VW Vortex - Volkswagen Forum banner
  • Mwerks and Fourtitude have rejoined VWVortex. For more info, see this thread.

1 - 20 of 104 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a historical thread that i am putting together, please pop in and have a read here:
http://www.clubgti.com/forum/s...56196
Just wondering if there is any info how ever smalll that someone has that i can add to it (everyone will be quoted).
Also hoping there are people in the USA that can add more esp the SCCA stuff.

Cheers
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (fthaimike)

Hi Mike, my name is Tony Angioletti and I raced the Kamei Rabbit in 1980. Some history about the car and how I obtained the ride. I was a Manufacturers Agent and one of the lines I represented was Kamei Spoilers. I raced my own Rabbit in 1979 and 1980 first in B Sedan then GT3. Kamei brought the car over and had the team that ran Scirocco's in the Trans Am under 2.5L class some years before build the chassis. The plan was to run the car in IMSA GTU, which was a tall order since that class was dominated by Mazda RX7's and Datsun 280Z's way back then. The team was located in Chicago and had McKee Engineering, of Can Am fame, build the car. They were supposed to race it in 1980, but after spending something like $40,000 and it was already into June, Kamei asked me to take over the project and run the car for the rest of that year. I told them the best I could do was to run it in the SCCA Nationals and try to qualify for the National Runoffs in Road Atlanta.
When I went to pick up the car it wasn't even a rolling chassis. I brought it home on a Monday and promised to have it ready to attend the National at Lime Rock the coming weekend. We put my car on one side of the garage and the Kamei car on the other side and switched all the parts over in four days. With many teething problems the car didn't perform very well that weekend and we came in 3rd. We went back to Lime Rock the following Tuesday for a test day and by the end of the day the Kamei Rabbit had broken the lap record for GT3. It finished 1st or 2nd at the next 3 races and we qualified for the Runoffs. I was an employee of VW of America and had approached them for help, but they told me they wanted a Scirocco to be the sporty car and the Rabbit was better suited for IMSA RS. About mid-season VW brought in the Bumble Bee Scirocco, hired Bill Scott Racing to run it with Schrick power and Tom Davey a former National Champion in FF drive it. We raced head to head in the NE Region 4 times on our way to the Runoffs. The week before I went to the Runoffs VW told me not to go or risk losing my job because racing for Kamei was a conflict since they were a supplier to VW. I went anyway. Once at the Runoffs I found out VW had rented the track for all VW and Porsche drivers, but I was not invited. At the time GT3, which was formerly C Sedan and was dominated by Datsun 210's.
During practice the Bumble Bee Scirocco was lapping Road Atlanta in the 1:37's and everyone else, including me, were running 1:41's. I was using our indestructible cardboard VW rally motor (160 HP) to insure I learned the track which I had never seen before. The Datsun contingent came to me and asked what they could protest on the Scirocco because they were convinced he was cheating. The only thing I told them was that based on the rules they were illegally ducting air into the engine, which was not a real advantage. Prior to qualifying I changed to my Muller race motor (178 HP) and put on a set of super soft Goodyears. With only three qualifying laps the Kamei Rabbit ran a 1:38 and garnered outside pole only .2 tenths off the pole winning Bumble Bee Scirocco. Of course the Datsun guys protested the Scirocco and it was upheld and they added 10 seconds to the Scirocco's laptime moving him back to around 25th on the grid. Then all heck broke loose as the Datsun guys were pissed at me for sandbagging all week and now the Kamei Rabbit was sitting on pole. Will that didn't last long, rumor was that VW threatened to pull all their cars if the Scirocco wasn't reinstated to pole, and later that day it was. So in one day there were three grid sheets, the first with the Bumble Bee on pole and the Kamei Rabbit on outside pole, the second with the Kamei Rabbit on pole and the Bumble Bee 25th, then the third with the Bumble Bee back on pole. On to the race, I got a slow start and one Datsun and two other Scirocco's got by me, dropping me to fifth. About halfway through the race the two other Sciroccos either crashed or broke and I was in third. Both the Bumble Bee Scirocco and the fastest Datsun B210 were leading by about 10 car lengths as they were 6 mph faster the the Kamei Rabbit on the straight. Then with a couple of laps left both the Bumble Bee and the B210 were off onto the grass and I saw victory in my sights, but both drivers saved their cars and the Bumble Bee Scirocco with Tom Davey driving won the race. Bruce Nesbitt came second in the B210 and the Kamei Rabbit took the last spot on the podium. Tom Davey and Bruce Nesbitt were both great drivers. The super soft tire compound I used went off during the race as the air temperature, which was low all week, was too high on race day and the car was very loose. I don't think I could have stayed with those guys even on it's best day as the aerodynamics needed on Road Atlanta back straight were not the Kamei Rabbits long suit. After VW used the Kamei Rabbit in advertising, I returned to find out my job was being eliminated.
The following year I proposed an IMSA GTU program to Kamei, but luckily for both of us they passed. That combination wouldn't have done very well in that class. The car was sold off to someone on the West Coast and I went back to racing my own Rabbit, mostly in IMSA RS.
Jim Hamilton who designed the suspension on the Kamei Rabbit went on to work for Dan Gurney All American Racers and is currently at Ganassi Racing working on their Indycar team. He was an amazing chassis engineer. That's pretty much all I can add to the history. I know the car was last sold to someone in the SE and is being raced in that region.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,303 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (tangioletti)

