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Hib Halverson

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Blue Bullet Road Trip!!

Last Thursday morning, about 8:00 AM, I rolled out of Goleta on the start of the longest road trip I’ll due to date in the Blue Bullet.

The first part of this “epic journey” is to prerun the route the Southwest Section will take on the 2019 National Corvette Caravan. My shotgun for “PreRun2” is Tony Megowan, the Section Captain for the Southwest Section of the ‘19 Caravan. When the prerun is over, Cap Tony will bail to catch a jet home and I’ll continue on to visit Zip Products in Richmond VA, see friends in D.C. and Doylestown PA and visit the USS New Jersey in Camden NJ. After visiting the battleship, I’ll pickup my Wife, The Fairest Sandra the Red, at Philadelphia International Airport. We’re going to drive the Blue Bullet to the NASCAR Cup races at Dover and Charlotte, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland OH and, finally, drop the car at Katech just outside of Detroit to have them install one of their Street Attack LS7s. From Detroit Metro, Sandy and I will fly home. In early December I’ll fly back to Detroit, get the car from Katech and drive the old Blue Bullet, with it’s (hopefully) 625-hp Katech motor, back home to Goleta. I betcha that’s going to be 6000 miles or so.

Our first overnight on PreRun2 was in Henderson, Nevada and, wouldn’t you know it–the ole BB decided to act-up in Henderson, again. That town southeast of Las Vegas is bad luck for the Blue Bullet. On a road trip in the summer 2015, I had an A/C failure that lasted a day, then it suddenly began working again . On PreRun1 last summer, in record heat, even for southern Nevada, the A/C failed completely. The solution was a 3 AM ruturn home–it was only 97° out then–where I replaced the compressor and condenser. This time, on the drive over to Nevada, there would be brief incidents of the ABS and traction control service lights coming on, the DIC warning of high charge system voltage and MagnaRide and the HVAC going off line. By the time we got to Henderson this was happening often. That night, a look at 2012 service information on ACDelco’s GM Service Information (GMSi) site and a little time on Google had me pretty sure the BB’s generator died, so it was another visit to my pals at Henderson Chevrolet. Fortunately, their parts department had an LS7 alternator in stock and the replacement was a 15-min. job in the parking lot of the Fiesta Henderson Resort where we were staying and where the Caravan will stay in 2019. Problem solved.

This evening we’re in Goodland, Kansas, a small town on I-70, 20 miles east of the state line. We stopped there to recon the town for use as an overnight stop on day Four of the Caravan. The four-day trip to Goodland took us though some of the best highway scenery in the American Southwest. The on-highway eye candy started on the first day when we got off I-15 at Nipton Rd. just west of the Nevada line and saw the best visuals of the eastern Mojave Desert, around Nipton, California and Searchlight, Nevada.

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Next day, we drove Northshore Road, which runs northeast in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area along the north end of the Lake. It was another beautiful day for a desert drive. The weather was wonderful–a much welcome contrast with when we were here on PreRun1 back in July when it was never below 115°.


Eventually, we exited the Lake Mead Rec Area and arrived at the Valley of Fire, a Nevada State Park world-renowned for its 40,000 acres of spectacular, right orange Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone. Valley of Fire is just flat breathtaking. On drive we took up the White Domes Road we almost wrecked the Blue Bullet as we gawked speechlessly at the red rocks and tried to take photos while driving. After a return to I-15 and a run north through Mesquite, Nevada and into the extreme northwestern corner of Arizona, we drove through the third scenic wonder of the day, I-15 through the Virgin River Canyon. Twisting though this “mini-Grand Canyon” of sorts, is awesome eye candy. Our second night on the road was in St. George, Utah just north of the Virgin River Canyon. There we met with Doug Rosa, the President of Color Country Corvettes, the club which covers Mesquite NV, St George UT and Cedar City UT. Doug is a member of the Southwest Caravan Organizing Team and his Club will assist with organzing and operating the ‘19 Caravan.

The next day had us continuing our trip north on I-15 to the 15/70 interchange north of Beaver, Utah where we turned east and continued on I-70. I think the stretch of 70 in Utah, between Salina and Green River, is one the most scenic parts of the Interstate Highway system. The 110 miles between the two towns is the longest distance in the Interstate Highway System with no services. It’s, also, the longest section highway in the United States built over a completely new route since the Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II as well as being the longest part of the Interstate System to open at a given time. The construction of the Utah portion of I-70 is one of the engineering marvels of the American Interstate Highway System. The speed limit in those parts is 80-mph. Speed limit? What speed limit? Cruising between 90- and 100-mph and watching my Valentine One, the Blue Bullet made short work of that 110-miles.

This part of I-70 offers an incredible vista to those traveling the highway as it crosses the regions two significant geographical features, the Wasatch Plateau and the San Rafael Swell. You’ll see solid rock canyons, cliffs and mountains, all with exquisite colors. Our run though this part of I-70 was blessed with great weather, cool temperature, deep blue sky and white puffy clouds in the far distance. If you ever get a chance to road-trip your Corvette, hammer-down, over I-70 in Utah, don’t miss it.

