My Trip to Montreal for the GP in a Mondial!

Discussion in 'Mondial' started by Birdman, Jun 12, 2007.

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  1. Birdman

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    My F1 Montreal Adventure: A travelogue

    Warning: this is long, but funny and has pictures! I couldn't decide if I wanted to put it in the racing section or here in the 308/Mondial section but I finally decided here because everyone here knows me better and this story involves a Mondial. So here it goes:

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It is the story of my first ever trip to an F1 race, and I decided to do it in a Ferrari. Here is what happens when you combine a 24 year old car with an 800 mile round-trip drive to a legendary race track for a legendary race.

    It all started a few years ago when I bought my 308, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to own what I consider the prettiest car ever made. Soon thereafter I was doing all kinds of silly things, like putting a lift in my garage to work on it, and learning about all the things Ferraristi are supposed to know, including F1. My insanity grew when I decided to buy a Mondial for my wife for Christmas a couple years later, due to the fact that we then had a baby and all three of us would not fit in the 308. Now we had TWO Ferraris…ah, I had reached the level of "collector". A collector of old fcars that needed love and a lot of time and money. However, neither of these cars has ever been unreliable in the least. In fact, I have never been stranded in a Ferrari except by a bad tire. Hey, that was Michelin's fault--I blame the French!

    I have a friend in Montreal named Peter* who is a very successful businessman and who knows many people. He goes to the race every year in style because he is always invited by friends connected in F1 to join them in the private lounges and suites at the track. These are places where only the insiders get to go. You watch the track from comfortable seats covered from the sun, watching closed-circuit TV from every angle of the track, while being served meals and champagne. When he realized that I was a Ferrari nut, he invited me to join him in Montreal for a race, and promised me exceptional tickets that would spoil me forever. I of course accepted immediately.

    Last year I was supposed to go, and I wish I could have. Unfortunately, my son was due to be born within weeks of the race, and there is no way I could justify leaving town. (As it turned out, the little guy was 2 weeks late and I could have gone). Just to make me feel bad, Peter e-mailed me a picture of his paddock club passes, and then mailed me a Ferrari hat that he got from Michael Schumacher himself. D'oh! At least I have the hat!

    This year I was determined not to miss it. I had much to do! My wife Christine wanted to come to Montreal, not so much for the race but to hang out and see the city. We were able to pawn our almost-4-year-old daughter off on Christine's sister for the weekend, but our son is too young (1 year) so we had to take him with us. My dream of course was to drive a Ferrari to the race, and we had the perfect 4 seater for this. However Christine did not want to subject herself or our son to 5 hours in a Ferrari. So she elected to fly up with him, while I drove. In a way I was being cheap by driving…plane tickets for the weekend were about $500 to fly from Boston to Montreal, about a 5 hour drive, or about a 1 hour flight. Highway robbery!

    When it was decided that I would be driving a Ferrari alone, I started thinking about taking the 308…until I saw the pile of stuff my wife wanted me to bring in the car so she wouldn't have to fly with it. You know…all that kid stuff you need with a baby. So I started preparing the Mondial. New oil, new coolant, painted some bits here and there, a complete check-up: brakes, cables, transmission oil, etc.. I went down a huge list of things to check and prepare. I used a fancy gadget loaned to me by a local Ferrari buddy ("Frenchman" in our "Ferrari Fix It Club" ) to change the coolant. It's an interesting device that you use to change the coolant quickly without having to bleed it. Basically you drain the system then close the drain plugs, and the device draws a vacuum on the empty system, then sucks the coolant in and fills it to the top without bleeding! Sounds cool, works great. Sorta. Read on.

    I had planned on trying to meet some local Fchatters/FCA guys to drive up to Montreal in a convoy but they had decided to meet a little too far south (out of my way) and about an hour earlier than I could get there. I thanked them for the invitation but decided to drive up alone to save time. I had to meet my wife.

    So the morning came and I took my wife and son to the airport in Boston and dropped them off. Then I dropped my daughter at school to be picked up afterwards by her grandmother. After two hours of driving around in rush hour traffic, I got home, grabbed my keys, warmed up the Mondial and hit the road!

