My first car that I went out and bought with my money that I made myself cost $650 in 1968 and it was called a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza with a 140 hp, 2683 cc, flat 6 cylinder engine and a 4 speed transmission. It would do an honest 100 mph but no faster, as the hydraulic lifters floated the valves. I put a dual exhaust on it with a glass pack, and it sounded great (to me :) I even took it to autocrosses, but had to race against 283 Camaros and 289 Mustangs, so I bought a Porsche.
Taken on the south rim of the Grand Canyon is my 1966 Porsche 912. The car wouldn't idle at this altitude, so I had to push it up to the ranger station and pay my entrance fee. That 1600cc flat 4 had two carbs and was fun to drive. I even won a few trophys by autocrossing it. Unfortunately, I was racing a street car with street tires against prepared racing cars with racing tires, so I never won. I guess they've fixed that now, that and autocrosses aren't as popular (not a very green sport) as they were in the early 1970s.
This photo was taken at Grand Coulee Dam - mighty spectacular but hard on salmon (not very green either :) but just what we needed for the aluminum industry which needed to prosper to win WWII and it ain't comin' down anytime soon. There is a big lake behind this dam where you can rent houseboats and spend the week cruising (which might not be considered green either - but your starting to get my drift :)
I got married about this time, and decided to get a cheaper car and I found a guy that would trade me his Porsche 356B Roadster for my 912 and we made a deal. This car was rusty, and crusty but it was also much fun! We took it skiing, but no farther than the Cascade Mountains - about an hours drive in those days - we had a little ski rack for the back that bolted in with the 4 grill bolts - very clever. Except that I wasn't very clever and damaged the heating collectors under the engine by driving in snow that was too deep. And my wife delivered a child and I became a father. So we needed a warmer car and I bought a 1969 ALFA Romeo GTV with a beautiful paint. Of course, I assumed it was a low milage car, but soon found out it wasn't. It used too much oil and I took it back.
But it sure was pretty, so they sold me a 1975 ALFA Romeo GTV with a fuel injected 2.0 liter motor. A much nicer car!
And my newest passenger liked it, too. I was done autocrossing by this time and was into motocross and ski racing, so I don't know how it would have performed, but I can remember one time, getting on the freeway behind a Porsche 924 and weaving back and forth behind him because he was going too slow and when we pulled onto the freeway, I dropped him. About this time, my wife decided to go to law school. So I had to sell this beautiful car and get a beater, so I did.
I found an Opel Kadett for cheap and drove that for a while. It was an interesting car, sort of, especially the leaf spring front suspension! But it got me to work and didn't strand me anywhere. When my wife finished law school and I had a chance to get a better car, I bought a 1978 SAAB 99, put EMS wheels on it and kept it for many years. There was plenty of room for all of us and a pal or two. I even drove that car to Sun Valley and slept in the back, for when the rear seat folded down, there was an entrance to the trunk - you could even put skis in there.
I replaced it with a 1980 900 turbo 4 door sedan and replaced that with a nice 1984 SAAB 900 Turbo 2 door (actually SAAB called it a 3 door because of the hatch back). It was so big in the back that I could put a dryer in it - not closing the hatch back, but still... Another thing I liked was the shape - if it was raining when I got in, the rear window was dry when I got where I was going - it didn't need a rear window wiper.
After that, I drove pickup trucks and and SUV, for there was no other car for me. I miss all of those cars, but no more than my youth :)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My dad was a pilot. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 and became a flight instructor. After WWII my father used to supplement income by teaching civilians to fly. He got posted to Hickam Air Force Base and this photo was taken by one of his students on Oahu. The aircraft is a Cessna 120 and it's interesting because the wires that control the ailerons ran up the wing struts through guides, i.e. they are external.
This photo was taken in Yakima and that's my uncle Frank holding my little brother. Dad says he took Frank up that day for a look around the old town. My brother and I didn't get to go, but we had opportunities later on. I can remember flying in New Mexico, when Dad was scouting places to duck hunt along the Pecos River - the sky was clear and blue, but the aircraft bounced around uncomfortably. Much later, I learned about thermals, and how eagles, hawks and vultures could ride thermals for hours looking for prey, and that gliders could do the same thing.
I got away from flying when I grew up and then I bought a computer, and some flight simulator software. Now I could get the sensation of flying without the bumpy air caused by the thermals and wind gusts. And it is a lot safer.
