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thanks to the legal types at NBC,
who apparently think we're
trying to get away with something.
We're trying to figure out what?


As most of you know, the latest (the sixth, in case you're counting) tome in "BS" Levy's lovable but long-winded THE LAST OPEN ROAD series will be going on sale in the general bookstore & web-giant (read: amazon) market on, appropriately enough, October 31st. Scary stuff! It will also become available for download as an E-BOOK on the same date through amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and through FINZIO'S STORE on WWW.LASTOPENROAD.COM.

For those of the Apple persuasion, we've been TRYING to get the blessed e-books up on I-Tunes, but we've had all sorts of frustrating platform issues (I'm on PC and for some reason we've been unable to upload the should-be-universal E-Pub digital files to I-Tunes...even from my son's Mac). Anybody out there with any knowledge, expertise or talent for this sort of thing, please get in touch....
Following up on our last e-blast, we will indeed be heading into an incrediblynice recording studio (more on that later...thanks, Josh Richter!) on November 2nd for our first-session attempt at putting together the long-promised but forever delayed AUDIOBOOK version of THE LAST OPEN ROAD!
Don't know yet if we'll be able to pull it off the way I visualize it. Or, more appropriately, hear it in my head (...CAN'T...STOP...THESE...VOICES...IN...MY...HEAD!!!), but, if we can, it'll be a bit unusual and different from any audiobook novel you've ever listened to. Stay tuned....
The season is slowly dragging to a close, but we've still got a couple live ones on the old calendar, starting with an early-morning schmoozing/book-signing date this Sunday morning, October 25th from 9-11am, during the always excellent-and-eclectic Fuelfed Coffee and Classics show in my old hometown of Winnetka, IL. Carol & I will be set up once again (weather co-operating, of course) in front of the oh-so-chic Oui, Madameboutique at 550 Lincoln Avenue and, even if your tastes don't run to fabulous, funny car novels or toasty-warm THE LAST OPEN ROAD Embarcadero pullovers, you can always go inside and buy something really nice for your sweetheart, spouse, steady, sister, side girlfriend or Significant Other....
Next weekend I'm taking wife Carol to see what is supposed to be a fantastic production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. And you thought I didn't have no class or culture (I'll probably fall asleep halfway through the second act).
November 12-15 I'll be down at Daytona covering the event for the magazine, hawking books with my friends Frank and Amy of PEOPLE KARS in the FAN ZONE PLAZA (right in the middle of the garage area) and hopefully sweating up my helmet & driving suit in some really interesting cars at the HSR's fabulous CLASSIC 24. This is really something special, as it runs around the clock from 1pm on Saturday to 1pm on Sunday (6 race groups getting 4 1-hour race sessions each, with many European teams coming over to join in the fun) plus sprint races, BRM 1-hour enduros, the Bob Woodman Tire Anglo-American Challenge, panel discussions with famous Daytona 24 drivers and personalities, a Greenwood Corvette thing (think I might be the moderator for that one, and past Greenwood racer/TV funnyman Dickie Smothers is supposed to show up), all sorts of famous and historic Daytona 24 racecars out on track, car corrals in the infield (1st 100 cars get goodie bags with a 5-buck off coupon for any of my books), the daunting joys and explosive pyrotechnics of night racing (watch for the glowing, molten-orange brake discs and flames belching out of the turbos) plus the final race of the season for the SCCA Trans-Am series (can Amy Ruman become the first woman to win a major professional road-racing championship?) and much, much more.
Be there or be square, as they say....
Then it's off to Californy to spend Thanksgiving & my birthday (my 70th...don't tell anybody) with the kids, and hoping to maybe squeeze in a drive in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill as a birthday present to me if I can just find a likely sucker. I mean, "sponsor." And maybe another visit to Jay Leno's amazing car shop.
The season will finally wrap with the always excellent, high-fun/low-pressureVDCA "Pig Pickin' and Oyster Roast" (click for details) at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah December 12-13. Really looking forward to that one, as it's a wonderful, friendly event with a lot of great people (and great food). The racin' ain't bad, neither.

