Fall Shenandoah 2021

Fall Shenandoah 2021 was held Sept 4-5 over Labor Day weekend.  This event is one of the 2 events we run at Summit Point Motorsports Park (the other is Spring Jefferson over Memorial Day weekend).

We had 71 timed entries, with thirteen class records set (including the course record).  Conditions were dry on Saturday and temperatures were perfect, but it rained Sunday

Bryan Fritzler not only took FTD in his 1973 Tui BH3, but also set the course record with an 84.215. 

The previous course record was 84.646, set by Bob Gardner in 2019 in his 06 Stohr Wf-1, also run in S1.

Dan Foley came in 2nd overall in his 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X that he runs in S2 – he had an 85.952, only 1.737 seconds out of first.  The “door slammers” keep getting faster.

There was probably a record number of Sciroccos (hey it’s my blog, I can write about what I want).  The Axarlis’s brought 3 (with 4 drivers), Glenn Hoffman brought Lucy, and of course my GT3 car was there.  We planned to take a photo for the Banquet program, but some of the Sciroccos broke.  Hopefully we can take the picture at Weatherly.

All of the pictures in this post were taken by Patti Murphy, and here a couple more of her excellent shots.

Duryea 2021

The 2021 Duryea Hillclimb was held Aug 21-22. 

I don’t have a favorite PHA hillclimb, as they all are my favorites for one reason or the other.   But I have to say that Duryea is my favorite as far as overall driver experience goes.  It’s 2.25 miles long, and the lower half (which we run for the Pagoda hillclimb) is tight turns, while the upper half is more or less a straight.  Even though I have a low horsepower car, both halves of the course are a lot of fun, and both halves are challenging.

This event typically fills up (100 driver limit) within a few hours of registration opening.  Turnout was a bit low this year due to cancellations, likely due to the weather forecast.  More on that later.

Bryan Fritzler took FTD with a 109.768 in his 1973 Tui BH3 that he runs in Special 1 (S1).


Photo credit Photo credit Wayne Domkowski http://blackdiamondimaging.com/

Mike Robinson came in 2nd with a 112.675 in his SMX 99 Chevy Camaro.


Photo credit Photo credit Wayne Domkowski http://blackdiamondimaging.com/

We had great weather conditions on Saturday, but unfortunately had to stop with group 1 at the end of the day.  There were a couple of incidents, mostly mechanical, that meant group 1 ran longer than expected, and there wasn’t enough time to run group 2 before we needed to re-open the road to the public.

The plan was to start with group 2 on Sunday, but the weather did not cooperate.  Hurricane Henri rolled though our area and left behind some showers and very dense fog, especially at the top part of the course past the Pagoda.  The start of the event was delayed in the hopes that the fog would clear, as visibility past the Pagoda was too poor to allow us to run safely.  Remember above that I said it was a “more or less straight” – you must be able to see it to run it safely at speed. 

The organizers waited until after lunch, but the fog never lifted for more than a few minutes at a time, and runs in those conditions were not an option.  However, since the lower half of the course was clear, if wet (it was still raining), and the workers were game, those of us that stuck around were given the opportunity to take some non-timed runs on the first half of the course.  This is basically the course that we run for Pagoda.  I’m never one to turn down a run just because it’s raining, and neither were the rest of the drivers who stuck around, and we all had a blast playing in the rain. 

My times on Saturday were dismal.  But on Sunday, in the rain, I felt like I was finally driving  the car well again.  Hopefully my regained confidence will mean I drive the car as it’s meant to be driven at our next event.

After the event was called, conditions were still bad at the top of the hill.  Here is the tower in fog.  Or rather, here is the tower in a low lying cloud that had been sitting at the top of the mountain all day.

Here is a gallery of Duryea pictures from Wayne Domkowski http://blackdiamondimaging.com/

Polish Mountain 2021

I’m still way behind on updating this blog in a timely manner, with Duryea Hillclimb behind us and Shenandoah (at Summit Point) coming up next weekend, but this blog got mentioned in the SCCA Up to Speed newsletter, so I guess I’d better get my act together! 

