Picking a new powerplant

Well, after the disappointment of finding out that my motor had a crack in the head rather than simply a blown head gasket… I had to start shopping for an engine. I think i is pretty obvious that I am not going to spend money on another M42 (4 cylinder engine) if I wasn’t willing to simply have the head welded and machined so I had to do a bit of digging to find a new, slightly more fun, engine.

I began the search by digging around locally and on the web for an M50 motor. This is the same motor that came in a BMW 325 of the same era that my car is from. After digging for a bit I added the S50 engine to my search. I wasn’t really having a lot of luck. The M50 engines just seemed to be hard to come by and the S50 engines were just too expensive. I had been reaching out to Dave Kern for help as well as Rhett Snyder. Finally I thought to myself.. If Anyone had their finger on the pulse of the BMW world it would be Bill Caswell, so I touched base with him. He was very receptive and gave some great suggestions.

So after a week of talking to one of his contacts I think we are finally working out a deal. Today we should finalize the deal on a new S50 engine, transmission, rear diff and more. The little car is going to be fun! More details to come, but hopefully this thing will be running by my birthday…however unlikely that is…



BMW Head Gasket

The BMW I bought I got for pretty cheap because it needs some odds and ends. One of those odds and ends is a head gasket. I have every intention of doing all the work on this car myself so I have been doing a bit of research, picked up some parts and a repair manual and dug right in.

I started by pulling the engine apart, Valve covers, Intake manifold and more. The intake manifold on this car (BMW M42 engine) is a two part unit. The upper intake manifold is quite easy to remove then you get to the lower intake manifold. Turns out some very intelligent BMW engineer decided that the Main wiring harness needed to intertwine the lower manifold, so in order to remove this you need to unplug just about everything in the engine. I am sure this brilliant engineer had the best intentions, but good lord, had they simply made the main harness box an L with wires going down the side of the manifold instead of a T with the wires going through repair would be 100 times easier.

Head Gasket Replacement

Head Gasket Replacement

Head Gasket Replacement

After a wrestling match with the wiring harness I finally overcame that obstacle and was able to remove the head. I made my own cam lock tool for the moment figuring I could time it later when I needed too. With the head off I was able to see where the leak was.

Head Gasket Replacement

Head Gasket Replacement

I began to clean up the head using scotch bright pads and oven cleaner. Turns out that stuff works great and the head was cleaning up much quicker than I anticipated. Unfortunately the cleaner it got the quicker I found a problem

A crack appears

Yes, that is correct, It looks as though this head has a crack in it. There is good news, I know that there are 2 M42 engines sitting just down the street for me to pick parts from. So I will head down there tomorrow to see what the head on those engines look like. The bad news, well this project is definitely on delay.

Closeup of the crack

The Next Phase

I suppose I didn’t grow up as a car person. I tinkered, but I was always so reliant on my car that I never really felt comfortable taking the big step of completely incapacitating it by tackling the large projects. In the last several years I have been really ramping it up, but still, the majority of my labor has had to do with fabrication projects not engine repair, not replacing clutches or any of these odds and ends. Recently I started noticing the clutch in my Subaru was beginning to show signs of wear. A few sounds when the weather is cold and I know that it has seen a bit of abuse. With that being said, I know that I have a bit of time so I have some options.

After a bit of research I decided I may try to use this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Why not save some labor money and apply it to a new toy, then use that toy to get around while you are replacing the clutch on your main car? So I started looking for a BMW. Yes, a BMW. The idea? To have a fun car that I can get cheap and use for RallyX for a while as well. Since we build the Kerns BMW recently I am reasonably familiar with it as well so it give me a bit of a leg up I guess.

I decided to casually look for one, if I found a cheap one that was in good shape then I would consider it. After a few weeks of looking in Colorado, Arizona and Utah I came up with one, the first that I found that was Manual and also priced within my zone. With a straight body and the promise that it was a runner I started the process of looking at buying it. My friend Rhett, who crewed at Pikes Peak with Valentin and I, is absolutely the best person to take with you to look at a car. Not only does he know every detail of every car (no, seriously) but he also has the technical skill to be able to identify issues as they crop up.

