The Return of my PV-544 Volvo
The story of the return of my PV-544 after its long sleep dates to the Carlisle Kit Car & Import show the year Volvo was the featured marque on the show field. Although not much more than a shell at the time, it was the center piece of our display flanked by both of our 142E, IT-B race cars. This page is arranged in order of progression with the latest editions at the bottom. Please scroll down for pics and story on our latest adventure with our historic PV-544 Volvo.
My PV in its last incarnation at Watkins Glen in 1975. At this point I was simply attempting to make a race or two a year in order to keep my competition license active. Note the quick fuel filler cap has been removed as has the number light on the door. Window safety tabs have been added to the front and rear glass and the car now has a roll cage replacing the original hoop bar. These items were required by rules in the mid 1970's.
Photo credit - Dan Brignoli
Photo credit - Dotti Caldwell
Summit point in 1975. Possibly the last event for the old car before its long sleep in the field. The car had a stock engine from a street car in it at this point. Note the gray paint on the rear fenders. This area at Summit point is now paved and the brush in the background has been largely cleared for more paddock space.
Photo credit - Laurajean Oliva
Photo credit - Dotti Caldwell
These two photo's show our PV as it looked when it entered our shop in West Virginia. The old car was pretty shabby. The cage had been removed by this time in preparation for beginning the restoration of the body shell. The trailer btw, is the same on seen in the photo taken at Summit Point more than 35 years earlier. This is the same trailer I had purchased in 1966 and that carried the PV to Sebring and Daytona.
The old car's history with DC region as a veteran of Marlboro Speedway, earned us an invitation to participate in the Washington DC Auto Show as part of the SCCA, DC region exhibit. The car had no engine in it at this point. We fitted it with a set of vintage Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires two of which would not hold air for any length of time. We made wood supports to place under the rear axle in the interest of keeping the car level when the tires went down. Photo credits - unknown
Polish Hill Climb
Our presence at the auto show earned us an invitation to participate in an exhibition role at the "Polish Hill Climb" in Maryland and at the Cumberland Maryland Airport autocross that commemorated the famous Road Races that were once held at the Cumberland Airport.
Photo credit - Dotti Caldwell
The return to the track at Summit Point at a Marlboro Memories reunion. Our PV was among several vintage race cars that had once competed at the fabled Marlboro Speedway. This was not a race but simply running a few exhibition laps. As can be seen, I'm not wearing any safety equipment. Photo credit - Rick Foster
Fall Vintage Festival at LRP 2013
In the rain at LRP on the last day of the event. This was my payback for having blue flags waved in my face all weekend. In the rain, I wasn't last. My lap times in the wet in fact, weren't much different than they were in the dry.
My late friend Roy Flury and myself. This was the last time I was to see Roy. Roy had been my pit crew in the late 1960's. He accompanied me up and down the east coast from Marlboro, to Bryar Roy was there. Chief cook and bottle washer, Roy was able to patch just about anything with whatever he had handy. A good man and a good friend.
VRG at New Jersey Motorsport Park 2015
NJMP 2015 This was a VRG event on the lightening circuit. We ran this event to give me some track time without the pressure of Lime Rock Fall Vintage Festival extravaganza which we'd run the year before. This is the left after the infield bridge. A simple stand alone turn. Fast and fun.
Nick and I on the false grid at JNMP. Note that I'm wearing a full face helmet. This is required by New Jersey state law for any motor sport event. How they can enforce that on private property, I'm not sure. Ordinarily I prefer an open face helmet. Especially in a sedan.
With my friend Tucker Madawick. Tucker was chief tech inspector for the British Sports Car Owners Assn. (BSCOA) when I was a member oh so many years ago. Tucker had performed tech on this car at in its first incarnation at LRP. Now retired from competition, Tucker was racing his beautiful Elva Courier at this event.
Alex relaxing on the tailgate of the Ford Excursion Nick borrowed from his boss to tow the PV to NJMP. It was a nice, open paddock with plenty of room for everyone.
