I was lucky to meet Richard a few times, first in 1982 when he was running the 142E IMSA Champion Spark Plug series. He came to road America and raced nose to tail with Jim Downing’s rotary Mazda. Richard finished 2nd that day, a last lap dive bomb move didn't stick. That Volvo had impressed many that day. I met Richard again in Portland at the IPD open house when he remembered the Keller’s, as he packed many orders for us. I also met Rob Gordon and still have his black 142E race car. I was always impressed by Richard Gordon and the company IPD he started. All of us Volvo guys will miss him!!!
We raced our 1968 Volvo 1800 at the 59th running of the SCCA June Sprints at Road America Elkhart Lake WI. This year we had races on both days, a 10 lap sprint and a 13 lap feature race. The new engine ran flawless all weekend, (we broke the cam last year). We had to have a new one made from a new cam blank as no one else in Volvo land is using what we have. Yes, it’s secret!! The engine pulled all the way to nearly 8400rpm!! Due to very windy weather both days, we did not improve on our best lap of 240.2. But I think on a good weather day it’s very possible. We finished both races in 6th place. In the first race we were still trying to break in the new engine and be easy on it. Try telling a race car driver to take it easy. Next up is likely the Cat National race back at Road America.
After the June sprints at Road America we have some repairs to make on our Volvo 1800 F/prod car. Rob was invited to Autobahn Country Club Raceway, so we may do some test laps before going back to Road America in the fall. The SCCA National Championship Runoffs is at Daytona this year. The car could do well at that track, but likely not in the cards for us this year. We have an eye toward 2016, as the Runoffs move to Mid-Ohio sports car course. The fall race in 2015 at Road America will give us points for 2016. We will likely run some races in early 2016 at Mid-Ohio to find the best set up for the Runoffs.
We will be at Road America this weekend Oct. 10-11 for the SCCA Chicago Region Kettle Moraine double divisional championship races racing in two races. Some tuning was done on our 68 1800 f/prod cars programmable fuel injection system. The engine sounds great (at least in the garage). Let’s hope the weather holds up.
Well the 2014 racing season is closer, but not till end of April in the Midwest. Hopefully it stops snowing by then. I remember a few years back Lester racing at Road America in May, and it snowed! Someone asked me if we had any races that stand out from the years we have been racing and yes, there are many:
Rob winning the 1989 GT3 Season championship in the1965 122.
Rob winning "the long race" 55 laps at Blackhawk farms after trying years.
Rob finishing a close 2nd in the first Volvo Grand Prix 1996.
Rob breaking an axle racing in the 1965 122 and nearly flipping the car nose first.
Rob winning the 2006 Volvo Grand Prix at Road America with the 1968 1800
Running the ITB (Improved touring B 142 at Mid-Ohio sports car course, a race called "the war games") with like 90 cars on the track.
Randy winning the 1992 F/modified season championship with the 1971 142E.
Randy winning the ITB season championship in 2005 after finishing 2nd twice before.
Breaking the lap record in ITB with the 142E.
Randy winning 9 races in a row with the ITB car.
Randy’s last lap last corner pass of a BMW to take a win.
Randy showing up at Blackhawk farms to see the infield full of BMW’s, the windy city BMW car club was watching 4 of their members racing in ITB, yep you guessed it, the trusty old Volvo kicked their butt (I love that one).
Running against Rob both of our ITB cars. Rob getting 2nd place at Road America in the rain against front wheel drive cars.I left out the ones that got away, blown motors, clutches, broken control arms, failed fuel pumps, broken cams, blown head gaskets, cracked block, no oil pressure, failed engine bearings, bad trans, broken driveshaft, broken brake rotors. That’s Racing!
Swedish Car Specialists
Looking forward to the 2015 June Sprints at Road America, the 60th running (wow) June 12-15. The new engine isn't in the car yet, but hopefully later this month when all the machine shop work is done.
Some sad news to report. One of our Volvo Hero’s Richard Gordon (age 72) passed away from complications of Parkinson’s disease. As most of you know, he was the founder of IPD in Portland one of the best Volvo parts companies around. Starting in 1963, way before the web, I mailed in orders. Richard had a lot to do with the love of Volvos I have. My brother got a 1967 122s sedan for a winter car in the 70s (much better heater and roll up windows then a 61 Austin Healy). We started getting IPD catalogs in the mail with all these cool parts. I have most every catalog from IPD.