    Our 1983 Mondial QV has always been a reliable car if nothing else. It's a driver. The paint isn't great, the interior is a little worn (although the front seats have recently been reupholstered) but it runs well. It has 80,000 miles on it, gets regular attention, and when I did the major two winters ago all the valves were in spec. It's a Ferrari--she leaks a little oil, has a few creaks, and slow windows. But she runs well and I had confidence that she would get me to Canada and back without any issues, even though I joked about being stranded.

    I left Thursday morning on my adventure, a beautiful sunny day. I had the sunroof open and some Rush playing in the CD player. All was good. Until I hit New Hampshire and noticed that the water temperature was running a tad high. Now on my daily driver minivan I would never even think to look at the water temperature, and if I did, I probably wouldn't even notice that it was high because I never worry about it. I don't know where "high" is. But on the Mondial, like the 308, I watch the gauges. It's an old car. The gauge was a tad high, and this bothered me because it was probably only 70 degrees outside and I was running 75 MPH on the highway where it should be keeping cool. I stopped at a rest area to check the coolant level and bleed the system, in case I had some air in there after my coolant change. As I popped the hood open I saw a bunch of Ferraris go by. At least one of them saw me because they tooted the Italian horn at me. I waved and went back to checking the car. Plenty of coolant, a tiny bit of air in the radiator and no air in the thermostat housing. Hmmm. I considered turning around and going right home. But was I over-reacting? I hadn't had the car on a highway drive yet this season, just around town….maybe it was fine. Maybe the sensor was aging and read a little high. Maybe the gauge was out of calibration. I pressed on, determined not to be a wuss.

    On my phone was a message from one of the local fchatters that passed me saying he saw me but it was too late to stop and he hopes everything is ok. I kept a close eye on the temperature and it continued to read a little high, but nothing terrible. By the time I was halfway through Vermont, I was driving along and I passed a minivan with a familiar looking guy in it sticking his hand out the window telling me to slow down and look behind me. It was "BigHead" Dennis with the whole family heading to Montreal in his Odyssey. Coming up behind me fast was the whole group of New England Fcars plus a couple Porsches! They had stopped to meet someone at another rest area and I caught up. These guys were hauling ass. I joined the group and they started hot-dogging it. We were averaging 90-100 MPH for about a half hour on a road that barely qualified as a highway. But I was watching my temp gauge and I finally called it off and fell back when it hit 220. Something was definitely not right.

    I pulled into the next rest area and inspected the radiator again. The fan was working. The radiator was hot. Ah ha! The foam insulation around the radiator that forces air to go through (rather than around) the radiator was deteriorated and falling apart. I had just replaced it on the 308 last summer and it helped the car a lot. Could this be it? I asked for directions from the rest area information guy and made a 20 mile side trip to a hardware store for some foam and adhesive spray. I had lunch in the street in Barre, Vermont while replacing the foam in the car. People gawked and asked questions. I don't think they have many Ferraris up there! By the time I got to the hardware store, I had to run the heat at full blast to keep the car from going over 220. I was worried.

    A 90 minute side trip for the foam had no effect. I drove the rest of the way to Montreal with the heat on full blast and the windows open. The heat was like a blast furnace, the water pump was obviously working fine. My aluminum shift knob was so hot I could not touch it for longer than the amount of time required to shift. I arrived at the border and I was still fairly comfortable only because it was only 65 degrees in Vermont and I had the windows wide open. The guy at the border took a look at the car.
    "Going to the GP?" he asked.
    "Yes sir!"
    "Have fun!"
    And on my way I went. All was well until I hit Montreal rush hour traffic. The heat was keeping the car's water temp just above 220. Dangerous territory. I finally arrived at Peter's house a few hours late. My wife and son were there. I told them of my troubles and planned to get up the next morning early and do some more troubleshooting. It was getting late and I was tired as I had spent 9 hours driving between the early morning airport run and driving to Montreal.

    Peter showed me the tickets he had for our Friday practice session. He had passes for the Elite Suite owned by one of his customers, Cirque du Soleil. In the morning we would take the Ferrari to the special parking that the Cirque du Soleil Elite Suite guests enjoyed and park the car right in the parking garage below the casino in the center of the track. SWEET!

