Old Yeller II
1959 Balchowsky Buick Special




Cars Yeah Radio Podcast


Dr. Ernie Nagamatsu is an avid vintage racer who has run on tracks around the world. He was a very good friend of Max Balchowsky, the builder of the legendary 1959 Old Yeller II Buick Special. Ernie has owned and raced that very same car for over 28 years. Old Yeller has been raced around the world by Ernie and with the exception of a three year rest, that car has raced continuously since it was built. He raced Formula Fords in the 1980s in SCCA and started historic racing a 1964 Shelby Cobra CS 2203 with a Le Mans Hardtop over 35 years ago including important International Historic racing events. He also races the legendary SCCA E Production “Kilpatrick” Porsche Speedster. Ernie’s career as a dentist in Las Angeles spanned decades, he is a writer and he’s written a cookbook, “Foods of the Kingdom of Bhutan” for which he received numerous awards.

Don’t miss a wonderful eulogy for racer and World Champion Phil Hill that Ernie wrote and reads during our talk.

July 8-9, 2017

The Chateau Impney Hill Climb is the 3rd year for the iconic Hill Climb as the event was held many years ago and it has been resurected once again to become one of the prestigious Motorsports event in England. The backdrop is an accurate and historic French Chateau and the Hill Climb course is staged in front of the elegant Chateau. The Hill Climb is challenging with tight turns and elevation changes. The incredible event which is a hill climb at the Chateau Impney attracts the best of “Historic Hill Climb Race Cars” as well as some more modern race cars. The invitation to particpate is a coveted invitation and last year we raced the Old Yeller II and the 1964 Shelby Cobra. The 58’ Kilpatrick Porsche was well prepped and it is not really a hill climb type race car, as the 1st and 2nd gears are very tall making it hard to get off the line at the start, but a great car to negotiate the sharp turns with good rises on the course. The motor would bog down at the slow turns and improved with the running of the motor longer prior to the start. The last run the motor really pulled strong and we got out lines better than ever and clipping along faster than all of the runs up the hill’... and over cooked the last left hander just before the final “weaving” section... locked up brakes and stalled sadly but going for it ... finally re-started and that was the disjointed run. The invite list was the most incredible collection of some of the rarest of cars including a gagle of ERAs and 250 Maseratis as well as McLaren Can Am car and Chapparals... and many of the historic small home built Hill Climber cars that could flash up the hill with speed in front of the Chateau. The Kilpatrick Speedster was an attraction as most said it was the first racing Porsche Speedster that they have seen as the majority of the Porsche Speedsters were destined for the USA market and especially to the West Coast area.


JULY 28-30, 2017

1959 Old Yeller II & 1958 Kilpatrick Porsche Speedster

"Across the Pond Racing Adventure”


Racing at the Silverstone Classic is on the “Bucket List” for so many and racers will never be disappointed if the opportunity arises, as the quality of the “stonking” grids of race cars invited is like a ‘dream team’ list. The weather brought intermittent rain at times, but most drivers had a dry track to qualify and race on. Silverstone Circuit was a massive former WW II RAF Bomber Station Airport and it was in 1948 that the first official race was held by the Royal Automobile Club on the airport tarmac. The very complex 3.66 miles long circuit with its 18 turns has also two very long straights, which is overwhelming learning curve for a ‘first timer’ driver and Silverstone recently held the F1 British Grand Prix. Silverstone being a very flat race track, it is impossible to see ahead around an upcoming apex of a turn and the fast turns very abruptly arises in view. It is like the mythical mermaid beckoning you in at the corners enticing you to go deeper and deeper into the turns than is wise or pragmatic, which can lead to an off track excursion in a blink of the eye.

The staging of the 22 races of some of the most iconic race cars was an impressive feat. This year there were over 100,000 race fans or “punters,” as they say, attending on Sunday alone during the huge 3 day event and there were 120 Car Clubs with vast and ample areas for the clubs to share their cars and displays... even the Gaz 21 Club from Russia was participating this year. The distinctly different scenes at Silverstone to see was seeing the many highly elevated F1 fan viewing stands, huge County Fair size concessions/vendor areas, and big amusement sections for fans along with the providing Concerts in the evenings. This event is considered the largest Historic Racing event globally and the entrants are treated to racing on the British GP F1 circuit with expansive run-offs and very high speed corners. The monumental task was the Tech Inspection of the over 1,000 race cars and Tech scruitineers were scrambling in the older National Paddock and also in the International Paddock. What sets this Historic race aside from other events was the unmatchable blistering speeds and the majority of the cars in full 4 wheel drifts with corrections at the high speed turns and “kinks.” Traveling in the U.K. one hears “Mind the Gap” often, but mind you there is not much of a gap with the very ‘close quarters’ during the very competitive racing with crunched fenders from time to time.

We raced the 1959 Old Yeller II Buick Special on Saturday in the competititive Stirling Moss Trophy Race for ‘Pre 61’ Sports Cars which in the 49 race cars included13 mighty Listers, 10 Lotus, 5 Lolas and 2 “D” Jaguars. We raced the 1958 Kilpatrick Speedster Sunday in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars- ‘Pre 63’ GT Race with a grid of 53 race cars including 5 Aston Martin DB 4s, 6 E Type Jaguars, a Cobra, and a Ferrari 250 GT. Our races were 50 minutes long and a two driver race option. The 50 minute race with fast long straights was a test for the Old Yeller II drum brakes even with new Porterfield linings as the brake fluid cooked and little in brakes at the end of the race. We had to be alert to watch for the Pit Board sign to come in for the driver change, as the lap is 3.66 miles around. The Old Yeller II won the 2nd place in the Stirling Moss Trophy Race- Drum Brakes over 2500cc category. The Kilpatrick started well and soon “went off song” and with 2/3rd power and we came into the pit lane. We pushed the Speedster all the way to our Pit Space.  Sean and Mike were not to be denied or “gutted,” as they say in UK, and they dived under the Speedster and motor to check the problem. They decided to pull off right side which was the right guess and one rocker bolt was loose and they found the nut in the ‘cover’... and the crew said to me...”Keep your ‘kit’ on and we will see...” They quickly fixed the problem and guessed on clearances and I drove back to the pit lane and entered the race again, as it was a 50 minute race. I went short while and going into the “Maggots” kinks, I went for 3rd gear and could not catch any gear at all and all gears were locked out. The clutch “was toast” and I sadly pulled off of the track away in a safe area. The most frequent comment throughout the race weekend was... “In all the many years of watching racing, this is the very first time seeing a Porsche Speedster racing.

Silverstone Classic is a classic indeed and both a mind boggling racing experience and it can bring moments during the fiercesome racing to check how many “brave pills” left in the pockets. The opportunity to race at Silverstone is not without bringing humbling moments, as we felt “our clocks were cleaned” more than just once during the amazing weekend... and Silverstone is still special and “the bees knees,” as they say in U.K.