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Author Topic: The Inside Story of Campaigning an Independent ’67 Camaro in the Trans Am  (Read 2084 times)
satman
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« on: March 20, 2014, 12:04:01 PM »

Here is a link to a podcast interview that I recently did with Robert Kibbe of The Muscle Car Place .....

AL


http://www.themusclecarplace.com/tmcp-206-al-richards-the-inside-story-of-campaigning-his-independent-67-camaro-in-the-trans-am-series
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 10:41:23 PM by Jon Mello » Logged
Jon Mello
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 10:46:51 PM »

Al,

Many thanks for posting that link to the podcast. It was great to hear the story of how you got involved in Trans-Am racing. A big part of why I got this forum started was not just to learn about the cars but to hear stories about the people involved. Your first-hand account from that era is a great addition here. Thanks for your contribution and involvement.
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Jon Mello
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satman
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 09:44:12 AM »

Jon,
 Thank you very much for your kind comments............It was too bad the interview was cut short because I really wanted to acknowledge what a great job Robert Barg and the other members of our team did on being  able to do so much on a very meager budget.......... On a quick aside you certainly need to be congratulated on doing such a magnificent job with this site and providing a forum to help preserve a very important part of our racing history.
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OG69Z
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 10:43:17 AM »

Al, many thanks for sharing your recollections with us. I especially value your hands-on experiences. In this day of commercially "prepped" cars, it is indeed a rare opportunity for all of us to hear from the guy with grease on his hands!
 I personally have many  technical questions to ask about your car. Any memories about weak links in the engine, transmission, or even setting up the rear end would be appreciated. Maybe some suspension tricks too.
Thanks
Robert
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cook_dw
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2014, 11:30:57 AM »

Just listened to the interview.  Great podcast!!  You mentioned a youtube video in the interview.?.  Do you have a link to that?
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Darrell Cook

1967 LeMans Blue SS/RS L35 clone
1968 Rallye Green SS L78 - unrestored original
1968 Matador Red Z28
satman
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2014, 02:03:11 PM »

Darrell........... The video is a work in progress will keep you posred but here is a link to a small photo album from Sebring.
http://satman.typepad.com/photos/the_transam_series/index.html
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satman
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 02:41:11 PM »

Hi Robert.............Where do I start ?? OK engine 302 I presume good rods nitride crank with celvite bearings,forged piston of course the stock ones are fine 427 oil pump baffle oil pan with windage tray......... We used the factory racing cam but they have a lot better now.......... The big weak spots are the cylinder heads they are prone to cracking.

  The front suspension is too easy today ........ http://www.detroitspeed.com/index.html and whatever your budget will allow but shocks springs and solid bushings are a must for optimum handling and buy the biggest sway bar you can find.

The Muncie tranny is pretty bullet proof the only weak spots for us were the transmission ears prone to cracking.

   For the rear again Detroit Speed ............Things to look for are rear springs, possibly a rear sway bar, beefy shackles with solid bushings and Koni shocks........ The weak spot for us was Axel shafts from GM I think they had an issue with the heat treating I hope this helps.

Good luck with your project,

AL   
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OG69Z
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2014, 09:00:47 PM »

Al, many thanks for your reply.
Not sure if your Camaro was run with the Corvette disc upgrade, but I thought you might have some thoughts on this.
 I spent today setting up a twelve bolt posi rearend with Corvette discs. The axles were apparently run with no regard for minimum end play to prevent brake pad knock back. Factory JL8 specs call for endplay somewhere around 0.003", these were close to 0.050".

I have shimmed the clutch packs to the max, and used the thickest  C clips I can get on the axle, and the best I can get is 0.007"-0.009". What do you think? Maybe I'm fussing over a few thousandths that really won't even be noticed.
I also upgraded to the 800# "Penske" preload springs. They may be compressing the clutch packs a bit more than the factory 200# springs would. The spring difference may in itself negate the factory recommended spec.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2014, 12:24:15 AM »

Jon,
 Thank you very much for your kind comments............It was too bad the interview was cut short because I really wanted to acknowledge what a great job Robert Barg and the other members of our team did on being  able to do so much on a very meager budget.......... On a quick aside you certainly need to be congratulated on doing such a magnificent job with this site and providing a forum to help preserve a very important part of our racing history.

Thank you, Al. I appreciate your kind words as well. The subject of dry sump engines came up in another thread. Did you guys convert the engine to a dry sump when it started being allowed in Trans-Am in '71 or did you soldier on without it?

I thought I'd include this photo below so the forum members could see you and some of the other guys from your race team...


1971 Lime Rock Trans-Am, L-R Al Richards, Dennis Marks, Robert Barg, & Roy Bean                                    Photo: Robert Barg Collection
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Jon Mello
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satman
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2014, 09:06:02 AM »

    Nice work on your rear axle Jon ............... We started out with the factory sintered metalic rear brakes in 69 then Dick was able to find us a set of rotors and calipers from a wrecked Corvette which were a direct bolt on to our 12 bolt rear end. The set up worked well but we were having issues with air in the brake system due to excessive piston clearance in the used calipers. We installed stainless sleeves and that cured our problems.
  We always ran a wet sump with an oil cooler and dual Fram oil filters. As per GM instructions we ran 1 quart over full...... I am firm believer in the old saying if it aint broke don't fix it. I think we ended up buying a set of nice shiny Minolite wheels instead.

