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The Flag Company, Inc. Flagpolewarehouse.com Toothpickflag.com

WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?

The words from one of the lesser known songs of my youth, "The Door's Not Shut On My Genius But I Just Don't Have The Time!, have always rung true in my life. It seems like we never have enough time to do the things that we either need to do or want to do. There is always something else that gets in the way or, in my case, more couch sitting to do. I just keep riding along doing what I can.

As a person gets older, he starts to reminise and look at the things done and the things not done and wonders if he could have done that and should he try to do it now. My knees and back say no, but sometimes my brain says "let's do it". I usually fall back on the old addage, " when you get the urge to exercise, you should lay down until the urge passes". Therefore to bore everyone, probably even myself I will detail a few of the things that I have done, and omit a lot to things that don't need to be divulged.

Sites of Interest

Fox Motorsports Xara Web Designer
Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

Shipwrecks from a mighty 1905 November gale prompted this rugged landmark's construction. Completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910, Split Rock Light Station soon became one of Minnesota's best known landmarks. Restored to its 1920s appearance, the light station offers a glimpse of lighthouse life in this remote and spectacular setting.
Split Rock Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark.

Cam Am Racing

Racing Sports Cars

This McLaren sports racer is an example of the cars raced in the 60's and early 70's in the Cam-Am series for Group 7 sports cars. With very few rules and regulations, this became, what many consider the golden age of sports car racing.

Cobra Daytona by Ken Graser

Cobra Daytona Coupe

This illustation of the iconic Cobra was created in CorelDraw by the estimed K.B.Graser. It won the June 2006 Design Contest at dimagemaker.com.

No Gory Details:

Some of my many lifes:

  • Kidlet - Did all the usual kid things but didn't get into much trouble
  • Student - Not very outstanding but did almost burn up the chemistry lab at North High School.
  • U.S. Air Force - Managed to read good enough to get into the Air Training Command and get to stay at Lowry Air Force Base for several years rather than going to more uncivilized places like Viet Nam. Managed to spend 3 years competing in the Colorado Rally Championship, finishing 3rd one year, and only crashing once.
  • Left USAF and went to work for Control Data Institute - Teaching electronics and Computers. Left after 1.5 years when economy tanked and CDC starting going down the tubes.
  • Started Working for an unknown startup company called "Wang Laboratories" The next 18 years were very interesting to say the least as "Wang" did a roman thing and rose and fell. When I started they had $3,000,000 in sales. When I left they had reached $3,000,000,000 and then went down just as rapidly. Lots of good things happened during those years, yes there really was a Dr. Wang, and I met the married lady that I live with.
  • Screen Printing business - Some say that you should do things before you get too old to do them and I believed it and started a screen printing business in my basement. Pam and I worked our fingers to the bone, made a million dollars and it only cost us a million and a half to do it. (just kidding or maybe not)
  • Current life - been on my own and doing Sytem and Network administration and consulting (another word for unemployed). Oversee and assist in developing websites - www.flagco.com, www.flagpolewarehouse.com are two sites that I worked with. Certified CorelDraw instructor, which along with a dollar will get me a small coke at Mcdonalds.

Now the Fun Stuff

Here are a few of the things I have done - I know - BORING, BORING

  • Treked all over the Rocky Mountains, my brothers and I used to look for the most difficult things that normal, or maybe abnormal, people do and try to do that.
  • Competed in Sports Car Rallies in the Rocky Mountains
  • Took Figure Skating lessons and joined the Chicago Figure Skating Club and skated Pairs in shows and exibitions. Only broke my elbow once but no other bones.
  • Drove my Bug Eye Sprite in local races in the Chicago Area.
  • Converted my Datsun 240Z to a race car and drove in SCCA Pro Solo events
  • Bought the first Mazda RX7 to arrive in Chicago in 1978, still have it but needs restoration.
  • Married Pamela and she still is hanging in there after a lot of years (sometimes I wonder why?)

Where I'm at now!

Living in the woods in Acworth, Ga with 4 cats (can vary from 1 to 7 at any given time), a ground hog or two, a few deer, Possums, lots of birds and an occasional snake.

