Definitely a shame. I’ve been in that shop 18 years, which in itself is hard to believe. It had already been occupied by local racers for a couple years and I desperately needed space for my latest acquisitions. I’d been on a waitlist for awhile because my space at home was packed, so when I committed to buy a truck & trailer one of the sub-landlords took pity on me and cleared a half slot of his own space, which also got me trailer parking outside. We worked in that bay with drop-lights and headlamps for close to a year. But I had first dibs on spaces as they opened and I managed to get a pair of adjacent slots, one with a lift that I purchased from the guy moving out. So of course I had to fill them! And so it went, buying and expanding. Last year I sold off five Miatas, making room to clean up and organize.
Over this winter I bought and built more shelving, bought three small 2-piece rollaround toolboxes so they were at various workstations with related supplies (by the drill presses, hydraulic presses, setup area) and a new large box for all the hand tools relegating the old one to fasteners and electrical. I’ve never been so organized in my entire life. Then I got to work on a nice 1.6 SM that we bought as a spare years ago and never used. Dropped, cleaned, serviced and painted suspension and subframes, painted and insulated the underside, painted the interior. Installed the new Penske kit, my best 1.6 engine, trans and diff. It was ready for the dyno and I guarantee would have been as capable as any 1.6 out there, all it needed was a driver. Meanwhile I was also getting old red #28 ready for another season as a loaner and people were lining up to borrow it. That’s the car that kept Jim honest at the last Majors he ran here, right to the checker. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
I’m sorry to lose those, and the (absolutely beautiful) GTU RX7, and the highly modified NSX, but what I’ll really miss are the 510s. Those are where it all started for me in 1975, and my old 1969 street car with an L20B, flat-top pistons, comp head, slalom cam, SUs, etc. was patiently waiting it’s turn for restoration. And then my first race car, a 1970 B Sedan / GT4 Datsun 510 with a decent history of prior owners on which I did a complete restoration for the 2018 Mitty at Road Atlanta when Datsun was the featured marque, and a 1972 Datsun 510 with the IMSA box flare bodywork, also a very pretty car though I personally am not a fan of “BRE tribute” paint schemes. Back in the day, Datsun Competition was what Mazda Motorsports is today, heavily involved in road racing and supporting grassroots efforts and the biggest tent at the Runoffs with loads of parts if you ran into trouble. I dare say that if they weren’t the inspiration for Mazda they at least did it first.
On a daily basis I’ll miss the dyno most. The DynaPack is SUCH a great tool and capable of so much more than the typical roller dyno. It was a completely unjustifiable expense, even by racing standards, and yet by far the best money I ever spent on the hobby in terms of enjoyment. I liked nothing more than a chance to tune on something new, or old, or odd, carbs or injected, boosted or normally aspirated and was looking forward to many more years of making it available to friends and friends of friends. I had a session scheduled for tomorrow morning with an NA8 enduro Miata and possibly their enduro BMW. Sadly they were the newest members of our little racer’s commune and were also lost.
There were a lot of other cars in there, from a beautiful Model A and a 39(?) Pontiac (?) to a former national autocross championship Lotus Europa. A pair of MR2s (ITB and HP), and a nice HP midget. Tom’s new SM build, an ITR Mustang, ITA 240SX, A bunch of karts, a circle track car, a race boat (the 4-year meticulously restored Chris-Craft had just left !), several Saab 96’s including a recently acquired wagon, the AMX and formula cars mentioned above, a beautiful Alpha GTA (?) vintage racer and an old Fiat spyder. And more that don’t come to mind at the moment or were under covers waiting for a little attention.
I’ve often said that for me race weekends were for racing first, second and third, and there was no fourth. The Sauget race shop was where I relaxed and enjoyed the company of good people. Visitors often remarked on the lack of dividing walls, unlocked toolboxes and all manner of expensive equipment and parts left in the open, entirely different from adjacent bay #4. The explanation was simple, no walls, just respect. If the loss of one thing brings a tear to my eyes, it’s “the race shop”.
Please forgive any typos on this stupid phone, I can’t bear to proofread all that.