After spending the night in Rifle, Colorado and doing another Caravan recon in that town, we started the fourth day of PreRun2 and the scenic vistas of the American West by driving I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. It’s a 12-mile section of I-70 which took 12 years to build. It was completed in 1992 and consists of 40 viaducts and bridges, three tunnels, 15 miles of retaining walls and numerous other structures all of which required 15,000 tons of structural steel, 15,000 tons of rebar and 400,000 cubic yards of concrete. The price was an astonishing $490,000,000–in today’s money that’s well north of three-quarters of a billion bucks–making it by far the most expensive section of highway in the Interstate system. The result is a wondrous, winding, uphill and downhill drive though a narrow canyon with soaring, 2000-ft high rock walls on a road which is, in part, built on viaducts, hanging off canyon walls,

The final experiences of the trip across the Rocky Mountains on I-70 were the climbs up to Vail Pass (10,662-ft) and the West Portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel (11,158-ft). We started hitting rain around West Vail along with a lot of Sunday traffic headed to Denver. Interestingly drivers in Colorado are like drivers in California, too many of them are in the left lane in SUVs and crossovers going too slow. That made driving these sections of high-altitude highway a challenge with all the “moving chicanes”. At the top of Vail Pass we began to get snow flurries but the ole Blue Bullet was still one of the fastest on the road, nothing like a 427-inch LS7, even with only half it’s rated power due to altitude, to pass hulking SUVs on the uphill pull to the Eisenhower Tunnel. The new, yellow fog light bulbs I got from Hella helped get the attention of drivers hogging the left lane in front of us. It is a 1.69-mile, twin-bore, four-lane tunnel which is the highest vehicular tunnel in the United States. It took 11 years, the deaths of seven workers and $210,000,000 to build. At the time it was completed in 1979, it was the highest vehicular tunnerl in the World. Driving though the Eisenhower-Johnson and thinking about the effort and resources which went into constructing it boggles the mind.

At the East Portal of the eastbount bore of the Tunnel along we began the 43-mile, 5800-foot descent into Denver through the Silver Plume, Georgetown and Idaho Springs. As we entered the Denver metro area, our 3 1/2 days of incredible eye candy were over. From the western outskirts of Denver in U.S. 6 then I-25 we headed south for the Denver Centenial Airport and the Perfect Landing Restrurant to meet with Captain Dave Effler from the Colorodo Section of the 2019 Caravan and discuss how our two Caravan Sections might join up for the last two days of the event.

After our airport meeting, it was I-70, eastbound, across the great plains of eastern Colorado and western Kansas and it was light rain and ground fog all the way to Goodland. Tomorrow, we’ll make a six hour run to Kansas City. The Blue Bullet will get another wash job as it’s going to rain all day.

In a few days, I'll post some more of my road trip experiences to the Blue Bullet Blog.
 
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Toms007

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Be careful going across 70 in Kansas! The troopers will give you 5 mph, but above that, they'll likely stop you.
 

LLC5

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Detroit, December, Corvette?

Be careful dude. 🙂
 

Hib Halverson

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Be careful going across 70 in Kansas! The troopers will give you 5 mph, but above that, they'll likely stop you.

An hour or so ago, we arrived in KC MO after crossing the entire State of Kansas. Today, all Kansas' finest must have been liking Carlisle Blue Z06es. We ran 5 to 10 over most of the time and while they were out there, they never gave us a second look. A lot of the time, we saw them sitting on the side or in the center divide but they didn't even light us up. In fact, one time, we came up on a Trooper's Charger rolling about 80 in the left lane and backed down to a very slow closing rate and went by him. I waved. He waved back and on we went. He just stayed where he was, rolling 80 in the fast lane.

We had light rain most of the day, but got deluged by heavy rain around Salina and near Topeka, so we back her down to about 70-75. Man it was freakin' pouring. Why can't you Kansas folks send some of all that rain out to parched So. California?:chuckle

Tomorrow it's on to Cookerville TN via Cape Girardeau and Nashville.
 
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Hib Halverson

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Detroit, December, Corvette?

Be careful dude. ��

No worries unless there deep snow or an ice storm. I've driven Corvettes in light snow before. In fact, the first time was on a trip from Detroit to California in the '95 ZR-1 I used to own. It was in late Nov of 1995, right after I took delivery of it at a dealer in Detroit. Heck, back then all the car had was Traction Control...no SES. I remember getting all the way to Vail Pass and then drove through snow flurries all the way to Glenwood Springs. I stopped for lunch in Grand Junction and on the TV in Wendy's the local news headline was I-70 closed due to blizzard conditions over Vail Pass. Guess I snuck out of town ahead of the storm.

For this coming December road trip, if the weather is super bad when I pick-up the car at Katech, I'll lie low in a motel for a day or so. Once the Interstate is plowed, i'll head straight south for warmer weather then turn west.

Needless to say, on that trip, weather will pick my route for me.
 
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Toms007

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An hour or so ago, we arrived in KC MO after crossing the entire State of Kansas. Today, all Kansas' finest must have been liking Carlisle Blue Z06es. We ran 5 to 10 over most of the time and while they were out there, they never gave us a second look. A lot of the time, we saw them sitting on the side or in the center divide but they didn't even light us up. In fact, one time, we came up on a Trooper's Charger rolling about 80 in the left lane and backed down to a very slow closing rate and went by him. I waved. He waved back and on we went. He just stayed where he was, rolling 80 in the fast lane.

We had light rain most of the day, but got deluged by heavy rain around Salina and near Topeka, so we back her down to about 70-75. Man it was freakin' pouring. Why can't you Kansas folks send some of all that rain out to parched So. California?:chuckle

Tomorrow it's on to Cookerville TN via Cape Girardeau and Nashville.

The rain hasn't been normal for us this year, Hib. Most of Kansas is still in a drought category. I'm surprised that they didn't, at least, light you up. They almost always hit me when I'm driving 007. Be safe.
 

Hib Halverson

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The rain hasn't been normal for us this year, Hib. Most of Kansas is still in a drought category. I'm surprised that they didn't, at least, light you up. They almost always hit me when I'm driving 007. Be safe.

It was a hell of a storm. My shotgun had a smartphone and was looking at weather radar. It was deep red and purple all around us.

The only time I've been driven in a heavier rain was one time down in Tucson AZ on PreRun2 for the 2014 Caravan. It was during one of what the locals call a monsoon. We were in the C4 we used to have and it rained incredibly hard and finally, the rain began to mix with small hail. At that point, I got off I-10, looking to hide under an overpass until the storm passed. The overpass was full of cars and motorcycles with one parking spot left. We hid under there for about 15-min. then the storm blew off to the north and the sun came out.