For anyone just reading this blog, I have an 86 and an 87 VW Scirocco, and have been hillclimbing since 2005 (the 87 is still street legal and is my “backup” car).  My only other racing experience prior to hillclimbing is autocrossing.   I am not a fast driver most of the time, but I still have a lot of fun flinging my car around the turns.  For me, a huge part of the PHA hillclimb experience is the chance to hang out with rest of the PHA “family” — the other drivers, workers and crew members — and that is what keeps me coming back.

Anyway, onto Polish Mountain Hillclimb 2021, which was held Aug 7-8.   This event is run by the newly formed Western Maryland chapter of WDCR region, and WDCR’s Straightpipe August Newsletter had an excellent write-up on the history of this event.

The Western Maryland Chapter arranged to get the course repaved in 2020.  When the course was repaved, they also corrected some of the issues with the entrance / exit to the pit area.   Unfortunately, this event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, so this year was our first opportunity to run on the brand new pavement.  If you are curious, there are pictures of the new pavement on the The Courses area of the PHA website.

I think it’s safe to say that the new pavement made a difference, as there were 13 class records set.  In 3 classes, the old class record was beaten by the first 2 drivers in class.    I know that I found that the road was not only smoother, but a bit wider in some places. 

Bryan Fritzler took FTD in his 1973 Tui BH3 that he runs in the PHA supplemental class Special 1 (S1) with a 52.292. 


Photo credit Bob Helton

Dan Foley in his 2008 Mitsubishi Evo X came in 2nd overall with a 54.028, beating Ron Moreck in his Norton by just 0.235 seconds. 


Photo credits Former Instants

Of the cars that ended up in the top 10 cars at this event, only 4 are purpose-built race cars.  The rest are “door slammers” and started out as production cars.

Mike Robinson wrote a great wrap up of the event on the unofficial PHA facebook page, and here are some highlights:

We also saw Bryan McCrea and Tim Lewis having a great battle for DSP and the class record. Both beat the record but Bryan came out on top. Awesome job guys.
Dan Foley hosed his old SM record in the back up Evo to a time of 54.0!!! That’s a real street car too!
Kristen Leah almost beat her dad Rick Johnson in SMR but came up just a half second short. So close!!!!!
Ron Moreck had a nice weekend and a time of 54.2. Looks like you’re starting to get more comfortable in that beast!
I thought FTD was going to be a battle but car issues made George Bowland park it, and Bryan Fritzler walked away with it to a tune of 52.2. Nice!!!!
Dave Cutchins and Timm Murphy had a nice battle going on as well. Dave squeaked by with only a 10th to spare.
SMF was great to watch as well. Hunter Huffman and Matt Phillips were keeping it close with Matt ultimately taking it with a great 57.245.
 

I included some random pictures below, but here are a few sites to visit if you want to see more photos:
Former Instants
Photoz By Bob (Bob Helton)

As far as my car goes, I somehow slid off the pavement on my first run, despite my normal “taking it easy” plan that goes for every event for the first run of the day.  I thought I was going to make it, but I spun around and just kissed the guardrail with the rear quarter panel.

All fixable temporarily with duct tape, and thanks to my competitors in GT3 for the help in changing tires – the rears were corded on that run which I’m going to blame for the spin! 

It’s the end of the era  tire wise for me, as I’m finally having to  move to Hoosier A7s.  The bias ply cantilevered slicks are no longer available from Hoosier now (at least not in a soft enough compound for hillcimbs), and I was stretching them out as long as possible. Anyway, my times were still really off even after I put A7s on, so it is clear that the driver still needs a bunch of work…

Here are a few random photos from the event, mostly from the 2 sites listed above.

