All of the notorious Keller brothers; Bruce, Rob, and Randy, were at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the largest amateur road racing event in the country.
It was a great week of weather. Qualifying was during the week and racing Friday thru Sunday, our f-production race was Friday afternoon. All was going well till the last qualifying on Thursday afternoon. Rob (Mario) radioed in to me about a big noise in the driveline, before he even got the car back in off the track he said it’s the rear axle ring gear. So for my birthday, I was under the car with my bro taking the ring & pinon out. Lucky we had a trailer full of spare stuff and once in a while we even have what we need! We had another gear but not optimum ratio for Indy. After going over the car we were ready for Friday’s race.
The SCCA had not raced the Brickyard before (what would it cost to rent Indy for a week) so no one really had a home track factor and its relatively equal for everyone. I love the Runoffs because the racing is turned up a notch like a playoff game. On race day even with the wrong gear ratio, the old Volvo did 127 mph just down from the start/finish bricks (we were so close to overall top speed of the group). After a few full course yellows and restarts we ended up mid pack in an over 40 car field. The infield F1 14 turn road course is much tighter than it looks. We even got a shout out from commentator Greg Creamer (see Video) a voice you may recognize if you watch racing events across the country.
Rob (Mario) is busy working on our 68 Volvo 1800 F/production racer getting ready for the 54th SCCA National Championship "Runoffs". The 2017 event is one of the most anticipated in the history of the club. Over 1000 entries. The 14 turn road course is the same course that held the Verizon Indy car Grand Prix of Indy and the Formula One World Championship. The course also runs on part of the famed brickyard oval, we will get to run over the start finish line bricks! The SCCA and many of the sponsors have thousands of dollars of contingency awards. Let's hope the weather is good for the week long event. September 25-31.
We are busy prepping our SCCA F/production Volvo 1800 for the SCCA National Championship "Runoffs" at Indy in September. Rob (Mario) is very busy with the engine all apart and in the process of rebuilding. We have new Goodyear Eagle racing tires, both dry and wet, and a new brake package this year that has worked out well.
The SCCA has received over 1000 entries for this event. Over 40 in our F/p class. It should be a great event!
We were at Gingerman Raceway South Haven Michigan for the Burt Olsen Memorial Championship race. The weather was unbelievably nice, perfect for racing. We were racing in 2 races, one each day. In race 1 on Saturday we ran 22 laps even though our engine needs a refresh, Rob (Mario) played it smart and stayed out of trouble (unlike some others) and we ended the day with a solid podium finish (3rd). After the day of racing, the Club had a nice dinner for all the drivers and crew.
On Sunday we had race 2 and 18 laps. Unfortunately Sunday’s race was kind of a mess with several cars off and at one point a blocked track. The race was stopped for cleanup. Similar to NASCAR cautions breed more cautions. Rob (Mario) was just trying to finish without any damage and the race was called after only 11 laps. We got a 5th, hard to beat a Lotus super 7 that weighs 500 pounds less (should be in class E/prod). The good news is Rob (Mario) is now qualified for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Indy in September! The Engine is already being taken apart for full rebuild. We are looking forward to Indy, as many as 1000 entries are expected and maybe over 40 in our F/prod class.
We were at the 62nd running of the famed June Sprints at Road America Elkhart Lake WI. I knew this was important because Rob (Mario) got me up at 5.00 am Friday morning to get up to Road America for early practice. Yes, I closed the shop on Friday, and got up even earlier to go racing!
We got the car 50 pounds lighter than last year with new suspension, also trying a new brake package. Qualified a solid 7th out of 17 entries in the very competitive F production class. Almost 2 seconds faster than last years all Volvo feature race win, and that's with last year’s engine and tires. In race one we unfortunately lost fuel pressure due to an electrical issue. It was isolated and repaired quickly, could have rejoined the race but decided to save it for Sundays longer feature race. Lots of visitors this weekend checking out the Volvo, someone named the car the Un-Mazda.