240Z PamelaAustin Healey Bugeye SpriteTriumph TR4A
Collage of Activities

SPORTS CARS THAT HAVE OWNED ME!

A sports car is a term used to describe a class of automobile, typically of two seats and two doors, with precise handling, brisk acceleration, sharp braking, and attractive aesthetics. A sports car makes trade offs in practical considerations such as passenger space, comfort, and cargo capacity in favor of those traits which enhance the joy of driving it.

Those of us in the "Sports Car Group" considered american cars to be ugly, big, heavy, ill handling, and generally "not cool". I know we were elitist but we didn't believe in creature comforts and most of my cars, British cars in particular, made you earn their respect. If you didn't know how to change a fan belt or jury rig a "Lucas" generator, you were in trouble. Here is a list of the "furrin" cars I have owned and a little info about each one. I also now realize why it's mainly older men (and some women) who collect these cars. Maybe when you get older you forget all the trials and tribulations of owning these cars.

Sports Cars I have owned

1962 Austin Healy Sprite Mk2 1100

Austin Healey Sprite Mk 2 1100

The year is 1962, just out of high school, been driving the family car (Plymouth), not too exciting.

For some reason, both myself and my younger brother, Warren, had gotten interested in sports cars. So we conspired, between the two of us, to try and buy a car - a sports car.

We were torn between the new Triumph Spitfire or the Sprite. The Sprite won out because of price - We convinced our father to co-sign for us and we bought a brand new Sprite for $1400.00. Try and do that today! We figured that we could afford the $57 a month payments.

We drove this car everywhere, camping, school, work, dates (parents thought it was OK because there was no room in the car, i.e. the seats didn't fold back like the old Rambler).

We learned how to drive in this car because you had to learn to drive defensively or get run over by a truck. We drove in rain, snow, wind, tornado's and whatever came up. Some of the interesting features of the car caused us to be creative to keep going.

  • No outside door handles, had to open the side curtains and reach in and push a lever, real problem in winter when the windows froze shut.
  • The only way it would start in the wiinter, was to remove the battery, take it inside, put it by the heat register and put it back in the car in the morning
  • 52 whopping horsepower, we did manage to go 85 mph once, down hill.
  • Twin SU carbs which needed to be tuned all the time (I got good at it)
  • Steering was very sensitive - 2.5 turns lock to lock - which taught me not to be moving the steering wheel all the time.
  • When the top was down, it took up all the room in the trunk
Sprite frozen to groundCamping in the Sprite

1957 Triumph TR-3

1957 Triumph TR-3

I'm sure that it would be difficult for someone today to understand the fascination with a car that required that you carry a full supply of spare parts and several cans of oil whenever you went on a trip of more than 20 miles, but as they say "you had to be there".

This is the car I bought when I was in the Air Force. It's a Triumph TR3, not a TR3A. This car was not as civilized as a TR3A. It didn't have door handles and had a non-snycro first gear ( you had to learn to double clutch). You can tell the difference at first glance by the small mouth grill. The TR2 also had a small mouth grill opening, but the grill was set way back in the opening. My car in this picture looks like a TR2 because I took the grill off - it was bent when I bought it. Now how is this for cool:

  • No outside door handles, had to open the side curtains and reach in and pull a rope, real problem in winter when the windows froze shut.
  • The battery went dead often because the generator didn't work very good. I could start it with the crank though
  • 90 Horsepower, could reach 100 mph if you're brave
  • Twin SU carbs which needed to be tuned all the time (I continued to get good at it)
  • Steering was very heavy at slow speeds. This is why it had a huge steering wheel. The original "armstrong" power steering
  • The rubber seal between the cowling and the windshield didn't seal very good, so when you drove in the rain, rain would blow in your face.
  • If you drove for long distances, the noise and vibrations would cause you to be deaf for about 2 days.
  • How cool is it to be able to pick things up off the road without getting out of the car.

