The story continues. In Part 1 I found the car of my dreams. I took the first giant step toward racing. Now it was time to find out exactly what I bought. Hayes Hamilton Harris, owner of Wire Wheel Classics in Florida, called me just two weeks after he received my down payment on the Bugeye racecar. He closed another deal on an XKE coupe with a person in Pennsylvania who wanted the car ASAP. Since he had room on the trailer I could have my car sooner then expected. The shop was clean. My Mini had a potential buyer. I was ready. Hayes had sent the contract with the logbook almost immediately after we agreed to the deal. The chassis number was confirmed as AN5-L/28014 with SCCA log book 84-022, Even before the car was delivered I started the trace of the history. The logbook proved to be interesting. It was issued in the Southern New Jersey Region of SCCA. Only two races had been recorded. Both races were at Summit Point Raceway; one in July 1974 and the other in September 1974. This was a touch of fate because I now live in Maryland just one hour away from Summit Point in West Virginia. The magic has started. I could read the name of the Steward who signed off on the logbook but I could not make out the owner's signature. Hayes had hinted at the history. Hayes had purchased the car at the 1998 Spring Carlisle Foreign and Kit Car event. He said that the car had been parked for 25 years and was a time capsule. The logbook verified that fact. With a little more digging I realized that SCCA had only started to issue logbooks at about the same time in 1974. The legend was growing. Let me digress for a moment. Dealing with Hayes was an absolute pleasure. He is knowledgeable, helpful and honest. He also has an amazing variety of reasonably priced cars. Go to his page at www.wirewheel.com and see what I mean. I know that you have been enjoying the latest improvements Don Racine has incorporated into the Mini Mania homepage. I also know that you have been reading all of the articles submitted by prolific British Car enthusiasts. Dig out the article entitled HOW TO AVOID CAR SHIPPING PROBLEMS. I wrote this article. It noted both a good and bad shipping experience. Hayes Hamilton Harris was the good experience. He called every day after leaving Florida. I knew exactly where he was located and when I should be ready to receive my Bugeye. Hayes arrived, on schedule, in a white Dodge Ram diesel towing a three axle, enclosed trailer sharing the cab with his wife and twin boys. They make a great team. He started the Bugeye in the trailer proving that the oil pressure was real plus verifying that there were no major engine problems. He had informed me that the brake/clutch master cylinder was not installed so we pushed the car up my driveway into my shop. Hayes returned to his trailer, to move the XKE, so I was alone with my new car. Of course I had to sit in the driver's seat. It was a fiberglass racing shell that barely went up my back. The headrest was a padded plate attached to the roll bar leaving my neck unsupported. Rules were different in the 70's and this was a time capsule. Reaching just behind my neck I realized that even with the headrest my neck came dangerously close to the cowling lip. Mental Note #1- replace the seat. In spite of the awkward position the seat was amazingly comfortable and supportive. All controls "fell readily to hand" and visibility was good. I was engulfed in the aura of a true racing machine. An aura that warmed my soul and body, In fact I realized that my body was just a little too warm and WET. I jumped out of the shell finding the seat of my pants soaked. Once outside of the car I found that the bottom of the seat shell was filled with water obviously from some Florida rainstorm. I never noticed because the vinyl seat cover was floating until I took the seat of honor. Mental Note #2 - Always look before you sit. (These mental notes became more numerous as the project proceeded. Rather the waiting for full epiphany I just started a log so I would remember further incidents.) We closed the deal in my shop. The car, a rib cage gearbox and a cross flow radiator were traded for the check and a few Mini parts that caught Hayes' eye. He is a smart businessman because as we shook hands before parting he presented me with a Bugeye model kit, a fresh copy of the Mini Mania Sprite parts catalog and the name of the person who sold him the car. A few phone calls and I learned a lot about the car. Hayes had purchased from Greg Kozuhowski. Greg owned the car for approximately five years but did nothing with it. He had worked on the car preparation/maintenance for several years because he was close friend with the previous owner, Terry Hanushek. Both Gregg and Terry live in southern New Jersey. Gregg is starting a restoration shop to keep him busy when he retires and Terry is the Chief Steward for the Northeast Region of SCCA in 1998. Terry had purchased the Bugeye from Clyde Wagner of Breha, Ohio in 1965. Terry was living in Ohio and competed for several years in the NE Ohio region before moving to New Jersey. In those years he had changed from LH to RH drive utilizing a Morris Minor rack; added Vega wheels with larger studs; and added the front disc brakes. He bought the machine race prepared. It is his belief that the car was never on the street. The car was parked in 1974 when Terry had purchased an Elva. As for the specification Terry thought that the gearbox is stock. He could not remember what rear end ratio was in the car. He had 4.2, 4.5 and 4.8 differentials and swapped differentials depending on the track. The rear end is welded. The rear brakes are stock Bugeye. The dent in right rear was caused by a missed shift at Bryn Mar. Being a Chief Steward he did recommend the replacement of the seat, seat belts and additions to the roll bar before vintage racing. He also noted that Greg had found a cracked A-Arm. As for racing history Terry drove the car in at least 5 to 6 races a year at both a National and Regional level. Tracks included Mid-Ohio, Nelson Ledges, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Lime Rock, Summit Point, Grattan and Pocono. Greg added to the history. He said he built the motor in 1972 or 1974. The spec includes 0.040 flat top pistons; a Hank Thorpe cam; and a ported, polished head with bronze guides and special valve seats. He thought the gearbox was a close ratios smooth case and the verified that the rear end is welded. He also said that at one time it had a CD ignition but that never seemed to work correctly. He bought the car in 1993 because of the memories racing, including co-driving in a 4-hour enduro, and working with Terry. He said that Terry raced the car hard and as often as possible. He confirmed a cracked A-arm and said everything needs to be rebuilt. I also applied for a British Motoring Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT) certificate. The historian sent a note stating that the car chassis number did not match the body numbers. I elected to go with the chassis number. The certificate documented that a Cherry Red Austin Healey Sprite MKI, bearing this serial number, was built in November 1959 and delivered to Chicago in December 1959. I had stripped several layers of paint in small area on the rear deck and found black/silver/white/green/primer but no red. Greg knows that Terry did not re-body the car. Since I was born and raised in Chicago I enjoyed the coincidence to have the car delivered to my hometown. So AN5-L/28014 it shall remain. I guess the history and value are relative. All too often vintage races shine spotlights on special cars. Astons that won Le Mans; the factory backed Trans Am cars; or even that enthusiast's leap of faith where they found the left rusted frame rail and tappet cover of a rare machine only to reproduce the rest of the car from photos. I have a car that was raced and maintained by amateurs. These are the people who fill the entry lists of all of the race programs I have acquired and saved over the years. They raced for fun probably squeezing racing between a family and job. I have a lot of respect for them and now I own one of their cars. It is now time for restoration and race preparation. Watch for Bugeye Vintage Racer Part 3 - On the Road to the Moment of Turn-Around.
Article Date: Mar 13, 2000