Pogo Midget

The Pogo midget the day we brought it home.

History of the Car
When we bought the car, we didn't know the make of the chassis, but thought it might be a Pogo. Since then, we've spoken with Stuart Rea of Beloit, Wisconsin, one of the former owners of the car, who confirmed that was indeed at Pogo, built by Tom Pogorzelski (Tom Pogo) in Wisconsin. When owned by Stuart, it was driven by Kellen James in the Sportsman Midget series with UMARA in the midwest. We then talked with Tom Pogorzelski at RaceBolt who remembers the car well. The car was originally built for Bob Bilby and was custom built for Bob to his specs and using some parts he already had. The car was distinctive because of it's aluminum louvered side panels. The car was later owned by Kevin Langston of Lincoln Park, Michigan, then by Stuart Rea, then by Jason Dull of Machesney Park, Illinois. We bought the car from a sales broker in Colorado. It was last run with a Chevy II motor which is missing. Over the next few months we'll be putting together a Chevy II motor for the car. Our goal is to drive the car at Latimore Valley in August, 2005, at the event put on by the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing. If that goes well, then we plan to go to the event next November at Zephyrhills that is sanctioned by the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association.

Assembly of the Car

November, 2004
When we bought the car, it was in Monroe, Iowa. The first problem was to get it home. For comfort and economy we decided to repair the old ministock trailer and then use it to bring the car home. On one of our previous trips with the trailer, we spun a wheel bearing and damaged a hub. We took the trailer hub over to Halpro, and they did a great job, sleeving the hub, and then machining the sleeve to fit the standard bearing. We put in a new set of wheel bearings and rewired the trailer with all new wiring and new light fixtures. We declared it good to go for another 40 years, and left for Monroe the week before Thanksgiving. We made Peoria, Illinois, the first night and got over to Monroe in late morning of the second day. We loaded up the car, and then headed south 10 miles to Knoxville, Iowa to visit the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum . The Museum was great and we were lucky enough to meet Ned Fry there.

After loading the midget, we made a stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum .

After the visit to the Museum, we headed home, with a snowstorm building up behind us. We were pretty tired when we arrived at Indianapolis that night, and again when we made home to the shop the next evening. We unloaded the car, and began to inventory what we'll need to finish the car. The sales broker had described the car as follows: "The only thing this car is missing is an engine, radiator and push truck. Car is complete with a Halibrand rear, Alcohol fuel cell, complete dry sump system, complete steering system, brakes, bars, shocks, and all the gauges." As it turned out, the driveshaft, rear end gears, driveshaft u-joint and Chevy II button were missing, as well as the front right brake hat, rotor, caliper and hose, and all that was there from the "complete dry sump system" was the dry sump tank. In addition, one of the wheels didn't match the other three which still had the Sportsman Midget Mickey Thompson I-Bar pattern tires that were used when the car was last driven by Kellen James. The only gauge that worked was the water temperature gauge. All of the hoses and AN fittings had been stripped out of the car as well. The fill tank and hose for the rear end were also missing. Our first step was to try to locate and buy all the missing parts to get the car up to the rolling chassis stage.

We spoke with Jason Dull, and were lucky to buy from him the spare driveshaft that had been with the car, as well as the front U-joint and Chevy II adapter button. We bought a new front right brake hat and a rotor from Sierra Racing Products. Jason also had the fourth matching wheel and Mickey Thompson tire for the car, and so we bought that as well. We then had a good set of four wheels and tires we could run on asphalt.

At the end of the month, we got a lead from Jim Sutter, that there was a complete Chevy II midget motor near Albany, NY, that Joe Sukup was selling. It had spun a rod bearing and blown a headgasket, but was otherwise complete and included a Hilborn Fuel injection system. We drove to Albany and brought the motor home and took it apart to have a look at it. We found that it had been run without oil and all the main bearings were melted, and the crank wasn't worth fixing. The cylinders were also worn out. However, there were some good parts in the motor, including a Racer Brown roller cam, a nice set of Venolia pistons and a set of Ansen connecting rods. One of the connecting rods was damaged, so we took all four rods to Rockville Ring and Bearing to see if the damaged rod could be fixed.

A photo of the motor we got from Joe Sukup. As it turns out, we'll probably sell the Hilborn Fuel Injection system, and all we plan to use from the motor is the Racer Brown cam, Ansen connecting rods, and Venolia pistons.