In Sunday’s race the weather was perfect for racing. Rob (Mario) noted that the engine would only pull about 7800 rpm, we have seen almost 8200 with a rev limit at 8300, so last year’s engine may need a freshening. With f/production cars in front and behind us on the grid, Sundays race was shaping up to be an exciting race. Running in the middle of all these cars in our class was a lot of fun, closing in on several cars in our class toward the end of the race. Unfortunately Rob radioed in that the brakes were weak, turned out later we found out a rear brake line cracked. Unbelievably Rob (Mario) drove Road Americas 14 turns with little brakes to finish.
Indy Champ Bobby Rahal a long time SCCA member pasted out winners trophies. We only likely need one more race to quality for the National Championship Runoffs at Indy.
The 2017 SCCA Central Division racing season got started at Blackhawk Farms Raceway. Luckily the weather was just about perfect. The turnout for this event was impressive as the paddock was full. Apparently everyone wants to get the needed races in to get to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Indy in September.
We had two races, one short race on Saturday and a longer one Sunday. After an early practice session to get accustomed to the suspension improvements and having not driven the car since last September, Rob (Mario) was ready for Qualifying. The car looked impressive turning a few laps in the 23s pretty quickly, even on last year's tires. We lost about 35 pounds from last year (no, not the driver) but the car is still over the minimum weight. This car is made of Swedish Steel! - not some flimsy Japanese car.
In Race One we had to avoid some over-anxious racers trying win on the first lap. From there the Volvo ran well to a top 6 finish (some very stiff competition this year). Unfortunately, Mazda Miatas are in our class and Mazda pays real money, practically a factory car. We raced with other underdogs - Hondas, MG's, etc. In the long race on Sunday we again got a top 6 finish. We didn't turn a wrench all weekend and the good news is we got two races done and the car's in one piece. Next up is the 62nd running of the June Sprints at Road America.
Rob (Mario) is busy getting our Volvo 1800 ready for the SCCA majors ("all bets are off") race at Blawkhawk Farms Raceway May 6 & 7. The new suspension is in the car and we are anxious to see how all this work pays off. Let’s hope for good weather. (Full report next month).
Rob (Mario) is busy rebuilding suspension on our 68 1800. The engine was rebuild at the end of last season, before the Volvo race and SCCA Runoffs. On the dyno, the engine had over 200 horse power at 8300 rpm and ran great on the long Road America track approaching 130 mph! The suspension rebuild includes a new light weight cross member, new tubular control arms, Penske shocks and Hyperco coil springs. Can't wait to get this back on the track!
Looking forward to the 2017 season and getting to Indy this year. I often wonder about living in a warmer place and racing most of the year, but then we would probably just brake more stuff and would just cost more!
The news from SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) is they are expecting record turnout for the 2017 National Championship Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Understandably SCCA racers want to run at the famed Brickyard. Word from SCCA is there will possibly be 1000 entries or more which would be a Runoffs record. Also in 2017 SCCA will see more races at the F1 track in Austin Texas Circuits of The Americas, likely a Runoffs track soon. We will be starting the year off at Blackhawk Farms Raceway and then the June Sprints at Road America.
The news from SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) is that they tested 7 track configurations at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to reach a decision on a track layout for this year's National Championships Runoffs race this September. The layout will use part of the former US Formula 1 track and current Verizon Indy car series as well as part of the legendary speedway. The speedway staff has agreed to make this a runoffs only configuration unavailable to any other racing organization for 2017. The theory is this will make it a level playing field to all runoffs participants in September. The layout is 2.59 miles long.
Robs (Mario) goal is to make some improvements to suspension and lighten up the car (it's over minimum weight) for F production class. The engine is pretty strong so that will stay mostly as it is. Then get the needed races to get to Indy in September. Should be pretty neat to be racing at the Brickyard!
It's hard to believe another year is almost over. This year's racing accomplishments were getting the points needed to get to SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mid-Ohio sports car course, Rob (Mario's) sixth Runoffs. Also running the Volvo race and the Runoffs back to back, quite an accomplishment for an amateur racer. Highest Volvo top speed at Road America (radar gun) and best Volvo lap time (could have been better but backed off) as Rob radioed in, "no one in-site". In only 6 laps (VSCDA kept telling as it was an 8 lap race) we had a 36 second lead, it could have been more. The SCCA rules are much tighter than most vintage rules too. Rob's car has a stock bore size and stock valve sizes. After over 30 years of trial & error on Volvo b20 motors, we have our most powerful engines. Next year we hope to get back to the "Runoffs" at Indy.
