Ultimate Track Car Challenge 2007
The Great Stroker
It was dark when Hal pulled his BMW 325 into the Olthoff's parking lot at 5 AM. The "Great Stroker" was already loaded on the trailer, waiting for yet another great challenge.
Hal's Great Stroker SP 672 is already a legend as "the ultimate street Cobra" having logged over 100,000 miles on commutes, cross country road trips, race tracks, and drag strips. The 392 stroker Windsor engine, tuned more for drivability than brute power, has proved to be a solid reliable source of motive power. Today it would be challenged again.
The event was the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine first annual Ultimate Track Car Challenge held on Friday July 27 at Virginia International Raceway near Danville Virginia, one of the premiere tracks in the country.
Competitors were selected by an online vote based on submissions by the car owners. Since Hal did not have the requisite competition driver's license, Dennis Olthoff was tapped to drive.
With the exception of racing slicks on 17 inch rims, the Great Stroker ran with the street setup that has served it well for many years. Superformance MK III's set up for the street have done very well at VIR over the years in the One Lap of America events with Dennis placing near or at the head of the pack on both the South Course and North Course.
However, the One Lap cars must also be competent and reliable street cars since they are driven thousands of miles between venues. Today would be different. The Great Stroker would be up against cars built and set up purely for the track with no street pretensions or capabilities.
The first outing brought out the Achilles heal in the setup. The very sticky slicks generated so much side force that the inside rear tire lifted in the right hand turns, generating a good bit of smoke but little acceleration. Since all but two of the turns were right handers, this was a serious handicap for the street setup. A car set up for the track would have been able to get the power to the ground.
Changes to the shocks did not resolve the situation. Even so, the Great Stroker acquitted itself honorably, running about halfway between the fastest and slowest times in its class. More to the point, it ran strongly and reliably the entire day. Many of the competitors pulled into the pits spewing fluids and stinking of incinerated parts, unable to run even 20 minutes without heaving their guts out.
Not so the Great Stroker. It could have been driven to the track, run all day, and driven home again with no bad manners. Except for the challenge of running the slicks on the street, it would have been. When you think about it, for a seven year old car with over 100,000 miles, and no special preparation, that is pretty amazing.
Making time on the rare left-hander
Jim Witty and Hal with the vintage BMW 325
Hal and Dennis with the Great Stroker in Tech
Serious? How about a major motor home,
Dennis with the petal to the metal on the
Tangling with a Mosler MT900S on the straight.