December, 2004
After taking apart the Albany motor, we put a "Wanted" ad on the ARDC web site, looking for another Chevy II motor and also a set of wheels that we could use for dirt tires. Through that ad we met Brian Suchy who had raced a Chevy II midget with ARDC, but was now running a sprint car and was selling his Chevy II parts. We bought seven wheels from Brian, a good Chevy II 153 engine block, a Mercruiser head, a Hilborn fuel pump, a E.V.M Fuel injection system and a couple of trick timing gear covers. He also gave us a much appreciated pile of take-off dirt tires.

Brian Suchy, famous ARDC Chevy II midget driver, and now driving a Sprint Car, in front of his shop in Pennsylvania.

Brian's shop is a gold mine of Chevy II parts.

When we got home from Brian's shop, we took 6 of the wheels and the best tires over to Executive Tire in Rockville for mounting, and then put a good starter set on the car. We also test fit the engine block in the car. There were holes in the rear engine plate to mount the block with a 45 degree layover to the left, and also holes for a 10 degree layover to the left. We found that at 45 degrees, the fuel injection ram tubes became the widest part of the car, sticking way out past the side nerf bars. At a 10 degree layover, the left side rail was in the way of the fuel injection. We measured and drilled four new holes and mounted the block upright with no layover. That seems to be the best position, with the fuel injectors up out of the way. The cutouts in the engine cover even seem to match the fuel injector system in this configuration.

With the motor laid over 10 degrees, the E.V.M. fuel injection wouldn't clear the left side top rail of the chassis.

With the motor upright, the fuel injection clears the left side top rail of the chassis.

With the motor upright, the fuel injection also has a nice tight fit under the engine cover.

A rear view of the car, with the tires and wheels we got from Brian Suchy.

We worked full time on the car the last week in December. We bought a couple of used JFZ front brake calipers, and six good rear end gear sets from Shannon Mausteller, a former ARDC racer. We installed one of the gear sets in the rear end, and mounted one of the brake calipers on the front right of the car. We bought a new brake hat and rotor from Sierra Racing and a new front right brake hose from Speedway Motors, and fitted them on the car to replace the parts that had been stripped out of the car before we got it.

The new rotor, hat and brake hose are now on the car with a used JFZ caliper.

The tri-drive we ordered from Ron's Fuel arrived and we test fit it on the car. We also fit the Hilborn pump that we got from Brian Suchy, after carefully reversing the direction of the pump. We are front mounting it and it was set up to run off the back of the cam. We also got a set of fuel injection nozzles, and the main bypass jet for the system from Ron's Fuel.

We ordered a large number of AN hose fittings and 30 feet of steel braided hose from Speedway Motors , and installed the missing fill tank for the rear end, and made up all the fuel lines for the fuel injection system. We also fitted new gauges in the dashboard to replace the ones that were broken. We also fabricated the front motor mounts.

We test fit the new tri-drive on the front of the motor, and made up all the lines for the fuel injection system. The fuel nozzles are now in the injector tubes.

January, 2005

We bought a used radiator that had some crash damage, but we able to straighten it and it looks good. We also bought a dry sump pan from A.R.E.. We also need to buy a Barnes oil pump for the front of the tri-drive. Then we'll need to build all the lines for the dry sump system.

We put our number two engine block in the car, along with our number two Mercruiser head, and took the car to Stahl Headers in York, Pennsylvania so they could fit a custom exhaust system.

This is Greg Stump of Stahl Headers in the Stahl shop, after he had just completed construction of a set of custom Stahl headers for the car.

While the car was at Stahl, the crankshaft, rods, and pistons came back from the balance shop and we finished assembly of the bottom end for the number one motor.

The number one motor is ready to go in the car.

The motor has a Ron's fuel tri-drive with EVM water pump driving off the crankshaft and a Hilborn fuel injection pump running off the idler gear. A custom Barnes Systems two-stage oil pump is on order and will go on the third mount on the tri-drive, to be driven off the end of the cam. A Racer Brown camshaft with roller lifters, Venolia pistons on Ansen rods, and A.R.E. dry sump pan complete the package. We'll put the Mercruiser head on the motor once the motor is in the car.