If you look closely you will notice an STP sticker on the side of the car. I drove the car down to Roswell, N.M. to see a sports car race. About half way to Roswell I started to notice a knock in the engine. Since I knew that TR3 engines are tough, we just kept going. We got to Roswell and enjoyed the races. On the way back we started burning oil so we just started dumping STP in the engine. When I stopped a a gas station, I'd say; "check the gas and top up the engine with STP". We made it all the way back to Denver and proceeded to rebuild the engine and found that there were no piston rings left. STP is wonderful.

TR-3 TR-3

1968 Triumph TR-4A IRS

Triumph TR-4 IRS

After years of cars with side curtains and rain and bugs in my teeth, I finally got a car that was somewhat civilized - This car had door locks and roll-up windows. It also had more horsepower and you could actually drive this car for long distances without having to recuperate afterwards.

This is still an English car, however, and was still prone to the typical problems of british sports cars. The first problem, that reared it's ugly head, was a tendency to just stop without a moments notice. This happened on top of a mountain and in the city. Whenever it felt like. If you let it sit (as if you had a choice) for about an hour, it would start and then run fine until it decided to stop again. Turns out the problem was dirt in the gas tank and was solved with a new tank.

Now how is this for cool:

  • Outside door handles, No side curtains. Glass Windows.
  • The generator (Lucas) still didn't work very good, but I didn't have a crank, anymore to start it.
  • 104 Horsepower, could reach 110 mph if you wanted to.
  • Twin Zenith carbs which were similar to the old SU's but a little less tuning required
  • Car handled much better than the TR3, Independent Rear Suspension was a real advantage.

I bought this car when I got mad at the TR3. The distributor fell apart in the middle of a snow storm, so I went looking for a new car and the Triumph dealer (I was good friends with them since I bought so many parts) had a good deal on a brand new TR4A IRS and so I jumped at it. This was the most expensive car that I had ever purchased, up to that time, $2700.00. Luckily, since I was in the Air Force, I could get a loan from the base credit union. They knew where you got your pay and could grab it if necessary.

TR4A TR4A

1968 Porsche 911L

911L

After leaving the Air Force and working at Control Data Institute for a while, I decided that I really needed a faster car. I also thought that I should aspire to own one of every neat sports car.

I did some research and came to the conclusion that my next car should be either a Porsche or a Lotus. So I went and checked out a Lotus Elan and thought "Wow, that's pretty neat, but the pedals are pretty small and close together". Then I heard that Porsche was about to come out with a new, reasonably priced model - the 914-6. I really liked the idea of a mid-engine Porsche so I placed an order for a 914-6.

Now the plot thickens - wait, no car - wait, no car - wait, no car. Anyway this went on for a couple months. Finally, after a few months, the dealer called and said they had just received a 911L on a trade-in and they would let me have it for the same price as the 914-6. I thought this was a good deal so I jumped at it.

Now here is the neat parts of this car:

  • 6 cylinder air cooled engine (sort of like a VW but better)
  • 2 triple throat Weber carbs
  • 5 speed transmission with unusual shift pattern (1st gear was down and to the left). You had to be careful or you would accidentally shift from 1st to 4th.
  • Excellent trip car. Could cruise at 80MPH all day long (and sometimes did)
  • Best handling car I had ever owned, up until this time. You had to be careful because the car would go around corners so fast, it would be easy to reach the limit, and then it would break loose quick.

But there was a down side:

  • The 911L was an interim model while Porsche worked out how to meet the new U.S. emmission standards. Because of this it used an air pump to inject air into the hot exhaust gasses to burn the excess emmissions. Didn't work very well and hurt performance.
  • The emmission stuff caused the spark plugs to foul, all the time, unless you always went on highway trips or used 6,000 RPM for a shift point. I couldn't go a long trips all the time so I was always going about 30 MPH in first gear.
  • Used platinum tipped spark plugs which were really expensive.