Cheers
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2014, 10:12:29 PM »

Good info. Thanks, Al.  How about engine pieces? Do you recall which cam you used? Did you guys port and polish your own heads or buy them from somebody like Crane Cams? Do you recall what brand of headers you used?
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 11:02:15 AM »

Hi Jon,
     We did our own head work, nothing fancy just a good  3 angle valve job and mild port and polish. The early heads were prone to cracking but GM came up with the angle port heads in 1970 and that seemed to cure the cracking problems. I had a good relationship with Mark Schwein Rusty Jowetts crew chief and he was a great source of information for us. As you probably know they were pretty tight with Penske so he had the inside track on all the latest set up information.
 The hot set up for heads in the day came from Valley Head Service in LA, I used them on some customer engines and they worked very well but unfortunately my budget would not allow me to use them myself.
 We started out with the factory cam and later we switched over to an aftermarket cam from Engle .........Surprisingly we didn't notice a dramatic improvement in power over the factory cam which was a bit of a surprise . For me the biggest increase in power cam when installed the cross ram manifold in 1970.
  When we were out west for the Riverside race I can remember Mark having one of his engines dyno tested at Traco and  surprisingly they put out nearly as much power as the engines that they were building for team Penske .
  I am pretty sure our headers were Hooker but I think the hot set up would Stahl Headers but again a little to pricey for me.
 
I will attach a couple of pictures of my 69 restoration project .......... I have had the car in storage for over 30 years, hopefully we will get around to finishing it off soon........Cheers
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OG69Z
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2014, 07:19:44 PM »

Al, I hope it is just an illusion in the photo, but that #7 piston looks a little far down the bore to be a 3 inch stroke. Especially with the Z/28 emblem I see on your car….. Smiley
Fill us in.
Thanks,
Robert
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satman
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2014, 08:58:50 PM »

John a very astute observation on your part, but actually we are just fitting those Hi compression pistons in the blocK LOL .....Besides a very wise man once told me there is no substitutes for cubic inches.......... especially if you are running unleaded fuel.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2014, 08:40:58 AM »

Al, that was Robert (OG69Z) that you meant to reply to in the last response. Anyway, it looks like you will have a fun toy to play around with when you get that Camaro project done.
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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2014, 02:29:26 PM »

Sorry Jon.......Obviously a rookie mistake !!
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BULLITT65
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2014, 02:58:53 PM »

So how many cubes is your block going to be? are you going to be running an 11:1 compression ratio or a bit higher?
I like all the insight, but you say the motor put out as much power, or when you switched cams to engle not a significant power difference. Any idea what your car or penske or similar motor would dyno at? with and without the cross ram,
What kind of boost to horsepower were you getting after having the heads gone through?
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1969 garnet red Z/28 46k mile unrestored X77
Looking for 3192477 (front) spiral shocks 3192851 (rear) please
Looking for an original LOF soft ray windshield
Looking for original Delco side post negative battery cable part # 6297651AV
satman
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 10:40:48 PM »

The block is a 30 over 350, I am keeping the compression at around 10:1 so I can run pump gas without any problems....... Penske was using Traco engines supposedly they were putting out around 450 HP we were probably 30 HP south of that. With today's technology and the right parts I think something around 475 should be easy......... Nascar engines are making over 850 HP out of 5.8 L . The cam we ran was a specialty item with a GM part number but I have a feeling it was probably made by an outside vendor due to the limited production volume.The other factor might be the fact that back then Cam manufacturers were focusing more on Drag Racing than Road Racing so we might not of had the good stuff Not sure what your application will be but be sure to remember that with an aggressive cam it certainly will not be a torque monster
 



 
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BULLITT65
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« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2014, 01:19:37 AM »

good info. thanks man
I noticed your car looks to be garnet red, are staying with that color? is it original to the car?
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1969 garnet red Z/28 46k mile unrestored X77
Looking for 3192477 (front) spiral shocks 3192851 (rear) please
Looking for an original LOF soft ray windshield
Looking for original Delco side post negative battery cable part # 6297651AV
satman
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« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2014, 10:34:11 AM »

Yes I am pretty sure that garnet red was the cars original color but I will have to check the trim tag to be sure. The car is going to Camaro Specialty this summer for interior work then if I have any funds left over I would like to paint it Blue in the same livery of our 67 Race car. A repaint will no be a big priority as the body and paint are still in pretty good shape. 
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janobyte
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« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2014, 11:24:23 AM »

Hey, I might get to see it. Ordered a stencil kit from him yesterday, and plan on picking up a small list of parts this summer. My wife has family near by so we plan to make a weekend out of it. Found out he knew a couple of her cousins and a 69Z one of them once owned...small world.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2014, 10:16:34 PM »

Al, do you recall how you got any of the parts such as the crossram or any other performance part that you used for racing back then? I'm wondering if you ever dealt with Barney Krass or Ernie Callard to get some of those goodies. They seemed to be the Chevy back door parts connection for some of the race teams. I've heard of stuff showing up at certain local dealers to certain teams and it would be addressed to the dealership but care of the name of the racer. I'm thinking it was Ken Deckman who got a couple of crossrams given to him to use and he never paid a penny for them. I suppose you guys were not so lucky.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2014, 11:17:46 PM »

   Jon, I had made some contacts with GM Canada when I was working for a Chev/Olds dealership in Toronto in fact Mo Carter was the general manager there before he acquired his own dealership in Hamilton .............. Anyway my GM contacts were able to help me out in a somewhat limited way with whatever they could.
         