    The next morning I bled the cooling system again, this time with the car running and heat on. I was convinced that the fancy vacuum device just didn't get the air out. I topped off the coolant, and we got in the car and headed out for what was just supposed to be a 30 minute run to the track on mostly highways. We had waited until after rush hour so there would be no stop and go. I was living my dream….driving a Ferrari to the F1 race, getting the royal treatment, special parking and everything. Life is gooooood!

    Then it happened. We got near the track and it was total gridlock to get into the parking area. We were stop and go for 20 minutes. The car was still running hot and it was climbing and climbing. It passed 220 and I apologized to my friend Peter and turned on the heat. It was only maybe 60 degrees out. The car should not be overheating!

    We finally reached the parking garage and I pulled it in so shut her down as soon as possible. JUST as I pulled into the parking spot, a hose let go and the car barfed every drop of coolant on the floor, where it conveniently went down a nearby drain and probably poisoned the environment. Now we were pretty much screwed. No ride home, Ferrari can't be run. Oh well, it got us here. Let's go watch practice!

    On the way to the suite, we walked down a parking area out back where only very important people get to park. We walked by all the drivers' cars with their parking spots labeled. COOL!

    *Peter is not his real name....to protect the innocent....
     

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  2. Birdman

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    #2 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    The Elite Suite was something to behold! Can you beat seats in a covered tent overlooking the "take off" area at the end of the pit lane, on the paddock side of the track? They had free drinks, free breakfast, and seats looking almost straight down on the F1 cars as they took off out of the pits to the track. I heard my first F1 car in person. Holy crap, 19,000 RPM is quite a sound, and to say they are loud is quite an understatement. They hand out ear plugs as you enter the suite. Even with my issued pair of ear plugs installed, the cars at this range are still deafening on take off. You feel the engine as much as hear it, and the pounding of the traction control as they do standing starts is like a jackhammer! Wow, what a screaming sound! Nothing like it! So far, several of the teams were out practicing, but no prancing horse. I waited to see a Ferrari.

    At last I heard another engine come to life. I looked to my right up the lane of pit garages and there it was…the nose of an F2007 sticking out of the Ferrari garage. There was a blip of the throttle, a little burn out and the F2007 driven by Felipe Massa did a little slide as he brought it out into the sunshine. The press converged and took hundreds of pictures. He pulled the car up right below my nose, not 20 feet away, blipped the throttle, punched it into 1st and stomped it. The deafening roar of a Ferrari F1 engine filled my ears. This was the moment I had been waiting for. This was the thing I came here for. It was emotional, it was religious. I was seeing a REAL Ferrari, a Formula one racing Ferrari, up close. The sound and the smell was palpable. This was the passion that Enzo loved. This is the reason the company exists. Formula 1 Ferraris…it took my breath away. I actually got a little choked up. I cannot describe it. These cars are the real thing, totally, absolutely incredible. Even if you know nothing about F1, a Formula one car grabs your attention and won't let go. Massa hauled ass out of the pit lane and onto the track. Other cars passed by over and over again, but I only watched for the Ferrari. Soon Kimi joined the practice and both cars were practicing. It was my first time trying to photograph F1 cars, so my efforts were poor at first but improved. It's tricky getting the right shutter speed for a little motion blur, but not too much, and good composition when the car goes by at 200 MPH. Nonetheless, I got some decent shots.
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  3. Birdman

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    #3 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    After a while, Peter and I decided we better start thinking about the busted Ferrari down in the garage, and I came back to reality. Oh yeah, the little Mondial with no coolant. So we called AAA and they referred me to CAA (the Canadian AAA counterpart). I was told that my AAA policy would cover a 5 km tow. Lovely! That would get me about out of the garage. We talked about it and decided to have the car flat-bedded about 50 km back to Peter's town in the suburbs where we could take it to a local shop where he had a good relationship with the owner. I wanted to tear into the car myself. I didn't want to pay someone $60 an hour to figure out which end of a Ferrari has the engine. He called his mechanic friend Michel, who said to bring it over.

    The flat bed showed up within 45 minutes but they couldn't get the truck into the parking garage. We pushed the car to the exit, then I started it and drove it out of the garage and onto the back of the truck, only running the engine for about 45 seconds. It was stone cold by then anyway. We took pictures of course, and so did about a dozen or two more people who laughed and pointed at the guy in the "expensive" Ferrari having his car taken home on a flat bed. I didn't know if it was incredibly funny or completely depressing, so I tried not to think about it, and concentrated on the cooling issue. We got into the truck and the guy drove us to Peter's mechanic's garage, set in a field next to a farm. Not exactly the place you would want a Ferrari serviced!