Rob would like to thank his sponsors: Goodyear Racing Tires, Sunoco Maximal Racing Fuel, Apex Engineering, BHP Developments, Penske Racing Shocks, Huffaker Engineering. Also the team at Swedish Car Specialists: Lester fahlgren, Randy Keller, Nick Miller.
Planning is already underway for the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs taking place in September at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There will be some new changes and tweaks for Runoff qualifications in 2017. With some luck, Rob (Mario) plans on getting to Indy. Our Volvo 1800 has great top end speed, working on improved suspension this winter. Looking forward to the 2017 racing season!
Rob Keller; 2016 Road America Volvo Race Winner!
It’s has been a very busy September. Rob (Mario) spent many hours getting ready for both the Volvo Event at Road America and the SCCA "Runoffs". The brakes were rebuild, the rear main seal was leaking so that got replaced. I mounted 8 new Goodyear racing tires, slicks and racing rain tires. Our best cylinder got back on the car. Compression ratio was carefully checked and a new thinner head gasket was used. We also did one dyno run.
It was nice to have all the Noturis Keller brothers at Road America (Bruce, Rob, Randy). Two of are old race cars were at the track, Bruce’s 1800, now owned by Irv Stein of Keystone Motors and Rob’s 142 owned by Peter Lambrinos. It was good to talk with Sam Moore, Bruce Ackerman, Peter Lambrinos and Orvar Litsgo who was next to us at the track. Orvar is a great guy and showed us many trick parts on his 122 racer (his car is for sale, see our VOLVOS for SALE page).
After some adjustments, our Volvo 1800 ran flawlessly in the race clocking at 129mph. One of our customers was watching the race in turn 5 and said “Rob drove like a mad man” and was faster than anyone going into turn 5. We want to thank Jim Perry, Ray Freiwald, and Goran Nyberg for all the work they did to have this event!
Next up was the weeklong SCCA National Championship Runoffs event. Rob (Mario) had raced here once before in the ITB improved touring car, something like 20 years ago. Mid-Ohio is a shorter, twisty track. Our race was not till Sunday. During the week you had four on track days and then races starting Friday. (By the way the food is better at Road America). On Tuesday, a piece of the exhaust broke and cut a nearly new r/rear tire. Goodyear mounted us a new one. On Wednesday and Thursday the car ran well and had a top speed as good as front runners. But no match for a 1300 pound lotus super 7 in corners on this track (should be in another class). We learned that our charging system was overcharging the battery, (and that was a new racing alternator). Sadly the race was called after 13 of 23 laps because of a scary crash between the 2 and 3 running cars, one of the lotus 7s and the Huffaker Mg midget.
Next year the Runoffs will be at Indy, that should be interesting. By the way, racers Stand for the National Anthem!! Looking forward to 2017!
Well it’s been a very busy time for us. Rob (Mario) has planned to be racing at Road America for the Volvo event, then leaving Sunday for Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. A lot of work was done on the car including a dyno run. About the best numbers we have seen. Our best cylinder is back on, nearly 14 to 1 compression ratio (will it last?) It may be really fast or it could be a time bomb! I also have been very busy at our shop as well, many of my customer’s cars will be on display. Should be a really interesting 10 days for us.
We were at Road America Elkhart Lake WI. again at the Cat National. Best weather we have had for a race weekend all year, perfect. We needed points to get to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mid-Ohio sports car course. In the first race we were in 7th place. Rob (Mario) was disappointed the engine pulled (ONLY) 7700rpm! It seems cylinder head #2 is not as good as #1. In the past the engine would go over 8000 rpm. Interesting that's 4 or 5 mph in top speed. After some adjustments to timing and fuel map the top speed was up, with a little help, a full course yellow, and some broken cars we got a 4th place. Remember this is SCCA National racing, the most competitive amateur Road Racing in the country. Getting to the top 3 or 4 is not an easy accomplishment.After getting the points needed to get to the Runoffs, Rob has decided on trying to do the double. At first he was only thinking of running one race. Earlier in the year we talked about this and it was “let’s see what happens to our racing season”, but now after some thought (and a car still in one piece) we will race at the Volvo feature race at Road America and then leave the next day and head to Mid-Ohio for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs for the week-long event. Cylinder head # 1 is going back on the car (it’s a work of art) and back for a fast dyno check. September should be a very interesting month for us.