But, to be honest, I was a little leery. Basically, Chumpcar runs real, live races on real, live racetracks with, well, let's just say "inexpensive" (and occasionally somewhat unlikely or outrageous) racing cars. Fact is, the cars are dirt cheap compared to most other common road racing machinery.
Now local stock-car ovals have been doing this sort of thing for decades with their "hobby stock" classes, and some SCCA Regional, Midwestern Council, EMRA, etc. "sports cars" and "GTs" have likewise been built on financially-embarrassed, frayed-shoestring budgets. But the idea in Chumpcar is that they don't want ANYBODY showing up with a bucks-up, super-overdog racecar and spoiling everybody's fun. Which means that the rules are extremely restrictive regarding hop-up and handling parts and, to be perfectly open and honest about it, some of the Chumpcars I saw at Road America were genuine crapcans. But some were not, in spite of their humble budgets and/or origins. And all the safety stuff (roll cages, fire systems, belts, seats, brakes, etc.) is up to current, state-of-the-sport standards. Now some of the cars are pretty well turned out (if a little tatty around the edges) and there's also a lot of oddball stuff to keep your attention from wandering.

Chumpcar racing is governed by an extremely funny, savvy, track-wise and easy-to-read set of rules (CLICK HERE to peruse them online) and the basic premise is simply: "this is fun, low-buck racing and we intend to keep it that way. And we've been around long enough to know when people are trying to spend or sneak or tweak their way into an Unfair Advantage. So don't mess with us and we won't mess with you. Oh, and have a good time out there..."

Most Chumpcar races run on extended enduro formats, and the car turnout for this one was pretty damn amazing, as no less than 70 (!!!) entries lined up against the pit wall under blustery fall skies (but surrounded by some beautiful fall colors), ready to take on 16 solid hours of flat-out racing (along with a bit of fixing, of course!) around Road America's storied 4 miles. Big Fun, trust me!

You'll notice that the cars run the absolute gamut from Mazda Miatas and Dodge/Plymouth Neons (and lots of clapped-out-looking but F-A-S-T BMW coupes) to Honda, Nissan, Toyota and VW econoboxes to V8 Mustangs and Camaros. There are five different classes based generally on engine displacement and prep level, and creativity and ingenuity are encouraged. Along with levity. One team showed up with an indecently rapid (126mph on the radar gun through the speed trap heading into Turn 5!) Nissan 240SX with a big Lexus V8 stuffed under the hood. Less serious was the low-rider-looking Pontiac Grand Prix and the comfortable (if past-its-sell-by-date) Lexus EC300 luxo-coupe. Not to mention the exotic but problematic and semi-worthless Maserati Biturbo featured front-and-center above. Thanks to my racing pal Denny Morgan, I'd scored a ride in the only other Italian car in the field: Iowa fireman John Rockensies' not-quite gorgeous but extremely willing 1978 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce (I used to sell those things back when I worked at Loeber Motors in Chicago). It was a little heavy and a wee bit weak on the power thanks to its SPICA-injected, 1962cc Alfa 4-banger, but it surely made about the prettiest noise of any car in the field. Or I thought so, anyway. 

We had five drivers (new friends John, Steve, Mike, Brynn and me) and you could pick up the slightly tongue-in-cheek attitude of the proceedings by simply reading through the team names. We were "Quadrifoolio" Racing, and we were surround by teams with names like "Crank Yankers," "Ludicrous Speed," "Wasted Wages" and "James Bondo" on the much raced-and-even-much-more-sadly-abused TR7 shown below...note the TLOR and Finzio's Sinclair decals amongst the other trash and bric-a-brac:

There was good fun with some of the paintjobs as well (see Mustang below)

although that particular car was the first to drop out when one of the brakes locked or failed or whatever on the 2nd lap and put it rather emphatically into the Turn 5 wall. Nobody was hurt, but the car was pretty well bent on the RF corner. And it was hardly the only car to suffer crash damage or mechanical meltdowns & malfunctions as the hours and laps accumulated.

As you can see above, there's a lot of variety in Chumpcar racing, and it's hard to miss that many of the entries look like they came directly off the back row of one of those "GOOD CREDIT? BAD CREDIT? WE DON'T CARE!" used-car lots you see in some of the, ahem, "less affluent" sections of town. But don't let the rough edges fool you...some of those shitboxes are pretty damn good racecars.
And some of them are, indeed, shitboxes....

Which made our Alfetta one of the classier entries (or I thought so, anyway) and you can see it "leading"--hah!--in the shots below. Also notice the abundance of beautiful Wisconsin fall foliage.