This screenshot is from a game called Combat Flight Simulator Version3. The aircraft is a P-47 C, and earlier version of this great fighter - it has a greenhouse canopy, and less performance that the P-47 D, but it's a good test to fly it against opponents on single missions. In fact it's my favorite in this game, but the only way you can take this screenshot is to successfully complete your mission.
This screenshot is from a game called "Fighter Ace" and I used to play this game quite a bit. I was never feared by the other gamers, but occasionally I got lucky. In this case, there are two 'stars' after my nickname, indicating I had 10 kills in a row, without a loss at this moment (soon to pass :) You can see the flight data at the top of the screen and some instruments at the bottom left. Digital data is perceived better (i.e. faster) than analog, so I always kept the instruments to minimum. The aircraft is a special Folke Wulf 190 with two anti-tank cannons mounted under it's wings. It was difficult to fly (i.e. turn) but it was hard on enemy tanks and bombers.
There is one star in the upper right hand corner of this screenshot. I used a variety of nicknames in this game, and 'LeatherStocking' was on of my favorites. This aircraft is an F-4U Corsair (later version with four 20mm cannon) and it's loaded with two bombs and 8 rockets. There are many different levels to Fighter Ace and in this middle level screenshot you can see a yellow T in the distance indicating a US tank (the same color as my nickname). In the higher levels there are no visible nicknames over aircraft (making it hard to pick out the guy to shoot first, and difficult to spot tanks).
This is an example of a Level 9 screenshot - no nickname, and there is a cockpit in front of you all the time when you are off the ground. "Padlock" is available in Level 9 but in Level 10 (the top level) the flight model is difficult to use, and there are more restrictions, making it very challenging. I spent most of my time in Level 9 as there were more people in there. This aircraft is a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (also called a 'Tojo') and I got a star with it (you can see it in the upper right corner). This aircraft is a good interceptor in Fighter Ace.
I highly recommend flight simulators although fighting online against a human being is far more difficult that playing the game on your computer against the software's AI (Artificial Intelligence). But remember, it's just a game :)
This is me in an old Navy SNJ, which the Army Air Corps called a T-6 Texan (or AT-6). My wife gave me this flight as a birthday present, and I have to admit, it was one of the best presents I ever got(well, I mean birthday present :) Anyway, the pilot did some aerobatics in this SNJ and he made every effort to keep 1 'G' on the aircraft most of the time. For instance, he did a barrel roll, but kept a little pull on to simulate the one 'G' he was after. Of course, to do a loop, we had to dive a bit, and pulled a few more 'G's at the bottom in order to gain enough airspeed to loop. It was a great day, and I didn't take a camera with me, but they made a VHS tape of the flight, so that was pretty cool. This activity is highly recommended!
Monday, July 13, 2009
When I got out of the Marines, the second thing I did was buy some skis (of course, the first was get a car!). My sisters were familiar with Snoqualmie Summit and that's where we went. An all day lift ticket was $5 and a gallon of gas costs 30 cents. I bought skiing magazines and read them instead of taking lessons (after 4 years in the Marine Corps, I was tired of being told what to do) and found an article about making 'hockey stops' with skis. You jump in the air, turn and roll your uphill edges into the mountain. So at the bottom of the bunny hill (after snow plowing all the way down), that's what I did - and it worked. I no longer ran into people standing in the lift line! And I began to think that I might began to turn like all those others that skiied under the chairlifts (you need to be awlfully proud to ski under the chairs where all the riders could see you).
But even on a good year, I'd only manage a little over a half dozen trips up to the summit. Finally, after about 10 years of slow progress, my wife and I took a ski vacation to Sun Valley, Idaho. My skiing ability improved by quite a bit because of the daily repetitions, but I got a little snobby about the snow - Sun Valley really spoiled us.
Luckily, working for an airline had other perks - the North American Airline Ski Federation (NAASF) held organized races almost every month during the winter. And Crystal Mountain was one of the venues that we attended. Running gates improved my skiing even more. By 1982, I was ready to 'make the jump to light speed' and I took a week vacation to attend a ski race in New Zealand at Queenstown, on the south island. That year, I skiied 20 days all total, and was very proud of myself. But riding up on the chairlift with a very good racer from Europe, I asked him how many days he skiied. He said he used to ski 100 days a year, but lately skiied less that 80. Shocked, I slowly began to realize my shortcommings as a racer would not be overcome skiing 20 days a year. But still, I developed into a decent skiier.