Fun stuff.
 
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LLC5

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No worries unless there deep snow or an ice storm. I've driven Corvettes in light snow before. In fact, the first time was on a trip from Detroit to California in the '95 ZR-1 I used to own. It was in late Nov of 1995, right after I took delivery of it at a dealer in Detroit. Heck, back then all the car had was Traction Control...no SES. I remember getting all the way to Vail Pass and then drove through snow flurries all the way to Glenwood Springs. I stopped for lunch in Grand Junction and on the TV in Wendy's the local news headline was I-70 closed due to blizzard conditions over Vail Pass. Guess I snuck out of town ahead of the storm.

For this coming December road trip, if the weather is super bad when I pick-up the car at Katech, I'll lie low in a motel for a day or so. Once the Interstate is plowed, i'll head straight south for warmer weather then turn west.

Needless to say, on that trip, weather will pick my route for me.



No summer tires, right? ;)

Have a safe trip.
 

Hib Halverson

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No summer tires, right? ;)

Currently the Blue Bullet has Michelin Pilot Super Sports which, technically, are summer tires. They are the same tires which come on C7 Z06es w/o Z07.

Normally, I run Pilot Sport Cup 2s on the car because its home base is Southern California and I have other cars I can drive in the rain, but for this trip, obviously I needed full tread depth tires such as the PSS.
 

Hib Halverson

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Sorta wanted to expand a bit on the tire thing...

Michelin has come on-board as one of the sponsors of the Southwest Section of the 2019 Corvette Caravan in that it supplied the tires I have on the car now,
Pilot Super Sport ZPs, at a substantial discount. I appreciate Michelin's support of the Caravan and will put those tires to good use over the next couple of years in additional pre run trips and the Caravan, itself. It's good to see Michelin supporting the grass roots part of the Corvette hobby.

The Super Sport is categorized as a summer tire, which means that it will not perform optimally nor will it have good tread life when used in temperatures of 40°F or lower. Admittedly, on my drive in December, when I bring the car back from Michigan, I will have to accept less grip and a little hit on tread life.

The Super Sport, while not a winter tire–meaning it's not good for traction on show and ice–is pretty good in warm/cool and wet weather. During our run across Kansas in a nasty storm earlier this week, in the heaviest rain, with some spots of standing water on the highway, I experienced occasional hydroplaning at 75-80. A slight speed reduction solved that problem. In light or medium rain, there was no problem with hydroplaning at the speeds we were driving.

The only problem with PSS ZPs is they are very difficult to mount. When you buy Michelin Pilot Sport, Pilot Super Sport or Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires which are ZPs (that's "Zero Pressure", Michelin's name for a run-flat) make sure you're working with a Michelin dealer which has experience with big ZP tires. It takes special equipment and experience to mount them.
 
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Hib Halverson

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My road trip has gotten as far as D.C., where I am tonight.

I started the day down in Mechanicsville a suburb of Richmond VA.
Zip Products is located there and whenever I'm in this part of the country I always stop to see Zip President, David Walker, and his chief techie, Vice President, Justin Abbott.

David and I had a long and interesting discussion about his company's replacing the computer system which among other things controls inventory. During 2016 Zip put in a new data processing system which helps them better control inventory and better manage the shipping process. The result is better customer service as well is a shipping cost reduction to customers.

Another issue we discussed was Zip's strategy in decisions it makes as to what it stocks and does not stock. Zip is one of the few Corvette parts sources which does not use an inventory strategy which has cost reduction (i.e: bean counting) as a prime consideration. Walker's main focus is on getting parts to his customers quickly. For example, Zip sells a popular sound system upgrade for C1 through early C3 which puts the latest technology (i.e: Sirius/XM, blue tooth, MP3 etc, modern stereo amplifiers, and etc) in stock appearing radios. So, say you have a 71 Big Block like mine, you can have a radio that looks completely stock but will play your Taylor Swift iTunes play list and pair with your iPhone or other bluetooth-enabled device.

These stereos are available from several Corvette parts vendors, but virtually all of them have 4-6 week wait to get the item because all they do is order it from the maker who drop ships and the maker has a big back-log. Zip Products, keeps at least one of those part numbers in stock so they can ship the day it's ordered. They do that with a lot of their parts and that's one reason why, when I need the services of a Corvette parts vendor, I buy from Zip.

The last time I posted about my road trip was earlier this week after Section Captain, Tony Megowan, and I drove though a hell of a storm in eastern Kansas. We stopped in Kansas City MO that night and the next morning, I left Tony Megowan to catch a jet home out of KC, and I drove on to Cape Girardeau MO. The run down there was the final part of the Southwest Caravan Section's PreRun2.

"Cape G" is great little city on the Mississippi River. It's most recent claim to fame was as the location for a lot of the shooting of the movie "Gone Girl". It was, also, the site of a car show and dinner event we did during the 2014 Caravan. That event was so much fun and was so well-received by our Caravaners, Captain Megowan decided to stop in Cape G, again, in 2019. In fact Cape G overnight and the next day's route from there to Bowling Green will be the only parts of the Southwest Section's 2019 route which we are using, again. After a short visit to the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitor's Bureau, PreRun2 was over and I continued my road trip, headed for an overnight at Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The next day it was on to Richmond VA where I overnighted prior to my Zip visit.

I have to say that, of all the states I've driven in so far the best roads have been in Utah and Kentucky. Kansas was also pretty good. Of course, the worst is my Home State of California and in fact, according to an article in this month's Car and Driver, California, by far, as the worst roads in the country. Soon everyone in the State is going to have to drive 4WD SUVs with lots of suspension travel and really soft bushings because California roads are becoming large expanses of potholes linked by a few sections of pavement.