February, 2005

We put the motor in the car and installed the Mercruiser head after moving over the trick valve springs from the orange motor. We then spent a number of days building hoses. We built the fuel injection hoses first, then the water hoses, and lastly the hoses for the drysump oil system. The custom oil pump arrived from Barnes. Since we had less than 5 inches between the front of the timing cover and the radiator, and there was no room for two scavenge sections, they built the pump with an extra large single scavenge section.

The red and black custom Barnes pump fits perfectly between the timing cover and the radiator.

When we finished the oil lines, we filled the oil tank with oil, and pushed the car forward in gear, and the oil pressure came right up. We installed a set of Autolite racing plugs and a set of competition solid wire plug wires. Lastly, we installed a pair of Vintage Garage decals from ARL Signs in Rockville and declared the car ready to test. We pushed it outside and took a couple of photos before loading it on the trailer for the trip to Zephyrhills.

The Pogo outside the shop.

The Pogo with the hood off. There isn't much room left in the engine bay.

A side shot of the other side of the car.

We had a nice trip to Zephyrhills for the DAARA races in late February. The Florida weather was great and we went down early to enjoy some of the Florida State Parks around Zephyrhills. We went to Rainbow Springs, Hillsborough River, and Little Manakee. We arrived at Zephyrhills on Wednesday and were pleasantly surprised to find the Morris Monster in the paddock. We set up next to the Morris Monster and took this photo:

We unloaded the Pogo and set up next to the Morris Monster.

We went through tech inspection Wednesday afternoon and were looking forward to our first track session on Thursday morning. The weather was again perfect on Thursday and we got help pushing the Pogo up to the pits. After the drivers meeting, DAARA gave priority to the new drivers and let us out on the track first, which was much appreciated. Unfortunately, we didn't do so well. The engine popped and fired, but never ran well enough to get off the bumper of the push truck. Oil pressure was good, and fuel pressure was good, and by the end of the attempt, we had a lot of alcohol in the oil. We spend a couple of hours changing the oil, and at the end of the day, had help from the Paquins and one of the TBARA push truck drivers and made 6 attempts to start the engine on the paddock lane. Finally, we gave up and headed home early. We think that the main problem is a weak spark, but we're not sure.

The #27 Vintage Garage Pogo is in the pits at Zephyrhills waiting to go out on the track.

March, 2005

We installed a MSD 6AL Capacitive Discharge spark unit in the car to boost the spark, using the stock Mercruiser distributor to trigger the MSD unit. We retained the solid core spark plug wires we installed before Zephyrhills, thinking that the car might run with a hotter spark. We put on the Mickey Thompson DOT Sportsman Midget tires that came with the car and decided we were ready for the asphalt track at New Hampshire International Speedway.

May, 2005

We had a nice trip to New Hampshire International Speedway, and were one of the first teams to check in. NHIS is a wonderful facility, and the management really rolled out the red carpet and treated us well. We were assigned one of the NASCAR garages and were able to park the Warrior right out in front of the garage. Each garage has a large workbench, with compressed air and electricity right at the workbench.

We unloaded the #27 Vintage Garage Pogo and set up shop in one of the NASCAR garages.

We went through tech inspection Wednesday morning, and the cars were separated into groups for track time. There were two divisions of stock cars, and a group each of Indy cars, Sprint cars, and Midgets. When it was time for the Midgets to go out, we pushed our car over to the pits.

The #27 Vintage Garage Pogo is in the pits at New Hampshire waiting to go out for the first session.

When it was our turn to push off, we were disapointed to find the results worse than at Zephyrhills. The engine never fired, and we never got off the front bumper of the push truck. We got a push back to the garage and checked the car over, and found that we now had no spark at the spark plugs. While reading the MSD trouble shooting guide, we found that we had missed the warning not to use solid core spark plug wires with the unit, and on top of that, it looked like we had blown up the MSD unit. It seemed to be working in the shop back home, but at New Hampshire, we couldn't get any spark at all. We didn't have a spare MSD unit so we went back to the stock Mercruiser distributor and coil setup that we used at Zephyrhills, and went back out on the track for the second Midget session later in the day. The results were about the same as at Zephyrhills.. the motor would pop and sputter a bit at throttle off, but when the throttle was open, there was no fire. We never got off the front bumper of the push truck, and gave up for the event.

