Bernal Dads Go Racing at Sonoma, Give Valiant Volvo Race Car a Heart Attack

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

The last time the Citizens of Bernalwood saw the mutant race cars operated by those petrol-huffing papas from the Bernal Dads Racing Team was back in October, during the glamorous 2014 Fiesta On The Hill on Cortland.

That was when both The Whale, America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon, and  The Cookie, a motorized Alfa Romeo-Pepperidge Farm pun, were on display for Bernalese of all ages to eyeball and experience:


Since then, the Bernal Dads have been very busy. There was a 24 Hours of LeMons race at Sonoma Raceway in December, during which both The Whale and The Cookie performed valiantly, with only minimal body-damage to show for more than 16 hours of intense racing in each car. (Click here to go for a musical racing ride-along with your Bernalwood editor.)

Then came another race at Sonoma two weeks ago. The Bernal Dads planned to race only The Whale, although The Cookie made the trip too in the hope that it might attract a sucker willing race team to purchase it for a very reasonable price.

For the first day and a half, The Whale did what it does best: Perform reliably and put big, goofy grins on the faces of everyone who races it:

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

Everything was going great, Team Bernal was competitive, and Racer Brandon even found time to prepare for the much-coveted Daft Punk “Third DJ” audition:


But toward the end of the second day, with only a few hours of racing remaining, disaster struck. If you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when a Volvo station wagon engine decides to disembowel itself, then wonder no more: This in-Whale video captures the awful acoustics:

In that instant, The Whale was transformed from a gallant race car into a four-wheeled paperweight.

But since the race was almost over, and The Cookie was just sitting there with a big For Sale sign on the windshield, the decision was made to quickly ready it for race duty. A few minutes later, The Cookie made a surprise on-track cameo appearance:

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

Best of all, there was a surreal moment when The Cookie race car was pursued at 80+ mph by none other than… a Cookie Monster race car! With the For Sale sign still stuck to the windshield!

LeMons at Sonoma, Jan  2015

We can say with confidence that such a thing has never before happened in the history of global motorsport — or Sesame Street.

Later, the sad, inert Whale was dragged back in San Francisco, where the Bernal Dads Internal Combustion Pathology Team disassembled the motor to identity the cause of death. When the pistons were exposed, one smartass was heard to say, “Well, there’s your problem… right there!”


Oof. This was the official autopsy report:

Diagnosis: #3 intake valve spring failed, dropping valve, allowing shim to work loose. Once loose, the next time the piston hit the valve, the shim wedged under the camshaft lobe so firmly that the camshaft stopped. The crankshaft, however, did not stop. This snapped the timing belt, but more interestingly, it also sheared the cam sprocket locating pin right off the cam!

For those who never attended medical school, that basically means is that the engine is fried.

But fear not, Friends of Whale… the car can be revived with a simple heart transplant.

Which brings up a neighborly request: If you happen to have a spare Volvo 240 engine gathering dust in a closet, and you’d like to donate it to a worthy cause, please dial the number on your screen to contact the Bernal Dads Racing Team’s Volvo Resurrection Hotline. Mechanics and shamans are standing by.

PHOTOS; Telstar Logistics

Bernal Houses and Matching Cars: A Color-Coordinated Photography Collection


For reasons that remain entirely mysterious and unknown, several photographers have submitted photos to the Bernalwood group on Flickr that show Bernal Heights cars parked in front of color-coordinated Bernal Heights homes. It’s an ad-hoc photo show! Veerrrrry innnnnteresting.

The photo of the low-rider Chevrolet and matching house you see up above was captured by Chris Martin.

Neighbor Markus Spiering captured this All-Amercian collection of a faded old Ranchero, a white picket fence, and a trio of muted Bernal houses:


Neighbor Jane Underwood found a red door in Bernal Heights that came with a matching Miata:


And finally, Neighbor Ben Rosengart shot this faded Jaguar with a tan roof that blends smoothly with the house behind it:


Want to help create more ad-hoc photo patterns? Share your sexxxy Bernal photos in the Bernalwood photo group. Please!

UPDATE: Here’s a minty-fresh midcentury pairing on Montcalm, shared via the comments:

Spotted on a dog walk: Double mint. #onlyinsf #dscolor #wheelsandwalls

A photo posted by Kelly Lack (@kellyalack) on

Also, Jason Lashinsky emailed us this greyscale house-scooter pairing:


Heavy Rains Turn Cars into Submarines at 101 Hairball Onramp


The (much welcomed) rains were intense last night — so much so that a storm drain for the Hairball interchange clogged up and flooded the 101 South onramp from eastbound Cesar Chavez.

