Weekend Wallpaper – Choo Choo El Camino

By | January 10, 2016

At the Yacht Club

At the Yacht Club

According to history.com’s listing Chevrolet launched El Camino twice, once in 1958 as a stand alone model for a 2 year run and again in 1964 for more successful market presence until Chevrolet dropped the model and name in 1987.

Wikipedia states El Camino (The Path) captured more market attention after 1968’s move to Chevrolet’s Chevelle platform and attaching their SS designation. America’s accelerating passion for for more cubic inches and horse power lifted El Camino into the spotlight.

elcaminocentral.com states Choo Choo Customs of Chattanooga, TN, produced 2200 specially dressed El Camino versions from 1983 through 1987. Choo Choo Customs’ produced El Camino offered potential customer their only access to official SS markings delivering said customers from bare bones pickup truck-esque egg crate grill linked by equally plain twin headlight pairs. With stock El Camino bows resembling a stack of rough hewn 2X4’s, Chevrolet greatly benefitted from Choo Choo’s handiwork sloping the grill, adding body stripes, attaching dressed up wheels & tires along with hots of appearance salvaging adds on.

Choo Choo didn’t, though, add any go fast hardware or accessories leaving El Camino, not exactly sluggish but far behind anything from earlier day Chev built and equipped SS road burners. Customers could not order Choo Choo as a dealer installed dress package. Choo Choo also turned away any customers driving their non SS El Camino to Chattanooga looking for an SS overhaul.

I couldn’t help wondering why, with El Camino SS’ strong road performance and muscular appearance history, Chevrolet elected this farmed out makeover. At least Chevrolet Moved El Camino past its pick up truck look to a slim and trim cruiser.

This fine example belongs to my good friend and race chauffeur Lou Bottega, Thanks for the ride, Lou. See you at the track.

Download the full resolution version of El Camino Choo Choo here*

Weekend Wallpaper is a weekly series featuring the automotive photography of the Daily Derbi crew.  This week’s photo is by Neil Eschenfelder

*Weekend Wallpapers are provided for personal / non-commercial use only. No commercial usage is allowed. By downloading the Weekend Wallpaper, you agree to these terms.

 

Utah Motorsport Campus signs one year agreement

By | January 8, 2016

Miller Motorsports Park

Miller Motorsports Park

Some of you may of heard that Miller Motorsports Park closed it’s doors last October 31st after nearly 10 years of operation and handed the keys to Tooele County in Utah. Indeed a sad day. The silver lining on the horizon was the sell of the facility to Mitime Utah Investment, LLC and it was to be renamed to Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC). Mitime had publicly disclosed some ambitious, and welcomed, plans for UMC, with Mitime taking ownership of the park on January 1st, 2016.

Unfortunately, December saw the conclusion of a lawsuit which basically nullified the sale of the park to Mitime Utah Investment.

With the Tooele County having to restart the bidding process again, the question became, what would happen to the track in the mean time?

Today comes the answer. The quick version: Mitime has signed a one year management agreement to run the park for the 2016 season. The county and Mitime can terminate the deal with 60 days’ notice. Once the sale of the facility is complete, agreement will terminate.

This also means that racing will return to the MMP/UMC for the 2016 racing season!

Copies of the press release from UMC and Tooele County.

[photo | mike gillilan]

Quick Lube horror story

By | December 16, 2015

Don’t let this happen to you!

If you’ve been around the car scene long enough, you’ll eventually hear some horrific story about somebody taking their car to a Quick Stop Lube type place. Sometimes the oil filter wasn’t put on. Or the forgot the fill the engine back up with oil. Or a plethora of other problems that seems to stem from the “let’s see how many oil changes we can do in an hour” approach to these businesses.

And let’s face it, sometimes those offers are VERY tempting. We all have busy lives. We get behind on our own car maintenance, or the trusted mechanic is backed up for 7 weeks. And obviously, not every lube shop is going to ruin your car if you take it to them. But, as the driver of this Audi S4 found out the hard way, sometimes the convenience of these places isn’t worth the hassle!

But what is important, and what I think is the take away from this person’s experience, is pay attention, stay cool, and document. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. You, as the consumer, have the right to inspect the work done.

Here’s the thread over at Audizine.com

Do you have your own horror story to share? Let us know!

[ht: Audizione.com | photo: the author of the thread]

The Times are a Changin’

By | October 31, 2015

 

Final shot of Miller Motorsports Park after last event.

The End of an Era – Miller Motorsports Park

As has been reported many places, Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations today, October 31st, 2015.

Miller Motorsports Park opened in 2006 by Larry H. Miller, a Utah businessman and sports car enthusiast. That was also the year I was documenting a race team that was running in what is now known as Pirelli World Challenge. Back then, World Challenge was mostly playing the supporting role to the American Le Mans Series. Where ALMS went, World Challenge tagged along.

Leading up to the first race at MMP, some of the questions and mumblings being talked about from crews of both series were a combination of skepticism and optimism.  A new track, with no data, in America? Has anybody tested there yet? Can I buy alcoholic beverages? Wait, where is Utah? Is this place all hype?

Then the week came for the first ALMS/World Challenge race at Miller Motorsports Park. As we drove up to the new facility in the team van, excitement grew. This LOOKED like a GREAT facility on the outside. Walking through the gate, there was a certain electricity in the air. This was a true state of the art facility! Lush green lawns in the spectating areas. Large, multiple, and permanent concession stands. LOTS of garage space with large TVs and bathrooms AND showers. Wait, TVs in the garages?? Everything well illuminated. Nothing felt cramp or an exercise for some senior’s community college engineering project. There was SPACE. And the place was just HUGE. 

Entering the media center was no different, everything was nice, everything was new, and there was space to accommodate everyone for a change. No more writers fighting photographers fighting videographers for a seat to do their work. 

By the end of that first race weekend, my take of the overall consensus from the various teams was that Miller Motorsports Park REALLY did live up to the hype. It was a world class facility that could handle the all of the world’s sports car racing needs. And all were excited to return in the following years. 

Here at Daily Derbi, we owe a debt of gratitude to Miller Motorsports Park. The staff has been gracious enough to allow us cover some of the early events. From the site’s founder, Chad, driving Greg Miller’s Ford GT and covering the early days of “Lap Battles“, to last weekend’s sports car racing event with NASA Utah. This site wouldn’t have grown and expanded without the help of Miller Motorsports Park.

So it was bittersweet leaving the very last race to ever be held under the banner of Miller Motorsports Park last weekend. So many memories. So many experiences. As the hashtag rightfully says:

 

#ThanksLarry

 

Have a favorite memory or memorable experience from MMP? Feel free to share it with us and our loyal readers in the comments below or over on Facebook.

 

 

 

Racing Blip: 2015 Lone Star Le Mans

By | September 18, 2015

 

Scott Pruett takes pole at Lone Star Le Mans (photo IMSA)

Let’s take a trip. A trip to one of the newest racing tracks in the good ‘ol USofA. We’re heading to Texas. Located outside of Austin is a track called Circuit of the Americas. Welcome to the penultimate stop for the IMSA/TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, for the Lone Star Le Mans!

With the Texas sun scorching the track with ambient temps around 92+ degrees fahrenheit, qualifying was going to be tougher then normal. And with IMSA rules stating that you need to start the race with three of the tires you qualify on, the question turns into how long do you stay out on track before you degrade the tires too much?

And so the late afternoon qualifying session proceeded with all four classes hitting the track. Those watching the race tomorrow, and those watching qualifying today, might have noticed something a bit different. Cars running waayy WIDE, going beyond the rumble strips and into the runoff area. Why? It has been reported that IMSA couldn’t accurately track the cars across the whole track. So track restrictions were lifted except the apexes of the turns.

What to watch for during tomorrow’s race:

Prototype class had Scott Pruett recording a blistering 1:58.441 after only two laps and grabbing pole. This would be the 2nd pole in the season for the Ford EcoBoost DP team, and Scott’s first pole since Long Beach 2014. Not to be overshadowed was the 2nd place of Michael Shank Racing with Ozz Negri throwing the No. 60 Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 car across the finish line with another blistering time of 1:58.512. I’m glad to see the lone P2 provide some badly needed competition to the rest of the Daytona Prototypes. And before anyone complains, yes, I know that the Mazdas are P2 class machines, but they are still in a development stage and don’t offer much in the way of competition. In fact, the two Mazdas came in BEHIND the top two Prototype Challenge machines.

GTLM. Again, great racing and with a recent BoP tagging the Porsche 911 RSRs with an extra 20kg of weight AND all the teams running on Michelin tires switch back to the “normal” tires, you’re going to see the Corvettes put up an even stronger fight. It appears that the “single stint” tire experiment that Michelin was performing across it’s partners didn’t pan out as well for the Corvettes as it did for the other teams. About 1.6 secs separates the pole sitting No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to the 8th place No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia. Porsche proving they still have what it takes, BMW snipping at Porsche’s heels, Corvettes coming back with renewed vigor and I wouldn’t discount Ferrari or the folks over at Falken Tire Porsche. This will be some great racing!