    I knew I was in trouble when the mechanic said "Let's take a look at the engine" and pointed to the front. Since his English was pretty good (much better than my French), we were able to chat and after discussing it, we decided that because the heat was working well and made a huge difference in keeping the engine cool, and because the thing was bled and full of coolant (at least until it barfed it on the ground) it was likely that either the thermostat or the radiator was at fault and the water pump was probably OK. So we put the car on the lift, pulled the right rear wheel and fender liner out and found the busted rubber hose. I also got on the internet and pulled up Fchat to check CarReaper's part number thread in the 308/Mondial section for a thermostat part number (Thanks reaper! You the man!) Michel, the mechanic, ordered some hose and a thermostat. His parts guy delivered them only a half hour later while we were pulling the hoses apart and breaking the seal on the thermostat housing. The only thermostat we could get was 195 degrees, which Michel thought was too hot. I thought it would be fine if it was the thermostat that was giving us the problem.

    We replaced the busted coupling hose (which failed because of a stress crack at the hose clamp that finally let go under extreme temperature and pressure). I also made a new gasket for the thermostat housing by tracing the shape of the cover onto some gasket material. No way to get a Ferrari gasket out there! A few hours later we had the thing back together. I filled it with coolant, we bled it and warmed it up. The thermostat opened just as it should and we bled the rear. We bled the front. Everything looked good. So I went for a test drive. Within only a mile, the temperature was creeping up again beyond normal. The car seemed like it was getting worse! I quickly turned it around and took it back. We bled it again. Same thing. The only thing that seemed logical was a bad radiator. Had the vacuum bleeder device knocked some gunk loose and clogged the radiator? Was this just a coincidence and the radiator had been getting worse and worse slowly and I didn't notice? Who knows. Michel needed to be paid and agreed to give me a better price if I paid cash. I was low on cash, but Peter floated me a loan to pay Michel ($270 Canadian for parts plus his time….) I drove the car back to Peter's house (about 1/2 mile) with the windows down and the heat on. I parked it, shut it off, and the right side window refused to go up. The switch worked in the down position but not up. I sighed heavily, took a deep breath and put my head on the steering wheel. She was a harsh b*tch. My wife came out and asked what was wrong with the car NOW? I discussed with her the economics of pushing it off a local cliff and calling the insurance company. She assured me that since it was in fact her car that I had bought her as a gift, she got to keep the insurance money. Damn, I guess I had to fix it!

    I opened the trunk and I didn't have the manual steering wheel crank. Sigh again. Where the F*** did it go? OK, I grabbed a screwdriver and in the waning light of the evening, I started taking apart the console to get at the wires on the switch. I had to get the window closed, as it was going to rain. I took it apart, took a chance that the switch was symmetrical in design, flipped the connector 180 degrees and pushed "down" to make it go up. It worked. The window closed (rather quickly I might add….I guess the switch had been on its way out for a while). I put the console back together with the wires hanging out of the switch hole so I could still move the window with the working part of the switch by flipping the connector back and forth. I was done for the day.
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  4. Birdman

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    #4 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    More bad news. Peter's friend at Red Bull Racing confessed that although he had promised Peter pit passes, Red Bull did not have Paddock Club seats to give us because Red Bull did not buy into the Paddock Club! Good Lord, what a weekend! Peter was very upset. I was perfectly happy with the seats we had but I did not realize that we did not have them for Saturday because he had planned on us being with Red Bull in the Paddock Club. Would the Paddock Club remain a dream? Would I get to do a pit walk after all? Would we even get in to the track on Saturday? For that matter, would I ever get the car home?

    In a frenzy, Peter made some calls. He asked a favor from another friend who is 1/3 owner in the McLaren Mercedes team. Could he spare a pair of Paddock Club tickets for Saturday? He said that he probably could, because their wives all have tickets and never want to go. He promised to call back shortly. About an hour later he called back and said no problem, we could pick the tickets up at his place in the morning. We jumped for Joy. Peter knows everyone in Montreal, I couldn't believe how he pulled that one off! Paddock Club! Go Peter!