Giant’s Despair 2021

I couldn’t make Giant’s Despair Hillclimb this year, held July 10-11, 2021.  I did follow it from afar and saw that George Bowland broke Bryan Fritzler’s FTD win streak with a 42.093, beating Bryan by .03 seconds.   Wow!

Here is George’s car:

And here is George and Bryan having a discussion!  What I really love about the PHA events is that while most of our drivers are competitive, we also enjoy the camaraderie — this is not cut throat racing by any means!

Since I wasn’t at the event, with Mike Robinson’s permission, I’m posting his weekend wrap up instead – he posted this July 15, and I’ve already mentioned that I’m really far behind in keeping up with this blog, so bear with me!


It’s taken a little bit, but here’s your weekend wrap up!

I’d like to first give a big shout out to Bill Feist and Brian Halecki. They had a little more work then usual for this years event, but they got it all done.

Thanks for everything you do!

The weather for the most part was pretty good. Saturday was rain free, Sunday saw a quick rain shower. Some people packed up early and split. Shame on You! Lol!!!! We had totally dry conditions by lunch.

We had some more tight battles this weekend. Some between friends and some between family. It was awesome to watch!

-ITA had Ray Kochin and Dustin Halechko going for it in the same car. Ray prevailed by just .44 secs. Keep putting that work in Dustin. Your are making Ray earn it.

-SSM had father and son doing battle in the same car as well. Matt Jones took the win from his father Dan by just .118!

-SMF saw Matt Phillips walk away with first place and a new class record but Jason Fraley fought hard to take second from Hunter Huffman. Jason got it done after the rain on Sunday.

-T2 had husband and wife Gibby Bozicevich and Kristie Reid bearing each other up. Kristie took the lead while Gibnybwas help me out the Vette back together. In the end Gibby took it back for the win!

-First overall and FTD was a four way battle! This is getting awesome! I can’t remember a time when overall was a battle and now it’s happend a few times this year alone with a door car in there for good measure!

George Bowland won overall but he never had a comfortable lead!

Bryan Fritzlar was just .030 behind and Mark Aubele was just a mere .005 behind that for third and Ron Moreck was another .049 behind that.

42.093 in first to 42.177 for fourth. Wow!!!!!!!

Mark also got the fastest door car time! Hopefully I can finish the orange P.O.S. soon. I want in on the action.

My weekend personally was a little rough. I’m still nursing a bad back. Donna managed to “ding” the Vette up a little Saturday morning. I can’t thank the people who stepped up to help enough.

Gibby, Trevor Filipowicz, Mike Axarlis, Jordan Gens, Michael Companym and Kenneth. You guys rock. I’m so grateful!!!!

We got the Vette cobbled together enough to some how run all day Sunday. Some welding, some hammering, and too many zip ties. Mainly I just wanted to get Donna back out there. I didn’t want here to sit and dwell on it for 3 weeks. Most of us have been there before. You know what I mean!

Honorable mention goes to Pheadra. Our Pokemon Queen. She got schooled by a nine year old!

Lastly and as always….thank you to our workers and officials.

None of this happens with out you All!

To those of you going to the Dragon…..good luck! I know you’ll do us proud.

See the rest of you at Polish Mtn.

Bring plenty of gas.

Pagoda 2021

Wow, here it is almost time for the 2021 Duryea hillclimb, and I haven’t even posted about Pagoda or Giants Despair yet, never mind Polish Mountain.  I have no real excuse, other than it’s racing season and I’m busy!  Fortunately, I made some notes right after Pagoda, so here it goes.

The 2021 Pagoda Hillclimb was held June 26-27, and we couldn’t have asked for much better weather. 

Well, OK, maybe we could have asked for better weather, as it was hot and humid with occasional rain showers.  However, it never rained hard enough to wet the course, and the breeze kept things tolerable — more or less.  In any case, it was much better than the cold wet conditions at Spring Jefferson, which was still recent memory, so I’ll definitely take it!