I was really fond of this car and a lot of times I wish I still had it, but the U.S. economy took a dive in 1970 and It was looking like my job at CDC was not too secure. In addition, the 911 needed a valve job and even though it wasn't really too expensive, I really didn't think I could afford it, with unemployment looming. Now this car is very collectable and worth much more than I paid for it. Oh Well, what can you do

1970 BMW 2002

BMW 2002

When I discovered that the Porsche was going to need a valve job, I started looking around for a new car, and for some reason I thought it would be good if I had a car with a little more room. But I still wanted something that was good handling, quick and distinctive. Enter BMW. Since BMW's are so common today, it's hard to believe that back in 1970 they were virtually unknown with the general population. I liked that, so a brand new 2002 it was.

Shortly after I bought this car, I drove it out to Colorado, to break it in. I stoped for gas in a little town in southern colorado. This was back in the day when gas stations actually had attendents. The guy came out to fill the tank, walked around the car a couple times, looked for some kind of logo or name (BMW at that tiime only had one badge on the hood and the words 2002 on the rear). He looked at the logo on the hood and said "BMW, what is that, some kind of Toyota?". I said, "no, some kind of BMW".

I drove the 2002 for the next 2.5 years, 67,000 miles and only had to replace one part, that cost $12.00 (It was a GM part, part of the emmission system. The reason it cost so much is it had to be shipped to Germany and then back to the U.S.)

Now here is the neat parts of this car:

  • 2 Liter SOHC 4 cylinder engine that ran like a watch
  • 4 wheel independent supension - handled great for a sedan
  • Had a back seat, which could be good or bad
  • Excellent trip car. Could cruise at 80MPH all day long.
  • Typical German quality and workmanship.
  • The name 2002 refers to 2 liter, 2 door sedan.

But there was a down side:

  • Even though it was a classic "sports sedan", it still was't a sports car and I still had this silly idea about having sports cars.
  • It had a back seat and a trunk, which you may think is a good thing, but it meant that I didn't have an excuse when people wanted me to help them move or the boss wanted me to pick up some customers broken computer.

Once again, this car has become somewhat of a classic as it is considered (along with the BMW 1600) the beginning of the modern BMW's and one of the first true sports sedans.

1960 "Bugeye" Sprite (HP Race Car)

Bug Eye Sprite Race Car

The BMW was still with me but I was moving around!. After leaving Control Data Corp, I got a job with a small up and coming computer company called Wang Labs, Inc. They offered me a job in Chicago, then changed it to a job in St. Louis. So the BMW and I got to run all over middle america. After a while in St. Louis, then I was transferred to Chicago. Boy, this is getting confusing.

Shortly after I moved to Chicago, I became friends with the tenant in the apartment below mine, Rich Adams. Rich was as big a sports car nut as I was so we got along great. Anyway to make a long story less boring, I told Rich that I knew a guy who wanted to sell a race prepared "bugeye" and he would be willing to trade for a dirt bike and some cash (just so happened that the guy was my younger brother Warren). Rich had a motocross bike so we made a deal and went off to pick up the car. The BMW couldn't pull a trailer but luckily Rich had a Ford Ranchero pickup.

Shortly after we got the car, Rich got married which ended his racing aspirations. I bought his half of the car and proceeded to have some fun.

As you can see from the picture above, I did win some events (yes, that is me and yes, that is a checkered flag). This was at Blackhawk Farms in northern Illinois. That was one of my favorite tracks, great fun to drive.

But there was also a few difficult times:

  • Blowed up the engine, once, at Blackhawk. Sometimes you do bone headed things like missing a shift. A Sprite Engine does not like to turn 9,000 RPM.
  • One of the crew, a very motley crew it was, didn't tighten the oil drain plug tight enough. It came out right at the exit of the last corner onto the main straight. Dumping oil on the rear tires at this point is not recommended as it will cause a most interesting experience and also some messed up under drawers.

Once again, another car I wish I had kept (I don't have a big enough garage for all these cars).

Bugeye at speed

The Bugeye at speed at Blackhawk Farms. I know the picture is not great but I didn't take it, I was driving.

1972 Datsun 240Z

Datsun 240Z

After a couple of years driving the BMW, I started to get the urge to get back in a sports car. Datsun had come out with the 240Z in 1970 and was very popular. So popular that you couldn't get one because Datsun couldn't make them fast enough. The demand was so great that there was a waiting list and the dealers were charging extra just to get on the list. I wasn't about to get stuck with that so I waited until 1972. I wasn't really unhappy with the BMW anyway.