We are getting ready for the 59th running of the famed "June Sprints" at road America Elkhart Lake WI June 12-15. This year is a SCCA Double Major with races for us both days. Wow, that sounds important (does that mean more prize money for the crew Rob?). The new engine sounds like more then only four cylinders in the garage. Let’s hope it runs as good as it sounds.
It seemed like a long winter, but racing season is just around the corner now. In the Midwest racing starts in late April and our Volvo 1800 race engine broke last year. Mario (Rob) likes to see what top speed he can get going down the long straight heading to corner 5 at Road America, at nearly 130mph the engine said no and broke. Volvo blocks are strong, nothing showing on the outside of the engine, even at 130 mph! (Looks as if piston pin broke) As Rob’s racing friend always tells us, “these racing engine have time limits!” The new engine is at the machine shop and it will be interesting to see if we can make any more power on the dyno as we are at the limit of the SCCA rules for the class we are in.We are looking forward the 60th running of the famed June Sprints. The Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints is the longest consecutively run amateur road race in the country. Many racing super stars have run the sprints. Some of the biggest names in racing; Carroll Shelby, Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Carl Haas, even stars like Walter Payton have been past competitors. The 60th running is planned to be a special event so mark your calendars to be at Elkhart Lake WI June 12-14th.
Our Volvo 1800 will be at Road America for the June Sprints. The new engine is almost done. The June Sprints remains one of the nation’s premier amateur sports car racing events for over 50 years. After that, we may be at Gingerman Raceway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, home of the SCCA Runoffs for the 2016 event. We may not be at the Runoffs this year as it’s on the west coast this year. Rob also has more improvements in mind before the Mid-Ohio Runoffs. Our friend Bruce Ackerman (Ackermans Volvo Service Berkeley Ca.) will be at the Runoffs this year in his very fast 1800.
The big news from SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) is that the National Championship Runoffs moves back to the mid-west for the next two years. First to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Sept 2016, a track Rob (Mario) has some experience at. He ran the ITB (improved touring) car in a race called The War Games. A crazy race with 75 cars on the track and he finished in the top ten in class. Then in 2017 the "Runoffs" moves to Indy to run on the Brickyard and the road course track made for the F1 cars (that will be interesting). Hopefully we start the 2016 racing season at Blackhawk Farms in late April and have enough luck to get points to get to Mid-Ohio.
This year the SCCA National Championship Runoffs is on the west coast at Mazda Raceway Laguna SECA after 5 years at Road America. We really miss it not being here in our backyard. With jobs, broken race motors and time off for travel, we just are not going this year, and many of our friends in the Midwest also are not going. After all, we don't get paid to race, this is only about the love of the sport. We hope that Bruce Ackerman can carry the Volvo flag in his 62 p1800. I’m surprised that only the Volvo’s of Rob Keller and Bruce Ackerman run SCCA events to get to the runoffs. With all the vintage 1800s running in other groups, no one was willing to put in the work to get there. However, those cars engines wouldn't be legal!
We visited Milwaukee’s lake front for the VSA 1800 National meet. Some fog rolled in, but a great time was had by all. Good to see many old Volvo friends. Over 300 cars, the biggest club was the Volvo group and Jaguar club. Some of the Volvo guys drove all the way from the west coast and Texas in their 40 plus year old trusty Swedish iron!!
We are going back to the dyno for some fine tuning and the hope to be back to Road America for the SCCA divisional race Oct 9th-11th. That race will be awarding points for the 2016 racing season. Hoping for a great finish and have a jump on 2016 season points as the SCCA runoffs is at mid-Ohio sports car course in late September next year.
Racing at Road America Elkhart Lake WI this time at the "Cat" National Race. The weather was good, the food was great – Road America has the best food! But sadly our day ended with a major engine failure. Something let go at top speed coming to corner 5.
When I was young and working on cars in Dads driveway, I thought metal stuff was pretty much unbreakable. But Uncle Rob, my great brother has proven to me many times racing is hard on stuff!! He has a lot of broken parts in his garage to look at after years of racing Volvos, and he remembers what year each part is from! A Volvo 4 cylinder engine is turning really fast at Road America, nearly 125 mph. The engine is already apart and we will start over, real racers never give up! That's racing!