This is where I tell you, yes, I brought the car home. It needs some work and it will be a good project to get started on, but with new tires, a tune up and a few other odds and ends it will be reliable and ready for anything I can throw at it. Fortunately with the 318’s that are currently being buit as rally cars there are a lot of free parts floating around so this project is coming along. Finally, this has gotten me really motivated to sell my Kart too, so that is nearly gone!

Anyhow, without any more delay, here is a photo of the new car. It’ll look a bit better soon!

BMW 318ti


Check back, I’ll post up some more photos of the car and of the projects that are coming up. Here is the list.

  • Replace a few gaskets
  • Replace all fluids
  • New tires
  • Get the drivers side window back on the track
  • Replace the struts (with struts taken off one of the rally cars)
  • Replace a few trim pieces
  • Remove a bunch of wires that have been tangled throughout the car for various lights and stereo components
  • Tune up
  • Remove door cards and replace them with home made plastic panels. (the door cards are all torn up)
  • Fabricate and add a skid plate
  • Finally and this is purely for recreation

  • Go junk yard diving for a 4.10 LSD to add some pep!
  • Make some mud flaps
  • This is going to be a fun and very educational project for me. Do I know how to do all this? No. But I am itchin’ to learn and I have some good friends to help out.

    Messing around at Georgetown

    Well, yeah, we race on the lake, but I guess we also tend to have a pile of fun while we are out there. After our races the other day we were running some practice laps and Kubo decided to film… well, we couldn’t just let him stand out there all alone!

    After that, well, strap a camera to the hood of your car because Kubo needs to drift while drinking a tasty beverage.

    Ahh, Ice racing… how fun is that!

    The cover photo is by Steve Nelson, the man with the camera and thick soles on his feet. He stands on that lake all day to make some awesome photos happen!

    Gone Racin’

    Whenever you are heading to spend a weekend on a lake in the mountains I think the first thing that people think is fishing. Well, you may know by now that I don’t fish. But I do enjoy racing on Georgetown lake. Recently I was featured in a story about the racing club check it out on KDVR’s site:

    I will say this though. I know that I said that I wasn’t the most competitive on the lake, but I don’t think I said I wasn’t good at it.

    Making my bike Unique

    You may have seen that I started a project a year or so ago and I built myself a 1970 Schwinn Collegiate. Nearly immediately I started working on a rack for the back of it. However with the bug build going strong I have had too much going on to really commit much time to this one so I put the parts up on the top shelf at our shop and haven’t really had much time to pull it back down again. Today I was down at the shop and figured I would start doing a bit of tinkering again on the rack

    I started by… cutting it all apart. Yeah, I decided to start over and I cut it down to size and started building it back up. I had a bit of a different idea in mind at this point and gave it a bit more style than it had. First, I cut the risers out and then chopped the back off both the top and bottom ring that I made originally. I had some extra tubing and made two half circles that I welded on the back end if the rack. With that work done I started fitting some wood panels on the sides. You may remember that I had an old explosives box to work with for the sides. I cut that and fit the panels.


    Since the boxes were a bit splintered I had to do a bit of extra work on the one side in order to fill out the length of the rack. I ended up fitting some wood joints in order to make one piece a bit longer.


    With the wood fitted and the rack taking shape I started looking at one of the ends that I had cut off and looking at the lines of the rack. I couldn’t help but tack it on to see how it looked, then I found myself welding it on and now it is part of the rack It gives the front a bit of style that the rack was needing.




    Next up, I need to make a mold to make a bent ply base to the rack. I have the first template made and I need to locate some materials for this as well. Hopefully I can get my hands on this stuff in the next couple weeks. I’d love to get this on the bike ASAP.

    Thanks for following along, I’ll have some more updates soon as I make the base, the mounting hardware and paint the rack as well.

    What does a rally co-driver do?


