My 1964 Jaguar XKE Series 1 Coupe gave up the ghost at Road America in September of 2021.  The engine had seized up after only 4 laps of the first practice.  We had no other choice but to push it into the trailer and haul it down to Ray Barthrone’s R&R Motorsport in Benton, Illinois.  Ray is the son in law of Bill Terry and I’ve known Ray and his wife Ricki for more than 32 years.  They only work on race cars and their work is exceptional.

What started out to be a 3-month repair project on the XKE turned into a 9-month ground up restoration.  After nearly 52 years of racing, every aspect of the Jag was tired.  We ended up with the following list of improvements:  Fiberglass Bonnet, new frame rails, new radiator, new brakes, new windshield, new stabilizer bracket, new picture frame, rebuilt the engine with new rods and bearings and rings, flared the fenders, new 8” wheels with Goodyear Blue Streak 600X15 tires replacing the old 6” wheels and narrow tires, ceramic coated the manifold and exhaust pipes inside and outside, and stripped down the body to bare metal, removed pounds of Bondo, and then repainted the entire body.  Like I always have stated,….IN RACING, NOTHING GOES FASTER THAN THE MONEY!  The Jag tested at 345 horsepower on the dyno, increasing our horsepower by 10% over the last engine rebuild.   I finally was able to pick up the Jag on Monday July 11th.  My friend Floyd went with me to Benton to retrieve the Jag and after we got back to St. Louis, we put on the number 2 logo on the doors and bonnet.  After all, we needed to leave for Road America the following Wednesday.  The leapers on the side would have to wait to be applied.

My crew consisted of Floyd Allyn and Mark Shapland.  We left St. Louis early Wednesday morning and arrived at Road America about 2:30 pm.  While Floyd and Mark set up our paddock area, I quickly drove the XKE over to Tech to get it inspected and approved for racing.  All went fine at tech.  When they weighted the Jag it came in at 2470 lbs, which is 200 pounds lighter than previous.  Removing all the Bondo and replacing the steel and aluminum bonnet made an enormous difference, taking a lot of weight off the nose.

Thursday was an extra day of practice.  I was very nervous and apprehensive, Afterall, I hadn’t raced in over 10 months and this was now a completely different car.  I planned on taking the first practice slow and get used to the car.  This was working fine, as the Jag was handling great and much easier to drive with all the improvements and wider tires.  I immediately noticed how much faster I could take the turns.  We had a small glitch in that my mirrors were not staying in position and I had very poor visibility.  I came in a lap early and recorded a best lap time of 3:06.  We fixed the mirrors and on the second practice I noticed the car was idling at about 2000 rpms.  I finished the practice with a best time of 3:01.  Ray was at the track servicing other client’s cars and he adjusted the linkage on the Webers to bring the idle down to 800 rpms.  The 3rd practice went by with no glitches and I recorded a best lap time of 2:57 as I continued to get used to the improved Jag and get back into the “racing zone”.  Thursday night was a grand welcoming cocktail and dinner party for all the drivers.  We had a good time and then got to bed early.

Friday brought rain all day.  It turned out to be a good decision to come up a day early for the extra practice.  I decided not to go out and practice in the rain, as Marsh Reigert always told me….You don’t learn anything racing in the rain!  Instead, the three of us drove down to Berlin, Wisconsin, about 75 minutes away, to Pegasus Racing.  We picked up new mirrors and some other racing items we needed for the Jag.  We got back to Road America about 2:30 pm.  The rain was just ending.  This was great as we had registered to do the Race Car Concours and Drive into Elkhart Lake.  138 race cars were entered.  We lined up at Gate 5 at 4:30 pm.  The cars were judged and we departed, escorted by 3 pace cars and numerous police vehicles, for the 4-mile ride to Elkhart Lake.  This is a big event and it was estimated that 25,000 people had lined the roads and streets of Elkhart Lake to watch the procession.  It was really exciting as the Jag was the lead car of the parade.  After arriving at the old Start/Finish Line in Elkhart Lake, the race cars were parked on the streets, with masses of people viewing the cars.  We had a great time talking to all the viewers about the Jag.  We departed Elkhart Lake, again in procession by Police escort, at precisely 8 pm.  The streets were again lined with viewers watching the race cars leave town.  What an event!

On Saturday, there was a qualifying race and a sprint race.  The track was jammed with people and we heard number of 75,000 paid attendance.  Road America is so large, 660 acres, that even with that many people it wasn’t overly crowded.  In the qualifying race I had a best time of 2:58 and finished 13th overall and second in class to a DeTomasa Pantera.  Everything went well and I was getting in the grove.  We were still working on our tire pressure and had decided upon 20 PSI on the fronts and 19 PSI on the rear.  The temperature that day was in the 72 degree range, so the tires weren’t heating up much.  I was starting to push myself a bit more and was downshifting to 2nd at turns 5 and 9 and really pushing it thru the turns.  In the sprint race that followed that afternoon, I finished 10th overall with a 2:57 time and 2nd in class again to the Pantera.  I felt myself getting more confident and the XKE really was handling well, much improved. 

On Sunday, the weather was sunny and much warmer.  A great day of racing.  Our feature race was a 11 am, which would allow us to pack up and get an early start home.  All the glitches had been worked out and I was ready for the Feature Race.  I came in 14th overall and 2nd in class, this time to a 68 Chevy Corvette Coupe 5700.  I had a best lap time of 2:49. We were all really pleased with the improved time.  And best of all, when the cars came off the track, I was waved over to the Podium.  I received my award from Brian Redman.  In 1984, Ken McDade and I went to the Miami Grand Prix.  Brian Redman and Doc Bundy won the race for Group 44.  Here we are 38 years later and Brian Redman presents me with my medal on the podium and in the feature race I just finished, Doc Bundy finshed 6th overall while driving a 1964 Lotus 23B.  What a day!  What a weekend.

My racing plans for the rest of 2022 include returning to Road America September 16th-19th for the Ariens Art on Wheels Vintage Racing and then going to the brand-new Ozark International Raceway October 14th-16th.  It would be great to have a large group from JAGSL to route us on.

Racing action the famous Canada corner

Staging before  the parade.
Parade through the town
Phil led the pack from Road America to downtown Elkhart, WI for their annual Vintage Race Car parade.

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