Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico City – the last of the beloved vocho

If you’re looking for an excuse to go to Mexico City, there are plenty. Although there are no beaches around for hundreds of miles, North American’s largest metropolis claims to have more museums than any other city in the world. The region is renowned for amazing food and I proved that, eating more tacos than I should probably admit.

Distrito Federal is also a goldmine for architecture lovers, highlighted by art deco apartment buildings, and intriguing 20th century landmarks like Torre Latinoamericano, Museo Nacional de Antropologia and the art nouveau Palacio de Bellas Artes.

But the sprawling city is also home to a piece of automotive history that is slowly fading away – Mexico’s beloved vocho, the Volkswagen Beetle. Continue reading “Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico City – the last of the beloved vocho”

Long lost Volvo: Tracking down my father-in-law’s old race car

By Dave S. Clark

My father-in-law, Carlo Marrazzo, proudly displays his crash helmet in his living room. It’s the helmet he wore in the late 1970s, when he raced a Volvo 142 at Speedway Park in Edmonton, Alberta. While he still has his helmet, the car he raced and the track he raced at are long gone. For more than three decades Speedway Park has just been a memory, long since bulldozed to become a cookie-cutter residential development.

I had seen several black and white photos of the car, since Carlo was an aspiring photographer during his racing years. But he sold the 142 decades ago and lost track of it after leaving the racing scene. Then one weekend a couple of years ago, while Carlo helping me swap a new engine into one of my cars, we got talking about memories of his Volvo racing adventures. It got me wondering if the car was still out there somewhere. Continue reading “Long lost Volvo: Tracking down my father-in-law’s old race car”

We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!

By Dave S. Clark

We did it!

The L. Hansen’s Forwarding Canada 5000 Rally Against Alzheimer’s was a major success, mostly due to the fact we actually made it all the way from Edmonton to Vancouver to Halifax in the 48-year-old Volvo Amazon that we rebuilt in the months leading up to the trip.

We were also successful in raising between $11,000 and $12,000 (still waiting on confirmation) for Alzheimer’s Societies across Canada, which we’re extremely proud of. You can also still donate by visiting Continue reading “We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!”

AMC Rambler Shell 4000 Rally prototype pops up at Bring A Trailer Auctions

By Dave S. Clark

I can count on one hand how many Shell 4000 cars that are still known to exist. One of the McQuirk brothers still owns the Bentley Mark VI that he ran in the 1963 Rally. Paddy Hopkirk’s disqualified Mini from ’68 is still out there. Shell 4000 historian Marcel Chichak knows of a few more. But that’s pretty much it.

So it was incredibly exciting to see a car with Shell 4000 history pop up on Bring A Trailer Auctions – a 1968 AMC Rambler that was the company’s development prototype for the ’68 version of the trans-Canada rally. The car didn’t actually compete but was the mule for the team of three AMC cars that ran the rally, finishing second, third and fifth. This prototype also followed the rally all the way from Calgary to Halifax, just in case any of the cars needed support.  Continue reading “AMC Rambler Shell 4000 Rally prototype pops up at Bring A Trailer Auctions”

Shell vintage road maps a lifesaver for Canada 5000 route

By Dave S. Clark

For my Canada 5000 adventure, I will be strictly following various routes of the original Shell 4000, which means attempting to follow a route that was mapped out 50-plus years ago. That presents a number of challenges and one of the biggest is trying to decipher what the new names of many of the roads and highways are now.

The original allies were run in the 1960s, which was a transitional period for Canada’s highway system. The Trans Canada Highway was officially opened in 1962, but all that really meant was that there was a road from St. John’s to Victoria. The highway was mostly paved, but in many stretches, it was still gravel and hardly a highway by modern standards. Many of the roads that have now become the Trans Canada were still being built and sometimes, along different routes from the original roads. In the 1961 rally, a section of the route in Ontario actually followed what would soon become the Trans Canada, but at that point was still under construction!  Continue reading “Shell vintage road maps a lifesaver for Canada 5000 route”

Volvo Amazon: The perfect rally car for the Canada 5000

By Dave S. Clark

When you first lay eyes on a stock Volvo Amazon, it may not scream ‘rally car.’ Compared to the sports cars that the British, Japanese and Americans were making at the time, it doesn’t look very sporty and certainly by 1970, when production wrapped up after a 14 year run, it looked quite dated. The Volvo Amazon, also known as the 122S, seems to have borrowed styling cues from early 1950s Chevrolets and Chryslers and could be a two-thirds scale version of those cars mashed together.

