What to do while you’re in Austin for The Austin Grand Prix

Welcome to Austin! I’m a 10 year Austin resident and an F1 fan. (Go Lewis!) Here are some thoughts about how to take advantage of the unique aspects of Austin while you’re here.

I have no commercial interest in any of this advice. Red Bull has a much more sophisticated list of restaurants here.

Food

Don’t eat a meal in your hotel or at a chain! Get out to Taco Deli, Magnolia Café, Kerby Lane Café for breakfast.

There’s a plethora of great food in Austin, but in my opinion there are two primary food groups that Austin does really well: tacos and barbeque. Try the tacos at Torchy’s, Taco Deli, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Curra’s Grill, Gueros Taco Bar.

Try the BBQ at Iron Works, Franklin’s (is the line worth it? I don’t know), Green Mesquite, Stubb’s, Black’s. Rudy’s is a chain, but they do a good job.

Want a burger? P. Terry’s (focused on organic local ingredients), Hat Creek Burger Company and Phil’s Ice House (co-located with local favorite Amy’s Ice Cream) are local and great, as is Top Notch on Burnett (cool cars show up on Saturday nights). Shake Shack has invaded from NYC (try the Shack Stack), and In-n-Out from California is in the general area, but not yet open in Austin. Oh, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Amazing.

Matt’s El Rancho is our favorite Tex-Mex. Order a “Large Bob” dip. The Tacos El Pastor is really awesome.

In an eclectic mood? Find a food truck (maybe not the best choice this rainy 2015 F1 weekend)

While you’re near the track, head over to Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill. Don’t let the exterior fool you, the food is great! Check out all the racing memorabilia. Bubba was there before COTA, and is twice as cool.

Events

Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash, Thursday, October 22nd at the Rattle Inn

Entertainment

For live music, I enjoy the Continental Club on South Congress. Austin’s lousy with music venues. Go drink a beer and listen to some music… and not in the lobby of your hotel.

The Blanton Museum of Art has pretty stuff. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is always interesting, and they have an IMAX theater.

The Alamo Draft House is a growing local chain of movie theaters/restaurants. You can order great food and drinks at your seat.

Dick’s Classic Car Museum (120 Stagecoach Trl, San Marcos, TX 78666) is 33 miles from downtown Austin. Well worth the trip. On your way there or back, stop by Cabela’s (in Buda on I35) to fulfill all of your camo needs.

This is a little odd I know, but the Whole Foods on 5th and Lamar is their headquarters location. My Dad, who was a foodie, always enjoyed going there when he visited from Connecticut. Book People is a great book store right next door.

Recreation

Go Karts

K1 Speed is a chain of indoor electric go cart tracks. Their Austin track is fun and has a terrific staff.  Get there first thing in the morning or call ahead to find out how busy they are.  How much fun will your race be? That depends on the other knuckleheads on track with you, and how often they crash each other.

Hike the green belts

http://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=hiking&find_loc=Austin,+TX

Running

Run (walk, ride) the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

http://www.austintexas.org/listings/lady-bird-lake-hike-and-bike-trail/4369/

Paddle Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is the dammed portion of the Colorado river that flows through downtown Austin. Take a look at http://www.rowingdock.com or http://www.zilkerboats.com to rent a canoe or kayak for a couple of hours and relax on the water. Great writeup here: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/inland/lady_bird_lake/

Indoor Sky Diving

iFLY Austin is a lot of fun.

Go Shooting

Want to shoot? Red’s Indoor range has two locations in the Austin area where you can rent guns and targets, buy ammo, and shoot under the watchful eye of a range master. The folks there are great, but it can be loud and crowded.

For a different experience, I’d suggest hopping on the Texas Autobahn (Toll 130) 20 minutes from COTA to Lone Star Gun Range just north of Lockhart either before or after lunch. Wonderful people there. At Lone Star Gun Range, you can rent a handgun or rifle, buy ammunition, buy a target or two, and go shoot. Ask for help if you’re new to it, and they’ll be glad to offer advice. The people to your left and right at the range will also offer advice, especially if you’re obviously new to it, because new shooters can be scary. [edit: it’s going to be muddy this weekend, so bring your wellies.] Remember and exercise the four rules of gun safety and you’ll be fine. Have lunch at Kreutz Market in Lockhart. Try the ribs.

Ammunition is typically less expensive at Academy Sports & Outdoors, Walmart, or McBride’s Guns than at the ranges. Get a box each of .22 long rifle and 9mm luger.

Watch this video first.