How to watch:

Easiest thing is to head over to IMSA’s site for all the details on streaming and broadcast times. Race starts promptly at 12:30pm (ET) on Saturday, 9/19/15.

Of course, the ever handy Spotter’s Guide can be downloaded here.

As a sidetone, some of you might be wondering why it’s called the “Lone Star Le Mans”. This weekend is a double header at COTA. Not only is there some great racing happening with IMSA/TUDOR, but WEC is stopping by for their annual race in America. Factory teams from Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Austin Martin and more will be running a six hour race shortly after the IMSA/TUDOR race finishes. Basically, most of the teams that ran at Le Mans will run this weekend as well. If you’re an endurance sports car racing fan, THIS is the weekend for you!!

The Datsun 240z: Collectors Era

By | August 12, 2015

I’ve always been fond the nostalgic Japanese cars.  Partly because they are about the only “classic” cars I can afford, partly because I see their future value, and mostly because the Japanese just do things right — unless we’re talking bosozoku… that’s just weird.

Honda CRX Si

I got my first taste of future Japanese classic metal when I purchased a 1989 Honda CRX Si.  It was an Arizona car which meant no rust but also no paint — and destroyed weather stripping.  I cared less what the car looked like because it had the venerable B16 DOHC VTEC under the hood.  With Megan Racing headers & exhaust, and a nicely weighted Skunk 2 short shifter my CRX was anything but boring.  I very much enjoyed surprising Mustang GT’s and 350z’s at the stop lights.

The CRX was a gem and Honda’s have a special place in my heart, however, down deep I’m a Z guy.  The 350z came out when I was in high school and the 300zx Twin Turbo has always been a bucket list car of mine.  I was in the market for a clean low mileage 300zx Twin Turbo when I stumbled across a series 1 Datsun 240z on eBay.  We’re talking the father of Japanese sports cars (I don’t count the Toyota 2000GT because of it’s rarity and insane price tag).  It was essentially a one owner, had very little rust, and it was a numbers matching original… minus a repaint to a different color.  I bought it, flew to California and drove it 600 miles home.  In those 600 miles my first Z car worked its way into my soul and I knew that I’d be a Z guy forever.  I still have my 1st Z and drive it regularly.

Datsun 240z

Last week, I was cruising craigslist for 240z’s.  It’s a regular ritual for me as their values are skyrocketing and 2015 is widely considered to be the last year to pick up the early Z’s for under $10,000 in good condition.  I read an article by Hemming’s that said “The Japanese bullet train is leaving the station”, I would agree.  I was on my way back from a business trip in Northern Idaho and as fate would have it, a series 1 240z had been posted on Craiglist that night in the town I was staying in.  For the condition that the car appeared to be in, the price seemed almost too good to be true.  I called on it immediately.  The next morning I went and met the owner and drove the car.  The Z was white, its original color, with a blue interior — one of the most rare combos in a series 1 240z.  The owner was 87-years-old, had brought the car up from California where it has spent its entire existence and he was just the second owner.  In the glove box I found the original owners manual, pink slip, and warranty book with the original owners signatures and address.  The interior was perfect and everything worked… including the clock and those almost never work.  The car was wearing an older repaint of its original color and it was holding up great, it never sat outside.  The sole red flag; on our test drive the differential started emitting sounds similar to that of marbles in a blender.  Honestly, I didn’t care.  I bought the car on the spot, rented a car hauler from U-haul and pulled that baby home.

Series 1 240z After getting her home I discovered no fluid in the rear end and some metal shavings.  After a good flush, some fresh Royal Purple 75W90, and a friction modifier called Archoil I got the Z back on the road.  The diff is definitely damaged but she’s driveable and the more I drive it the quieter it seems to get.

So now I’ve got two Z cars.  Both are numbers matching series 1 240z’s.  I’ve already turned down an offer for my 1st one that was what I paid for the second, regardless of the fact that it’s not nearly as cherry.  I’ve considered going to rehabilitation but I don’t want it.  The 240z is my unicorn.  I’m no sailor but if I was the sirens would sound like an L-series straight six with glass packs.  Sure, my garage is seriously crammed, the Z’s are parked the wrong direction, and I have to do a 6 point turn to get them out but I think they are money in the bank.  The 240z is the car that made Nissan relevant as a brand in the USA, they are widely regarded as the every man’s E-Type, they were legendary at the race track, and they are one of the most gorgeous cars every penned.

Datsun 240z's

This is me telling you to buy a good Z before all the good ones are snatched up for an affordable price.  “I bought a Z car and regretted it”, said no one, ever.  Even that guy in the weird Japanese film called “Devil Z” couldn’t get over it after wrecking it three times.  The Z bug will get you.