    Well after my experiences Co-Driving with Valentin Ivanitski and Roger Matthews this year at Pikes Peak and Lands end it has become a definite desire to continue this effort. I have always been a fan of rally and now is a good time to take the opportunity to try it out. I knew there was a lot more to Co-Driving in stage rallys than meets the eye so I started looking into it. I like to be organized and show up with my a-game when I am doing new things and try to start things at an “intermediate” level so research and practice are going to be the key to making this happen. You will be able to keep track of the Rally Jetta soon on Wild Hare Racings new site, but you will have to check back to get the link. I know you have watched countless in car rally videos and you have heard the codriver speaking incoherent sentences to the driver but what does a codriver really do? Turns out it is a lot more than you think. A driver can win a rally, but a codriver can easily lose a rally! So lets break it down.


    Before the race. A codriver must know and pay attention to all rules and is also responsible for all movement plans for the race car as well as the pit crew. (check out Christian Edstrom’s movement plan examples here) Rally is a very time sensitive sport. Time clocks at checkpoints often called controls can make or break your race. The rules are different than nearly any other type of racing and knowing the ins and outs of the rulebook is critical so you do not cost yourself a time penalty. In addition, unlike most racing, the pit is mobile. There are various pit locations and your crew needs to know not only where the pits are, but when they need to be there and what service is allowed to be performed at each service location. Larger teams will have a specific logistics person, but the majority of teams rely on the Co-Driver to plan all of this. The Co-Driver needs to be highly organized and keep everyone on track. If you would like to read more about timing controls click here.

    During the race the codriver syncs to the official race time in order to keep the team on schedule. They check the team in at controls at precise times, typically with a margin of error of only a minute. In addition to checking in, they must keep time and make sure that the time they are provided at the control is correct. During stages the codriver does what they are most known for. They call notes to the driver. Depending on the rally these notes could be provided by the organization and run mostly blind or they could be written by the driver and codriver during a recce run. (there are also some combination of these two as well) All drivers prefer a certain amount of time before a turn that they want a note called. This can be even a few turns out if the driver is comfortable with that. The tricky thing for a codriver is to read the road as they read the notes. It is easy to look down for a second at the next line only to look up and not know if this is the next r3 or the last r3. Being calm, patient and organized helps keep this from happening. In addition working with a driver and becoming comfortable with their style is also very important and putting all of this together from the creation of the notes to the delivery of the notes is an art of cooperation and the key to success.

    So what are these notes that the co-driver is rambling off anyhow. What is an r3 or a “r5 /cr 500 !! R2”? This is shorthand for road descriptions and to confuse things even more there are multiple methods this can be written. To start r5 /cr 500 !! R2 is read: right 5 over crest, 500 double caution right 2. So what does that mean? Right five is high speed, the number has a loose relation to the gear you could be in. So you are going fast and the road is bending to the right. There is a small rise called a crest. At this speed you are likely to get off the ground! Now your wheels are going to touch down and you have 500 meters before your next call. This is quite a way and you can really gain a lot of speed, but the next call is a right 2! This is really tight after such a long straightaway so a warning is given so the driver doesn’t over cook the turn. Often the co-driver will read the whole line in one breath then pause and identify a few of the more notable corners for the driver to keep them oriented. If you want to learn what all the symbols mean there is a great resource here for you to Check out.
    Of course there are several systems that people use for calling notes. Descriptive notes that tell the corner based on how you should drive through it. FR+ Instead of saying you should be in 6th gear on a slight right, this says: Flat out to the right. There is the system listed above, there is another system that uses the first number as a degree, so R3 means Right 30 degrees. This system typically goes to 9. Another system rates the corners saying 1 for the fastest and 6 for the slowest. Check out some other notes here.

    Check out this video with a Recce Run and pace notes being called.

    Where do these notes come from? Well, it depends! Rally in the US is sometimes blind using computer generated notes from a system called jemba. This system generates notes that describe the course from a vehicle mounted system using accelerometers. The vehicle drives a set speed on a stage and the computer prints out the forces it feels. This system can register a lot more than what a driver would ever care to hear about so it can be a bit too much information. Other rally’s provide an opportunity to recce. This means you are able to drive the road, often in a line of cars. You are provided a brief slow drive of the road and you note every important turn, distance and condition. This is an art by itself. Getting accurate notes, in order without any missing details is critical since you will surely regret it when you discover an inaccurate note at speed!