June, 2005

We sent the MSD unit to MSD for repairs and it came back in about two weeks, with a sheet that said that MSD had replaced a couple of the internal components. We installed it in the car, and this time used the MSD recommended resistive spark plug wires. The spark seemed nice and hot now, and reliable. We also ordered a leakdown tester from Ron's Fuel for the fuel injection system to set the rate of flow in the fuel injection.

July, 2005

We tested the leakdown setting in the fuel injection system, and found that it was less than 1%. We reset the leakdown in the fuel injection system to be 12% at idle. We put the dirt track tires back on the can and declared it ready to test at Latimore Valley.

August, 2005

In August we went to the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing/Williams Grove Old-Timers convention at Latimore Valley Fairgrounds. We unloaded the car in the pits at Latimore Valley under the double pop-up canopy provided by Jim Sutter. Earl Barnes had his #22 Edmunds Pinto parked under the other half of the canopy.

At Latimore Valley, the cars were divided into three groups for track time. The stock cars were first on the track, followed by the sprint cars, and then the midgets. When it was our turn to go out on the track, the Pogo fired up immediately and finally got off the front bumper of the push truck. Not only did it fire up, but it ran great! We ran all fifteen laps of the session, with good oil pressure, good fuel pressure, good water temperature, and no leaks. The performance of the Chevy II engine was thrilling!

The Pogo is on the track at Latimore Valley Fairgrounds, finally running on its own power!
(Photo by Brian Watson)

Earl Barnes #22 Edmunds and the #27 Vintage Garage Pogo out in front of Jim Sutter's pits, after the first successful track session.
Barbara and Jim Sutter are in the background, along with Earl, Georg Dimase who was driving the #22, and Vaughn.
(Photo by Brian Watson)

We got back from from Latimore Valley and received a note from Stuart Rea that he found the original engine side panel for the car and is sending it. The panel arrived the next day, and it made the car look so sharp, we decided to bite the bullet and paint all the side panels. It was hard to keep the panels shiny in the bare aluminum, and we like the look of painted sides anyway. We took the fiberglass hood to Mattos and got a color scan to match the red on the hood, and bought a couple of quarts of red Dupont Chroma One. We laid the panels out flat and first primed them with VariPrime self-eching primer. When dry, we then applied a coat of regular gray lacquer primer, and then the red Chroma One top coat. We also removed the blue coating from the right rear beadlock, and painted the blue rear wheel torque plates yellow.

We used Dupont VariPrime self-etching primer on the side panels.

The freshly painted panels are on the car, and we think it looks sharp!

We also raised the driver's heel blocks in the car to make it more comfortable for us, and re-engineered the drive pin/spacer arrangement on the rear axle. Previously, only three pins per side were taking the torque, now all six on each side are in service. We also changed rear end gears for the 5/8 mile track at Thompson. We loaded the car on the old mini-stock trailer and left for the Vintage Oval Extravaganza at Thompson, towing the trailer behind the Warrior. We hope to further test the car and to make continued improvements.

We arrived at Thompson the afternoon before the event, and the track owner Don Hoenig let us in early, which was much appreciated. We unloaded the midget, and Einstein and I walked the track and also the old road course. This satellite photo from the TerraServer shows the track and the remnants of the road course. We also took a photo of the empty track.

We took this photo of the track at Thompson the day before the Vintage Oval Extravaganza.

The track opened first thing in the morning and there was a steady stream of midgets, sprint cars, and stock cars coming in. The cars were divided into five race groups, of roughly 20 cars per group. The first three groups were for the stock cars, then there was a group for the midgets, and lastly a group for the sprint cars and big cars. Our car ran great in the first session. We were taking the turns at 2500 RPM but were hitting our RPM limit of 6000 RPM before the starters stand. When we start to go faster in the turns, we'll really need taller gears.

The #27 Vintage Garage midget in the paddock at Thompson.

From the Photo Gallery of Watson Racing:
The Vintage Garage midget is on the track at Thompson.
To see the rest of the photos from the Watson Racing Photo Gallery from Thompson, click here.
(Photo by Brian Watson)

After the session, we checked the car over, and were surprised to see that we were getting about one (1) MPG fuel consumption, and there was some alcohol in the oil. We put in a bigger pill for the second session to lean out the fuel mixture. The car ran just as well for the second session, and still used a lot of fuel, so we think we still need to be leaner. Toward the end of the second session, something broke in the dry sump drive, and we were done for the day. We had a good outing, and came home with a big list of things to improve.