We were at Road America for the 61st June Sprints. Had 3 great days of sun. In Saturday's race we had a pretty good run and finished in 6th place. Rob was clocked at 128 mph, not bad for a 4 cylinder Penta boat motor. In Sundays race we were hoping to move up a few spots, but the engine was running hot so had to back the speed down to get to the end and a 7th place. At home we learned of a coolant leak into 2 cylinders. The engine is now apart. We are hoping to get back out for the Cat National race at Road America end of the month.
We are looking forward to next weekend and the 61st June Sprints at Road America. Hopefully the weather is better than our last race weekend. Rob has spent many nights working in the garage. We hope with some luck to make the SCCA Runoffs at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sept 19-25th.
We had been looking forward to the first two races for us of the 2016 season at Blackhawk Farms Raceway, the first Majors tour race in the northern conference. We had two nice weekends of weather before the race. When we got to BFR, the weather was cold and rainy. We got the rain tires out and Rob (Mario) started to tell me how old the rain tires are. I think they are 7 years old, (really). We did finish Saturday’s race 7th without damage, unlike some others in our group. Looking to better weather on Sunday. We got new slicks back on for the next race. In Sundays warm up we had a freeze plug issue. We repaired that and had been looking forward to racing with new slicks, a strong motor and a dry track. However, another cooling system issue sidelined the day. Robs only luck of the weekend was he was the winner of the free race entry. We now are looking forward to the June Sprints at Road America.
We should be racing in a few weeks "Spring Fling at the Farm" Blackhawk Farms Raceway. The engine in our Volvo 1800 sounds pretty good (at least in the garage). About 2 years ago Goodyear stopped making the tires we use, we were kinda surprised by this, seems the economy was so bad Goodyear stopped making tires for us Club racers (thanks Obama). We ran Hoosiers tires which are pretty good but we believed we were faster on the Goodyear’s. This year we got a call from Goodyear saying do you want some tires, we are back! Some big dogs had been testing the new tires and told as what we already knew. The new Goodyear’s are faster than the Hoosiers. Well we will have to see this for ourselves. Hopefully the weather gets better and we can go racing!
The racing season in the Midwest is just around the corner now. A lot of work still needs to be done before the first race at Blackhawk Farms Raceway. The divisional / regional is April 23/24 and the US majors tour race is April 30/may 1. Should be an interesting year and with some luck we could be at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course come Sept 19-25.
Well after a bit of a crazy story, Rob got the Paul Newman Volvo back and he’s happy to have it back! I think this was the first Volvo Paul did. In 1989 Paul thought it be cool to buy a new 745 wagon with factory aero body kit, rare Gemini rims and then sent it to a Nascar shop to install a Grand National turbo V-6 and 5 speed trans with upgrades. It’s something over 300 horsepower. It’s a real sleeper, just what Paul wanted! Now the cars back at our shop getting a new clutch and brakes upgraded.
The 2016 Racing season should be a lot of fun (with some luck) as we have so many events going on this year. Here in the mid-west all the events are late April to Sept. We have a lot of work to do on old race cars. Also, we will be at Road America for the return of Indy cars, I’m looking forward to meeting Will Power from team Penske.
Team Penske started 50 years ago! I remember being at Meadowdale Raceway with Brothers Bruce and Rob when I was not even of driving age yet and Team Penske was running the Trans-am series.
Well here in the Midwest we can only dream of the 2016 racing season. The SCCA has already started racing in other warm parts of the country. We’ll have to wait till late April. We hope to start at Blackhawk Farms and then Road America. The SCCA national championship "Runoffs" is at Mid-Ohio this year, so it would be nice to race there over the summer before the big event in September.
We look forward to the racing season every year since about 1971 when Brother Bruce (the oldest Keller brother) took us out to Blackhawk farms Raceway. Not long after that, Rob was running Drivers school. We look forward to seeing old friends and arch rivals as well.
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