    The next morning we left my WIFE'S ill Mondial in the driveway and took his nice reliable Volvo <sigh> to the track. We parked outside the track and took a taxi in. Our tickets actually did not come with special parking this time, even though the Paddock Club is the ultimate ticket to the event. The access badges alone are works of art. Nonetheless, because we had those passes, we were able to take a cab right to the front door of the casino where we would enter. We didn't need to walk a mile like everyone else. Ah, membership has its priviledges! ;)

    We got to the McMaren Mercedes ("MM" from now on to ease typing) suite and entered. Whoa, now THIS is luxury. They had chefs preparing breakfast. They served champagne. Within about 30 minutes of getting there, Alonso came up to do a meet and great and answer some questions. Everyone in there is highly connected either to the sport, or in some other way. This is how the rich and famous watch F1. To put it in perspective, nobody even asked Alonso for a picture or autograph. I would have but I didn't want to be the only dork. Peer pressure, you see.
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  5. Birdman

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    #5 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    The suite was directly above the BMW team paddock and a little down the row from the MM paddock. I could lean out over the railing and right below me, separated only by a net awning to catch things dropped from above, were the mechanics and the cars. Not to be ingrateful to the generous man that gave us tickets from MM, I was curious what the Ferrari suite looked like. We ate breakfast and did a little sight-seeing.

    The paddock club passes all look pretty much the same, but if you look closely, each team's pass has their information at the bottom. So if nobody looks closely, you can walk into the Ferrari suite wearing a MM badge, which is what we did. Soon we were looking out over the railing at the pit lane from the Ferrari Suite and it was directly above the Ferrari Paddock. The F2007 was directly below me. Holy ****! Directly across the pit lane was the trackside Ferrari "control" area. (Not sure about the technical name for it.). Peter pointed to Michael Schumacher sitting there and said "there's your man!" I thought he meant Massa. I looked through my zoom. It was just some guy with a Ferrari hat and a pair of sunglasses looking the other way. It really didn't look like Schumi, not that I could really see from the back. Later Peter asked if I got that shot of Schumi. I was like "Schumi? Where the hell did you see HIM?"
    "I pointed him out to you in the control area!"
    "I thought you meant it was Massa!"
    "No, that was Michael Schumacher!"
    "SONOFABICTH!!!!"
    Oh well. He was kinda far away, it wasn't a good shot anyway. That's what I told myself.

    I took a few more pictures from the Ferrari suite of the F2007 coming out for another practice session, then we decided to head back to the MM suite and be with our own people before we got caught! On the way out I asked an official looking woman in the Ferrari area if we could meet either of the drivers and she looked down at my badge, scrutinizing it for a moment, then looked back up at my face and said: "Um, no."
    "Even if I'm a huge Ferrari fan?"
    "No, sorry."
    I guess that's that!
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  6. jimshadow

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    OK, I'm reading this as you are posting it....I"m hooked!!!
    Just read the 1st post. I hope the car is alright...:)

    JIM
     
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  8. Birdman

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    #7 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    So, we went back to MM, had some lunch, more wine, more champagne and watched the lap times being posted in practice. Wow, this Hamilton guy is fast. So is Alonso. Massa and Kimi were not doing so well. This is when they called out for the "Pit Walkabout." We grabbed our cameras and headed downstairs. We were led out into the pit lane and we had 45 minutes to ogle everything. Officially you cannot take pictures, but we were allowed to take our cameras. Peter had a small HDV high definition camcorder and I had my Nikon D200 SLR and a couple of lenses. We took pictures in front of most of the team paddocks, but the only garage we could actually enter was MM. They were busy readying the cars for the qualifications. We asked some questions, took some pictures and they actually let us watch for about 30 minutes. When we tried to do the same thing at Ferrari. Peter has a good friend who works for Ferrari in Montreal who was in the garage. He called him over and asked if he could sneak us in. He looked around and finally decided no, he would get in too much trouble if he was caught. So we took some pictures from outside the garage area and moved on.
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  9. Birdman

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    #8 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    We returned to the suite at the end of the pit walk and watched the Ferrari Challenge qualification. It was neat seeing all those F430s line up and race around the track, but man, they look like go carts in slow motion compared to the F1 cars. I know they are fast, and the guys driving them are driving them a hell of a lot faster than I could, but when you are used to seeing F1 cars blast by at 200 MPH, an F430 going 150 looks pretty slow.