      However I have heard rumors of GM engineers handing out small parts like carburetor jets axle shafts and such at the track but they never approached me with any goodies but I do remember Mark Donohue burning out his ignition wiring harness at Mid Ohio and would you believe I was the only one at the track with a spare harness. I was expecting Roger to come over to pick it up but he used Mark Schwein as an intermediary instead........Come to think of it I never got paid for that part.
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69Z28-RS
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2014, 08:13:13 AM »

   Jon, I had made some contacts with GM Canada when I was working for a Chev/Olds dealership in Toronto in fact Mo Carter was the general manager there before he acquired his own dealership in Hamilton .............. Anyway my GM contacts were able to help me out in a somewhat limited way with whatever they could.
         
      However I have heard rumors of GM engineers handing out small parts like carburetor jets axle shafts and such at the track but they never approached me with any goodies but I do remember Mark Donohue burning out his ignition wiring harness at Mid Ohio and would you believe I was the only one at the track with a spare harness. I was expecting Roger to come over to pick it up but he used Mark Schwein as an intermediary instead........Come to think of it I never got paid for that part.

You should have told Roger to come himself and pay you up front..  Smiley
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Gary W.  /  69Z28-RS, 72 B 720 cowl console rosewood all tint
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90 ZR1 red/red #246, 90 ZR1 white/gray #2466
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2014, 08:26:25 AM »

Al, great story about the harness. Thanks for sharing that. Out of curiosity, what was the name of the Toronto dealership where Mo was the general manager?
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2014, 10:12:46 AM »

       Mo was General Manager at Central Chevrolet in the late 50s in 1962 he moved on to Leavans Motors where I was working as an apprentice mechanic.......... I think it was around this time that he started rally racing in a Corvair Monza, and the story going around the garage was that once while leading in a big Rally out West he put the lit end of a cigar in his mouth and crashed.

         My next introduction to Mo was at the 12 HR. race at Sebring in 1969, Mo was pitting next to us  and went out early with engine problems. We were having our own problems during the race as one of our drivers Rick Stevens was suffering from heat stroke and was unable to continue on. Mo hearing about our problems came over and generously offered to co/drive the rest of the race with Robert Barg our lead driver................ Not knowing MO'S reputation to me this sounded like a good idea but I thought that I should run it by Bob first and so on the next pit stop I mentioned MO's offer to Bob who proceeded to roll his eyes and look at me like I was crazy . Anyway Bob was the Iron man that day and he soldiered on by himself and posted a great finish.
  
                Later that year at a Trans-Am race at Bryar I was able to help Mo secure a strong finish...... About halfway through the race something happened to Mo's clutch and once again he was pitting next to us so as Mo who was in the process of undoing his belts I wandered over and to see what going on with the car. Mo explained that he was unable to shift gears  so I suggested to him that if he put the car in 3rd. gear and crank it over on the starter perhaps he could solider on and at least finish the race. Miraculously he was able to restart the engine with the transmission in gear and he ended up with a respectable finish............... I hate to think what RPMs the engine was turning on the short straightaway but it hung in and after the race Mo came over and shook my hand thanking me for helping him finish.  

        My scariest Mo moment came at a Trans-AM race at Sanair around 1972 ..........Mo who was running up front and out of control as usual somehow manged spin out on the front straight and get T boned in the drivers door. The crash was probably the most violent that I have ever witnessed in my life and I thought for sure that Mo had bought the farm that day but miraculously they were able to pry him out of the car and he somehow managed to survive the incident.

  
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 10:30:18 AM by satman » Logged
Jon Mello
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« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2014, 08:34:28 AM »

Al, that Sanair track layout was pretty dangerous for the TA cars. Roy Woods was there and loaded up his cars and left for home before the race began because he felt it was unsafe.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2014, 06:01:36 PM »

           Sanair was a Dragstrip with a Mickey Mouse road course with tacked on, it was right up there with MIS as one of my least favorite tracks on the circuit........... Instead of Armco barriers they used chain link fencing so by the end of the race the track looked like scrap yard for galvanized metal.
   I really liked racing at St. Jovite but with the drop in attendance they had to move the race to a different venue.

AL
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2014, 08:44:16 PM »

Sounds a bit like Green Valley, Texas except I think there was a wide and safe transition back onto the main straight at Green Valley and that wasn't the case at Sanair.
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« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2014, 03:08:47 PM »

     Yes the conditions at Sanair were far from ideal but like a famous riverboat gambler once said " it was the only game in town"

AL
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