Yep, Utah and Kentucky have great roads. Smooth, well maintained and in places quite scenic. There were many stretches which were so smooth and straight I often thought: "Man if there wasn't any traffic and no LEOs, I could cruise at 150 until I ran out of fuel.

I ended the day visiting the "Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute" just west of DC. CBLPI is a 501(c)(3) foundation which exists to educate, mentor and empower college-age, conservative women. Some of the notable women who’ve either been though the CBLPI’s programs or who do their presentations are: Bay Buchanan, Kelly Anne Conway, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Bridgitte Gabriel and Christina Hoff Summers. My late Mom, my Wife, Sandy, and I have been benefactors of this organization which helps conservative girls get though the liberal “hell" most colleges colleges have become.

Tomorrow it's off to Doylestown north of Philly to visit friends. Saturday, I visit the USS New Jersey then pick up my Wife at the Philadelphia airport and head for Dover and the Cup race on Sunday. After that we're going to Charlotte for a week of NASCAR fun and that Cup race.

I just found out that my Wife, the Fairest Sandra the Red, has tickets for the evening event a week from now that Hendrick Motorsports is putting on to debut the Camaro it will run in the Monster Cup Series in 2018. That should be a lot of fun.
 
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Hib Halverson

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The Dover Cup race, a Battleship and a bunch of race shops.

The "Blue Bullet 2017 Summer tour" has brought the Fairest Sandra the Red and I to Kannapolis, North Carolina just outside Charlotte. We've covered a lot of miles in the last few days.

I picked Sandy up at the Philadelphia Airport last Saturday evening and we drove down into Delaware for the Dover NASCAR Monster Cup Race on Sunday. Neither of us had been to the "Monster Mile" but we both had always wanted to see a Cup Race at the sport's most famous one-mile track. Sadly, that race was not one of the better ones. There were few lead changes and not a lot of passing on the famed, high-banked, concrete "Monster" except towards the end.

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About 10 laps from the finish, Chase Elliott, in the #24 NAPA Chevrolet, had dominated the last part of the race by leading 138-laps of the final stage and had a four-plus-second lead, but Kyle Busch, running second in the #18 M&Ms Toyota, wasn't having any of that. KB is one of the best drivers in the sport and Elliott's seemingly big lead was red meat for him. He began stalking Elliott, gaining a little on each lap and, in Turn Four on the next to last lap, Busch's driving talent and Elliott's troubled attempt to pass Jamie McMurray who resisted going a lap down, combined to give the 18 an opening. It was the M&Ms car for the win and Busch's second straight victory in NASCAR's Playoffs.

From Dover, we drove south to Rehoboth Beach seaside town in south Delaware. We stayed in a great little motel called the
Crosswinds and, right next door, was "Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats", a brewpub owned by the Dogfish Head Brewery in nearby Milton. Motel right next to a brewery?:chuckle Could we ask for anything more? Dogfish head is well-known in the craft brewing business and the food was quite good.

Next, it was farther south to the
Wright Brothers Memorial in the Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. On 17 DEC 1903, Orville Wright made the first flight of a heavier than air "flying machine". It lasted only 12 seconds and went 120-ft. The Wrights made four flights that day, alternating as pilots. The last was the longest, 853-ft. Orville was the pilot and he took-off and landed in a distance shorter than the flight deck of one of today's modern aircraft carriers. As I walked around the various points of interest in the Memorial and looked at all the reader boards, I was struck by the tremendous impact on the World that airplanes have made. It took my breath away just thinking about it.

Our next stop was to overnight in Norfolk, Virginia where, the following morning, we visited the
USS Wisconsin. Getting on the "Wisky" for a self-guided walking tour fulfilled a bucket-list goal of mine: visit all four of the Iowa-class Battleships. They are all museum ships owned by non-profits and the Wisconsin was the best of them. That ship is in the best shape and has the most areas accessible to the public on self-guided tours. We visited the USS Iowa in San Pedro CA with my club, Corvette Club Santa Barbara a couple of years ago. We did the Missouri (Pearl Harbor) early this year on a trip to HA. I was on the New Jersey in Camden earlier in this trip. Our visit to the Wisky made all four.

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Tuesday afternoon, we headed for the Charlotte. We got into our hotel in Kannapolis and immediately located a brewpub–you guys should know by now The Fairest Sandra the Red and I like our craft beers! We had dinner and brew at the
Carolina Ale House. I tried "Brown Sugar Brown Cow" which is characterized as a "Mocha Brown" ale by it's brewer, D9 Brewing Co. of Lake Norman NC. It was tasty! Gonna try and find a six-pack of the stuff before I leave the area.

Yesterday we got going early and visited a bunch of NASCAR Cup race shops. We were at
Stewart-Hass, Jr. Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Martin Truex Racing, Roush/Fenway Racing and, of course, Chip Ganassi Racing, home of Sandy's new favorite driver, Kyle Larson. Most of these places have big glass windows through which you can watch the crews work on the cars. The best one of the shops from that respect was Team Penske. It was the only one which had a second story "Fan Walk" which allowed guests to go upstairs and walk a 125-yard balcony overlooking the race shops of the 2 (Brad Keseloski), the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 21 (Ryan Blaney).