September, 2005

We pulled the engine, and found that the head of the drive spud for the oil pump had twisted off. By examinining the part, we determined that it was a 5/8" socket head screw which had been turned down to 3/8" and then threaded with fine threads. We decided that it needed to be beefier, so we turned a 5/8" socket head screw down to 1/2" and then threaded it for fine threads. We then drilled out the end of the camshaft for 1/2" fine and insterted the new drive spud into the cam. We also made a trip to Rockville Ring and Bearing for a new set of rod and main bearings, and replaced them in the engine. We then put the car back together. We also removed the front 2 inches of the seat to inprove foot room in the car. The car is now ready for Zephyrhills in November!

November, 2005

We had a great time at Zephyrhills. The car ran great, and we came home with the car still running, and with no major problems. The seat, pedals, and pedal blocks are finally just right and the car is comfortable to drive. There were two midget heats every morning for about 7 cars each and a midget feature each afternoon for about 14 cars, each of four days. Other groups having heats and features were the sprint cars, stock cars, and Model A's.

The Vintage Garage #27 midget takes the inside line during
the Friday midget feature at Zephryhills, November 11, 2005.
(Photo by Dwight Fish, Copyright Event Photos, LLC)

December, 2005 & January, 2006

We didn't do much on the car in December and January, focusing instead on building "Sammy Sapling", our little push truck. All we really did on the Pogo was clean it up from Zephryhills, and empty the fuel tank for winter storage.

February, 2006

We finished the push truck and returned to focus on the Pogo to get it ready for February Zephryhills. We welded up a new catch tank mount for the radiator catch tank, acquired a set of lower gears for the rear end, and moved the fuel return lines from the bottom of the fuel bladder to the top, near the fill opening. With the fuel return lines going in to the bottom of the bladder as originally designed, fuel would sometimes gravity feed back to the injectors and fill up the intake ports. We're hoping that locating them above the fuel level will correct that problem with no adverse affects. We also welded up a new exhaust turnout with a small muffler in it and sent it to Jet-Hot to be coated. We also bought a new set of Hoosier dirt tires.

We also learned that Tom Pogo had died. Here is the write-up that was on the BMARA midget web site:

Tom Pogo Race Car Builder and Manufacturer Dead at 60
Waukesha,Wis.--Tom Pogo, race car builder and manufacturer for over three decades died suddenly on Friday Jan. 27 at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Born on Jan. 24, 1946 Thomas Pogorzelski was a champion go-kart driver and briefly raced modifieds, before designing and building his first race car. By the early 80's Outhouse Engineering under the direction of Pogo was building midgets, sprint cars, modifieds and stock cars. The company was also a stocking dealer for most major race product lines. Pogo designed and built cars that claimed countless victories at race tracks through out the Midwest. The Outhouse Chassis scored multiple championships in the Badger Midget Series, Dairyland Midget Series, Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Association and IRA Sprint Series to name a few. Tom along with his son Jeff also provided team management and maintenance programs for several teams in various series over the years. For the last ten years, Pogo turned his attention to street rod and high performance hot rod design and restoration, countless number of vehicles were worked on at his Mukwonago, Wis. shop. Pogo's Racemaster Industries was also producers of a popular line of racing hardware marketed under the name of Racebolt. Tom is survived by wife Karen of 39 years, children Shelly and Jeff, along with two grandchildren and his mother.

We also mailed in our entry for February Zephyrhills, and are looking forward to seeing our friends at DAARA!

March, 2006

We're back from Zephyrhills! The midget ran great and we had a great time! The Pogo, mini-stock trailer, and the Warrior all came home running, so all we have do do before the next time is to clean up and inspect the equipment. Here are a couple of photos from meet taken by Randy Harbaugh:

Curtis Whalin pushes off the Vintage Garage Pogo Midget at Zephryhills, February 25, 2006.
(Photo by Randy Harbaugh)

Later in the day, the track surface is hard and dry, almost like asphalt.
(Photo by Randy Harbaugh)

2011 Vintage Garage Oval Racing Schedule

Date 2011Event Surface Sanction
Nov.10-Nov.13 DAARA Vintage Nationals at Orlando Speedworld, Bithlo, FL 1/3 Mile Asphalt DAARA

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