Newsletter of the Smoky Mountain Austin-Healey Club

Knoxville, Tennessee

Amy Turner, Editor



Number 7 July 2000


Quarterly Meeting Time

Good heavens! When did that happen?! Did anyone notice we're halfway through 2000? It's time for a quarterly meeting so we can set our schedule for the rest of the year, mark our progress on this year's projects, make plans for Conclave, and plan our club's future. Circle July 15th on your calendars, and make plans to be at the quarterly meeting so your voice can be heard!


Upcoming Events



Where to Meet

July 10

Pub Night

Sullivanís Restaurant at 7:30 p.m.

July 15

Quarterly Meeting

Mountain Harbor Restaurant at 12 noon.

July 23-27


Indianapolis, Indiana




In this issueÖ

Quarterly Meeting Time *

Prez Sez *

Smoke Editions *

We're Making a List *

Roan Mountain Drive *

Springthing 2000 *

Performance Driving Safety Checklist, Part 1 *

July Calendar *

Upcoming Events *


Prez Sez

Summer is definitely here in full force. We are curtailing our drive events during July due to the heat. However, donít let the summer heat keep you from driving your cars. I still enjoy driving my SOB (Some Other British) everyday to work. With the top up or down there is just something about that engine buzz that makes it fun in almost any weather.

Speaking of drives, the trip to Roan Mountain on June 24th was great. Yeah, the temperatures reached the mid 90ís, but the temperatures on the mountaintop were at least 15 degrees cooler. The weather was great and the view was fantastic. More on that later.

July is the month for our third quarterly business meeting. We will meet at the Mountain Harbor Restaurant at 12 noon on Saturday, July 15th. We usually go to Mountain Harbor in February, but decided to try it during the summer when the lake levels are up. The food is wonderful, plan on being there. We need to plan events for the remainder of the year, talk about the Monster list we are putting together, make final plans for Conclave, and just have some fun.

Remember Conclave is almost here. I am really excited about it because this will be my first full Conclave. I canít wait to see all those beautiful Healeys, hopefully grab a few extra Healey parts here and there, race those R/C and pinewood derby cars, then watch (shucks, my car isnít ready yet) the gymkhana and funkhana. It still is not too late to join us. Come join the fun!

Remember Pub nights on the second Monday at 7:30 PM. Letís go Healeying!


Smoke Editions

As I write this, I'm listening to the last few cracks and pops of Independence Day fireworks being set off. (And I just heard a siren, too.) That means I'm late getting the newsletter out. Sorry for the delay, folks. You know, for an uneventful month, June sure was full of events!

In addition to getting used to the new Turner bi-coastal lifestyle, I've heard both good and bad news for the Smoky Mountain Austin-Healey Club. Let's start with the bad news.

Paul Fournier is leaving us for warmer climes. His job is taking him to San Antonio, Texas. We'll certainly miss him and Linda! Here's hoping work will also bring them back to our neck of the woods.

The good news is that the SMAHC has two members who have reached major milestones in club membership. As mentioned in the July issue of Healey Marque, Bob Ricker is a 20-year member of the AHCA. Surpassing even that, you'll see that Al Bradley, our member to the north, is a 25-year member! Congratulations to both!

See you on the road!


We're Making a List

by Richard Miller

All of you at one time or another have found a business that gave you good service, found that hard to get part, or did a good job on repairing your Healey. The club would like to get a directory together of those businesses so that we can all make use of them. They can be local, out of town, or even those with web sites. List their names, addresses, phone numbers, web addresses and include the kind of service or services they are good at. Send or give this information to me. My e-mail is

Roan Mountain Drive

by Bill Denton

Three big Healeys and a MGB left Jefferson City on Saturday morning, June 24 at 10:00 a.m. bound for the Promised Land, Roan Mountain, Tennessee. The en route trip was flawless and very scenic, with one minor exception. The heat of the day got to Bob Ricker and he departed the Healey motorcade at Greeneville (actually, he had to attend a Greeneville Car Show). Doug Smith, Bryan Broadhead, Bill Denton, and Annie the Border Collie continued on through the sweltering heat to the Promised Land. (A big Healey ride in 100-degree temperatures will make a Christian out of any non-believer.)

Finally, we reached the Promised Land, Roan Mountain State Park, at lunchtime. The higher we climbed on the mountain road, the cooler it got.

By the time we arrived at our picnic table, it was in the mid-70's. We had a hearty lunch amidst some of the most scenic views on the planet. Although the rhododendrons were in full bloom, the trails and Roan Bluff Overlook (observation deck) were the highlights. Doug and I stayed in heaven until 4:30 and then departed for our return trip through hell. (Brian departed mid-afternoon for Meridan, Mississippi - we know he is converted.)