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Keseloski was down in the shop floor, talking with his crew. He noticed us and few other fans there and met all us in the gift shop. He posed for pictures and signed autographs. Actually, he's a pretty cool guy...for a Ford driver.:chuckle

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Last night, we had dinner with our good friends and Santa Barbara ex-pats, Paul and Barbara Mariano. Paul has been a Corvette owner forever. He owns a yellow C6 Z06. He's one of those guys who just has to have a bright yellow Corvette–even though Carlisle Blue Z06s are clearly faster cars. Paul's redeeming quality is that his wife, Barb, makes some of the best lasagna around. Paul goes slow in his Z06, but he eats very well. After dinner, we finished off a second bottle of wine while Paul told us about he and his Son restoring a '67 Big-Block Tri-Power and his work as a member of the National Corvette Museum Board of Directors. Mariano has done all kinds of things for our hobby. He helped found the club Sandy and I are in when he lived in Santa Barbara. He was a National Corvette Caravan Captain and later was the Chairman of the National Corvette Caravan. He's been on the NCM Board for a couple of years.

This morning, we went to the Dale Earnardt Memorial Plaza here in Kannapolis. Whenever I visit the Charlotte area, I always stop there and spend a few minutes honoring the memory of one of the greatest drivers of NASCAR's modern ear and someone who was an inspiration to me.

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Later today, we're going over to Lowes in Concord where Jimmie Johnson is doing a fan meet-and-greet. Tonight, Sandy and I are going into downtown Charlotte to the
NASCAR Hall of Fame where Hendrick Motorsports is going to debut its 2018 Camaro Monster Cup Series racer All the GM Cup teams are switching to the Camaro as the Chevrolet SS goes out of production at the end of the '17 model year.

Tomorrow noon, we're having lunch with Lake Speed Jr. who is the R&D Head for
Driven Racing Oil. I've been working with Driven for the last several years testing their products in high-performance street duty cycles. As Lake lives in nearby Concord and we're in Goleta CA, I communicate with email and the phone but rarely see him for face-time. I'm looking forward to the visit.

Of course, the main reason we are here is for the "second Charlotte", the fall Cup Race at Charlotte Motorspeedway, also known as: "The Bank of America 500". We have tickets for tomorrow's Bojangles "Pole Night. Our Sunday race tickets, also, get us into Saturday night's "JR Nation Appreciation Concert" featuring Brad Paisley. I got our Sunday tix for seats in the "New Veranda" area which is said to be really good viewing. Our pal, Paul Mariano, gave us "Club" stickers to put on our tickets so we can get into the famed Speedway Club. I've never been into one of the fancy clubs at a racetrack so I'm looking forward to the experience of rubbing elbows with NASCAR's elites. OMG–I have to wear a collared shirt on just to get in! That's a major wardrobe change for a t-shirt guy like me.:chuckle

Unfortunately, it looks like there is going to be a lot of rain on Sunday, so whether or not NASCAR can get the race in is questionable at this point with a near 100% chance of rain being forcasted for afternoon and evening. Even the "rain date" on Monday is in jeopardy with rain predicted then, as well. We're X-ing our fingers that the weather stays dry just long enough for the Cup guys to get the race in. I'll be pissed as hell if our trip to Charlotte ends with a total rain-out.

Other than the generator problem I had two weeks ago in Henderson, the Ole Blue Bullet has run flawlessly. I think I've opened the hood one time to check the oil. Another item which has works very, very well for us so far is the new Garmin DriveSmart 61 hand-held GPS unit. A while back I wrote an evaluation of it for the CAC and I just wanted to amplify the good review I gave it. If you have a Corvette without a factory nav system, like the Blue Bullet which is a 1LZ car, you can't go wrong with the DriveSmart 61 and its big screen.
 
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Hib Halverson

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Last Days of a Long Road Trip

On Friday of our week in Charlotte, Sandy and I had lunch with Lake Speed Jr. son of the retired NASCAR driver Lake Speed and Director of R&D for Driven Racing Oil. For several years

That night, we went to "Bojangles Pole Night" at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The evening's main event, sponsored by "Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits", a fast food chain popular in the southwest, was qualifying for Sunday's Bank of America 500 Monster Energy Cup race. When Cup qualifying was over, the front row was Denny Hamlin (11 FedEx Toyota) and Mat Kenseth (20 Tide Pods Toyota). Our favorites, the 42 (Kyle Larson), the 10 (Danica Patrick), the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) ended-up 10th, 12th, 23rd and 25th respectively on the grid. Pole Night ended with a NASCAR modified race run on Charlotte's 1/4-mile oval in the infield of the "big" mile-and-a-half track. Modifieds are 2610-lb open-wheel cars with a "kinda-sorta body" and powered by 650-hp V8s. Modifieds are a big deal in the Northeast and parts of the south. With 20 or so cars on a quarter-mile track, NASCAR modifieds make for take-no-prisoners racing.

The next night, Charlotte Motor Speedway gave all Cup race ticket holders a great freebe: a country music concert which was presented by Wrangler Jeans and was part of the "JR Nation Apprecia88ion Tour", a year long celebration of Dale Earnhardt Jr.s last season as a NASCAR driver. CW recording artist, Tim Dugger, was the opening act. One of country music's biggest stars and a pal of Dale Jr's, Brad Paisley, was the headliner. In between the two acts, the crowd got a treat with Jr. participated in a special presentation of "NASCAR' "Trackside Live" at the end of which he brought Paisley on stage.

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In reality Paisley is more of a crossover, with one foot in CW and the other in rock. He has a down-to-earth and sometimes comedic stage presence which appealed to the NASCAR crowd. Live gigs give Paisley a chance to show what an incredible rock guitarist he is and, at Charlotte that Saturday night, he did just that. He played a hell of a gig.

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The high point of our Charlotte visit was the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Monster Cup race on Sunday 7OCT. The weather was forecast to be awful heavy rain with thunderstorms and possible tornadoes, but Mother Nature must be a Cup fan. The old girl held off with the deluge so NASCAR could get the race in.

Sadly, there was a lot of empty seats at this race. Some of that can be blamed on the waining popularity of NASCAR but, there's no doubt in my mind that the weather guessers on TV and radio scared off thousands of potential spectators with their doom and gloom weather "forecast". In fact, it never rained a drop during the race but the stands are half empty. We had great seats in Charlotte's "New Veranda" reserve seating but other than Sandy and I sitting at one end and two people way at the other end, our whole row of really great seats was empty.

