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Home : Scrapbook : Roamin Angel Corner Index : Buzzard Racing

1934 Ford- Buzzard Race Car- Bonneville Speed Winner 2010While it may not be quite as famous as Penske Racing or Richard Petty Motorsports. Buzzard Racing is making a name for itself. At least with fellow Roamin Angels. Richard Clelland had gone with fellow Buzzards (a group of gearhead Roamin Angels) to Bonneville for several years, often helping as pit crew for fellow Roamin Angel Lee Wilbourne. When Lee blew the engine on a high-speed run in 2007, Richard built a Ford flathead V-8 replacement. He even qualified for his "D" license (up to 150 MPH) in Lee's roadster, turning 137 MPH. Richard loved it and decided to design and build his own flathead lakester to try and break a class record. Richard found a '34 Ford body in AZ. In May, 2009, the Buzzards set to work. Richard found a '50 Ford flathead "100 HP" and set about to build it up. The block is ported, bored and stroked, with a Potvin cam and Navarro heads over pop-up pistons for more compression. Jack Eskelson masterfully welded up a roll cage and boxed the frame. Joe Andre handled the electrical and data collection (setting the car up so that computer read-outs after a run helped to tweak it for better performance). Bob Duncan and Bill Brothen handled the body work and paint. Ken Davenport, Don Meyers, Tom Campbell, Dick Engles and John Qualls, all Buzzards, pitched in on various jobs. Lee Wilbourne of Lee's Metal Works did the sheet metal work. There were some problems, such as the three tries before finally getting the engine located in the car for best weight distribution (60 % rear, 40 % front), which required rebuilding the motor mount brackets each time. Then the interior was so tight that there was no room for the brake pedal, so they made a hand-lever one. In August this year, the Buzzards made their regular trek to Bonneville, but this time with their own car. And what a trip it was. Richard drove the coupe to break a twenty year old Bonneville record in the XF/VGCC (flathead vintage gas competition coupe) class, averaging 140.173 MPH for the required two runs. To say it was a thrill to do so on their first time out as Buzzard Racing would be an understatement. Richard had not wanted to push the engine and car too hard the first time out, so he kept it to 5000 RPM. He felt he could hit 6000 RPM if he tried, so Richard and the Buzzards returned in October to see if they could break their own record. And they almost did. Richard turned 141.022 MPH on his first run. But Southern California Timing Association rules require two runs, on following days, and those times to be averaged. The next day it rained. So the Buzzards packed up and went home. They do plan to return next year, but with some changes. Richard found that the flathead just didn't want to go much past 5000 RPM. So the way to get more speed will be to change the rearend ratio from 2.99:1 to 2.94:1, to give more MPH for the same RPM. The Buzzards are also looking to go with alcohol/nitro mix fuel instead of gas. That will be a different class, so they can break a different record. And they do it all by building a car themselves, without big corporate sponsors. So when you hear about Bonneville, think of Buzzard Racing, our local record-breakers.

1934 Ford Lakester

Although this coupe is stock length, the top has been chopped. It uses a dropped early Ford front axle and a Winters quick change rearend.

The engine is set back 15% from stock and runs Hilborn fuel injection. The radiator is mounted in the rear and the fuel tank is in front. The colorful tennis balls merely keep moisture and objects out of the injection tubes when it is not running,

"Cramped and utilitarian" best describes the interior. Richard has to be able to get out of it in one minute, which is not so easy when suited and helmeted up. Since the only ventilation is from some holes drilled at the edges of the windshield, it can get warm while waiting in the Utah sun.

Story & photos by Ron Cherry © 2011

Check out the story on the Buzzards' Bonneville experience and the trophy.

Check out the Buzzard videos on YouTube.


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