Chicagoland MG Club:Photos
BP Naperville Funkhana
June 24, 2001

Click for BIGGER pictures, average 32K.

Bill Mennell turning his TD hard into the first parking space.

Okay, no one said this was going to be easy. Get your car in good condition (with a seat belt), a little extra air in the tires, grab a helmet, and the rumble is on! This course is pretty tight, and most drivers will run it in first gear (and some reverse gear), unless they might get a little carried away with second in the home stretch. It was about 1/4 mile (depending on how your car registers mileage in reverse) including four complete stops and two sections of backing up. The quickest drivers were closing in on the magic minute for lap time, so the average speeds were 15 mph or less. It did however involve a considerable amount of tire smoke and elbow grease, and eyes in the back of your head would be advantageous.

The white MGB gives a good idea of the course layout. Launch off the line with a jog right and left, followed by a hard right past an island, then a right-left-right around another island, and then a hard left into a very narrow parking space. Find reverse and back out, giving yourself a good look at a cone you probably just clipped with the left front wheel. Then back around a couple of turns and into another space about 30 feet away. Not bad backing up to the right, but you say drum brakes don't work so well in reverse? Find first gear and rip out of that space, dart between a couple of islands, make a 300 degree pigtail turn to the left around the last island and go back throught same slot again.

About this time you see an open stretch that is way too short before you brake again for a very tight salolom that may involve bouncing your elbow off the door a couple of times as you work the steering wheel. Then make a hard left, stab the gas once, crank another hard left and get back on the gas just in time to see the next garage (another tight parking space) dead ahead. No problem here, as you may be searching for reverse with the tires locked up as you (casually) stop in the small space. Now throw your face over your right shoulder and punch it in reverse, while you find your way into the reverse salolom. Getting through here is the toughest part of the course, especially since wearing a full face helmet totally negates the advantage of those eyes in the back of your head. Unless you have nearly perfect peripheral vision you will find yourself whipping your head all the way around from right to left and back again a few times trying to see the cones you would rather not run over.

At the end of the reverse salolom you have to back into another small space, likely tipping down the stop cone as you try to get the car fully into the box to avoid another penalty. But then once you find a forward gear (hopefully first gear) driving gets suddenly fun again, as you make your way through one gate, jog hard left around a pointer cone, and make a mad dash for the finish line. By this time some of the drivers were so hyped about moving fast enough to actually catch a cool breeze that they sometimes forgot to stop right away, doing an odd doughnut or two before heading back to the paddock area. That didn't help the lap time at all, but it sure could feel good. Steve Merical wasn't doing so well with his MGA, as he parked it in the corner of the lot in mid course of the second lap with a dead engine.

The white MGB wasn't faring much better, having stopped once in mid course to dump some fuel on the track when a float valve stuck open. That was easily fixed, and the car was back for more later. While Steve's MGA is getting a little personal attention, Bill Mennell is getting in a couple of good laps with the TD. Hard turns are taken in stride, given plenty of tolerance for body roll, but he too finds that an MG with drum brakes doesn't stop so well in reverse. Otherwise he's heading for the finish line in fine style, turning in a lap time good enough to beat several MGBs. The MGA turned out only to have popped the distributor up out of the block clamp, not a big deal to fix, and a whole lot easier than the prospects of a broken valve.

Terry Gaskin was doing his best with his yellow rubber bumper MGB. This car was sporting the rebuilt front suspension and new sway bar from last years tech session, and the new twin SU carbs from this spring's tech session. But it still seems to have plenty of body roll during tight manuvering. Maybe opt for a fatter sway bar next time?

Green MGBs were in abundance with a rubber bumper roadster, a chrome bumper roadster, and the BGT (matching appearances with the three red MGAs). The RBB "LACTATE" mobile was having a tough enough time negotiating the tight course, finishing the day in mid pack. Cowboy Dave Bralich was doing marginally better with his lowered chrome bumpers until he hit a cone on his best run, also finishing in mid pack for the B's (or DFL in the Expert class). Mike Olsen was having even more problems backing up with his BGT. He finally left the hatch open for better visibility, but still managed to back over a cone in the garage as it went out of sight below the hatch opening. Perhaps the MGAs have a slight edge here, as with a little stretch of the neck you can see the tail lights from the driver seat.

All day long there was Jack McIlvian showing fine form in his yellow chrome bumper Midget to take first in his class and second place overall for the day. Paul Urquhart in his MGA MK-II and Bill Mennell in his TD both managed to beat all but one of the MGBs. Steve Benni managed to take the class for the MGBs despite the fuel overflow problem. Barney"mg" Gaylord in his sticky tired MGA had the only run to finish under a minute, but clipped two cones in the process, still finishing first even with the time penalty.

There were also some visitors who didn't take to the track. A Blue TD was observing for most of the day, and John Hubbard dropped in near the end with his silver MGA. Dennis and Joanne Trowbridge were there to help out as well, and probably a couple other folks I missed. It was a hot day, so please pass me a piece of that watermelon before we get to the trophy presentation. After picking up the cones about a dozen of us retired to the Rock Bottom mini brewery in Warrenville to cool off and relax with a glass or two of the local brew. Nothing like a half dozen MGs on the lot to strike up conversation with the locals.

Click here to find another report and tally of times and awards in July 2001 DRIVELINE.

©2001 Chicagoland MG Club, All rights reserved.