An excellent historial explanation. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Cheers, WWR.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
971 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (WackyWabbitRacer)

Wow what a great bit of history I would have liked to been around racing rabbits when they were new. Very cool!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,074 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (tangioletti)

Very cool.
Mike contacted the current owner and it will be running in GTLite this year.


Modified by eurotrashrabbit at 9:54 PM 3-7-2010
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,312 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (eurotrashrabbit)

Excellent story ! Thanks for that contribution http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thank you Tony for replying & spending your time passing all that great information on.
Uwe of Kamei spoke well of you when i chatted to him about the car.
There is a lot of stuff on the car if you click the link above (site was down over the last day or two for maintanance so not sure if you spotted it.

Do you have any pics or documents from back then Tony?



Modified by fthaimike at 8:08 AM 3-8-2010
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,974 Posts
Re: Mk1 Kamei Rabbit racer History (mudanddust)

http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif great historical info
thanks guys!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Re: (fthaimike)

Thanks Mike. I worked for Sachs, or Fichtel & Sachs for us older guys, for 20 years and would see uwe maier at the Automechanika show every other year in Germany. He's a great guy and very supportive of the team. The first team they used in Chicago really caused problems.
One thing that came out of the Kamei Rabbit development was we supplied many of the Bilstein Cup Rabbits with sway bars and windage trays for the championship the following year. The series champ used our sway bar combination.
I have a couple of other articles and some more photos, but I can't figure out how to attach them. Don't know how much detail you want, but I also have grid and qualifying positions, probably too much info for this forum.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,074 Posts
Re: (tangioletti)

I personally would love to see that stuff. A friend of mine has photos of the Kamei race car he had taken at the run offs many years ago
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,825 Posts
Re: (eurotrashrabbit)

I don't think anybody would mind the info, even on here. The people that want to will read it and enjoy it. I'd love to see what the Rabbit looks like these days, with 30 years of racing on it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,074 Posts
Re: (dubdaze68)

Nothing like it did originally the car was on Ebay a few years ago and only went for about $4000. It races in the same class as the car I pit for in roughly the same area I might see ikt at some races this year. Mike and i had contacted the owner not that long ago. This is a picture from Aug 2008 from the ebay auction. Needless to say my wife would not let me bid on it.