This last photo was taken at Crystal Mountain, and I'm wearing a wool cap, with a snowflake on it, that I bought in New Zealand. My skis are 204 cm K2 slalom skis - a matched pair that I got from the factory on Vashon Island. They had soft shovels (forgiving if you hit a bump) and stiff tails (for jetting out of a turn). I finally got a really good pair of 204 cm Super Slaloms with balanced flex (shovels and tails) and that were made by PRE and I loved those skis the most - in fact I still have them, and if I ever get back up to the mountains, I'll wear 'em. Although I've heard good things about the new 'shaped skis', I haven't tried a pair out yet. But I'll tell ya, if I can learn to ski, anyone can!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Me and my Maico at Dino Daze in 2004. They have classes for your age and/or a different class for your motorcycle (depending on it's age and displacement). The AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) has national championship classes and races all over the USA. It's becoming so popular that they don't have enough numbers for everyone who wants to compete.
I used to race motocross back in the 1970s but stopped after 8 years because I felt kinda beat up! I kept my tools, so when I got this bike, I could work on it (take the clutch apart, change the brake pads and sprockets, etc. but not split the cases - that takes an expert, and mine works at the Motocentre in Yakima, on Fruitvale Avenue.)
Maicos were/are made in Germany and feature excellent engines and great handling. The level of innovation was very advanced for the time and the machines they sold were light and strong. Sure wish I'da kept those old bikes, however, because I had to go find this one when Vintage Racing became an opportunity. However, there are vintage motorcycles available.
In 1975 I raced this 1974 OSSA 250cc Phantom. The photo was taken by a professional photographer who sold the prints back to us. My jersey says Maico, because I owned a 1973 MC400 Maico before I bought this lightweight (205 lbs) OSSA. I could ride the OSSA faster, mostly because of its light weight and great horsepower.
This is my nephew, Brett, on a motorcycle that his Dad raced back in 1969/1970s - actually his Dad and his uncle George built the frame from 4130 Chrome-moly steel in their own jig. The made a few other frames and sold them as "GS" frames. The engine in this bike is a 1969 CZ made in Czechoslovakia and the forks, hubs, etc. are off of that same machine. The gas tank is under the seat, and the carb draws air thru it! Their effort was to keep as much weight down low as they could - and it works, as Brett has won some Vintage Dirt Racing NW races in the expert class. Actually, he races in two classes - the 'Classic' over 250cc group and the Over 30/Under 40 group, which gives him 4 motos every weekend that he races!
Brett's Dad raced this bike at Puyallup Raceway Park (I remember pushing it around trying to bump start it) and we even have video of him in a National racing Gary Jones (among others).
Brett's Grandfather took a 8 mm movie camera to his son's races and they've made a VHS tape, and converted that to a DVD showing 'Old School' motocross. Luckily, he even made some film of the 1973 Trans AMA race at Puyallup, which is very interesting to watch. I had a 35mm SLR with a 200mm lense, and putting the race together with the photos is even better - we used Eric Clapton's "Slow Hand" album for a sound track, since that old 8 mm camera didn't have much to say :)
Here's another photo of the GS with 250 cc CZ engine and Works Performance shocks. Since the gas tank is under the seat, the frame rail in front of the seat has a cover on it, in case the rider wants to climb up there to weight the front tire in a particularly tight turn.
This is a photo of Bumper with her original Dacron racing sails, which were made by the original owner and builder - Dennis Clark of Clark Boats/Clark Sails. The sail numbers are green and red, which was OK in 1979. Jane is sitting on the weather rail, and I'm driving from leeward, so the boat is fairly flat. Our daughter's arm is sticking out of the cabin and we're on a cruise north to the San Juan Islands for a couple of weeks in 1987 (or thereabouts :)
Bumper was a pure pleasure to drive into the wind as long as the wind was light, and the waves were small. In a fresh breeze, the weather helm built up, and the mainsail had to be dumped or trimmed to ease the heel of the boat and the pressure on the tiller. That said, once you figured it out, it was sure fun.
Here's a photo of us crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca (headed south) and if you look closely, there are Dalls Porpoise riding our bow (you can just see three dorsal fins in front of Bumper). There wasn't much wind that day, so we aren't sailing, but we have all our gear on because the water is 45 degrees F and we are moving thru it at 6 knots.