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#1 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 15:00

Just a minute ago the Speed Channel had a run of the Car and Track show from the '60s. In one of the pieces, it show Ronnie Bucknum winning a $100,000 purse for winning a big race at MIS (Michigan International Speedway). In fact, I wasn't listening too closely until I heard Ronnie's
name. I think the year was '68?

Anyway, I didn't realize he did some successful Indy racing, secondly, I
never fully understood how he got the Honda F1 drive in the first place and
why he left.

What happened in F1 and what happened in USAC?

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 15:19

I think the Honda theory was that as Bucknum wasn't all that well-known internationally he could test and race the car fairly "anonymously" and it would be difficult for other teams to judge how well or badly they were doing.

His career stalled a bit again when he broke his leg in winter 1964-5 testing at Suzuka, but he was really due to play second fiddle to Ginther anyway. In 1966, Honda took a long time to get two cars up and running, but he got two drives at the end of the year. The Honda drive had led to a Ford works drive (3rd at Le Mans) and then on to USAC and Can-Am. The Michigan win was only his second oval race! After that he drove for Penske in sports and Trans Am and in NART Ferraris with Sam Posey.

#3 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 15:37

Ronnie ran at Indy during 1968-1970, the pic below is from the '69 race.

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#4 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 16:31

Yep! That's the same car (Eagle) that he won the Michigan race in.

#5 fines

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 17:12

Ronnie Bucknum had 23 USAC Champ Car starts between 1967 and 1970, mostly on road courses. His first appearance, however, was on an oval, Indianapolis MS in 1966, where he aborted a qualifying attempt in George O. Reves' Lola/Offenhauser T90. He also practiced in Frank Arciero's Eisert/Chevrolet. The following year he drove a Gerhardt/Ford for Gordon Van Liew, and again aborted a qualifying run. But he drove that car again in the road races at Mosport Park, IRP, Saint Jovite and Riverside, placing 3rd in the first Saint Jovite heat.

For 1968, he teamed up with W&W Enterprises, the "Weinberger Homes" team, to drive their '66 Eagle/Ford Mk2. At Indy, he qualified 19th and went out with a fuel leak (21st). At Mosport Park, he finished 3rd and 5th, took pole position but retired at Castle Rock, made 4th and 6th places at IRP and then 4th and 3rd in Saint Jovite. Then came the inaugural Michigan race, which saw a sensational win in the old Eagle, now fitted with a turbocharged Drake-Offenhauser, after the dominant Bobby Unser had retired his Leader Card Eagle/Drake-Offenhauser. Second placed Mario Andretti was lapped, and the third-placed Leader Card Watson/Drake-Offenhauser was two laps behind, after Bobby U. had taken over from Mike Mosley. Bucknum took part in two more oval races (Handford and Phoenix) and the final at Riverside, each time retiring with engine trouble.

In 1969, W&W had a '68 Eagle/Drake-Offenhauser Mk4 (see Rainer's picture) for him at Indy, but Bucknum burned a piston early in the race after qualifying mid-field. At the end of the year, he had two more outings in a W&W Eagle/Chevrolet (type unknown), qualifying too slow for Phoenix and retiring again at Riverside.

In 1970, he had four outings in the box-like Cecil/Ford of the MVS team, retiring three times (two accidents!) and finishing 11th at the Trenton 300. The following May, he took pratice runs in Rolla Vollstedt's Vollstedt/Ford and J. C. Agajanian's Mongoose/Drake-Offenhauser, but made no attempt at Qualifying.

#6 fines

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 17:14

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Yep! That's the same car (Eagle) that he won the Michigan race in.

No, it's not! This is clearly a '68 Eagle, the MIS win came in an earlier model.

#7 Don Ludewig

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 17:43

Re. Rainer Nyberg's photo of Ronnie Bucknum at '69 Indy 500, and David Kane's response: Photo is indeed from the '69 500, but question David's statement that it is same car Ronnie used to win the '68 MIS 250. Although both cars were "Weinberger Homes" Eagles carrying the #45, the '69 IMS shot depicts a '68 ("fat"?) style Eagle, while every photo I've seen of Ronnie running at MIS in '68 shows him in a '66/'67 ("skinny"?) style Eagle. I have very few photos from the '68 MIS race, and as I'm quite interested in the history of the '66/'67 style Weinberger Eagles (#s 5, 45, 47, and possibly 49?), if anyone knows of a source for info/photos of these cars, from '66 into the '70s, I'd sure like to hear from them.
Thanks Guys.

#8 fines

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 18:31

Don, there are two pictures in Dick Wallen's "Roar from the Sixties", but unless your car was once equipped with a TCO I don't believe it is it.

#9 fines

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 18:33

Originally posted by fines
Ronnie Bucknum had 23 USAC Champ Car starts between 1967 and 1970, mostly on road courses. His first appearance, however, was on an oval, Indianapolis MS in 1966, where he aborted a qualifying attempt in George O. Reves' Lola/Offenhauser T90. He also practiced in Frank Arciero's Eisert/Chevrolet. The following year he drove a Gerhardt/Ford for Gordon Van Liew, and again aborted a qualifying run. But he drove that car again in the road races at Mosport Park, IRP, Saint Jovite and Riverside, placing 3rd in the first Saint Jovite heat.

Small correction: He drove Van Liew's Lotus/Ford 38 ('38-03') at Riverside!

#10 fines

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 18:41

Originally posted by fines
Don, there are two pictures in Dick Wallen's "Roar from the Sixties", but unless your car was once equipped with a TCO I don't believe it is it.

Correction (again!) :blush:: After another look at my data, it does seem possible it is your car - it appears to have had an Offy in 1967 already!

#11 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 20:23

Oh! Well! At least I got the manufacturer correct.

Did not Ronnie die within the last year or two or am I incorrect on that point also? If not, will someone please tell him I glad he's feeling better.

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 21:37

Bucknum died on April 14th 1992, aged 57.

#13 Don Ludewig

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 23:38

Thanks for input, Michael.

Saw the Wallen pics (Thanks), and you're correct, the car did have a Turbo-Offy at the '67 500, although according to entry lists from the rest of that year, it seems the powerplant alternated between Turbo-Offy and 4 cam Ford. And in '68 it gets even more "interesting" - especially w/o photos.

Don

#14 sbennettlaw

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 00:16

I'll always remember Ronnie Bucknum for a race he did NOT run in - the 1969 Daytona 24-hr. Anybody else remember why he didn't run? Hint: he was to co-drive with Mark Donahue in Roger Penske's Sunoco Lola, which went on to win the race. 2nd question - who was Donahue's co-driver?

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 11:50

The suggestion I heard at the time as to why Bucknum was chosen went this way...

By having a driver of unknown quality, if the car went well it was Honda's doing, if it didn't then Bucknum could be blamed.

Again, having Ginther, perennially a Number 2 driver, suggests this kind of thinking was employed.

#16 Tim Murray

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 12:01

Originally posted by sbennettlaw
I'll always remember Ronnie Bucknum for a race he did NOT run in - the 1969 Daytona 24-hr. Anybody else remember why he didn't run? Hint: he was to co-drive with Mark Donahue in Roger Penske's Sunoco Lola, which went on to win the race. 2nd question - who was Donahue's co-driver?

Bucknum had a broken finger - the result of a motorcycle accident. It troubled him so much during practice that it was decided to fly in the veteran Chuck Parsons to replace him. Parsons arrived just in time for qualifying.

#17 Barry Lake

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 12:45

Originally posted by fines
Don, there are two pictures in Dick Wallen's "Roar from the Sixties", but unless your car was once equipped with a TCO I don't believe it is it.



TCO?

Twin Cam Oldsmobile?

Turd Cooling Oscillator?

Toyota Corolla Odometer?

Tin Can Opener?

:rolleyes: :)

I suppose it could be something German...


While I'm on the attack: It's Mark DonOhue!

):

Now I feel better.

#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 12:54

Good on you Barry!

By the way, when Bucknum was called upon to drive the Honda, he was running an MGB... what other experience did he have?

#19 Wolf

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 15:08

Barry, I'm by no means expert in the field (any field :blush: ), but I deduce from the discussion that TCO means Turbo Charged Offy...

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#20 Don Capps

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 16:00

Somewhere, buried in SCG, there was a discussion as to why Honda picked Bucknum. One reason, as I recall, was simply that Honda was looking for a Californian, its intended major US market at the time being California. Besides, Bucknum had also been one of the top California 'Vette racers and highly thought of in the SoCal area.

#21 fines

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 18:27

Originally posted by Barry Lake
Tin Can Opener?

:rolleyes: :)

:lol:

Sorry, Barry! But don't you ever use abbreviations? DOHC, IOE, DFV, DSJ etc. I think we discussed it before, didn't we?

Anyway, of course Wolfie's correct - it's Turbo-Charged Offenhauser (which in itself is an abbreviation of "the engine built by Drake Engineering Corporation, fitted with an exhaust-driven turbocharger by AiResearch Division of Garrett Industries Company" or somesuch...);)

#22 fines

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 18:35

Originally posted by Barry Lake
I suppose it could be something German...

Teutonischer Cachel Ofen?

#23 Wolf

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Posted 08 January 2003 - 20:19

Anyways, after being right (for a change :lol: ), here's another silly question ™...

I have seen a picture of Bucknum with rather surprising helmet paint-scheme (I believe photo is in 'Grand Prix!', he sitting in Honda in pits, but here's one from the Web)... Even if the base colour was not red (I have seen it only B/W but assume 'twas indeed not so), one would think those three black stripes would not be quite popular (esp. after WWII). Or does it have something to do with villain from Herbie (yellow one with similar stripes)?

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#24 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 02:11

A side story to Ronnie Bucknum's pole in the Champ Car race at Continental Divide Raceway (Castle Rock, Colorado) in 1968...

After qualifying, he told the chief mechanic the changes he needed, most notably to replace a worn halfshaft. Back in those days, the chief mechanic was God...drivers didn't dictate changes, least of all "some new guy". Bucknum reportedly called the car owner (Weinberger) and complained, saying he could win the race if the changes were made. Weinberger was sympathetic to Bucknum, but told him he had to back his chief mechanic.

Car retires with a broken halfshaft.

Weinberger fired the mechanic, and at least Bucknum drove the Weinberger car to the Michigan win later that year.


Jim Thurman

#25 Barry Lake

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 13:32

Originally posted by fines

:lol:

Sorry, Barry! But don't you ever use abbreviations? DOHC, IOE, DFV, DSJ etc. I think we discussed it before, didn't we?


I still haven't recovered from all those months I spent tring to find out what DOHC meant when I read it way back in the early 1950s.

Whenever I come across an abbreviation I have to stop and think about, the nightmares start coming back.

:confused:

#26 fines

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 17:20

Originally posted by Barry Lake


I still haven't recovered from all those months I spent tring to find out what DOHC meant when I read it way back in the early 1950s.

Jeez, and I had to find out before I even spoke a word of English! :eek: Beat that... :D


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Doch, ich weiß was DOHC heißt!

#27 Frank S

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Posted 10 January 2003 - 04:07

Ray Bell:

By the way, when Bucknum was called upon to drive the Honda, he was running an MGB... what other experience did he have?



Second car in second picture (#31) is driven by Bucknum (1960?) :
http://home.san.rr.c...eff/donrir2.htm

My memory is that he also drove an ACE Bristol a couple years earlier, dark red one I think, but have nothing to substantiate that.

He's in the program for the January 1957 Pomona, October 1957 "Torrey Pines at Hourglass" and Pomona races, November 1957 Palm Springs, 1958 May Santa Barbara events, and October Times Trophy Amateur race in a 1600 Super Porsche
http://home.san.rr.c...f/coverst03.htm

If he's in my 1956 programs I missed it.

#28 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 00:56

These are Bucknum’s own words on the subject. They come from an interview conducted by John Tomerlin and published in the December 1964 edition of Road & Track.

…Three or four rides in a modified car – even so potent a one as a Max Balchowsky “Ol Yaller” – do not constitute much real experience, and victories in production cars seldom earn more than local repute. Bucknum knows this and knows the question, “Why you? Why not someone else?” is not answered by such considerations. He is willing to discuss the subject and does so with surprising objectivity:

“Don’t think I haven’t asked myself the same question, plenty of times. I have. I’ll tell you what happened, and what I think about it, and you can draw your own conclusions…

“First of all, Japan has never raced GP before, do it doesn’t have any drivers of its own who’d be disappointed. Second, the U.S. doesn’t build a GP car, so Honda wouldn’t step on any toes hiring an American. Now understand, there are good reasons why the company may have wanted an American driver – it sells a lot of motorcycles in the States, and will sell a lot of the new ‘Six-Hundred’ sports cars here too, so the publicity will be good. And, of course the best market for both products is Southern California.

“Okay, that narrows it down to an American, and someone from the Los Angeles area if possible. Now, I’ve heard they went around to a number of people, people connected with West Coast racing, and asked for a list of four names, two experienced drivers and two who were, well, I guess you’d say ‘promising.’ I don’t know who all they asked; I know they asked Les Richter, competition director at Riverside Raceway, because he told me; I don’t know about the others.” He thought a minute, then added, “Of course, I had a couple of pretty good races in the MG about that time…

“That made it a question of whether they’d hire me, or the experienced driver most people named, Phil Hill. When I talked to him at Sebring, early this year. He was trying to decide what to do; he’d just been offered a contract by Cooper and I guess he thought his chances would be better there.”

So far as it goes, Bucknum’s assessment of the situation seems both accurate and reasonable. However, almost as interesting as his explanation were the things he did not say. He did not say, for instance, that Honda might have chosen an inexperienced driver so that in case its early efforts weren’t successful some of the blame would fall on the driver. This is something almost everyone else has said, he must know it, and it must represent one of the greatest pressures riding on him. He did not mention it. He did not, for that matter, mention that there was anything out of the ordinary in his having been considered in the same light of candidacy with the former World Champion – or that he might have been lucky that Hill decided to go with Cooper. If he feels any of these things, he has kept them to himself.

Earlier in the interview he has this to say about his first run in the Honda.

In March he was approached by a representative of Honda. Shortly he flew to Tokyo to climb behind the wheel of the first formula car he’d sat in in his life (and the second non-production machine he’d ever driven). “It was the most frightening experience I’ve ever had,” he says, “ and personally I thought I was pretty bad.”

Honda didn’t think so. It signed him to a contract guaranteeing him four races in 1964…

#29 hhh

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 20:40

Could Leo Mehl of Goodyear have been involved in Honda's choice?
I remember that Leo Mehl came to Zandvoort when Honda did it's first secret tests before the car was shown to the Racing press (again at Zandvoort); it seems likely that they consulted Leo if they wanted a US driver.

Ronnie did a lot of driving but I cannot remember how his driving compared to other F1 drivers at the time.

#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 21:11

Maybe Lyn Meredith can tell us something about that...

It's all a pretty fascinating subject. And the Healey in the pic linked by Frank S is well up there among all the Porsches.

Worth a close look? http://home.san.rr.c...es/rirsevbs.jpg

Now is that a 100S (as discussed a few days ago...) or is it an early 3000?

#31 Paul Newby

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 02:58

Originally posted by Ray Bell

Now is that a 100S (as discussed a few days ago...) or is it an early 3000? [/B]


Ray
From the look of the vertical grille I would say it is a 3000 Mk2 (released in 1961.) The Mk1 has the same horizontal grille as the 100/6, and it is definitely not that. It does have a cut down windscreen like a 100S, but I've just noticed that mini-grille on the bonnet that denotes its a six cylinder Healey.

Your resident Healey expert :lol:

#32 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 08:06

That's pretty good... running a 1961 model in a race in 1960!

#33 lynmeredith

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 09:54

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Maybe Lyn Meredith can tell us something about that...


Ray, I don't know but I'll look through some of Fred Gamble's notes to see if he says anything. I've not been paying attention recently; watching the sky and holding a hose (You'll know what I mean!)

Lyn M in a warmish Canberra.

#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 10:03

Indeed I do!

Any time you get around to it, Lyn, that will be fine. I would have thought you were pretty safe where you are though?

If only those river names around you were naming rivers... you'll know what I mean...

#35 Paul Newby

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 13:07

Originally posted by Ray Bell
That's pretty good... running a 1961 model in a race in 1960!


Well, it certainly has the "waterfall" grille that the Mk2 and 3 Healey 3000s had. The Mk2 was current from April '61.

Go figure... :rolleyes:

#36 HangtownHealey

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 20:48

Actually, other historians think that Bucknum's Healey started out life as a 1006 raced by Danny Parkinson and was continually updated to reflect the latest model on the sales room floor. It was always sponsored by a dealer or the distributor, Gough Industries, so the money for top notch preparation was there. We think it was last seen in the Midwest.
;)

#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 20:57

Originally posted by Paul Newby


Well, it certainly has the "waterfall" grille that the Mk2 and 3 Healey 3000s had. The Mk2 was current from April '61.

Go figure... :rolleyes:


Perhaps the photos date from a later meeting?

Could that be the source of this problem?

#38 Frank S

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 21:55

Perhaps the photos date from a later meeting?

Could that be the source of this problem?


That's entirely possible.

The pictures were left to me by my brother, who (sometimes) noted names, numbers, cars, on the back of the prints, but never a date.

#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 22:18

I guess you treasure them?

I'm sure there are a few TNF members who would gladly help you identify the correct dates and sort out who's in the unidentified cars...

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#40 HangtownHealey

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 22:43

Re: Hollywood Sports Car Healey. For the July and October 1961 races, the car was listed as a 3000. For the 1962 season, it was listed as a 3000Mk2. So it would have had the latest vertical grill for 1962. Bucknum was the 1962 overall season champion of the Cal Club. He won every race but one. Doane Spencer was the mechanic and a article was written about the engine and a similar one in the Hot Rod Magazine Yearbook. The one race he lost was due to something silly and I will ask a good source about it. Then in 1963, he drove the Hollywood Sports Car MGB.

#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 22:49

Apart from the engine, gearbox and front shock absorbers (?), wasn't there only a few aesthetic changes between the 100/6 and 3000?

#42 HangtownHealey

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 23:27

On the show room cars, the 3000 introduced front disc brakes and 300 more cc's. HP went from 117 to 132. The discs front and rear had already been homolated for racing by the factory Healey team. So all Hollywood Sports Cars really had to do to a 100 6 that had already been racing for a couple of years was to install the new vertical grill and perhaps the latest center shift transmission. I am sure the block was already a 3000.

#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2003 - 08:30

It was suggested the other day that the 12-port head came with the 3000 too... is that right?

Disc brakes dated back a long way... 100Ms had them. And there was no need to update the block, the 2639cc block would bore out to 2912... or further. The rods would be changed, though, I'm sure, and that 3000 box was stronger.

#44 Paul Newby

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 02:19

Originally posted by Ray Bell
It was suggested the other day that the 12-port head came with the 3000 too... is that right?

Disc brakes dated back a long way... 100Ms had them. And there was no need to update the block, the 2639cc block would bore out to 2912... or further. The rods would be changed, though, I'm sure, and that 3000 box was stronger.


Ray
Its interesting how this correspondence has moved from the Horst Kwech thread to the Ronnie Bucknum thread :lol:

The 6-port or 12-port head (as it was both commonly known) was introduced on the 100 Six (BN4) the four seater in 1957 and was always available on the BN6 two seater which was introduced in 1958. Maybe Hangtown Healey (love that name) can tell us whether Ronnie's car started off as a BN6?

The 100M never had disc brakes, it was essentially an uprated engine with louvred bonnet and strap. The 100S had 4 wheel (Dunlop) disc brakes. The first production Healey with (Girling) disc brakes was the 3000 Mk1. Only the bore was changed from the 2.6 to 2.9. The major gearbox change I think was on the 3000 Mk2A which had the remote selector gearbox (easy to pick with the short gear lever as oppossed to the long wand of yore.)

Changing the external appearance from a 100-Six to a 3000 Mk2 (not 2A) would be easy - just replacing badges and grilles. :)

There is a good Austin Healey reference link, which includes stories on the BN3 prototype (which lives in Australia.)http://austinhealey.com

#45 Jim Thurman

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 05:02

Originally posted by HangtownHealey
Re: Hollywood Sports Car Healey. For the July and October 1961 races, the car was listed as a 3000. For the 1962 season, it was listed as a 3000Mk2. So it would have had the latest vertical grill for 1962. Bucknum was the 1962 overall season champion of the Cal Club. He won every race but one. Doane Spencer was the mechanic and a article was written about the engine and a similar one in the Hot Rod Magazine Yearbook. The one race he lost was due to something silly and I will ask a good source about it. Then in 1963, he drove the Hollywood Sports Car MGB.


First, thanks Milan for posting the Bucknum interview from Road & Track. Interesting read.

Sports Car Graphic mentions Bucknum winning 22 of 23 starts in the 3 liter Healey, the one non-win being a retirement due to a broken fan belt in a non-points race at Pomona.

The April 1962 SCG had a piece on the engine and how they got 250 "real" hp out of a production 3 liter. Chick Vandagriff was the car owner and as HangtownHealey posted, Doane Spencer was the mechanic.


Jim Thurman

#46 Frank S

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 05:10

Paul Newby:

Changing the external appearance from a 100-Six to a 3000 Mk2 (not 2A) would be easy - just replacing badges and grilles.



And the bonnet. There was that ridge down the center. There've been some long and somber discussions in modeling groups about if and how-to remove it in white metal efforts.

#47 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 07:40

Originally posted by Paul Newby
.....The 100M never had disc brakes, it was essentially an uprated engine with louvred bonnet and strap. The 100S had 4 wheel (Dunlop) disc brakes. The first production Healey with (Girling) disc brakes was the 3000 Mk1. Only the bore was changed from the 2.6 to 2.9. The major gearbox change I think was on the 3000 Mk2A which had the remote selector gearbox (easy to pick with the short gear lever as opposed to the long wand of yore.).....


My apologies, it must be twenty years since I spent the time with the Alan Jones that acquainted me with most of this stuff...

I recall now that the 100Ms frequently had 100S brakes fitted from the options list... that they weren't standard. But they came through Healey's and were fitted to cars sold in Australia.

Apart from the bore, I'm sure the con-rods were also new in the 2.9... the 2.6 had the pinch bolt arrangement for the piston pin, as I recall.

#48 Frank S

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Posted 27 January 2003 - 00:05

Message 27, up there

My memory is that he also drove an ACE Bristol a couple years earlier, dark red one I think, but have nothing to substantiate that.



Third page of entries in a new old program from Riverside, February 1961 lists Bucknum as one driver of the #190 Louis/Louise Wilson-entered AC Bristol - red.

http://home.san.rr.c.../covrir0261.htm

Frank S