    Check out this video on Collin McCray talking about pace notes

    In addition to these tasks the Co-driver shares responsibilities on the vehicle. When allotted only 5 minutes for a tire change the driver and codriver must work together and get tasks done fast and efficiently in order to eliminate additional time penalties. When the driver is frazzled by a bad corner or a scary moment the codriver needs to calm their nerves to make sure that pace is maintained safely and only experience of working together is going to help the team know how to identify and solve these types of problems. I have been told that the calm clear delivery that I have used in my experiences helps keep the driver focused and calm as well, however I have seen videos that the codriver is very quick, snappy and aggressive and I suspect that there are drivers that require that style to help drive them to push the car harder through the stage.

    I hope that you find this to be helpful. I have been doing research and I find writing these posts helps and motivates me to learn more as I go. I know I am not a pro and I can assure you that with more experience I will probably revise or even start over on a new post on this stuff, however here are a few more links and a great video to check out if you are interested in learning more.

    Andrew Bargery’s website
    Christian Edstrom’s Website
    Subaru Drive Performance

    Up We go, into the Wild Blue Yonder!

    Well, after a few times crewing for Michael Hill he offered to take me up in the balloon. I have never been up in a hot air balloon and I was pretty happy about the chance to do that. I had the chance to bring Martha along and she was really excited about the opportunity.

    We headed out at 5:30 am to head to Castlerock to meet Michael Hill. When we arrived we helped to set up everything and get the balloon prepped for takeoff.


    Martha brought her head gear on loan from her father, I am sure he will get a kick out of the flight helmet in use.

    With the setup done, Michael inflated the balloon and we were on our way!





    Martha was a bit excited about the experience


    Michael was as well


    After about an hour of flight we found a good place to touch down. A dirt road to the east of Castlerock served as a perfect landing place. We had acquired a few chasers by then and touched down with plenty of help.

    Ballooning with Martha and Michael

    In addition we had a 150lbs welcoming committee.

    Ballooning with Martha and Michael

    Ballooning with Martha and Michael

    Ballooning with Martha and Michael

    Wow that was a fun time, it really is peaceful up there and you get a really interesting look at the world below. I definitely suggest trying it out! Big thanks to Michael Hill!

    The V8 A4, Valentin Ivanitski and I, Full Run

    After what seems like forever I finally got word that we are not going to be able to recover information from our 4th camera. I was really hopeful and the company was very certain they could do it, but it turns out that landing the complete weight of a V8 Audi on a GoPro, twice, wasn’t good for the camera or the card. We have to say thanks however to My Life at Speed for loaning us the 3 Contour cameras that did survive! I have been debating how to edit this. We have so much video from practice days and from the race day and I don’t want to separate it. However, the raw engine sound of our V8 and the unfortunate consequence of the degrading weather during our run really seemed like it should be put together as one video. Expect another video in the future since we have some great camera angles to share from practice days.

    The video definitely shows our challenges with the weather. Rain started before Picnic grounds and as we get higher and higher check out the rooster tail that continues to grow. You can hear as Val tests for traction as we ascend and you can see as we brake early feeling for traction and nearly come to a halt a few times as well.

    It is interesting timing to put this out today since it is also coincidentally the day that Pikes Peak has released new rules that indicate that Co-Drivers are not allowed in 2013. It is sad news for me. I would love to have the opportunity to make it to the top and experience a proper trip back down the mountain slapping five with the fans on the way, but sadly that doesn’t sound like it is going to happen. For the time being however, I hope that you enjoy this video and check back soon for more videos from the peak including Dave and Allison Kern, Jimmy Olson and Spencer Steel as well!

    Savannah Ivanitski: Pikes Peak

    Well, I had a few minutes to throw together a bit of video and started with Savannah’s video from Pikes Peak. There is a ton of video to wade through still for all the other cars, so keep your eyes open in the near future.
    Savannah only got to run to the mid point since SOMEONE crashed and they shut down the top of the course…

    I had a great week with Savannah and Val and all the fingers crossed team. Hope you enjoy a bit of a ride along in video form