Pittsburgh Schenley Park 2016
The down hill sweeper leading to start/finish. Note the tree, cross walk, sidewalks. curbs and pole. Schenley Park is a true road race. The course consists of road otherwise in daily use throughout the park the rest of the year. Although not a fast course, it does require drivers to pay attention
A real hay bale "chicane" just like in the old days. This quick 'left-right-left' is intended to force a single file entry to the right hand ramp that immediately followed it. The ramp led off the main road onto a bridge.
This pic was taken at the top of the course from the spectator area. The road here is fairly open but has a rather high crown. Standard racing lines don't apply. Note the curb in the background. Do not want to slide into that. All P'burgh pics, courtesy of our good friend Brendan Norton.
Nick, Dotti and myself in the paddock at Schenley Park. The paddock was essenially a road through a wooded area of the park. One could park along the road or among the trees. A beautiful setting in which to enjoy vintage automobiles.
Road America, Elkhart Lake WI 2016
Turn 5 at RA. I'd always desired to run the "June Sprints" at Elhart Lake back when I was seriously campaigning the PV in the 1960's. When VCOA decided to hold their annual meet at Road America in 2016 I couldn't pass it up. At age 72 I finally realized a dream. Elkhart Lake's "Road America" is one of the most historic racing venues in the country. The only other PV in attendance was Dave Perry's PV-444 just coming over the brow in the distance.
The big red truck is what Nick used to haul our cars from Connecticut. One of the perks of his employment at GMT Racing. A customer car was going to this event and so Nick was able to procure the use of the "Toter home" transporter. Dotti managed to time this pic from the hill overlooking the Volvo paddock so as to catch me and our PV in the background, rounding the last turn onto the front straight.
Reunited once again. The P-1800 at left once belonged to the late Frank Dumproff. I raced against him at Bridgehampton with my PV in my in 1965 during my first ever road race as a licensed competition driver. Franks car went through several owners after he sold it. eventually, it was placed in the famous "Homan Moody", of NASCAR fame, race shop to be prepared as you see it here, now owned by Canadian Dan Reynolds.
The old car and I at the foot of the Road America front straight approximately opposite our paddock space. Just ahead is the steep rise under the spectator bridge before the start finish line.
As the back ground scene indicates, the Road America course is immaculately groomed. It is cared for as a park in the interest of making it as attractive as possible for the spectators.
Nick assisting me with my belts. Between the five point harness and the HANS device on the helmet, getting ready to go out on the track can be quite a project. Not sure how much good all that stuff will do me in a high speed crash with the PV considering the vintage seat and hoop bar.
I have to thank Rick Hayden for agreeing to pose for this pic. Rick is the keeper of both of Art Riley's P-1800 race cars. The red car, seen here, is actually a clone of Art's original car, it having been destroyed at Sebring. Art saved everything salvageable and Rick masterfully brought the car back with a substitute shell of the same vintage. I drove my PV to Bridgehampton to for the "Double 500" and watched the Art race the first iteration of the red car. Rick also restored Art's black P-1800 which replaced the red car.
LRP Fall Vintage Festival 2017
Pit lane at Lime Rock 2017. The Fall Vintage Festival at Lime Rock. A major extravaganza. Like Road America, Lime Rock now resembles an exclusive golf course more so than it does a race track. Billed as the "Road Racing Center of the East", LRP has not only survived against all odds, it has prospered.
Note the 7" wheels, Nick's small concession to the excesses of vintage racing.
This pic was taken by Dotti through the PV's windshield. On the Thursday evening of race week a parade through the neighboring towns is held for race and vintage cars. As this photo was taken, I could hear the PR piece I'd supplied for our PV, being read over the PA system.
The famous (or infamous as the case may be) left turn at Lime Rock. I managed to hold of the Fiat for the duration of the race. My frustration for the weekend was that I knew the car had another three or four seconds in it that I was unable to get out of it.
However, as Peter Giddings pointed out to me, I should be grateful that at 73 years of age, I'm able to do this at all, let alone be as fast as I once was.
An unusual rear view of our PV exiting Lime Rock's famous let hand bend. This section is key to a fast lap at LRP as it is immediately followed by a right hand bend. The transition has to be made smoothly to allow maximum exit speed from the right turn for the "no name" straight the follows.