Traffic

The Waze app (www.waze.com) does a good job of showing current traffic conditions around Austin. Mo-Pac (named after the Missouri-Pacific railroad along which it is built) is slow heading south toward downtown from 7-10am, heading north toward downtown in the morning, and heading north from downtown from 2-6:30pm every weekday. I-35 is slow… a lot. Stay off of it if you can.

Safety

Apparently the murder rate is way up this year in Austin, but that rate of increase is over a very small denominator. Austin was the third safest large city in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Decrease your risk of being a victim by being aware of your surroundings and staying away from the drunk idiots on 6th street in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s going to be thunder-stormy. Flash-floods are a real danger here and people die in them every year, usually by trying to drive through running water. The authorities say “turn around, don’t drown.”

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Sold sold sold!

I sold the 1960 Ford F100 early in the summer of 2014. I think I got $1500 for it, which is less than I paid for it and far less than I had in it, of course.

I got my money’s worth though. That truck taught me many lessons. I look forward to using them in the future.

Here was the add:

1960 Ford F100 running driving project – $1650 (Austin)

1960 Ford F100 odometer: 58000 paint color : custom size : full-size type : pickup drive : rwd fuel : gas transmission : manual title status : clean

condition: fair

Daily driver capable. Everything works. Over $3000 in new glass, tires and intake/exhaust parts. Runs great. Looks like a 54 year old farm truck.
Longbed styleside truck. 223ci straight six runs and sounds GREAT. Upgraded to Pertronix electronic ignition. New Clifford intake, Clifford headers, Weber 38 carb and custom exhaust ($2000 worth of new equipment). Volt, oil pressure, temperature and vacuum gauges added in an under-dash panel. Original gas gauge works with Mustang sender.
New tires. New windshield and driver’s side glass. New pass. side glass and hardware not yet installed. New drivers door seal installed, pass. door seal not yet installed. Original three on the tree transmission untouched and working fine. Floor shift four-speed comes with the sale. Gas tank relocated – Mustang fuel tank between the rear frame rails. ’08 Tahoe seat installed and the original seat frame comes with it if you want. Converted from generator to a new alternator. New electric fuel pump with switch on the dash.
Hood, fenders and driver’s door in bare metal . The rest is primer. Back bumper is off but I’ll put it back on. Most badges are off but they come with the truck.
I ran a load of 10 hay bales across town from Callahan’s, and I’ve taken several loads of brush to the dump in the past few weeks. This truck is a worker.

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I’m Exhausted

It’s been a while since I wrote about the truck. I just looked and good God it’s been almost two years. A lot has happened, but not as much as might have happened in this amount of time.

Let’s see:

Motivation:

  • I put the new engine in and got it running.
  • The old rebuilt carburetor had its seals eaten away by today’s fuel, and started puking gas everywhere. I decided that rather than spend money on a carb rebuild, I’d spend more money on fuel injection.
  • I bought a craigslist Howell GM fuel injection system for a Jeep straight six, then made an aluminum adapter plate for it, and got it running.
  • It ran like crap, so I bought a Clifford intake and headers.
  • It still ran like crap. I figured out an electrical issue and it runs much better. Still have to make the throttle less sticky.
  • I fabricated a temporary exhaust collector to get it to the exhaust shop.

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With that done, I realized that the seal on the Mustang gas tank that I installed three years ago had been eaten by ethanol fuel and was leaking. Can’t have guys welding under the truck with a fuel leak, so I ordered a replacement seal from DallasMustang.com. $2 seal, $8 shipping. I put that seal in without removing the fuel tank and it didn’t work. So I asked my father in law to pop by Dallas Mustang, grab another seal, and hand it to my wife that weekend. I installed the seal after consulting YouTube and it works!

  • I replaced the generator with an alternator, but I’m not sure it’s working.

Glass:

  • I put in a new driver’s side glass. It doesn’t roll up and down very well, and the vent window won’t lock closed, but at least it’s new and it’s in.
  • I also repaired rust on the driver’s door and replaced the window channel all the way around.
  • I finally installed the windshield that I bought over three years ago. Of the stuff I bought then I still haven’t used the distributor (it’s working fine), the passenger door glass, I never got an inner cab corner (I’ve cut off the cab corners and plan to weld sheet metal in), or the clutch repair kits. I’ve done almost everything on that “need” list. Can’t believe this is a 3+ year project.WP_20131012_004WP_20131012_001WP_20131012_002WP_20131012_003

Electrical:

Got the tail lights, turn signals and brake lights working. I had to ground the socket of the driver’s side with a sheet metal screw. Mice ate the wires though, so I repaired them again last weekend.

The truck has actually taken me a few places. I got burgers once, went for a run once, and went to the gym on an Austin “snow day”.

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Soon. Soon I can just drive it. Maybe.