Enough about the weather.  We had 93 timed entries.

Bryan Fritzler once again took FTD with a 75.677 in his 73 Tui BH3 that he runs in Special 1 (S1). 


Photo credit Wayne Domkowski (contact via Facebook)


Photo credit Mac McPherson (contact via Facebook)

Mark Aubele came in second overall in his 2003 Ford Mustang with a 78.309 that he runs in SPO.  He is really running some impressive times with his “door slammer”!

Mark also ran a second car in SM – Michelle’s 2012 BMR 135i – and came in 10th in that car with an 83.279.

Gary Smith came in third with a 78.382 in his 2019 Suzuki Crosskart that he runs in Special 1 (S1)


Photo credit Mac McPherson (contact via Facebook)

Steve Lewis deserves special mention.  He was the other “door slammer” in the top ten (he came in 8th) after only taking 2 runs the entire weekend.  His fast time was an 83.164.  He ran timing and scoring all weekend, and I’m very happy that he can compete (and drive well) on top of all his other responsibilities!


Photo credit Wayne Domkowski (contact via Facebook)

Michele Aubele was the fastest female driver in her SMR (Street Modified Rear Wheel Drive) 2012 BMW 135i (her car is legal for both SM and the new PHA supplemental class, SMR).  She came in 15th overall with an 84.260, and set a new SMR class record, beating out Eric Johnson in his 1979 Ford Mustang by .147 seconds.  Talk about a close race!   Good job Michele!

I unfortunately can’t find a picture of Michele’s car, but will update this post when I find one!

As far as my car goes, I finally got my GT3 Scirocco back with a completely rebuilt transmission, and it was amazing to be able shift whenever I wanted to.  The car is also running well for the first time in years!  I switched to a Haltech EFI system and no longer am dealing with the hesitation issues that have plagued it for the past few years.  This combination – a well running car with power and a transmission that works – means I was approaching turn 6 at speeds I’ve never been able to before, and I kept hitting the brakes much harder than needed every time no matter how hard I yelled at myself to stay on it.  I need to figure out how to drive car again, but this is the best problem to have — I’m no mechanic, but I can work on me.
 

Photo credit Mac McPherson (contact via Facebook)

I’m sure that most of you know that we had a serious incident Sat morning.  Vince had to be extricated from his car after a bad crash and was taken to Reading Hospital with serious injuries.  I’m happy to report that while he still has a long road to recovery, he is back home and is improving every day.

Spring Weatherly 2021

Spring Weatherly Hillclimb was last weekend – June 13-14, 2021 – and it was great to be back at a hill again!   There was a huge turnout, with 99 timed entries, and we somehow managed to fit all of the cars and campers into the pit area.  Thanks to everyone who put their trailer in the foundry parking lot to help relieve the space issue in the pits!

It rained Friday afternoon into late-night, so the course was wet when we started running on Saturday morning.  We also had some more rain overnight Saturday, so the course never completely dried out all weekend, especially at turn 1.   At least it wasn’t cold, but I’m sure that I can speak for everyone in wishing for a little more sunshine.

Bryan Fritzler took FTD with a 49.989 in his 73 Tui BH3 that he runs in Special 1. 

George Bowland took second place in his 03 BBR Cheeta that he also runs in Special 1, and was only .252 seconds behind Bryan with a 50.241.   Liam Ryan was third in his 17 Crosskart Ex, also in Special 1, with a 51.095.   The Weatherly course record is 47.592 set by George Bowland in 2012, so these are very impressive times given the conditions.   I don’t have pictures of either of these cars unfortunately, but I will add them later if I find some.

There were 2 “door slammers” in the top 10, and they deserve mention!  Mark Aubele in his 03 Ford Mustang in SPO came in 4th with a 52.220. 

And Eric Johnson in his 79 Ford Mustang in SMR came in 10th with a 56.287.