    We also were introduced to an interesting technology called kangaroo.tv. It's a handheld device with an LCD display. It has a wireless connection and it's sort of like a combination between a TV and a little computer with an internet connection. You can get stats on drivers, watch the various in-car cameras, watch the closed-circuit TV in the track and pick a favorite driver and have it keep you posted. The problem is that even though it is amazing to see the cars in person at the track, you can't really follow the race very well. You see the cars go by..zing, zing, zing…at 200 MPH and you have no idea who is winning or what is happening on the other side of the track. In fact Peter feels that you actually get a lot more out of the actual race watching it on TV where you can see what is going on. But if you are in the luxury suites, they issue you a kangaroo.tv device and you can watch the race in person and on a personal TV at the same time. It has noise-blocking ear-bud earphones so you can hear the audio. Pretty neat.
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  10. snj5

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    This is a GREAT story!!
     
  11. Birdman

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    #10 Birdman, Jun 12, 2007
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    So we watched the qualifications and finally decided to head out. Neither of us was really interested in watching the Formula 1600 event. We grabbed a cab at the entrance and he took us back to the Volvo <sigh> and back to Peter's house.

    Sunday morning, the day of the big race, Christine had a flight home. We took her and my son to the airport and sent her home. She wished me luck in getting the Mondial fixed and left. We had a friend picking her up at the airport in Boston. Peter and I headed straight to the grocery store. The grocery store? We didn't have any fancy tickets for race day. No suite….no kangaroo.tv….no shade….no champagne. Call me spoiled! We went back to Peter's house and watched the race on his 60" HDTV with lunch, beer and snack food. What an amazing race. In spite of Massa's pathetic disqualification and Kimi's poor showing, the race was incredible. I'm sure most of you saw it. Damn, I thought Kubica (the BMW driver) was dead meat in that crash. Can you believe he only had a sprained ankle? Holy crap, those are seriously strong cars. I felt glad that Hamilton won even though he wasn't driving a Ferrari. It's nice to see rookie win. I felt bad for Alonso though. I had met him and he seemed like a really nice guy. Nonetheless it was interesting that we had been guests of McLaren Mercedes and they won. Maybe Ferrari should take the hint and invite me next year. You never know.

    That afternoon (Sunday) I could not work on the Mondial because Michel was with his family and I needed his tools and garage. But he called that afternoon.

    "Jonathan, I was theenking about eet, and I theenk we should take zee thermostat out. Eet's too hot. Eet should be 180 degrees."

    I agreed that the 195 degree thermostat was not helping, but I didn't think that was the problem. Nonetheless, the next morning, we took the thermostat housing apart again, removed the thermostat and made another new gasket (we used permatex gasket sealer to seal the last one, so it came apart when we removed it). The car will run fine in the summer without a thermostat. The engine will not come up to temperature as fast, but it won't hurt anything. We put it all back together and I took it for a test drive. It took longer to overheat because without a thermostat, the coolant had to heat the whole radiator to 195 degrees not just the block, but it still overheated. I was bummed that he wasn't right, but I knew it wouldn't work. Something was wrong with the radiator.

    By this time, Michel had other customers cars that needed to get done and he had to work on them. He told me I could work on the Ferrari myself, but he needed to get to work on the other cars. That was fine…I knew where everything was!

    I drained the coolant again, and started pulling the radiator. Fortunately the radiator on a Mondial comes out very easily. Two hoses, two bolts, it's out. You have to remove the fan from it and unplug the wires from the thermostatic switch, and it's out. I looked inside the "intake" pipe on the top of the radiator and what did I see? Little bits of rubber. I examined the two 1.5" ID rubber hoses that connected the radiator to the coolant pipes and one of them was disintegrating from the inside. Rubber was coming off from what was almost certainly the original hose (24 years old) and getting stuck in the top of the radiator. The radiator was functioning like a filter for the coolant, getting more and more clogged as I drove. That explained the temperature getting higher and higher as my journey progressed. I used a garden hose to back-flush the radiator and I got a bunch of rubber bits out, but not the ones that were clogging the little cooling tubes, just the big ones on top.