So why did I choose this car for the Canada 5000? The simple answer is because of its pedigree. It doesn’t look much like a rally car or a sports car, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it had an incredible run during its time. Not only did an Amazon win the Shell 4000 twice, in 1964 and 1965, it also lays claim to three class wins, a second overall finish, a third overall finish and two fourth overall finishes. Continue reading “Volvo Amazon: The perfect rally car for the Canada 5000”

Sampling switchbacks from the World Cup Rally and Liege-Sofia-Liege in Kotor, Montenegro

By Dave S. Clark

There are many reasons to go to the ancient town of Kotor, Montenegro. It sits on a unique, deep blue fjord-like bay and is surrounded by mountains jutting up from every shoreline. The tight lanes of the Byzantine walled city are a blast to explore and get lost in. It’s the best place to get a pizza doused in ketchup. And it’s also home to one of Europe’s most scenic drives.

The drive is a 25-switchback marathon rising above the towns of Kotor and Tivat. It’s the best possible spot to be able to fully appreciate the Bay of Kotor’s beauty. I could probably pass on the views of the cheap looking resort town of Tivat, but that’s not why you drive up the switchbacks. The quality of this drive isn’t a secret. It was a regular fixture in the Leige-Sofia-Leige rally race, a 1960s endurance rally that ran from Belgium to the capital of Bulgaria, then back again. In 1970, it was a tricky part of the route for the Daily Mirror World Cup Rally, which saw drivers race from London, all across Europe, board a ship in Portugal, gather their cars in Brazil and continue to race all the way to Mexico City. This 16-kilometre stretch was a small but memorable section of the 16,000+ kilometre event. The first road along this route was built in the 1880s by the Habsburgs and near the top, there is a decrepit customs house, that once served as the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Montenegro. But now, its all a part of Montenegro.  Continue reading “Sampling switchbacks from the World Cup Rally and Liege-Sofia-Liege in Kotor, Montenegro”

Memories of the Edmonton Indy

By Dave S. Clark

Summer is in full swing in Edmonton and that means festivals galore, although with one big absence again – the Edmonton Indy – which waved its final checkered flag in 2012.

Even though I didn’t go to the first Edmonton Indy in 2005, it was responsible for getting me hooked for the rest of its eight-year run. I live less than six kilometers from the now-closed Edmonton City Centre Airport and I distinctly remember waking up that first weekend to the sound of race cars ripping around a distant track. I had never been a Champ Car fan, so I hadn’t bought tickets for the race, but all weekend long I was taunted by the sounds of Cosworth turbo V8 engines.

In 2006, my buddy Joel and I decided to get general admission tickets and despite not having a place to sit down or any spot to get a really good point of view, we had a damn good time. The Champ Cars were exciting and fun to watch and the support races were just as good, if not better.  Continue reading “Memories of the Edmonton Indy”

Memories of Race City Calgary

By Dave S. Clark

Last week, Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway officially opened its road course, a project 20 years in the making. I attended the grand opening and it got me itching to go racing again and hopefully will inspire others to do the same.

But it also got me thinking about the little bit of racing experience that I have, most of which was at the race-track-turned-garbage-dump formerly known as Race City Speedway in Calgary.

I was never more than a Race City rookie. I’ve only spent two weekends driving at the track and only one was for an actual race. I might have been around the track 150 times at best. But when I think about the track and picture it as a landfill now it makes me sad.  Continue reading “Memories of Race City Calgary”

Knox Mountain Hill Climb: Historic race in beautiful Kelowna

By Dave S. Clark

For nearly 60 years, racers have been tearing up Kelowna’s Knox Mountain Hill Climb, a 2.2-mile track that ascends 800 feet through nine white-knuckled turns, and this year, I was able to get a little sample of it.

I had heard about the event many times as lots of racers from Edmonton make the drive to challenge themselves on the course and I finally got a chance to take in the action as I attended Datsun Matsuri 2014, which is held in conjuction with the race.

Although the Datsun show was my first priority for the weekend, I was excited to catch some of the racing and see some of the cars that I was familiar with from the Eurasia Cup at the Edmonton Indy, which I had covered for several years.  Continue reading “Knox Mountain Hill Climb: Historic race in beautiful Kelowna”