock area around 7:15 a.m., the McGriff family was already there with the car rolled out of the trailer transporter, Hershel was suited up in the cockpit, the car was cranking up to start, and it caught the spark and roared to life. Ahhhh the sound of a race engine in a Busch, ahh, er, Nationwide, err, NASCAR K&N Pro Series car (once known as a Winston West Series car).

Hershel took to the track and came back quickly. When he rolled up, he was greeted by the one person who has almost always set up his cars to run over the decades, Hershel McGriff Jr., a credible driver in his own right.

The "Hershels" discuss vibration and possible solutions before the car is put up on jacks. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

McGriff, the senior, complained that there was a front wheel vibration right off the bat as he entered the track so they pulled the car next to the transporter, placed it up on jack stands and went to work on identifying the problem. Herschel Jr., with the assistance of his cart-racing daughter, Mariah, found that at cold, or low tire pressures, the front sway bar's outside bolts stuck out and rubbed the inside wall of the tire.

Shakedown pit captain, Hershel McGriff Jr. and his daughter, Mariah diagnose the problem with the front sway bar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

After about 30 minutes, the car was ready to resume its Shakedown Trial which it passed with flying colors.

Shakedown pit captain, Hershel McGriff Jr. as he re-shims the front sway bar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Inside the McGriff Coach, after the Shakedown, Hershel commented on how he is familiar with the area around Desert Center, California and the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. He has had a longtime association with Park Corporation which also sponsors his cars. Park Corporation has as part of its business mission the purchase and operation of mining businesses throughout the country.

Hershel talked about the anticipation of being at the Portland event this year. He observed that in 2009 the media crush was very intense due to multiple factors. It was the first NASCAR sanctioned race held at Portland International Raceway since 1986, McGriff had won this last race in 1986 and thus was the defending champion, and at 81 he became the oldest driver ever to race in a sanctioned NASCAR event. ESPN, Associated Press, FOX Sports, and all of the media attention that NASCAR could bring was in the mix ... it is amazing that Hershel had enough time to prepare and finish the race at P13. Some people would say, "Geeeez, from Champion to 13th?, What is that about?" Try asking this of the drivers who had been driving the whole season, every season since 1986 and were only able to finish in 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and so on through the field of 27 cars who all came to compete and win.

About the track at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway? Hershel liked the layout and especially liked the dropping "S" turn combination of #11 and #12 after the slow rising straight that follows the mini "Corkscrew". He said that it reminded him a series of turns that he will encounter at Portland next weekend.

Looking back across the track at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway from turn #14 to the long, banked, 180 degree right-hand turn #13 at the southern end of the facility. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Further, he wished he had more time and less self-imposed restrictions based upon the shakedown trial task at hand because he really wanted to figure out where the best place would be to place the car in the long, banked, 180 degree right-hand turn #13 reminiscent of the long, banked sweeper at the former Riverside International Raceway which he raced on many times throughout his career.

The McGriff family - Hershel, wife Sherrie, Sherrie's daughter-in-law Sharon (Shakedown pit captain, Hershel Junior's wife), granddaughter and future racer Mariah were getting ready to continue on to Portland, Oregon where the next scheduled stop of those riding in the Coach Sunday night was Bakersfield.

Hershel McGriff at the end of a successful Shakedown Trial in his coach parked at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Herschel McGriff at 82, still has the drive and the grace to express a disappointment on not being able to carry enough speed to have his front wheel rise up off of the pavement for a great action photograph of his 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series campaign car during the Shakedown Trial at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR). As one can easily tell, he was even able to deliver on this internal wish (photo evidence at top of posting), in that, he never communicated this desire of his to be able to create a circumstance that would produce such a shot.

Never count Hershel McGriff out once he gets his mind around any goal ... once one meets him and gets to know him on any level, one comes away with the feeling that Hershel may be just the person that could actually deliver on the goal.

... notes from The EDJE