    I borrowed Peter's spare car and drove down to the radiator place downtown. The owner didn't speak a word of English. Finally, we found a mechanic to translate. He looked inside and said that I should just backflush with water. I asked if he had high pressure flushing gear and he said no. Sometimes they use acid to remove calcium deposits, but he was afraid it might hurt the radiator because it was old. It didn't help that it said "Ferrari" in big letters across the top. So I thanked him and went back to Michel's place just in time to order pizza for lunch. Michel and I chatted and enjoyed a nice cold Coke and pizza while we contemplated life. I told him how much I liked his cool spring compressor (for suspension) and how he needed a new set of screwdrivers (they were getting pretty beat up). He wanted a picture of himself working on the Ferrari. I told him if he gave me a good deal, we could arrange it. ;)

    Back to working on the radiator, I found that if I laid the radiator flat on its back, filled it with water, then blasted some air into the thing from the "outlet," it would blast water containing rubber pieces from the intake pipe. So for about an hour I kept filling it with water, blasting it, filling it and blasting it. I made a stopper to get a good seal on the air hose, and I gently blasted it. I was being careful not to put too much pressure on it…I didn't want to damage the radiator. But each time I did it, more rubber came out. When I started, I would guess that it only had about 20% flow through the radiator. If I held it up and filled it with water from the top, it would literally only trickle out the bottom. When I was done, I would say it had 90% flow. Whatever rubber was left in there, stubbornly stuck in the cooling tubes, was not coming out. My plan for home was to use some kind of rubber-dissolving solvent in the radiator (lacquer thinner?) to eat the rest of it. All I needed to do was get it home. The thing bothering me was that the volume of rubber in the radiator was far in excess of the rubber missing from the only hose component I removed that had been disintegrating. This means there was another hose somewhere that was going to not only continue pumping rubber into the system, but which was getting THIN and could burst! The last thing I needed was another burst in the middle of nowhere in Vermont.

    So what brought this on? Well, of course the hoses are old and this had probably started already. But when I used that vacuum device to draw a vacuum on the system, I probably flexed the hoses in the other direction and really knocked loose a bunch of rubber that was getting ready to flake off inside the hoses. Not good. I can't say for sure if the vacuum device was critical in this, because clearly the hoses have been disintegrating for a while and this was bound to happen, but the vacuum device brought on the inevitable sooner. Interestingly, every one of these hoses looks absolutely fine on the outside. You cannot tell how they look from the outside. Everyone is always saying to replace the fuel hoses so your car doesn't catch on fire. Well, replace the cooling hoses too so your car doesn't break down in Montreal!

    It was 2:30 on Monday afternoon when I finished putting it back together with new hose connectors and clamps on the radiator, filled it, bled it (getting to be an expert at that now!) and started it for a test drive. Peter showed up to check in and took some pictures for posterity. I gave him the update (that I found the problem). I took it out around the town for about 10 minutes in stop and go traffic. It did not overheat. It stayed right at 195. It was 80+ degrees out and the fan didn't even come on until I had been sitting for a few minutes, and went off when I got going about 40 MPH for a few minutes. The problem was found and fixed, at least for the moment. Now all I had to do was get home. Once I got home, the car would have to be completely gone through to replace the rest of the hoses, purge the remaining crap from the system, clean the radiator and install a proper thermostat (I think I'm going with 160 degrees to be safe!)

    By the time I thanked Michel, paid him another US$85 for the use of tools and lunch (it was all I had left in cash, so he took pity on me!) and got back to Peter's house, it was 3:00. Christine had called Peter for an update and asked if I was coming home. She wanted me home to help with the kids ASAP! But I did not want to have to drive through Montreal at rush hour again, and I didn't want to drive home in the middle of the night through Vermont (god forbid the thing breaks down again in the middle of nowhere at night). I sent my wife an e-mail at work and explained that I had decided to stay another night. I got an e-mail back quickly saying that she thought I just wanted another good night's sleep with no kids and more good wine with Peter and his wife. But honestly, I wanted to come home soon…I would miss two days of work because of this and we were scheduled to leave on Thursday for a long weekend in Maine! Do you think she'll let me take the Ferrari? ;)
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  12. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jun 20, 2003
    6,682
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    So I packed the car to leave at the crack of dawn on Tuesday, to beat the traffic through Montreal and hopefully make it home before noon. I went to bed early and got up at 5 AM. I left the house at 6 and am happy to report that I had a completely uneventful drive home, no overheating, no problems with the car at all. But…there is a disintegrating hose somewhere in the car and I have to find it. I'll be tearing into it soon…

    I will have a few more photos to post when I get around to processing them. Most F1 stuff. I hope you enjoyed my adventure! The moral of the story: if you take a 24 year old car to an F1 race 400 miles away, be prepared for something to go wrong!