When I drove past the site at about 8:45 am this morning, the onramp was closed and a DPW crew was vacuuming out the offending storm drain with a giant sucker-truck.

But a tweet from Neighbor Brian informed us that the flooding had been so intense before sunrise that a few cars became thoroughly submerged:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.28.38 AM

Meanwhile, Neighbor Anita reports things looked similar around the Alemany 101/280 Spaghetti Bowl:


PHOTO: @brianhollinger

Drama! Bad Driving! Streetcar vs. SUV Accident in the Bernal Cut




Neighbor Fiid from Highland Ave. saw the aftermath of a rather nasty collision between an SUV and one of MUNI’s modern Breda streetcars last night on San Jose Avenue at the entrance to the Bernal Cut. Here’s Neighbor Fiid’s report, filed in Bernalwood Action News mode:

Location is San Jose Avenue at the Shell station (north end). The SUV drove up the middle of the platform instead of either side, and ran out of concrete where it drops to just tracks and gravel. Then it either hit or got hit by the train.

Not 100% clear what the chain of events was. Officer at the scene said that this happens quite frequently (less than once per month – so maybe 6-10 times a year??).

The SUV is totalled; but the occupant(s) were unscathed. The Breda had its mating connector damaged, and there was a damaged panel, and some boxes zip-tied up underneath to enable a “get it home” strategy. (Just like the Bernal Dads!)

Could easily have been nastier, but totally avoidable.

From the Highland Bureau: signing out.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Fiid

With Assist From Local Contractors, Bernal Trees Terrorize Neighborhood Cars



With help from a team of indifferent landscaping contractors and Sir Issac Newton’s laws of gravitation, there was an awkward interaction on Monday between a few oversize Bernal trees and a few undersize Bernal cars.

Neighbor Janna reports:

Tree cutting (contractors? from city?) on Cortland with no protection to cars below. Is that legal? Not my car, but a neighbors car.


As a matter of policy, Bernalwood celebrates the mutually prosperous relationship that has long existed between Bernal trees and our mechanized vehicles. We would hate to see this relationship grow strained for want of a simple tarp. Thus, looking ahead, we trust that these sorts of interactions can be managed more elegantly.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Janna



This Is What It Looked Like at Fiesta on the Hill When Bernal Neighbors Discovered Their Inner Race Car Drivers


Sunday’s Fiesta on the Hill was rather exceptionally fantabulous.

For 2014, Bernal’s traditional street fair on Cortland got a thoughtful makeover, with a strong emphasis on local character and creativity. The generic street fair vendors and beleaguered farm animals were gone, and in their place Fiesta 2014 gave our neighborhood fest a more homespun feel, with smiling goats, and historic surrealist Doggie Diner Heads, and happy parents steering happy children on mechanized ponies by remote control:


It was a Main Street USA celebration of 21st century urbanism, and the crowds on Cortland were bustling:


People looked like they were having a good time. There was even dancing in the streets. REPEAT: Confirmed dancing in the streets!


Truth be told, however, your Bernalwood editor was unable to make his usual quasi-journalistic rounds at Fiesta on the Hill, because as part of this new 2014 emphasis on local flavor, I was recruited to babysit the two mutant race cars operated by the Bernal Dads Race Team.

So for most of the day, I was parked on Cortland, right in front of Andi’s Market.


Playing chaperone for America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon and a Alfa Romeo disguised as a cookie was a hindrance to my wanderings. But it turned out to be a great way to meet a lot of awesome Bernal neighbors.

In particular, it was fun to watch Bernalese of all ages as they sat in the Volvo and visualized the adrenalin-fueled excitement of driving the car in wheel-to-wheel combat on a race track.

Here are some of the dashing future racers I met:







Thanks to everyone who made Fiesta on the Hill 2014 so much fun. Bravo, stay sexy, and can’t wait until 2015.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Tire-Spinning Sideshow Celebrates Giants Victory on Mission at Valencia


Hooray Giants!

It’s become a bit of a ritual: Whenever the Giants have a big win — we’re talking pennant- or World Series-level stuff — crowds flow onto Mission Street in Bernal for a (generally) good-spirited festival of ad hoc anarchy and celebration.

Last night’s NLCS pennant victory was no exception, and this video shows the tire-spinning excitement that went down at the intersection of Mission and Valencia:

A few fans celebrate Giants win into the World Series by doing donuts in the intersection. This went on for about 15 minutes until the police showed up.

Something is going on in this corner of Bernal Heights. If it’s not renegade cattle stockyards and vile-smelling offal, it’s smoke and burning rubber in the late hours of the night.

Meanwhile, the inane TV news coverage of the festivities turned your Bernalwood editor into a NAMBY:

HT: MissionMIssion