In conclusion, if anyone, at anytime, has an opportunity to visit this heavenly place, please accept this gift and give yourself a treat. Roan Mountain State Park is one of the most beautiful and "coolest" spots on the planet.

Springthing 2000

By Charlie Lownsdale

I attended my first Springthing event in Louisville, Kentucky, in May and it certainly will not be the last. This is an event that everyone should put on their calendars for next year! There were about 45 cars and over 80 attendees from Middle Tennessee, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Indianapolis, and Louisville. My parents and I represented the Smoky Mountain AHC at the event.

Springthing was held across the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana, at the Holiday Inn. The hotel had a good autocross parking lot and a pond, which would have looked good displaying my Healey Skimaster if I had known about it. The three day event started with a hospitality get together and a Funkhana. Unfortunately, I arrived too late for the Funkhana, but I heard that it was a safe and fun event.

The second day was the Autocross, which is my main event. It rained in the morning which made running at full speed a little tricky. However, we were given plenty of runs over the three hour period and the track dried out quickly. Three of us had a real shootout for fastest time of day, with the top honor going to Mike Spence in his modified race prepared Sprite. I ended up with the second fastest Sprite time and a great "Home Run" trophy plaque. There were a number of novice drivers, who were practicing for their entry at Conclave this summer.

The sun came out and we headed to Churchill Downs for the horse racing action. One thing I learned there is that there never is a sure bet. Eating plenty of southern buffet goodies and watching the horses race went well with having my first taste of a Mint Julep. We kept watching for a Bugeye or Healey horse to bet on, but we were disappointed not to see any.

The next morning, the clouds were back for the Popularity Show, but fortunately the rain held off. The show was held in the hotel parking lot and the Sprite class consisted of 2 square bodies and 5 Bugeyes. Popularity was based on entrantsí voting and the Best of Show was determined by a panel of judging from throughout the region. I was awarded "Grand Slam" trophy for the Sprite division. The Best of Show was awarded to a magnificently restored gold Healey Hundred.

After the Popularity Show, we headed out for an afternoon of rally driving in the hills of southern Indiana. Yes, there really are hills in Indiana! The rally was very nicely put together and took us on some great Healey roads. We managed not to get lost, mostly thanks to my volunteer navigator, Jessica Fill. Even though my Sprite and I were tempted to drive off the planned route to savor some of the more tempting roads, we managed to finish the rally and find our way home.

The banquet that night was great and the Chinese auction was fun. I even managed to pick up some older patches and badges and a maglight in the auction. We all laughed when my parents accidentally bid against each other in the open auction. The trophies were superb with their Louisville Slugger bats mounted onto a nice wood base, certainly something to remember the event in Louisville. The Springthing staff even sent us individual thank you notes and photos for attending ó quite a nice personal touch!

I am really looking forward to next year and I hope that we can have a real touring group from the Smoky Mountain AHC attend this fun event.

Performance Driving Safety Checklist, Part 1

by Gary Lownsdale

In the last tech column, we discussed the items to go over on your Healey for driving to those long distance events across state lines and for enjoying the cars for several hundred miles on a trip, maybe trying to earn one of the new AHCA Driving Awards. Now letís review the safety items that are quite often overlooked on our cars before competing in the driving events, including uphill slalom, autocross, gymkhana, rally, and funkhana.


The tires must be in very good and reliable condition. Check the tires for cuts, abrasions, side wall cracking, and punctures. Check the tires for the correct air pressure. Remember, if you are driving in a slalom event of any kind, additional tire pressure will ensure that you do not roll over on the side wall and contact the edge of the rim onto the pavement. You may have to go as high as 40 psi on some cars to avoid contact under hard cornering. Make sure that the tires have more than 3/32 inch of useable tread with no flat spots or tire cord showing. Never compete in any driving event with a questionable tire. If you want to be serious in your competition, take along an extra set of wheels with tires specifically intended for competition use, such as those available from Yokohama (A008 SII), Hoosier, or Kuhmo.