    -Birdman

    P.S. Frenchman, you can have your vacuum coolant bleeder back!! ;)
     
  13. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Feb 19, 2006
    3,966
    Indiana
    Full Name:
    JIM
    Great story Jonathan!! Thanks for sharing.
    I'm glad everything worked out.
    What an awesome weekend for you! The MM Swag is pretty awesome, even if it is from the 'enemy'. LOL!

    JIM
     
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  15. Bad Dogg

    Bad Dogg Formula Junior

    Sep 29, 2006
    409
    The Burgh
    Full Name:
    Howard
    great story!! Glad it all worked out for you.

    Howard
     
  16. jonesdds

    jonesdds Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 31, 2006
    2,153
    SB,CA &amp; Park City UT
    Full Name:
    Jeff
    Thanks Birdman for your most excellent write-up! I've got to get to a F1 race one day. I remember seeing a Ferrari F1, I think the 2005 version a couple years ago at Laguna Seca run a bunch of laps in a demonstration at the historics and it was unbelievable. I've seen many Champ car races there but F1 is something so much more amazing. Few observations:

    1. Your wife is a saint!
    2. "Peter" is a great friend to have. Keep that friendship going!
    3. Great job figuring out the problems with the car, I'd be paying someone hundreds or more by then.

    I await your US Grand Prix report. You're taking the 308 for that one, right?

    Jeff
     
  17. NYJETSFAN

    NYJETSFAN Formula 3

    May 11, 2001
    1,093
    Kalifornia
    Full Name:
    Jr
    Thank you for sharing...
     
  18. f24nk

    f24nk Rookie

    Feb 4, 2007
    31
    Venice, CA
    Full Name:
    frank clementi
    really great story. What a blast to read. Great job. Excellent photos too.

    -f
     
  19. Sunracer

    Sunracer Formula Junior

    May 18, 2005
    625
    Makati City
    Full Name:
    Pierre Beniston
    Good story well told, nice job on the trouble shooting : ) PB
     
  20. TGF

    TGF Formula Junior

    May 1, 2007
    319
    North Central, MA
    Full Name:
    Tom
    Why did it have to end!? I was having too much fun reading that. Super cool. It's always fun when you get to spend a little time with the ultra-connected crowd and the worst events make the best stories afterward. Highs and lows, it's all there!
     
  21. Remy Zero

    Remy Zero Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 26, 2005
    21,240
    KL, Malaysia
    Full Name:
    MC Cool Breeze
    awesome! just awesome!
     
  22. ferrariguyma

    ferrariguyma Formula Junior

    Nov 5, 2003
    508
    Boston, MA
    Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Glad to hear you made it home safely.

    Andrew
     
  23. bjm

    bjm Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    922
    Fairfield County, CT
    Full Name:
    Brian
    I am speechless Jonathan, fantastic photos, what an adventure and very well written. What a way to see your first GP!
     
  24. furmano

    furmano F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 22, 2004
    13,099
    Colorado
    Full Name:
    furmano
    OMG!!!

    That was the most amazing F1 report I have ever seen on FerrariChat.

    Excellent post!

    -F
     
  25. Pizzaman Chris

    Pizzaman Chris F1 Rookie
    Project Master Owner

    Mar 13, 2005
    3,885
    New Hampshire
    Full Name:
    Chris &quot;Pizzaman&quot;
    Hey JB,
    Welcome back buddy.

    Sorry to hear about the problems. But at least you had a great time (sort of :) )

    Great pictures.

    Pizzaman
     
  26. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Sep 15, 2004
    5,438
    VIR Raceway
    Full Name:
    Peter
    +1!

    Geez...
     
  27. kraftwerk

    kraftwerk Two Time F1 World Champ

    May 12, 2007
    26,030
    England North West
    Full Name:
    Steve
    great pics thanks for posting
     

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