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Kevin Harvick, in the #4 Jimmy Johns Ford, lead nearly half the 334 laps, but it was Marin Truex, who's dominated much of the last half of this season and had five wins going into the B of A 500, who lead 91 laps and pretty much owned the last part of the race. Then, there was Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR great, Bill Elliott, and who replaced now-retired Jeff Gordon in the #24 Hendrick Motorsports car. As the race end neared, Elliott had the 24 in third spot behind Harvick and Truex. It became a duel between those three. Two laps from the end Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson wrecked and the track went yellow. That set up an green-white-checker finish. At the restart, Truex stayed at the front but Elliott, got by Harvick and that's how the race ended. Truex notched is sixth win of the season, Elliott had his sixth runner-up finish and Harvick finished third.

Not that I'm a big Kyle Busch fan, but I felt bad for the guy. Charlotte was the proverbial "bad race" for him. Early, on he crashed the #18 M&Ms Toyota and part of the damage the car sustained allowed exhaust gases to get in the cockpit. KB spent the rest of the event in an epic struggle to finish. The warm weather, high humidity and exhaust fumes combined to make Busch's race one he'd sure like to forget. At the end he got out of the car and lay on the ground trying to catch his breath. After a few minutes, showing obvious symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and dehydration, he agreed to be transported to the infield care center by ambulance for treatment. Say what you want about Kyle Busch, but know that he's one of the most hardcore drivers in the sport and never gives up.

After spending Monday visiting our friends in Huntersville north of Charlotte, we headed north on Tuesday morning. We stopped to in Canton, Ohio for a work-related dinner then, on Wednesday morning, continued north to Cleveland for a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Both the Fairest Sandra the Red and I like rock music. In fact, I almost chose a career in the rock press as a photographer. Back in the late-70s and early-80s, I shot a lot of rock and roll in small clubs around the greater L.A. area. Back then I had a huge collection of rock, pop and country-rock on vinyl, cassette and, later, CDs. Today I maintain a huge amount of music on my computers. What do I like? Well, suffice to say I like what the kids and grandkids of most people my age listen to. Rock, alternative, outlaw country and, of course, Taylor Swift, are some staples of my 14.25-Gb iTunes folder. Needless to say, the Cleveland Rock Hall of Fame was a great way for Sandy and I to spend a day together, but stay out of the gift shop! Sheesh, we dropped near two hundred bucks there.

Next day, we headed northwest to Detroit and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The Ford is has an eclectic collection of Americana from giant locomotives to a collection of bottle caps. Called "One of the country's best museums..." by Conde Nast Traveler, the Ford is a national treasure filled with iconic artifacts and stories of America's breakthrough moments. If you're in Detroit and looking for an interesting, inspiring and exciting experience, go though the Henry Ford.

Friday morning, I actually had to do some work. Corvette Magazine has me working on an article about how GM tests Corvette engines so the Communications Manager at GM Global Propulsion Systems, Tom Read, arranged a tour of GM's Pontiac Engineering Center. The first part of the morning had us getting a look at all the facilities GM uses to test not only Corvette engines but all IC and fuel cell engines along with all electric motors used in hybrid and electric vehicles. Senior Operations Manager, Dave Mooty was our guide. The last hour of our visit was spent at GM's Performance and Racing Center where Corvette Racing's engine program is located. The Center's Director, Dom Lester, was our guide. The highpoint of that tour was meeting one of the technicians who builds engines for Corvette Racing and getting a close look at one of the 5.5-liter, direct injection/port injection race motors.

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A little after noon, we left GM's Pontiac Engineering Center headed for the final stop on our long road trip, Katech, Inc., famed for its Chevrolet racing engines. The Blue Bullet will stay at Katech for about 45 days while the Clinton Township company, which spent 12 years (1997-2009) as Corvette Racing's engine supplier, treats the BB's LS7 to its "Street Attack LS7" enhanced performance engine. Katech combines the best of the production LS7 with selected, race-proven modifications in an affordable package suitable for street high-performance and "trackday" motorsports events. Street Attack LS7s get the same meticulous engine assembly procedures developed by Katech in its more than 20 years of building World championship and LeMans winning Corvette race engines. A "bucket-list" goal of mine is to have a Corvette with a Katech motor in it so this fulfills that wish.

Saturday morning, we caught a jet out of Detroit Metro and flew home to Goleta California. I had been on the road for 3 1/2 weeks and Sandy had been gone for two weeks. Saturday night it was great to be able to sleep in my own bed.
 
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Hib Halverson

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Jason Harding has been Katech's long-time Director of Aftermarket Operations. A couple of his guys, Chris and Dean, have pulled the motor out of the Blue Bullet and have it torn down. I was curious about the condition of the main bearings and the piston skirts so I asked Harding to send me some images.

Here are the main bearings...

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Here are the rod bearings...

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The appearance of these bearings is after 40622 miles street miles which included, during the calibration work I've done to the engine, at least 50 uphill runs, 1500-rpm to the rev limiter in third gear, a couple dozen chassis dyno "pulls" from 1500 rpm to the rev limiter in fourth gear and lots of aggressive street driving.

There are two reasons why these bearings look so good: 1) Other than the 1100 miles, in my LS7 I've always used a premium synthetic engine oil, initially Red Line 10W30 and, for the last couple of years, Driven Racing Oil "DT40" a
5W40 mPAO-based full-synthetic oil and 2) I change the oil filter, an ACDelco UPF48R, at each 50% of oil life. For those unaware of my oil drain interval, it's 150% of oil life which means: I change the oil and filter. At 50%, I change the filter and reset the oil life monitor. At 50%, I change the filter, again, and, at 0%, I change the oil and filter. I've been doing that since the car was new.