Volvo Polestar S60 Update: Worldwide, 750 Polestar s60s were built and only 120 went to the U.S. Lucky, Lester has #40 of the 40 black sedans headed for the U.S. For those of you who think the older Volvos are better and Volvo isn't making them as good have not driven the Polestar S60. This my friends, is a race car for the street and a real sleeper at the stop lights. 0 to 60 in 4.7, six piston calipers, Lauch control, paddle shift system, Ohlins shocks, 245-35-20 rubber custom exhaust system with cut out to straight without mufflers. Volvo also won Best New Sports Performance Car of the year in Canada with the Polestar S60 and v60 models. Hoping more of these are coming next year so I can buy a used one for half price!
June Sprints Report: We raced at the 60th June Sprints. We were looking forward to a great race weekend. We were up early to get to Road America on Friday and we got to the track in the pouring rain. Had almost 3 days of rain. We got on the track for a light test to break in of a new motor and broke the throttle shaft. Replace that and back out we went. On Saturday out on the track Rob (Mario) stripped teeth from the rear axle gear. Wow this engine does have some power, or maybe just a gear that had seen too much racing. The team worked Saturday night to replace it for Sunday’s race. Rained Sunday AM till just before F/prod race. What tires to run? Slicks or rain tires? Some in our group ran slicks, some ran rains. We were on rains. Many cars on slicks going off track, running 5th on rains and moving up, looking good for a great finish. Top three?? Not to be this time. Toward end of the race track now drying quickly. Slick tired cars now running fast, with only 2 laps to go engine quit running. Darn it! This is a hobby right, and fun, right? Ok, next time. Time for a brat and a beer! That's racing!!!
Join us in celebrating Swedish Car Specialists 20th year of loyal Volvo service!
As I write this its 15 below zero, but the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) already had the season opener Jan 5th in sunny Sebring Florida with 315 entrants, while we will have to wait till April here in the Midwest. Every year for as long as I can remember we so look forward to spring, better weather and getting back to the track and racing season!
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We were at Road America last month racing our 68 Volvo 1800. On the first day we had an engine freeze plug pop out. In all the years of racing I can’t remember having that happen. I think Richard Gordon wrecked his Volvo pretty good having this happen as you spin in your own coolant, lucky for us no damage. Found spares in the trailer and repaired. On Sunday on the grid a tire went flat (how did that happen), we checked air pressure every time out on track. Seems it got cut on the way to grid (very unlucky). Didn't have any tires left at the end of the year so one of our fellow racers who had the same size on his car gave us one, (Nice guy). David from OJ Rallye Automotive offered to mount it for us and in no time had it ready. Thinking all the bad luck is behind us now and the sun is out, looking like a great day. We had to start at the back, but the engine was really running great, so this could be fun. Sadly, in only a few laps Mario (Rob) radioed in to me something broke in the driveline. It was the driveshaft in 2 pieces. Race car parts have time limits. Well just wait till next year!!! That's Racing (SCCA Runoffs at Mid-Ohio next year and then we go to Indy).
We will be at the 60th running of the June Sprints at Road America this weekend 12th -14th. The Chicago region was hosted the Sprints since 1956. The June Sprint is the longest continuously running road race in the country. TV personality "Adventure Aaron" Coratta is filming the sprints for MavTvs new show Motorsports roadshow.
The central division championship SCCA series event schedule has been released. Racing starts in 2015 April 25th and runs to Oct 11th. The biggest race in the central division is the June Sprints at Road America, the 60th running. We have always looked forward to the June Sprints, even in high school days to make the trip to Road America.
2014 was a great year for the Volvo Polestar Racing team. They launched their first worldwide performance car in the (750) Volvo S60/V60 Polestar cars. Also, had back to back STCC titles and a successful debut in the V-8 supercar series. Over 2,200 cars had been optimized with the Polestar tuning kit.
The Midwest racing season revs up this month starting at Blackhawk Farms Raceway. Midwestern council, then (SCCA) Sports Car Club of America both a Divisional and a Majors race all at BFR. Some famous racers have taken to BFR like Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Walter Payton, Paul Newman, and Danica Patrick. The race we are looking most forward to is the 60th June Sprints at Road America. June 10th thru the 14th. The largest payout in sprints history over $22,000 in cash and products!