Modified by eurotrashrabbit at 10:50 PM 3-11-2010
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,825 Posts
Re: (eurotrashrabbit)

I'd love to strip the history off of it....Because you know there's red and yellow lurking under at least part of that paint. Amazing that race cars seem to last longer than road cars. They're kind of like airplanes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Re: (dubdaze68)

^ ^ ^
I doubt any of the panels on it now are original after racing for so long so prob not any paint on it
some even get re-shelled yet keep their details????
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No probs Tony, if you have any stuff on your pc or need help just give us a shout.
You can also email any documents/pictures to [email protected] & i can sort out hosting it at this end if you need to & i will get them uploaded into my Kamei historical thread.
The team you mention in Chicago i know Uwe mentioned he had problems with one USA team with many problems that he had to change/replace so that might have been who he was on about.
Like i said if you need his email give us a shout also.
When you said you went to pick up the car it wasn't even a rolling chassis. I brought it home on a Monday and promised to have it ready to attend the National at Lime Rock the coming weekend. We put my car on one side of the garage and the Kamei car on the other side and switched all the parts over in four days.
How much stuff did you have to change on it? I take it there was some custom parts already on it as well that you used yourself?



Modified by fthaimike at 5:07 PM 3-13-2010
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Re: (fthaimike)

Initially, we hardly used any of the pieces that came with the Kamei Rabbit due to the time crunch. The car was set up to use very stiff springs, 500 lbs. in the front and 300 lbs. in the rear, which was probably good for smooth European tracks, but not very good for the tracks we use. It came with Bilsteins all around because Kamei's PR guy was also the PR guy for Bilsteins. Jim was not happy with the stiff set up and changed it to use Koni's. Koni's had much lighter rebound damping which Jim liked. We used 280 lb. front springs and 170 lb. rears. The sway bars added a ton of roll resistance which really made the car handle well. I was losing 10 car lengths to the Bumble Bee Scirocco down Road Atlanta's back straight and by the time we came around to the straight again I was on his rear bumper. The Kamei Rabbit was much faster through the corners than the Scirocco. It came gigantic rotors and calipers from Tilton, but none of it was sorted out and we didn't have the time to develop it and used stock MK1 rotors and calipers. We used the Muller engines and the transmissions that came with the car. The trans had a locker differential which reduced lap times at Lime Rock by 2.5 seconds! We only had the GTI 5 speed not the close ratio VW MS gearbox the Scirocco used, so that didn't help down the straights either. We used the BBS 13" 3 piece wheels that came with the car. It also had 15" BBS 3 piece wheels. The best race, although a bad finish, was at Lime Rock. Since Lime Rock was a handling circuit, the Kamei Rabbit out qualified the Scirocco. VW brought all their employees to watch the Scirocco win, but we led the race for 28 of the 30 laps. On the final lap I set up the 3rd place car to be lapped and he ran into me allowing the Scirocco to win and VW let out a big sigh of relief.
What really got me upset was that after I got released by VW I went back to them the following year and said I would take their advice and run IMSA RS. They said they weren't interested in helping me. I ran very well in that series in 1981 and then the following year I go to the Detroit RS race and who shows up, the Bill Scott team with a Rabbit fully backed by VW and one of the better sedan drivers, Don Knowles driving. I qualified 5th out of 42 and finished 3rd beating the VW effort and about 8 other factory teams. Someone posted some of the photos of my RS car sitting on the pole at Mid-Ohio.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,976 Posts
Excellent info, thanks for sharing http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
I'd be glad to offer free hosting for any photos or documentation
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Nice one Tony, looks like you gave VW a good run for your money well done & it wouldn't have been the 1st time the Kamei car was the under dog like mentioned by driver Bernd Renneisen to me when it raced in Germany against the big boys.
The pics came about recently and i put them up in the historical thread along with your magazine article which was a good read.
Uwe said it's weakness for them in the long endurance races was the gearbox.
Tony when you get time to send any pics see if you have any also of yourself from back then as i am trying to put together some pics of the drivers themselves too.



Modified by fthaimike at 5:00 PM 3-13-2010
 
1 - 20 of 104 Posts
Top