Here's what Dean, the Katech engine builder who inspected the bearings and piston skirts said...

" The bearings looked better between the two – the coating on them is still present and shows slight signs of wear. There were no major scratches in any of the mains, which means the filtration system was doing its job fairly well."

Note his comment on the "filtration system" which is defined as: the filter used and how often it's changed.

Here are four of the piston skirts...

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Here's what Dean said about the piston skirts:

"The skirts have a bit more coating wear, but there wasn't any noticeable or severe wear into the aluminum. The coating did have some minor scratches here and there, but, again, nothing out of the ordinary for these engines."

Again, it looks like 5W40 Driven Racing Oil did its job very well.

I recommend Driven DT40, ACDelco UPF48R filters and filter changes every 50% of oil life.


 
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Hib Halverson

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Katech is about at the half-way point of turning the LS7 in the Blue Bullet into a "Street Attack LS7". We had a minor problem getting ahold of set of 2nd-design intake manifold gaskets and seals for my engine's MSD Atomic Air Force intake manifold. I installed a very early production version of that manifold on my engine a couple of years ago. MSD found out later that the material they had spec'ed for all the gaskets and seals–of which there are many because the manifold is a two-piece, bolt-together design–was not compatible with E10 gasoline. Once they found that out, MSD released gaskets and seals made of a different material. My manifold had the "bad" gaskets and seals so, while the engine was out, Katech needed to replace all the manifold sealing parts. It took us a while to get a set of the new ones from MSD, but we're all set at this point.

I bought a second set of LS7 exhaust manifolds, gave them a little port matching then took them to
Xtreme Performance Heat Coatings and had them coat the manifolds with a Thermal Barrier Coating (TBC) which is intended to reduce or control the movement of heat. With exhaust system parts, you want to keep the heat within the part so it goes out the exhaust not into the engine compartment. Xtreme's TBC is available in a few different colors and the one I chose is called "gray ice". Not only will the underhood run a little cooler, but the manifolds will look better.

I shipped the manifolds along with a box of Denso IT22
Iridium Power spark plugs to Katech last Monday. Not sure if they will use the spark plugs because engine builders sometimes can be particular about what spark plugs they put in an engine like a Street Attack. I've run the IT22 in my LS7 almost since the engine was new back in 2012 and I think they work very well. Katech feels the hotter IT20 is the best choice. I sent Jason Harding, Katech's Dir. of Aftermarket operations a email explaining my experience with the 22s and why I run them. He wrote back that Katech's "engineering" department will make the final spark plug call.

Right now, the target date for my to pick-up the car at Katech is Friday 8DEC. If everything goes according to plans and the weather cooperates, I'll hit the road after lunch that Friday headed for Indianapolis and the
PRI Show. Saturday is the final day for PRI. I've never been to that show but have always wanted to go because unlike SEMA which is widely focused on the entire performance aftermarket, PRI is a hard-core racing trade show.

After PRI, I'll drive over to Dayton, Ohio lie low on Sunday. Monday morning, I'm going over to
Forgeline Motorsports, my favorite maker of high-end racing and street wheels, to get a factory tour. That afternoon, depending on what the weather in the mountain west is doing, I'll either go west on I-70 headed for Denver and where I-70 ends at I-15 in Utah. With luck and no snow storms, I could sneak over the high parts of I-70 without much trouble. If the weather is snowy/icy along I-70, I'll head southwest to OKC and try I-40 across Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, but if the weather is bad there, too, I'll head south, then southwest until I hit I-10 and take it across southern New Mexico and Arizona.

Got my fingers crossed that I can do the I-70 route because it's the quickest way back home. This won't be the first time I've rolled the dice and done a winter crossing of the Rockys on I-70. Years ago, right after I bought a 95 ZR-1 in Michigan, I headed straight west. I spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins CO, then headed south towards Denver on I-25. The weather was forecast to be ok until late morning or so and then a major storm was going to hit.

I caught I-70 west in Denver. After I went though the Eisenhower tunnel I began to see snow fall. It was in the mid-20s so the snow was sticking but the accumulation was minimal...just a dusting. Through Loveland and over Vail Pass it was snowing but, again, accumulation was minimal–snow on the road but less than an inch. As I got to lower elevations near Glenwood Springs and Rifle, the snow tapered off and was mixed with drizzle. By the time I got to Grand Junction, it was time for lunch. I got gas then stopped at Wendy's for a burger and fries. Wendy's had a TV on the wall and, as I sat there munching on my double burger, I saw a news report from one of the Denver TV stations. The headline across the top of the screen said I-70 closed at the Eisenhower Tunnel due to blizzard conditions.

Let's hope I'm just as lucky in this early winter crossing of the Rockys on I-70.

 
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Hib Halverson

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Katech has finished my motor then ran it on the engine dyno last Thursday.

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Pretty impressive...625-hp@6500-6800-rpm and, that's with 1) 2/10ths less CR than Katech usually builds Street Attack LS7s with and 2) the milder camshaft with 116° lobe sep (normally they use a cam with 110 lobe sep). Even more impressive is the Katech Street Attack's flat torque curve–above 500-lbs/ft from 3700-rpm to 6550-rpm.

Wow. Is that motor going to be fun to drive, or what?!
 
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Paul T

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Okay, now I am jealous. This is the engine that should be in the C7 Grand Sport. I would be driving one now if that was the case. Of course, it would be yellow.
 

Toms007

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That should be fun to drive!
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
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71 04 12 19
Okay, now I am jealous. This is the engine that should be in the C7 Grand Sport. I would be driving one now if that was the case. Of course, it would be yellow.