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Engine Swap

I completed the engine swap last weekend, but failed to start it before traveling. The task entailed:
– bolting the clutch back onto the flywheel that came with the motor. I didn’t know where the throwout bearing was supposed to be, so I put it inside the clutch housing. Wrong!
– attaching the three-speed. I would have put on the “new” four speed, but that would require a different drive shaft. Someday.
– Stabbing the engine. Not so easy with the hood on, but I did it and got the engine mounts tight.
– Realizing my throwout bearing mistake with the help of my neighbor Jim.
– Extracting said bearing after removing the driveshaft and transmission from underneath the truck. Bearing applied to trans shaft where it belongs.

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1986 Detroit Grand Prix Garage Photos

I attended the Detroit Grand Prix in 1986 and wandered into the garage building at one point in the weekend. Security wasn’t what it is today in an F1 paddock. The garage was one large common area where all the teams had territory staked out.

This was Ayrton Senna’s 4th win. Jacques Lafitte (42 years old!) 2nd, and Alain Prost 3rd.

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Benetton BMW team in the pits. I bet those steel brake disks cost a couple hundred dollars each!

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The TAG Porsche engine in Alan Prost’s Marlboro McLaren MP4/2C.

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Lola Ford rear wings.

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John Player Special Lotus Lotus 97T team in the pits. Drivers Ayrton Senna (winner) and Johnny Dumfries (7th).

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I remember there being a stark contrast between this team’s pit organization and cleanliness and that of the Honda engine team.

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Nelson Piquet’s Williams-Honda FW11.

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MinardiMotori Moderni of Andrea de Cesaris or Alessandro Nannini.

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It was amazing how clean and neat the Honda engines were in contrast with the rest of the hardware in the pits. I remember someone joking that each one probably had its own first class seat from Japan to Detroit.

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Williams steering wheel in that toolbox. Are there buttons on there?

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World champion Alan Prost. I have no idea if this was the race or practice.

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Keke Rosberg in the other McLaren.

A video of the beginning of the race:

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No Smoking

The truck’s engine smokes too much for the civilized world. So, in late March, 16 months into my ownership of this truck, I set about fixing it.

I called my mechanic friend Ron Shimek and asked for an engine shop recommendation. He pointed me to David Brown at Travis Engine Center over on the East Side.

I removed the head and took it to David. He suggested that I see if the cylinder walls have a ridge at the top that I could catch a fingernail on. They did. Great business development on his part. I decided to bring him my block.

I called our friend Chris and asked if I could borrow his engine hoist, then I begged a trailer from neighbor Jim.

Thus began my first ever engine extraction.

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Sometimes I’m not that bright. For example, I don’t really have a level place to do this work. My first attempt involved lifting the engine, then pulling the hoist, engine hanging in the air, uphill. That didn’t work.

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So I pulled the truck out of its parking spot with our Armada, pushed it into the corner of the driveway, and pulled the motor there. I did have a bit of a side hill to deal with, so I anchored the hoist with a couple of lines. The arrangement worked really well. There’s enough room in a ‘60 F100 to pull the engine over the radiator support with the hood, so I had that going for me.

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I strapped the engine down to Jim’s trailer and took it over to David. He tore it down and let me know that it’s .40 over now, and needs either to be bored another .40 over or sleeved. $2400 or $3000 for the whole job. That’s a big investment for a truck that I’m just going to knock around in, but if you want to do it right, that’s what it costs. Having no experience with engine rebuilds, I once again reached out to the guys on the fordtrucks.com 57-60 forum for advice.

Gary Sisson from Orcas Island, Washington had a thread going that I had been following for some time. He’d been putting a Cummins diesel engine in a ‘60 F250 (I think). He replied to my thread saying that the 223 engine he’d pulled needed a home, and that he’d crate it up and take it to a shipper for $300. I researched shipping, and decided this was the way to go. Should be here in a couple of weeks, with a 4-speed transmission!

My goal is to have this together for the Austin Road Relic’s Father’s Day car show. We’ll see.

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Motoration

It’s pretty cool to have an original straight-six 223 with a three-on-the-tree in this truck, but the truck smokes like crazy.

I’ve been thinking lately of swapping something in, but not the usual 351 or other push-rod V8. I’m thinking an early 2000’s Ford F150 fuel-injected SOHC V6 with a 5-speed. I stopped at LKQ on my way home from San Antonio today and they’d sell me a complete package (if they happen to have a truck with that configuration at the time and it hasn’t been pulled apart yet) for about $2000. That’s more than I paid for the truck.

So maybe I’ll just rebuild the bottom-end of the 223 and see where that gets me. Never done that before. Have no idea what I’m doing. May as well get started.

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