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Touring Kachel Motor Company with the 'Motorheads'

Posted by Bill Griffith  November 10, 2011 12:22 PM

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(All photos: Bill Griffith for The Boston Globe). Click photo for larger version.

The dynamometer readout shows Tim Kachel's BMW M5 is putting out 317.3 horsepower and 250.1 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,664 rpm and 90.2 mph.

The Grateful Dead had their Deadheads. Naturally, that created spinoffs. A group of us started calling ourselves the Sleepyheads about 15 years ago because we were fans of rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. These days, my wife’s swimming group-and-social set call themselves the Wetheads.

Now Peter Bourassa, of Wayland, gives us the Motorheads.

In the first two instances, you had to find the music and become a fan. In the second two, the group finds you.

One day, if you’re a Motorhead candidate, you might get an email that’s part of a newsletter and carries this invitation:

“My name is Peter Bourassa. I am the facilitator for the New England-area group known as Motorheads.

“Occasionally, a group of motorsports enthusiasts gather to eat, drink, and lie about cars, motorcycles and themselves. Most of us are active in motorsports of some sort. That is not a qualifier for inclusion in this group. A shared interest is.”

Bourassa started the group-website-business (it’s hard to tell where the divisions are) four years ago after he was frustrated in finding a top-quality pair of driving shoes. “If you Googled driving shoes then, you got 1.4 million hits. Today, you’d probably get 7 million,” he says. “I finally saw someone wearing the shoes I wanted in the pits at Watkins Glen and ordered a pair. Then I figured that there were other people looking for the good stuff and willing to pay for it.”

That was the start of the business, Motorsports Marketing Resources, and its website mmrsite.com. So far, he’s listed 1,100 companies that meet his standards with another 1,500 he suspects have the right stuff.

MMR’s email messages have been coming into my email box for two years now. They’re attached to magnificent newsletters that are linked to people, events, and companies devoted to motoring excellence.

At first, I suspected some PR-type was trying to drum up publicity for the group and put me on their distribution list. Now I’ve come to believe it was the hand of the late Gene Ritvo, the epitome of a Motorhead—bon vivant, photographer extraordinaire, restaurateur, entrepreneur, and lover of style and performance in automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles. He left this world suddenly, and way too soon at physical age 74 (spiritual age 29) two years ago this month.

When the last email came my way, I realized it was Gene’s work. He was staying in touch from beyond the grave because he’d submitted my name to the group before he passed away.

The latest email, with a Ritvo-quality photo of a Ferrari engine, invited me to tour Kachel Motor Company in Lawrence. Their dyno was the tug, or rather pull, that was needed to drag me out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Kachel-Motor-Co-Motorheads.jpg

Click photo for larger version.

When the motorheads show up, the parking lot turns into a combination car show and cruise-in.

The trip was worth it. KMC has an amazing facility dedicated to the care, maintenance, and most importantly, performance mods to high-end motor cars. The language of Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and BMW M3 and M5 is spoken knowledgeably here.

Tim Kachel has transformed a former Lawrence factory building into a motoring safe house, with cars tucked into back rooms dedicated to their particular project.

Motoring is in his blood as the fourth generation of his family to be in the business. His great grandfather was a Pontiac dealer in Lancaster, PA, and there’s a 1952 photo in the shop of a Kachel Studebaker dealership.

He started learning his craft at birth but got into exotic cars, working at age 15 for the highly respected Schneller BMW specialty shop in Newbury and later at Turner Motorsport in Amesbury.

The only disappointment of the day, if you can call it that, was that the dyno pulls were done on an in-house BMW instead of Motorhead cars. The BMW was factory rated for 390 horsepower but showed just under 320 on the dyno.

“Wheel horsepower can be different from the horsepower coming right off the engine,” said Kachel.

Bill Griffith can be reached at WGriffith@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
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Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
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