Katech has a more powerful version of the Street Attack package, 650-hp, which uses a more aggressive cam. That's the package they sell to owners of yellow C6 Z06es to enable them to keep up with the Blue ones.

With respect to you wanting a yellow C7 GS...the solution is to order one, send it to Katech and have them do their 700-hp, 427 LT1 package. It makes.

If you did that, well...I'd have to concede (sigh) that a yellow Corvette is faster than my blue one.
 
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Hib Halverson

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Blue Bullet Road Trip S’more

Spent all day, Wednesday 6DEC, at GM Global Propulsion Systems HQ in Pontiac MI. In the first part of the morning, I had an interview session with the four guys who build the 5.5L V8s for Corvette Racing. This is for a future article Corvette Magazine is going to publish next Spring. Then, in the late morning, I did a photo session in the Corvette engine build shop at GM’s Performance and Racing Center. My visit was capped off with a demonstration of how GM Racing dyno tests the 5.5L GDI/PFI race engines. The engine dynamometer is computer controlled and can simulate laps at various race tracks such as LeMans, Road Atlanta, Circuit of the Americas and etc. It was a thrill to sit and watch/listen to the sim as it ran the engine through a full lap at Road America.

In the afternoon, for a different Corvette Magazine article on the new, LT5 engine in the 2019 ZR1, I did an interview with Small Block V8 Chief Engineer, Jordan Lee, LT5 Chief, John Rydsewski and Scott Halsall who is GM GPS’ supercharger expert.

Next morning, I headed for Katech, Inc. to pick up the Blue Bullet after its engine upgrade to Katech “Street Attack LS7” specifications. First job was to interview with Katech’s video production crew. They wanted to do a 15-min. sit-down with me to use for Katech’s various social media promo work. They wanted me to tell why I bought a Katech motor so I gushed about it with them for a while. Not sure what will happen to the footage, but i’m guessing it will be on Katech’s various video sources and on its FB page.

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Brad Greer, who works in Katech’s sales department, greeted me and brought me into the “car shop” (in a different building from offices and the engine shops) to see the car. First thing I did was pop the hood an take a look. Wow. Katech’s visuals are awesome, right down to the neat-looking Katech branded hi-temp spark plug boots. Fired the motor and it settled to a kinda-sorta idle. Oil pressure was very good. The idle smoothed out somewhat and the engine warmed.

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The video guys wanted some footage of me driving away from Katech, so I backed the car out of their shop for a few back and forth runs up and down Sorrentino Court out in front of the shop. Then, it was back into the shop–where it was thankfully warm rather than the 18° it was outside–to start loading up the car for the long trip back to California via Indianapolis and Dayton. I, also, went through all the take-off parts to separate the stuff Katech was going to scrap from the stuff they were going to ship back to California for me. I carried some of it–the old exhaust manifolds, the camshaft and a box of small parts. The rest of it, including the heads and take off carbon fiber parts, will go by FedEx Ground. I bid goodbye to the folks at Katech and headed for Indianapolis and the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show.

PRI is about a third the size of the SEMA Show but, unlike SEMA, it’s virtually all hard-core racing stuff. Maybe 20% of SEMA is real racing stuff and the rest is performance aftermarket along with restyling, wheels-and-tires and other non-racing products. PRI takes up all of the Convention Center at Indianapolis. I was like a kid in a candy store confronted with all the racing products and processes on display. What was most interesting? Well, for a long time, I’ve been wanting to do an article on “affordable” bore scopes for advanced DIYs. I’ve never been able to get the project going because the bore scopes on the market were either way too expensive or were such cheap pieces of junk they didn’t work well. After two days at PRI, I think I have found a couple of manufacturers which have tools about which I could write a credible article. My requirements are a price of 500-600 bucks, the ability to show and output an image of 600x400px and the tool must have an articulating tip small enough to go in a spark plug hole. There was tons of other stuff to see at PRI. I could do a long description of that but I don’t have enough time today to get into more specifics.

About 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, the last day of PRI, I headed out of Indy going to Dayton Ohio, about two hours east. On Monday, I have a tour of Forgeline Motorsports scheduled along with an interview with the company president and a short photo session. I think Forgeline makes really good wheels, both engineering-wise and design-wise. As Dayton is close to Indy and this is my chance to see how high-end racing and street wheels are made.

So…everyone wants to know: how does the new Katech Street Attack LS7 in the BB run? Well…I can’t tell you, at least so far. Everywhere I’ve been so far since I left Detroit it’s been wicked cold, like between 15° and, say, 30° degrees. The full-tread, summer tires I have on the car, Michelin Pilot Super Sports, don’t work as well in cold weather. The only time I’ve really put some throttle to the engine, was getting on I-75 South after a gas stop. Even at half throttle, the car was into wheelspin, so, getting a good idea the the engines newfound performance will have to wait until I get into weather that’s above 60°.

Saturday afternoon and evening were the only times so far that I’ve seen significant snow. As I rolled into Dayton, the snowfall was moderate and starting to accumulate on the ground. The hotel I’m at sits off to the side of the highway and there’s a long private road leading to the hotel and it had about half and inch of snow and some ice.
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Today, Sunday, I got to do some laundry. Oh for joy. I picked this hotel because it’s just outside Wright-Patterson Air Force Base which, among other things, is the home of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. If you like airplanes, especially military airplanes, it’s the top museum in the country to see. It’s collection dates to the early parts of last century. This afternoon, I plan to spend 4 or 5 hours there.

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At the Nat'l Museum of the USAF. This B-29 is "Bock's Car", the airplane which dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on 9AUG1945. The big yellow "egg", is a replica of the bomb

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Where else are you going to find a German Focke-Wulf FW190. Oh, btw, behind it is a C46 Comando.

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My favorite plane in the WW2 collection, a B24 with great nose art.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Forgeline and then to St. Louis for my next overnight.
 
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