So I waited until about March of 1972 and went to the Datsun dealer in Libertyville, Ill. I found that there was now only a 6 month wait, which I thought was reasonable, so I plunked down a deposit and waited.

After the long wait, I traded my 2002 and was the proud owner of an orange 1972 240Z (orange was the only color to have).

Now here is the neat parts of this car:

  • 2.4 Liter SOHC 6 cylinder engine with 150 BHP, 4 Speed Transmission
  • 4 wheel independent supension - rear supension was a little dicey and car had a tendency to oversteer if you weren't careful.
  • Had no back seat, which could be good or bad.
  • Excellent trip car. Could cruise at 80MPH all day long.
  • This car was the most car you could get for the price at that time. I paid $4200. Jags cost about $6000.

But there was a down side:

  • The Japaneese didn't have a clue on how to rust proof a car and the Chicago winters ate this car up. The fenders started to rust out in a little over 3 years. That just gave me a good excuse to replace the front fenders with fiberglass and put fiberglass fender flairs on the rear. This meant I could put on wider tires and wheels which helped the handling quite a bit.
240Z Inside 240Z Front View

1978 Mazda RX-7

1978 RX-7

I had been driving the 240Z for over 6 years and even though it was still running good, the rust was getting to be a pain. I was reading an Autoweek magazine when I saw a article about a rumored new sports car from Mazda. No pictures, but an artist rendering. Hummm I thought, this would be a good replacement for the Z car. Since the Z was paid for I could convert that to a race car and drive the Mazda.

I promptly ran down to the local Mazda dealer to see what I could do. I told the salesman I wanted an RX-7, he said "what's that". After a little discussion, he said that they didn't know the price, when it was going to be available or anything. I said that I didn't really care about that I just wanted one. I told him I would give him a $200 deposit and agree to pay $200 dollars over MSRP when one came in. Believe it or not, they agreed.

In May of 1978 I got a call from Mazda "We have a car coming in, do you Want it?" Dumb question, I was there in 30 minutes, told them to put in air conditioning and wrote a check (only car I ever paid cash for). Then it got to be real interesting.

People starting following me home or wherever I went. Police pulled me over, Porsche's chased me. They all wanted to know what I was driving and where they could get one. This was, after all, the first RX-7 in Chicago and no one had ever seen one before.

I took the car to Road America and got to drive it around the course. I then went over to look at some Lotus's and they asked me to move the car because everyone was leaving the Lotus tent to go look at the Mazda. Great Fun.

The dealers proceeded to add $2000 to the list price, because the car was so popular. I paid $200 over list price. Sometimes the early bird does get the worm.

Neat things about this car:

  • Wankel engine. That's a rotary engine, no pistons, no crankshaft, no valves, no cams. Only 2 moving parts.
  • 5 speed transmission
  • Super high revs. Had a warning signal to let you know when to down shift (just kidding)
  • Good handling even if it didn't have independent rear suspension

P.S. I still have this car and hope to get it restored some day

The 240Z Lives

240Z Race Car

I now had a brand new RX7, so I commenced to making the 240Z into a race car. Just add fiberglass fenders, fiberglass front spoiler, lowered compitition springs, Koni shocks, wide wheels, Firestone racing tires, roll bar and adjustable suspension stuff and there you go. Oh don't forget the racing seat, and new racing guages. I think I forgot to mention the 3 double barrel Weber carburetors. Oh, Oh I think I just spent more money than the RX7 cost. Oh well, I think someone told me "speed costs money, how fast do you want to go". Very true.

I called my race team, BRT, which stood for Biodegradable Racing Team. We had T shirts made and everything.

I wanted to run this as a business so I had to make some money. And I did. I finished 6 place in an event in St. Louis and actually won some money. Just about enough to pay for one night in the motel.

Unfortunatly, this was getting a bit expensive and life was getting in the way, so after a couple years my racing career came to an end and I sold the car. It was fun while it lasted.

240Z close up