Wheels and Mounting Studs/Nuts

The cornering and transient loads placed on the wheels and mounting hardware during a performance driving event are far more than were intended for normal street use. If you have installed wider wheels and tires than were stock (And who hasnít?), then you have introduced more bending and shear loads into the system. Check all your steel wheels for stress cracking, especially near the mounting holes and the joining of the rim to the hub, including the wire spokes. Do not use a wheel that has any cracks visible or with any rusted or broken spokes or nipples. If you have installed wider wheels and spacers, make sure that the wheel studs have been replaced with a longer length in an upgraded strength to allow for full engagement of the lug nut. Make sure that the spacer installed is of a material as strong as the hub and wheel itself, in order to avoid material creep and the resulting loosening of the wheel lug nut. If you are running a Sprite, consider upgrading to a 7/16 inch diameter wheel stud. Never drive in a performance event with the older style of wheel with a riveted rim and hub connection, which are prone to fatigue cracking. Throw away those rusty lug nuts and replace them with modern new lug nuts with clean straight threads.

There are many aftermarket lightweight cast wheels, such as Minilite, Minator, Superlight, and Panasport, as well as wire wheels with stainless steel spokes and upgraded rims and hubs, such as from Dunlop and Hendrix. These wheels are designed to withstand the higher cornering loads and the greater impact loads associated with modern wide low profile tires. Use a torque wrench to properly tighten the lug nuts, without overtightening.

Hubs, Bearings and Spindles

This is the one area that is most overlooked on any sports car before entering a driving event. New high traction tires are mounted to wide shiny wheels and away the car goes. All of that extra bending and shear loading is applied directly to the hub, through the wheel bearings, and into the front spindle. Make absolutely sure that the front spindle and hub have been magnaflux checked before driving in a speed event! Our cars have spindles that are prone to cracking during long term road use. These must be crack checked on a regular basis to avoid a major steering/suspension failure during hard cornering. Remember that banking on a track increases the loading during a corner and can accelerate a spindle failure. Any local machine shop can perform a magnaflux crack check for under $30. Thatís cheap insurance. The ball bearing assemblies on Sprites do not handle side thrust loads well and should be upgraded to conical roller bearings for serious competition. At a minimum, all front wheel and rear axle bearings should be inspected for galling, burnishing, and pitting and be properly lubricated and reinstalled. Make sure that the bearings are installed exactly as shown in the shop manual, since it is possible to install the Sprite bearings in reverse and further degrade the side thrust load absorption capability. Installation of double rear axle bearings will also aid in preventing rear hub bearing premature failure and snapping of the rear hub from the axle shaft.

Steering Components

Check the steering system for play or lost motion in the outer and inner tie rods, steering shaft coupler, steering wheel hub, and the steering rack. On Big Healeyís, check for looseness or binding in the idler assembly and the steering gear box. Broken spokes on the steering wheel necessitate a wheel replacement. Lubricate all components carefully with the correct grease or oil! Replace any components that are suspect, rusty, pitted, or loose. Make sure that all connections and mounts are tight. Early Healeyís used castelated nuts and cotter pins to lock the tie rods in place. Looseness means wear - wear means potential for failure - failure means having a bad day at the track!

Shock Absorbers and Suspension

The most common problem on a Healey suspension is with loose shock absorbers. The front frame mounts have threaded plates which are prone to fatigue and to wearing. This results in the shock absorber bolts coming loose and not holding the proper torque. The shock absorber is the top mount in the Healey front suspension system, without which the suspension cannot maintain its proper relationship to the frame. Check these on a regular basis and make sure that the shock connecting links and bushings are solid and not worn.

Check for wear in the rear spring shackle mountings and bushings. These are easily and inexpensively replaced, but are often overlooked. A loose rear end (oversteer) in a car can often be traced to worn spring shackle bushings. Check for cracked and broken rear leaf springs and sagging front coil springs. Springs will take on a compression set over time and should be replaced. Check the bump boxes and the bump stops at the front and rear. Many times the rubber snubber has been broken off and should be replaced in order to avoid metal to metal contact. While checking the bump boxes, make sure that the rear spring u-bolts and nuts are in good shape. Again, these are very often overlooked, and they provide the only means of attachment of the rear axle to the springs.

Editor's Note: This article will be continued in the next issue of Smoke Signals. While you're waiting, go ahead and get started on this thorough checklistÖthen go win that next gymkhana!



July Calendar



Upcoming Events


July 10 Pub Night at Sullivan's Restaurant on Northshore, 7:30 p.m.

July 15 Quarterly Meeting at Mountain Harbor Inn in Dandridge, TN, at 12:00 noon. Directions can be found at or hook up with a club member who's been there before.

July 23-27 Conclave 2000 in Indianapolis!


















Smoky Mountain AHC Newsletter

Amy Turner, editor

126 S. Jackson Street

Athens, TN 37303-4711


Phone: 865-300-4553 or