BFG Lifesaver Radial #50

Technical Specifications

Standard GM front suspension pieces with special Greenwood A-Arm bushings and roller bearing idler (steering) arm bushings
Front end springs would be changed according to the track. At Daytona they would use up to 1100 lbs.
Double-adjustable KONI shocks
The trailing arms were notched to help clear the 10 inch rims.
Rear frame was sectioned to permit the wider wheels to clear the chassis
Brakes were generally the GM J-56 calipers; used two locating pin holes for the pads. Also, another little trick of the time was to put in a spacer between the two caliper halves to permit the use of thicker pads.
Brake pads with ceramic backings were used to reduce heat transfer to the brakes
Wheel rims would be 8 inch in front and 10 inch in the rear, sometimes 10 inch all around
Greenwood manufactured molds (both front and rear) with the L-88 flares incorporated; these allowed up to 3 inches wider wheels over stock
The roll cages did not extend forward of the firewall; they were triangulated over the rear suspension; Greenwood may not have used the cross-brace between the two front suspension towers
Some subsequent racers have added side impact bars as part of the roll cage, as this is permitted by the SVRA and HRS as a safety measure
Wheels were 10 x 15 Minilites; a large stock of Minilites were purchased by Greenwood from the Penske Javelin program. The four-bolt wheels had to have the stud holes freeze-filled with similar material and then be remachined
Greenwood used very large wheel studs on all his cars. The holes in the wheels had to be drilled out to accommodate the studs
1972 tires were 60 series BFG Lifesaver Radial T/A 255/60-15; in 1973 the cars used the newer 60 series 245/50-15 front and 265/50-15 rear.
On the front wheels, Greenwood ran a very early version of the air extractor fans -- he used cut-down Corvair fans bolted onto the wheel to help move air across the brake area.
Body modifications to permit night racing included the recessed headlight brackets (dual light receivers) and marker lights to illuminate the car numbers for the scoring personnel
Because the three cars were designed to be running simultaneously, the Greenwood team also added two colored lights to the roof panels to help the pit crew identify which car was coming in; lights on the #48 car were red and orange and were located on the passenger side; lights on #50 were both orange and were also located on the passenger side; the #49 car had two red marker lights on the driver side
Hardtops were also a Greenwood mold to lighten the car; by 1974 the tops were just a lightweight shell with a Plexiglas backlight; they were just there to cover the roll cage
Open side pipes
Greenwood ran primarily all-aluminum ZL-1 engines for the BFG program. He bought these engines and rebuilt them himself as he felt his version was stronger and more reliable than the GM engine. NOTE: other cars of the era ran the steel block L-88 or L-89 engines as they were convinced that the aluminum blocks were not holding up) Some of the Greenwood engines would produce as much as 780 HP at 6200 RPM.
Originally wet-sump engines with Harrison oil cooler; later races did see dry-sump system used
M-22 transmissions; Borg-Warner T-10 viable alternate could have been used from time to time
12 specially molded interior pieces to make access to various parts easier than with the stock floor pan
Gauges and switches specific to racing; Greenwood installed his trademark large oil pressure gauges in a dominant position on the dash. The gauge was by American Gauge Company
Aftermarket driver's seat
Standard GM differential with tightened positraction clutches
Ring and pinion gears vary by track but generally used between 3.70:1 and 3.08:1 (even down to 2.98:1 for Daytona)
Standard big block alloy radiator with air ducting to service Harrison oil cooler
Special quick release center mounting bracket for top of radiator
Roll cage has multiple reinforcements in rear compartment meeting at a point behind the driver's seat; cage does not extend forward of firewall.
Chassis reinforcement in rear under the floor

The Rudy Braun #5
by Wayne Ellwood

In 1974 Rudy Braun approached John Greenwood to build a race car for him. As Rudy tells it, he had been exposed to racing through a friend, Cam Champion, who drove MGs in one of the Canadian regional SCCA groups. Very quickly, they decided to step up to a larger car. Together, they went and bought a Corvette from an airline pilot, who had also been racing in the SCCA regionals but in the Pennsylvania region. Then, with one big move, Rudy decided he wanted to go a racing a little more serious. He liked the Corvette so he asked himself how he could win. He had heard about Greenwood and decided that was what he needed. He called John Greenwood. A few days later he was in Greenwood’s Detroit shop talking about buying a car.

At the same time, Rudy had been racing in the SCCA series with another Canadian, Bill Adam, who had run a Corvette for a couple of years. They both lived in Burlington and ended up becoming pretty good friends. He asked Bill if he wanted to go racing together in a Greenwood, Bill agreed.

When Rudy went to see Greenwood, they hit it off pretty well. John walked him around the shop for several hours asking what he wanted to do. Did he want to do Trans-Am or IMSA? What did he want for suspension? Did he really want to win?

At the same time, sponsorship for racing was dropping off. It was hard to raise the money to pay for a topnotch program, so Greenwood suggested that they should do it together. Rudy would still have to buy the car and supply his own mechanic for the track work. But Greenwood would drive and his shop would do all the tweaking and repairing between races.

The first car Rudy purchased was destined for the SCCA’s Trans-Am series. The car was an update of the BFG #50 chassis. The car was painted all white and, at first, had a Canadian flag paint scheme on the hood… Rudy didn’t see a Canadian sponsored car driving under Greenwood’s famous “stars and stripes” motif. That paint didn’t last long before they decided to change over to the more familiar white car with nine stripes across the hood… the nose was purple with the stripes fading to red, orange, and yellow at the base of the windshield. This paint scheme, along with others that Rudy Braun would run, were developed by a friend of his, Paul Smith, out of Vancouver. Other identifying features included some Greenwood/Braun lettering on the back fender, with a small prancing horse with Braunco printed underneath, on the tail light section.

The 1974 Trans-Am season was a real low point in racing. There were only three events that year, due mostly to the impact of the fuel shortages of 1973. By 1975, however, the series was back up to five events. The Braun car, with Greenwood at the wheel, won at Nelson Ledges, Portland and Pocono. In the other two races Greenwood gathered points. In total it was enough to win the championship.

The Braun #5 (#50 BFG car) car then went to Bill Adam and a series of other Canadian drivers, who competed in various SCCA national and regional series. Eventually both BFG #48 and BFG #50 ended up with Jack Boxstrom, in Belleville, Ontario. It was Jack who restored both cars to their full BFG guise.

That’s the past, now let’s come up to present time and the reappearance of the #5 Braun car at the Monterey Historic Races in August, 2002.

For Lance Smith, the question of establishing the ownership trail on vintage race cars has always been important. He knew that when he bought some used parts, he had also acquired the original #50 BFG frame. Based on this information, he decided to rebuild another car, the Rudy Braun Trans-Am car, using a different frame.

As shown at Monterey, the car is still a long way away from a full restoration of the original car. The research and the reconstruction continue. In the meanwhile, Lance’s dad, Don, drives the car along with the BFG cars. Old acquaintances reunited on the track.

1972 #50 BFG #50 / #29 # 05 # 5 # 47 # 4 # 4 # 93 # 50 # 50 # 50
1972-75 1975-77 1977-80 1980-81 1981-84 1984-86 1986-89 1989-92 1992-2001 '01-present