(excellent Alfa pix thanks to shooter extraordinaire Jason Massey.
See more of his work at:
The Chumpcar Enduro race was pretty much split in two, with 9 hours of racing on Saturday and another 7 hours on Sunday, so everybody could get a decent night's sleep. Or stay at the track to work on the car as necessary, as we did since we had to swap transmissions and fix the Watts Linkage on the DeDion Tube (bonus points if you know what the heck those things are) so the rear axle didn't wander all over the place like a slimy eel.

Bottom line is that John's Alfa ran like Alfas normally do (they flat love to race, and that's the truth) but we were seriously down on top speed compared to most of the other entries (we were struggling to see 108mph through the speed trap while other cars in our class were seeing 112-115 pretty regularly) and we had the usual enduro dramas, glitches and maladies. Like the first time I ever got in the damn thing on a pitstop and found it sputtering and banging and missing before I even got to the end of pit lane. "It'll clear up once you get it out on track," I told myself (rather than stopping to see what was wrong like I should have). Sure enough, it sputtered and popped all the way through Turn One, then cut out completely. Which left me coasting silently and helplessly down towards Turn Three with no fire in the boiler at all. Wouldn't re-start, either. Plus my radio wasn't working. So the safety crew flat-towed me in, and it turned out a damn spade-connector had fallen off the damn coil! John had it fixed in about ten seconds flat. Although we'd lost 18 minutes or so in the process. But in an enduro, you just have to put it behind you and get back to churning out the laps. It's all you can do.
It was nice racing an Alfa again. We had GREAT brakes (Alfa Milano vented rotors & calipers!) and really nice handling (until the Watts Linkage started pulling loose from the chassis late in the day on Saturday, anyway, but we fixed it overnite) and the other "guest" drivers were having all sorts of issues with the gearbox. But I was used to the rear transaxle setup and wonky linkage on these cars, and I managed to find most of the gears more often than not. Which isn't really saying much, is it?
Our overnite transaxle change helped a LOT, and all five drivers were a couple seconds quicker on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day, too, what with bright sun, brisk fall weather and beautiful fall colors all around us. And we had folks to race with, too. I mean ALL THE TIME. You were either catching somebody or being caught by somebody or racing wheel-to-wheel with somebody or briefly and blissfully all by yourself for a few serene, fleeting laps. And then, inevitably, you were back in the scrum again.
Like I said, what FUN!
We each got something like one-and-a-half hours in the car each day, and that's both a lot of track time and racing for the money and also a lovely sort of stint to do. Plus there's always a little side competition on any enduro team about who's going to wind up as the quickest driver of the bunch. And, while I was close, I must admit it wasn't me. But I always figure it's more important to be the driver who's not only quick, but strings together the most consistent laps. And I must admit I did pretty well on that score. Not that I'm bragging or anything....
Better yet, that raggedy old Alfetta kept running and running and running. And we didn't screw up our pit stops too badly, either.Bottom line is that we came home a welcome and well-deserved 3rd in class (the supposedly second-slowest class, BTW) and 21st overall out of 70 starters. Covered something over a thousand racing miles in the process, and nobody with a slower lap time finished ahead of us (always the way I judge an endure finish), while we finished ahead of something like 31 ostensibly "faster" cars. And that felt pretty damn good. Plus John's Alfetta was still running strong and making those lovely, operatic Alfa noises all the way into the trailer!
What a wonderfully good time!!!
I can't wait to do it again!


Our excellent and justly infamous
"prancing chili peppers" jewelry!
It's the logo Ferrari threatened to sue us over!

We have stud and dangle-style earrings, lapel pins, tie tacks, magnets etc.

Also, while you're there, pick up a stack of

Or a copy of the new book (or any of the books...we're not choosy when it comes to taking in $$$$).
BTW, signed, personalized copies of ALL of Burt's books make great holiday gifts for all the gearheads on your list....


As many of you recognized, the sleek and scrumptious bit of kit above is a one-off, Zagato-bodied 1957 Jaguar XK-140 snapped on Lake Street in Elkhart Lake (just across the street and staggering distance away from Siebkens, in fact) during the most excellent VSCDA Fall Festival. The car has a pretty intriguing story, too.



What is it?

What did it start out as?

Where is it?


Who's driving?

How'd it do?

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: