Here is a new member to the 3/4 Litre
Association and he's all the way from British
Columbia. Ted McHenry wrote us the following
I've recently joined
the 3/4 Litre Association. I live in BC and am
unlikely to meet most members face to face, so I
thought I'd send along an article about myself and
my car, by way of introduction.
My car is a Xpit F4, chassis
number 406 (CASC 3-323). I'm told that it's a fairly
early example of the marque, probably built around
1974, but I have very little information on it's
history. As I'm running the car in vintage out here,
I hope to eventually put together a complete
history, but right now I don't know much about it.
The car has a bog-stock Honda
CB750K2 engine, which pulled about 70 HP on a
chassis dyno last year. Pretty tame by F4 standards!
Fortunately, I got a more race-appropriate engine
with the car, and I hope to have it overhauled and
ready to go for next year. The "race" engine is also
a CB750 (remember, I'm running vintage). But it has
high-compression pistons, bigger valves, a more
aggressive cam, and Hilborn fuel injection. Methanol
is not allowed at Mission, but M85 is, so I plan to
Judging by the bits and pieces I
got with the car, it at one time ran a GSXR750,
which must have made it significantly peppier than
it is now! We have recently made a change to our
vintage rules out here allowing formula cars up to
1989, so I could convert it back to the GSXR engine
and still run vintage. I might do that at some
point, but for the moment a more cost-effective
project will probably be to overhaul the "race"
I also have wings that I'm not
running. Since I have no other F4s to race with, and
since Mission is such a slow track (less than 60 mph
average speed for a car like the Xpit), I decided to
leave the wings in the attic for now. Just one less
thing to fuss with and potentially damage. The wings
are also extremely heavy -- not sure why. They feel
like they have lead in them! If I do decide to run
wings at some point down the road I will probably
build lighter, replica wings. I had a brief,
abandoned foray into airplane building a few years
ago, and I still have all the fancy sheet metal
One thing I will also definitely
do very soon is put the car back on slicks. When the
car first ran vintage here the rules, which were
written with sports cars in mind, required everyone
to run treaded tires. I'm finding it impossible get
enough heat in them to make them stick. Also,
they're not very good in the rain, which we get a
lot of out here. So I'll be buying a second set of
rims, some rain tires, and some slicks once my
Scotch heart is satisfied I've got my money's worth
out of the treaded tires.
I bought the car in 2009 from Bob
Smith, in Tsawwassen, BC. Bob had bought the car a
few years earlier from someone in the northwestern
U.S., and had planned to run it in vintage in BC.
Unfortunately, a bad crash in his first race with
the car, at Mission, resulted in some fairly serious
damage to the back of the chassis and the right rear
The chassis damage was "repaired"
when I bought the car, but after three race weekends
I began to discover things I wasn't happy with, so I
ended the 2010 season early and started pulling the
car apart. From the roll bar forward, where there
had been no crash damage, everything was fine. Level
and diagonal measurements across all the pick-up
points showed everything to be true within a
sixteenth of an inch, except for one pick-up point
that was slightly tweaked. But behind the roll bar
it was a mess. The rear bulkhead was shifted 3/8" to
the left, and twisted out of line with the front of
the chassis. Everything was quite "sprung," so that
to install the engine I had to leave everything
loose and then pry and jack and generally muck about
to get the last few bolts in. Even worse, in one
place the "repair" consisted of hammering the tubes
back into line and then bondo-ing the dents to make
it look like a good tube!
Over the winter I repaired all of
that. The offending tubes were cut out and replaced,
and the rear pick-up points are now as well lined up
as the front ones are. The engine and rear subframe
go together with virtually no "persuasion." I also
did a proper alignment on the car which, judging by
the odd directions the wheels had been pointing, had
not been done for a very long time! It's now nicely
aligned, bump steered, and corner-weighted, and
feels much better on the track. If I'm honest,
though, I have to admit that I'm not yet going fast
enough with the car to know much about the handling.
As a driver, I'm coming back from
a very long layoff. I raced FF and F2000 in Ontario
region from 1980 to 1985. But then I quit racing to
join the air force and didn't set rubber back on
track until 2010. I have been a bit surprised, and
somewhat disappointed, at how long it is taking me
to get back up to speed. I honestly think I was
driving better on my sixth race weekend ever, back
in the day, than I am now on my sixth weekend with
the Xpit. I guess age is taking it's toll. On the
other hand, being in vintage I get to run with lots
of older drivers, most even older than me, and some
of them drive very well. So I'm going on the
assumption that if I stick with it that old "feel"
will eventually come back. Regardless, I'm really
having a lot of fun with the car. In some ways I'm
even having more fun than I had back in the day,
probably in part because I'm taking a much more
relaxed attitude to the whole thing.
Relaxed, but not casual. When I
first got started in racing Alf Zeller, who some of
you may know, gave me some great advice that I've
always tried to follow. He said, "Racing is fun, but
it's serious fun." I love that phrase "serious fun,"
and I've always tried to approach it that way.
If you have any questions or
information about the car, please write me at email@example.com.
Like most racers I'm more than happy to bench race
and talk about my car, any time any place!
Thank you to Paul Bonner for the photography.
And be sure to check out the Vintage Race Club of BC