I’m sure that most of you know that we lost Nelson Kase over the winter.  Steve Lewis has taken over timing and is doing an amazing job.  There were a couple of hardware issues during the event, but timing ran very smoothly otherwise.  Steve was able to take a few runs in his own 2019 Ford Mustang GT that he runs in ESP, and took the class win with a 57.628! 

We were all really happy to see Rod Holtzapple return!  His 63 Thunder Road, aka the Varmint, was a sight for sore eyes!

One of my favorite pictures of the weekend was this one, with Ursula Whisler, Donna Robinson and Kristen Hack supporting Kacey Avril.  It is really great to see so many women racing! 

As far as my car goes, I am still running my FSP 87 Scirocco 16V, as the GT3 car isn’t ready – the part we were waiting for was lost in transit.  My times were comparable to the last time I ran this car at Weatherly, and I was quite happy with it.  My mostly stock car may be slow in the straights, but is still quite a lot of fun to fling around the turns!

And speaking of Sciroccos, here’s a great shot of turnaround from James Apgar, who has the Jetta in between the Sciroccos.

Our next event is Pagoda Hillclimb in Reading on June 26-27.  Hope to see you there!

Spring Jefferson 2021

Spring Jefferson 2021 is in the books!  It’s great to be finally back at what appears to be the start of a normal season.  But it was cold and raining on Friday and the forecast was bleak.   We still had a great turn out.

Conditions didn’t improve by Saturday morning, and the track was very wet.   Many of us went out anyway.

The rain lightened up, and by Sat afternoon, the track was mostly dry.   By Sunday, the track was completely dry.  It was still cold — in the 50’s (F) — but dry.  And quite a few track records were set!

I ran my FSP Scirocco as the GT3 Scirocco is still not quite ready.   And I ran in the All Scirocco Pod again — here we are meeting up before getting in line.

And yes, it definitely dried out enough for the open wheel cars to come out  and play on Sunday.

Bryan  Fritzler took FTD with a 73.46, with Bob Gardner (current track record holder) in 2nd place.  Given the conditions, there was some pretty impressive driving out there!

Our next event is Spring Weatherly , June 12-13 2021.  Hope to see you there!

 

PHA at the 2021 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals

Since 2006, the PHA Race Car Paddock display has been a major presence at the Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals, and this year was no different.   Our exhibit includes videos, pictures and literature.  But most importantly, it includes a large group of PHA race cars and their drivers who are happy to interact with visitors. 

This year we had around 20 cars on display, and the Race Paddock saw a steady stream of visitors the entire time.  Some just walked through and looked at the cars, but many stopped at our literature table to ask questions, or stopped to talk to the drivers.   I personally spoke to many different people, and had a great time not only promoting hillclimbing, but also pointing people who were not quite ready to build hillclimb cars to autocrossing as a great way to get started. 

And then there was the fun of walking around the show itself.   I have limited mobility these days, but I always try to make a point to find the Italian cars (to see if any Lancia Betas show up) and the VWs (to see if there are any other VW Sciroccos). 

This year the Italian section was about as far away from the Race Car Paddock as you could get, but Glenn Hoffman and I made it all the way over there, and spotted one of my favorite Betas, although the Zagato that is normally on display didn’t make it this year.  The Beta I owned (and that I’m missing) was not in anyway near this mint condition, but it was a really cool and fun car. 

And then there was this Alfa — I’m not thrilled about most modern cars, but this was really beautiful:

In the featured display building, this Pantera caught my eye:

There was so much more, including the pristine Integra Type R for sale, the Dune Buggies and the Opel display!  And we had excellent weather for once.  If you’ve thought about displaying your car in PHA’s Race Car Paddock, I highly recommend it for next year.

Oh, and as for VW Scirocco spotting, there was one driving around the VW area while I was walking through, so I just missed that one on display.  There was another that a spectator brought that was in really beautiful shape.

But PHA had 2 on display — mine and the Axarlis FSP car: